Week In Review: 5/16/2014 – Rockstar’s New Game, Darksiders Updates and Xbox One Breaks Up with Kinect
Welcome to the Week in Review, a feature where Dan Oravasaari and Alex Osborn will break down what happened over the last week and discuss what it means to the industry as a whole, and to you the gamer.
Dan: This is one of those moments where I don’t get the excitement for the news. This is because Nordic Games spent $4.9 million for the Darksiders IP (as well as for Red Faction and MX Vs. ATV IPs), so everyone knew we should at least see one more game for the franchise at some point. But, all that said, it is good to hear that this doesn’t sound like it will be a cash grab while the brand still has fans out there and we finally know not to hold our breath in anticipation.
Alex: While you may not get the excitement, Dan, I totally do. Sure, Nordic Games picked up the IP, but that by no means left me feeling confident in the fate of the franchise. The first two games didn’t sell particularly well, and when it came time to sell off THQ’s assets, Darksiders was seen as nothing more than mere scraps that would likely be thrown away at the end of a meal. I loved the first game and still have yet to play the second one, but I’d really like to see the story arc carried out to completion. There are four horsemen, each with a story to tell, so I’m excited at the prospect of a Darksiders 3 and 4.
Alex: Despite the fact that we’re moving toward a digital-only future, a lot of gamers still prefer boxed copies of games, and I can totally understand why. Even though digital markets are rising in popularity, and storefronts like Steam are offering amazing deals, there’s still nothing quite like having a tangible product you can hold on to. Plus, you can resell the game when you’ve had your fill, or put it on a shelf to display your collection. Until the digital space has a solid solution for reselling intangible goods, I expect a lot of gamers to cling to the retail model for as long as they possibly can.
Dan: Agreed. Even though I have for the most part converted over to a digital library myself, I know many gamers who feel that ownership of a product is better represented by physically owning a product. As we have been seeing many online servers being shut down, closing owners off from using online modes, it is easy to see why confidence in spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on a catalog of games on an infrastructure that is outside of your control is hard to come by. So, I can’t say I am surprised.
Dan: Well the first thing that needs to be said about this is that Rockstar Games isn’t a single studio, as Rockstar North may be the brains behind the GTA series, there are still seven other studios who could be working on other projects as well. I think GTA V on PS4 is a possibility and even I hope it would be true, but i’m banking more on it being a new Max Payne or Midnight Club game. Although, given the number of rumors saying Rockstar will be on the stage at Sony’s E3 conference, does give me hope that this will be something big.
Do you think it could be Agent finally?
Alex: Nope. Not a chance that it will be Agent. I firmly believe that this is just Grand Theft Auto V for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. We’ve heard so many rumblings about next-gen ports these past couple months that it’s basically a given at this point. Am I all that excited to play GTA V on PlayStation 4? No, not really. Would I much rather have a brand-new Red Dead title? Absolutely. I’m just trying to be realistic here, and at this point, there’s really no doubt in my mind that we’ll be getting GTA V on next-gen hardware by year’s end.
Alex: Sony Corp. isn’t doing all that well, despite the success of the PlayStation division. As such, the execs (including Hirai himself) have taken pay cuts. We saw the Nintendo execs do something similar not too long ago, when the company announced losses, so this appears to be pretty standard procedure for big Japanese corporations facing disappointing losses. Sony is undergoing some growing pains right now as it tries to sell off its VAIO division and trim away some of the excess fat from the company, so I really hope we start to see the fruits of these changes very soon.
Dan: Yeah, sadly as Sony is longer the company that it once was across the board, a great deal of expenditures are needing to be cut down. One way to do this is by cutting the salaries of executives to not only save on costs, but to also show unity within the company, as other employees are also getting pay cuts or losing their jobs. This is a smart move on their behalf, even though we have seen it many times in the past at other companies, it is also good to know everyone is affected and not just those on the bottom rung.
Dan: I really don’t get what is going on at Microsoft anymore. Yes, the Xbox One has been riddled with one mistake after another, and yes, they have been doing a decent job of fixing things as quickly as possible. But, as smart of a move as it is to drop $100 off of your price tag, saying it a month in advance makes me wonder what their sales are going to be for this month as people (who don’t want the camera) wait to save some serious cash. Also, the concept that the system has been built around this future piece of tech now goes out the window bit by bit, as each new SKU is sold. I have a feeling these last two years will become historical landmarks in gamer history, for terrible management of what could have been a great product.
Alex: I think we’re going to see a very different Xbox when E3 rolls around. The management at Microsoft has changed dramatically, with Phil Spencer now heading up the company’s gaming division. As such, expect to see Xbox One become more of a gaming-focused machine than originally advertised. The other features will likely take a backseat to what has made the Xbox platform so successful in the past: a killer online gaming experience. While yes, the company has gone back on so much of what it originally said, it is all ultimately going to be for the best. This E3 is going to be bonkers.
Soul Sacrifice Delta
Alex: While the original Soul Sacrifice looked quite interesting, I never really felt compelled to try it for myself. Sure, Keiji Inafune’s involvement has a lot to do with why it was even on my radar in the first place, but from what I’ve heard, the original was a little rough around the edges. Fortunately, it sounds like Delta offers a much more robust experience, delivering upon the promise of the original game. Those hungry for something to play on their Vita should definitely give it a look, especially if they’ve got a hankering for some dark action-RPG goodness.
Dan: Having been compared to Monster Hunter on more than one occasion I have been quite curious to try out Soul Sacrifice, but also never got around to it. Thankfully, now that Delta is out and it is sounding like the more polished version I will be giving it a shot – mainly because I am reviewing it. But, so far the game does look to be a great addition to the Vita library, as it gives a robust experience in short bursts, perfect for the gamer with sparatic availability.
Another week where not much has really happened other than great expectations for the future. Between the the news that we might see some cool games in the future, whether it is Rockstar at E3 or Darksiders in the future, the only thing of real substance was the announcement that Microsoft has cut costs for the Xbox One. But, even that isn’t something that is happening this week, and might not interest everyone on the PlayStation side of the console line.
Overall Score: 5