For Valentine’s Day we examined 35 reasons why we love games, but we’re not done expressing our affection yet. Prose alone couldn’t handle out boundless adoration; we had to make a video. Watch as we discuss our personal favorite reason to love.
The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan earlier this month have already had a profound effect on the games industry, with events being called off and games delayed or even outright canceled. Given the devastation, it’s hard to imagine this year’s Tokyo Game Show taking place without a hitch. And yet that’s the plan as of right now.
Kotaku Japan spoke with TGS management and were told, “Currently, we are not thinking of canceling or making the show smaller.” That doesn’t mean plans won’t change in the future, though. It was also said, “Depending on the situation from here on out, it is possible that the show is reduced.”
This year’s TGS is scheduled to take place from September 15-18.
Just a day after the Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone was released, iOS device owners can now find the My Xbox Live app on the App Store.
The free app does what many hoped they could get from the variety of unofficial iOS ones released over the years: It allows Xbox Live members to access and manage their friends list, read and send messages, edit their profile, set Beacons, view and compare Achievements, watch select videos, and edit their Avatar. The Avatar functionality, when it comes to clothing, is limited only to what you already own; you’ll need to get on your Xbox 360 or Xbox.com if you want to buy that CM Punk shirt for your virtual Mini-Me.
As Major Nelson notes, My Xbox Live doesn’t include all of the functionality seen in the Windows Phone app, which allows users to search the Xbox and Zune catalogs to find games, movies, music, and TV shows. More impressively, the phone can act as a remote, launching certain content and then controlling it (pause, rewind, play, etc.).
The iOS app may seem gimped as compared with that, but the ability to communicate with friends alone is a welcome-enough feature that it isn’t such a big deal. Besides, it’s not as if you’d expect Microsoft to give away all of those features in a free app for a competitor’s phone. Still, it’d be nice if we see an update allowing the Marketplace to be browsed and downloads to be queued up.
This release comes just a day after the Xbox 360 fall dashboard update landed. It was delayed from its morning launch until later in the day, and since that time many 360 owners have been experiencing issues connecting to Xbox Live. Microsoft says it’s aware and is working on it.
Electronic Arts has been more and more focused on the digital aspects of the industry over the past five years, having just recently relaunched the EA Store as Origin. So it comes as incredibly strange news that an EA Sports retail store is being opened in, of all places, a North Carolina airport.
EA Sports brand marketing VP Chris Erb revealed the news in a Forbes interview. The first store will be opened this fall in the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport located in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“As pervasive as digital is, there’s still an offline component to acquiring new customers that remains important,” Erb explained. “Our approach is to be creative and innovative with whatever we’re doing offline, and ensure that it connects with our digital strategies.”
EA Sports will look to open up two additional stores following the Charlotte location over the course of the next year. Shoppers will be able to try out and buy EA Sports games, as well as other merchandise, as shown in the rendering above.
According to Erb, “As we look to expand the overall sports game audience, it’s important for us to create environments for people to get their hands on our products and experience how much interactive sports experiences have evolved over the past few years.”
The notion of opening a retail location dedicated entirely to the EA Sports brand — as opposed to partnering with, say, GameStop or Best Buy to set up kiosks dedicated to the company’s games — is unusual. Placing the first such store in an airport is even more bizarre. Even GameStop seems to realize that digital is the future, so I can’t help but wonder what convinced EA that these stores can be a success. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how things turn out and if EA can afford to keep them open long-term. There was no indication if future retail stores would also be located in airports.
One company that likely won’t mind having these stores around is Nintendo, which faces the unenviable task of educating consumers on what the 3DS and Wii U bring to the table, two systems that can’t easily be explained without going hands-on. Provided the stores are big enough, Microsoft and Sony probably won’t mind having kiosks set up for Kinect and PlayStation Move, respectively.
Steve Jobs tendered his resignation as the chief executive officer of Apple today, bringing an end to his more than 14 years in the role.
“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come,” he wrote in a letter to Apple’s board of directors today. “I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.”
