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Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013

  

EA Financial Results

Electronic Arts reports their preliminary Q1 FY2014 financial results, reaffirming their forecasts for the year and offering the following summary of the quarter: "For the quarter, non-GAAP net revenue of $495 million was above our guidance of $450 million. Non-GAAP diluted loss per share of ($0.40) was above our guidance of ($0.62)." Here's their list of highlights:

  • EA was the #1 publisher in Western retail markets in calendar year 2013, and the #1 global publisher in the iOS game market in the June quarter.
  • EA received 116 E3 awards from over 220 industry nominations, including 8 out of 15 awards from the official E3 Game Critics. Battlefield 4™ won a total of 21 awards at E3, including GameSpot’s Best of E3 award, Need for Speed™ Rivals was named Best Racing Game, and NHL® 14 took the honors for Best Sports Game. Titanfall™ from Respawn Entertainment won six major awards, including Best of Show, Best Original Game, Best Console Game, Best PC Game, Best Action Game and Best Online Multiplayer.
  • The Simpsons™: Tapped Out recorded its highest revenue quarter* in Q1 since launching in August 2012.
  • EA’s mobile and handheld digital revenue generated $103 million* in the quarter, a 30% year-over-year increase in digital net revenue.
  • Real Racing™ 3, the #1 racing title on iOS, has generated more than 45 million downloads, and has averaged over 2 million daily active users since launching in March.
  • The Battlefield 3™ Premium community continues to grow with over 4 million members to date.
  • FIFA 13 digital net revenue topped $70 million* in the quarter, a 92% increase versus FIFA 12 in Q1 FY 2013.
  • FIFA Online 3 digital net revenue in grew 88%* in the first quarter compared FIFA Online 2 in the prior year, and was the #1 online sports game in Korea based on revenue and traffic.
  • EA signs publishing agreement with TenCent for FIFA Online 3 in China, with details to be announced in an upcoming joint press release from EA and TenCent.
  • EA’s Origin™ platform for downloading digital games has registered over 50 million users, including 22 million mobile users.
    Trailing twelve-month non-GAAP digital net revenue was up 28% to a record $1.72 billion*.

Eidos Montreal Founder Resigns; Blasts Square Enix

Eidos Montreal founder Stephane D'Astous has resigned his post, telling Polygon he left the company on Friday, and that he is being replaced by David Anfossi, producer for Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: The Fall. He also talks with Polygon about his departure, and holds no bars in criticizing studio owner Square Enix. Here's a taste: "Since last year's financial short-coming performance of Square Enix Europe, we (HQ London and GM Eidos Montreal) have had growing and divergent opinions on what needed to be done to correct the situation," he said. "The lack of leadership, lack of courage and the lack of communication were so evident, that I wasn't able to conduct my job correctly. I realized that our differences were irreconcilable, and that the best decision was unfortunately to part ways."

Stardock's Star Control Reboot Plans

Stardock sends along their announcement covering the recent news that they have acquired the rights to the Star Control franchise. They say development of their new game in the series will begin later this year, and will use Star Control 2 as its inspiration (there's a discussion on IncGamers about what Stardock did and did not purchase here questioning whether they have rights to use the races and plot points of SC2). Here's word on their plans:

PLYMOUTH, MI – July 23, 2013 – Stardock is pleased to announce that it has secured the rights to the classic PC franchise Star Control with the intent to develop a new Star Control game. Development on the new game will begin this year with a release date to be determined at a later time.

“We expect the new Star Control to come in the form of a reboot, similar to what Firaxis did with the XCOM series last year,” said Brad Wardell, president and CEO of Stardock. "We are looking at Star Control II as a major source of inspiration.”

Entering its 20th year as an independent studio, Stardock remains one of the few development studios solely dedicated to PC gaming. Its critically-acclaimed PC games include the timeless Galactic Civilizations series and the award-winning Real-Time Strategy game (RTS) Sins of a Solar Empire, which has sold more than two million copies worldwide. PC Gamer Magazine recently chose Galactic Civilizations II and Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion for inclusion in the top 100 PC games of all time.

Star Control maintains a cult following as a beloved PC franchise, with the first title including options for melee or strategy gameplay set in a science fiction universe. The sequel—Star Control II—expanded on the Star Control universe as an adventure game and shooter. Star Control II still holds spots on critics’ lists of the best PC games of all time among both new and seasoned PC gamers.

