Shacknews - Steve Watts

Sony is expected to announce its next PlayStation console at its February 20th press event. Every day until then, Shacknews will look at PlayStation's history, and analyze what that could mean for the company's future.


Even if Sony unveils the next PlayStation console as expected at its event on February 20, chances are high the company will be fairly quiet regarding the launch line-up. But to game console early adopters, that information will be a key part of many spending decision -- especially since the PS4 is likely to go head-to-head against Microsoft's next machine this fall as well.

While Sony surely has some first-party games in development, the company has lost some third-party exclusivity in recent months. Even if not exclusive, though, third-party support is the lifeblood of a system and historically strong on Sony consoles. For that, we can look at development trends and the history of support on PlayStation platforms.

EA: Still in the game

If Electronic Arts can be counted on for one thing, it's a steady stream of sports franchises. The company hardly ever misses a year for many of its banner properties, and the history bears that out. The PlayStation 2 launch had its own NFL and NHL game, while the PlayStation 3 swapped the NHL release for a Tiger Woods title. More recently, EA Sports launched a Madden NFL and FIFA game for the Wii U on day one. Whatever is next for PlayStation, it's bound to have some Sports support.

However, EA recently commented that too many titles makes for a bumpy console transition. CFO Blake Jorgensen said the company is "more focused" this time around, and that the "core group" of 10-15 titles will be more carefully managed during the console transition.

Ubisoft: The eager participant

Ubisoft is generally happy to hop aboard a console launch, so much that it's become part of the company's identity. CEO Yves Guillemot has already committed to putting the bulk of the company behind new console development. "We will continue to develop on older platforms, for sure," he said, "but the majority of our time and talent [will go] toward taking advantage of those new possibilities."

Ubisoft is passionate about new console development because it believes that the hardware naturally lends itself to new properties. "It's a lot less risky for us to create new IPs and new products when we're in the beginning of a new generation," Guillemot said in July. "Our customers are very open to new things. Our customers are reopening their minds -- and they are really going after what's best. At the end of a console generation, they want new stuff, but they don't buy new stuff as much." That "new stuff" could include Watch Dogs, which has been called an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game. But an early tweet from an Ubisoft developer implied it could make the jump.

PlayStation 2 vs PlayStation 3

Of all of Sony's console launches, the PlayStation 2 came out swinging as the strongest. As compared to the PlayStation and PlayStation 3 launches, which boasted 10-15 launch titles each, the PS2 had roughly double that amount. You may expect that with so many titles, the platform would have suffered from poor quality thanks to shovelware and slipshod ports. But you'd be mistaken; a comparison of launch review scores shows the PlayStation 2 had the highest review scores of any Sony console launch, though it was still only the mid-range of console averages on the whole. Both in quantity and quality, the PS2 is the gold standard for Sony's performance thus far.

The original PlayStation was the weakest Sony launch both in number of titles and review scores, due to its newness to the market. The PlayStation 3 took a step back from the PS2 era dominance, but only slightly. It nearly matched the PS2 review score average with far fewer titles.

PlayStation Network: Online takes hold

One factor that has very little precedent in Sony's launches is the PlayStation Network. It was in relative infancy when the PlayStation 3 launched, offering only two games (Blast Factor and Cash Guns Chaos) on launch day. Now the PlayStation Store tends to put up more than that on a weekly basis, and the industry has matured into a comfortable place of producing high-end $60 titles alongside smaller $10-20 downloadable games.

We have no precedent for a new Sony console launch in the modern era of downloadable games, but we can look to their competitors for cues. Nintendo has made major strides in offering full retail games as downloadable, and offered a handful of downloadable games on launch day as well. The Vita also requires retail games to be available for download, so it's hard to imagine that Sony wouldn't follow suit or even expand these plans for its next major console launch.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

After a lengthy beta period, Valve has finally launched Steam for Linux officially. The client can be downloaded here. To coincide with the official launch of the service, all Linux games sold through Steam have been discounted, including Serious Sam 3: BFE, World of Goo, FTL, Trine 2, Bastion, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and more. Who knew Linux had so many games?

The sale runs until Wednesday, February 21, so feel free to peruse the shop at your leisure. And note: all games on Steam take advantage of "Steam Play," which means single purchases can be played across multiple OSes--Linux, Mac, and Windows. That means anyone can take advantage of the discounted prices.

Of course, given the numerous distributions of Linux available, Valve does note a preference. "For the best experience, run Steam for Linux on Ubuntu 12.04 using an NVIDIA GPU and drivers from NVIDIA," the company told us.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Injustice: Gods Among Us is adding yet another character to its roster of superheroes and villains punching and kicking each other: Aquaman.

The story behind the appearance of the King of the Seven Seas apparently revolves around a treaty he signed with the Regime, but Aquaman apparently is having second thoughts.

The trailer below, shows some of the new moves, including one that has The Flash being offered up as shark bait. Injustice brings the fisticuffs to your PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U on April 16.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

As the corpse of THQ is split up and sold off following "massive mistakes" and financial failure, we now know where another severed limb will be transplanted. After rumors last month of an acquisition, 2K has confirmed it'll be publishing the WWE series made by Japanese developer Yuke's.

"We can confirm that we have entered into an agreement to publish the WWE video game series that is developed by Yukes," a 2K representative said in a statement provided to IGN. "At this time, the agreement is pending court approval and we anticipate that it will be finalized shortly. We are very excited about the potential of this agreement and will have more to share at the appropriate time."

