Nintendo today revealed new information about the Switch's smartphone app, which is required for online lobbies and voice chatting on the console.
Nintendo's new Switch handheld-console hybrid is missing one key thing: voice chatting. Instead of allowing a headset to be plugged into the Switch or the Switch Pro controller, Nintendo has moved voice chatting and friend parties to a dedicated smartphone app. As you'd imagine, online voice chat on the Switch is a mess, and Nintendo has announced key info about the app itself.
The Nintendo Switch Online mobile app will release on July 21 alongside Splatoon 2, and allows users to "send multiplayer invites to their friends via social media, as well as enables use of voice chat in battles." The Switch Online mobile app does a lot more than voice chatting, though: the app is a hub for online-enabled games, which have their own in-app companion modules. For example, Splatoon 2's companion module is called SplatNet 2, and allows gamers to send invites and chat as well as check over stats, event schedules, and even buy customizable items while on-the-go.
Select PlayStation 4 games like Killzone Shadow Fall can now be played on Windows PCs via PlayStation Now.
In a bid to counter Microsoft's strongly received and affordable Xbox Game Pass subscription service, Sony aims to bring PS3 and PS4 games onto PC with PlayStation Now. Sony's move to PC was announced back in March, and now Sony has delivered its first batch of PS4 games that are playable on Windows PCs via the PS Now service.
Sadly, Sony's initial PS4-on-PC offering is quite sparse and doesn't have heavy-hitting exclusives like The Last of Us Remastered or Bloodborne--those games are likely to stay on PlayStation. The PS4 games lineup mostly includes third-party games and indies, but Sony did throw in Killzone Shadow Fall and God of War 3 Remastered as well as Resogun. Sony also has a number of PlayStation 3 games available for streaming onto PC, but key exclusives are likewise missing.
After more than two years, Ark: Survival Evolved is finally leaving early access next month...but Studio Wildcard has already raised the price.
Ark: Survival Evolved is slated to release as a bona-fide finished game on August 8, 2017, and like most new games, Ark will be priced at a $59.99 premium. Although Ark's full release is more than 30 days away, Studio Wildcard has just now doubled the game's price from $29.99 to $59.99 on Steam to "ensure retail parity for the upcoming launch." Ark's price had jumped to $60 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 while back.
Ark has been in early access since 2015, and despite its popularity, the developers have sparked ire over business decisions including charging $20 for a new DLC pack while the game was still in early access.
Bandai Namco today confirmed that Tekken 7's mysterious new mode will be Tekken Bowl.
Rather than include a recreational mini-game mode in the full release of Tekken 7, Bandai Namco broke the series long-lasting tradition by carving out the next mode to sell separately as DLC. The publisher has yet to reveal full pricing of "Ultimate Tekken Bowl," but it'll be free as part of the game's $25 season pass. Ultimate Tekken Bowl will be the only new mode coming to Tekken 7 via the $25 season pass, and other content includes new characters and stages.
As a long-time Tekken fan I have very mixed feelings about paying extra for Tekken Bowl. I was hoping that Tekken 7 would get a unique mode instead of something we've seen before, and the fighter could surely use it--the game is fantastic in terms of tournament style fighting, but it's very lacking in its different mode offerings. Tekken 7 is missing many key mods found in other Tekken games such as Time Attack, Team Battle, and Survival.
Halo fans may get something special this week. Could it be a big patch to the ill-fated Master Chief Collection, or perhaps a Halo: Reach remaster? Or is it just another community-catered playlist?
If you ask me, it hasn't been a good week to be a Halo fan for a long, long time. 343 Industries has taken the series into a strange direction and systematically torn the magic from the once-mighty sci-fi franchise. But 343 Industries developer and Halo vet Frank O'Connor teases an incoming treat for Halo aficionados.
What could it be? Halo 6 won't be revealed for a long time--the studio confirmed that the next Halo game won't be announced in 2017. The long-rumored Halo 3: Anniversary remaster has also been debunked, too.
Rocket League continues to amass gamers, with over 33 million players across all platforms that Rocket League is available on, something developer Psyonix announced today.
Better yet, the developer has announced that Rocket League's new Anniversary Update will be pushed out today, including the new freer area 'Champions Field'. There's also a slew of new content, including:
- FREE Rick & Morty Customization items distributed as Common drops after online and offline matches, including Rick and Morty Antennas, 'Cromulon,' 'Mr. Meeseeks,' and 'Mr. PBH' Toppers, an 'Interdimensional GB' Rocket Boost, and 'Sanchez DC-137' Wheels
- 'Rocket League Radio,' which adds a new default music playlist "Rocket League x Monstercat" with 18 new tracks from EDM music label Monstercat
- New Import Battle-Cars 'Animus GP' and 'Centio V17,' available exclusively as drops inside the new 'Overdrive Crate'
- New Overdrive Crate with the potential to unlock animated decals, brand-new trails, and more
- New customization options like 'Engine Audio,' 'Goal Explosions,' and 'Trails' that are a mix of FREE selections and Crate drops
- End to 'Competitive Season 4' and Trail rewards distributed to competing players based on their highest skill tier reached
- Beginning of 'Competitive Season 5' with new changes
- Six new achievements and trophies
- and more!