He recommended that Tim Cook, Apple’s COO, be promoted to take over him, as was previously planned. Apple has taken the advice, naming him the company’s new CEO.
“I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role,” Jobs’ letter continued. “I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.”
“Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company,” said Apple board member Art Levinson. “Steve has made countless contributions to Apple’s success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple’s immensely creative employees and world class executive team. In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.”
Jobs was one of the original founders of Apple in 1976 along with Steve Wozniak. He played a prominent role in the creation of the Apple II series line of computers in the late 1970s before parting ways with Apple in 1984. He then went on to form computer company Next and purchased The Graphics Group in 1986, now known as Pixar. Next ended up being acquired by Apple in December of 1996, bringing Jobs back to the employer which he had resigned from more than a decade earlier.
Shortly thereafter, he assumed the role of CEO in 1997, albeit in the capacity of an “interim” CEO. He remained in this state of limbo until 2000, when he officially became the permanent CEO, a job that famously pays him only $1 per year. He owns a great deal of stock in Apple, as well as in Disney as a result of that company’s acquisition of Pixar in 2006. This year’s Forbes billionaires list had him pegged as the 110th richest person in the world with an estimated value of $8.3 billion.
Apple has thrived under Jobs between the continued success of the iMac, iPod, iPad, and iPhone, the latter two of which have become increasingly prominent gaming platforms. The company’s value recently eclipsed that of Exxon Mobil, making it the world’s most valuable company. This came just about a year after it surpassed Microsoft to become the world’s most valuable technology company.
Apple’s stock price has been up this week, closing today at $376.18. Jobs’ sudden resignation could cause a major drop to take place tomorrow, although it’s worth noting he has been forced to take a medical leave of absence three times in the past decade, first in 2004 to deal with pancreatic cancer, and again in 2009 for a liver transplant. His most recent leave began this past January and has been ongoing, although it didn’t stop him from appearing at several Apple events this year.
Last night’s episode of South Park featured a number of videogame references. After the kids develop a sport where crack babies fight for drugs, EA Sports begins producing games based on the sport and, ultimately, obtains the rights to the sport through some legal trickery. EA Sports boss Peter Moore also gets an appearance through the foul-mouthed Mr. Peters.
Besides buying a tub full of KFC gravy and skewering the NCAA for its practice of not paying student athletes (which are chalked up as slaves on the show), the kids visit the EA Sports offices. While they’re there, you can see posters for some EA Sports games and, as noticed by a number of people (including 1UP community member AniTenshi), an ‘E3 2009 Best of Show’ award from a site that sounds suspiciously familiar — 2UP.net. The award looks awfully similar to 1UP’s real-life Best of E3 award, pictured below. And it just so happens that Madden NFL 10, an EA game, did take home 1UP’s ‘Best of E3 Sports Game’ award in 2009.
Last night’s episode wasn’t the first time EA has been mentioned on the show; last year, it made fun of Tiger Woods’ infidelity and parodied an EA Sports-made Tiger Woods videogame.
You can click the image above to see a larger version or watch the episode for yourself at South Park Studios.
The 2012 Game Developers Conference is in full swing this week, sprawling across all three buildings of San Francisco’s Moscone Center. While lots of interesting things happen each year at GDC, we realize they’re often very dry and technical GDC is an swap meet where the people who make the games you love trade ideas, not a convention like PAX or a trade show like E3. In other words, you shouldn’t expect many huge announcements or in-depth hands-on with hot upcoming titles this week.
Instead, 1UP’s editors will each be tackling appointments, lectures, and interviews from their own individual perspective and reporting back to you on the angle they’ve each elected to explore. From the challenges of preparing for next-gen hardware to the role of narrative, we’re talking to the people who make games about the future of their work. What’s in store for them, and by extension, you? That’s what we aim to find out this week.
Unfortunate trends continue to make gaming hostile towards female players. Bob Mackey investigates what it will take to change this.
OP-ED: With Mass Effect 3, BioWare Snuggles up to Inclusivity
There’s much more to Mass Effect 3′s same-sex romance options than simply courting controversy.
