Shacknews - Steve Watts
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt owes its legacy to a primarily PC focus, and CD Projekt Red plans to follow through with that tradition as much as possible on consoles. That means that, to whatever extent console manufacturers will let them, the studio plans to offer free downloadable content, but cautions that it doesn't know the console business models yet.
"It's too early to talk specifics, but definitely all the DLCs and updates will be free," CDP head Marcin Iwinski told Rock Paper Shotgun. "Of course, we'll see what the platform holders will allow - what we can do for free [on next-gen consoles]. I mean, there are different business models on consoles. From our standpoint, we'll definitely do everything we can to deliver the same experience across all platforms."
It's worth noting, though, that Iwinski is referring specifically to DLC like extra weapons and fixes. Content of a larger-scope would cost money as usual. "Should we decide to do some big expansions or something, we'll expect gamers to pay for it," he said. "But again, it's all value for money. I think $15-$20 for new gameplay is a pretty honest and fair deal."
As for the studio's attitude towards DRM, he says they are still firmly "anti-DRM," but that doesn't mean they want to deny the chance to play for those who own one of the next-gen consoles. "There are people who'll be fine with [Xbox One's DRM]. They'll buy the console and just want to play. Why should we not give them this option?" He also noted that the policies still might be in flux, but on PC, where it has a greater degree of control, the game will be DRM-free.
Shacknews - Andrew Yoon
If there's one thing people love more than social games, it's investing in social game companies. Capitalizing on the runaway success of Candy Crush Saga, Midasplayer (aka King) is looking into going public and launching an IPO.
If you've logged into Facebook any time in the past few months, it's likely you've received an invitation to play Candy Crush Saga, currently the most popular game on the social network. The match-three game locks progression behind walls that can be bypassed through money or hassling friends.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the company has started conversations with banks about a potential IPO. However, pricing and timing of a deal is still quite a ways off. "King's success and growth presents numerous opportunities for the business to develop further, and one option would be to take the company public. However, while it's an option for the future, we would not comment on when we could consider making such a decision," a spokesperson told the newspaper.
While Candy Crush Saga has been a tremendous success so far, it's unclear if the market will respond to yet another social gaming offering--especially after Zynga's high-profile implosion. Shares of the rival company have fallen about 70 percent since launch. And once-popular games like Draw Something show how fickle the casual audience can be: Zynga pretty much closed the team after purchasing the company for about $200 million.
Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia
Sony Online Entertainment may be known for their internally-developed MMOs: Planetside 2 and DC Universe Online. However, there they're also publishing a new MMO--one that sticks close to classic fantasy tropes. Dragon's Prophet, a free-to-play fantasy title from Runewaker Entertainment, delivers what it promises--dragons and lots of them.
Playing like most fantasy MMOs, Dragon's Prophet takes place in the land of Auratia, a land filled with the majestic beasts. Great danger has befallen the land and to ward it off, you must fight with a bevy of weaponry and magic spells. There are four classes to choose from--Guardian, Ranger, Oracle, and Sorcerer. In addition to using the strengths of your selected class, you can also fight with dragons by catching them and adding them to your collection.
Yes, much of the appeal of Dragon's Prophet comes in finding different types of dragons (over 400 of them, to be exact) and capturing them. I witnessed several different varieties of dragons in my short time with the game, including some classic designs and some more unconventionally-designed creatures. One of the more unusual dragons I encountered was a bulky beast that bore a closer resemblance to a rhinoceros.
Catching a dragon in the wild is not unlike trying catching a jungle animal. My first target was a blue winged dragon that was gently grazing along a field. I had to sneak up on it from behind, in order to avoid alerting it. When I got close enough, I jumped on its back and attempted to rein it in. This triggered a mini-game, in which I had to use the WASD keys to keep a marker centered on a circular target. The game would occasionally try to throw me off by tossing in quick-time commands, like having to mash different keys. Successfully completing the mini-game would reward me with my very own pet dragon. The dragon can not only be used for combat, but can also be used to fly around and explore the lush green world of Auratia, flying by mountainous fields and flowing waterfalls. When finished playing around with my new pet, I could send it back to my inventory, where I could call upon it later, at any time.
But like any succulent treat, I demanded more. So I tried to catch the aforementioned rhino-like dragon that I had encountered earlier. Unfortunately, as I tried sneaking up on it, some random jerk tossed a fireball at it, angering it and making it uncatchable. This sent me into a combat phase, which played out like most action MMO's currently on the market. Since I was playing as a Sorceror class, I struck the dragon repeatedly with a fire spell binded to a hotkey, trading blows with it until it fell dead to the ground. Unfortunately, dead dragons obviously can't be caught, so I could only mutter to myself and end the demo there.