Total War fans will soon have an extra helping of ancient warfare to chew on.
Creative Assembly today announced Total War Saga, a new historical spin-off series of games that deliver standalone experiences based on "pivotal moments in history rather than whole historical eras." The developer affirms that the next big Total War is still coming, and that Total War Saga won't replace the mainline series of major releases.
According to series creative director Jack Lusted, each "saga" will often overlap with previous Total War periods and retain the same RTS action the franchise is known for. "Sagas won't be revolutionary new titles or introduce brand-new eras; they'll follow-on from previous Total War games and inhabit the same time-period, or at the very least relate to it. But these are certainly Total War games," Lusted said in the announcement blog post.
Nintendo is keen on learning everything it can to give its fledgling smartphone gaming business wings.
Rather than have any one set method to make money with its smartphone games, Nintendo has experimented with a number of different monetization paths. All of Nintendo's three mobile games use various payment plans with varying degrees of success. Super Mario Run uses a free-to-start model, locking full the game behind a $10 fee after players finish a demo--as a result less than 10% of players actually bought it. Free-to-play Miitomo allows players to buy items with premium currency. With Fire Emblem Heroes, however, Nintendo has enjoyed the most success: the game racked up $5 million in its first week. The game uses the "gacha" model, a free-to-play method where players pay money to unlock in-game content--in this case orbs that can be used to unlock new characters, replenish stamina, and various other bonuses.
Despite the strong earnings of Fire Emblem Heroes, Nintendo isn't ready to commit to any one model just yet. In a recent Q&A session with shareholders and investors, Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima said that the company will continue experimenting with various payment methods to ensure as many people around the globe can play their games. Nintendo's research will likely fold into its upcoming new Animal Crossing mobile game, as well as the reported Zelda smartphone game.
"We feel that Nintendo is still a newcomer in the smart-device business, and we have released three applications so far with different IPs and payment models. Although no single model is clearly superior, we have been able to learn a lot. We want to keep thinking about how consumers would want to pay for content in our future smart-device applications," Mr. Kimishima said during the meeting.
"Super Mario Run has seen over 150 million downloads and access from over 200 countries. Less than 10 percent of these consumers have actually purchased the full game. While there are consumers all over the world who want to play a Mario game, there are varying economic situations across the world, and some consumers are not able to pay for the game."
"This may be due to the price or the payment methods, so in the future we will consider not only a single set price, but other methods that incorporate a wider variety of elements to allow as many consumers as possible to play."
Microsoft has provided game developers with Xbox One X GPU benchmarks for nine different games, and that information has since been published to give players an idea of what the new 4K console "beast" can do.
Eurogamer's Richard Leadbetter got a hold of the Xbox One X GPU benchmarks list and has compiled a ton of data, insights, and explanations in a jam-packed article. The nine benchmarked games are anonymous, but Leadbetter has a few guesses on what they could be.
The data is based on GPU frame time captures from PIX, Microsoft's Performance Inspector for Xbox which captures game profiles that allow for developer-side optimizations. PIX samples are captured from games running on original Xbox One consoles to make a performance profile. The profile is then passed through the Xbox One X's Scorpio Engine to "port" the game to 4K resolution in the most basic way possible. Remember that the Xbox One X will natively boost performance of all Xbox One games by default without tapping any of the new hardware, similar to the PS4 Pro's Boost Mode. Leadbetter affirms the GPU benchmarks via PIX didn't tap additional console hardware features, and the data exists outside of gameplay so "30 or 60FPS caps are irrelevant."
Nintendo currently has no plans to bring its games to desktops or laptops.
The House of Mario has changed dramatically over the years and is now a big success again. The company spent years swimming against the current with its stubborn attachment to a clandestine business model, but has since turned everything around by embracing market trends. Nintendo traditionally has tried to make trends instead of follow them, and this approach worked quite well over the years until it hit a brick wall with the Wii U. Now the Kyoto-based games-maker has done both: it's changed the game with its massively popular new Switch handheld-console hybrid, and swims with the current by bringing its world-class IP to smartphones for the first time.
While Nintendo's paradigm shift towards a more open integrated hardware and software business has paid off, the company is still slow to further change. Its mobile releases are staggered over many months to ensure quality and avoid saturation, but Super Mario Run was by far and large a misstep due to its free-to-start business method. Nintendo weighs its moves very carefully in regards to the Nintendo Switch, too, keeping big games releases appropriately spread across the year and keeping big updates like Virtual Console and the paid online service close to its chest.
But there's one platform Nintendo just isn't ready to pursue yet: PC.