The Week in Review news piece summarizes and highlights the most important gaming related news over the past week. This weekly article, in conjunction with the Rumor Round-Up, will keep you plugged in and in-tune.
Without a doubt the biggest news of the week was the launch of GTA IV. The title released at 12:01 AM Tuesday morning the 29th of April . The launch not only dominated gaming news, but it also dominated game sales and is expected to affect box office sales.
In related news, GTA IV released with some bugs aboard. The most current approximate figures are that 37% of GTA IV owners are experiencing freezing and system lock-ups . According to Rockstar, the problem lies in the system cache. Rockstar will release an update in the next few days to solve the issue.
Finally, GTA IV has met its fair share of controversy right out of the gate. From censorship Down-under, to real life theft and violence surrounding the title, GTA IV can’t seem to catch a break. Fortunately for Rockstar there was one bright spot. The city of Philadelphia and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority decided to leave GTA IV ads running on their buses and in their terminals. SEPTA decided that the $83,000 in ad revenues was far more important to the taxpayer than their sensitive sentiments. SEPTA’s decision is contrary to those made by Chicago and Miami transit authorities.
There were other important happenings in the gaming world that somehow fell on deaf ears. Ubisoft officially announced the development of the next Prince of Persia and even detailed what the game would look and play like later in the week. Some of the highlights were that gameplay will be centered around fewer, much more difficult foes with epic boss battles. The world will be very open, but then boast much more linear mission gauntlets. The developers, Ubisoft Montreal, did quite a bit of name dropping while comparing the title including such titles as The Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear Solid, and Soul Calibur. Finally, graphics will be cell-shaded with characters looking like they came out of a Final Fantasy title. Click HERE to get more detailed information.
An interesting study showed that casual games are very beneficial for mental health that they should be prescribed as a treatment for patients suffering from high anxiety and confusion. The news came out of East Carolina University’s Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies. They revealed the results of a six-month long, randomized, controlled study that measured the stress-relieving and other mood-lifting effects of so-called “casual” video games. The three puzzle and word games used in the study were, Bejeweled 2, Peggle, and Bookworm Adventures. Specifically, these games reduced levels of anger, depression, fatigue, confusion, and stress while providing for an increased sense of vigor in the subjects.
Atari and Infogrames have officially merged . Infogrames purchased the remainder of the outstanding shares. Last week we reported that Infogrames would most likely take on the Atari brand name. There has been no confirmation of this yet, but the acquisition of the final shares is a step toward that end.
Additionally, Atari and Infogrames released some gory details surrounding their upcoming horror title, Alone in the Dark . The graphics look amazing with a special emphasis on fire effects. According to the company, fire will be both your best friend and worst enemy in the title and will play a vital role. The story takes place in New York’s Central Park and introduces Edward Carnby as the game’s playable character. The game will release on June 20, 2008 and looks like it’s shaping up to be a must-have cinematic gaming experience.
Word came down from the execs at the PSN Store that pricing would be adjusted for Canadian consumers . Canadians have been voicing their concerns with the unfair pricing discrepancy between them and their U.S. Counterparts when purchasing games from the service due to the relative weakness of the dollar compared to other currencies. The management at Sony listened and Canadians have cheaper game downloads as of May 1, 2008.
Nintendo not only laid down some rubber with Mario Kart Wii at the end of last week, but they also addressed a number of issues concerning the future of the company and that of gaming in general. Some key points addressed by Nintendo’s President Satoru Iwata in an in-depth interview for investors were whether Nintendo would make a price cut, the state of WiiWare, how Nintendo would solve the constraint of flash memory space on Wii, keeping DS fresh, and staving off Microsoft and Apple . Click HERE for detailed highlights from the interview as well as access to the English transcript of the interview itself.
Thursday night we found out that Activision was joining other publishers such as Blizzard / Sierra (which will become part of Activision later this year in a planned merger with Vivendi Universal), Atlus, Majesco, NCsoft, and WBIE and not participating in the Electronic Software Association’s (ESA) Electronics and Entertainment Expo (E3) this year. To make matters worse for the ESA, we learned this morning that Activision and Vivendi are pulling out of the ESA for good! This fundamentally weakens the ESA as Activision and Vivendi represent two of the most influential publishers in the industry.
Finally, and on a brighter note, Turbine, Inc. secured $40 million in venture capital for future game development endeavors. This brings the total V.C. Funds collected up to $88 million. Turbine is responsible for great MMORPGs including Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online. Expect a press release on future plans within the next two weeks.
Thanks so much everyone and we will see you next week!