In a week loaded with Mass Effect 3 trailers and announcements, rumors of next-gen consoles and innovation, and the excitement surrounding the long-awaited release of the Skyrim Creation Kit, there were plenty of other important happenings in the video game industry.
Today we're going to play catch-up on several news tidbits involving THQ, a new Kinect game, mouse and keyboard support for an important upcoming PS3 title, an update for Call of Duty Elite, a basic feature finally added to Skype and a free Battlefield 3 app that may or may not be worth your time. Let's get to it.
Video Game News
1. Xbox 720 & PlayStation 4 Provide 'Tremendous Opportunity', Hopes THQ
Last year saw the game-o-sphere losing a lot of studios, but THQ managed to stay alive, though at the cost of major layoffs -- the publisher now reports the loss of 240 jobs within the company. The inevitable arrival of next-gen consoles sometime in the indefinite future could grant THQ a fighting chance to keep going, but the strategy is not without its risks.
"I agree that as we approach a potential new console cycle it does introduce an element of risk. Another way to think about that is it does present a tremendous amount of opportunity. The best time to establish new IP is near the beginning of a new cycle and we think that can provide a tremendous opportunity for the transformation of THQ."
THQ recently found some success with Saints Row: The Third and Darksiders 2 has the potential to do the same. They'll need that success if they're placing bets on next generation consoles that might not be released for several years.
2. Facebook Integration Coming To 'Final Fantasy XIII-2'
Final Fantasy XIII-2 refuses to be what it's name implies, final -- not that fans are complaining. With new DLC coming down the pipe to justify what some might call a disagreeable ending, Square Enix has also announced upcoming Facebook integration. Now players will be able to share their progress with friends, and friends will have another reason to block them (we kid). Gamers will be able to post their Xbox Live Achievements or PSN Trophies, as well as upload info about your game, including "current party setup, monsters collected, battle scores and more", according to Game Informer. This might be the start of a trend for future Final Fantasy games (trust us, there will be more). Square Enix should have a look at some things we'd like to see in the next Final Fantasy.
3. Sony Patents Controller Similar To Wii U's
Games Beat discovered a patent filed in 2010 that looks awfully familiar. Titled the "Position-Dependent Gaming 3-D controller', the device, which has a built-in display, would be able to interact with objects onscreen, while also acting as a controller. The idea is similar to Nintendo's Wii U tablet controller revealed at E3 2011. Whether this device is still a possibility is unclear, but since it has been claimed by Naughty Dog game director, Justin Richmond, that the PlayStation Vita can do what the Wii U can, it's doubtful. Rumor has it that the Xbox 720 might even be cooking up something similar.
Check out more images of the patent in this gallery.
4. First 'NeverDead' DLC Pack Has Plenty Of Goodies
Konami announced that the first DLC for NeverDead will be dropping February 21 and gamers should be prepared for plenty of new content. Dubbed the "NeverDead Expansion Pack Volume 1," gamers will get access to a new playable character in the form of pop star Nikki Summerfield, available in multiplayer. The pack will also add three new gameplay challenges, such as an collecting and delivering scoring points to "score zones" in Egg Hunt, a race through checkpoints across the map where sabotage is encouraged in Fragile Alliance, and a mode called Onslaught where areas of the Asylum level are opened as players defeat all of the enemies.
5. Dust 514 On PS3 Will Support Mouse And Keyboard
Dust 514, the game inspired and set in the world of EVE Online (a PC game), had PC gamers upset that the PlayStation 3-exclusive wouldn't be available to them. In response, support of a mouse and keyboard will be made available so as to possibly coax reluctant PC shooter enthusiasts into playing on a console. While the argument still rages on whether the keyboard and mouse or the controller is the superior way to game, creator CCP Games will let gamers decide for themselves. Headshots for everyone!
Dust 514 releases exclusively for the PS3 and PS Vita sometime in the spring of 2012.
Source: Dust 514 Base
6. THQ In 'Strategic Agreement' With Xbox Co-Creator
In what can hardly be debated, Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley, in an interview with VentureBeat, stated that he felt like the iPhone was the new arcade and that the 99 cent prices were the new quarter, prompting him to invest in the opportunities mobile gaming could afford and began his own startup company, Innovative Leisure. Blackley signed on some of the biggest names in gaming history including designers and creators of everything from Asteroids to Missile Command -- even managing to snag folks he calls the "dream team from Atari".
THQ, stating that they are, "Always looking to work with the best creative talent in the videogame industry," feels like a relationship with Innovative Leisure is exactly that. Believing in the potential of the fledgling company and the creative minds involved in it, THQ has decided to put their faith in them with a partnership that gives THQ first refusal on Leisure's games. What this means for the security and prosperity of THQ has yet to be seen as the company is currently riding the edge of a knife.
7. Battlefield 3: Aftershock Now Available (For Free)
Without any sort of marketing, Electronic Arts released Battlefield 3: Aftershock on iTunes, a free-to-play multiplayer shooter that safe to say, looks nothing like its console or PC counterparts. The release is part of the co-marketing plan EA has with the upcoming film Act of Valor which features real Navy SEALs using live-fire ammunition. Unfortunately, the user reviews are not good and perhaps that's why it's free (and not marketed).
8. Skype Adds Push-To-Talk For Gamers
Skype for Windows (v.5.8) allows users to set up a push-to-talk hotkey, a feature ideal for PC gamers. Skype reports that it was an often requested feature and they were proud to include in the latest version. The Windows exclusive feature comes as no surprise since Microsoft bought the company last year. Users can easily setup push-to-talk by going to tools > options > advanced > hotkeys. Easy peasy.
9. 'Driver' Dev working On New Kinect Game
The keen investigative skills of one Superannuation, an "industry sleuth", led to hints that Ubisoft Reflections could be working on a new Kinect game. According to the LinkedIn profile Joss Scouler, Ubisoft Reflections Art Lead, his list of published titled included "Confidential for now (X360 Kinect)', which has since been removed. Oopsy!
10. Clan Operations Coming to CoD Elite
Call of Duty: Elite is remedying gamers have been confronting when attempting to gain experience and rewards with the clans formed through the premium service, as it has not been an easy task. Beachhead Studios is implementing Clan Operations, where clans can compete for experience and prizes and has released a preview in their Elite forums to show gamers how the system will work. Details include who players will choose operations and the details page that shows things like Clan XP and start and end dates. There is no current information on when Clan Operations will be available, but in the meantime take a gander at what is coming down the pipe.
Source: Call of Duty Community
11. 'Killzone' PS3 Re-release Delayed Indefinitely
According to a tweet made by Killzone.com, the re-mastered version Killzone for PS3 has been "delayed indefinitely." No further details are available, but they have promised to tweet about if any news is released so stay tuned to their official Twitter account for announcements.