Welcome to The Weekly Dish for October 28. This week, analysts speculate on GTA V's release date, Sony splashes itself all over game industry news, StarCraft II could go free-to-play, and we've got wind of a few possible future game releases.
No GTA V Until Late 2013?
Grand Theft Auto fans may be hoping to get their hands on GTA V as soon as possible, but Rockstar still hasn't announced a release date for the game. One industry analyst sent out concerns to investors this week, saying he suspects the game might ship after March 2013, which means it likely won't come out until late 2013. The analyst cites the fact that companies usually work with retailers four to six months in advance of a large launch, and retailers haven't yet heard about the game's possible release.
Of course, launching in March comes with its own problems, namely the fact that a huge number of blockbuster games are already scheduled for February and March next year. Launching in late 2013, however, carries the risk of having a game be overshadowed by the possible launch of the next-generation Xbox or PlayStation.
In the end, it comes down to when Rockstar believes the game is ready, of course. Still, next year is looking like a potential minefield for game release dates. While GTA V is likely to sell well no matter when it's released, let's hope not too many other games and companies lose their footing in 2013.
Sony's Been Busy
Sony has been all over the gaming media this week with a strange set of messages about its values. First, Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley boasted of his gaming credentials to Edge Magazine, mentioning that he thinks people who don't play games have "no business" in the game industry. Plenty of gamers likely agree, though it's worth mentioning that there are some very important and popular figures in gaming who aren't themselves gamers.
In more official corporate news, Sony's VP of hardware marketing repeated the company's long-term commitment to the PlayStation 3 this week, promising full support of the console for the next two or three years at least. Sony claims that there's a lot of great PlayStation 3 development going on right now, though the company wasn't specific about how much of that development was console-exclusive.
Behind the scenes, though, things aren't quite as sunny at the corporation. Sony has begun a series of layoffs that will result in ten thousand workers losing their jobs, and one of the first casualties was a large chunk of the company's PR department. The loss of PR personnel can't be good news for Sony's gaming division. With sorry sales for the Vita and plenty of games that need promotional support, many observers are wondering whether firing a large portion of its PR staff will end up costing the company in the long run.
Starcraft II Could Go Free-to-Play
Here's a little something unexpected: Blizzard Entertainment considering the adoption of a free-to-play model for one of its most popular franchises. It's true, though, as StarCraft II's lead designer admitted that the company is considering the possibility of having StarCraft II's multiplayer mode go FTP. It's certainly not a done deal at this point, but StarCraft's main competition in the realm of strategic e-sports is from free-to-play games like DOTA.
At this point, Blizzard would still need to figure out how to monetize a free-to-play StarCraft II while maintaining healthy competition and a sense of fairness for all players. Not to mention that all three of the game's planned episodes aren't even out yet, and you can bet Activision-Blizzard wants to maximize those box sales. If the game's multiplayer does go free, it will probably be a long time before it does so.
Mini-Scoops for the Future
Several interesting gaming scoops and announcements came out this week. BioWare is putting out a Mass Effect Trilogy package that will finally make the first Mass Effect game available on the PlayStation 3. The Trilogy is also coming out for the PC and Xbox 360, but not for the Wii U, which will apparently only be seeing a port of Mass Effect 3.
Banjo-Kazooie fans have been waiting a long time for a new game in the series that is truer to its platforming roots than (the fun but not traditional) Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. That seems unlikely to come from today's Rare, which is largely shackled to creating Kinect titles for Microsoft. Thus, several ex-Rare employees have gotten together and are gauging interest in a spiritual successor to the series. It can't be an actual Banjo-Kazooie game, but nothing stops former Rare employees from making a game that feels like Banjo-Kazooie. Interested?
In other "spiritual successor" news, wizened old gamers like me might be interested to hear that the Betrayal at Krondor people are back together again and might be launching a Kickstarter for a classic RPG. Again, it won't be a Krondor game or involve Raymond E. Feist (unfortunately), but they hope to be able to put together a great mix of combat, narrative, and puzzle-solving like Betrayal at Krondor had. It's nice to see so many great old game designers coming out of the woodwork these days!
Date: September 28, 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.*