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The State of Gaming July 2013

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We’re coming off of a slow down in gaming news, and no one will deny that, in fact the hype/excitement for next generation of consoles is starting to diminish, for me anyway and I am sure some others. I mean sure this past weekend gave gamers at the Comic Con event a chance at an eyes on look at Watch Dogs, but other than that, since E3 it’s been fairly quiet on the next gen front in terms of any real news about the games, not including pre-order incentives, books, or any other real exciting or useful information on games moving forward outside of Grand Theft Auto V but I’ll get to that later because I want to start out with my main points before I go into the future.

This lack of new info has led to slow times for gamers, many of whom want to hear about next generation games, or just video game news in general. These companies have a chance to capture an undivided group of people who game, gamers are a rare breed, they want info now, not later when the developers or publishers decide to release it, they’ll think the game isn’t any good if these developers are afraid to show the games off.

I think NBA LIVE ’14 suffers that now, especially with the PS3/Xbox 360 versions of these games getting canceled 2 straight releases now with NBA Elite 11 and NBA LIVE ’13 both being canceled after NBA LIVE or Elite 12 wasn’t even made because EA took a year off to make the best game possible. So now with a chance, and a damn good chance with the lack of new information released by publishers this month, the EA NBA title had a chance to steal the limelight and EA never took it which to me is a lost opportunity to prove that NBA Live is back, and not just for name sake.

But that example is perfect because it is companies like EA Sports have been slow rolling out news for Madden post E3, and the NHL 14 info has been minor at best, I think gamers want more important information than the “cover boy”. Sure the cover is important to know, but the whole cover vote just drags the process on for far too long. As it is, they’re over promoting the NHL 94 mode in NHL 14 instead of rolling out any new important info, which is a little odd given the game is about a month from having the demo drop (I am guessing either August 20 or August 27 for the demo release going off of prior NHL demo drops), and 7 weeks from release EA is wasting time to build up hype for its game. With Live the Life mode still to be announced, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I feel that the EA NHL team needs to also address concerns from NHL 13 including slow menu’s and redundant auto save slowing down the Be a GM mode in which is currently a solid mode, but it can be better with proper fixes mainly to do with stability issues. And don’t take my complaints about NHL 13 as I don’t like the game, because even with it’s issues I am constantly playing it. But the game feels rushed and unfinished, and that is why I rag on the game so much, but I do love the game overall on the ice, and I am very much excited to get my hands on NHL 14. 

That is just one example company, the problem is that all companies are doing this. Bleeding little information when it has much more it can show, and that is where the problem lies. Or maybe it is just me and my agenda, I just felt like after E3 gaming companies should have had enough games to talk about that it should have been coming out with a bunch of information from all directions for multiple games for a long time.

But it seems as if EA, Ubisoft, and so on have been pretty slow with information. For example, outside of the video released yesterday for Need for Speed Rivals, when was the last time you heard anything about the game? The week of E3? Sorry but that is not going to keep gamers excited to hear more about the game, I mean as it is the we lack details about NFS: Rivals and it is due out in November.

It’s been six weeks since E3 and very little has come out about these games we saw at E3 or even games announced before E3. I think the weeks after E3 would have been a good time to discuss in good detail about Next Generation games before the big long window of new games starts to hit in August. Now publishers need to mix in the next generation news with current generation news in the coming months which will be kind of hard with Grand theft Auto V, Saints Row IV, Madden 25, NHL 14, and Battlefield 4 for PS3 and Xbox 360 coming up very soon and a great amount of details expected to drop about those games and a lot of others not even mentioned.

To get an idea of what games are coming and what games need to release new information, take a look at this brief release calender is full of games slated for release from August to October even before the PS4 and Xbox One hit later this year. This is to give you a taste of what I mean just look at this list. We have Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Saints Row IV and Madden 25 coming down the pipe in August, NHL 14 and GTA V in September, and WWE 2k14, Battlefield 4 and NBA 2k14 in October all coming out for the current generation of consoles. November is expected to be a big month as well in terms of releases, with the next generation consoles expected to drop, next generation games expected to drop including Watch_Dogs and Battlefield 4 for next generation consoles, the games are expected to be out on the PS3 and Xbox 360 by then.

