This week may have brought us a drought of good new games, but the news clouds have gathered, burst open, and have poured sweet nourishing gaming goodness all over our parched fields. So, now that the Steam sale is over and you have your sanity back, read on for this week’s biggest stories.
As we mentioned earlier this week, Pinball FX 2 will soon be adding a new, Ms. Splosion Man-themed table, based on the Twisted Pixel-developed platformer scheduled to be released this next week, on the 13th. No word yet on the price or release date for the pinball table itself, but a Zen Studios representative commented on the official forums that while there we be no new tables released in July, more than one table per-month will be released in coming months. Exciting news, and absolutely devastating to my chances of keeping my very narrow lead in the Mike and Jeff Pinball Wars.
The cold war between Electronic Arts and Valve continued this week. First, David DeMartini, a senior VP with EA, claimed that Origin, EA’s digital download service, was not meant to compete with Steam. Mr. DeMartini claimed that EA’s digital storefront was about offering consumers choice, and was not meant to be an exclusive outlet for EA’s PC content moving forward. However, just when you thought all was quiet on the western front, EA posted a list of digital retailers that would be carrying their highly anticipated release of Battlefield 3. Guess who wasn’t on it? While lesser known, and less threatening, digital storefronts such as Direct2Drive were listed, Steam’s absence was notable. EA claimed that Steam was to blame, as Valve would not allow publishers to directly contact “players with patches, new levels, items and other services.” Before you go off and feel bad for little ole’ Steam and its 30 million users, consider how much revenue EA is potentially going to lose from the PC market.
Just when everyone felt pretty great about CD Projekt Red and their dark-horse hit The Witcher 2, the game’s European distributor, Namco Bandai has taken the developer to court, alleging breach of contract. Specifically, Namco is claiming that CD Projekt Red had impermissibly released a DRM-free version of the game (through GOG.com), in violation of their contract, and further that the developer had signed a deal with THQ to publish the game in areas covered by CD Projekt Red’s pre-existing contract with Namco. On the one hand, it is sad to see a developer being sued for NOT being a dick, insofar as they released a DRM-free version of a game. On the other hand, I wonder if the games sudden and relatively unexpected success made Namco wonder if they shouldn’t be getting a bit more of that sweet sweet money-honey. In any case, we are rooting for CD Projekt Red over here, if only because they made something far better than anything Namco has released in years.
Sony Online Entertainment, hot on the heels of the announcement of the shutdown of Star Wars Galaxies, has unveiled Planetside 2, the upcoming sequent to Planetside, the first successful first person shooter MMO. Apparently, and this is news to me, Planetside has continued to be popular with a very select group of fans far beyond the early days when I played it. This move seems odd, however, given the success and popularity of non-subscription based first-person shooters, as well as an MMO market that is already overstuffed, even before Star Wars The Old Republic comes out. Commencing countdown clock to announcement that Planetside 2 is free-to-play in three… two… one…
On the film front, the poorly abused Uncharted film now has a new director: Neil Burger. The Burgermeister is better known for his work on the unappreciated by excellent film The Illusionist, as well as the low-sci-fi adaptation Limitless. As with the film’s former director, David O. Russell, Burger has some Hollywood cache, having worked with DeNiro in Limitless, as well as Ed Norton and Paul Giamatti in The Illusionist. No word on whether Burger will follow in Russell’s footsteps and try to totally fuck the film up, or if the film is ever actually going to get made, but for now… hope springs eternal.
Keeping with our movie motif: quite a while back, Bioware announced that they had begun pursuing a Mass Effect movie. Well, it looks like things are actually moving for the project, as Legendary Pictures will be hosting a panel at the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con featuring their planning and work on the upcoming Mass Effect film. The panel will include Mass Effect creator Casey Hudson who will be working with screenwriter Mark Protosevich in adapting the now-venerable sci-fi series to the big screen. Normally, I am bound by internet geek-law to scream bloody murder every time a cool videogame property gets adapted into a film, but the fact that Hudson is involved, and that the universe they have created is so deep and varied tells me that there is at least a chance that this could be cool. My advice? NOBODY in that damned movie better be named Shepard.
Speaking of Bioware, new Dragon Age II DLC is on its way. The pack, labeled “Legacy” will feature new environments (thank god) and enemies. The included content will task the player with exploring an ancient Grey Warden prison, and will apparently be accessible from any point in the game proper. The pack will cost $10, and will release on July 26th for the Xbox 360, PS3, Personal Computer, and iMac.
Sony has officially joined the New World Order, with its announcement of an online pass program called PSN Pass. Much like individual game companies have been doing for a while, the PSN Pass will be provided in new copies of Resistance 3, and will feature a code that will unlock that game’s online features. Folks that acquire the game used, or *ahem* through other means, will need to pay a fee to access those features absent the code. Apart from Resistance 3, there is no word on other games that will feature the PSN Pass, but the good money is on this program expanding quick and far in the PS3’s new library.
Finally, though it isn’t news per se, Irrational Games went ahead and posted the full 15 minute E3 demo for Bioshock Infinite that had games journalists so worked up last month. You can view the full video here, and I highly suggest you do. The game looks… well… fucking great.
That’s all the news I care to print for this week. Remember America, lather, rinse, repeat, wipe back to front, and whatever you do, don’t say Candlejack. Trust m…