Court documents picked up by Bloomberg say that Take-Two will also hire THQ employees who worked on the franchise. WWE and Yuke's had filed for damages against THQ, for potentially over $60 million combined, but they'll reduce these massively now that the franchise has been picked up.

Shacknews - John Keefer

In announcing the cancellation of his Wildman Kickstarter earlier this week, Gas Powered Games CEO Chris Taylor said he had something in the works for his company to survive. Enter Wargaming.net, which has announced it has acquired the embattled developer for an undisclosed sum.

"Gas Powered Games' heritage and development pedigree shows us just how valuable an addition Chris and his company will make to the Wargaming family," said Victor Kislyi, CEO of Wargaming, in a press release. Wargaming.net is best known for their work on World of Tanks. "Gas Powered Games has a long track record of providing incredibly engaging AAA gaming experiences and we can't wait to start working with them."

"I'm sure our experience and expertise will help us contribute even more to Wargaming's global success," Taylor said in the release, but there was no mention if Taylor will continue developing Wildman or the stalled Kings and Castles title for Wargaming, or if he will be able to rehire any of the GPG team released a few weeks ago. We've contacted Taylor and will update if he answers any of these questions.

Wargaming has been expanding significantly as of late, having added MechAssault and FEAR 3 dev Day 1 Studios as Wargaming West in late January.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Unlike most racing games, GRID 2 has a narrative that explains why you're driving these fancy cars--and why winning actually matters so much. But, Codemasters isn't trying to ape EA's Need for Speed: The Run. Instead, GRID 2's story is more about creating a believable setting--one that explains the merger of the game's various racing disciplines.

At the heart of GRID 2 is "World Series Racing," a fictional racing league that's attempting to make a name for itself at the beginning of the game. Its goal is to be the MMA of racing: to see who is the best overall racer across multiple racing styles, whether it be street racing, formula racing, drag racing, etc.

The player's role is to make a name for WSR by becoming the star it needs. In GRID 2, fictional multimillionaire Patrick Callahan has tasked you with going around the world, recruiting car clubs and earning the support of sponsors. From the start of the game, you'll operate from your suburban home garage, with access to the game's first tier of cars.

The first season of racing will take place in America, as you and Callahan try to make a name on your home turf. ESPN takes notice, and chronicles the evolution of the WSR through live-action scripted sequences starring Sportscenter's Kevin Connors and motorsports analyst Toby Moody. Presented as a real ESPN telecast, these vignettes do a good job of making the experience that much more believable.

Success will eventually lead to taking the WSR internationally, giving an excuse for GRID 2 to jump across America, Europe, and eventually Asia. Along the way, players will have to master the different regional styles of racing. Eventually, as the WSR grows, the racing experience will drastically change. For example, in the first season of WSR, races are rather no-frill events. However, in latter seasons, you'll see everything plastered in (fictional) adverts, and the tracks will have hundreds of spectators on the side. You'll see flares and fireworks--all to emphasize the WSR's transformation into a big-budget spectacle. Even your garage will transform, moving from suburb to city, expanding with every trophy you collect.

While GRID 2's story mode may not be the greatest innovation in racing history, it does an excellent job of bringing together the disparate elements of Codemasters' game. And while the variety showcased in GRID 2 is commendable, there is a notable omission in an otherwise-comprehensive game. Unsurprisingly, off-road racing is nowhere to be seen in the WSR, because as Codemasters pointed out, that's territory reserved for Dirt.

GRID 2 will be available on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 on May 28th.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate is coming on March 5, but you'll get a chance to try it a little earlier than that. A demo of the game is coming to the eShop on February 28.

This game stars Trevor Belmont, and ties into the the mainline console release Lords of Shadow 2. The game is only planned for 3DS, but Konami has already stated that it would consider taking its already-HD assets and putting the game out on an HD console.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Donkey Kong Country Returns, originally made for Wii, is getting a 3DS port. The game is appropriately called Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, and is set to arrive this summer.

In case you're curious to see the game in action with the snazzy new 3D effects, a video of the game is available today in the 3DS eShop. You can also watch the video below, and just imagine all the snazzy 3D effects it could have.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Amid the traditional retail release announcements during the Nintendo Direct presentation, the company also announced a number of eShop games coming as well. New Mario & Donkey Kong and Dillon games were revealed, along with a rhythm platformer called HarmoKnight.

Mario & Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move is for the 3DS, and, while Nintendo did release the video below, it didn't give a release window. The old west armadillo Dillon is coming back with Dillon's Rolling Western: The Last Ranger. It adds several new characters like a bear and squid, and has a train to protect in every stage to add an extra layer of frenzy to Dillon's rolling. It will be coming on March 11. HarmoKnight, from GameFreak, has a demo coming on March 14, followed by the game on March 28.

Other announcements included Kersploosh! on March 7 and Toki Tori 2 in March.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Nintendo announced another of Mario's forays into the sports world during its Nintendo Direct conference today. Camelot, known for its Mario Golf and Tennis titles, is developing Mario Golf: World Tour for the 3DS. The game is coming this summer.

The company showed off brief bits of footage of the Mario gang hitting the links. The courses range from traditional to those inspired by the Mushroom Kingdom.

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