This Week in Games: March 3, 2012

A Steam-powered console, Mass Effect 3, misogyny, layoffs at Blizzard, assassins in Colonial garb, and a new Baldur's Gate.

by

Next week it's the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, and as a general rule, that tends to be a pretty big week for game news at the beginning of the year. In preparation for the inevitable steady flow of exciting new information, this week was also pretty epic.

Mass Effect 3 Is Nearly Here

We're only a few days away from the release of the grand finale to the Mass Effect trilogy, so let's start there and look at news from the BioWare chaps this past week. In a new interview with Penny Arcade, BioWare founders Dr. Greg Zeschuk and Dr. Ray Muzyka sounded off on the possibility of a massively multiplayer online game set in the Mass Effect universe. "It's daunting, but the neat thing is it would lend itself to a different type of game play. It's fun to think about," Zeschuk said. "I imagine people think it would be just like Mass Effect as it is… but there's lots of people there. It's really interesting, I don't know. It's a tough one." Muzyka continued, saying the Mass Effect universe has a large "possibility space," or areas to which the franchise can and should extend. This news came hot on the heels of data that showed that preorders for Mass Effect 3 are well ahead of those for the previous game. It seems lots of people want to jump in and see what happens at the end of the story. Will the giant space fleas eat Earth before Shepard can kill them all? You don't have long to wait to find out.

If you really can't wait until Tuesday to immerse yourself in all things Mass Effect, you can check out our 24 hour Mass Effect live stream on Monday. The show, hosted by Man vs. Game host Jayson Love, kicks off at 8 a.m. Pacific time with a recap of the first game, and then runs through Mass Effect 2 until midnight and then into the first hours of Mass Effect 3 single-player and multiplayer until 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

Let's Go Sequels Crazy

Sequels. Yup, there are plenty of 'em coming. This past week we got word of a whole bunch of them, and we can expect trailers, news, and all sorts of goodies in the week ahead. First up, the fine folks at Irrational surprised us all with a BioShock Infinite release date that's actually this year. October 16, in fact. Conventional wisdom/cynical wise-assery had previously dictated that there was "no f***ing way" Ken Levine and his team would get the game out this year. Look for a new trailer during the Game Developers Conference next week.

No word on specifics, but you can probably guess most of them with a fairly high degree of accuracy. There will be first-person shootering, no doubt.

File this next one under "Oooh, didn't see that one coming." After much speculation over the past couple of weeks, we learned from a Spanish retailer midweek that Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is set for release this November. Give us a quick second while we recover from the shock of that one. No word on specifics, but you can probably guess most of them with a fairly high degree of accuracy. There will be first-person shootering, no doubt.

You want more Assassin's Creed? You want a real, actual, no-messing-around sequel to Assassin's Creed II that's not just something with a subtitle tacked on the end? You do? You're in luck. Assassin's Creed III is coming this year, and it's set in Colonial America. Look for a trailer hitting on Monday afternoon (Pacific time). We predict there will be symbolic imagery of majestic golden eagles featured prominently.

Not satisfied with past efforts to always release games named with contrasting or complementary hues, Game Freak has given up trying to be clever with Pokemon titles and will be releasing Pokemon Black and White 2 this fall for the DS. Don't expect anything too radical in the gameplay department, and note that this is a Nintendo DS announcement, not a 3DS announcement. No 3D Pokemons for you. Yet. Well, except for Rumble Blast, obviously.

This one isn't really a sequel per se, but expect to see the iPad 3 announced this coming Wednesday. Apple has sent out invites for a press event at 10 a.m. on March 7, and it's entirely likely that it's all about a new tablet with a Retina display and a whole host of other goodies.