So the release calender is full, and it seems like we don’t have a lot of details about the games upcoming soon.

But as I write this I am thinking about that last statement for a minute, and I admit it was wrong because we know a decent amount on the September games I named above, but because of the slow rate of release, it just seems like very little has gotten out when there seems to be so much that still needs to be said about them.

For example, if that 50 things you need to know about NHL 14 that game informer posted last month has any sort of credibility, then we should hear more about GM Connected, Be a GM, and Live the Life mode still to come, and just 4-5 weeks until the demo should be out, so EA might need to rush that out with the pace they’re going at with these gameplay improvement blog releases.

And then for GTA V, we still need to find out about how online is going to work, but other than that we know as much as we’ll find out until release I think even if I feel like they could go into changes made into the game such as what they’ve done, if anything, to the police difficulty in GTA V, the police in GTA IV are a joke sometimes driving into center dividers or just not being able to catch up at all, so I hope they detail the changes made to GTA V in the future.

So while this blog started out with a negative tone in a way, I think overall the state of video games is great, and will be much better in the future once the PS4 and Xbox One release and we can start talking about the launch games for each console. And we’re only going to have more to discuss this time next year with what should be the first non-NCAA College Football title, NHL 15 should be announced and have news on the next gen versions coming up in the fall of 2014, the second next gen Madden should be on the radar for an August 2014 release, and overall sports games should finally fully make the next generation jump which includes MLB ’14 the Show which will be out by this time next year.

The reason for the negativity mainly has to do with the fact that I just wish there was more to report in all areas, it’s been a long dead six weeks of nothing here.  And that isn’t to say that I am not excited or looking forward to these games upcoming because I am. But I think the marketing teams at these companies are dragging their feet when it comes to releasing any worthwhile material for any gamers to get excited about, and I think overall that is hurting the hype for upcoming games and that is bad because personally my excitement level, or hype for these upcoming consoles has died down, and I think with the slow trickling of information on the PS3 and Xbox 360 games on top of that hurts my overall immediate excitement for video games as we speak when it should be a super exciting time for games as a whole leading up to what should be an even better time in November with the PS4 and Xbox One coming up.

Surely my excitement will come back, I have no doubt about it, especially once I am holding a controller to a next generation console for the first time, however as we speak, I feel a little underwhelmed with all of the information coming out about these games listed here. With release dates closing within a month or two away there should be more excitement to grab on to, and I haven’t felt much excitement about a game since Rockstar Games released the gameplay trailer for GTA V a couple weeks ago and the only reason I got remotely excited is because I liked that weapons wheel you saw in the video and the blogs from Game Informer talking about the weapons customization, it is things like that I like.

While these details as little as they may seem, make me very excited to play GTA V, part of this is bought upon by a combination of two things. Firstly The Last of Us had a part of the game where you can combine weapons and make some pretty destructive weapons with that engine, and secondly the TV show Sons of Guns where they modify guns to be what the client wants, so when I saw the scope of the customization options I thought of that show and was like “yeah, that should be awesome” and we’ll have to wait and see what happens, but I am excited to try the weapons customization in GTA V because with GTA VI surely to be made for next generation consoles at some point, Rockstar has a chance to really work on that part of their games and it should be an awesome experience on next generation machines.

But what Rockstar did was create hype for GTA V with just a short video, and I just picked apart one detail of a close to 5 minute gameplay video, and that is exactly it. Other companies aren’t giving the gamers much to focus on. Their hype either flat out fails to impress, or it is not enough to really break through like Rockstar did. Rockstar picked the perfect time to release the information if you think of it, because within a couple weeks there should be more stuff about several games coming out, which means Rockstar will have competition then, but two weeks ago, it wasn’t there, and Rockstar took advantage.

