Wedbush Morgan’s Michael Pachter, probably the most well-known analyst in the games industry, has said that the “monetization” of online multiplayer is one of the “greatest opportunities” for publishers, and that he is “disappointed” in Activision’s decision not to begin charging users for access to Call of Duty’s multiplayer.
“We were disappointed to hear Activision’s new head of publishing flatly deny the company’s plans to charge for multiplayer,” he told IndustryGamers.
“We firmly believe that until the publishers address monetization of multiplayer, game sales will continue to be challenged by the publishers’ altruistic decision to provide significantly more entertainment value per hour than ever in history.”
“In our view, monetization of multiplayer is one of the greatest opportunities for the publishers, and we think that it would be a serious strategic error to pass on this opportunity,” added Pachter.
If you’re wondering why he uses the first-person plural there, it’s because he’s speaking on behalf of the publishers’ shareholders, who, as Pachter says, “can only hope that each (publisher) implements plans to address the impact of increasing free multiplayer going forward.”
I’m sure our Deputy Editor would beg to differ, Mr. Pachter.
Hardly a day’s gone by since Infinity Blade went on sale on the App Store, and Epic’s shiny and detailed iOS action RPG has already conquered the app charts, unseating Angry Birds at the top.
Developed by Chair Entertainment (creators of XBLA hit Shadow Complex), and powered by Unreal Engine 3, Infinity Blade is (at time of writing) the current number one in the list of Top Grossing Apps, and for a while, also held top place in Top Paid Apps. Angry Birds has since reclaimed that position.
The game combines RPG elements and close quarters sword combat. To say that it also boasts of some spectacular visuals, would be quite an understatement.
Priced at $5.99, Infinity Blade is now available on the iPhone 4, iPad, iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch 3 and iPod Touch 4.
Yu Suzuki, director behind the much loved Dreamcast titles Shenmue and Shenmue II, has said that the concept for a possible third game has already been laid out.
“The concept for Shenmue 3 already exists,” he said to 1UP, laughing.
“The world of Shenmue 1 and 2 expanded outward. So, for example, in the original games, of all the data used for dialogue in the game, the main characters’ dialogue was about 20%. The remaining 80% was dialogue by characters other than the two main characters. But Shenmue 3 doesn’t expand outward, but inward.
“A lot of the dialogue is used for the main character and especially dialogue with Shenhua. They talk about a lot of different, deeper things. For example, and I can’t say too much, but here’s an example.
“This is not actually in the game, but as an example to give you an idea of what I mean by deeper dialogue, when Shenhua and Ryo are at home, Shenhua will ask Ryo if he would like to drink tea or coffee and the player will select one or the other. Or, Shenhua will ask Ryo a hypothetical question like: ‘There are four animals; a monkey, cat, dog and bird. You are crossing the river but you need to leave one behind. Which one will you leave behind?’
“And the player has to choose one. Shenhua will ask lots and lots of questions like these and the answers will get stored in the game and affect the outcome of the player’s relationship with other characters. It’s like a personality test. For example, the person who leaves behind the monkey is the type of person who leaves their wife.”
Shenmue II was released in 2001 and ever since, fans of the series have been clamouring for a third title. Unfortunately, due to unconfirmed reasons, including budget issues and poor sales of Shenmue II, it seems like the game will never see the light of day.
“It’s very deep. I think it will be very interesting if it happens,” said Suzuki.
One the new features included in LittleBigPlanet 2 is a machinima toolset which allows players to craft elaborate, voiced cutscenes and videos. To illustrate just what you can create with these tools, the US PS Blog has released an LBP2 parody of the latest Kevin Butler ad. Have a look at the two videos below.
The original Kevin Butler TV spot:
What you just watched, recreated in LittleBigPlanet 2:
The PS Blog was keen to add that Sackboy’s Prehistoric Moves, a downloadable title which contains 10 Move-enabled levels, is now available to download on PlayStation Network. It’s free for PS Plus members, but costs $5.99 for non-Plus members.
LittleBigPlanet 2 is out on January 18 in the US. Needless to say, it’ll be interesting to see what other parodies people come up with when the game finally launches.
It may have finally released but Gran Turismo 5 is still a work in progress, it seems. Polyphony head Kazunori Yamauchi has been busy with his Twitter feed in recent days, promising myriad improvements and more updates for the simulation racer.
Among the incoming features is the ability to monitor B-Spec races through one’s web browser on the PC.
In B-Spec mode, of course, players don’t actually have control of the car. Rather, instructions, like entering the pit, overtaking or driving aggressively, are issued to an AI driver.
Considering that players have little interaction in the mode, a PC control interface could be quite handy for many of the longer races.
According to Yamauchi, the feature will be added to the game in an update early next year.
A NeoGAF member, who read through GI’s 9 page preview of the game, has posted some of the intriguing new info.
The title is not only a reboot for the franchise, but the entire Tomb Raider brand. Consequently, there will no longer be an actual model for Lara Croft.