Ships Ahoy - GRID 2 Peak Performance Pack

Codemasters announces that the Peak Performance Pack is now available for GRID 2, a new DLC pack adding new cars to the racing sequel. They offer this trailer to show off the pack, explaining it like so: "To mark the launch of the Peak Performance Pack, Codemasters has released a new video showing the three customized U.S. Muscle cars and three tuned European classics contained in the pack cruising down the California Coast and being put through their paces around the city streets of Miami." Continue here to read the full story.

MechWarrior Online Honors Dead Fan With Charity Mech

Piranha games announces they are now offering sales of Sarah's Mech for MechWarrior Online, a new USD $10.00 ride in the multiplayer mech game to honor a young fan who recently died of cancer, with all proceeds from this mech going to the Canadian Cancer Society. This discussion thread and FAQ have details, and here's the background on this:

The five year old Vancouver native loved piloting the Jenner ‘Mech in MechWarrior Online with her father, Jon Parries. Calling the enemy ‘Mechs “baddies”, she and her father dominated the Inner Sphere on a regular basis in the current Open Beta. Her favorite ‘Mech chassis was the Jenner ‘Mech with streak SRMs, “because she liked to move fast, lock on, and liked using night vision,” according to her father.

“Sarah’s passion for ‘Mechs and her battle with cancer had a profound impact everyone at Piranha,” said Russ Bullock, president of Piranha Games. “She was an inspiration with her passion and energy for the game and our hearts and deepest condolences go out to her family. The outpouring of heartfelt sympathy from the MechWarrior community and the support and encouragement we’ve received to develop this unique ‘Mech has been nothing short of incredible. We have the best fans in the world.”

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Video

Here's a new video from Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag with about 13 minutes of gameplay footage from the game, showing Edward Kenway tooling around a Caribbean seaport, beating people up, taking the schooner out for a spin... the usual stuff. Word is: "From open-ended assassination contracts to boarding and plundering enemy ships, Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag let’s gamers seamlessly explore the Caribbean world from land to sea. This director’s cut of the 13 minute Horizon walkthrough features commentary from Game Director Ashraf Ismail." Continue here to read the full story.

Valve on Greenlight Criticisms

Indie Statik reproduces a quote from Valve's Tom Bui responding to criticisms of the Steam Greenlight program. He acknowledges the system has problems, but they are doing what they can. Here's part: "Until we can ship everything we want, Greenlight is serving the purpose of helping us prioritize what we ship. It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and has a bunch of downsides (even with all its failing, it is much better than our old, opaque system). We are making improvements to Greenlight where we can, but right now we are focusing on what we can do to ship more games." Thanks Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

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Into the Black

Aliens: Colonial Marines: Stasis Interrupted DLC Released

Steam now offers the rumored but never announced Stasis Interrupted DLC for Aliens: Colonial Marines, proving the report saying this would happen to be accurate. The pack will be the last DLC for Gearbox's FPS and requires the base game to play. It is offered for USD $9.99, though it is free for those who purchased a season pass. Here's word on how this bridges the story of Aliens with the not-masterpiece that was Aliens 3:

'Stasis Interrupted' is the final piece of Aliens™: Colonial Marines DLC telling the story of what happened to Hicks between Aliens™ and Alien³™.

In this new campaign you play as 3 different characters through an interlocking story. Waking up unexpectedly from hypersleep, Lisbeth and others must figure out why the spaceship they are on, the Legato, has been diverted to intercept the Sulaco leaving LV-426's orbit.

Fight your way through the alien infested spaceship, find out what Michael Weyland is after and discover what truly happened to Hicks.

StarCraft II Birthday Party

Battle.net outlines Blizzard's plans to celebrate the third anniversary of the release of StarCraft II on Saturday. They offer a reworked 15th Anniversary ‘line up’ wallpaper and have boosted the experience points doled out by the real-time strategy sequel. Here's word: "For a limited time, we’ve increased the XP gains you get when you play StarCraft II by 25%. It’s the perfect time to log in and play some Multiplayer, or Versus A.I., or Training Mode games. Perhaps you’d like to level up the race you don’t play the least often. Now’s the time!"

The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief Episode 1 Released

Nordic Games announces the release of the first chapter of The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief, a new point-and-click adventure for Windows, OS X, and Linux that's also coming soon to last-generation consoles. The Nordic Games Online Store offers the standard edition and the digital deluxe edition at a 10% discount for a season's pass, which includes two more chapters. Both versions with the same discount are offered on the digital distributors listed on this page, and one of them may be preferable, since Nordic uses Digital River, where they charge an additional €5.00 for two years of guaranteed re-download service (defaulting to Euros will probably be a problem for U.S. users as well). Here's word on the game:

Set across 1960’s Europe, The Raven combines the thrill of the chase ‘whodunit’ with the risk and reward of a heist story where players get to experience both sides of the story as the investigator and the thief. Paying tribute to Agatha Christie’s crime stories and gangster movies from the 60s and 70s, The Raven is set to be a thrilling episodic journey.

