It's finally here! Valve's have announced that the free Portal 2 update 'Perpetual Testing Initiative' is now available for download. Did we mention it's, uh, free? Yep! If you already own Portal 2, you now own this.
Perpetual Testing Initiative is available for both PC and Mac, and lets players "easily create, share and play Portal 2 puzzles". The DLC pack sports a simplified Puzzle Maker which makes the creation of Portal 2 maps that much easier.
The Puzzle Maker can also directly publish maps to Valve's Steam Workshop, where everyone else can browse, vote on, and select to play them.
Blizzard are set to throw some improvements and long-awaited new features into StarCraft II, all before the release of their first expansion, Heart of the Swarm which is coming later this year. One of the best additions to the game will be the ability to resume multiplayer games from a replay file.
StarCraft II requires the Internet to plan, and there have been many games lost due to connections dropping from Battle.net. It may not seem like a big issue, but when there's money involved with tournaments, this can be quite a big deal. Players have been dealing with this issue from day-one, so a resume feature is going to be big, big news for SCII players.
The new replay system has another ace up its sleeve, where it has the feature to allow more than one person to view the same file, a feature that the original StarCraft has, and until now is still missing from its sequel. StarCraft II, like Diablo III, is set to receive Global Play. At the moment, users are restricted to their region which prevents them from playing with friends across the pond. Alternatively, you have to purchase another copy of the game. After the new patch, you won't need to do that anymore.
The sequel to Epic's massively popular Unreal Engine 3 is destined for machines that are yet unannounced. Unreal Engine 3 has had an incredible run. Featured at the heart of over 100 games, it runs said games on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, computer, and even the iPhone and Adobe Flash. The games range from massive, graphically incredible RPGs to lowly iPhone games.
Epic is still milking the last bit out of its aging engine, as demonstrated by the picture above. At the same time they are increasingly talking about their upcoming Unreal Engine 4. Epic has been developing Unreal Engine 4 since 2003 and says that it is still too early for a public demonstration. However, they are talking what machines it will be running on, and this includes unannounced machines!
"We've started a behind-closed-doors showing of the engine to developers; this is part of our very early ramp-up cycle," said Sweeney, "We went through this cycle with Unreal Engine 3 starting in 2003 and 2004. At some point we'll make public announcements and ramp up to the point where developers are shipping games, but it's very early right now. We're aiming very high, and the intended platforms this is aimed at haven't even been announced."
Its likely that the new game engine will make a public debut alongside the announcement of the Sony Orbis or the Microsoft Durango.
EA promise "big social title" this year, is investing $80 million in fourth-generation console games
EA are looking to restructure themselves, where they've started their journey toward treating games as services, instead of packaged goods. EA chief executive, John Riccitiello said in today's earnings call that there would be layoffs, as EA increases production of online, mobile and social games.
While there'll be layoffs, there'll also be new job opportunities, thanks to the restructuring. Riccitiello added that the company are investing $80 million into fourth-generation console games, and from there, we should expect the number to swell as production of the games gets under way.
While he was at it, he teased that EA are planning to release a "big social title" this quarter. What could it be? Well, some are talking of a new version of SimCity that would possibly be released on Facebook, as SimCity for PC will be arriving later in the year. Currently, social gaming is only a blip on EA's revenue radar, but the company have made it clear during their earnings call that social gaming would be a bigger part of its strategy moving forward.
A very naughty Blockbuster UK employee has leaked out a screenshot that shows off the Nintendo Wii U launch title list. The screenshot is from the Blockbuster UK stock system search screen, where it shows a list of 25 games and 2 consoles when searching for the "WiiU" in their systems.
The full list of "launch titles" according to GoNintendo.com are:
- Aliens: Colonial Marines
- Assassin's Creed
- Batman: Arkham City
- Darksiders II
- Dirt 3
- Formula 1 All Stars
- Game Party
- Ghost Recon Online
- Just Dance 4
- Killer Freaks from Outer Space
- Marvel Super Heroes
- Metro: Last Light
- Monsters Party
- New Super Mario Brothers Mii
- Ninja Gaiden 3
- Rabbids Party Land
- Raving Rabbids
- Rayman Legends
- Shield Pose
- Splinter Cell 6
- Sports Connection
- Your Shape 2013
EA and BioWare's MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic launched in late-2011 to surprisingly strong numbers, but EA have released an earnings report today that might shock you. EA have announced that the game currently has 1.3 million subscribers, which is down roughly 25-percent from its peak of 1.7 million subscribers in March.
