A big week for news this week, so plenty of stuff to get everyone talking in the comments. Speaking of which, you will no doubt notice (if you're a regular reader) that we overhauled and upgraded our commenting system this week too. Comments are now threaded: you can follow conversations and receive notifications about replies, and there's no longer that silly level requirement that used to scare off new users. Sound good? Let's go…
Elder Scrolls Online & DLC for Skyrim
Skyrim fans yearning to explore the game's fantasy world with other people will get the chance next year, as Bethesda Softworks announced The Elder Scrolls Online on Wednesday. The new game is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, set for release in 2013. If details leaked from an as-yet-unreleased Game Informer cover story are to be believed, Elder Scrolls Online will be a third-person adventure featuring three player factions, believed to be the Ebonheart Pact: The Nords, Dunmer, and Argoninans; the Aldmeri Dominion: Altmer, Bosmer, and Khajit; and the Daggerfall Covenant: Bretons, Redguard, and Orcs. The Imperials are said to be the bad guys that everyone in the game will be up against.
The Elder Scrolls Online will be the debut game from Zenimax Online Studios, which was established five years ago with Mythic Entertainment cofounder Matt Firor (Dark Age of Camelot) heading up the operation. Firor is also serving as game director on the project.
In other Elder Scrolls news, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will add its first wave of downloadable content this summer, Bethesda confirmed. Titled Dawnguard, the content will arrive initially for the Xbox 360 and will be discussed in greater detail at the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo this June. Dawnguard will launch first on the Xbox 360 and will remain exclusive to that platform for 30 days. After that time has elapsed, it will spread to additional platforms. The name Dawnguard is not a surprise. In March, Bethesda parent company Zenimax sought a trademark for Dawnguard but did not provide any details on what it planned to do with the name. For more on Skyrim, check out GameSpot's review.
Quoted for Truth
Icehearted: "Because we need another MMO. Because The Old Republic worked out so well. Because single-player games are SO 4 minutes ago."
Call of Duty Black Ops II
Hey everyone! Black Ops II was announced! Surprised? No, neither were we. Still, it's kind of different, and that's certainly got people talking. Just because the existence of the game was a foregone conclusion doesn't mean that the content of the game is on that same level of predictability. In fact, the team at Treyarch has got quite a number of tricks up its sleeve for this upcoming first-person shooter. The core action is very much Call of Duty, but the overall package might just surprise you. How so? It's set in the future and the past, it has branching storylines, it's occasionally a real-time strategy game, it has a villain Treyarch wants you to care about, and it's more influenced by e-sports than you might otherwise think. For more detail, check out our first preview here.
Cynics who believe that interest in the franchise is waning were proven somewhat wrong on Thursday this week when a representative for Amazon.com told GameSpot that the game is already performing incredibly well in North America. "Preorders from day 1 of Black Ops II were more than 10 times the amount of preorders for the first Black Ops on its first day of availability. Black Ops II even out preordered the first day of availability for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 by more than 30 percent. Modern Warfare 3 currently holds the record for the most preordered game of all time and was amongst the top 20 preorders ever on Amazon.com, including books and movies."
Quoted for Truth
MrVette427: "November 13, 2012 the day I save $59.99."
Notch Calls Out EA
Markus "Notch" Persson sounded off via his Twitter feed this week about EA's newly launched Indie Bundle, which is presently available on Steam. Notch said, "EA releases an 'indie bundle'? That's not how that works, EA. Stop attempting to ruin everything, you bunch of cynical bastards." Persson later said his studio, Mojang, is "no longer indie" (something he had alluded to earlier) and offered a more damning take on EA. "Indies are saving gaming. EA is methodically destroying it," he said. The EA Indie Bundle he's talking about launched this week on Steam and includes DeathSpank, DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue, Gatling Gears, Shank, Shank 2, and Warp for $20.98. The offer expires on May 9.
What do you think? Is he right to take EA to task about this? Let us know in the comments.
Quoted for Truth
vochelli: "I don't know if EA is single-handly destroying gaming, but they do represent almost all of the worst directions gaming has gone in: overpriced DLC, Disc-Locked Content, online passes, DRM, shovelware, incomplete games, etc."
God of War Multiplayer
It seems like it was barely yesterday that we were confidently talking about God of War: Ascension as a single-player game. Well, turns out we were wrong. This week it was announced that the game will feature a variety of Power Stone-like modes, although the only confirmed concept revealed was the Team Execution mode that will feature two groups of four players battling for control of a specific part of the map. In one version of the game, the teams fight to activate a cog chained to a giant imprisoned Cyclops, with the winning team earning the right to kill the helpless monster. The game's multiplayer mode will feature some persistent features as players develop their Troy or Spartan soldiers over time. Performance on the battlefield can yield blessings from the gods in the form of new perks, weapons, and abilities. There will also be a number of different combat roles for players depending on the god they associate themselves with, be it Hades, Poseidon, Zeus, or Ares.