Last one in the sequel block, and it's a good one: Baldur's Gate. Heck yeah. A teaser site at BaldursGate.com went online this week, bringing with it a stirring theme song and the franchise's iconic skull emblem. The sparse website bears little other than a quote attributed to Forgotten Realms prophet Alaundo: "The Lord of Murder shall perish, but in his doom he shall spawn a score of mortal progeny, chaos will be sown by their passage." Additionally, the site's background features character images from the 1998 original game and its 2000 sequel. Though EA has yet to respond to questions on the subject, it seems that a new Baldur's Gate project is in the works at Beamdog. The company was cofounded by Trent Oster, a BioWare veteran who held various roles working on games ranging from Neverwinter Nights to Dragon Age. Its credits include a remake of BioWare's MDK2 for the Wii and PC in 2011.

Weekly Next-Gen News

Let's try to make this a regular thing, huh? Every week there seems to be something to talk about when it comes to next-gen consoles, so we'll try to bring you goodies every Saturday. Following our commentary last week regarding both Microsoft and Sony showing next-generation console hardware to select studio partners, this week we learned that Bethesda is currently staffing up for projects on the new platforms and that high-level studio execs have been getting regular updates and demos of new technology from Microsoft. What do you hope they're working on first? A new Fallout? Or a new Elder Scrolls? Or something completely new? Let us know in the comments.

Elsewhere we also learned that God of War PSP studio Ready at Dawn is hiring for a next-gen console project.

A quick PlayStation 4 tidbit (in keeping with the weekly flow of information, despite Sony saying the thing isn't happening anytime soon) this week came in the shape of news that the system won't use a Cell processor. We've already heard that AMD will be supplying the GPU, so it's entirely possible that the technology relationship between the two companies could run much deeper.

With it being the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week, expect all manner of next-gen news, not least of which will be goodies based on Epic's demonstration of the Unreal Engine 4 at the event. Few details are known at this point, although it seems the studio will be showing several examples of what the thing can do, including an interactive version of the jaw-dropping Samaritan demo from last year. Keep your eye on the site all week for videos and info.

Steam Box Megaton Rumor

The Steam Box rumor implies that the system is set to operate more like a platform along the lines of Google's Android operating system or the 3DO.

Technically this was next-gen console news, but it's potentially such a big deal that it's worth breaking out into its own little topic here. What is it? Rumors of a Steam-branded set-top box from Valve. Yeah. How about them apples? In keeping with Valve cofounder Gabe Newell's statement last month that the company doesn't really want to get into the hardware market (but will if it has to), the Steam Box rumor implies that the system is set to operate more like a platform along the lines of Google's Android operating system or (if you're old enough to remember such things) the 3DO. In theory, Valve would set hardware specifications and create the system software, but multiple partners (Alienware is one rumored name) would be able to create their own Steam Box devices. The baseline specs reportedly tout a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GPU. And in addition to running PC games through Valve's Steam storefront, the boxes would be able to run services of rival digital distributors, like EA's Origin service.

Blizzard Lays Off 600

One of the biggest stories of the week (certainly in terms of interest from fans around the world) was news that Blizzard will be reducing its workforce by 600 due to "changing needs" of the company. The bulk of the reduction came from support staff, and just 10 percent was from development. Blizzard was quick to point out that the World of Warcraft development team will not be impacted by the staff reductions. The company's massively popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game has struggled in the past year, slipping to 10.2 million subscribers through the end of December. "Constant evaluation of teams and processes is necessary for the long-term health of any business," said Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime. "Over the last several years, we've grown our organization tremendously and made large investments in our infrastructure in order to better serve our global community. However, as Blizzard and the industry have evolved we've also had to make some difficult decisions in order to address the changing needs of our company."

