Another week, another instalment in the Week in Gaming series is here! Now, first thing’s first – I’ve decided to withdraw the ‘What I’ve been playing’ section from this week’s post simply because I have nothing to talk about there. I’ve basically been playing a combination of Black Ops and Halo Reach, both of which haven’t pushed me to want to talk about either of them in any detail. As such, rather than blather on about something I clearly wouldn’t be enthusiastic about, it’s probably better to just forget it this week.
Also, on a side-note, I am aware that I haven’t been posting my usual number of posts per week recently. I usually write around three articles a week and I’ve been reducing it to two in the last few weeks. There isn’t a specific reason for it but most of the things I have planned need to be written later on down the line. Still, two per week seems perfectly viable to me so it’s not all bad!
Now, moving on to the basis of this post.
Microsoft confirms a release date for its Surface tablet
The latest player in the tablet market, namely the Microsoft Surface, has had its official release date confirmed for October 26th this year, coinciding with the date that Windows 8 hits the shelves.
Unveiled a few months ago, Surface is Microsoft’s attempt at breaking into the lucrative tablet market, currently dominated by Apple and their iPads and various Android tablets. Surface will be available in two forms: one cheaper offering and a pricier option running Windows 8 Pro, that will arrive 90 days later than the cheaper model. But the biggest question is whether or not Surface can actually cause a ripple in the tablet playing field when it finally launches.
There’s no doubt that Surface is touting some impressive hardware. Whether it’s the screen quality, attachable keyboard or the software at hand, Surface has all the makings of a strong, powerful piece of equipment. However, as Sony are learning with the Playstation Vita, powerful hardware does not drive sales. I believe – and presumably so do many others – that the pricing will be a strong factor into how Surface will be received and that has yet to be detailed. A retail outlet earlier last month posted a listing that carried a minimum price of £650, which has since been confirmed to not have been a price given to them by Microsoft. So, the speculation continues.
I am no expert in marketing nor anything of the like but it makes the most sense to me that Surface, despite being powerful, will not be as attractive should it carry huge price figures with it. Google’s recent offering, the Nexus 7, is priced at a very low figure yet carrying pretty significant hardware specifications regardless, and that has enjoyed much success since it became available. Pricing is key and Microsoft have some work on their hands to make sure it’s competitive when it finally hits the stands this Fall.
Nintendo 3DS XL sells 200,000 in the first two days in Japan
If there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s that the Japanese sure love the 3DS, and Mario of course. After just two days of being available for purchase, estimates placed the sales figures of the latest Nintendo handheld at close to 200,000, easily eclipsing the sales of similar launches in the past, such as the Dsi XL and vice versa.
Also, not content with shifting remarkable numbers of consoles in such a short period of time, over 430,000 copies of New Super Mario Bros. 2 were sold in the first two days, proving yet again of the selling power anything attached to Mario has over in Japan.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that New Super Mario Bros. 2 looked incredibly ‘same old, same old’ to me. Whilst the formula is perfectly fine, the innovation in the title didn’t seem to stand out that strongly. It still doesn’t but it clearly won’t be hurting its sales figures when it launches over here later this month. I may pick it up at some point but most likely not for the full price figure.
As for the 3DS XL, I’m not overly surprised of how well it has been received in Japan. The hardware revisions, such as the bigger and better screens, battery and anti-glare technology, look very impressive when you put them next to the original 3DS hardware. The lack of a second circle pad is noticeable at first but few games truly require the use of a second pad so its exclusion is not as pointless as it may first appear to be. That being said, will I be rushing to purchase the XL? No, because I still find myself perfectly content with the version I have now, and I don’t play it as often as I’d like anyway.
Regardless of that, the 3DS, whether it be last year’s hardware or this year’s, is going to be sticking around for some time to come. While the Vita continues to crash and burn (it’s still not managed to sell what the XL sold in two days and it’s been available since February), Nintendo are riding high on the success they’ve achieved with the 3DS, which some thought impossible after last year’s underwhelming launch. Clearly all it takes is a little injection of the famous platforming plumber and the sales increase automatically.
Source: Digital Spy
Call of Duty Elite reaches 12 million users
Since arriving late last year alongside Modern Warfare 3, Call of Duty Elite has been confirmed to have surpassed 12 million users, with 2.3 million of those having splashed down the money to become a ‘premium’ member, according to publisher Activision.