Quoted for Truth
XboxGuy1537: "Ugh, do we need multiplayer for ANOTHER game?"
Blizzard Skims Off the Top in Diablo III
Blizzard said it will take $1 from every piece of equipment (weapons and armor) successfully sold. For commodities like crafting materials, gems, gold, and what Blizzard described as "stackable" items, the company will enact a 15 percent transaction fee.
Blizzard offered new details on Diablo III's controversial real-money auction house this past Tuesday. The service will launch "approximately one week" after the role-playing game ships on May 15, and Blizzard will enact surcharges on all commodities sold and for those wishing to cash out. Blizzard said it will take $1 from every piece of equipment (weapons and armor) successfully sold. For commodities like crafting materials, gems, gold, and what Blizzard described as "stackable" items, the company will enact a 15 percent transaction fee. On top of that, Blizzard will take another 15 percent if gamers elect to move funds to a third-party service like PayPal. Gamers can avoid that fee (and PayPal's own surcharge) by dumping the cash into their Battle.net account, but there, the funds can be used only to purchase Blizzard games, subscriptions, and merchandise.
What do you think? Does the auction house change the way you feel about Diablo III in any way? Will knowing that every item has real monetary value affect the way you play?
Quoted for Truth
DrizztDoUrden16: "I dont get the problem with Bliz making some money off the AH… You have to think about the rising cost of maintaining and updating games these days, is it really so bad that they want to have a long lasting source of income other than charging monthly fees?"
Miyamoto Politely Talks a Little Smack About the Vita
The PlayStation Vita has struggled in the sales charts, and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto thinks he knows why. Speaking to Edge, Miyamoto suggested that the Sony system's software isn't matching the abilities of the hardware. "It's obviously a very hi-spec machine, and you can do lots of things with it," Miyamoto said, "But I don't really see the combination of software and hardware that really makes a very strong product." Miyamoto expressed a similar sentiment about the 3DS's initial struggles after launch. "When we launched the 3DS hardware we didn't have Super Mario 3D Land, we didn't have Mario Kart 7, we didn't have Kid Icarus: Uprising," he told Edge. "We were striving to have all of these ready for the launch, but we weren't able to deliver them at that time. We were kind of hoping that people would, nevertheless, buy into the product, find 3DS hardware promising, but looking back we have to say we realize the key software was missing when we launched the hardware."
Do you think he's right? Let us know in the comments.
Quoted for Truth
Flint247: "I agree with Miyamoto. The PS Vita is a great handheld, but there aren't too many appealing games out there that would make it fly off the shelves. Some games feel too similar to PS3 games. Not to mention the price is a little high for some people. I like how he politely says this and not in a biased way. He even acknowledged his own mistake with the Nintendo 3DS launch. I do agree that the 3DS would have done better at launch if games like Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 were out by then. I did like the system when I first got in on launch day, but it was a little shallow."
Microsoft Planning $99 Xbox 360 With Subscription
The Verge is reporting that Microsoft will soon offer its 4GB Xbox 360 hardware with Kinect for $99, provided purchasers sign up for a two-year Xbox Live subscription that will cost $15 a month. Yup, it'll be just like buying a phone.
Gamers holding out for a price cut on the Xbox 360 might have a new deal to consider soon, as The Verge is reporting that Microsoft will soon offer its 4GB Xbox 360 hardware with Kinect for $99, provided purchasers sign up for a two-year Xbox Live subscription that will cost $15 a month. Yup, it'll be just like buying a phone. Attributing the info to oh-so-mysterious "unspecified sources" (them again, huh?), the site reports that the package will be offered through Microsoft Stores in the US and is being positioned as a competing product to streaming media offerings like Apple TV and Roku, as well as the PlayStation 3. The deal will come with a two-year warranty, as well as an early termination fee for those who want out before the end of the deal. The report also suggests that those who sign up will be given access to some of the paid media and sports streaming services on Xbox Live.
Quoted for Truth
Agent-M: "Talk about overpriced. You can get 2 years of Xbox live for less than $100."
In other Xbox news, IGN is citing another "unspecified source" with the news that the next Xbox hardware has already entered manufacturing. The report says hardware for the next Xbox has been produced at the Austin, Texas, branch of electronics firm Flextronics, which was the first manufacturer of the original Xbox and one of three Microsoft initially employed to work on the Xbox 360. The firm also reportedly created a testing group focused specifically on "comprehensive marketing, software, and hardware tests of the next Xbox." As for what exactly is being produced, IGN speculates Flextronics is producing dev kits so the next Xbox developers have hardware on which to create their games. Predictably, Microsoft had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment before everyone went home for the weekend.
Quoted for Truth
maximumbarmage: "I won't be buying any new Microsoft hardware until at least two years after release. After being kicked in the nads with the appalling build quality of their last two machines at launch I don't see how anyone could trust them again to be perfectly honest."'