During a conference call that went with the earnings report, EA Labels President Frank Gibeau said that the subscriber drop was within the company's "original assumptions" about how the game would go post-launch. He added that the company "intends to increase subscribers" with continual upgrades, which include new guild features, players vs. player improvements, and "elder gameplay" that keeps SW:TOR appealing to high-level players.
Gibeau has said that the subscriber drop isn't from the "core MMO users", as they are sticking to the game in good numbers, but seems to be coming from the expanded audience of non-MMO-obsessed Star Wars fans attracted by a title like The Old Republic. Gibeau continues:
As the service evolves, some of those initial casual customers have gone through a billing cycle and decided not to subscribe.
Don't fret, though, EA CEO John Riccitiello has said that The Old Republic could continue to be profitable with as little as 500,000 subscr
Sometimes rumors come true, and today, one of the rumors that was floating around last week has joined the ranks of truth. Microsoft has announced today that it is selling a 4GB Xbox 360 Kinect bundle for $99 plus a $14.99/month subscription with a 2 year contract requirement. The contract even features Early Termination Fees, just like its cellphone brethren.
The sticking point to this deal is that you'll have to be located somewhere near a Microsoft Store as an associate has to scan or enter the promotional code. Additionally, the bundle will cost you $458.76 over the life of the 2 year contract whereas purchasing the device would cost only $299 and $120 for 2 years of Xbox Live Gold. And the gold is often discounted.
The contract also comes with some fine print, such as a $250 Early Termination Fee (ETF). The fee drops to $240 in month 4 and then drops by $12 every month after. This is a pretty breaking story, so stay tuned for more as it comes.
Diablo III is nearly here, and if you were worried about the click-thrashing RPG was not going to run on your rig, then don't be alarmed. Usually, Blizzard-produced games are not hard on hardware, with this trend continuing for Diablo III.
Toms Hardware have taken the RPG through some tests with 12 different GPU configurations with a few CPUs thrown into the mix. They've tested minimum and maximum details, right up to 2560x1600.
You might be surprised just how well it runs, on modest hardware. I was surprised, and now I'm quite content that I'll be able to run it at 120fps-plus on my GTX 570 SLI system with three screens. Check out the article here.
The Kickstarter for Leisuire Suit Larry has ended, with its goal being $500,000. The fan-funded Leisuire Suit Larry remake finished just before the weekend reaching $673,602. $655,182 was raised through Kickstarter, with the remaining coming in from PayPal.
Now that the upcoming games Kickstarter is finished, it doesn't mean donations have. PayPal donations are still open, so this total will continue to grow. There is a negative here, though: the game fell short of its second funding goal.
Replay Games were hoping for the $750,000 mark, where they would add new speech, puzzles, cutscenes, locations, mini-games, "girls" and more if it had hit that three-quarter-million mark. But, they got awfully close. Leisuire Suit Larry will be coming to PC, Mac, Android and iOS-based devices. I'll be grabbing it on day one, loved the original!
Max Payne 3 is nearly here and what better way to get back into the game than by watching a very well made fan film dubbed 'Max Payne: Valhalla". Max Payne: Valhalla is a non-profit fan film based on the original two Max Payne games.
It's a Zapruder Pictures production. Written and directed by Guillermo Fernández de Oliveira and Javier Esteban Loring. Starring Javier Esteban and Ignacio Sáez. Filmed in Madrid (Spain). The video above goes for a shave under 8 minutes, but is definitely worth those precious 8 minutes of your life.
There are some great sequences, the audio, music and acting is all well done. The bit with the load game after Max dies is just perfect, my hat goes off to the team!
The popularity of the Call of Duty franchise seemingly increases with every launch. And the announcement and launch for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 pre-orders doesn't break this trend as the pre-sales for Black Ops 2 have smashed records set by previous pre-orders. Amazon has said that pre-orders for Black Ops 2 have outsold the original 10-1.
