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Thursday, Feb 07, 2013

  

Ubisoft Results: AC3 Sells > 12 Million Units; New AC Coming

Ubisoft's Q3 2012/13 sales figures are now public, showing sales for the fiscal quarter ending December 31st were 23% higher than the same period the previous year, and saying this is above the upper range predicted for the period. Also, GameSpot covers the company's post-results conference call, where they revealed plans for another installment in the Assassin's Creed series, saying this will (naturally) be set during a different era, and is expected for release in their fiscal 2014, which runs from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. Back to their earnings, among other things, Ubisoft attributes the results to strong performance in the core segment:

An outstanding performance by the core gamer segment, driven by very high-quality games. Assassin's Creed® 3 was a record-breaking success with more than 12 million sell-in and digitally distributed units, representing an almost 70% increase over Assassin's Creed® Revelations. Far Cry® 3 was the highest-rated shooter game in 2012 for Xbox360 (with a Metacritic score of 90%), and delivered a much higher-than-expected performance, with already over 4.5 million sell-in and digitally distributed units.

Activision/Blizzard Reveals Profits, Unannounced MMOG

Activision Blizzard announces Fourth Quarter and Calendar Year 2012 Results, showing a better-than-expected outcome, showing record GAAP net revenues of $4.86 billion and record GAAP earnings per diluted share of $1.01 for the year. "We are very pleased to report that Activision Blizzard delivered the best performance in its history," says Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer, Activision Blizzard. "With better-than-expected net revenues, record operating margins and record earnings, and over $1.3 billion in operating cash flow, we continue to set the industry success bar. I would like to thank our incredibly talented employees around the world for their passion, drive and creativity, which continues to fuel our success." Strategy Informer reports that during the company's post-earnings conference call, two projects they are currently developing were mentioned: Blizzard All-Stars, the upcoming MOBA, and an unannounced MMOG, which should be officially unveiled at some point this year. It's not clear if this MMOG is the confirmed (but unannounced) Titan or one of the "lots of projects" that they aren't talking about.

War of the Roses Free Version Launched

The promised free trial edition of War of the Roses is now live on Steam as a permanent demo for Fatshark's multiplayer melee combat game. Paradox Interactive offers instructions on how to participate, and sends along the following outline of how this differs from the full version of the game:

  • Four base classes to play with: Footman, Guardsman, Longbowman, and Footknight
  • Trial users play with consumers who own the full game as well as other trial users
  • Only default weapons and armor available
  • Two game modes: Team Deathmatch and Conquest (a static King of the Hill with multiple capture points)
  • All maps playable
  • In-game currency used for unlocks can be accrued but not spent, but if the game is purchased then the accrued currency can be used for unlocks

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Maps Workshop Opens

A new patch for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is now automatically available through Steam to update the ongoing beta of Valve's multiplayer shooter sequel. The patch notes are here, showing the notable change is the addition of the Steam Workshop for the game, and providing a bunch of support links. Valve also offers a Counterstrike: Global Offensive Workshop Blog with more details and a FAQ, as well as this announcement explaining what we should expect from all this:

With the Map Workshop you can find new maps, vote for favorites and subscribe to any map or game mode that you'd like. Steam will automatically download the map, and update it whenever the author makes a change. Workshop maps can used in quickmatches, private matches through Play With Friends, or even offline with bots.

Map makers can specify a wide range of gameplay-affecting settings. Stick to the standard CS formula, or create a totally new experience for players. Don't worry about trying something new or testing a unique feature because you can update your maps as often as you'd like. Players and servers that have subscribed will automatically get all new updates!

Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager Announced

Slitherine Ltd announces Buzz Aldrin's Space Program, which they say will be the "ultimate game of space exploration" when it is released for Windows, OS X, and iPads this June. We'll hope this will include a special moon landing skeptic punch-out mode, but that's not included in the following feature list:

  • Manage all aspects of your fledgling space agency from the 1950’s through to the Lunar landings in the first episode. Later episodes will add a permanent space station in Earth orbit all the way to the ultimate goal – a Manned Mission to Mars!
  • Create space programs and launch missions inspired by real programs such as the X-15 Space plane and the Sputnik satellite through to the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo manned spacecrafts and more!
  • Research and develop hundreds of mission components from 40 different program categories.
  • Develop your facility with advanced structures and upgrades including the Vehicle Assembly Building, the Mission Control Center and the Observatory.
  • Recruit and train astronaut candidates and assign them to missions.
  • Assemble an elite team of Scientists, Engineers, Technicians and Flight Controllers for the best chance of success.
  • Manage your agency's extensive budget.
  • Components can cause catastrophic failures. You must decide whether to abort or push on with each mission.
    Vast amounts of research ensure the huge database includes missions that launched and many more that never left the drawing board!
  • In Campaign Mode, manage your agency while pandering to the requirements of government to keep your position as Director!
  • Play in Sand Box mode to manage your budget with no politics involved.
  • Hundreds of components built in 3D and rendered out in exquisite detail allow you to follow the progress of your missions.
  • A historic advisor gives background information on the real missions and astronauts throughout the game.
  • Designed in consultation with Dr. Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot and the second human being to set foot on the Moon.