Elite grants its users access to stat tracking and other features that are available to anybody, whether you’ve paid or not. The premium element of the service gives players access to any and all downloadable content that’s currently available or will be in the future, as well as other exclusive features. For roughly £35, users get access to all of the above but the fee is not a one-off, with members having to fork out another hefty dose of cash the year after for the latest game released in the franchise.
My personal feelings regarding Elite are very simple – no thank you. It may be a decent deal if you’re still playing Modern Warfare 3 on a regular basis but that’s where I differ, as I do not. I’ve voiced my dislike for MW3 many times in the past and I no longer have any interest in the game or any future Infinity Ward/Sledgehammer offerings. The only Call of Duty games I will purchase from now on will be Treyarch ones but even that depends on how Black Ops 2 is when it’s released later this year. Should that be a laggy, inconsistent game like its predecessor, it’s very possible that I’ll ditch the faltering franchise entirely.
As for Elite, the premium element is obviously focused solely on the DLC. I haven’t played most of it – only the maps in collection one – but from what I’ve seen online, some of the creations don’t look that bad. Compared to some of the disastrous and abysmal maps available in the default game, the DLC looks fairly good. However, as I said before, Modern Warfare 3 is far, far too much of an unbalanced mess for me to even consider playing it, let alone buying content for it. Collection One was a fluke and it won’t happen again.
Regardless of my thoughts on Elite or the game, it’s achieved considerable success and will undoubtedly continue so for years to come. I just hope that future iterations integrate the service better into their games, as MW3 absolutely does not. It’s not harmed its sales, but things could definitely be improved.
Google clamps down on misleading apps
It had to happen at some point. Google has issued a warning to the developers on its service that any app that copies or appears overly similar to other apps on the marketplace will be removed from Google Play. Existing apps that currently break any of the above rules have thirty days to comply with the new regulations or have their creation de-listed from the service.
It’s been well known for some time that Google Play is full of games and apps that are ridiculously similar to other, more popular, titles. Way too much to be considered accidental. For example, doing a simple search for ‘Cut the Rope’ – the huge mobile gaming hit – brings up several titles that are absurdly similar to the aforementioned game. Not just in their icons but also in the way in which the game plays. There is a difference between merely taking inspiration from another game and copying it entirely.
Google performing this clean-up operation is good for rinsing the rot out of the service, including apps that may contain malicious malware, but when they insist that games/apps must not be ‘confusingly similar’ to other products, one has to question whether popular titles such as Draw Something and Words with Friends fall under that umbrella. Both are versions of games we’ve experienced before and have knowledge of (Pictionary and Scrabble, respectively). However, are they distanced enough to be unafraid of this new rule? I think so. Whilst they play off the inventions of other products, they still retain their own unique identities and they are somewhat different and not full-blown blatant copies as is the case with some titles on Google Play, which will surely be waving goodbye when their countdown to comply with the rule runs out.
Borderlands 2 eclipses pre-order figures of two GTA titles
We all knew that Borderlands 2 was going to be big. After all, its predecessor became one of the most creatively-encouraged titles of this current gaming generation. However, nobody quite expected it to be this big. Publisher Take-Two revealed earlier this week that the pre-order figures for Borderlands 2 were amongst the highest in their history, being beaten only by Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and GTA4.
With just over a month to go until the game hits shelves, demand for the title has reached a huge point. For the game to have beaten the figures for two Grand Theft Auto titles, one of the biggest gaming franchises on the planet, is astounding. But it’s not that much of a surprise to see the extraordinary demand for the title as the original Borderlands title rapidly became a fan favourite, with its mesmerizing blend of cartoon visuals and excellent combat systems with an incredible customizable experience and a massive amount of content to be experienced. It became the go-to game for co-op fun and remains such even after two years of availability.
Borderlands 2 looks to be retaining everything that made the first title so brilliant and adding on a large array of extras to make it bigger and even better. It looks spectacular but with such a massive expectation of excellence following it around every corner, naturally you would begin to question whether it’ll be fulfilling any of them when it releases. Much-hyped titles have often launched and been harmed by the heavy expectations that preceded their releases but there is just something about Borderlands that you know will provide the goods. After all, it has the advantage of having a foundation of absolute brilliance to build upon and even if the structure comes crashing down, the foundations will still exist to undoubtedly provide many, many hours of gory, magnificent fun.
And that, folks, is a wrap for this week’s instalment. What are your views on the news topics discussed above or any other stories from this past week? Any games you’ve been playing that you’d like to share your opinions on? Feel free to do just that down below. I hope you’ve had a good weekend!