Nintendo ‘willing to invest’ to secure third-party support
July 7, 2011

It’s not a new concept to the industry; Microsoft reportedly paid $50 million for exclusive Grand Theft Auto IV DLC and were even accused of money-hatting Namco in order to secure the exclusivity of Tales of Vesperia, but paying for third-party content is not something that Nintendo has openly admitted to. Similarly, Jack Tretton – President of Sony Computer Entertainment of America – has, in the past, proudly proclaimed that Sony ‘don’t buy exclusivity’, whilst also taking a side swipe at Nintendo, who, in the eyes of Tretton, have a tendency to rely too heavily on first-party production.

While Tretton is world-renowned for talking from his arse, I do believe that particular comment holds some merit. It’s unlikely that Nintendo took his words to heart, but it’s no secret that criticism can be a compelling catalyst for creativity, and Nintendo’s relationships with third-parties have elicited criticisms abound. To what extent you believe their words or not aside, Nintendo have, since the Wii U’s reveal, been promising much-improved third-party support, suggesting they’re willing to learn from, and, more importantly, act upon, their shortcomings.

At a recent shareholders meeting, Satoru Iwata was questioned on the Wii’s frequent software droughts, and if Nintendo had plans in place to prevent a similar situation with the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS:

We think it very important to make several hits from the third-party software publishers within the first year from the release of the platform, while offering Nintendo software seamlessly. In order to achieve this goal, we have shared information about the new hardware with the software publishers earlier than we did previously and built a cooperative structure, and we are developing several titles in collaboration with these publishers. I cannot talk in detail about the names of the titles, or with which publishers we are currently collaborating, because we have not announced this information yet, but what we are aiming for with the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U is, platforms which have much more software and a wider variety of software than the former Nintendo DS or Wii. Therefore, we are thinking of creating an environment where software from other companies will become hits.

Nintendo claims to have shared the hardware specs of the Wii U earlier than usual, but developers such as Bethesda have indicated that they ‘know nothing’ about its capabilities. To me, this is worrying. Huge, Western developers like Bethesda are of the precise ilk that Nintendo should be trying to get on board. Bethesda, BioWare, Infinity Ward, Rockstar, Valve, Crytek – names that core gamers recognise and respect, names that will sell, and names that will promote system sales. I don’t work for Nintendo, I have absolutely zero inside knowledge or sources at Nintendo, and I have never claimed to. In that sense, I also have absolutely no idea who Nintendo is courting and who they’re not, but if a studio as big as Bethesda has been left in the dark, then it doesn’t fill me with confidence.

After the initial excitement and positivity coming from select studios, promises of core IPs like Assassin’s Creed and Battlefield heading to the Wii U were made by developers Ubisoft and EA, respectively, but their relationship with Nintendo was already fairly strong. So, what about those who are seemingly less inclined to develop for Nintendo’s latest console? What kind of Nincentive (sorry) will be offered to them? Money, of course!

Please understand that Nintendo is prepared to invest in order to make this a reality.

Problem solved? We shall see…

 – Rory

Source

Grand Theft Auto IV mod looks better than real life
July 6, 2011

Life has its ways of proving us wrong  and altering our perceptions, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Today, it’s for the better. Recently, I was joining in on a discussion on VideoGamer.com – of whose homepage my ugly mug is currently featured – about photorealism in videogames and whether or not they’ll ever be able to convincingly recreate reality. I said no. Well, to elaborate, I argued that, unless we see some major advancements in the way that certain assets are modelled and rendered in the next few years, that developers simply can’t, and won’t, devote the man hours required to meticulously render the inside of a character’s nose, or the individual veins in leaves.

It seems that the community does what the developers can’t. In a move that has made me sorry for opening my big, stupid mouth, I have been stunned by one fan’s work. A community mod for Grand Theft Auto IV  has been released and it’s positively jaw-dropping. The mod uses something referred to as iCEnhancer 1.2, and whilst I’m not entirely sure what kind of technical witchcraft and wizardry is going on behind the scenes in this mod, I do know is that it looks absolutely gorgeous.

Sure, the foliage still looks a bit questionable and it’s still discernibly different from ‘real life’, but it’s mightily impressive; for that level of graphical fidelity to be achievable by technology that’s commercially available today fills me with excitement for the future of videogame verisimilitude.

– Rory

RUMOUR – Nintendo to make ‘major announcement’ this week
May 10, 2011

According to Games Maya, four of the industry’s big names will be holding retail meetings this week; Nintendo, Sega, Microsoft and Sony will apparently be accompanied by ‘leaks from attending retailers’, and, in the case of Nintendo, a ‘major announcement’. The dates are as follows:

  • 5/11: Sony Computer Entertainment

  • 5/12: Nintendo

  • 5/13: Microsoft

  • 5/13: Sega

Could we finally hear something concrete about Project Café in the weeks running up to E3?

Source – Games Maya via andriasang

– Rory

Nintendo confirms date and time of E3 Keynote
May 9, 2011

The Nintendo Keynote date for E3 2011 has been announced, and rather unfortunately for my friend, it lands on his birthday. I’m sure he’ll understand. Nintendo will be delivering their 2011 press conference in the Nokia Theatre at 9am PST (That’s 5pm for us Brits) on Tuesday, 7th June, 2011.

The Japanese gaming giant is expected to show off a trove of 3DS and Wii titles, including Mario Kart 3DS, Super Mario 3DS, Animal Crossing 3DS and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. There are also rumblings of an official North American announcement of Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story. Throw in a brand new home console, and this year’s E3 is looking pretty damn tasty for Nintendo fans.

We will be liveblogging the event to the best of our abilities. Excuse me one moment.

Hello? Yes, is that front desk? Yeah, I’ve just had a foreboding vision in which I got mercilessly run over by a bus on the way to College on the morning of Tuesday, June 6th…

– Rory

RUMOUR – Microsoft to unveil ‘Xbox 720’ at E3?
May 6, 2011

Keen on stealing away Nintendo’s thunder, it seems that Microsoft are gearing up to announce their next console at E3 2011. Naturally dubbed the Xbox 720, the console is expected to launch late 2012, with an announcement imminent. Apparently, an unnamed EA studio already have a very early dev kit sitting on their desk – it’s a prototype that’s currently sitting inside a PC shell, much like the early 360 and PS3 SDKs were.

The rumour comes just months after Microsoft issues vacancy advertisements for a Graphics Hardware Architect and Performance Engineer under the Xbox Console Architecture Group. For Microsoft to have something concrete to show in such a short turnaround would be phenomenal, so a simple announcement of the console’s existence would probably be more likely.

However, Eurogamer thinks even this is too ambitious, as they state that “an E3 2011 reveal for Microsoft’s next Xbox is highly unlikely”

Both Microsoft and EA refused to comment.

– Rory