Fighting Games, Sexual Harassment, and Generalizations

"This is a community that's, you know, 15 or 20 years old, and the sexual harassment is part of a culture," said competitive fighting game player Aris "Aris" Bakhtanians in a conversation with Twitch.TV community manager Jared Rea on a recent live stream for Capcom's Cross Assault reality show, "and if you remove that from the fighting game community, it's not the fighting game community." Thus began a veritable shit storm of attention on the fighting game scene this week, with allegations of misogyny and sexism being used to paint the entire community because of the actions and statements of an individual. There has been a great deal of commentary on the subject, kicked off initially by an insightful piece by Giant Bomb's Patrick Klepek and soon followed by equally thoughtful contributions by Penny Arcade Report's Ben Kuchera and Destructoid's Jim Sterling.

In response to all of the attention on the professional fighting scene, Shoryuken (the largest fighting game community online) cofounder Tom "Inkblot" Cannon noted, "Yes, the scene is rowdy and uses colorful language. A lot. But that's just the hard candy shell. It does not define us. Ask any long-time player about their favorite memories and almost no one will tell you about the time a caster yelled some obscenity, or the time someone popped off in another guys' face. People will tell you about their first event, or maybe a particularly memorable grand final, or the fun times hanging out with friends after the event, or the fantastic trip to a new place where they met new people and became friends. That is what defines us. But there is a grain of truth to what Aris is saying, because frankly a lot of players use the scene as a cocoon where they can shed the usual social decencies and behave badly. I do believe that the scene can be an unwelcoming environment for women. Some of this is due to the game's natural, high-strung competitive vibe, but a lot of it is just crass behavior that you would not get away with outside of our male-dominated boy's club. This is way too big of a topic for this article, but it's something that I think we need to face and address. It's not about coddling women or sanitizing the scene. It's about instilling a common sense of decency and calling out the blatantly bad behavior that today often gets a pass."

Cannon followed this a day later, stating, "If we continue to let the worst elements in the scene speak for us or excuse their bad behavior, we deserve whatever criticism we get. It's everyone's responsibility: the players, the content producers, the tournament organizers, and the fans. We need to be just as serious about the way we treat each other and how we reach out to others online as we are about the game. This isn't about killing the hype or white-washing the scene. We can be just as loud, excited and hype without belittling entire classes of people. 'It's ok, we're all friends' and 'I'm just joking' aren't valid excuses."

And Now, Your Moment of Zen

We like the 8-bit Post-it art. A lot. Here's a video of our latest mural going up this weekend.

Discussion

67 comments
supertom221
supertom221

@King9999 So what you're saying is everyone should act like little whiners at some insults because they find it disrespectful? Are you for real man? That's beyond just "manning up", that's just stupid and being an attention seeker. If this is what the community is really like nowadays, you all dissapoint me so much. I remember better days of this community when people could joke around and trash talk just for fun and for the sake of competition. Honestly, your pretentious attitude kinda disgust, and obviously i'm not getting to you, so we are done here, I guess.

King9999
King9999

@supertom221: I don't know where you're getting the idea that I'm over-defensive or immature when you are the one who made those comments (which, by the way, are not indicative of the FGC). Let me show everyone what you said again: "Yes, they are sexist, and why shouldn't they? There can be many reasons for them not to want to play with a woman, justified or not, but what reason is there for them to accept them? Or racism, yeah he might've called you a "dirty sand n*****", so what? Who cares?? If these kind of insults really get to you and ruin your fun, clearly the competitive online fightning scene isn't for you." You are essentially saying man up or leave. The only difference is you just used more words. There is a clear difference between trash talk and straight-up disrespect. Being competitive does not mean you can treat people as less than human. I'm finished with this discussion.

