Well, it's all over now. E3 has come and gone, and this year's show was generally not highly-regarded. I suppose that was bound to happen with the show awkwardly placed between console generations, but it's disappointing that Nintendo didn't wow us with the number of amazing Wii U games we were expecting. That said, there tons of stories about E3 on this site already, so I'll be looking at some of the more behind-the-scenes action that's been happening in the industry this week.
It's always the silly little stories that make E3 for me, so here are a few:
Eagle-eyed viewers noticed something unusual in the E3 Far Cry 3 single-player demo. In the opening splash screens, the phrase, "An Ubisoft Montreal Production" flickers on screen. If the flickering frames are isolated, one of them can be seen reading, "An Ubisoft F***treal Production, and the next just boils down to, "F*** EA." Do we perhaps have a disgruntled former Electronic Arts employee amongst Ubisoft's cinematics team?
Remember how Activision settled the lengthy legal case with its former Infinity Ward employees last week? Developers from Respawn Entertainment, where many of those former IW staffers now work, were spotted with the following phrase on the back of their t-shirts at E3: "The terms of the settlement are strictly confidential."
In E3's news of the weird comes this partnership between SEGA and famous NASCAR driver Danica Patrick. Patrick will be starring in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, though she's liable to look out-of-place amongst all the strange fuzzy creatures. In return, SEGA is sponsoring Patrick's car in a big race this November. Yes, the car will be blue.
Big Huge Games Experiences Epic Save
Throughout the 38 Studios meltdown, one of the more disappointing stories is the fate of Big Huge Games, former 38 subsidiary and developer of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. After all, Big Huge actually published its game, to decent success for a new IP. It was hardly BHG's fault that 38 had sunk all its funds in the money pit that is MMORPG development.
Thus, it was great news when we discovered that Epic Games is creating a new studio with a solid group of former Big Huge Games developers at its core. It turns out that Epic was thinking of founding a new studio, but needed a large infusion of industry veterans in order to successfully do so. Enter a large group of recently laid-off industry veterans, and ka-boom! Epic Baltimore is being formed. The BHG folks don't even have to move, though some of them will be working with Epic in North Carolina as contractors for a bit in order to ease the transition. We don't know what kind of game Epic Baltimore will be creating yet, but it's great to see so many of the folks from BHG land on their feet.
Over in Rhode Island, 38 Studios has officially declared bankruptcy, and multiple law enforcement agencies (including the FBI) are picking over the company's records. Will there be charges laid? I'm sure we'll find out in the months ahead.
Sony "Happy" With Vita's Price
Sony confounded quite a few experts with its E3 press conference this year. It had been expected to spend a lot more time on upcoming Vita games, considering that the handheld has faced disappointing sales numbers in both Japan and North America. Instead, we got over twenty minutes of Wonderbook coverage, while Sony claimed it simply didn't have enough time to fit more Vita games into its press conference.
Despite low sales which many analysts blame partially on the system's $250 price point (especially with the added price of a memory card,) Sony claims to be happy with the Vita's current price, telling Eurogamer that the company intends to focus on raising the Vita's perceived value rather than lowering its cost to consumers. As of the end of March, the Vita had sold about 1.8 million Vita units worldwide, and Sony expects to sell 16 million Vitas and PSPs together by the end of the year. We always know Sony's hoping to fudge numbers when it combines systems together for these kinds of purposes, but even then... 16 million without a price drop? We'll see, Sony.
THQ Shuts Down San Diego Studio, Controversy Ensues
Nobody can say that there's no conflict in mixed martial arts, but usually we see the kind of fight that happens in the ring, not in the court of games industry public opinion. Nobody could miss the fact that EA has acquired the UFC license from THQ, seeing as that fact was paraded in front of everyone at the Electronic Arts E3 press conference. It was a friendly takeover: THQ was looking to sell off the license as part of its restructuring plan.
It turns out that while that spectacle was happening on stage, THQ was quietly shutting down the entire San Diego studio that once developed its UFC-licensed games. The shutdown in itself wasn't surprising given the license selloff, but the fact that the studio was shut down on one of the busiest gaming news days of the year led some to speculate that THQ hoped to bury the bad news under the day's E3 hype.
Brand-new THQ head Jason Rubin (who looks rather scared in his headshot, as he should—he's in charge of THQ) vigorously denied that the publisher was trying to bury news of the studio's closure. He noted that THQ is making great efforts to help the fifty-some developers from the studio to find new jobs, either within THQ or even possibly EA. Hopefully he's telling the truth there. It's going to be a long road for Rubin, who takes over THQ as rumors of closure swirl about the company and its stock has plunged so low that it's in danger of being delisted.
That's The Weekly Dish, and now I'm off to do what all game journalists do after the end of E3. Sleep a great deal.
Date: June 8, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*