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The Biggest Stories Of The Week (May 18, 2013)

 

Did you miss any of the big stories this week? Want to find out how the pieces fit together? You're in the right place. This week was filled with more financial news, more details on Silicon Knights and Precursor Games, and some more heavy-hitting previews.

 

E3 needs to be huge for Nintendo

This week was a bit tumultuous for Nintendo. The good news is that the company is one step closer to ridding itself of a nagging lawsuit from patent squatter Motiva. Courts ruled that Motiva had no intention of applying its patents and only sought to monetize infringement by others. Motiva has vowed to fight on.

The bad news is that the house of Mario was dogged by flagging third-party support and a public relations nightmare of its own creation. EA confirmed this week that it currently has no Wii U titles in the pipeline. That means no Madden and no FIFA this year. WWE Games tweeted that its new game, the first under publisher 2K Sports, will only be coming to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Activision has also been very coy about whether it will be spending resources to bring Call of Duty: Ghosts to the platform.

While we don't have a concrete answer from Take-Two about Grand Theft Auto V on the Wii U, it was announced yesterday during a Nintendo Direct presentation that Platinum Games' The Wonderful 101 will be arriving on September 15. The latest open-world crime drama from Rockstar Games will be in stores just two days later (with almost guaranteed midnight release parties on Monday night). 

Conventional wisdom is to simply get out of the way of huge releases like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. Instead, it seems that Nintendo has chosen to go in the opposite direction, pitting The Wonderful 101 against a juggernaut.

Yesterday's Nintendo direct also brought new details on Pikmin 3, an exclusive partnership with Sega to bring Sonic games to the platform, and a release date (and budget price) for Game & Wario. The big news for fans is that Nintendo is taking another step forward on its direct-to-consumer approach. The company will have exclusive E3 demos in over 100 Best Buy locations during the show this June.

The Nintendo Direct presentation was given under a cloud, however. Earlier this week, the company exerted its copyright on YouTube. The result is that any video matched using the platform's ContentID system can no longer be monetized by the channel holder. Instead, bookend ads will be placed on the videos and Nintendo will receive all the revenue. 

To be clear, this is absolutely within Nintendo's right. There is no legal issue, as the YouTube terms of service are more favorable to content holders (which protects Google and YouTube). The issue is whether this is a good public relations choice. 

The community of people making "let's play" videos (known as LPers) took to Reddit and other social media channels to express their concerns and disappointment. Many LPers claim to earn significant revenue from their videos, and Nintendo's action has led some to rethink their focus on Nintendo titles. LPers offer word of mouth advertising, which is a crucial for any marketing effort.    

 

Take-Two, Ubisoft, and Square Enix - Financial Call Highlights

Take-Two

Grand Theft Auto V is going to propel Take-Two forward this year. Bioshock Infinite and continued sales of Borderlands 2 have the company off to a solid start for fiscal year 2014. The most interesting thing that came out of the call is that even with all of the games coming out under the 2K Games label this year, Rockstar is still projected to bring in 65 percent of the revenue. This is due to the upcoming release of Grand Theft Auto V and the back catalog of titles in that series that are still selling well.

Ubisoft

On the games side of things, the biggest news is that Patrice Désilets' 1666 project has been put on indefinite hold after the designer was fired last week. Ubisoft also revealed that it has two unannounced titles in the works. One is a brand new series, which means that the other is part of an existing franchise.

Square Enix

Earlier this week, I wrote a great deal about Square Enix. The company posted huge operating losses ($59.8 million) after Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs, and Hitman: Absolution failed to reach the high targets the publisher set. One of the more surprising announcements is that the company plans to dive deeper into mobile and regionally-focused production.

 

 

This week's previews and reviews

 

Quick Hits

  • Apparently, the owner of a rare Sega Pluto device believes that $15,500 isn't enough for his lucky find. The offer wasn't turned down, but it didn't meet the reserve price either.
  • When we met up Tim Schafter at Kill Screen's Two5Six conference last week, the Double Fine head honcho told us that the studio is still trying to get the distribution rights for some of its past games, including Costume Quest. 
  • Warren Spector will be helping to design the curriculum of a new program focused on leadership in the games industry. He'll also be teaching classes when the University of Texas at Austin program launches in the fall.
  • We've got updates on the Shadow of the Eternals crowdfunding effort. Precursor Games has succeeded in navigating Kickstarter's guidelines and has launched a campaign. We also spoke with representatives from Silicon Knights and Precursor about the relationship between the studios.
  • There is a new Twitch app for your Xbox 360 that offers access to the top 300 channels.
  • EA has a mobile version of Frostbite in the works. As a reminder, EA has said that it could not get Frostbite working well on the Wii U.
  • EA has reconfigured its Los Angeles, California operations. The new EA DICE LA studio will be working on projects including new Star Wars titles.
  • Good news and bad news about Trion Worlds. On the bright side, Rift is going free-to-play. On the down side, the studio laid off a significant number of staff (reports have that percentage as high as 80).
  • Valve has introduced a new Steam trading card system. It's in beta right now, and it looks like it could be a neat hook for players.
  • EA is abandoning the online pass movement (otherwise known as "Project $10"). Are we pessimists for wondering when the other shoe is going to drop?
  • The April NPD report is out, and last month saw sharp declines in video game spending.
  • Naughty Dog has told us that The Last of Us will be available for digital delivery on the same day as it arrives at retail. Additionally, players will be able to begin their game while the download is still progressing.
  • Reports suggest that Microsoft might be abandoning the dreaded points currency. Are you ready to say goodbye to space bucks?

 

Announcements and Release Dates

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