Weekend Short-Takes: 4/4/14

EA deletes nasty Wii U April Fools' tweets, calls them "unacceptable" and "stupid"

 

Simon Wu: 

...and EA are not doing themselves any favors having recently avoided being named worst company in America for an unprecedented third year. While they were saying what we were all thinking, without a doubt, you just don’t say these things as a publicly traded company. I don't know who with common sense and any notion of job security decided that it was a good idea. You can make jokes about your own properties all day, like pretending to cancel or delay Battlefront, or concede defeat to Call of Duty with Battlefield, but I think anything else is outside of their jurisdiction.

John Fenix:

Oh April Fools....The holiday I dread more than Halloween. I admit that humor aside, this was just a bad call from a business standpoint. Now, I would still argue there are far worse companies out there at the moment, but when it comes to reputation EA is indeed near the bottom of the barrel. Unfortunately this isn't going to change any opinions.

Jackson Sinnenberg: 

Look it's one thing for fans and gamers to complain about Nintendo - its what they do and nothing will change that - but what Frostbite/EA did here is completely unacceptable. I get the feeling that these tweets were not only insulting to Nintendo but to Valve as well for the Half Life 3 comment. I just fail to understand why this was done: if you do not want to design for a console, you do not have to design for it, no need to get snarky. Can we also leave Nintendo along for just five seconds? While they may not have had the best business approach in the past couple of years, they do not deserve this level of vitriol from the gaming community - whether fans or professionals. 

gameinformer.com 

Performance Gap Between Xbox One and PS4 Will Disappear, Says Oddworld Creator

 

Simon Wu: 

This is entirely obvious but largely ignored by most of the gaming media. I'm not suggesting they are necessarily PS4 biased, rather just trying to hype up the war narrative to keep attracting readers in the arms race of increasingly ridiculous headline links. Just as with the PS3 and 360, the performance will eventually become relatively homogenized for the majority of the consoles' lifespan. It looks like a difficulty adjusting to the hardware was the issue behind the Xbox's lack of 1080p60, and presumably the new DirectX12 release is going to aid in catching up. 

John Fenix: 

As Simon says, this shouldn't really be unknown to anyone who cares quite a bit about video games. Especially given the fact that both systems share the same processor architecture, performance will eventually be essentially the same for both systems and then it will come down to overall experience on the console that will be the deciding factor. For now, and probably for the rest of the year and into next year, both consoles are still in their "shakedown" phases.

Amazon announces $99 streaming device; has 2GB RAM, quad-core processor, game controller is $40

 

Simon Wu: 

And how is the Ouya doing these days, anyways? While there is an obvious similarity in a super cheap console with a focus on digital games, the differences are too great to think that Ouya is a reasonable analog. Firstly, Amazon is most likely subsidizing the cost of this device, as they do with the Kindle e-readers, and for the same reason. The money is not in hardware, which is notoriously difficult to make good margins off of unless you're Apple. Instead, all the premiums come from the services that Amazon has been working tirelessly to promote as the main core of its offerings... you know, ignoring that whole online store bit. 

John Fenix: 

Well, I won't say I am surprised to see you enter the field Amazon. Although many people have compared this new offering with the Ouya, Amazon has far more credibility and the necessary business-savvy to make this work. The separate controller isn't anything special, which makes me wonder why the controller is so expensive (being half as much as the entire system!). Plus, one thing to note is that the remote that comes with the main system itself can be used as a controller, maybe to appeal to the Wii players, although I don't believe the remote is motion-sensitive. I admit I was surprised by the fairly impressive launch collection, like Minecraft, NBA 2K14, and the Walking Dead, but closer inspection sees that the games are, appropriate for the Android-based system, mostly ports of titles from the Play Store. Still, that could mean that there is a larger variety of games available, if at the risk of being overwhelmed by the Angry Birds and Candy Crushes of the world. Plus there is also the fact that it has the functions of Chromecast and Apple TV all rolled into it as well. I admit, for the features you get, and given that's it's a hybrid of Apple TV and Vita TV, I say it's fairly reasonable price for the hardware. Of course, the more important side is software and experience, and here's hoping this is where Amazon really throws its weight.

cmgdigital.com 

EA Snags Uncharted Writer Amy Hennig For Star Wars Game

 

Simon Wu: 

A lot of moves but not a lot of movement yet from EA on announcing anything regarding any of their Star Wars titles. However, given the acclaim Uncharted has received for its writing and story, this is a good move to a studio which was eviscerated for its poor execution of Dead Space. Hopefully that will bolster their ranks and give them some more talent to feed off of. This must also be a good move for Hennig, because now she can simply pull an interesting but little known story from anywhere in the enormous compendium of canon that is Star Wars, and expand upon that, instead of needing to think up an entirely new narrative each time. 

John Fenix: 

Patience, young Simon. The Force works in mysterious and hidden ways. And all this movement appears to show that EA is trying to build up talent and skills to ensure these new games actually succeed. Hennig's credentials definitely show she has more than enough talent for these games, and given how expansive and vast the Star Wars universe is, it only takes a kernel to create a new adventure in a galaxy far, far away.

Jackson Sinnenberg: 

If this means we get a game of early Han Solo (read Nathan Drake), I am all in. Hopefully with as decorated a writer as Henning, EA can leave behind the somewhat sub-par writing that marred some of the later years LucasArts Star Wars games - yes Force Unleashed 2, we're looking at you. With Henning also being a fan, as the article implies, hopefully we will have someone who will treat the Star Wars Universe with respect and leave out fanboy-levels of meddling (as parts of the extended universe are prone to be). For now, I will raise my glass and say "this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship." 

kotaku.com 

Unreal Engine 4 Gets Support for Making Linux Games

 

Simon Wu: 

Whoa. Sounds like Steam has a bit more weight than we thought, if Unreal, one of the main engines of the industry, along with Havok and Frostbite, is getting Linux support. This is a huge boost for the Steam Machines, which have been somewhat on the down low since the original euphoria of the launch event passed. Developers won't create titles for a platform if it's hard to work with. And while Microsoft or Sony might get away with that with the Xbox One or PS3, respectively, Steam, which in the console space lacks their largesse and proven audience, certainly won't. 

John Fenix: 

I am actually quite shocked that the news that Unreal Engine 4 has changed to a much more economically-assessable subscription model was not the biggest story to come out of GDC, and this article emphasizes how huge that was. If you don't realize what this means, it means smaller indie developers can have access to one of the most well-known and used gaming engines, responsible for the Batman Arkham series, Mass Effect, and Tom Clancy Ghost Recon games to name only a few, and with this news, access to nearly every major gaming platform, on PC, mobile, and console. I mean this is stuff to actually jump for joy and celebrate about.

dottech.org

Solifluktion's picture

Good writers are a good start for Star Wars. Let's see if they pick the right characters (here's looking at you, Boba).

Scumbagb3n's picture

I know this won't happen but I can wish.

I wish for EA to put out a second Republic Commando title, then a Battlefront and afterwards commit seppuku.

Whiplash's picture

I guess Dan will be happy that his prediction has become a reality—that Valve and Amazon have now entered the console wars. The Amazon FireTV does look promising as a streaming device, but as a gaming console? Probably not, especially given the specs of the device itself. Now, this isn't the WiiU, but it could be better. At least Valve has the right idea in having multiple SMs with varying specs. It gives them a way for people to make a decision about which version they want. "Do I want this small, console-like box for $500, or do I get the massive, high specced, not gonna upgrade in a long time monstrosity of a desktop gaming PC for $2,000?" Still, I'm interested in where the FireTV goes.

Solifluktion's picture

@B3n

I second that motion.

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