Welcome to another edition of the Game Ranter Banter. Five of our writers take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to give their opinions on some of the most compelling and controversial recent news stories of the game industry. This week, the Game Rant team discusses Sony and Microsoft’s inevitable response to the Wii U, Treyarch’s next chance to prove themselves, problems with EA’s Origin, and the future of the 3DS.
Our readers are as knowledgeable and opinionated as our own writers, so here is the place for all of you to discuss these stories as well as any others that may have piqued your interest throughout the week.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The Wii U is supposed to be on its way next year, and not only promises to use brand new technology for actually playing the games, but will also implement a number of features that other companies have already had for years, such as better graphics, online multiplayer, and downloadable content. So, despite some saying that Nintendo is basically playing catch-up with Sony and Microsoft, they will still be doing their own thing.
But the question is, what will Sony and Microsoft do in response? It’s obvious that they’ll take this as a sign to get going on the PS4 and Xbox 720, or whatever they’ll be called, but what exactly can they improve? How can they make better graphics than what they have already? Look at L.A. Noire! The graphics were incredibly realistic – and that’s a current-gen game. How can you improve on that? How can anyone be expected to do better than what we already have?
My guess? They’ll try and rip off Nintendo’s new controller. They did the same with the Wii by introducing the PlayStation Move and Kinect, and look how well that was received. Hell, we’re already on our way to seeing a ripoff as it is, with the revelation that the Vita can be used as a PS3 controller! Instead of just focusing on making great games that people will buy, they’ll worry more about keeping up with a trend. And they’ll do it regardless of the Wii U succeeding or failing.
After all, like it or not, gaming is a business. And with a business, money comes first.
The Call of Duty franchise is done with the World War II era, and Treyarch couldn’t be happier. They had a rough start, with an insanely short time window to make Call of Duty 3, a game which earned them an unfairly poor reputation at the get-go. For their next title however, where they had more time to develop another installment properly for Activision, they brought us World at War, a solid shooter which some knocked for taking us back to WWII again after Infinity Ward hit it big with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – again unfair since they were forced to bring another WWII title.
Two years later, they were able to bring the story and setting of their next game, Call of Duty: Black Ops, years ahead, and it paid off in spades. Black Ops introduced 3D, a first for the franchise, and broke every record set by both Modern Warfare titles before it. It’s also the first game that can be used for the new Call of Duty Elite service. So, what is the rumored project “Iron Wolf” that Treyarch is working on, for the inevitable Call of Duty 9, which will undoubtedly release next November?
It won’t be in the past, so is it a temporary codename for a sequel to the “Black Ops” brand, is it another modern shooter with a different story, or could it be – for the first time in the Call of Duty franchise – pushing us into the future?
Now comes news that not only will gamers need to adopt Origin as an alternative to Steam, but if they want to check out one of the most highly anticipated titles from this year, they will need to use Origin as well. That’s right; according to EA any Battlefield 3 player must have Origin, even if they purchased their PC copy from a retail store.
While this is an obvious attempt to get brand awareness for Origin, is it too much too soon? After the Steam incident gamers are already a bit wary of EA and their association with digital distribution services, so why would they want to drop this megaton of an announcement so soon after?
Mario Party Winding Down
It has now been revealed that every month for the remainder of the year we’ll see a major series revived on the recently cheapened 3DS. We have known for some time that Star Fox 64 3D will reach store shelves on September 9th, but it has now been confirmed that Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 will see their respective releases in November and December.
As a $250 3DS owner, I could not be more excited to dust the thing off for some decent gaming time, but is this too little too late? When I picked up the 3DS, I waited three months before purchasing my first 3DS title (Ocarina of Time 3D). Since then, the landscape has remained rather barren. First-party support in spaced out over the entire year, and third-party support seems almost non-existent compared to the original DS.
There is still time for Nintendo to pick up the slack, but it better be soon, and it better be efficient. The handheld market is in a strange transition – let’s just hope the Big N can find their way out without too many casualties.
Goodwill in Gaming
Many developers offer special promotions in efforts to boost the popularity of a game or system. For example, Nintendo recently surprised gamers with the news that early-adopters of the 3DS would receive 20 free games. This was a decision made in order to keep people who already owned a 3DS from rioting over the recent $80 price-drop.
While this kind of generosity is nice, it is even cooler to see developers offer special deals for no reason other than saying, “thank you.” This seems to be the case with Mojang’s recent buy-one-get-one-free deal for Minecraft. The developer has been very successful largely because of a dedicated online community. It’s wonderful seeing them give back. I’d love for more developers to offer promotions that show appreciation to their loyal fans.