supertom221
supertom221

@King9999 I did some research, And you are right. But I don't see how that justifies you saying I was the one to say "man up", because I didn't? And so what if it happened on a live broadcast? A person shot his daughter's laptop to teach her a lesson - 30,000,000 views on Youtube. Much more than that broadcast. So I don't see your point. I might check Out Shoryuken, though i'm not much a Street Fighter fan and haven't been lurking fightning forums for quite some time. Also, I believe I did claim otherwise. I can, and I will. It is unlikeable, to say the least, and maybe abit of generalizing, but it is in no way wrong or illegal, it is within his rights. If you think he is wrong, you have all the right to stand up to that and actively object as well. You say you are dissapointed in me, well, I am dissapointed in your zero tolerance and immaturity to become so over-defensive. Aris does not represent you in any way, though the hostility you show towards those who disagree with you seems to, quite ironically, prove Aris to his point. I also don't know if you thumb me down or not, but I do not thumb you down, or anyone i'm having an argument with. I don't think it is right to disregard someone's post and dislike it in order to hide his comment because of a disagreement. Not that I mind it really, I will say my opinion whenever I want however I want, like it, dislike, I really don't give.

King9999
King9999

@supertom221: Come on man. This incident happened on a LIVE BROADCAST. This isn't something that happened over voice chat in a random online game. Now that you've told me that you know the community, I'm even more disappointed in your comments. I'm involved with the community too, by the way. Poke around at shoryuken.com for a bit, I use the same name there as I do here. Aris' behaviour is unacceptable, period. You can't claim otherwise. SuperYan is the victim, bro. Please do some digging on the issue before you address me again.

supertom221
supertom221

@King9999 Continued from post 1.... I hardly think my mother would be a victim to a verbal assault on a video game, and if she was, how is it my problem? Again, VIDEO GAMES. " There is absolutely no reason to defend Aris' behaviour." I wasn't defending anyone, just stating the faults in their counterattack. And why is his behaviour unacceptable? For presenting his view of how the fightning scene looks like? I believe it is called Freedom Of Speech, and if you can't accept that, well guess what, the immature one here, is you.

supertom221
supertom221

@King9999 Buddy, I've known the community since the early days of Street Fighter 2 and Tekken. I think I know just about enough about the community to infer these statements from it, and it really doesn't matter to me whether you like it or not. Maybe you spend time in a specific "Mature" forum, but i've been in too many to count, and played quite a handful of these games online. So don't you come here and tell me I do not know what the community is like because you played Street Fighter IV and went all "OH KEWL GAME!". " What you said is really immature, and thoughtless." Immature? Hardly. I gave some thought into my comment, i'll let you know, and if you can't deal with it, that's your problem. Welcome to the internet. And see, that's the whole point, this isn't real life, and you should stop adressing it as such. For some people, this is their release of the stress of the social life and living in their little bubble of the virtual world. If it bothers you during an online play, there's a mute and "kick" functions. USE THEM. CRIME my behind. You compare something like social/workplace abuse and unfairness towards the other sex, to a Video game? Are you metally challenged, or are you that sensitive? IT'S NOT REAL MAN. And who's SuperYan? You are quoting the wrong person buddy, try again. Continued in another post....

DethAngel22
DethAngel22

@LedGamer Ya, only women in fighting games are portrayed as a piece of meat. Which is soooo surprising since NO other media has made a habit of this. I can't watch one f***ing movie without being flashed every 20 minutes, yes we all know what boobs look like (thank you America) but these new digital breasts are just OUTRAGEOUS!

ezjohny
ezjohny

If they introduce there Next-Gen Stuff that would be awesome!!!

Kevlar101
Kevlar101

I can't wait for Assassins Creed 3!!!!!!! It and Halo 4 are my most anticipated games for 2012. AC Revelations sucked (Can you say ass on GS?) ass. I'm sorry, but AC: Brotherhood is my favorite AC game, but the franchise REALLY took a nose dive with AC:R. But, with a 3 (nearly 4) year development cycle, new character, new setting, new time frame, and over-hauled gameplay mechanics, AC3 will be LEGENDARY!!!!!!!!!!

sidh9u5
sidh9u5

you know by the looks of the screens, all the news etc, they should have named the third Assassins Creed game as Red Dead Creedemption or something.............

