Hello and welcome to a week in gaming news for the week of 10th January 2014.
The top story of the week is the Consumer Electronics Show held this year in Las Vegas. The biggest story to come from the conference was the information release of Valves upcoming Steam Box. The boxes are being made, not by one, but 12 different companies varying from Alienware to Origin PC. With many companies making them, there will be many different types of boxes with varied prices, with the cheapest around $499 (around £300) to a whopping $2500 (around £1500) for the Digital Storm Bolt II machine. The thing that people are unclear about at the moment is if these Steam Boxes are PCs-in-a-box or a new console. The PC-in-a-box market is wide open but the console market may not like the lack of uniformity compared to the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Other big news to come out of the conference is the unveiling of the PlayStation Now service. This is a game streaming service that allows people to play older PlayStation titles on newer machines, including not just the consoles or the Vita, but on tablets, TV’s and smartphones. The service is even open to devices not made by Sony, opening up where the games can be played. This is an expansion of the Gakai streaming service that came with the release of the PlayStation 4. The pricing for the service has not yet been released. With announcement of the service, GameStop lost 8% of its share price. It may not be much but, unlike chains like CEX, GameStop are hinged on second hand sales of games. The move to a more digital market means they can lose out on money.
In international news, China has lifted its 14 year ban on the production and sale of consoles. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will now be able to build the consoles in the Shanghai free-trade zone and then sell them in mainland China. PC and smartphone gaming has seen huge surges in the last few years, so the selling of consoles is the next step. But it is not a done deal just yet. China still has to approve the consoles for sale. And the removal of the ban may only be temporary. The Chinese government has sparked up a controversy around “Battlefield 4,” saying it was “demonizing the image of China.” The consoles may only be allowed for a short time and some of the games may be censored or not allowed a Chinese release.
Now for news on games:
“Titanfall” will have a 6 vs 6 player cap. While this is very small, there will also be AI in matches as well as players to help balance skill levels.
The “DayZ” beta will not be released until the end of the year creator Dean Hall has announced. The alpha of the game was released at the end of last year and sold 800,000 copies in a month. Hall said the sales had a positive effect on the future roadmap of the game.
”Alien: Isolation” by Creative Assembly has been previewed this week. Going for a more survival horror style game than its predecessor, they hope to help us forget about “Aliens: Colonial Marines”.
The new Hitman title, that may or may not have been called “Hitman: Guns and Souls”, has been cancelled by Square Enix. But it may not be the end of the series. IO Interactive, the producers of the series, has said that the next game may be dead but the series isn’t.
The writer of “Mirror Edge,” Rhianna Pratchett, is not on board with the new “Mirrors Edge 2” game. She called herself a “casualty” of the development process but wished the team well.
That’s it for this week’s gaming news. Share your reasonable thoughts in the comments and I will see you next week.