Saturday, September 7, 2013

Weekly Roundup - September 1-7, 2013

Today, in my first ever 'Weekly Roundup', I cover the top news of the last week from the gaming world and give a bit of my own insight. The presentation is in no particular order.

This week was a pretty mixed bag with the biggest news coming from Microsoft who announced the official launch date for the Xbox One. Beyond this, we started to see a bit of the fallout from A Realm Reborn's shaky start, found out that Gearbox has two new IPs coming up, and learned that Jack Black will lend his voice to Broken Age. Finally, rounding it all out was a story about a mis-translation that totally missed the opportunity to engage in a serious discussion about sexism.

Xbox One Releasing Nov 22
Microsoft divulged the release date for the Xbox One and, to pretty much no one's surprise, it will available in November. The November 22 release date puts it smack dab between the respective US and EU launch dates of the PS4. While finally knowing the official date we can all get our hands on the new box is nice, I don't think this timing should cause much of stir. As I have stated before, the best part about this launch window is that we should get a true head-to-head comparison of the systems. That said, as pointed out by Michael Pachter and other analysts, it is reasonable to expect Xbox One and PS4 consoles to be sold out until at least the new year, at which point (barring any catastrophic manufacturing delays) we will finally start to have an idea if one system is pulling ahead.

Tied to the launch announcement were a few extra details on reward structures and some sabre rattling about the hardware capabilities of each system. Nothing Earth shattering, just a bit more hype building leading up to release.

Refunds for A Realm Reborn
Sony released an official statement offering refunds to digital purchasers of Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn citing the unplayable state of the game due to server instabilities. I think this is a pretty classy move by Sony/Square in an effort to maintain a positive vibe for the MMO with a checkered past. In further damage control, Square producer Naoki Yoshida took to the public forums and offered a direct apology to those who were affected by the issues (namely everyone). It's nice to see a bit of ownership here compared to the debacle of the Sim City launch which saw EA basically fueling fires started by server issues by making crazy statements that the concept of playing the game offline never crossed the mind of the developers. At this point, after the installation of some new servers, A Realm Reborn appears to be running smoothly and it looks like the game has moved past its launch pains.

Gearbox Gearing Up for Next Gen (2 new IPs in the pipe!)
At the PAX Prime Panel, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford announced that they are developing two all new IPs for the next generation. Details were sparse but the excite-o-meter was off the charts. Gearbox is one of the most talented developers in the industry and consistently produces creative titles. It is nice to know that they aren't resting on their laurels and intending on only cranking out sequels to their established brands. Whatever Gearbox brings to the next generation, expect it to be great.

Broken Age Voice Cast to Feature Jack Black
The Kickstarter funded Broken Age, the latest project of design genius Tim Schafer, released a brief trailer highlighting some of the voice talent to be featured in the game. While few of the names are likely to be familiar to those who don't follow gaming many of the actors are industry veterans and should be more than capable of presenting Schafer's vision as intended. Of course, the big news here is that Jack Black, who previously collaborated with Schafer on BrĂ¼tal Legend, will be lending his talents for a small part. I suspect that Black will only have a few lines of dialogue but his inclusion can only serve to provide a bit of a publicity bump for the game. Schafer has a reputation for making some of the best games that, for whatever reason, don't sell and hopefully Black's celebrity cache will help in the sales department.

Non-News of the Week - 'Erotic' Metal Gear
And in news that's not really news, Hideo Kojima released a statement that the design for the next Metal Gear game was keeping cosplay in mind. In an apparent mis-translation, Kojima described the style as 'erotic' as opposed to 'sexy' and drew the ire of the internet. While I think a legitimate discussion about sex in gaming can be fruitful, do we really need to get up in arms over the use of the word 'erotic'? Did anyone really think that the next Metal Gear game was going to be a porno? I feel that a valuable opportunity to discuss the real issue of sexism was missed.