The game, a prequel to all the Tomb Raider titles, will feature a 21 year old Lara, who is tasked with surviving on a hostile island off the coast of Japan after a storm wrecks the boat (the Endurance) she was travelling on. Developer Crystal Dynamics hopes Lara’s new look will make her easier to empathise with. Injuries to Lara are represented quite vividly and deaths are brutal.
The lock on targeting system from previous games has been ditched in favour of a free-aim system that can supposedly compete with any of the franchise’s competitors.
Also to be implemented in Tomb Raider, are base camps, where scavenged items can be combined or stored, and where Lara’s abilities can be upgraded. These camps can also be used for fast travel to different locations. The game will allow players more freedom to explore areas, than was offered in past titles.
Survival, of course, is the main theme of the new title. As a result, Lara will constantly have to collect food and water in order to keep alive.
According to Crystal Dynamics studio head Darrell Gallagher, “the major difference between this game and the old is the concept of smoke and mirrors.”
“There was an illusion of freedom because of streaming and loading that would pop you out in a different location, but this is absolutely real. You can literally go any direction that you see and carve your own way to the finish line instead of being guided.”
Director Noah Hughes added: “It was important in the game to not only deliver the character arc of Lara Croft emotionally, but to deliver it in gameplay as well so the player gets to grow into a hardened survivor.”
Publisher Square Enix has not confirmed a release date or platforms, but according to the official website, Tomb Raider will launch on PC, PS3 and 360.
Much awaited PSP titles The 3rd Birthday and Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy will release in spring 2011 in Europe, publisher Square Enix has confirmed.
Though no exact release dates were announced, Square has outlined the release schedule for its PSP line-up. Besides Dissidia and 3rd Birthday, Lord of Arcana and Tactics Ogre will also launch in early 2011.
The publisher plans to release Lord of Arcana in February, followed by Tactics Ogre and Dissidia 012. The 3rd Birthday will be the last of the four to launch.
Square also confirmed that both Dissidia 012 and 3rd Birthday will get special editions, details of of which will be revealed at a later time, along with their specific release dates.
If a report from James Bond fan site MI6 is to be believed, Raven Software (Singularity, Wolfenstein) is hard at work on a new, stealth-based Bond title.
According to the site, development on the game started quite a while back, but was put on hold due to MGM’s financial troubles. Many of the staff who were working on the project were subsequently reallocated by publisher Activision to work on Call of Duty map packs.
With MGM finally beginning its financial recovery, the project has apparently been green-lit again. Raven’s other planned title, a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, is said to be still “on the backburner”.
The report added that fans shouldn’t expect the “stealthy” 007 title until this time next year.
To add more credibility to the rumour, someone on the interwebs has discovered snippets of footage of what looks to be a Bond game hidden within Raven animator Hanjin Song’s demo reel. You can view the video here.
According to prolific RTS (Real Time Strategy) developer The Creative Assembly, Total War could come to consoles at some point in the future.
The popular series has been exclusive to the PC since its first game, Shogun: Total War, released a decade ago.
“At some point. Maybe. I don’t know,” the studio’s lead artist Kevin McDowell told CVG. “We have actually solved the problem with controlling Total War games using a control pad anyway.
“In the past one of the artists actually coded up some experimental stuff just on his own time and was like, ‘Oh that actually works really well.’”
Lead designer Jamie Fergusson added that consoles aren’t the only platform Creative Assembly is exploring.
“There’s also, which is the better platform to push for, which is the best method?” he said.
“I mean you’ve talked about using joypads, we’ve also looked elsewhere, we’re looking at everything including iPhones, online gaming as well. Just different ways of playing.”
The developer is currently at work on Total War: Shogun 2 which will release worldwide on March 15.
Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter is not one to shy away from controversial statements, as exemplified in the latest episode of his Pach Attack show on GameTrailers. In it, he said that he believes the handheld market will face tough times ahead, and that the yet unannounced PSP2 “is going to be dead on arrival”.
“We’re way approaching saturation on the handheld market,” the analyst said.
“We’re starting to see DS hardware sales crack. I think the ubiquity of the iPod Touch is cutting into the handheld market, I think the PSP is dead on arrival and I think the PSP2 is going to be dead on arrival. It looks to me like young kids are just as happy playing with an iPod Touch or a Nano. The Touch is cool, it plays games, plays music, they’re going to put a camera in it and you’re going to get all kinds of cool stuff.”
While Pachter had more positive words for Nintendo’s next handheld, the 3DS, he believes handheld sales will continue to decline as Apple’s presence in the market grows stronger.
“The 3DS will prolong the handheld market for the game manufacturers, but ultimately, I think handhelds are in trouble,” he said. “I really think as the iPod Touch gets more and more powerful, you’re going to see a lot of free games over there.
“What’s the difference if you play Tetris on an iPod Touch or on a DS? Well, you pay a buck on the iPod Touch, you pay $20 on the DS. Parents prefer $1 or free software, I think the iPod Touch is going to sell really, really well. So, after the 3DS has had its little rush I think the handhelds will continue to decline.”
We’re sure old man Jobs will be happy to hear that.