Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weekly Roundup - September 15-21, 2013

This week was dominated by the release of Grand Theft Auto 5 and its meteoric sales. Also, Blizzard announced the removal of the auction house from Diablo 3, a remake of Ghost N' Goblins briefly popped up on Steam, Nintendo is treading the waters of new pricing models, and Chris G continues to dominate the fighting game circuit.

Grand Theft Auto 5
The biggest new of the week was the release of Grand Theft Auto 5. In an odd coincidence, millions of people were prevented them from going to work on September 17 due to an unexplained illness. Early reviews for GTA5 have been extremely positive with the game currently sitting comfortably over 95 on metacritic. All told, the game appears to be another solid step forward for the series which routinely sets the bar even when no other series seems even close to matching it. Consequently, GTA5 has pulled in over 1 billion USD in revenue in its first week of launch making it one of the fastest selling entertainment products of all time. I am glad to see RockStar rewarded for their no-compromise approach and dedication to producing the best games possible; many other developers would be content to rest on their laurels.

Auction House to be Removed from Diablo 3
I covered this news extensively in my post Going, Going, Gone. In short, I feel that the decision to remove the auction house from Diablo 3 demonstrates an acknowledgement from Blizzard that the game needs work while simultaneously making the statement that they are willing to do it. Blizzard's after market support is nothing short of astounding and, along with RockStar, are one of best developers in the business. Removing the auction house, from which Blizzard receives a cut of the profits, couldn't have been an easy sell to management and it is encouraging to see a commitment to making the best game overtaking the immediate desire for profit.

Ghosts N' Goblins (not?) coming to Steam
A bit of a strange piece of news here was the appearance of a Ghosts N' Goblins remake appearing on Steam greenlight and quickly being pulled. According to Capcom, the title is not intended for North American/European release and isn't quite ready for release in the Asian market yet. While I understand that the game would require localization for NA/EU release, digitally releasing to this market seems like a no-brainer. Localization costs would easily be recouped and digital distribution requires minimal overhead. Quite honestly, I don't understand Capcom's handling of their venerable franchises; for some titles they seem intent to listen to the community and are rewarded for it (Duck Tales: Remastered), for others, they seem to do exactly the opposite of what fans want (Mega Man XOver).

Wii Fit U/Wii Sports Club and new pricing models
Nintendo announced a novel pricing scheme for their upcoming Wii Fit U and Wii Sports Club titles. The Wii Fit U will launch with a free month trial open to all with this trial being converted to the full product through the purchase of the balance board accessory. Wii Sports Club will allow each individual sport to be purchased for $9.99 ($50 for the complete product) thus allowing players to pay proportionally for the parts of the game they want to use. Additionally, the full product of Wii Sports Club will be made available in the form of a digital rental for $2 a day. While some are up in arms about these new pricing schemes, I think that it demonstrates some forward thinking by Nintendo. The concept of a digital rental is pretty neat and the $2 price tag seems far from malicious especially if the one-day access is enough to convince you not to buy the full product. Nintendo has been on a run of bad decisions as of late and hopefully this is the beginning for turning things around.

Chris Gonzalez wins SF4 and MvC3 tournaments at The Fall Classic
Finally, rounding out this weeks news is Chris Gonzalez' (AGE NYChrisG) victory over a pretty strong field in both the Street Fighter 4 and Marvel vs Capcom 3 tournaments at The Fall Classic. While Chris G looked a bit shaky in the SF4 grand final, he seems to consistently dominant the North American tournament scene. With the fighting game tournament season just starting to pick up, it will be interesting to see if he makes it to EVO as the favourite.