Like most free-to-play games, Dragon's Prophet will contain microtransactions, but they are limited to cosmetic items. Dragon's Prophet launched its open beta two weeks ago and is still accepting signups. Any characters and progress made during the open beta period will remain in place, as Runewaker doesn't plan to do any character wipes when the game releases its final version. The final version of Dragon Prophet's is set to release before the end of summer.
Shacknews - Steve Watts
When Jason West and Vince Zampella struck out on their own with Respawn Entertainment, the pair seemed primed to capitalize on their identities as the minds behind one of the most successful video game franchises to date. But in March, well before Respawn announced its first game Titanfall, co-founder West left the company. A new report claims that the departure was partly fueled by conflict with partner Zampella.
Vanity Fair cites an unnamed source that says "Vince felt that Jason was sabotaging the company." In response, Zampella told the magazine: "It's hard to work with one person for 15 years."
The note from Zampella upon West's departure cited "family issues" as the reason. "It is sad to see things come to an end, but there are times when change is best for growth, both personally and professionally," the note read. "I wish Jason the best and send my best wishes to his family."
West's departure doesn't seem to have detracted from Titanfall, which was one of our favorite games at E3.
Shacknews - Steve Watts
Oculus Rift has not only caught the eyes of gamers, but the interest of investors. The new funding will allow for more prototypes and experiments, and the eventual release of a consumer version of the much buzzed-about VR headset.
A Kickstarter update states that the money will be put towards hiring more staff from among "the best and brightest minds in VR from around the world." CEO Brendan Iribe told Forbes that it plans to roughly double its current staff of 30.
"Virtual reality will be one of the most significant technologies of the 21st century. It has the potential to drastically alter the way we play, communicate, and learn," the post says. "I want to thank everyone for their support. None of this would be possible without you, the people who supported Oculus when it was nothing but a rough prototype and a dream of changing gaming forever!"
Oculus Rift was one of many subjects bantered about on the latest Weekend Confirmed, gathering buzz coming out of E3. Development kits shipped in April, but the company has not yet set a date for the consumer version.
Shacknews - Andrew Yoon
Max Payne 3 is making a surprise appearance on OS X this week. Rockstar Games has announced that the game will jump and slo-mo dive into the Mac App Store on June 20th. Like its PC counterpart, the Mac version will feature higher-resolution textures and character models and "advanced graphics" over the console iterations.
Here are the recommended specs for interested Mac gamers:
- Mac OS X 10.7.5 Lion
- Intel Dual Core Xeon / Core i Series 2.4 GHZ or greater
- 4GB System RAM
- NVIDIAÂ® 8800GT 512MB VRAM or AMD Radeon HD 4870 512 VRAM
- HDD Space: 35GB
Shacknews - Andrew Yoon
Starting with Battlefield 4, all games using Frostbite 3 will be "optimized exclusively" for AMD cards, IGN reports. Given that Frostbite 3 has become EA's engine of choice for its upcoming slate of games, this could be a significant blow to rival graphics card manufacturer Nvidia.
According to their report, "while Nvidia-based systems will be supported, the company won't be able to develop and distribute updated drivers until after each game is released."
The site postulates that AMD's complete control of tech in the new generation of consoles may have played a part in this agreement. AMD chips can be found in PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U.
PC Gamer points out that these kind of exclusive agreements can be problematic for rival card owners, as evidenced by Tomb Raider's shaky launch. If IGN's report is true, that means Nvidia card owners may experience equally bumpy launches of not only Battlefield 4, but other Frostbite 3 games like Need for Speed Rivals, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, Dragon Age: Inquisition, the new Mirror's Edge, the new Star Wars: Battlefront, and the upcoming Mass Effect.
We've contacted AMD for more information.
Shacknews - Steve Watts
Mickey Mouse was once a video game celebrity, thanks largely to a handful of beloved platformers starring the Disney mascot. Castle of Illusion was among the most fondly remembered, and in the era of HD remakes, another visit to the castle was inevitable. Judging by hands-on time at E3, Sega is striking a delicate balance between nostalgia and revisionism.
