This Week in Games: March 17, 2012

No Xbox 720 at E3, Baldur's Gate news, Diablo III gets a date, an Elder Scrolls MMO game, some Mass Effect stuff, GameSpot and Giant Bomb join forces.

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We made a bit of our own news this week when we revealed that our friends over at Giant Bomb would be joining us as part of the GameSpot Network along with their Whiskey Media stablemate Comic Vine. This had plenty of significance for longtime GameSpot fans (and haters) as it gave us the opportunity to address an unfortunate time in GameSpot's past. After the news went out on Thursday morning, we livestreamed a conversation later in the afternoon in which erstwhile GameSpot editorial director and Giant Bomb editor-in-chief Jeff Gerstmann was able to discuss the circumstances of his departure from GameSpot in 2007 for the first time. Quite handily, we have an archive of that video that you can watch right here.

Diablo III Finally Got a Date

No, not that kind of date, silly. A release date. May 15 is the big day but, as has previously been reported, the game will be launched without its multiplayer player-versus-player arena component. That part of the game will be delivered digitally to gamers at a later date via a patch. When the multiplayer component is launched, it will include "multiple arena maps with themed locations and layouts, PVP-centric achievements, and a matchmaking system," as well as a "personal progression system." Excited? Preordered? Wondering what a "personal progression system" is? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Zoiks! An Elder Scrolls MMO Game?

If there's one thing we would love to be able to take on pure, blind faith, it would be a new massively multiplayer online game based on the Elder Scrolls franchise. The rumors have been circulating for a while that Bethesda is working on "something" in the online space, but things kicked up a notch when an "industry source" spoke to technology news and reviews site Tom's Guide this week suggesting that the Elder Scrolls MMOG--to be imaginatively titled Elder Scrolls Online--will be revealed this May. Not in June at E3 as you might expect, but a month prior, which does make the whole rumor thing seem a bit iffy.

The Elder Scrolls MMOG--to be imaginatively titled Elder Scrolls Online--will be revealed this May. Not in June at E3 as you might expect, but a month prior, which does make the whole rumor thing seem a bit iffy.
The source claims that the game will be set an entire millennium before The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This timeline would put the new game several hundred years in front of any Elder Scrolls game. Additionally, the source says Elder Scrolls Online will sport three playable factions. Details are thin concerning these roles, but the tipster said each will be represented by animals: a lion, a dragon, and an unspecified bird of prey. What do you think? Do you believe it?

Speaking of Bethesda, it stopped fighting about the whole Scrolls name with the guys at Mojang this week because it finally won the argument. Mojang managing director Carl Manneh announced the news on the company website last weekend, saying, "We have settled the lawsuit over Scrolls, and Mojang and Bethesda are friends again." As part of the deal, Mojang's forthcoming title Scrolls will be allowed to keep that name, but it must surrender the Scrolls trademark to Bethesda. "For us, this was never about a trademark, but being able to use Scrolls as the name of our game, which we can," Manneh said. Mojang founder Markus Persson shed further light on the matter, saying on Twitter that in addition to the above, Mojang has agreed to not make an Elder Scrolls competitor using the Scrolls name.

Baldur's Gate Returns

When we mentioned that there was something new happening with Baldur's Gate a couple of weeks ago, you all seemed to be understandably quite excited. This week, after a joke circulated on Twitter that publisher Atari would be turning the franchise into a Facebook game, it was finally revealed that the developers at Beamdog subsidiary Overhaul Games would be doing exactly what their name suggests; overhauling the game using a "reforged" version of the famed Infinity Engine. Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition will be released this summer and will later be followed by its sequel in Enhanced form. Details are thin concerning the project, but Beamdog's Trent Oster shed further light on the game via Twitter. He said Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition is "going to have new content for the game you love, made by some of the original team members." Additionally, the developer revealed that the enhanced edition will include the Tales of the Sword Coast expansion. As for Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition, it will include the Throne of Bhaal expansion and will ship at a later date.

Erstwhile Sony Guru Goes to Microsoft

OK, dubious segue here: Phil Harrison, former non-executive director at Atari (see? Baldur's Gate, Atari, Phil Harrison…it works, right?) but more significantly erstwhile president of worldwide studios at Sony Computer Entertainment, has joined the Xbox team as head of Microsoft's European Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB). "As the senior IEB leader in Europe, Phil will not only lead the Microsoft Studios European organization directly, but will also influence the broader performance of IEB's European business through strategic partnerships and by bringing culturally relevant entertainment experiences to Microsoft platforms, now and in the future," the company said in a statement. This means he will also be overseeing British-based game developers at Lionhead Studios, Soho Productions, and Rare. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Rare still exists.

Despite the proximity of this news to that of Peter Molyneux's departure from Microsoft Studios, it seems that Harrison is not filling his shoes. "Is Phil Harrison replacing Peter Molyneux?… No," tweeted Xbox's Larry "Major Nelson" Hyrb. "Phil's role on the IEB leadership team is completely unrelated to Peter's departure."

If you're not clear on why this is a big deal, Harrison was ultimately responsible for many of the more progressive game-related moves made by the PlayStation organization between 2005 and 2008. This included the support of titles such as Little Big Planet and MotorStorm and ensured that PSN was a haven for imaginative and sometimes avant-garde indie titles. His vision and passion for games that break traditional boundaries will no doubt have a significant impact on the Xbox organization in the coming years.

Despite being only five weeks old, the game has already been downloaded 20 million times, and right now it's the number one free and paid app in the App store as well as being the number one free app on Android.

Draw Something!

The new iPad shipped this week, so we have a good excuse for mentioning our favorite iOS game of the moment: OMGPOP's Pictionary-like asynchronous picture/word game Draw Something, which has quickly become one of the fastest-growing games…well, ever. Despite being only five weeks old, the game has already been downloaded 20 million times, and right now it's the number one free and paid app in the App store as well as being the number one free app on Android. OMGPOP boss Dan Porter says there are "only" 12 million players actively playing the game, but even so over a billion pictures have already been drawn in the game. If you haven't tried it out yet, we highly recommend you do.

Obligatory Weekly Mention of Mass Effect 3

Yes, we know some of you are bored with all the Mass Effect chat of late, but given how astronomically popular the game is right now, it seems there's an appetite for this stuff. We'll keep it brief. Remember those folks who felt so strongly about the ending of Mass Effect 3 that they were circulating a petition to try to convince BioWare to change it? Well, they added a PayPal donate button for Child's Play to their efforts and have now managed to raise over $35,000 from more than 1,400 contributors. Will this do anything to further convince the studio to address the group's concerns? Probably not. Here, our own Laura Parker takes a stab at explaining why that likely won't happen. "Art does not side exclusively with the artist, nor does it side exclusively with the audience," she concludes. "A work of art is brought into being by the creation of a two-way relationship between both entities. A video game like Mass Effect 3 cannot be fully realized until it is played by an audience that must be allowed to react and respond to the work."

Mass Effect 3 executive producer Casey Hudson defended himself on the subject, stating, "I didn't want the game to be forgettable, and even right down to the sort of polarizing reaction that the endings have had with people--debating what the endings mean, and what's going to happen next, and what situation are the characters left in," he said. "That to me is part of what's exciting about this story. There has always been a little bit of mystery there and a little bit of interpretation, and it's a story that people can talk about after the fact."

It hasn't just been the ending to the game that has fans bent out of shape about Mass Effect 3 though. There's the whole matter of the day-one DLC too, which pissed off an awful lot of people. Plenty of fuel was poured on the fire when PC users found that they could unlock the new character featured in the From Ashes DLC without actually downloading anything. Electronic Arts issued a statement this week, saying, "As stated previously, in order to seamlessly integrate Javik into the core campaign, certain framework elements and character models needed to be put on disc." It went on to explain, "We did something similar with Zaeed and Kasumi in Mass Effect 2." It was not made clear if the parts of the From Ashes content are included only on the PC version of Mass Effect 3 or if PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 copies also host the content. Hudson addressed this also. "I think people get it now," he said. "They get the fact that sometimes the way that things work in game development isn't known very well by a lot of people, so there's an opportunity for misunderstanding, including the fact that as a multi-studio team and company, we have many projects that are ongoing. When we finish a game, we finish it many months before it actually hits the shelves and the team goes on to work on something else that in those intervening months represent millions of dollars of development time, which either goes toward the next game that you might not see for several years or a different game that they might go to work on like Dragon Age or The Old Republic."

[UPDATE:] Since we started pulling together the week's news for this roundup, the Mass Effect Community has, as of Saturday morning, raised over $58,000 for Child's Play from more than 2,700 contributors. Thanks to GameSpot user experience_fade for bringing this to our attention in the comments. While we're updating this story, let's also mention this:

Brendan Sinclair tackled the subject of on-disc DLC this week in his editorial On-Disc DLC Outrage Is Off the Mark in which he concluded, "The solution to the problem is to let publishers know that they've already blown past the pain point and to tell them we've had our fill. But it can't just be about on-disc DLC, or day-one DLC, or collector's editions, or season passes. It needs to be communicated to the publishers in sweeping fashion that gamers want a complete experience for a fair price or we simply won't pay. We need to tell them to present us with information on all extraneous content ahead of time--including pricing and release dates--so that we can make a more informed decision on whether to hand over our money. We need to tell them not to cut up expansions into a dozen $5 add-on packs, not to claim the retail game is a complete stand-alone package one week and the story-based DLC meaningfully fills in gaps the next."

Weekly Next-Gen Update

It all got a bit silly this week. First of all, in an initially hyperbolic but ultimately prescient quote, outspoken Twisted Metal dev David Jaffe told Edge in the UK that he "couldn't care less about next-gen." He continued, "I started at Sony Imagesoft doing Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis games, and I went through that to PS1, then PS2, PS3, Vita… You go through the cycle enough and you realize today's 'Oh my f****** God' is tomorrow's 'Ehh, whatever.'" As the Internet collectively rolled its eyes, he went on to explain, "I'm no longer that excited about next-gen technology; it means budgets go up." He continued, "It sucks. The biggest thing I want is what you get from the PSP and the 3DS; it's always on, there's a sleep mode and I can just hit a button and I'm right back where I was and I don't have to go through all the boot-up s***."

How convenient, then, that the real next-gen news this week is similarly negative and kind of depressing. After all the teasing and rumors of developers seeing nearly finished hardware, Microsoft peed on our parade this week with the statement, "While we appreciate all the interest in our long-range plans for the future, we can confirm that there will be no talk of new Xbox hardware at E3 or anytime soon." What? C'mon…surely they're just f-ing with us, right? Nope. The company representative said that 2012 will be "all about Xbox 360." And, presumably, the further forcing of Kinect functionality into a variety of games.

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Discussion

81 comments
chechak7
chechak7

OMG An Elder Scrolls MMO Game ...can i pre-order it

kb8618
kb8618

Companies Lie all the time, dont be surprised if they show x720 at their E3 conference

Shivers_GotGame
Shivers_GotGame

I was so pissed when Jeff got fired. You stuck it out and you never went away or gave up!! Good Job Jeff and everyone that hung in there!

fioreskater
fioreskater

im glad all the old crew is back! they are a bunch of funny guys wtg gamespot

AceCometh
AceCometh

I laugh at the idea that the Wii U is being considered next gen. It's Nintendo's overdue venture in to the current gen cycle. Durango and PS4 will blow the Wii U away once they're released. True next gen tech.

cheatmaster3005
cheatmaster3005

looks like the wii U will be the only next-gen system for a while

Thumbler76
Thumbler76

I'm fking worried about an Elder Scrolls MMO, with the classic MMO UI, the run for the best gear available, and all the tricks used in this kind of game to keep the gamers online (and the tricks are never dealing with a good story, but they are based on stupid achievements, grinding and so on!). It's great to see Jeff Gertsmann again, working with (not for) Gamespot. It is a really nice surprise for me! Welcome back! It's great to know that there will be a Baldur's Gate (I and II) Enhanced edition! Hurray!

valium88
valium88

@BYBY666 No need to worry, a lot of people express this concern, however Bethesda is a part of Zenimax and Zenimax Online studios (also a company under Zenimax group) has been working on what was rumoured to be an Elder Scrolls MMO like two years ago. Bethesda may contribute but if the rumour is true (which is probably the case) Zenimax Online studios is the developer here, not Bethesda. My guess is Bethesda is working on the next Fallout and have been for quite some time.

dhecht
dhecht

I still don't understand all the fuss about either day-one DLC or whether it's partially or entirely included on the distribution media. In any event I interpret what Bioware said to mean that they had to put the hooks in to allow a new character into the game's existing framework. But here's the thing: I pre-ordered the X360 enhanced version. So, I got day-one FREE (for my extra $20) access to the Javik DLC. Was it on my X360 disc? Perhaps. But in practice, I still had to redeem a code and download 600+MB of content from the EA server before I could use it. Dunno how that went if you pre-ordered the PC enhanced version. But--finally--people have apparently forgotten that this used to be a fairly standard distribution model: I still have old CDs from small indie companies that used to distribute their entire product line on one CD (yeah, I know, Dark Ages stuff) and you paid to get unlock keys for each individual game or app. That model went out more or less when digital distribution became economical, but I don't honestly see the problem...

BYBY666
BYBY666

Bethesda please don't make a MMO Elder Scrolls you will destroy everything that you made so far please don't be stupid. I love The Elder Scrolls franchise and I don't want to lose it to an MMO because I won't pay every month so I can play it.

ManfromRedRiver
ManfromRedRiver

As an American, you know you've been watching a lot of British media when you don't even realize that the speaker you are watching is speaking in an English accent until they comment on it... haha!

Freezeryder
Freezeryder

@awheaten Harsh words... But I agree that Jeff G does indeed seem to have a different approach to games sometimes. Many see him as a complete guru, and though he IS extremely knowledgable and experienced when it comes to videogames, I must admit that I kinda lost some respect, when he claimed that Saints Row 3 was THE game of 2011. Sure it has humor and is "crazy-awesome" in a killing-people-with-a-giant-d****-and-then-farting-on-their-grave - sorta way, but.. I found the game itself to get real old real fast, and the story arch, just isn't particularly interesting. I, for one, just stopped playing it. Was he serious or was he just being a "renegade"? I mean, look what other games came out that year. Aaaah, I dunno. I still like him, though. Funny guy.

awheaten
awheaten

I thought the site would just die slowly and they would go on to do other things. But, they have decided to take one last bat at it and go out with a bang. Word of advice, bashing PS3 game will never give you the audience that need to be successful. Too many loyal Sony fans want to hear the truth about the new games that are coming out. Not your take on why you don't like this or that. Sony is here to stay; I thought they would have learned that from the PS1 and 2. But, trying to usher M$ as the dominate system is a mistake and will continue to cost you fans Jeff. BTW, MAN has he put on wieght. Word of advice STOP SETTING UP THE BAR!!!! LOL!

Vaultdweller108
Vaultdweller108

ME 3 is not a panting it is not like we are asking them put the Mona lisa hair back in a bun, if Bethesda did it on fallout3 then EA can do it on ME 3.

awheaten
awheaten

Giant bomb is exactly its name: a nuke bomb. The podcasts are terrible, talking about all kind of crazy stuff. Getting off topic every other subject. The site is a mess. The scoring system is all jacked up. I finally had to be honest with myself and say these guys are Xbox fans and they will continue to bash Sony no matter how good their games are. gamespot is getting better, only because the Xbox hasn't really came out with any games. But giant-bomb is a horrible site. I knew that they were going down hill when they started charging to listen to their horrid podcast, rationalizing it saying, "It cost you what you would pay for a gallon of gas every month". That was the end of it for me. I stop going to the site.

awheaten
awheaten

I used to be a fan of jeff G. I am one of those who followed him to giant-bomb. And, thats where I started not to like this guy's philosophy on games. What makes a good game; whats cool and whats not. I started getting into gamespot around 2001. Jeff, Alex, and the rest of the old schools were there. PS2 was at an all time high. All the games were (to me) rated pretty fairly. That is until this Genre came around, the PS3 was highly scrutinized (because of the price) and the games average score was like a 7. Then all of the Xbox360 games were getting like 8.5 and 9s, when previously the year before they were getting like 6 and 7s. Since then I've been voicing my opinion against gamespot. That is when I followed Jeff to giant bomb only to find out that was the founder of PS3 bashing. I had thought that it was gamespot that had started that trend; taking money from M$ to say the games like tools of destructions was a 7.5. But, it was infact Jeff that was responsible for all this.

Freezeryder
Freezeryder

@Iamshmee We are in complete agreement. An online co-op mode is a fine idea. Games like Dead Rising 2, Dead Island and Fable 2 did it afterall. (Sidenote: Dead Island did perhaps push it a bit too far, effectively ending up as co-op game, that you could play alone.. though you might not enjoy it). Special mention to Dark Souls, which is a complete singleplayer behemoth, BUT did something really interesting online, with its complete anonimity and freedom to invade other peoples campaigns and help or destroy them. You are of course right, Mass Effect 3 is the last game - for now. But if you were to catch a recent Hotspot where the executive producer of the game pays a visit, you'd learn that they are completely open to the idea of more Mass Effect games in the future. He even states that it's up to the fans. And sadly (for us two), it's quite likely that many will see a fullblown MMO as the next step. But, that's all speculation. Singleplayer prequels, origin-stories or side-stories seem much more interesting to me at least. The world of Mass Effect has a seriously rich and detailed history, so there ain't exactly a shortage on stories worth telling in game-form...

Iamshmee
Iamshmee

@Freezeryder I think an MMO is more of a negative experience as well. I think to maybe include online content wouldn't be completely negative as it could be optional and wouldn't be what's expected of players. As long as the single player is in the forefront I wouldn't mind going on a dungeon bash with a couple of friends instead of bringing idiot AI that gets in my way in tight corridors in the middle of a tomb. I think an aspect of multiplayer wouldn't hurt the Elder Scrolls if tested in an installment but I agree a straight out MMO could be murder. As for Mass Effect, isn't the 3rd the last? I honestly have never finished one because I can't stand playing a game where aiming is attributed by your status. If the retina was shaking an crapload I could understand missing but when I have a clean head shot I should have what is mine. Hear they're great but it just ain't my cup of tea.

RPG_Fan_I_Am
RPG_Fan_I_Am

Nooooo.... I don't want a MMo Elderscrolls... It'll be like FF... might be fun to play, but I'm never gonna play it. and it counts as a release in the series which means it takes even longer for the next one to come out :(

Freezeryder
Freezeryder

Wow... an Elder Scrolls MMO... How... BORING. I mean, wasn't the draw of Elder Scrolls that it's a giant game, all about providing an immense singleplayer experience? If you make it into an MMO, won't it just be an unofficial LOTR online game? (not a rhetorical question by the way :-)) I mean, the look of the game - characters and world - isn't very iconic, nor does it provide anything particularly new or interesting to the MMO genre. Sure, there's lore and such, but that's really best experienced, when you can relax and take your time with the game (offline). Ok, ok, I'm aware of the tigerpeople and lizardfolk and they're kinda original, they're just soooooooo lame. Sorry, many will disagree and them's the rules. Just speaking my mind. I have never played an MMO and I never will, and perhaps I'm just worried that the next step for all the great RPG's is simply to throw it online, to be torn apart by the extremely critical pc-core. Don't do it Mass Effect - and come back Old Republic.. alls forgiven, just come home, ok baby??

