Saturday, February 22, 2014

Weekly Roundup - 2014 Week 7-8

A two-for-one this week as I wasn't able to publish a Weekly Roundup last week. The gaming world was hit by a lot of unexpected news both positive an negative. On the positive side, the Titanfall beta ended up being open to everyone and showcased some pretty fun shooting. Also, Doom 4 is still in development and we might see a beta in the near future. On the negative, Irrational Games is downsizing and future Bioshock titles are unlikely to be helmed by Ken Levine. Also this week, Flappy Birds riled up the internet and the Year of Luigi got an end date. 

Titanfall Goes Open Beta
I was one of the lucky few to get a key for the closed beta of Titanfall and was a psyched until I realized that the key I received was for the Xbox One version instead of the PC version that I signed up for. As it turns out, I was not alone as many beta key recipients reported the exact same issue. In the aftermath, Respawn entertainment figured it would be easier just to open the beta to everyone and count it as a sort of stress-test. After the expected server crashes on day-one, the rest of the beta period was more or less a smooth experience with minimal latency and few back-end issues (aside for Origin still being a piece of junk). I really enjoyed the beta but am a bit disappointed that Titanfall seems to be an evolution rather than a revolution for competitive multi-player shooters. That said, I'll still be picking up a copy, Origin and all, on launch day.

Irrational Games Downsizing
Ken Levine, the mastermind behind Bioshock, dropped a bomb on gamers earlier this week when he announced that his development studio would be laying of several people as they move to focus on making smaller-scale games in the future. This came as a surprise because Bioshock: Infinite and the following DLCs made a ton of money and everyone just assumed that Irrational would get to work on building the next game in the series. Levine has paid his dues and if he wants to focus on smaller projects he is well within his right but it's lamentable that he has pretty much given 2K Games his blessing to allow another development studio to work with the franchise. I really hope this doesn't mean a cycle of annual releases that are ostensibly cashing in on the brand name.

Doom 4 Still Around
In some more news out of nowhere, Bethesda reassured gamers that Doom 4 (possibly to be retitled as a reboot - 'Doom') is still in development and has actually progressed enough that purchase of the upcoming Wolfenstein game will give guaranteed access to the closed beta. I'm really not sure how Doom intends to stay relevant in the saturated FPS market now that John Carmack has left Id software but Bethesda has a decent reputation and I'm willing to give the title the benefit of the doubt. I must also tip my cap to Bethesda for the solid marketing as both Wolfenstein and Doom were barely on the radar and this announcement has brought both games to the front of the news cycle - well done.

Flappy Bird
A casual game that has you tapping the screen to navigate a bird through pipes was selling huge on the Apple app store and was apparently netting 50K a day in advertising revenue before creator Nguyen Dong pulled the product after drawing way more attention than he ever thought he would. While I find the game a bit too simplistic for my tastes, some people were apparently taking to eBay to buy iPhones with Flappy Bird installed. Naturally, trolls ran up bids to several hundred thousand dollars on these phones and it's unclear if anyone was actually buying them at any price. In any case, the internet went into full rage mode railing against everything from casual games, Apple, and Dong himself - stay classy internet.

Year of Luigi Ends
The Year of Luigi is officially coming to an end on March 18, 2014 according to a recent post by Shigeru Miyamoto on the Nintendo Miiverse board. The event was implemented as a way to celebrate 30 years since Luigi was first introduced and saw the release of numerous themed games along with a slew of collectible merchandise. No official word has been provided on whether March 18 will be marked by a final hurrah but it seems unlikely. I guess the real question here is 'Does anyone care?'.