LedGamer
LedGamer

so why is the way women are portrayed in fighting style video games (ie. jiggly barbie dolls with over sized fun bits) sexist but there's nothing wrong with the way men are portrayed in every video game? people know or they should be able to tell that the anyone (male or female) is portrayed in a video game isn't supposed to be taken so seriously.

LedGamer
LedGamer

@forest4 Buy a computer.

forest4
forest4

Aris is too good. My hat goes off to him. We desperately need the next console generation ASAP. I am so tired of the crappy graphics. So they got Crysis to run on the XB360...that is not the point. The point of Crysis is that it brought new tech to games. More eye candy! I am not paying for a "new" game that looks like it belongs in 2005! Every game now just takes the Unreal Engine and churns out the same look. Call of Duty hurts my eyes, it looks like a PS2 game on the XB360. I still own Call of Duty 3 for PS2, and it looks exactly the same as Modern Warfare 2, which was the last COD I bought. I bought it used too, Activition has enough money, thank you very MUCH!

King9999
King9999

Assuming the Steambox is true, I don't think they should go with the 3DO model. The 3DO failed for a reason. Having different models could lead to potential problems; instead of designing a game for one console, now you have to design for multiple console configurations. That's something that PC developers have to put up with, and now Valve could be introducing that problem to console devs. When I make a game, I should feel confident that if it works for one machine, it's going to work for all of them because they're all the same. I don't want to run the risk of alienating anyone because my game doesn't work well with their console.

GyroGate
GyroGate

IF they do remake Baldurs Gate & Baldurs Gate 2, I sincerely hope they go away from the DA1 & 2 gameplay, and make it more like the original Baldurs Gate 1 & 2 with updated graphics. Storychanges and "wack-a-mole" combat is NOT needed for those games. They need to use all of their original voice actors & music as well. I can't help but feel like they are going to completely piss all over those old, PERFECT games.

King9999
King9999

@supertom221: You have no idea how the community really is if that's what you think. What you said is really immature, and thoughtless. Being disrespectful to people is not something that should be tolerated. Try pulling that **** at work, see where that gets you. Sexual harassment is a CRIME, and your answer to the problem is for SuperYan to "man up"? Is that what you would tell your mother if she was a victim? The Fighting game scene is huge, and growing, If we let that behaviour run rampant, we're back to square one. There is absolutely no reason to defend Aris' behaviour.

jay0012k3
jay0012k3

Most gamers are a bunch of hypocrites. They would over hype a particular game to monumental proportions and then bring it down. That was done with Skyrim and now those people who played it for over 3-4 months ruin it for those who haven't even bought it yet by claiming it's 'broken' and 'boring'. I am sure ME3 will be treated the same way by these ilk. This time next month they will be asking for a new game.. perhaps even a new Bioware RPG. My advise is to take each game as it comes and steering clear if you don't like it. Don't ruin it for others.

slimskelter
slimskelter

When Steam first arrived I hated it with a passion, but it's become a great medium now. It's too bad we have to deal with that virus, Origin. Unfortunately EA has too many great games to avoid. I can't see them working together, but if they can, a Steam console/box or whatever it is, would be a nice addition. I'd like to see how well it competes with Live.

she3sh
she3sh

assassin creed iii looks great

Bakutakamine
Bakutakamine

New Baldur's Gate? Hell yes. I just hope to god it isn't too watered down. If it's anything like Dragon Age Orgins then it's all good, if it's anything like DAII. Damn.

supertom221
supertom221

@beganoo And to think I have the avatar of a White Knight.... Oh, the irony...

supertom221
supertom221

"Thus began a veritable s***storm of attention on the fighting game scene this week, with allegations of misogyny and sexism being used to paint the entire community because of the actions and statements of an individual." LOL, Hypocrites. The guy said the truth you cannot seem to handle. Competitive group plays were, and always will be-- cruel, insulting, intense, and COMPETITIVE. You guyz ruin our internetz, Who cares how they talk? It's part of the culture you seem to try and deny. Yes, they are sexist, and why shouldn't they? There can be many reasons for them not to want to play with a woman, justified or not, but what reason is there for them to accept them? Or racism, yeah he might've called you a "dirty sand n*****", so what? Who cares?? If these kind of insults really get to you and ruin your fun, clearly the competitive online fightning scene isn't for you.

