Weekend Short-Takes: 2/28/14

Tax reform blueprint suggests violent game makers should pay more

 

Simon Wu: 

It's worth noting that this proposal would cut right into the ESRB's mandate. It was always part of the gentleman's agreement that started in the comics, movies, and music industries where the industries would regulate themselves with ratings. But now we're trying to pick winners and losers in R&D funding, and it is not clear at all how the program would work. What does violence mean and how is it defined? Will Traveller's Tales be ineligible for the tax credit because the LEGO games are cited for "Cartoon Violence"? Right now, it simply appears to be a very blunt publicity stunt for politicians to be able to state "We're being tough on violent video games."

Alex Miller: 

I think Max can give readers a better picture of the relationship between violent video games and their effects on users thanks to his excellent Mindshare, but what I take from this is that it is a legal mess just waiting to happen. As the article rightly bring ups, there is no proposed qualifications for what a "violent game" is or in what category multi studio publishers will find themselves in. For me this seems like a continuation of the blame game directed at video games. Will Quentin Tarantino's next film get tax breaks and deals from whichever state gets to host his production? Absolutely, because obviously movies don’t impact impressionable individuals. It may come off as whiny, but the double standard against new media can certainly be a frustrating thing and I would recommend those of you in the states keep an eye on this issue and perhaps write to your representative if these issues are not clarified much more than they are now.

Max Gruber:

One of the biggest concerns about this is that it not only costs more to develop a single title, but there will also be a tax on "violent video games", which means more money is pumped into one project. What makes this very unsettling about gaming's future is that there will have to be more emphasis on certain "features" in each title, i.e. Free to Play, microtransactions, more DLC, etc. to shore up sales to pay for the tax. It's a scary prospect, one that has to be fought to the very end.


politico 

Titanfall Xbox One Bundle Announced

 

Simon Wu:

Apologies for the lateness of the post this week, but I just had to go to the Microsoft Store to make my displeasure heard clearly. What we do know is that one point, the Titanfall Limited Edition console was prepped and ready to drop (enter production), but it was then nixed by Microsoft because of high manufacturing costs. I assume this is also the reason for lack of differentiation on the Day One edition. Volume hasn't ramped up enough and costs haven't come down nearly enough to make anything other than the base console. Once again, they've only painted the box and not even thrown in the limited edition controller. They further cut costs by providing a download code rather than a disc, but that's just personal preference.

Alex Miller: 

Following on nicely from last week's discussion about the Titanfall beta we have an announcement from Microsoft that a special bundle (note: not special edition) Xbox One will coincide with Titanfall dropping on March 11th and 14th (US and UK respectively). As I said last week, how well Titanfall does will be a big decider for Microsoft's strategy in the next 12 months and beyond, as they are currently falling quickly behind Sony in hardware sales and need a major boost to catch up. Titanfall might not be able to make up all that distance on its own, but with its only competition from Sony's console being inFamous Second Son, I think it will certainly be able to help. What Microsoft do with any boost they might get will go a long way to determining the near term success of their product.

gametrailers  

Dean Hall to leave Bohemia and step down as leader of DayZ

 

Alex Miller: 

As far as stepping down goes, Dean "Rocket" Hall is doing it with about as much class as possible. As opposed to storming out or simply leaving without telling his team why, he's explaining what his own vision for his future is but is quick to point out that it will only happen once DayZ, his creation, no longer fully needs him. I liked his analogue that he is a grenade as it takes a lot of inner strength to be able to understand both ones strengths and weakness and how they can be best used. He has certainly changed the multiplayer playing field with a host of DayZ "esque" survival games making their way into the market following the success of his mod, I just hope he is able to fulfill his dream and find that perfect multiplayer spark. It will be difficult, but I'm sure we will see some great games come out of the hunt.

Max Gruber: 

I can fully understand his desire to leave Bohemia behind to find his new calling, since Bohemia isn't really a studio with a lot of fame behind them. They're not the Pixar of gaming, so it makes sense that he would leave to find a studio that will offer him a high position. I also understand his reasons for staying a while longer to work on DayZ, since it's not really in the best of conditions at the moment. Looking forward, I do look forward to seeing what his next big title will be.

Next Assassin's Creed won't be set in Japan

 

Simon Wu:

Yep. Alex called it. Compounding my disappointment this week, it looks like we're deliberately avoiding fertile ground with the next installment. At this point, I can't quite discern whether the conspicuous number of references to feudal Japan in AC4 is simply Ubisoft trolling the fans, or whether it's longer-term foreshadowing. I'm hearing from the general buzz of the rumor mill that the regions could either be Victorian/Industrial Revolution London or Russia, which both make for darker, grittier locales for sure. Victorian England could probably even take a bit of a steampunk angle with the special Assassins technology. But as we get further away from the Desmond present-day arc, we'll need to see more incentive for the player as the 1st-person Abstergo coder to get more deeply involved in the present-day proxy war between Abstergo and the Assassins.

Alex Miller: 

Well, I already know Simon is disappointed. Feudal Japan seemed to make the most sense for a continuation of the game's tale of history spanning assassins. What assassin is more famous than the ninja? Simon's disappointment aside, it is interesting that they say they could release two titles, one for current gen and one for past gen. On the one hand this could be frustrating for those who only own one or the other. However, it is promising as it suggests the title for the Xbox One/ PS4 will look to fully utilize the capabilities of those systems. And as WW2 was said to be unrealistic for an Absertgo Entertainment process in WW2 (apparently, according to the game anyways, the semi-unconscious state we go into whilst driving makes it hard to use the animus) it might be safe to say that we won't be seeing some new Kenway family member running around the fields of France or through the Pacific Isles. So since WW2 and Japan aren't going to be the new setting, who is looking forward to running around the Pyramids and fighting mummies assassin style?


Max Gruber: 

I read through an article and saw that in 2012 the series creative director Alex Hutchinson listed feudal Japan as one of the worst three settings for a game in the franchise. Um, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this series called ASSASSIN'S Creed? How would Japan be the worst setting for an ASSASSIN'S Creed game, when ninjas are the most legendary ASSASSINS in history. Oh wait, I know why it's the worst. This is Michael Bay's Creed, not Assassin's Creed, so it makes sense that they would avoid stealth and instead have missions where you plow through enemy camps, destroying everything in your path. 

Solifluktion's picture

@Max

In a world where Mark of the Ninja exists nobody in his right mind would dare to make a Japan based assassin-game. It just couldn't live up.

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