I don’t want to ramble on for to long here, but I did want to write this piece, I wanted to vent a little with the lack of information coming out, but also get an idea of what others think about the lack of information coming out. Has it sort of killed your excitement to? Comment below to let me know what you think.

505 GAMES ANNOUNCES E3 2013 LINEUP

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. – June 6, 2013  Global videogame publisher 505 Games today announced its product lineup for this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 11-13. Highly anticipated titles PAYDAY 2Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons and TAKEDOWN: Red Sabre lead the game’s being showcased in West Hall, meeting room #505.

“At this year’s E3, 505 Games will showcase the company’s most diverse lineup yet,” said Ian Howe, president, 505 Games North America. “Our titles appeal to a wide range of gamers across all genres and platforms and there is no better place to unveil them than at E3.”

PAYDAY 2 is an action-packed, four-player co-op shooter that once again lets gamers don the masks of the original PAYDAY crew – Dallas, Hoxton, Wolf and Chains – as they descend on Washington D.C. for an epic crime spree. The new CRIMENET network offers a huge range of dynamic contracts and players are free to choose anything from small-time convenience store hits or kidnappings, to major league cyber-crime or emptying out major bank vaults for that epic PAYDAY. Up to four friends co-operate on the hits and as the crew progresses the jobs become bigger, better and more rewarding. PAYDAY 2 is in development by Overkill Software for the Xbox 360® games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, PlayStation®3 Network and Windows® PC via Steam by Valve® Corporation. The game will be released this summer and has not yet been rated by the ESRB.

TAKEDOWN: Red Sabre is a deadly tactical shooter that is perfect for the player who chooses to engage in deliberate and methodical gameplay as opposed to gamers who want to run in with guns blazing.  Gamers experience lethal, close-quarters battles as a member of the elite Red Sabre team and each scenario is designed to emulate the tactics employed by SWAT teams and SOF units in taking down small numbers of dangerous adversaries. Non-linear environments allow for multiple routes, tactics and added replayability. TAKEDOWN: Red Sabre is in development by Serellan, a team of veteran developers who have worked on acclaimed titles in the Ghost ReconHaloSOCOMSWAT and F.E.A.R. franchises. The team is led by Christian Allen, the former creative director of the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon franchise. The game will be released this fall on the Xbox Live® online entertainment network from Microsoft as an arcade game for Xbox 360and for Windows PC via Steam by Valve Corporation. It has not yet been rated by the ESRB.

In Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons, two young boys, desperate to cure their ailing father, are left with but one option. They must set out upon a journey to find and bring back the “Water of Life” as they come to rely on one another to survive. One must be strong where the other is weak, brave where the other is fearful, they must be… Brothers.  In Brothers – A Tale of Two Sonsplayers guide two brothers on an epic fairy tale journey from visionary Swedish film director Josef Fares. Gamers control both brothers at once as they experience co-op play like never before as they solve puzzles, explore varied locations and fight boss battles all while controlling one brother with each thumb stick. This is one journey you will never forget. Brothers – A Tale of Two Sonsis in development by Starbreeze Studios for Xbox Live as an arcade game for Xbox 360, PlayStation®Network and Windows PC via Steam by Valve Corporation.  The game will be released this summer and has been rated “T” for Teen by the ESRB.

Ever wondered how you would handle being a castaway on a zombie infested island with no foreseeable way out? How to Survive is a third-person action adventure game that equips players to stay alive in a world where the outbreak of an unknown virus has turned most of the population into zombies. How to Survive puts players in the center of the action as someone who, after an accident, finds themselves on an island amidst a small archipelago off the coast of Colombia … but there are other inhabitants. In order to make it through the day and night, gamers must learn to fulfill the most basic of needs, such as seeking food, water and shelter, as well as crafting dozens of tools and weapons from fishing rods to Molotov cocktails. How to Survive is in development for Xbox Live as an arcade game for Xbox 360, PlayStation®Network, Nintendo’s Wii U™ eShop and Windows PC via Steam by Valve Corporation. The game will be released in the fall and has not yet been rated by the ESRB. 