StarMade - Minecraft-inspired Space Shooter

The StarMade website offers downloads of StarMade (also variously written as Star Made and Starmade), a Wing Commander-style sandbox space game using Minecraft-inspired voxel graphics for Windows, OS X, and Linux. The game is offered for free from the website and the Indie DB, but the Buy StarMade page offers the "full version" for USD $3.00, and the game is the subject of a current Steam Greenlight campaign, to there are some commercial aspirations behind this. They offer Episode 1 and Episode 2 in a video series on the game's basics, and a screenshot gallery with a look at what can be made in StarMade. Thanks Ant via LinuxGames.

Capcom Announcing 13 New Games Next Week

NeoGAF has a translation of this Japanese announcement saying Capcom plans to announce no fewer than 13 new games on August 1st. The drama and potential appeal of this is diminished by word that these are online, smartphone, and social games, which are so often not Scottish. Here's the NeoGAF translation: "Capcom Online Games will be holding a conference (which will be streamed) on August 1 in Japan to announce 13 brand new online, smartphone, and social game titles. There will also be news updates for Monster Hunter Frontier G and Onimusha Soul." Thanks GamesHQMedia.

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Out of the Blue

Fight Club sequel in the works (thanks Acleacius). Hmmm. A graphic novel is fine I suppose, but I have to strongly echo the sentiment of the author in saying that I don't need a follow-up to one of my favorite movies of all time, so hopefully no film adaptation will come of this.

Adapted Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Dyna Boy.
Stealth Assassin.
Super Rally Challenge.
Links: 5 Incredible Real Video Games (You'll Never Get to Play) - Cracked.com
Stories: Bryan Cranston Secretly Cosplayed As Walter White at Comic-Con. Thanks nin.
Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, wants to ban oral sex.
Science: Faster Than the Speed of Light? Thanks j.c.f.
New clues illuminate Alzheimer's roots.
Ottawa mother loses 3 limbs after dog bite infection.
Images: 'X-Men' first look- 'Days of Future Past' posters split the difference. Thanks nin.
Media: The Ten Scariest Aircraft Landings Caught On Video. Thanks nin.
Follow-up: Climate change slowdown is due to warming of deep oceans, say scientists.
The Funnies: Brevity.

Monday, Jul 22, 2013

Enter the Dominatrix Now SR4 DLC Due in October

GameInformer has details from a talk by Volition and some of the Saints Row IV voice cast at Comic-Con, where details about the imminent open-world action sequel were discussed. One tidbit noted on Kotaku (thanks nin) is word that: "The first DLC called Enter the Dominatrix is coming 45 days after the game ships. It features a behind-the-scenes style narration as the characters explain why the content was cut from the game." Saints Row IV is due on August 20th in North America, so the expansion being expected 45 days later means it's due around October 4th. Enter The Dominatrix was first announced in May 2012 as a standalone Saints Row The Third expansion, but almost exactly one year ago this was cancelled, as Volition announced Saints Row IV (or as they called it at the time, "The Next Great Sequel in the Saints Row Franchise") saying the Enter the Dominatrix content would be a part of the main game. Obviously the plan changed somewhere along the way, which can't be too surprising considering Volition and the Saints Row franchise were sold from THQ to Deep Silver in the intervening time. Meanwhile, we have a new Hail to the Chief #2: Animal Protection Act trailer promoting the game. Continue here to read the full story.

Chainsaw Warrior Announced

Games Workshop announces a Chainsaw Warrior video game based on a zombie board game they released in the 1980s. Bucking a trend, this is a single-player only game, coming this summer to mobile devices and to Windows and OS X shortly after that. This page has an image and some details, and there's more on Facebook. Here's the announcement:

22nd July, 2013, Bristol, UK: The seminal hit board game Chainsaw Warrior, made by Games Workshop back in 1987 is set to return this year in a digital form. The original 80s game was a notable rarity in that it was a solo board game that pitted the player not against others but against the clock. The game saw New York balancing on the precipice of darkness as twisted forces from another reality attempted to rip the city from this world into theirs. Standing between them and the destruction of the city was a lone figure, the brutal and mysterious Chainsaw Warrior. As the eponymous hero, the player had to delve into a zombie infested New York tenement to locate the source of the evil spewing through the spatial rift and destroy it before he was destroyed. The game is being created by Bristol based indie developer Auroch Digital for mobile and desktop platforms.

