20th December 2009 - Welcome readers to the 23rd edition of All Age Gaming’s “Week That Was”. This will be the last one for the year as we all gear up for Christmas and New Years. There was only one console game release this week, with MX vs. ATV Reflex being released on the PS3 and 360. This is the last game release of the year as by now all the studios have either pushed product out in time for Christmas, or delayed their games to prevent a glut of blockbusters having to compete with each other!
In Wii news this week, Nintendo are looking towards 2010 by revealing a games line-up for the next year. The list of announced titles includes a heap of games that look like your usual shovelware, such as “Family Party: 30 Great Games Winter Fun” and “The Daring Game of Girls”, but also included a few promising third-party titles including “No More Heroes 2” and “Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars”. You can check out the full list here.
Nintendo have also revealed two new colours for the Wii Remote. Available from Valentine’s Day 2010, one remote will be blue (for the boys) and the other pink (for the girls). The remotes will also be bundled with the MotionPlus accessory, although early pictures indicate the MotionPlus will still be white. So come Valentine’s Day next year, everyone playing the Wii can have their own coloured Wii Remote.
Despite the Wii having a down year in the US, with sales considerably down from 2008, Nintendo’s software is still the most popular in the region. Updated figures from the NPD Group showing year-to date sales have Nintendo titles occupying 6 out of the top 10 best-selling titles for 2009. Modern Warfare 2 was of course the top selling game, but Wii staples such as Wii Fit, Mario Kart Wii and Wii Play continue to sell strong despite being over a year old. Wii Sports Resort and New Super Mario Bros. Wii were the new titles joining the party.
And is the successor to the Wii in the works? Nintendo has recently filed a trademark for the name Zii, which has furiously fuelled speculation that there is a new console in the works. Rumours of a Wii HD have been prevalent throughout the year but Nintendo continue to deny them. Other theories for the patent have been that the trademark is simply to protect Nintendo’s existing intellectual properties.
Despite the Wii still dominating the top 10 software titles in the US, Microsoft are starting to make a strong push as the platform with the greatest software revenue. Looking at November revenue totals, Nintendo dropped from having a 34% share last year, to 29% this year. Meanwhile, the Xbox 360 has pounced, with its revenue share increasing from 28% to 37%. Perhaps a lot of this can be attributed to Modern Warfare 2 performing the strongest on the 360, bringing in at least $260 million for the console. With New Super Mario Bros. Wii starting to make a strong push, we’ll have to wait and see if Microsoft can continue this trend.
Meanwhile Microsoft’s product development director Aaron Greenberg has taken a few swipes at Polyphony Digital, the developers of Gran Turismo 5. Greenberg considers it second rate compared to Microsoft’s exclusives saying, “Is it launching next year? I’ve seen years and years of mini-games, but I haven’t seen that the game is done.” Greenberg went on to say that Microsoft’s Halo series is better than the GT series even though they are completely different games. Had he compared it to the excellent Forza series, that would have made much more sense!
If you’ve got more dollars than sense, this Xbox 360 may be for you. On sale on eBay, for $31,000 you can pick up a microwaved Xbox 360. The console is the art product of Kenny Irwin, who has also nuked a Nintendo Wii. If you think it’s grossly overpriced, take solace in the fact that 50% of the money will go to charity. Considering how ugly that thing is, 99% of the price should go to charity!
And Modern Warfare 2 is experiencing more bugs on the 360. This time it’s believed that a modder managed to discover an exploit that allows those playing over Live to get unlimited ammo. The exploit seems to affect anyone joining a game with others with the exploit, spreading somewhat like a virus. As a result, multiplayer games can be unbalanced and unplayable in certain situations. The problem can be fixed by disconnecting from Live and rebooting the console. Infinity Ward are currently working on a fix to the problem.
The PS3 slim has been a huge success for Sony so far, and the reduction in size has made for a much more streamlined console. But the console could have been even smaller! Sony Computer Entertainment’s Masayuki Chatani has revealed that Sony were looking to make the Slim even smaller, with one of the strategies being to use flash memory instead of the HDD. This would have cut down on size, running costs and even noise levels. Alternatively, Sony were looking to the PSN as a storage solution but “the price would be too high for the amount of storage capacity the PS3 needs”. An even slimmer PS3 would also have meant the need for an external power supply, similar to that on the PS2 Slim, as well as the Xbox 360 and Wii.
Meanwhile, Sony have mentioned monthly PSN fees again. SCE technology platform boss, Masayuki Chatani, has spoken to Nikkei Japan about the PSN service and the ever-increasing digital marketplace. Chatani said, “We expect to see considerable growth in digital content, such as game download services, avatar items and the like... We can also accept payment in a growing number of ways. In addition to single-payment packaged software, there are also schemes like monthly fees or per-item charges.” Sony have previously identified the monthly fees as being for premium content, so don’t expect them to charge for playing online, their only advantage over Xbox’s LIVE at the moment.
SCEA’s Director of Hardware Marketing, John Koller was also in the news this week talking to GamePro about various topics including Sony’s motion controllers and backwards compatibility on the PS3. In terms of the motion controller, Koller is so confident in Sony’s product that he thinks Project Natal and the Wii will have trouble matching it, especially when it comes to shooters and sports games. When asked about PS2 backwards compatibility on the PS3, Koller believes it’s becoming less and less of an issue considering the now considerable line-up of PS3 games, and the “high level of satisfaction” consumers have for the PS3 as a whole.
And the highly anticipated game Heavy Rain will be trying something different with their trophies. Heavy Rain will be a game highly dependent on the narrative to set the mood and immerse the player. Developers Quantic Dream are worried that trophy alerts will affect the tone of the game, and so any trophies accumulated during normal play won’t be alerted to until the player reaches transitional scenes. I for one like the idea, and hope more developers follow Quantic Dream’s lead in the future.
And now for the other week's news in brief:
Alien vs. Predator’s banning has been reversed following appeal. It will be rated MA15+, but based on screenshots of this game, it really should be R18+... if only we had such a rating.
Speaking of R18+ ratings for games, the Federal Government has finally released the discussion paper on the topic. A good step forward to getting towards an R18+ rating for games, but if Mr. Atkinson still votes no, then it will all be in vain. At least we know the ACT Attorney-General supports such a rating.
Australia will be getting a God of War “Ultimate Trilogy Edition” next year that will feature all 3 God of War games and some extra content on top of that. It will be exclusive to EB Games.
And if you thought the Microwaved 360 was pricy, you haven’t seen the “Wii Supreme”. Made up of 2.5 kilograms of 22ct gold, and 78 diamonds totalling 19.5ct, this limited edition console (only 3 made) will set you back £299,995!
And that’s it for me for this year. Thanks to everyone for all their support and I hope everyone has an awesome Christmas and New Years. 2010 is gearing up to be one of the biggest years in gaming, and we’ll be here to report it all to you. See you in 2010. Happy gaming!