It's been a good week for new game announcements, especially for Elder Scrolls fans, who can herald the coming of Skyrim's first DLC and the confirmation of the long-rumored Elder Scrolls MMORPG. Things have been a bit quieter behind the scenes in the industry, though, as many companies are quietly preparing for E3. We're soon to be awash in crazy hype, so for this week TWD is wallowing in the stark reality of the games industry. Legal wranglings and game cancellations ahoy!
Motorola Goes After Microsoft in Germany
Barely a week goes by when patent disputes don't mar the game industry, but this one is pretty big. Motorola Mobility has won an injunction against Microsoft in Germany that, if it survives Microsoft's appeals, could result in a ban on many Microsoft products being sold in that nation. The ban would include Windows 7 and Xbox 360 consoles, both rather important products for gamers.
The patent dispute is over Motorola's patents on the H.264 video codec, which Microsoft (among other companies) uses in its products for video encoding and playback. The two companies have been fighting over H.264 for a while, with Microsoft alleging that Motorola contractually promised to make the technology available for a reasonable fee, then reneged on the promise and demanded excessive royalties. Motorola decided to fight back instead of capitulating, hence it seeking the above injunction.
It's not terribly likely that the sale of Microsoft products will actually be banned in Germany or any other major market, as Motorola's ultimate goal is to get as much money from Microsoft as it can. The two companies will undoubtedly settle eventually, but this case is a good reminder of the complex web of technology patents that makes up the electronic entertainment world. When relationships between patent holders and companies that use patented technologies sour, our access to technology suffers.
Three very different games were rumored to be canceled this week, with varying end results to the rumors. When it was rumored that development Bayonetta 2 has been canceled due to financial issues within SEGA, creator Hideki Kamiya took to the Twitterverse. He suggested that fans keep an eye out on next week's game magazines (presumably in Japan) for information on the game. We'll have to wait and see if anything comes out of this rumor one way or another.
Unfortunately for strategy RPG fans, XSEED's translation of Vanillaware's Grand Knights History was definitively canceled this week. The fault lies with Vanillaware itself, which is too busy working on Dragon's Crown to do the work on its end that was needed for localizing Grand Knights History. While it's understandable that Vanillaware would focus more on a PS3 action RPG than a PSP strategy RPG, it's still disappointing that we won't see the beautiful-looking game on these shores.
In the strangest cancellation story of all, Rock Band iOS players received a warning earlier this week that the game would no longer be playable on iOS devices after May 31. After a great deal of confusion over the message, especially since the Rock Band app was still on sale in the App Store, EA announced that the message had been a mistake. A second message stating that the app would continue to be available and apologizing for the confusion was sent out. Why was the first message written in the first place? EA isn't talking about that.
Xbox 360 Subscription Service Coming?
According to one rumor, Microsoft will soon be releasing a $99 Xbox 360/Kinect bundle that comes with a two-year subscription plan. The $15 monthly subscription would subsidize the original console cost as well as access to Xbox LIVE Gold and possibly extra television or music content. Number crunchers have noted that the two-year price of this package comes out to $460, while simply purchasing a comparable 360 with Kinect and buying a LIVE subscription at full cost would come out to $420. Still, payment plans like this keep cell phone companies in business, so it'd be no surprise if this sort of scheme worked out well for Microsoft. That's assuming this rumor is true, of course. I'll keep an eye on it for y'all.
Date: May 4, 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.*