Co-written by Curt Hutson & Rob Keyes
At this transitional period in the year, following closely after the holiday season, major events in gaming can be few and far between, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some fantastic tidbits sprinkled about and as a late holiday treat, we’ve conveniently wrapped up all of those lovely pieces of news you might have missed.
This week had gamers learning a little more about the companies behind the games we love, such as their policies on piracy, their plans to branch out, a few unannounced games and how they might make good on their ambitious claims. Plus, a few neat tidbits on our favorite games and franchises.
Video Game News
1. ‘Angry Birds’ Executive Isn’t Angry About Piracy
According to The Guardian, Rovio’s chief executive Mikael Hed spoke to the Midem conference in Cannes regarding piracy and how the company learned from the music industry’s mistakes in the controversial matter. Taking a more lenient, wiser approach, he explains that Rovio knows the futility of tracking down pirates and instead feels that piracy might possibly be another way of attracting fans, thus bringing in more business.
“We could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy… We took something from the music industry, which was to stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans. We do that today: we talk about how many fans we have.”
The music industry certainly taught Rovio valuable lessons, one being that no fanbase equals no business. Something to consider since Angry Birds is one of the most popular games in history. Let’s be honest though, piracy barely puts a dent in their checkbook and Rovio might be singing a different tune if their little birdies weren’t as successful as they are or if their products were $60 retail games.
2. ‘LittleBigPlanet’ Users Have Been Busy
LittleBigPlanet users have generated over 6 million user-created levels and games and Sony is shouting it into the hills. This is hardly a surprise for those at home keeping track of LittleBigPlanet‘s very big aspirations. The game has set several Guinness World Records including, “Most gaming genres in one video game” and “Most player-created levels in one video game.” The Media Molecule team must feel like a proud parent. The awards don’t strictly belong to the game and its creators however, the users and their exorbitant amounts of free time contributed at least a tiny bit.
3. NetherRealm Wants To Do More Than ‘Mortal Kombat’
The Chicago-based studio completely nailed it when they released Mortal Kombat on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 last year, offering a retelling of the Mortal Kombat saga. In the next year, they are hoping to branch out and diversify its projects. In an interview with GameSpot, Mortal Kombat co-creator and NetherRealm creative director Ed Boon dishes on just how that will be accomplished, using Batman: Arkham City Lockdown for the iOS as a starting point.
“We would definitely like to do additional iOS titles; we have nothing to announce at the moment, but that’s generally something we want to do. With our studio, we really want to diversify ourselves, and work on multiple formats, multiple types of games, not just Mortal Kombat games.”
Aside from Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition there are no new announcements on another Mortal Kombat title. NetherRealm is hoping to stray away from being a one-trick pony, but blood and gore have been their game for a while and they’ve gotten really, really good at it — so let’s hope they don’t stray too far away from the series that made them famous and double hope that this isn’t the last of Mortal Kombat.
4. Harmonix Developing Game XBLA, PSN, and Facebook
Dance Central dev Harmonix is living off the success of its sequel that released to positive reviews last year, while working on their next unannounced projects previously confirmed by CEO Florian Hunziker. Thanks to a resume from one of their employees found by Superannuation, it appears that at least one of those games will be downloadable… and quite social, with the resume listing Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Network and Facebook as platforms. Harmonix responded to Shacknews:
“As we’ve stated before, our studio is growing and hard at work on a variety of titles. In a storied Harmonix tradition, our designers start working on those games before they’re publicly announced. We’re excited to confirm more information soon, probably via a LinkedIn update or something – we haven’t decided.”
5. Open Your Wallets & Search Grid For More Skylanders Toys!
Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure proved to be a wonderful success for Activision over the holiday season, introducing a neat peripheral that allows players to collect action figures which translate to playable characters in-game. They’ve been selling like hotcakes everywhere and costing parents a boatload of cash, having to buy the figures at rather expensive prices per unit. Prepare to take out a loan as there are three new action figures now available: Cynder the undead dragon, Double Trouble the magic spellcaster and Slam Bam the water element-based Yeti (comes with the Empire of Ice Adventure Pack).
6. Andy Richter’s Voicework In ‘Skyrim’
There were a lot of voice actors in a game as big as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – that’s a given – but many never realized that Conan O’Brien’s famous sidekick Andy Richter provided voices to some of the most memorable characters in the game. Players may recognize his work as the all-knowing, mystical crab or the unforgettable disgruntled restaurant patron. No? Luckily, Conan threw some of his best performances together into one hilarious video.
7. ‘The Last Of Us’ Performance Capture Video
This week, Naughty Dog released a video that shows just how the debut trailer for The Last of Us was put together. The studio is no stranger to giving players a peak behind the curtains as many of their performance capture videos are available as bonuses in the Uncharted series. What makes this particular one such a treat are the bits of additional narration that accompanies it, which gives small morsels of story not revealed in the final cut.
Players that want a little more insight into the cinematic experience that Naughty Dog is promising should take a look and decide for themselves if The Last of Us will indeed redefine gaming.
8. Moving a Halo
When Bungie parted ways with Microsft and the Halo franchise, it was a bittersweet moment, but we couldn’t be happier that 343 Industries has stepped in to take that spot, developing Halo 4 which will see the epic return of Master Chief. Taking over a popular franchise and multiplayer phenomenon isn’t as easy as switching development studios however, and it’s been a lengthy process of transition and moving all of the data over. It began last summer and it’ll finally be over in March. Farewell, Bungie.
Last summer, Bungie and 343 Industries began a transition process for Halo data. On March 31st, 2012 that transition process will be complete, all live Halo data will be managed by 343 Industries, and Bungie will no longer be able to update game stats and player service records, to host new user generated content, or to operate the Bungie Pro service. All currently supported, Bungie-developed Halo titles will be impacted by this change.
9. Ace Attorney 5 Confirmed
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ace Attorney franchise, Capcom announced a few wonderful things for fans of the series. First, the original trilogy will be re-released in HD for iOS as purchaseable individually or cheaper bundled together. Second, Capcom announced Ace Attorney 5!
No release details have been unveiled yet, but could the series make the jump into the third dimension on the 3DS? Expect Apollo Justice to return in some fashion.
10. New Game from BioShock 2 Developer
Workers on unannounced projects have a hard time showing their work on their resumes and it’s because of this, we find out about a lot of video game projects before publishers are ready to showcase them. We just saw this above with Harmonix’s upcoming projects and here’s another found from Superannuation: a new game from 2K Marin being working on alongside the recently-delayed XCOM. Hogarth de la Plante’s resume says he’s part of a team working on a brand new IP, one that he helped pitch. There are no details on the title outside of its existance but we can assume with 2K Marin’s track record that it’s likely a shooter of some sort.
Video Game Reviews