20th September 2009 - Welcome once again readers to "The Week That Was”, your weekly round-up focusing on all things PS3, 360 and Wii. It was a busy week this week, so let’s get straight into it.
There were a lot of game releases this week. Colin McRae: Dirt 2 drifted onto the 360, PS3, PSP and Wii and it looks to be one of the best instalments yet in the franchise for the late, great Colin McRae. Last week saw The Beatles: Rock Band, this week sees the latest in the Guitar Hero franchise with Guitar Hero 5 on all systems. Another title churned out by the kings of sequels Activision, so check out the track-list before purchasing. Other 360/PS3 titles out this week were the flight combat game Heroes Over Europe, and EA Sports’ ice hockey game NHL 10. 360 gamers could also pick up Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 this week, while PS3 and Wii owners need to wait until next week. Other Wii games out were NewU Fitness First Personal Trainer and Wacky World of Sports... probably give these a pass. And finally, PC gamers could pick up Red Faction: Guerrilla and they finally get Resident Evil 5.
In PS3 news this week, another firmware update hit the system with update 3.01 going live. The update came as a result of the issues resulting from the 3.0 update that included freezing with Uncharted and issues with the DualShock controller. This update isn’t mandatory, so if you did not have any problems with 3.0 then maybe wait until the next update before updating your firmware.
Speaking of the 3.0 firmware update, it looks like PSN game sales have increased as a result of the upgrade. Game company Doublesix has told GamesIndustry.biz that their PSN title Burn Zombie Burn has increased sales by 40% following 3.0. They have attributed this to the “What’s New” panel which highlights new additions to the PlayStation store, and they feel it’s proof that Sony are really endorsing digital distribution.
So far AAG has avoided talking about adult content on the PS3 as it has only affected Japan and the US, but it appears it may hit Australian PS3’s. With Sony Australia set to launch a video download service, they have not ruled out allowing adult content to be downloaded. In Japan, DDM.tv launched such a service earlier this year that allowed HD-pornography to be downloaded and stored on the console. This is not endorsed by Sony though, as it runs as a separate website. Likely to be rejected by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), it may still be possible for such content to be available locally if hosted overseas. At the end of the day, any concerns over children and adolescents accessing this content falls on the parents’ shoulders, and their ability to keep an eye on what their children access online.
The BBC programme “Watchdog” featured an article this week claiming that PS3’s suffer from a manufacturing fault. On the article, PS3 owners spoke about their experience with the “yellow light of death” which indicates a fault has occurred, and in which their PS3’s stopped working. Sony were quick to rebut the article, believing the numbers stated are not indicative of an overall ‘manufacturing defect’ as the yellow light can be triggered by a range of different circumstances. Watchdog quoted a figure of 12,500 consoles with the yellow light, about half a percent of the 2.5 million install base, but of course this does not include faults not caused by non-yellow-light related faults.
And could the PS3 be seeing Wii ports once the motion controllers are on the market? Capcom’s Jun Takeuchi certainly thinks so, stating in a recent interview that many other developers in Japan are delighted as they can “just port over their Wii titles to the PS3.” Will this help the PS3 tap into more of the casual market? Or will we just see a whole bunch of average Wii games become average PS3 games?
With Wii sales continuing to slide, by reportedly as much as 50% in the last five months, Nintendo are now the ones denying a recent barrage of price cut rumours. The current consensus is that the Wii will receive a price drop in October, the first one for the console. Last week saw a Walmart ad indicating a price drop, and this was followed by Toys’R’Us and Target advertisements this week listing the new price at $US199. Nintendo continue to deny the rumours, still stating that they have no plans for a price cut in the near future, but word has leaked that Nintendo representatives have revealed to retailers that the price drop will take effect from Sunday September 27th.
This week also saw the relaunch of the Nintendo Channel in North America. The free channel allows users to stream high-quality videos, download DS games, and recommend games to other users. An exciting new addition is the weekly program called ‘Nintendo Week’, which is basically a show about “what’s happening in the world of Nintendo.” All other current features of the channel remained, and hopefully Australia sees something like this soon.