soulless4now
soulless4now

Zoiks? Do I see a Pinky & the Brain reference? O_O

SuperDutchy
SuperDutchy

@hastati4; There is already a Mass Effect MMO, it's called Star Wars: The Old Republic. I don't think an MMO for Fallout or Elderscrolls would be very well recieved personally, but it would be freaking awesome if they added some type of Co-op play. having me and 1-3 other friends playing Co-op in Skyrim would have been WIZARD!, yes wizard...I'm taking it back.

FreakAche
FreakAche

@bloodwing123 IGN is one of the most awful, scummy parts of the internet. Top 25 lists and sponsored coverage is not good journalism.

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

Everyone knows a good MMO is good because it has balanced classes that all work together to complete a task, you need a healer, a tank, dps, crowd control etc. Everyone knows that Elder Scrolls has no classes and you were free to make your character however you want. So this mmo is gonna fail because either you will still be able to make overpowerful characters that can do everything like we could with previous games which makes grouping meaningless. Or you will have specific classes which is absolutely nothing like an elder scrolls game because it means limiting what you can do.

hastati4
hastati4

I don't want to see an Elder Scrolls MMO. I don't want to see a Fallout MMO. I don't want to see a Mass Effect MMO. Starting to get the picture?

Ragnarokishere0
Ragnarokishere0

............ another thing is the elderscrolls timeline like f'in starwars or somethin jumping 200 years from oblivion and 100 years back from skyrim for something people with fat wallets will like

bloodwing123
bloodwing123

really giant bomb REALLY why not IGN they much better then giant bomb

darkheath
darkheath

Dammit. Why? KOTOR was easily one of my favorite SINGLE PLAYER game franchises as is The Elder Scrolls. WHY?!?!? ... do you have to keep making f{}cking World of Warcraft out of them?!?! Some of us LONG TIME FANS will NEVER want to nor will we ever play an MMO. *sigh*

nation9690
nation9690

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Grimkillah
Grimkillah

GameSpot, you are not an art, you are a business, so stood with the fans, and not repeat corporate PR lines.

shadowysea07
shadowysea07

um yeah we already knew that the new xbox is not going to be out for at least 2 to 3 more years.

ramusx
ramusx

Using the same old art excuse is getting OLD. Its poor development plain and simple.

badiie05
badiie05

So instead of paying your money for a game you're not satisfied with...you spend more to try to change it, but it goes for a good cause charity...am i missing something?

baal46
baal46

Butt kicking, for GOODNESS!

damnstraight003
damnstraight003

This is absolutely unbelievable, I could not be more disappointed in the people giving money to change the ending of ME3. When a developer does something you really extremely don't like, you stop buying their games. The LAST thing you do is GIVE THEM MORE MONEY.

Tikeio
Tikeio

LOL. What is this? I don't even.....

icetone
icetone

Giant Bomb AND Comicvine NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. btw i should login to those account havn't been on in a ages

dark_rising76
dark_rising76

I'll say it again, we don't care about a Elders Scroll MMO, just give us our damn Skyrim DLC.

patrickv
patrickv

I am kind of glad we will not see next-gen this year. From a developers standpoint, we are just opening the door what can be done with current gen systems. As much as I would welcome a PS4 or Xbox 720, I think we should finish out the life cycles of both current systems. I just hope we will get better than the crap Activision has been throwing out. And PS3 exclusives have been slow for release. I hope we can finish off the generation with a bang.

bogofala
bogofala

editors always trying to look smart by saying exactly the opposite of what hardcore fans say, come on guys just be fair even for once and tell the truth, you are as pissed as we are for these horrible ending and you want it changed you just don't want to open the door for such things in the future

Uchiha_Sasuke1
Uchiha_Sasuke1

An online elder scroll? hmm is the game going to have a first person view point for the camera. That would be great