The 10-1 number is based upon the day one take-up. Black Ops 2 is set to launch November 13. Amazon UK says the figure is up 30%. Additionally, the game is 30% up on "the biggest entertainment launch of all time" Modern Warfare 3 at Amazon US. This means that if the trend continues, Black Ops will blow by MW3 to become the most pre-ordered game ever.
This is one game that I will be partaking in as Treyarch has again brought back the Zombies game mode along with an RTS mode, futuristic weapons, holographic tech and more. If you haven't already, check out the trailer below. It's sure to blow your mind and make you want to pre-order the game with the rest of the fans.
As we reported yesterday, the studio behind The Elder Scrolls is looking to create an MMO based in the Elder Scrolls world. The game, which will be unveiled in more detail this June in the magazine Game Informer, features online social components, such as dungeons and PvP, as well as solo quests.
The video doesn't reveal much, if anything, that we don't already know about the game, but it does do a good job of perking viewers' interest in the game. I'm not a massive MMO player, Black Ops is about as good as it gets, but even I have some interest in the upcoming Elder Scrolls Online after watching the video.
An IGN source is reporting that the next generation Xbox is already in the manufacturing stages. The source reports that assembly of the next generation of Xbox has started at the Austin, Texas branch of Flextronics. Flextronics is the manufacturer of the current Xbox 360 as well as the current Xbox.
Just because the hardware is being assembled doesn't mean that we will be seeing the next generation console anytime soon. The hardware being created is most likely development kits for game developers so that they know what they are dealing with. Microsoft has stated that it will not be an E3 reveal, so don't get your hopes up.
Microsoft told IGN this:
Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend its lifecycle like introducing the world to controller-free experiences with Kinect and re-inventing the console with a new dashboard and new entertainment content partnerships. We are always thinking about what is next for our platform and how to continue to defy the lifecycle convention. Beyond that we do not comment on rumors or speculation.
Activision aren't letting themselves get kicked down by claims by EA that Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 looks like a "tired" game, where they've promised it will be "groundbreaking and visceral" and will feature "disruptive innovation".
With both companies going head-to-head for the Christmas season sales, EA with their Medal of Honor: Warfighter launching weeks before COD:BLOPS 2, Activision is putting up a fight. Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision says:
Hands down, this is the most ambitious Call of Duty ever. We are bringing disruptive innovation to the franchise and we are doing it on several fronts. We're pushing the boundaries technologically, graphically, and from a narrative and gameplay perspective.
Activision are promising "an experience that Call of Duty fans have never seen before", where they also add that it is challenging assumptions in relation to the single player campaign and its multiple setting, where the multiplayer side of things will sport zombies and more ways to play. Activision tap their storyline, which is set to feature multiple branches and meaningful choices that will impact the narrative, which is something that will set it apart from the competition.
It has been a long time coming, but we're finally hearing about The Elder Scrolls Online, which will be unveiled in the June issue of Game Informer. The Elder Scrolls Online is being developed by the team at Zenimax Online Studios, where the game merges the exploration of rich worlds that the Elder Scrolls franchise is known for, with the scale and social aspects of an MMORPG.
The Elder Scrolls Online is set 1000 years before the events in Skyrim take place, as daedric prince Molag Bal tries to pull of Tamriel into his demonic realm. Game director and MMO veteram Matt Firor says:
It will be extremely rewarding finally to unveil what we have been developing the last several years. The entire team is committed to creating the best MMO ever made - and one that is worthy of The Elder Scrolls franchise.
While there's been yet another Call of Duty announced in the form of Black Ops 2, but Battlefield 3 is still pumping away. We should receive Battlefield 3's first expansion in June which will begin an entire new world of Battlefield 3 fun.
During a recent interview, DICE's Patrick Bach said that the studio is focusing on giving players between 12 and 18 months of value in Battlefield 3 through DLC and expansions. Whilst speaking to VG24/7 regarding Battlefield 3's upcoming DLC, Close Quarters, Bach said:
We make sure that if you're a Battlefield player, there should be plenty of Battlefield for you to spend your days on. And again, we are focusing on giving you 12-18 months of value for Battlefield 3 and the expansion packs we're releasing.
Are you excited? I'm sure this is great news for Battlefield 3 fans.