With the large amounts of poor-rated Wii games on the market, hopefully Nintendo’s latest move will help improve the quality of games on the system. The Kyoto-based quality control company that is in charge of the “Nintendo Seal of Quality” is branching off into its own separate company. The new company will be named “Mario Club”, and will play test and check Nintendo-related titles for bugs. The quality of games coming out on the market should improve as a result.... here’s hoping.
And finally Nintendo of America President/CEO Reggie Fils-Aime is reassuring everyone that Nintendo are not ignoring core gamers. He specifically cited New Super Mario Bros. and the new Zelda games as titles that have both new and core gamers excited, and said “it’s a mistake to say that we’ve ignored the gamer or that we don’t have products for the core gamer.” These titles do look like they will be quite interesting, but is it too much to ask for more “core” games that aren’t Mario/Zelda/Metroid based? Games such as Madworld, Red Steel 2 and No More Heroes are rectifying that, but we need more Reggie!
In 360 news this week, Microsoft veteran Shane Kim has decided to call it quits. He announced his retirement this week after 19 years with the company. Taking over his position as Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Game Studios will be another Microsoft veteran, Phil Spencer. Good luck with your future endeavours Kim!
And Spencer has been in the news this week, with an interview with Develop published in which he speaks about the further evolution of the 360 and squashing recent talk of the next generation of consoles. Spencer says Microsoft is aiming to evolve the platform continuously, and some things such as Natal will do that via hardware. “When Natal is added to 360.... it starts a new generation of entertainment.” And in terms of the next generation of consoles, Spencer put it best when he said, “And it’s only year four for the 360... When before has there been a console that hasn’t peaked and is in its fourth year still growing and offering so much potential?” That’s right, it’s too early to be talking about PS4’s and Xbox 720’s!
Getting back to Natal, it appears that Microsoft’s commitment to the technology should not be underestimated as they are in the process of building a new team to create franchises specifically for it. They are still looking for team members but have already posted 18 Natal positions on its job board since late August. As a result, the launch of Natal should include a healthy software line-up to go with it.
It looks like the Xbox 360 WiFi adaptor is getting an upgrade. Images have surfaced of a new adaptor sporting two antennas, which means it will support the faster 802.11n wireless standard. The new adaptor should be at least twice as fast as the original, and should improve streaming of HD content. Of course, you’ll need a wireless network in your home that can support it. As this is still unofficial, a release date is unknown. Let’s just hope that it’s not ridiculously overpriced like the current adaptor.
And finally, news of the 250GB Elite bundle has been making the rounds on the internet this week. The rumoured Forza 3 bundle was confirmed for Europe this week, and it includes the 250GB Elite, a copy of Forza 3 as well as 2 wireless controllers. Meanwhile, a special Modern Warfare 2 themed bundle will be available in most regions, including Australia. The MW2 Elite will also sport a 250GB harddrive, two wireless controllers and of course a copy of MW2. It differs from the Forza bundle in that it has a MW2 custom paint job. The MW2 bundle will be out November 10, and retail for AU$599. Selling the 250GB harddrive separately is currently not in Microsoft’s plans.
And this week’s other news in brief:
- A new Mickey Mouse game is set to be unveiled next month. Titled Epic Mickey. This game looks like it may be a Wii exclusive.
- Bethesda is suing Interplay over perceived misuse of the rights to the Fallout Franchise. The problem stems from Interplay’s production of the ‘Fallout Trilogy’ which makes consumers believe it will include Fallout 3 when in fact the third title is Fallout Tactics.
- A hacker has managed to rip the full dictionary from the DS game Scribblenauts. There are well over 20,000 words which you can check out here (spoiler obviously).
- Two free packs are coming to Batman Arkham Asylum, one of which is already available. FREE!
- Some points to come out of Activision CEO Robert Kotick’s recent presentation – Kotick wants many of their products to be playable independent of a console; Facebook profiles may be integrated into Guitar Hero; Activision are working on a real-time rendering and mouth movement technology that would make mouth expressions more realistic; and that Kotick aimed to “take all the fun out of making video games”
- According to new survey data from NPD group, 44% of US current-generation console users are female.