Victoria II Heart of Darkness Expansion Next Month

Paradox Interactive announces Heart of Darkness, an upcoming Joseph Conrad-inspired second expansion for Victoria II that will add a new colonization system and a new naval system to the Victorian strategy game when it's released next month. This page offers some screenshots and details, and here's the feature list:

  • Experience a brand new colonization system: Use your navy to expand your empire, compete against other colonial powers and struggle to maintain your overseas control. Colonial conflicts can spiral out of control and become international crises where they will have to be decided by diplomatic negotiations or risk costly wars.
  • Battle your enemies in the new naval combat system: Together with the new colonization system, your navies are more important than ever. We have revamped the entire naval combat system and made it much more detailed and exciting with a new system of gun ranges and maneuvering into positions for battles. New powerful battleships join the other classes of ships to bridge the gap to Dreadnoughts.
  • Prepare for International Crises: Around the world international crises continually call on the Great Powers to mediate and compromise, with war always being the last resort. As one of the lesser powers, use your influence to stir up the local flash points so you can use fleet footed diplomacy to get the Great Powers to right the wrongs that have been committed against your nation!
  • Follow the global events with the new newspaper system: You will receive reports on local and global events as well as the world's changing situation to keep up to date and get a greater sense of immersion. Over 60 newspapers, both historic and otherwise, periodically present you with the latest news reports of war, major events, royal gossip and other matters of interest.

Max Payne 3 Triple XP Weekend

Rockstar Games announces a doubleheader Social Club multiplayer event is now underway, offering triple experience points in Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3. They are offering some sweepstakes prizes, and outline how you may get to play with some of the developers.

Aliens: Colonial Marines Contact Trailer - Extended Cut

Gearbox gears up for next week's launch of Aliens: Colonial Marines with a new extended cut version of the contact trailer for the first-person shooter. Word is: "Underlined with a classical piece of cinematic music by Golden Globe nominated composer Clint Mansell, the trailer takes viewers on a vertical ride through the USS Sulaco with US Colonial Marines fighting for their lives against an incoming wave of Xenomorphs." Continue here to read the full story.

Op Ed

Tiny Little Frogs - RTS’s aren’t dying. They’re waiting. By Stardock CEO Brad Wardell.
The third phase games can be broadly described by the technology under them: 64-bit memory, massively multithreaded. And these 3rd phase RTSs will be breathtakingly beautiful to look at, have amazing scope and micro AI (sophisticated rules for units interacting with one another without human involvement) that is astounding.

Publishers aren’t approving these designs not because there isn’t demand. There is. The problem is you can’t make a game that only a fraction of the player base can currently play.

On Sale

Evening Patches

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Tomb Raider Gold

The Tomb Raider Facebook Page announces the new Tomb Raider is gold, and this attempt at a gritty reboot of the action/adventure series is scheduled for a March 5th release (thanks Gamer's Hell). Here's word:

Back in 2010 when we announced Tomb Raider we promised to break new ground for the franchise – to create an origins story that forges Lara Croft into a hero, and takes her on a journey like no other. I’m very happy that I can stand by those words today.

We’ve put everything into this game, and I’m certain we’ve created something that explores Tomb Raider’s history while pushing the limits in interactive storytelling and design. Development has spanned two studios, a pair of E3 stage demos, 50-plus magazine covers, 150 award nominations, nearly 800 fan art submissions, almost 2,000 blog posts, and over 50,000 replies from you on our forums.

And now it’s time to get the game into your hands. We sincerely hope you enjoy it. We think you will, We are immensely proud of this game.

28 days to go.

Job Post Spurs Dishonored 2 Speculation

A job post on the ZeniMax Careers Page advertises for a Senior Engine Programmer for Arkane Studios, calling for someone who is "(p)assionate about FPS and RPG games." They seek someone who best matches the following description: "Answering to the Technical Director, you will adapt, maintain and optimize the code for PC and next gen consoles. Multipurpose, you will deal with technology issues that will come up during production (animation, IO, audio, physics….)" Though it does not actually mention Dishonored, this all leads OXM to speculate this might be for Dishonored 2 for the Xbox 720, though to our experience, the phrase "next gen consoles" isn't really a reliable reference point due to loose usage. Thanks Gamer's Hell.

Aliens: Colonial Marines "Bug Hunt" DLC Revealed?