Auroch Digital's Design & Production Director, Tomas Rawlings explained why they are resurrecting this mutant and zombie infested classic; "It's a game I played as a kid and loved. I see it as the pre-cursor of First Person Shooters when video games technology could not really do the first person or the shooting. For me this is not only a great game, but a classic of board game design - a solo shooter that really challenges the player. When we spoke to Games Workshop about developing a game this was the top of my list. I loved the 80s style of the game and we've kept much of that in our design as well as faithfully translating the gameplay. Don't expect to win the game easily. This was the Dark Souls or Super Meat Boy of its day. Players didn't want to buy the game and run out of challenge at first play. The game has many ways to kill you and is unafraid to use them - which makes it all the sweeter when you finally win."

As well as its challenge, it also flies in the face of current trends in social aspects in games. Chainsaw Warrior is firmly an individual experience, Rawlings explains, "This is about you against the tide of darkness. Chainsaw Warrior is the last hope for the city and time is running out. Ultimately I wanted to make this game because it is one that needs to be brought to digital with all guns blazing and chainsaw-blades revving, and that is what we're going to do!”

RuneScape 3 Launches

Jagex announces the launch of RuneScape 3, a new chapter in their free-to-play MMORPG, saying this "ushers a new age for players not only in terms of user-driven content, but also in the game’s narrative, its gameplay, and its technology." Here's word:

The launch of RuneScape 3 marks the beginning of the Battle of Lumbridge, the first gaming experience forged by players, who will shape the future of the RuneScape world forever. In addition to the player-driven dynamic events sculpting both the content and lore in RuneScape 3, nearly every aspect of the immensely popular game has been upgraded. RuneScape 3, which is available in five languages and played in 190 countries around the world, is the most ambitious online adventure experience to date.

“The simultaneous launch of RuneScape 3 around the world has been made possible by the hard work and dedication of our team over the last year,” said Phil Mansell, Executive Producer of RuneScape 3. “RuneScape 3 ushers in a new age for players in terms of user-driven content, story, gameplay and technology, and we couldn’t be more excited for them to write the next chapter in RuneScape’s epic saga.”

QuakeCon 2013: Two Carmack Talks & Tourneys Announced

The Bethesda Blog announces the tournaments to be held at QuakeCon 2013, two of them in QUAKE LIVE, and in a fit of old-school awesomeness, one of them a 20th anniversary DOOM tourney using DOOM 3. Word is: "Players can register for the Intel QUAKE LIVE Duel Masters online. Registration is extremely limited, so sign up as soon as possible. Registration for the QUAKE LIVE Clan Arena 3v3 Open and the 20th Anniversary DOOM Challenge is first come, first served, on-site registration only. Interested parties please visit the tournament area on-site at QuakeCon from 10:00am to 3:00pm CST on Thursday, August 1st for tournament registration." Bethesda also announces John Carmack is going to be giving a second technical presentation this year, in case any minds are left unblown by the id Software technical director's keynote:

We’re excited to announce that in addition to his annual QuakeCon keynote address, John Carmack will return to the stage for lecture-style presentation focusing on light transport and rendering.

Titled “The Physics of Light and Rendering”, the talk will take place on Friday, August 2nd at 5:00pm CST. Learn how light behaves in the real world, and the approximations and compromises that are involved in simulating the behavior with computers. This lecture will be geared towards those interested in the interactions of light in the world and how computer software simulates it. Note: Not for the technically faint at heart. :)

Aliens: Colonial Marines Patched

A new patch is now automatically available on Steam for Aliens: Colonial Marines with changes and fixes for Gearbox's first-person shooter, including making "Recruit" mode easier and a fix for world detail particles that may require adjusting the world detail slider to take effect. The unconfirmed report last week that new DLC was due for the game this week did say it would be preceded by a patch.

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Into the Black

Link of the Day: Royal baby: Kate gives birth to boy. Thanks Ant. Joffrey is a nice name for a boy...

R.I.P.: R.I.P. Dennis Farina.

Battlezone, Star Control & More Atari IP Sold: Chris Taylor and Total Annihilation Reunited

Develop points the way to some court documents revealing the disposition of more Atari IP, following a big auction in May and the sale of a couple of other properties last month by the bankrupt publisher. Word is Rebellion placed successful bids on the Battlezone and Moonbase Commander franchises, Stardock Systems will acquire the rights to strategy classic Star Control, while Wargaming is now owner of Master of Orion and Total Annihilation. That last acquisition seems especially noteworthy since Wargaming also recently aquired Gas Powered Games, which means the Total Annihilation property is now reunited with GPG's Chris Taylor, who created the RTS series back in the CaveDog days.

