Saturday, January 18, 2014

Weekly Roundup - 2014 Week 3

A bit of a slow news week to go with a dearth of new game releases. Topping most tickers was EA/Maxis' announcement of an offline mode patch for Sim City. Naturally, the internet took the opportunity to flame EA and moan some more about always-on DRM. Also this week, WiiU sales under-performed projections, RBI Baseball is coming back, Syrian hackers mess with Microsoft's Twitter, and Gabe Newell keeps the awesome going.


Sim City Offline Mode
EA/Maxis finally announced the much anticipated offline mode patch for Sim City and stated that game mods would be allowed. In an official press release, justification for the long delay for the release of the patch was chalked up to major programming overhauls and a switch from Java to C++. While I'm sure that they want to make sure the offline mode is stable, this all seems a bit bogus considering that a modder/hacker was able to get the game running offline 3 days after launch. EA has rightfully taken a ton of heat for the deplorable launch of this game that had many people stuck in hour long waiting queues or unable to play the game at all due to the forced online requirement. While the patch is laudable, personally I feel that it is too little too late to garner any goodwill.

WiiU Sales Forecast (Predictably) Not Good
Unsurprisingly, after crazy-bold sales predictions for the WiiU a few months ago, Nintendo issued a revised report reflecting a significant decrease in profit projections. The original predictions were almost as if Nintendo forgot that they would be competing with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 over the holidays. Naturally, shares in Nintendo tumbled with some people calling for CEO Satoru Iwata to step done. For his part, Iwata shouldered some of the blame for the poor sales but firmly rejected any notion that he would vacate his position, instead opting for a to be announced management shake-up. It just keeps getting worse for Nintendo.

RBI Baseball 14
I loved the original NES RBI Baseball and am glad to see that the brand is being resurrected in 2014 given that 2k Games is no longer involved in the sport. Even though I'm unlikely to pick up the game, I think a new direction is necessary given the stagnation seen over the past few 2k iterations. That said, MLB Advanced Media is the purported developer and their lack of experience is cause for concern. Honestly, I would be okay if they just brought back the 8bit era graphics and gameplay instead of going for the most realistic baseball simulation.

Syrian Hackers Target Microsoft
In recent 'WTF' news, the Syrian Electronic Army, a coalition of Syrian hackers loyal to Assad, hacked Microsoft's twitter feed and issued a bunch of benign pro-SEA tweets. There is no clear reason for the attack other than some vague statement that Microsoft was selling information to security agencies. Most are guessing that this motivation was a misunderstanding of the recent NSA monitoring activities and how they may have been tracking terrorists through Xbox Live. All told, hacking a Twitter account is hardly a major feat for most organised hackers and is more laughable for its randomness than a real security threat.

Origin on Steam Box Okay!
Gabe Newell recently confirmed just how open he intends the Steam Box and Steam OS to be by suggesting that if EA wants to run their rival Origin service on the platform it would be okay. On one hand, this is another case of good-guy Valve showing just how cool they are by inviting everyone to the party, on the other, I don't think Valve considers Origin a legitimate threat. Valve recently divulged that they have a user base of over 75 million which makes it the most popular gaming service by a landslide (by comparison EA announced 50 million users last summer and that number is almost certainly artificially inflated). I'm still on the fence with the Linux-based Steam OS but, if it turns out to be as robust as its Windows counterpart, I will probably install it on my PC.