FGE Weekly Takes on Gaming News – May 15, 2014

Happy Friday!  As per usual, here’s my quick takes on the video gaming news of the week.

Xbox One is going Kinectless: Microsoft dropped a bombshell on the gaming world this past Wednesday when they announced that they would begin selling the Xbox One without a Kinect on June 9th (the same day as their E3 presentation).  Furthermore, the price of this new Xbox One would be the same as rival PlayStation 4 at $399 here in the States.

The news was overwhelmingly positive by the consumers, many of whom declared that the real console war between Sony and Microsoft had begun.  Developers were mixed in their reactions, some excited regarding a patch by Microsoft to fully optimize the technical specifications of the Xbox One to better compete against the PlayStation 4, while some were not so excited.  Harmonix, creators of the “Just Dance” series were quite disappointed.  I can understand why.

Well, not EVERYBODY is happy about Microsoft selling a Kinectless Xbox One.

Well, not EVERYBODY is happy about Microsoft selling a Kinectless Xbox One.

Without the Kinect being standard issue with an Xbox One, developers will have to really consider games that utilize (or require) it for maximum functionality.  This reminds me of what happened during the first Kinect on the Xbox 360.  Some games utilized some basic voice commands, whereas others were entirely dedicated to the device (Kinect Sports, or the aforementioned Just Dance as examples).  Developers have come to terms that this move by Microsoft has effectively fractured their marketing power to Kinect-enabled software.

Microsoft has now effectively reversed their stance on just about every controversial element to the Xbox One.  These include the always-on capability, the requirement of having Xbox Live Gold to access most applications, and now a Kinectless model.  Is this the right move in accepting and executing on the will of the consumers, or is this too little, too late for Microsoft?  The jury is still out on this.

Early EA Announcements:  This year seems to be all about the pre-E3 hype.  In addition to Microsoft’s big news, EA announced that Far Cry 4 will debut in 2014.  I’m a bit confused as to why all of these companies are not taking full advantage of the global audience they will broadcast to and to save these announcements for later.  Far Cry is a huge cash cow for EA, so announcing it early will not really boost sales in any greater capacity than spending some time at E3 and showing off footage.  So why do it now?

Titanfall Continues to Dominate: Respawn Entertainment’s smash hit Titanfall continues to rack up impressive sales.  According to VGChartz.com, Titanfall sits ahead of Call of Duty: Ghosts by quite a large margin both domestically and internationally.  I can’t say I’m too surprised, Titanfall blasted into the video gaming market two short months ago but has made big waves from media and consumers alike.  Our very own Matthew Paolini gave the game an impressive 4 out of 5 stars, commenting on the game’s elegance and brilliance.  So cheers to the team at Respawn Entertainment for still making waves in the sales charts!

"Sales sure look good from up here!" said every Titan Pilot, ever.

“Sales sure look good from up here!” said every Titan Pilot, ever.

Ubisoft Promises to Keep Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 Owners Happy: During today’s Ubisoft stockholders call, CEO Yves Guillemot stated that the company would continue to deliver annual Assassin’s Creed installments on current generation systems in the “foreseeable future.”

Ubisoft made some waves last month when they announced that the Assassin’s Creed franchise would come in both current generation and next generation flavors, with the former being entitled Unity whereas the latter will be entitled Comet.  Both games are set to take place in different points in time, star different characters, and be in different locations.  This is a bold move which may finally fracture the multi-platform releases of Triple A titles across both generations.  I’m sure we will see much more of this strategy, as well as extensive gameplay, during Ubisoft’s E3 press conference on Monday, June 9th at 3:00 PM.

Borderlands 2 on Vita falls flat: The much coveted Borderlands 2 franchise has finally made its way to the PlayStation Vita, courtesy of the new Borderlands 2 Limited Edition Vita bundle (such a creative name for this bundle, too!), much to the excitement of fans.  Unfortunately, the title has received its fair share of mixed reviews from fans and critics alike.  The four player multiplayer has instead been replaced by a two player version; graphics are generally watered down; and gameplay focuses on utilization of the Vita touchpad, which many feel is unresponsive.

When this title was announced with the new Vita Slim, I was excited.  Cross save functionality meant that I could take my game on the road with me without losing progress, and teaming up with my friends online sounded like too much fun.  But the less-than-stellar reviews on what should have been a bonafide hit has been reduced to a mere whimper.  Here’s hoping that future Vita titles can win over new fans to keep Sony’s portable business alive and well.

Minecraft prepares for its next generation debut: Minecraft, easily one of the bestselling video games of this generation, prepares for its debut on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One “soon.”  Release dates vary from site to site, so it’s uncertain as to when the arrival will happen, but many are already whetting their appetite for next generation block building goodness.  For those of you who are already committed to the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, I’ve got an interesting graphic to show you.  It looks like you’ll miss out on some of the new draw distance features, but otherwise, don’t expect too much in the way of change.

Does increased draw distance compel you to upgrade your version?

Does increased draw distance compel you to upgrade your version?

As usual, happy gaming this weekend!

When I'm not writing about video games, I'm playing them! Hit me up on Google + for a list of all of my accounts if you're looking for some friendly competition: https://plus.google.com/+JimEfantis.

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