Metanet’s Mare Sheppard Takes on Sexism in the Industry
The N+ developer explains why it’s easy to treat the symptoms instead of the underlying problem.
Harvest Moon Creator Yasuhiro Wada on His Game’s Cross-Gender Appeal
The farm sim vet shares his thoughts on winning over both sexes.
What do developers at GDC2012 view as the actual future for this most vaunted of platforms? Thierry Nguyen investigates.
MechWarrior Online Adds Depth to the Series
How the upcoming free-to-play game ends the series’ history with exploits.
We Finally See Sony’s Massive (and Free) MMOFPS Planetside 2
A quick look at the current alpha reveals a big shooter full of players, customization, and microtransactions.
Crazy Facts We Just Learned About Portal 2
Valve’s post-mortem on Portal 2 details random quirks like smoking mannequins to re-writing Garfield knock-offs to the Morgan Freeman Sphere.
As we move into the next generation of consoles, Jeremy Parish asks how the classics of bygone days shape the new age of game design.
How Gravity Rush’s Designers Took the Third Option
As the American vs. Japanese game design rift widens, Sony proves it a false dichotomy.
Super Mario 3D Land: Game Design Before Fan Service
Why can’t Mario fly or stomp bad guys with Kuribo’s Shoe? Director Koichi Hayashida explains.
How to Resuscitate a Dead but Beloved Franchise
Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s designer on bringing a fan-favorite back from the grave
Square Enix Localization Looks to the Future
From spoony bards to mog clocks, how Square is tackling the translation needs of the HD era.
SimCity Returns as One Part Simulation, One Part Stump Speech
Maxis’ reboot goes all-in on the political commentary.
Keiji Inafune’s Charlie Sheen Moment
Ex-Capcom designer discusses his plan to restore glory to Japan’s games industry.
MyCheats editor Marty Sliva pursues his belief that games don’t need to tell a story, but rather supply the tools for us to create our own personal narratives.
Why Does Asura’s Wrath Not Trust Me?
The action spectacle stifles all user creativity in its aim to echo anime.
The Stanley Parable is a Crowning Achievement in Metafiction
How a Source mod moves storytelling forward in video games.
Managing editor Matt Leone spot-checks some of the most exciting small independent games and developers, then looks forward to what’s coming next.
The Prototypes Behind Journey
Thatgamecompany gives us an exclusive look at the prototypes they developed behind the scenes when making Journey.
Contrast: A Portal-Inspired Puzzle Game About Shadows
A new indie game centers itself on one mechanic — the idea that you can move in 3D or flatten yourself against walls in 2D.
Dyad Looks to be the Underdog of GDC
A musical slingshot tunnel racing PSN game mixes genres better than most.
It’s the year 2012, and we’re in the seventh generation of our current console cycle. Associate editor Jose Otero is convinced that this extraordinary period could be coming to a close soon, as rumors continue to point to the possibility of new hardware from Sony and Microsoft. Is it too soon to pull the trigger and move home consoles forward?
Next Xbox Rumored to Lack a Disc Drive, But is That So Shocking?
A new report suggests the 360′s successor will use solid state media in place of discs.
The Importance of Teaching Proper Game History
Educators argue games studies courses need to reassess the subject of game history.
Quantic Dreams’ Kara Demo Gives a Promising Glimpse Into the Future of Motion Capture Technology
The Heavy Rain creator’s latest tech demo showcases impressive results.
A Quick Look Back at Heavy Rain in the Shadow of Kara
Quantic Dream’s David Cage on if he’d change anything if making Heavy Rain again (nope), if he thinks the game would work on Vita (yep), and more.
As the industry polarizes toward insanely expensive blockbusters and free-to-play social games, Ryan Winterhalter asks if gaming’s creative, fertile middle ground is a thing of the past.
What Do You Want to See in the Deadly Premonition Director’s Cut?
Would smoothing over flaws destroy the charm of SWERY’s b-movie masterpiece?
How to Handle the Internet’s Worst Trolls
One developer explains how to make a deal with the devil.