NightFox313
NightFox313

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

tataaaar
tataaaar

assasins cread 3 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;-0

GamerOuTLaWz
GamerOuTLaWz

oh,and I cant believe,after 10 years,still 10.2 mill of people hasnt got bored of WoW? this saddens me. hope they enjoyed paying 15$/month for years to soon get forced to move their toon to panda land ROFL. WoW died on Wotlk and killed it ownself mostly when resilience gear and easy-attainable game-breaking PvP gear with 0 diversity came out.

GamerOuTLaWz
GamerOuTLaWz

Baldursgate.com the epic website says it all. damn I missed that music. forgot how the first was as epic as SoAs song. DAMN I just cant wait for BG

drknessfeeds
drknessfeeds

@yaswanth1 looking forward to AC3 also, hoping it has more than just simple tac ons/add ons. high hopes and a long way to fall...

drknessfeeds
drknessfeeds

Why is when you put make a melting pot consisited of younger males, females of the same age, trying to enjoy the same thing that the males forget how to act an speak?..

Atheosis
Atheosis

It's being done by a guy who worked on Dragon Age? That makes me less than optimistic.

VolcanoMan001
VolcanoMan001

I would love to see another Planescape: Torment game one day, but Baldurs Gate will do.

Chuckiefresh1
Chuckiefresh1

Another Baldur's Gate? S'more please! Hail to the king of rpg's baby!

Davhut
Davhut

For me just the announcement of a Steam console is fantastic, it will certainly grace a place of honour under our tv should it come to pass. Xbox watch out, Steam is a juggernaut and it will roll. Nice reporting guys. :D

yaswanth1
yaswanth1

All i care is for Assassins creed III traier

CarlosRodela
CarlosRodela

hey it's like and now "here's your bonus item" -- hmmmm almost TOO much like it. it is pretty frickin cool tho BIRDO!

SquareEnixFan13
SquareEnixFan13

Wooh!! That Mass Effect 3 trailer got me freakin' pumped!! And a new Baldur's Gate? Yes please!

g1rldraco7
g1rldraco7

Busy year for gamers with all these new releases.

commonperson
commonperson

Given the contenxt of the recent Fluke verbal assult people need to think about how we present them selves. If gamers want to take them selves seriously (not just the fighting game community but gamers as a whole) we need to grow up and start acting with decency and respect. It's not 'fighting who we are' and 'hiding what makes us us' it's being resepctful and grown up. I really think this Aris guy needs to be shown the door for his remarks and his refusal to own it.

Lyramen
Lyramen

Baldurs Gate 3 ??? I can not express how much i am excited at the moment..

BillyColeman
BillyColeman

Fighting Games, Sexual Harassment hahahahaha yes know

VonHauperburger
VonHauperburger

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

beganoo
beganoo

Its one thing to call someone a scrub.To say you will f*ck him up at a game and trash talk of that sort ect. ect. Its a hole other story if you actually sexually harras a real girl to the point she actually gets very upset. Aris is a pice of sh*t.F*ck that fat f*ck.The fighting community might be pretty rough but straight out sexual harrasmet crosses every like. Aris shoud be banned from the community period... Stupid as*hole giving awful rep the a lot fo decent people that would never do what he did.

Biozhock
Biozhock

Skyrim will be able to satisfy my Elder Scrolls needs for at least a few years - I would love to see a new Fallout accompany the release of the new systems.

ahpuck
ahpuck

It takes a real man to pick on a girl. *sigh*

icetone
icetone

Assassin's Creed 3 looks epic but still need to get ACR along with BO MW3 AND 20 MORE!