On the 29th of July EA announced they are starting their own subscription service. This service offers gamers 10% discounts on all EA titles, DLC, and “packs” (those addicted to the perk packs for Battlefield 4 will find this useful). Additionally it opens a vault of games on the Xbox One and will allow for “pre-launch” demos of games giving subscribers a 5 day lead on checking out the product before launch. This last feature is likely an attempt to draw more first day buyers in from the used market.
Reaction has varied between those saying this is an attempt by Electronic Arts to convert their market to a “Software as Service” environment to others contending this service will allow them to enjoy more titles. It will be difficult to judge the actual impact until more titles role out in the future, launch titles include Madden 25, Fifa 14, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4 and list the highly anticipated Dragon Age: Inquisition as the first “early trial” title. The subscription rate is $5.00/month or a discounted rate of $30/year.
Interestingly shortly thereafter Sony released a statement on the 30th of July indicating that while they were invited to take part in the program they rebuffed the offer saying they felt it would not be a “good value” for their customers and that their customers were interested in more “cross platform” offerings. Some have interpreted this as an attempt to protect their own fledgling service PS Now while others have felt it was an attempt by Sony to ensure product delivery levels. One thing is sure they have handed Microsoft Marketing a free bullet point on their next marketing push.
Source: Electronic Arts, Game Informer
Highly anticipated titles Dragon Age: Inquisition by Bioware and Assassin’s Creed: Unity by Ubisoft both dropped trailers on the 29th of July and the ever popular Sims franchise from EA's Maxis team released a new trailer for their upcoming September release on the 30th.
Dragon Age’s latest trailer is the first in a series of gameplay trailers and focuses on combat discussing systems in more detail. Much of the footage is similar to or has been previously shown in longer videos with developers but in this case cuts straight to the chase of how the game is trying to balance old school mechanics familiar to classic RPG fans and the more action oriented game play of modern RPG enthusiasts.
Source: Dragon Age: Inquisition - Combat
Ubisoft released yet another video for Assassin’s Creed: Unity, this time a cinematic with Woodkid returning to offer the cinematic score, having previously had his song Iron used in marketing Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, we this time see Golden Age appropriately used against the backdrop of the fall of Louis the XVI’s reign as France’s king. Woodkid’s music is as always cinematic and suits the trailer, but additionally, we see the introduction of Elise, a strong willed Templar who Arno saves from the “National Razor”. Elise is the protagonist of the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Unity tie in novel.
Some have indicated this is an attempt by Ubisoft to “make up” for previous bad press regarding female playable characters in their game but this is unlikely due to the amount of effort required to not just add an NPC but also write a novel and construct the marketing tied to both these products. It will be interesting to see if the combat is as dynamic as presented in game as mobility has been one of the highlights of marketing material to date (and if anyone watching to the end of the trailer knows the significance of the smash cut of the pocket watch shown at the end let me know as nothing is ever done without reason in marketing materials).
Source: Ubisoft Blog
The Sims is a title that remains popular and unique in the gaming world. No other game does quite what it does and its broad appeal makes it a hit with a variety of different people. The latest entry in this series is slated to drop in a few short weeks and we are starting to see more material regarding the game. On July 30th Maxis released a trailer featuring the “Emotions” component of gameplay. It will be interesting to see if this is enough to win back fans who are already complaining about the removal of fan favorite features like the Toddler life stage and the ever popular death trap aka swimming pool.
Source: Sims Trailer
July 30th Elite: Dangerous by Frontier steam rolled forward hitting milestone after milestone on its way towards full release. Moving from their early access “Premium Beta” (a buyable beta at $150.00 that came with the full game and lifetime DLC as well as access to all stages of the beta availability ended on the 29th of July) to regular Beta, this is purchasable for $75.00 but with none of the DLC perks of other tiers. If you have the patience you can now also buy the release. With the addition of a transition in to standard beta a slew of new features including star systems, AI improvements, gameplay refinement, and bug fixes were added, the list of additions is huge. Elite: Dangerous may not have received the same hype that Star Citizen has been receiving but it is certainly impressing with its ability to deliver on a solid playable experience that is much closer to the end experience the player can expect.
Source: Elite: Dangerous Newsletter, Elite: Dangerous Forums
The bad news continues with Crytek continuing to attempt to restructure in to a profitable and stable company. Closing offices and transferring ownership of projects Crytek have sold their Homefront IP to Deep Silver and moved production of their upcoming Hunt: The Gilded Age to their Frankfurt studios. Our best wishes go out to Crytek employees and we hope Crytek, the only real competition faced by the Unreal engine in the last generation, are able to reposition themselves for this new generation.
Source: Crytek Press Release
Interesting Legal news this week as there were developments in two lawsuits that gamers may find interest in.
First California state Senator Leeland Yee who featured prominently in the push to regulate video game rating all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States and was then later arrested on illegal gun trafficking and corruption to which he has already pleaded not guilty entered a plea of not guilty on July 31st against corruption charges also levied against him. Many gamers are enjoying watching this case in much the way they enjoyed watching the fall of Jack Thompson from grace at his permanent disbarment in 2008 .
Source: Game Politics
Additionally Polygon reports Gearbox have filed a request to have themselves removed as a defendant from the Aliens: Colonial Marines false advertising class action lawsuit also on July 31st. They indicated that the blame lies with Sega and not with Gearbox as Sega were in charge of the disputed marketing and Gearbox were simply operating as contractors to the publisher. They indicated the move would have already been completed but one of the plaintiffs in the case was unavailable to sign off on the agreement. Ironically it was later discovered the individual was unavailable as he had been incarcerated in the state of Pennsylvania.
No Man’s Sky:
The highly anticipated procedural space Roguelike No Man’s Sky’s developers Hello Games were interviewed for an upcoming Edge article. A post on neoGaf shared a quote with Sean Murray saying:
No Man's Sky is coming to PC, but will launch as a timed exclusive for PS4. So has that changed the game in any way? "I actually got in a bit of trouble for saying that we wanted the game to deel really console-y" says Murray. "We've always had PC in mind but in my head (console-y) means solid framerate and immediate controls"
"I think a PC game can be 'console-y' and it's intended as a compliment, but I get in trouble for saying it." But While Hello always planned for its game to come out on consoles, knowing it's lead platform has been useful.”
As the game closes on completion I can certainly say we are looking forward to it, the addition of the PC as a platform is exceptionally welcome news.
Source: NeoGaf, Edge Magazine
Roberts Space Industry announced the expansion of the Arena Commander module of Star Citizen indicating they are granting an additional 50,000 players access on August 2nd as well in separate news on August 1st announced the addition of a new class of ship available for purchase at $90.00 describing it as “Perfect for the mercenary who prefers speed over armour in a dogfight… or the weekend warrior looking to impress the ladies.”
Source: RSI Multiplayer Announcement, RSI Ship Announcement