This week saw a ton of massive gaming announcements. Between Microsoft acquiring the rights to Gears of War, PlayStation 4 backwards compatibility, Nintendo entering the mobile market, and the Titanfall open beta announcement, gamers on all platforms had something big to whet their appetites. Also this week, Sly Cooper will be made into a feature-length animated movie.
Microsoft Buys Gears of War
The Gears of War franchise has been in steady decline both in terms of critical reception and sales since the first game topped game-of-the-year lists in 2006. The most recent entry, Judgment, received luke-warm reviews and moderate sales. With the main narrative tightly wrapped up in the third game (spoiler alert: humans win), only a deus ex machina can justify continuing the story in any sort of reasonable way. Microsoft obviously feels that the can return the franchise to glory and wanted to lock down the rights to add another exclusive to their stable of games. Personally, I feel the purchase will break even with a couple of mediocre titles selling based on the brand name alone before it falls into obscurity.
PlayStation 4 Backwards Compatibility
Sony let slip that emulating capabilities for earlier console titles will be patched into the PS4 at some point in the future. While it is unclear if this means that gamers will be able to download and play games locally or if this will be an extension of the PlayStation Now streaming service, it's a win for Sony no matter how you cut it. The backlog of PlayStation titles is robust and opening it up on the next gen machine will be sure to entice at least a few extra sales. This news will inevitably force Microsoft to do something similar for the Xbox One in retaliation. I was really disappointed when it was announced that the next generation wouldn't be backwards compatible and I feel that this is a huge step to making buying a new machine palatable.
I've made no effort to hide that the game I'm most excited for in 2014 is Titanfall. Giant mechs and parkour just seems like too awesome of a combination to fail. The game will officially launch in March but will also be hosting an open beta starting February 14th. Unfortunately for partners all around the world, Valentine's day plans just got cancelled.
Mobile Nintendo and CEO pay cut
In the wake of Nintendo's dramatic stock dip after a poor earnings report, CEO Satoru Iwata announced that he would be taking a 50% pay cut. While the gesture is appreciated, I don't feel that Nintendo's struggles can be placed squarely on the CEO. In any case, along with the pay cut, Nintendo also indicated their ambitions to enter the mobile market. I feel this is a great idea - the mobile market is a perfect area to expand their business without simultaneously benefiting their rivals (Sony and Microsoft). Not to mention that Mario will probably transfer pretty well to small scale devices.
Sly Cooper Movie
Rainmaker Entertainment, a studio primarily noted for their recent releases of direct-to-video Barbie movies, announced that they are working on a new animated movie to be released in 2016 based on the Sly Cooper license. Rainmaker is also working on a Ratchet & Clank movie. It's unclear whether these titles will see full theatrical release and whether or not they will be exclusively marketed as kids movies. Most gamers who grew up playing Sly Cooper are well into their 20's now and I think it would behove Rainmaker to make something that appeals to this demographic but am doubtful this will be the case.