The Radical Transparency of SimCity
Why Maxis’ new game is simpler, easier, and deeper than its predecessors.
How Saints Row: The Third Nearly Failed
Design Director Scott Phillips explains the lessons learned from the game’s development.
By 1UP Staff
It may have cut it close, but Camouflaj’s debut title, Republique, managed to reach its Kickstarter goal in the final hours before its deadline today. The project kicked off a month ago seeking $500,000 and, after an initial surge of pledges, found itself struggling to attract backers. Rather than accept the fact that there was not half a million dollars out there to fund a hardcore iOS title like this, Camouflaj adapted and now finds itself padding that $500,000 with additional pledges ahead of its 3pm Pacific deadline.
Republique was initially pitched as an iOS game combining stealth and survival horror in the style of a game from the PlayStation era. With an estimated budget of over $1 million, Camouflaj turned to Kickstarter to come up with $500,000 to help ensure it would not have to compromise creative control or hand over ownership of the IP.
It was a difficult sell for more reason than one. People who play iOS games are used to paying $0.99 or less. Rarely is there a game which exceeds the premium price point of $6.99 established by Infinity Blade and its sequel. Republique’s Kickstarter asked for $10 in order to be rewarded with a free copy of the game — a game slated for release during June 2013. Knowing that $10 (or more) could be spent on games available right this very second — and, despite what some people say, there are many quality experiences to be had on the App Store — would only make it more difficult to convince people to pledge money to a product from a brand new developer, even if it is one with a fairly well-known name attached to it in former 343 Industries and Kojima Productions employee Ryan Payton.
In one of the most recent updates, Payton remembered the project bringing in only $700 a day at one point. At that rate it would have taken two years to reach $500,000, but Camouflaj had a hard deadline as Kickstarter will only hand over pledged funds if the target is reached by the project’s end date. (If it does not, the money never leaves backers’ pockets.) The graph below shows what a crawl pledges came to in the two weeks following the initial flood coinciding with the project’s launch. Just over two weeks in, Camouflaj made its first attempt to lure in new backers by doing what many potential backers were asking for: It announced PC and Mac versions. It was made clear they would be designed with those platforms in mind, complete with new gameplay, controls, and story elements, as opposed to them being simple ports with mouse clicks in place of screen taps. This announcement resulted in the biggest jump in pledges since the first day up until that point, but there was still a long way to go.
While continuing to interact with fans and provide video updates, including footage of development team meetings, Camouflaj announced two voice actors working on the game that were sure to get gamers excited. David Hayter, best known as the voice of Metal Gear Solid’s Solid Snake, and Jennifer Hale, the voice of the female Commander Shepard in Mass Effect, will both be playing roles in Republique and signing the posters being sent to backers pledging at least $500. Word of this development on May 3 resulted in the biggest single-day jump at the time as fans of two huge franchises had been given reason to take more than a cursory glance at Republique.
By this point nearly half of the $500,000 had been pledged, but with only a week left there was still reason to doubt the game would be funded. Other, smaller steps were taken to bring in more money like introducing a $40 tier on May 9 which includes the game on iOS and PC/Mac, as well as the digital soundtrack and documentary. Besides simply giving fans what they want and potentially bringing in those still sitting on the sidelines, it was an intelligent way of encouraging those who had already pledged to bump up the amount they were willing to part with.
All of this combined with the groundswell of support from fans (helping to push a ‘Keep Hope Alive’ campaign named after the game’s protagonist, Hope) and the media — raising questions of what role the press should play in a case such as this — resulted in Republique surpassing its $500,000 goal earlier today with only seven hours to go.
A portion of the money coming in during the final days (more than half of the $500,000 was pledged in the past week) may have been from individuals like myself who chose to see how things would play out before pledging, yet Camouflaj did an admirable job in adapting and listening to what fans wanted as it attempted to reach its goal. Besides the fact that many people were counting it out weeks ago and continued to doubt $200,000 could be raised in the last three days, it’s also a testament to what Kickstarter remains capable of even amidst claims it has already outlived its viability as a method for funding videogames.