"It is one of the most requested games for us to make for us on the Sega side, and on the Disney side as well," Sega of America senior producer Frank Hom told Shacknews. "About two years ago we decided to reimagine it. We didn't just want to make an HD version. We wanted to freshen it up, not just in graphics, but in gameplay as well. As a result you see something that is very true to the original game and is very modern as well."
The two stages I played, one in a Dungeon and another in a Toy Box, certainly weren't mere retreads of existing levels. Familiar traps and enemies filled their corridors, but a veteran couldn't sleepwalk his way through this installment. It feels like a classic, to the point that I felt more comfortable using a D-pad, but it isn't merely a new coat of paint.
The concessions to the old game include its notorious difficulty level. Hom said the original was always revered as a hardcore platformer, and they didn't want to change that. "It's a gamer-game, we kept it a gamer-game. It's a difficult, challenging platformer." Sometimes, I had to fumble a bit to figure out just where to go, or was caught off-guard by a trap I didn't see coming. Mastering these stages may take some time.
Hom also said the team took the opportunity to tweak some elements that hadn't aged as well, most notably that cornerstone of any platforming challenge: jumping. "The jumping mechanics are pretty modernized," he said. "The old game, it was good, it was challenging, but for a modern game you have a little more fluidity of animations. That's one part that we've had the opportunity to add a lot more animations."
Mickey's animations add more characterization to the character, and Hom said that has been a benefit of working so closely with Disney. Their animators have been keeping a close eye on the character models, and an ever-present narrator -- approved by Disney, Hom noted -- was a nice finishing touch for capturing the Disney charm.
Sega has also brought in a few entirely new elements. While the majority of stages are in 2D like the classic game, the bosses are 3D battles more akin to what you might expect in current-gen platforming. Other areas, like a behind-the-back running challenge across an enchanted deck of cards in the Toy stage, break up the pacing nicely.
Given the voracious appetite for Castle of Illusion, Sega probably could have easily stuck with the proven formula. A simple remake of the classic might have done very well for the company. But it appears to be taking a few more risks with this release, and what I've seen plays more like loving homage than carbon copy.
Shacknews - Steve Watts
Nintendo announced last week that it would be trying its hand at a free-to-play game sometime this fiscal year. We expected the company to bank on one of its franchises, but we didn't see this coming: it will be a sequel to Steel Diver, the 3DS launch game.
Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto told IGN that about the new game, but didn't specify platforms or even how the free-to-play transactions would work. He did comment that the team is currently balancing how to make a good pricing model for the game, and plans to make it a packaged product as well.
"There is something we're doing with the Steel Diver idea that I think is going to open things up with that game," Miyamoto said. "It's going to be very fun. We're exploring from a perspective of where we can take that from a multiplayer standpoint - it's going to have this four-player battle mode that I think is going to be very interesting. It's something that we're hoping to be able to show relatively soon."
Steel Diver was initially a tech demo for the original DS, and was then revived for the 3DS launch with some new features like sea battles using the accelerometer and a multiplayer strategy mini-game. You can check out our review of the original if you need a reminder. In short, "free" might be about the right price.
Shacknews - Andrew Yoon
There are two certainties when dealing with Nintendo: a) Princess Peach will get kidnapped again and b) their franchises will always make the jump to handheld. One Nintendo series has managed to escape the grasp of their portable empire, however: Pikmin.
Apparently, Nintendo has been keen on bringing its strategy series to handheld, with series creator Shigeru Miyamoto admitting that the company "experimented" with both DS and Game Boy Advance prototypes. However, "we really felt that the portable machine simply didn't have the capabilities to create the Pikmin gameplay in a way that we felt like it needed to be represented," Miyamoto said.
With 3DS being a far more capable system than its predecessors, it seems like it would be powerful enough to handle a proper Pikmin game. However, Miyamoto argues that it still couldn't do the franchise justice. "There's actually one particular facet of this game that we were very focused in on, which was building bridges in Pikmin 3," Miyamoto explained to Polygon. "If you look at it, the bridges are made out of these little tile pieces, and each tile piece is shaped kind of differently, and each individual Pikmin might pick it up and hold the piece in a different way.
"We could be able to take something like that element of the Pikmin gameplay and try to do it on a portable, probably what would end up happening is you would have to make all the pieces the same size and shape, and they'd have to carry them the same way," Miyamoto said. Unfortunately, without being able to appreciate these subtle differences, Miyamoto says that "it really doesn't feel like Pikmin."
Pikmin 3 will be available on Wii U in August. And look, here's a new video showcasing that version of the game: