EA will be shutting down the servers for 50 games by May 21st. The list of games includes larger releases, including Battlfield 2, Crysis 2 and Bulletstorm. There's a full list of games here.
Capcom has also announced it's plans for the online games effected, which include migrating Lost Planet 3 for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 to new servers. With the change, the leaderboards for the PC and PS3 version will be wiped, however the 360 version will be unaffected. Also Marvel Vs. Capcom Origins and Street Fighter III: Third Strike have already migrated to new servers without issue. Flock and Age of Booty, two download titles, will lose their online functionality.
This just sucks and there's no way around it. Though the cost to maintain the servers via GameSpy was probably small, moving the games over and putting them on new servers probably costs way too much for what EA will make off of the games, so it makes sense as to why the company is just shutting down the servers, but it still is disappointing. This is part of the problem with expanding technology: eventually, we will always lose this online functionality because it is just not cost effective to keep them. It's sad to think about as a gamer who appreciates his history and the fact that we will not be able to maintain parts of what makes these games great is sad.
We may get another Darksiders game. Speaking on his Facebook page, Creative Director Joe Madureira spoke about the commitment of Nordic Games, the newest owner of the IP after THQ fell apart. "DS is not dead!!! The new owner, Nordic seems very committed to continuing the series. As far as my involvement, I can't say at this point. Hopefully we will all have exciting news about the franchise soon!!!!!!"
This is pretty interesting to hear, and I know fans are stoked. Though the series never hit bank busting numbers, both Darksiders games have recieved fairly good responses from consumers and the media. It seems like it would make sense for Nordic Games to create another game in the franchise to make up the cost of the series, but not having Joe Madureira involved could hurt. His art style and story telling has gone into creating this unique world, and though it is already established, it doesn't necessarily make it easy for someone else to just pick up and play with it.
Sony CEO Kaz Hirai will be taking a %50 pay cut this year, along with halving his bonus, according to the Wall Street Journal. This news comes from the fact that Sony has posted a $1.27 billion dollar loss for 2013, despite the games division making money and Sony leading in sales for next gen consoles. More pay cuts will be made to other Sony executives, but no details have emerged.
It's unfortunate for the CEO and executives who have been working hard to right the ship, but accountability has to fall somewhere. This is a very large company with investors and shareholders who are expecting some return on the investment made, so if the company is losing so much money it only makes sense to hold management accountable. That being said, the games division is up, and it will be interesting to see if those executives are effected. Hopefully, with the sale of Vaio and cutting down the television department, the financials will be in better shape next year.
A new free-to-play Pokemon game is making it's way out in Japan this July. Titled The Band of Thieves and 1000 Pokemon, the game will require players to street pass and collect sticker versions of the critters to use in battle. Though no release date has been announced outside of Japan, Pokemon is humongous, so expect a date eventually.
Pokemon is one of Nintendo's core franchises. Pokemon X and Y are the fastest and largest selling games on the 3DS. This move to free-to-play only seems natural for a franchise that tends to be versatile with it's spin-offs, though I am personally curious about what micro transactions exist. There's no way that Nintendo is offering up a game from one of it's most powerful franchises without some form of monetization. We will have to wait for July to hear more.
Microsoft will finally drop the requirement for Xbox Live Gold membership to play Netflix and Hulu and other streaming apps. Picked up by tech website Ars Technica, this may come with a caveot, as Microsoft would essential 'swap out' Netflix and Hulu for some other services to keep the price of a Gold Membership worthwhile.
FINALLY! Microsoft is the only company that requires users to pay for online, even if it's for the use of apps. This is something that has really deterred the casual market from an Xbox branded console, and will more than likely help with the PR problem that Microsoft just can't seem to shake. Smart move Microsoft; smart move.
Speaking of changes, Microsoft has officially announced a Kinect-less Xbox One. The console will release at $399 starting June 9th in the States. This is a result of user feedback and is a complete 180 from what the company said last year when it was announced that Xbox One would be $100 more expensive because of the Kinect.
Microsoft is really starting to listen to it's customers. So many consumers want nothing to do with Kinect and many who already own the console never use the peripheral. Putting price parity on par with PS4 will definitely help sales for the new console, which currently is lagging behind PS4.
Microsoft has also announced a change to Games with Gold, adding in games for Xbox One on top of games for Xbox 360. Starting in June, owners of the newest console will receive Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault. As a thank you for helping create the foundation of the program, Xbox 360 owners will gain three new games: Dark Souls, Charlie Murder and Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition.
This is exactly what Microsoft needs to do to stay competitive. Though it is still only two free games, free games are free games. Adopters of the new console will now get to play games they might have never touched just for paying for the online subscription and Microsoft is now closer to the benefits that Sony has introduced with PS Plus. Thank you for listening Microsoft.
The sale of Square Enix stock by Sony may not have been over bad blood, as it is commonly believed. Square Enix producer Shinji Hashimoto revealed at Thailand's Comic-Con that the move has been out of a desire to help one another. "Back in 2001, Square Enix had financial problems and Sony bought our stocks. Now, the situation is reversed," he explained. “We did not have argument. Since Sony once helped us, it was time we helped Sony back.”
This is a pretty interesting story. When hearing about business dealings, there is always a feeling of negativity and animosity that is sometimes just fabricated by the reader. If this is true (and not spin to make the move look good), it's pretty interesting to see two giants in the gaming industry working so hard to support one another.
With profits down for 2013, Nintendo is still holding strong. Speaking at an investor QA, president Satoru Iwata still believes there is hope for the fledgling Wii U. "We do not believe that this year's estimate of 3.6 million units of Wii U hardware will be the peak of its lifecycle." He goes on to use the Game Boy as an example. "Before the release of the Pokemon game, Game Boy had been showing slow growth, and many people wondered whether it was the end of the Game Boy."
Iwata went on to explain that there are first party games that have yet to be revealed (and probably will be revealed at E3) as well as the Skylaner-esque figurines that will allow gamer's to play with, though he stressed that the software to go with these figurines will be different than Skylanders or Disney Infinity.
Iwata is slowly losing favor-ability with both investors and consumers, so pulling everything he can out of his pocket now would be good for both him and Nintendo. Though the Wii U is a good console, the lack of real 3rd party support is killing it (similar to Sony's problem with the PS Vita). Hopefully The games at E3 will be enough to get gamers excited for Nintendo's home console again.
Here is also a list of some of the pretty straightforward, but interesting, news stories today:
- Titanfall DLC for 360 will come after the other platforms.
- Xbox One is getting a small patch for party chat.
- Pokemon Art Academy is making its way West.
- Square Enix turns a profit this year.
- Diablo III hits PS4 and Xbox One this August.
- Footage from the cancelled Bonk sequel has surfaced.
- Half Life 2 joins Portal on Nvidia Shield handheld.
- Six more PSOne imports coming West.
- 2K's game documentary is now up on YouTube.
- New Final Fantasy XI update coming soon.