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The Biggest Stories Of The Week (June 29, 2013)

If you like your news served up to you like a buffet, you're in the right place. We're recapping all of the big stories (and even some of the not-so-big moments) of the past week. Let's get this news party started.

We're calling it the Microsoft shuffle.

Last week's big news was Microsoft's sudden reversal on Xbox DRM and online connectivity. It was clear that consumer backlash (measured in pre-ordered consoles) was substantial enough for the company to change its mind. What actually happened behind closed doors is a story that likely won't be told for years (and we'll be first in line to ask to write it). But, it's over now. Microsoft's communication plans just got a lot more manageable. Right?

Well... no. One of the biggest problems plaguing Xbox One PR is Microsoft's own Twitter Support. Typically a great resource for console, accessory, and account questions, the division has been one of the most significant disseminators of false information. Worse, some writers are picking up the tidbits and running them without verification. It introduces confusion into the system that those of us obsessed with fact are trying to help wipe away.

This week, the hot topic was how chat will work on Xbox One. For some reason, the news that a headset wouldn't be in the box (which we broke in our current issue) caught new life. Given that people were asking us about it, I wrote an opinion piece about how, as a parent, the Kinect input plus television output is a terrible solution. We spoke with Astro, makers of high-end, pro-quality headsets. Microsoft even confirmed to us again that only peripherals designed for the Xbox One would work on the new system.

In short, there wasn't going to be a way to use your old headset (ranging in quality from the Xbox 360 pack-ins all the way up through the $300 price point). And then I woke up the next morning.

Xbox Twitter Support was at it again promising that an adapter was in the works and assuring me that information was authorized for dissemination. I immediately emailed my contact who had told me just hours before (again) that no, we would all need new, Xbox One-licensed headsets. At the end of the day, I finally heard back that despite the conversation the day before and my specific inquiry about an adapter, things had changed. In less than 24 hours I was told two completely conflicting things by Xbox PR. An adapter is, apparently, in the works to bridge existing personal audio accessories into the next generation.

This is about more than headsets. This is about a muddled communication plan that is making it difficult for writers to put out clear, concise, and accurate information. My number one job is to accurately report to you, our readers, on the issues facing the industry. It's not getting easier to do that when it comes to the Xbox One.

 

Atlus says it's doing just fine despite its parent company's fraud charges and bankruptcy.

I want to believe that everything is perfectly fine at Atlus, like the company has said in a statement. I can't, though.

I do trust that business is carrying on as usual at the publisher's offices. There are a number of games coming from the company over the next few months, and we're big fans here at Game Informer. However, the daily operations being unaffected doesn't mean that all is well. Even in a bankruptcy (Index is burdened with approximately $249 million in liabilities), there are a lot of unknowns. In this case there are also serious charges levied against its parent.

Index Corporation is accused of "round-tripping" to inflate sales. It's a simple process that involves selling goods to another party with the promise to buy them all back at the same price. Technically, these count as sales on the books. It's clever, really. It's also absolutely illegal. Whether Atlus titles were included in the round-tripping hasn't been revealed yet based on the documents we've read.

There are a couple of different scenarios that could play out:

Best case scenario: Index recovers from civil rehabilitation (a form of bankruptcy) and the charges against the company play out in such a way that Atlus is unaffected. Great games keep coming to North America with those cool first-run bonuses. Atlus games aren't involved in the allegations of fraud and are selling as well as we suspect.

Second-best case scenario: Atlus' games are selling as well as we think they are, but Index needs to sell them off as part of the debt mitigation. A publisher who likes them exactly as they are integrates them and allows the company to continue doing exactly what it has been.

Not so good scenario: Atlus' games are unaffected by the round-tripping allegations. Index needs to sell off the business and it's either not purchased or picked up by another firm that changes things for the worse.

Worst case scenario: Atlus titles are involved in the allegations. Even if no one at the publisher knew, the business' value is instantly slashed. Whether picked up by someone else or shuttered, things change because the titles weren't as profitable as everyone thought. No more cool bonuses. Fewer adventurous and risky titles. RPG fans mourn.

Obviously, there are some variations on these that offer greater nuance, but these four are the broad strokes. Our fingers are crossed that the great games keep coming.

 

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