The Official Xbox Magazine notes a photo on The Gearbox Software Forums of a Wal-Mart ad promoting new Bug Hunt DLC for Aliens: Colonial Marines, calling this a "$14.99 value," though not indicating what, if anything this will actually cost. It says this is due via download on March 19th, and offers the following description: "Team up with your friends to take on waves of increasingly difficult enemies in an all new game mode." Thanks VG247.

Obscure Announced

Focus Home Interactive announces Obscure, a 2.5D side-scrolling action game coming to Windows, Xbox LIVE, and PlayStation Network this spring. If the title strikes a familiar chord, that's because this is based on Obscure: Learn About Fear and Obscure II, a pair of survival/horror games released by now-defunct French developer Hydravision in the 2000s, and the developer on the new game is Mighty Rocket Studio, formed by former Hydravision staff, and seems likely this is the once-cancelled game the Wikipedia calls "Obscure D." This teaser trailer shows off gameplay from Obscure, which will feature local and online co-op as well as solo play. Here's word:

Obscure is unveiled today for the very first time, through a punchy video full of action, monsters, and hemoglobin!

Obscure for PC, PSN and Xbox LIVE is a pure, action-rich 2.5D side-scroller, drenched in the blood and caustic humor inspired by the teen and horror movie genres... a spirit that definitely shows through today's video!

Playable alone and in cooperative mode (local & online), Obscure lets you play as one of four unlikely heroes; students, each with unique skills and abilities that develop throughout the adventure. Geared toward action and all-out brawling, Obscure's combat emphasizes combos, follow-up attacks, and score-multipliers! Survive against packs of monsters trying to skin you alive, discover new weapons, and complete objectives throughout a variety of huge, non-linear levels. Overshooting the scores will earn you experience points to level your character up, unlocking new weapons, skills, and other devastating abilities! At any time, you can even get back to some of earlier levels to try your new toys and beat your scores!

Continue here to read the full story.

WildStar This Year

The WildStar Website now features a February "State of the Game" address for this upcoming sci-fi MMORPG, revealing plans to officially launch the game later this year. They take this opportunity to outline aspects of other MMOG releases they find unsatisfactory, and will look to redress with their own game. They also say this will kick off "metric boatloads of coverage from the press," and get things started by posting one, two, three different gameplay trailers.

BioWare: Mass Effect 4/ME4 References "A Disservice"

BioWare's Chris Priestly took to the BioWare Social Network to respond to speculation about the next installment in the Mass Effect series of shootery role-playing games (thanks Strategy Informer). In what seems evidence that the era of sequels is hitting a new era of oddness, he suggests calling the fourth installment in the Mass Effect series Mass Effect 4 or ME4 is a "disservice" to the game:

To call the next game Mass Effect 4 or ME4 is doing it a disservice and seems to cause a lot of confusion here. We have already said that the Commander Shepard trilogy is over and that the next game will not feature him/her. That is the only detail you have on the game. I see people saying "well, they'll have to pick a canon ending". No, because the game does not have to come after. Or before. Or off to the side. Or with characters you know. Or yaddayaddayadda. Wherever, whenever, whoever, etc will all be revealed years down the road when we actually start talking about it.

I do not call the game ME4 when I talk about it ever, bucause that makes people think of it more as "what happens after Mass Effect 3" rather than "what game happens next set in the Mass Effect Universe", which is far more accurate at this point. Obviously fans are going to speculate content, character and story until we actually reveal details in the years or months to come as you have almost no actual details, just don't get bogged down in "well how are they going to continue ME3...".

Morning Patches

Morning Q&As

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

It's a day of sports mourning for me, as the Giants have cut Ahmad Bradshaw, one of my very favorite players, and as important as any player in each of the team's two recent championships. The offseason can be rough on NFL players too. Poop. :(

Anyway, we're battening down the hatches here in the BlueTower, as a nor'easter is coming, and could be quite nasty, depending on the track it takes. Time to check the hot cocoa supply.

R.I.P.: Makeup master Stuart Freeborn of 'Star Wars' dead at age 98. Thanks nin.

Cut Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: 400 Years.
Stories: 'Star Wars' spin-offs- A young Han Solo movie, and a Boba Fett film.
Journalists Poop Their Pants On A Bus, Write About The Experience. Thanks Morris.
Postal Service to cut Saturday mail to trim costs. Extra junk mail on Mondays.
Science: Closest Earth-like planet 'stroll across park'.
Images: The 2013 Sony World Photography Awards. Thanks nin.
Media: When The Avengers Enrolled At Shermer High School.
Super Mario Busters.
Streak Free Shine.
Auction: "Rarer than rare" 1865 baseball card sells for $92,000.
The Funnies: Dilbert.
Follow-up: How Mark Changizi conquered colorblindness with glasses. Thanks nin.



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