The Week in Review & Rumor Round-up: Pandemic Closes / Sledgehammer Opens, Nintendo and Sony Make Headlines, Microsoft Getting Sued, and More!

The Week in Review & Rumor Round-up: Pandemic Closes / Sledgehammer Opens, Nintendo and Sony Make Headlines, Microsoft Getting Sued, and More!


The Week in Review news piece summarizes and highlights the most important gaming related news and rumors over the past week. This weekly article will keep you plugged in and in-tune.

As we’ve all been busy madly playing through some awesome games, EA decided to close some doors. Last week we told you that EA was set to make some major staffing cutbacks, this week we saw the first major casualty: Pandemic Studios. Pandemic is the developer of such quality titles as Full Spectrum Warrior, Star Wars: Battlefront (I & II), Destroy All Humans! (1 & 2), Mercenaries, and the upcoming WWII Nazi-resistance shooter, The Saboteur. Nearly all of the 200 employees were laid off except for “a core team”, which will be retained to finish The Saboteur and take care of other gaming brands under their purview – possibly the oft-rumored Projects X and Y.

Fortunately, when one developer falls, another rises up. Headed up by former Visceral Games/EA Redwood Shores honchos Glen A. Schofield and Michael Condry, Sledgehammer Games of Foster City, CA is a new Activision development studio currently working on a yet-to-be-announced, existing Activision franchise. The new studios’ execs are looking to bring in top talent to create AAA games. This has prompted many to believe Sledgehammer was formed specifically to develop products within the Call of Duty franchise. Whether they will work on an MMO or simply be another developer in the Infinity Ward Treyarch rotation is still in the air. In fact, Sledgehammer could be working on a distinct Activision IP altogether. We’ll have to wait and see.

An ONM interview with Nintendo’s Kensuke Tanabe revealed that the Metroid Prime franchise may not be as dead as we once thought. Tanabe, who oversaw Retro Studios’ development of the Prime trilogy, stated that “We are always planning to make new games in the Metroid Prime series. Depending on the timing and the situation, we cannot deny the possibility of realizing it on DS or DSi.” Sounds great! Just make sure it tops Hunters.

Another ONM interview also hit this week. Nintendo’s Eiji Aonuma mentioned to the magazine that the next Zelda for Wii will shake things up by changing the classic structure. “It is something we used to talk about with Mr. Miyamoto, and he and I agree that if we are following the same structure again and again, we might not be able to give long time Zelda fans a fresh surprise,” said Aonuma. He continued to say, “So we have been trying something new in terms of the structure of the Wii version of the new Zelda game this time. I am really hopeful that people will be surprised with the changes we have implemented for this Wii version.”

Sony was quite active this week. For starters, they released firmware updates for both the PS3 and PSP. PS3 update 3.10 adds limited Facebook functionality; essentially allowing you to update your status with gaming related events. PSP update 6.20 gives owners a digital comics reader and the ability to export video and photo playlists from their PC to the PSP via Media Go.

While we enjoy the new functionality of our Sony gizmos, we were really excited about the prospect of playing games on the PS3 in 3D. Apparently, Kaz Hirai of Sony Computer Entertainment let it be known that both his side of the Sony business and that of Sony entertainment at large will be rapidly incorporating 3D stereoscopic technology into software and hardware devices. The best news from all this is that PS3s will be firmware upgradeable to 3D compatibility. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for your television – you’ll have to buy a new display if you want to see the 3D goods.

On a bit of a sour note, Sony also made it clear that they will be charging for premium online content in the future. While online multiplayer should remain free, new services that come onboard will likely require a subscription.

Longtime gaming industry watchdog, The National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF), has decided to close its doors in the face of an increasingly difficult economic environment. The non-profit group that releases the MediaWise Video Game Report Card – a family-friendly take on game ratings – seeks to dole out responsibility to like-minded non-profits that are willing to continue their family-oriented “mission and goals” as a media watchdog.  The group’s research, though often suspect due to bias, was focused on the affect of media on children’s health and development.

Finally, just when you thought the US couldn’t get any more litigious, AbingtonIP – a patent and class action law firm – is currently soliciting recently banned Xbox LIVE users to participate in a potential class action lawsuit against Microsoft.  According to the company’s call for participants, they feel the timing of the Microsoft Xbox LIVE bannings of illicitly modified Xbox 360s was such that sales of specific big-name games have been artificially augmented.  Also, the law firm states that the action Microsoft has taken against piracy should have been more “measured”.

Thanks so much everyone and we will see you next week!

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