Zynga, the king of Facebook games, is bringing one of its most popular mobile games to the social network. Words With Friends, the multiplayer-only Scrabble-style word game is “coming soon” with all the features of the mobile version and more.
The announcement today notes this is the first mobile game Zynga has brought to Facebook. For those who already play on iOS or Android, you’ll be able to move games back and forth between Facebook and whichever device you already play the game on, which should make it easier to complete games. You’ll still be able to play up to 20 games at a time, so that should be enough to keep you occupied should you be worried that one Internet-based game of Scrabble will have too much downtime in between moves.
It’s already possible to connect Words With Friends with Facebook as a means of getting a list of friends to play with. The new version will add support for some obligatory Facebook game features like notifications for when it’s your turn and the ability to post messages on a friend’s wall to brag (and, more importantly to Zynga, to advertise the game).
It’s impressive that Words With Friends remains so popular on the App Store — it’s currently the top paid word game, and the second most popular free word game, trailing only another Zynga game, Hanging With Friends. Words With Friends was originally released in 2009 by Newtoy, a Texas-based developer that was acquired by Zynga this past December and rebranded Zynga With Friends.
It was a messy day today for Sony as it revealed PlayStation Network users’ personal data had been compromised by an intruder. A Connecticut Senator was displeased with how the company handled the situation including how long it took for word to get out that personal data like addresses, birthdates, and possibly credit card numbers had been stolen — though Sony says it only learned of this yesterday. For PSN members who haven’t already, be sure to take steps to secure yourself against identity theft as soon as possible and let’s hope nothing comes of this. Only “some services” on PSN will be restored in the next week which only adds to the frustration of what’s happened. If there’s any bright spot, it’s this Airplane-inspired animated GIF that sums things up quite nicely.
- Sony officially reveals its PlayStation Certified tablets.
- The Escalation DLC for Call of Duty: Black Ops is getting George Romero and Freddy Krueger.
- 3D Excitebike will launch in Japan for free alongside the 3DS eShop.
- L.A. Noire action sequences are skippable.
- Jurassic Park: The Game has been delayed but Telltale is making up for it.
- Infinite Space developer announces its next game.
- Growlanser IV gets an expanded PSP port.
- A Brief History of Hardware Disasters
- The Real Reason People Should Get Excited About Nintendo’s New Console
And here’s what else happened today:
Hulu Plus on 360 Rumored for Friday
According to a purported scan of Official Xbox Magazine that’s hit the web, Hulu Plus — the premium version of Hulu that provides additional content, limited advertising, HD video, and support on non-computer platforms — will become available on Xbox 360 this Friday, April 29. The service is already available on PlayStation 3 so it wouldn’t be the first videogame console Hulu supports. Assuming the scan is real, Microsoft will be giving prizes away to Plus subscribers during Hulu’s first month of availability.
Star Fox 64 3D Features Gyroscope Controls
Star Fox 64 3D will be out in Japan on July 14 and with it will come gyroscope controls. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata made mention of the control scheme during a financial report briefing today but, as noted by Joystiq, that sort of control setup doesn’t lend itself to 3D gaming. As anyone who has picked up a 3DS will tell you, your eyes need to stay lined up directly with the screen in order for the effect to work. And as someone who has trouble keeping the system level when playing a game of soccer with no motion controls whatsoever, I can see how it would prove to be incredibly difficult to take advantage of the gyro controls when playing in 3D. Hopefully a more traditional control method will be included, too.
Warhammer 40,000 Games to Keep Flowing From THQ
THQ announced today that it has extended its videogame license agreement with Games Workshop to retain its exclusive rights to the Warhammer 40,000 franchise. It’s a “multi-year extension,” the exact length of which was not specified in the press release. “The complex, futuristic war-torn universe created by Games Workshop equipped THQ’s award-winning development teams with the material to create one of the most loved PC franchises — Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War,” said THQ president and CEO Brian Farrell. “Our envisioning of the Warhammer 40,000 universe will continue to grow with top quality games across all platforms, including the upcoming launches of Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine and Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online.”