Ultra Street Fighter 4 Footage

A new trailer shows highlights of a recent Super Street Fighter 4 tournament, with some torturous audio as they "mix" mumbled player comments with booming music. What the clip has going for it is footage of new character gameplay from the upcoming update to the fighting sequel that's been dubbed Ultra Street Fighter 4, as shouted by the new announcer heard at the end of the clip. Continue here to read the full story.

U.K. Sales Charts

The new GfK Chart-Track chart of the 20 bestselling full-priced PC games in the U.K. for the week ending July 20th, which is mostly a re-shuffling of last week's list, with The Sims 3: Island Paradise continuing to enjoy its moment in the sun. Far Cry 3 jumped to the head of their list of top budget-priced PC games. Looking at the big picture on the all prices top 40 chart we see the Last of Us remains first and the one significant new entry is Dynasty Warriors 8, which debuts at number five. The biggest drop is Aliens: Colonial Marines, which falls from #10 to #26. Here's their overview:

There’s still no stopping ‘The Last of Us’ (-22%) as Naughty Dog takes the No1 for a 6th consecutive week.

In topping the chart again it also matches the unbroken runs of ‘Black Ops II’ and ‘FIFA 12’, an impressive feat as the title is exclusive to just one format. ‘Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition’ (+20%) propels itself back up to No2 following a strong boost in sales. ‘Mario and Luigi: Dream Team Bros’ (-8%) hold their position at No3 just ahead of Nintendo’s second 3DS title ‘Animal Crossing: New Leaf’ (-9%) at No4.

There’s a debut at No5 as developer Omega Force return with ‘Dynasty Warriors 8’ landing at No5. The latest instalment places 4th in the series best launch weeks behind Dynasty Warriors 6, 7 and Dynasty Warriors 5 - Empires. Ubisoft remain at No6 with ‘Far Cry 3’ (+4%) while retailer promotions for ‘Max Payne 3’ (+135%) see it climb nineteen places to No7. Strong sales for ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Legendary Edition’ (+31%) by Bethesda push it back into the Top 10 at No8. With the next edition on the horizon EA’s ‘FIFA 13’ (-43%) slips to its lowest position since launch (week 39 2012) dropping from No4 to No9. Square Enix round of the Top 10 with ‘Tomb Raider’ (-10%) sliding a spot to No10.

Enhanced Steam Browser Plugin

Enhanced Steam offers browser plugins for Chrome and Firefox to add some helpful functionality when visiting the Steam website (thanks and fiftykyu). This page lists the following features it adds to the experience:

  • Highlights the games and downloadable content you already own
  • Highlights games on your wishlist
  • Points out 3rd party DRM on games
  • Adds DLC categories to the product page
  • Finds out how much you really save on a bundle
  • See pricing history for each game
  • See how much you've spent on your Steam account
  • Fixes the "No Image Available" images on your wishlist
  • Displays Metacritic user scores
  • Gives you widescreen support information from WSGF
  • Adds an "Add to Cart" button on your wishlist items
  • Adds an "Empty Cart" button to checkout
  • Enhances the Steam Community pages
  • User-controlled options page lets you decide which features to enable
  • Replaces the Steam Greenlight banner.

Left 4 Dead 2 Solo Expert Runthrough

This video offers 2½ minutes of highlights from a years-long project by a user usefully named "Titsonabull" to complete all 55 maps in Left 4 Dead 2 and its DLC in expert mode with no bots. For those interested in the full hours-long treatment this playlist and this playlist have the entire series of videos, revealing all the strategies used to accomplish this feat.

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Out of the Blue

Based on some encouraging comments, I've decided I'm ready to try smoking a pork shoulder one of these days, and see how I can do with it. This has a lot to live up to, as I was introduced to pulled pork on a trip to southern Virginia at a full-on pork festival, so I know how the real thing is supposed to turn out better than my Brooklyn roots would suggest. I'm eyeing the forecast to see when this might happen, and I see that showers are no longer expected on Thursday, so that may provide me the 12-or-so hours of clear weather this will require.

Porky Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Worlds Guard 2.
Stories: Nicolas Cage: 'People think I'm not in on the joke'.
Rise of the Warrior Cop. Thanks Slashdot.
Big pharma mobilising patients in battle over drugs trials data.
Science: Research update: Genome editing becomes more accurate.
A field guide to surviving a mass extinction.
Stem cell advance boosts prospects for retina treatment.
Media: Russian Gas Truck Explodes, Caught On “First-Person” Camera.
COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey with Neil deGrasse Tyson trailer.
Kevin Rose protects his dog from a raccoon. Thanks nin.
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