Microsoft are reportedly set to release a $99 Xbox bundle which will include the 4GB-sporting Xbox 360, as well as their Kinect motion sensor device. The Xbox 360 won't be sold flat-out for $99, but will have a two-year $15 per month subscription attached to it.
At the end of the two-year period, customers would have paid slightly more for the bundle, compared to if they had dumped $299 down up-front. But, most people would rather pay a smaller monthly fee, then dump all of that money down at once. It's how smartphones are sold, in droves.
Included with the two-year subscription is a two-year warranty, membership to Microsoft's Xbox Live Gold service, and possible extra streaming material. If customers want to break the contract, they can do so by paying an early termination fee. This fee is currently unknown.
It's funny, because I've talked of this before. Microsoft, Sony, Valve and others moving toward a monthly fee type system, which means next-gen consoles could be over-powered, and retail for $999, but offer a two-year contract at less than $50 per month. It seems Microsoft are dipping their toes into the water with this, and if it works well, I fully expect this system roll through to next-gen consoles. Hopefully.
ValveTime are reporting that forum member "tabernumse" has posted the e-mail response he received from Gabe Newell in reference to their plans for E3, shown below:
We are not announcing anything at E3. Really. We are not announcing Half-Life 3 or Portal 3 or Left 4 Dead 3. We are going to be showing stuff everyone already knows about (CS:Go, Dota 2, 10' UI, ...)
On one hand, I'm upset. I really wanted a Half-Life 3 announcement, but in typical Valve style, they'll wait. I'll let them do this, I'll let it slide. But come E3 2013, they'd better not only announce Half-Life 3, but release it close to E3. Release it on their Steam Box, release it on PC, give it to us. Dump out Left 4 Dead 3 and Team Fortress 3 at the same time, wouldn't that be nice.
Diablo III is nearly here, we've already hit May 1 which means there's only two weeks left to go until we can raid dungeons, and start using the new Auction House to sell our loot. Today, Blizzard released a full list of the region servers that will be available for Diablo III.
What this has also unleashed, is that we can play on any region's server in Diablo III, which is great. Game servers will come in three regions: The Americas, Europe, and Asia. Players can choose any server they want, but with caution: you won't be able to transfer characters, or items from server to server. But you can switch between servers as many times as you want. The list of servers is:
- The Americas - For players in the US, Canada, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia.
- Europe - For players in the European Union, Eastern Europe, Russia, Africa, and Middle Eastern countries such as Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
- Asia - For players in South Korea and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.
The day has come. The Treyarch-produced Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 trailer is here, and I'm kind of speechless. Before I get into what I think of the trailer, check it out below for yourself, then we'll talk about it:
There you have it, the trailer to a game that most likely has a budget of over $100 million, yet looks like it could've been produced 6 years ago or more. Jaggies everywhere, low-res textures, facial animation from the NES ages. That's what it feels like, anyway. If Crysis and Battlefield, and countless other better looking games had not come before it, then I wouldn't care. But the bar has been raised, significantly.
COD: Black Ops 2 gets below this bar, throws up on the floor and has a fit in its own mess. It tries to get back up, slips over and repeats this pattern every 12 months or so, around November.
But, it will sell, big time. Of course, this is only my opinion, but the gaming industry is better than this. Much better than this. Looks like some dumb fun for a while, though. I won't be touching it.
After weeks of teasing us about the upcoming DLC for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Bethesda has finally released more details about the coming DLC. First off, the name of the DLC is going to be 'Dawnguard.' I've never actually played Skyrim, so I can't say if that is some sort of reference to something in the game.
The marketing teaser image shows the usual hero. However, he has an unusual yellow glow in his eyes which could signal that the hero could be gaining some sort of new powers in the DLC. As we reported previously, gamers have dug around in a patch and found references to things that most likely will be showing up in the DLC.
Bethesda says that Dawnguard will debut on Xbox360 sometime this summer. In case you hadn't heard, the first two DLCs for Skyrim will be timed exclusives for Xbox 360. PS3 and PC gamers will have to wait at least an additional 30 days beyond the release. Technically, summer starts at the end of May, but it's doubtful that it will be that early. Bethesda says they are waiting for E3 in early June to release more details. I'll be attending E3, so I'll make sure to get the low down!