Weekend Short-Takes: 9/27/14

Titan cancellation cost Blizzard $50m or more, say analysts

 

Simon Wu: 

When gambling, investing, or managing any sort of important project, having a good quit discipline is key to success ... or at least not failure. It is critical that a project should never be looked at in terms of how much has already been expended on it. The most extreme version of this is Duke Nukem Forever, which honestly never should have been released if it weren't already for the joke of it being released in the first place. Blizzard itself was hesitant to end the project entirely, because in May 2013 it went back to the drawing board with a skeleton crew to try again. 

Alex Miller: 

Activision-Blizzard has made more than $1 billion in net income each of the past three years, so while $50 million is a big deal, I'm pretty sure that Destiny paid for it on the first day alone. This isn't the thing that will break the company. Especially if you factor through the costs over all the years of development, then the total cost financially is fairly negligible. Rather, the important cost here is creatively. Blizzard still doesn't have a truly modern successor to World of Warcraft. Subscriber numbers have steadily declined from their peak of 12 million in the second half of 2010 to just over half of that in the most recent quarter. League of Legends and DOTA 2 continue to eat away at its once unassailable lead. Moreover, the continued failure or lack of success of other MMOs launched on the traditional model show us that the business model has had a clear shift, and attempts to shore up numbers by allowing free-to-play until level 20 and continued expansion packs aren't working. 

fhgg.fr 

Watch Dogs' Mixed Reception Was Similar to Original Assassin's Creed's, Ubisoft Says

 

Simon Wu: 

This is a remarkably apt comparison which I had completely overlooked. Ubisoft does have a very good point here. First, we know that they can and did, in fact, make a great looking game, so their ability to do that is not in question. It's just that they chose to artificially limit it to enforce parity across platforms. Players of the original Assassin's Creed might also recall that the game was very repetitive, doing the same thing over and over, just in a different locale. Exact same thing here. It is Assassin's Creed 2 that gamers widely regard as the defining title of the series. I fully expect that Ubisoft will be able to deliver that experience we originally were so excited about with the next installment. It will be unburdened by the need for previous-gen compatibility, something Ubisoft got loud and clear with Assassin's Creed, and we will therefore be able to see a far more refined and improved end product. 

Alex Miller: 

I think that the next iteration of Watch Dogs (and we all know it's coming with certainty) has the potential to be the defining early title that this new console generation has been seriously lacking. This example does give a word to the wise. This is the danger with new IPs; they take time to perfect (and fit to the general audience that will provide the necessary sales for future sequels). As such, only a very select few companies can afford to take the money to power through development (or walk away from a long ongoing project, as seen above). However, this example just begs the question: if Ubisoft already went through this once, why did they need to repeat history? 

play-reactor.com 

PlayStation TV launches with 700 games in US on October 14

 

Simon Wu: 

Remember the days when the next-gen consoles were but a distant hope? Well then, you might also remember that it was about that time when rumors surfaced that there were in fact going to be two SKUs of the next-gen Xbox. One, called the Durango, would be the powerhouse graphics monster. On the other hand, this other one would be a low-cost, low-power version that wouldn't have an optical disk drive, and would instead stream games. Well, Sony's gone ahead and done it. This is, in essence, a PS3 Micro, and it's about the size of many of these set-top streaming devices. You know, except that it delivers games. This time, unlike OnLive, another blast from the past, it's got the full power of Sony and its impressive games library behind it. 

Alex Miller: 

How does this new microconsole stack up against the competition? Let's say that you are looking to own from scratch. The console with 8 GB of storage and a controller costs just $140. The Wii U still costs $300. The 360 (which you can get in blue now) costs $250 with a controller, a 500 GB hard drive, and two Call of Duty games. This might be a bit of a bad comparison, however, because the entire user experience is completely different. Renting or streaming isn't possible, and for the 360 you can only buy exceptionally overpriced games. Seeing as Microsoft is so keen to try and emphasize the benefits of Gold with free games and good deals, why not implement a streaming feature for the 360 (seeing as games for it will cease in then next year or so, and there still is no indication yet of its PlayStation Now competitor)? 

techradar.com 

A new Assassin's Creed game set in China is included in AC Unity's season pass

 

Simon Wu: 

Not quite what I was looking for in an Asian-centered AC title Ubisoft, but here's a gold star for trying. As a matter of fact, Ubisoft might deserve far more than a simple gold star if it can pull this off well. This is the first really large-scale instance I've seen of a DLC season pass actually adding some value, rather than just being a vehicle for map/car/gun pack delivery. Each of these elements adds something unique and different to the game and its expanded universe as a whole. Yes, of course, it does contain the requisite additional missions, guns, and customization options, but this is our first look at truly innovating on what DLC for a game can do. This might be the best response by AAA developers towards indie games. Make them, and add them on. 

Alex Miller: 

I can hear Simon's disappointment from across the Atlantic, that's how big it is. As to the article itself, I agree that it does enrich the game world in a different way, but I don't necessarily agree with Simon's assessment that this is the best response by big developers to the indie scene. I really don't see any problem with this simply being a $5 standalone title that could be cross-promoted with the main title, just like Liberation was through Black Flag. In fact, this material is already in place; there was an animated series released which crossed Ezio with the Chinese Brotherhood. Rather, I want to see crossover for Rogue link into Unity, so we can get some cross-platform linkage and upsell. 

polygon.com  

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