Week in Games - June 24th
In the last Week in Games of the year a surprising amount has happened. For once, rather than scraping around for news I actually had to cut stories! Crazy, I know! I guess the post-E3 lull is over, but we still won't be getting a huge deal of interesting stuff till November
Nintendo announces larger 3DS
Much like the DSi, the 3DS is getting a larger cousin soon, as Nintendo announced this week that they'll be releasing the 3DSXL, which features a top screen 90% larger than the regular 3DS, as well as improved battery life and a 4GB SD card. One of the stranger things is not what the console offers but what it doesn't, notably a second thumb-pad. The 3DS has been derided in some circles for its singular analogue input, which ultimately lead to the development of the Circle Pad add-on for use in certain games requiring more input. Logically it would make sense for Nintendo to include such an update in the new console, but apparently doing so was not on their minds. One of the better features of the console is an improved battery life, up to ten hours (unlike the 3DS' five), which is sure to be welcomed by those who take it on long journeys.
The console will retail in America for $200, cheaper than the 3DS when it launched, but won't include a power adapter (it uses the same as the 3DS and DSi). Interestingly it will be launched in Japan and Europe on the same day (July 28th), with America having to wait until August 19th. There doesn't seem to be much rationale behind such a decision, and it just seems to confirm Nintendo's arbitrary ideas on release dates.
Saints Row 3 April Fools joke becomes DLC, then Saints Row 4
For April Fools of this year, Volition, the developers of the madcap Saints Row 3 posted about a piece of DLC entitled "Enter the Dominatrix", the premise being that the titular Saints gang are put into a computer simulation by aliens wherein they have superpowers (shaky premises indeed). While we all had a good laugh, it seems that publishers THQ were so cash-strapped and pleased with the feedback that they actually greenlit the project, planning to have it released in Autumn as a piece of extended DLC priced at $30. Those plans have since been scrapped.
The expansion pack has now been rolled into the upcoming and oft-hinted Saints Row 4. 4 has been stated to be in development several times, including just after the release of 3, leading the more cynical amongst us to accuse THQ of abusing an unexpected cash-cow (especially given what a monetised, poorly made let-down Saints Row 3 was). There's no release date or any details, but we can reasonably assume at this stage that super-powers will likely feature in the sequel.
"Xbox 720" document leaks to Internet - Microsoft learns about Streisand Effect
When something is on the Internet, you can't remove it without the Internet noticeing. And when the Internet notices, everyone on the Internet notices, as Microsoft found out this week. A document purporting to detail specs for an upcoming console (the "Xbox 720", which was written in 2010, included such ideas as SmartGlass, augmented reality, Kinect and cloud gaming, and essentially outlined the company's plans from 2013 onwards in the console sphere.
These things "leak" all the time, and more often than not they prove to be hoaxes, but given the relatively reasonable ideas shown in this document it was widely reported in the gaming news. Soon afterwards, said outlets received letters from Microsoft's lawyers telling them to stop, which is as good a confirmation of rumour as you're going to get - in general companies give "no comment" on rumours such as this one, but actively trying to purge it from a medium renowned for being highly purge-resistant? That's basically saying "This is true, stop looking at it".
ACTA dealt crucial blow in European Parliament committee vote
We've spoken a fair bit about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, mostly about how awful it is and how glad I am that it seems to be in its death throes. Without the support of the EU, the world's largest trading bloc, the treaty is useless. This week the INTA committee (Committee on International Trade) has voted against the treaty, which bodes very, very badly for it in the vote in Parliament, which is coming soon. The committee in this is seen as a body which recommends the ways for Parliament to vote (being the authority on international trade and all).
If the Parliament itself rejects ACTA then it dies. We can hope that this is the case.
This was my last ever Week in Games article, so if ACTA does die it will make me incredibly happy that I ended on a high note rather than an example of poignant optimism. Bye for now!