11th July 2009 - Welcome readers to AAG’s first “The Week That Was”, which is our weekly summary of all things Xbox 360, PS3 and Nintendo Wii.
First up, it was a quiet week in terms of console game releases in Australia. On the 360 and PS3, we finally saw the release of “Battle Fantasia”, a fighting game from the makers of Guilty Gear. This title has been available for quite some time over in Japan and the US, and is a good distraction for fighting fans. And..... that’s about it, a very dry week in games.
In Xbox 360 news this week, Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers were able to pick up N+ in the deal of the week. This entertaining 2D platformer was available for 560 MS points, a saving of 30% off the usual purchase price.
Speaking of Xbox LIVE, it appears that the 360 Avatar Editor is more popular than Grand Theft Auto 4 and Gears of War 2! Each week, the most popular Xbox 360 games played are published by InsiderX. InsiderX tracks games played on LIVE and games such as Halo 3 and Call of Duty usually top the list. The Avatar editor does not appear on this list as it is not a game, but if included, it would come in as the fourth most popular LIVE activity, topping games such as GTA 4, Gears of War 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the 360 is currently outselling the Nintendo Wii two-to-one... well at least in GAME stores. According to GAME, between February and June this year, 600,000 360’s have been sold compared to 300,000 Wii’s (and also 300,000 PS3’s). The Wii is still tops at 5.4 million units compared to 3.9 million 360’s but these are very promising results for Microsoft. Back on Australian shores, the 360 isn’t performing too shabbily either. In fact, year to date, it has had an 83% sales growth making it Australia’s fastest growing console base.
And finally, for all you Gears of War and Cliff Blesinzki fans out there, CliffyB has suggested that the next Gears of War title may incorporate some RPG elements. During an interview with Develop, Blesinzki talked about games such as BioShock and Deus Ex and went on to say, “the future of shooters is RPGs”. When further pressed on the topic, this is what he had to say, “'I mean, one could wean that from the comments I made earlier about the future of shooters is RPGs and see where things are going with us”.
There was a bit of drama in PS3 news this week. A few weeks ago Activision CEO Bobby Kotick complained about the PS3 price, and threatened to cease support for the PS3 due to low attach rates. Sony Chief Executive Howard Stringer bit back this week, claiming Kotick “likes to make a lot of noise”. He would further go on to defend Sony’s logic of not cutting prices, claiming "I (would) lose money on every PlayStation I make -- how's that for logic." A price drop might not even have any effect on sales growth however, with one retail sales representative noting no change in growth from Sony’s previous price cuts.
Despite the lack of price-cuts on the PS3, Sony is still pushing out some value-for-money bundles. This week saw the release of a Killzone2 + Metal Gear Solid 4 console bundle in the US. The bundle comes in at US$400, effectively meaning you get the two games for free. This is solid value for money, and here’s hoping Australia sees the same bundle soon.
In other PS3 news, the development team behind God of War III are wary of the game being banned in Australia. Although it’s too early to determine whether or not the game will be banned, GOWIII’s art director Sean Cunningham is concerned that such scenes as Kratos disembowelling a centaur, and “ripping Helios’ head off” will fail to fall under Australia’s MA15+ rating.
Meanwhile, Sony has denied rumours of an XMB interface overhaul. The Xbox 360 has benefitted (depending on how you look at it) from a dashboard overhaul with their New Xbox Experience update, fuelling rumours that the PS3 would receive its own makeover. Eric Lempel, director of Sony US’ network operations has shot down those rumours, claiming the XMB to be an “Emmy Award-winning interface”. However, he would go on to say that Sony is always looking to improve the interface, but no changes were set for the near future.
To finish off on a lighter side, PS3 exclusive inFamous has received somewhat of a little boost from Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw of “Zero Punctuation” fame. Back in late June, Yahtzee reviewed Prototype in a head to head battle with inFamous. After weighing up the positives of each game, the result was a tie. Yahtzee would then go on to say that the winner would be the studio that could produce the best picture of the opposing game’s protagonist in lingerie. Surprisingly, representatives from both studios obliged with hilarious, yet disturbing results. Sucker Punch’s picture of Prototype’s Alex Mercer won, due to their “lovingly-rendered pair of breasts” on Alex Mercer. So if you’re still deciding which game to get of the two, get inFamous.
And now onto Wii news. For those of you living in Melbourne, or those that will be in Melbourne on Wednesday July 22, Nintendo are holding an Official Launch party for Wii Sports: Resort. It will take place at EB games Swanston Street from 10pm to 1am. Prizes can be won, including a prize for best dressed Wii Sports Resort athlete. Best of all though, is that anyone purchasing a copy of the game will also receive a Wii MotionPlus unit and a double Wii Remote charger for free! So far the game has performed very well in Japan, having already sold 500,000 copies within a couple of weeks.
With the Wii’s current popularity, it would come as no surprise to most readers, that Nintendo Australia’s revenue has surged 136% in the last year. Managing director Rose Lappin attributed the growth to the Wii’s ability to target a wide variety of gamers. The Wii’s ease of playability and the social aspect in many of its games help attract non-gamers. Strong titles such as Wii Fit and Mario Kart don’t hurt either, as they continue to perform strongly in the Australian game charts week after week. Lappin also mentions the economic downturn has encouraged more families to look at entertaining at home, of which the Wii can provide hours of entertainment.
Another peripheral (along with the Wii balance board) that Nintendo hopes to attract customers with, is the “Wii Vitality Sensor”. When officially announced at this year’s E3, many gamers were not very impressed... not impressed at all. However Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America president, says we will eventually be wowed by the vitality sensor. In an interview with Fast Company columnist N’Gai Croal, Reggie mentioned there was similar scepticism over the highly popular Nintendo DS, Wii Remote and Wii balance board. Hopefully Nintendo prove us wrong yet again!
Instead of relying on a new peripheral, Red Steel 2 is hoping to improve upon the controls with the Wiimote. In fact, Red Steel 2’s creative director, Jason Vandenberghe, thinks they may have defeated the waggle. Vandenberghe states that controls in RS2 are velocity sensitive, i.e. “the harder you swing, the more damage you do”. This would effectively cause the gamer to put more effort into their motion controls, rather than simply waggling the Wiimote.
And this week in Japan, Nintendo have released a WiiWare application that aims to help people quit smoking. Dubbed “Raku Raku Kinen Appli Wii” (“Easy Non Smoking Application Wii”), this application comes with a book and will teach people how to quit smoking in seven days. It will cost 1,000 WiiWare points, but think about how much you can save by quitting smoking!
We’ll finish off the news this week with some non console-specific news in brief:
3. Speaking of music and games, it has been revealed that a Michael Jackson game has been in development. The game would actually be a brand new album released as a game, introducing a new crowd to gaming.
4. LucasArts announced via twitter that they are to release classic games via Steam starting July 8. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, an update of another classic LucasArts game, is also being released via Steam and Xbox LIVE Arcade on July 15.
5. Konami has banished their online ID codes for the next Pro Evolution game. A welcome move as the requirement to have a Konami ID and game specific account was just plain annoying.
6. Fight Night Round 4 is due to receive free downloadable content to allow for a new (yet old) control scheme, a new training gym, and some gameplay sliders.
7. Modern Warfare 2 looks set to have “Call of Duty” back in the title due to previous lack of brand recognition.
8. EA have announced Command and Conquer 4, due for a 2010 release.
9. THQ are readying some family friendly titles in preparation for Microsoft’s and Sony’s future motion controls.
And that’s the news for the week. See you again next week.
Article Written by Phong Nguyen