The critically acclaimed Terraria is headed to mobile platforms so gamers on the go experience all of the digging, fighting, exploring and building that PC and console gamers have been raving about.  Players explore vast and vibrant worlds with friends and face the treacherous perils of Terraria including hundreds of twisted foes, magical creatures and mighty bosses. Gamers literally dig to the ends of the earth and then craft with what they discover to make amazing armor, weapons and other items in order to build fantastic dwellings using only their imagination as their limit –Terraria is their canvas. Terraria for mobile platforms will be released this summer.

About 505 Games

505 Games is a global video game publisher focused on offering a broad selection of titles for players of all ages and levels.  The company publishes games on leading console and handheld platforms as well as for mobile devices and social networks. Product highlights include Sniper Elite V2Terraria, Way of The Dogg, Naughty Bear as well as the upcoming Brothers – A Tale of Two SonsPAYDAY 2 and TAKEDOWN: Red Sabre. 

505 Games has offices in Los Angeles, Milton Keynes, UK, Lyon, Munich, Milan and Madrid and a network of distribution partners within the Nordic territories and Australia.  For more information on 505 Games and its products please visit www.505games.com.

Zynga lays off 18% of staff

 

Zynga the maker of social media games such as Cityville, Farmville, Mafia Wars, and Words with Friends is laying off 18% of its staff or 520 employees and it will also reportedly close its New York, Dallas and Los Angeles offices. Zynga has been in financial troubles since the summer of 2012 after a disastrous purchase of a game called Draw Something for $210 million and the game never took off like Zynga had hoped. After that they failed to make enough profits off of Facebook games to offset the cost of Draw Something.

Below is a memo by Zynga CEO Mark Pincus that was sent to employees:

To our Zynga Community,

Today is a hard day for Zynga and an emotional one for every employee of our company. We are saying painful goodbyes to about 18% of our Zynga brothers and sisters. The impact of these layoffs will be felt across every group in the company.

None of us ever expected to face a day like today, especially when so much of our culture has been about growth. But I think we all know this is necessary to move forward. The scale that served us so well in building and delivering the leading social gaming service on the Web is now making it hard to successfully lead across mobile and multiplatform, which is where social games are going to be played.

These moves, while hard to face today, represent a proactive commitment to our mission of connecting the world through games. Mobile and touch screens are revolutionizing gaming. Our opportunity is to make mobile gaming truly social by offering people new, fun ways to meet, play and connect. By reducing our cost structure today we will offer our teams the runway they need to take risks and develop these breakthrough new social experiences.

Because we’re making these moves proactively and from a position of financial strength, we can take care of laid off employees. We’re offering generous severance packages that reflect our appreciation for all of their work and we hope this will provide a foundation as they pursue their next professional steps.

Although these are hard decisions, I’m confident that our strategy of building leading franchises and supporting them with the largest network is the right one for the long term. I’m encouraged by our recent progress. Running With Friends is a great example of the quality player experience we can deliver, already receiving an average 4.5 app star rating from 22,000 players in less than one month after launching. Our FarmVille franchise teams continue to innovate and deliver ground breaking new social experiences like County Fair which, despite only being available on the web, is engaging 39 million monthly players.

I want to thank every one of you for the spirit, creativity and energy that you’ve invested in Zynga. You’ve reintroduced a generation of people to gaming and through these games offered them new ways to connect with their families, make new friends and even sometimes find love.

Everyone will be affected by these changes and I’m sure there will be many follow up questions to this email. If you have specific questions relating to your project or team, please talk to your manager. For any other feedback or thoughts feel free to email me directly.

Thoughts? Comments?

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