August is a bit of a drought-y month for the games industry. As in, not a lot of games actually come out. For the average gamer that makes it a light month for gaming. But, given that you're reading a review of the year in games, you're probably not that average a gamer. And on the news front, things were still happening.
The month didn't get off to a great start for SEGA, Relic and the Russian distributor of their WWII RTS, Company of Heroes 2
, 1C. The distributor wound up withholding the game from sale because of objections in the former Soviet Union to how the Red Army was portrayed in the game
Valve didn't escape the flak, either. The company was presented with a petition demanding the company make CoH2 unavailable via Steam. To give you a taste of what the companies were up against, here's a quote from the petition: "this game's plot involves the complex matter as the USSR history in the WW2. One does not simply get a random 'parahistory' book and write a story that sells in millions of copies. The way the game developers see the conflict is disgusting.”
Sony was facing a spot of bother, too. Sony CEO Kaz Hirai found himself defending his company's ongoing support of its entertainment division, which includes the PlayStation business. Earlier in the year the largest owner of Sony Corp stocks, hedge fund Third Point, wrote to Kaz demanding that the entertainment division be spun out into its own company. In August, Kaz responded: "Sony’s board of directors has unanimously concluded that continuing to own 100 per cent of our entertainment business is the best path forward and is integral to Sony’s strategy." Third Point didn't appear to be listening, responding with the statement, "Third Point looks forward to an ongoing dialogue with management and intends to explore further options to create value for Sony shareholders..." And so it goes.
Oculus VR, and its virtual reality headset, Oculus Rift, were doing a bit better though. They signed up legendary id Software developer John Carmack as Chief Technology Officer
. That was a real coup for the company. It developed a little more of a head of steam.
Games brushed up against politics again when Saints Row 4
associate producer Kate Nelson spoke up to say that Saints Row IV
... empowers women and minorities. "I think our game actually does represent women in a positive way, but the press will focus on, oh hey, there are strippers, or there’s a dildo bat – it’s unfortunate from my perspective that that doesn’t come through," she told Edge. And then: "Saints Row, in lots of ways, has empowered minorities and empowered women, which I think is important to get across.” Honestly, that wasn't one of the big things that came through when I reviewed it
While Sony had been facing internal struggles, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata had to face the world with his game face on, defending his company in the face of Wii U-related struggles. He said that Nintendo IP wouldn't wind up on other platforms
on his watch, for one: "If I was to take responsibility for the company for just the next one or two years, and if I was not concerned about the long-term future of Nintendo at all, it might make sense for us to provide our important franchises for other platforms, and then we might be able to gain some short-term profit."
Iwata also found himself defending the Wii U's price point(s), saying “"If the price is actually an issue [with Wii U], then there is some contradiction between the current sales balance between the Basic and Premium versions of the Wii U. The basic version should have sold a lot, but the fact of the matter is that people are buying more of the premium version. So the issue is not there."
Of course, you could make the case that Nintendo's woes, at least partially, reflect problems facing the 'traditional' games industry as a whole. UK games retail, for example, had its worst month on record in August
. It took £23m in game sales, 33.3% less than the same month a year previously.
Naughty Dog was up to at least its ankles in hot water, attracting the ire of Ellen Page who, she said, had had her face ripped off in The Last of Us
. "I guess I should be flattered that they ripped off my likeness, but I am actually acting in a video game called Beyond Two Souls, so it was not appreciated," she said.
But then, hot water was splashing about everywhere. Microsoft put its hands up and said that the Xbox One's launch would not, in fact, be a global one
. Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland were all told they'd have to wait until 2014.
Then there was the news that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was on his way out. The man who had overseen the launch of Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface would be off within 12 months, just as soon as a replacement could be found. Here's hoping that Xbox One will have a more favourable legacy than those other two pieces of technology.
Just in time for the new football season, we got some FIFA news that perhaps told us more about how publishers see the various games platforms out there than it did about the beautiful game. It came out that, once again, the PlayStation Vita version of FIFA 14 would not be a new game such as a re-skinned version of FIFA Football with new kits and players. And we might as well skip ahead a little here while we're on the subject – the same turned out to be true for the 3DS version
and, if you look carefully, the Wii version
But, hey, did you know that once upon a time "EA didn’t give a shit about FIFA"? Well, now you do
Also, some games did
come out. But only a couple that are really worth mentioning:
Big Name Releases Due this Month
- Disney Interactive
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Lost Planet 3
Splinter Cell: Blacklist
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
- Take 2
Read the Rest of Our Video Games Year in Review 2013
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: January
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: February
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: March
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: April
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: May
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: June
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: July
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: August
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: September
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: October
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: November