The Biggest Stories Of The Week (July 20, 2013)
Another week, another flood of news. Welcome to the Game Informer weekly recap. It's hot outside, so grab a frosty beverage and settle in, because a lot happened this week.
In addition to this week's analysis, I published a feature about Kickstarter best practices that should be adopted from the nonprofit world. If you are a Kickstarter project manager, have backed (or are considering support of) a project, or simply like to read about these independent projects, this might help focus the way you evaluate pitches. Your feedback is always appreciated.
Ubisoft sales drop off during the last quarter, but still beat projections.
Ubisoft's first quarter 2014 performance wasn't exciting in and of itself, but some of the additional details slipped in during the conversation offered some interesting perspective. After disclosing a 42 percent drop in first quarter sales in comparison to last year (attributed to the lack of a retail release between April and June 2013), CEO Yves Guillemot looked ahead to the rest of the year. Sales are looking up for next quarter, and I expect that third quarter (Watch Dogs, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag) will be huge for the publisher.
Open world games have been a growing part of Ubisoft's stable, and gamers should expect even more in the coming years. Far Cry, Watch Dogs, and Assassin's Creed all offer players a great deal of freedom. It also wouldn't surprise me to see the Watch Dogs companion app set a trend. We learned that use of the mobile game will not require ownership of the retail release. This will broaden the player base, giving those at home a greater chance to connect with someone on their phone or tablet.
We also learned that racing game The Crew will arrive in early 2014, with Tom Clancy's The Division coming late in 2014. Ubisoft was asked about sales projections for next generation consoles, and the response was revealing. Ubisoft was a major supporter of the Wii U early on (and remains one of the platforms largest third-party publishers).
Officials at the company have been vocal about their desire to see Nintendo step up marketing and lower the price. Because of the struggles facing the Wii U and Ubisoft's bold predictions last year that the console would help move the publisher's titles, Guillemot was hesitant to commit to even broad strokes about anticipated sales figures for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of upcoming games.
Atlus' parent, Index Corporation, is getting ready to auction some of its operations.
Until next week, we won't know if Index Corporation's announcement of an upcoming auction, but the situation has us concerned about one of our favorite RPG publishers. As a reminder, Index Corporation is in enormous debt that has only been made worse by major devaluation due to fraud charges. In an effort to work through "rehabilitation" (a form of bankruptcy), the company is selling off some of its operational units.
I think it would be a mistake for them to part with Atlus. The publisher is picking up enormous steam lately, and smart decision making is a big part of that. Putting Shin Megami Tensei IV on the 3DS, which is the top selling game hardware in the US for two months running (as confirmed by the June NPD report released this week), was brilliant. Nintendo's handheld is a powerhouse, and it's only getting stronger.
We're keeping a close eye on what's going on with Index Corporation and will report as soon as we know something more. As a reminder, there is absolutely no evidence that anything is changing with Atlus at this time. We won't know what's going on until next week.
- Blizzard only recently got devkits for next gen hardware, so Diablo III won't be available on Xbox One or PS4 at launch.
- Sony has decided to stop fighting the fine levied for the 2011 security breach that took PSN down for a month.
- EVO saw huge numbers of stream viewers, with Super Smash Bros. Melee destroying records.
- Martian Manhunter has been announced for Injustice: Gods Among Us.
- Twitch is streaming a Video Games Live concert today (Saturday July 20).
- The Rise of the Triad reboot will have an editor that includes assets from the original release.
- Famed Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu has written an eBook, and it will be available next month.
- American McGee has canceled the OZombie Kickstarter due to rights issues and a slow start to fundraising.
- Assassin's Creed II is currently free for Xbox Live Gold members. We previously covered this month's PlayStation Plus freebies, including Jet Set Radio.
- Nintendo announces Gold and Platinum Elite rewards.
- Monaco developer Andy Schatz detailed some of the reasons he thinks Monaco didn't sell well on Xbox Live.
- Former Twisted Pixel developer Dan Teasdale is leading the new No Goblin studio.
- Johnny Gat is coming back to Saints Row.
- Sony is shutting down online services for MAG and two SOCOM titles.
- Jim Walls, the mind behind Police Quest, has a new Kickstarter.
- Three developers from the most recent SimCity have left Maxis to form their own studio.
- Layton Brothers Mystery Room has cracked one million downloads.
- FIFA 14 adds Brazilian clubs.
- New details have been revealed about State of Decay on PC.
- The NCAA has decided to step away from video games, and EA has extended a non-exclusive license with the Collegiate Licensing Company to continue making college football titles.
- A nineteen-year-old created an enormous expansion/mod for Skyrim as a job application.
- See how the ESA stacks up against the NRA in lobbying expenditures.
- A collectors set of Legend of Zelda hardbound guides has been announced.
- Viacom is at the end of its legal rope and must pay Harmonix millions in owed bonuses.
- THQ has received court approval to liquidate its assets.
- Ouya announces a small fund to woo developers into exclusive deals.
- Nintendo has improved the Streetpass function of the 3DS to utilize Nintendo Zone locations.
- Raptr and Twitch are working together. The new Raptr desktop app makes streaming PC games very easy.
- Copperhead has been revealed for Batman: Arkham Origins.
- Popcap is raising money for charity with zombified Munny figures.
- Pokémon developer Game Freak is teasing something new.
- Microsoft clarified that Forza 5 can be played offline out of the box without a need to download content.
- Share your favorite Mii Hats with us. We'll feature members of the community.
- Gearbox's Randy Pitchford is teasing even more DLC for Borderlands 2, with a reveal coming later today (Saturday) from PAX Australia.
- Assassin's Creed is not likely to make the jump to a contemporary setting. It will, however, be getting a graphic novel set in 18th century India.
- The comic prequel for The Last of Us influenced the story of the game.
Previews and Reviews
- We had hands-on time with WWE 2K14 (and spoke with the Ultimate Warrior). - Preview
- Mad Max gets its first gameplay trailer (yes, this is gameplay) - Preview
- We played the first few hours of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified - Preview
- Octodad: Dadliest Catch is hard to control, a blast to play - Preview
- Hands on with The Wonderful 101 - Preview
- Hands on with the latest Ace Attorney title, Dual Destinies - Preview
- Killer Instinct is at San Diego Comic-Con and we got to play it - Preview
- Watch Dogs is at SDCC, too. Seems like Ben Reeves got into some trouble - Preview
- There is a new LEGO game coming, and this time it's based on... LEGO - Preview
- We asked questions about the new Strider and got a lot of answers - Preview
- Dynasty Warriors 8 Review
- Shin Megami Tensei IV Review
- Rogue Legacy Review
- Breach & Clear Review
- Deus Ex: The Fall Review
Announcements and Release Dates
- Divekick will be arriving for PlayStation 3 and Vita on August 20. $9.99 gets you both versions.
- Skullgirls is coming to PC on August 22.
- Capcom announces Ultra Street Fighter IV with five new characters coming in early 2014. Unless they are planning to invent new adjectives, we think this might be the last one.
- Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl (an enhanced remake of the first title in the series) is coming on August 1, 2013.
- Angry Birds Star Wars II has a release date (and a toy component). It arrives on September 19. The original Angry Birds Star Wars arrives on consoles this fall.
- Dishonored's Brigmore Witches DLC arrives on August 14.
- Sonic Lost World is coming to Wii U and 3DS on October 22.
- Pixeljunk Monsters: Ultimate HD is coming to Vita on July 30.
- Plastic Piranha and 505 Games announce Rekoil for PC and Xbox 360.
- Procedurally generated platformer Cloudberry Kingdom has release dates between July 30 and August 1 on a variety of platforms..
- Earthbound is available right now on the Wii U Virtual Console.
- Sir, You Are Being Hunted goes into alpha on August 19.
- Halo: Spartan Assault is out now.
- Capcom has announced a new Strider game.
- Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational is coming to PlayStation 3 on July 23.
- Towerfall is coming to PC.
- Gail Simone, writer of an upcoming Tomb Raider comic series, confirms a sequel to this year's reboot is in the works.
- Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is coming to consoles and PC on October 29. It arrives on 3DS on November 26.
- Title based on new animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series coming October 22.
- SoulCalibur II HD Online has been announced for a 2013 release. It's coming to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.