Features// SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: September

Posted 2 Jan 2014 11:00 by
September saw, among other things, some big news on the hardware front. It started with news that Microsoft was making a huge great purchase.

The Xbox and Windows maker would, it was announced, be buying phone handset maker Nokia for 4.6 billion. The deal, which will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2014, will see Nokia's Devices and Services business into Microsoft's fold, along with a license for the company's patents.

On a more downbeat note it came out that Gaikai, the service set to stream PSOne, PS2 and PS3 games direct to the PlayStation 4, is going to be delayed in Europe. The problem, apparently, is that around these parts broadband is a bit more... challenging, than in the States. So Sony's hanging fire with the launch until it figures that out.

But, hey, Xbox One launch date confirmation! It's not very interesting to tell you about the announcement of something that has, at this point, already happened. But this would feel like a pretty incomplete recap of September without at least a passing mention of it. It was November 22nd.

That wasn't very surprising. More surprising was the fact that the PS4 wouldn't be out in its homeland, Japan, until 2014 despite the fact it's launching in other Asian territories such as Hong Kong and Korea before the end of 2013. And that there would also be a new kinda-sorta console that enables users to play PlayStation Vita games on their telly.

That was an announcement no-one was looking for. The world was swiftly told, though, that we wouldn't be getting the strange little machine in Europe or the US.

September wasn't a great month for the UK games industry. It was, sadly, announced that after 23 years in business Blitz Games was shutting down. Two projects would be spun out to be run by a new company, employing some 50 or the 175 Blitz employees losing their jobs. It was some consolation, but the loss of those other 125 jobs and the Blitz name was a sad one.

Another change didn't come with the kicker of job losses, but was still something of a loss to the British games industry. Criterion, the highly-regarded developer behind the Burnout franchise, was to be broken up. Most of the company was pulled away to become an off-shoot of EA-owned Swedish dev Ghost Games so they could work on Need for Speed. A small team of 15 would remain at Criterion to work on something new.

September was, of course, Grand Theft Auto V month. That also meant it was a month for the mainstream media to trot out a few 'videogames and violence' stories. Murdoch-owned Fox News was front and centre. It got going with a chunky feature filled with spurious evidence and aged case studies attempting to link videogames with violence.

Our own UK-grown media is not, of course, above this sort of behaviour. The Telegraph attempted to tie the killings by US gunman Aaron Alexis of 13 people at a naval base to violent games. It led its well thought-out piece with a picture of Alexis playing what looked to be a Madden game.

Then when GTA V actually got released the Independent, which ought to know better, decided to slap a story about a stabbing on its front page because a copy of the game was taken during the incident.

Then, re-enter Fox News with a burbled attempt to suggest that its videogames that ought to be controlled to lower shootings. Not, you know, guns.

But, we skipped the bit where GTA V got released. We thought it was very good. So did the gaming public, which bought enough copies to see it smash game launch records in the UK, outdoing GTA IV by a ratio of 2.4:1.

What may well turn out to be the furthest-reaching news of September, though, was the revelation of Valve's plans for the living room. It showed that it's serious about taking on Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo where they live in front of your great big telly. First there was the news of Steam OS, a Linux-based operating system designed not so much to replace your desktop/laptop OS as to enable hardware manufacturers to build games machines that will tie to Steam and run on your telly.

Valve has no plans to be left out of the hardware loop, however, and announced its own hardware running the operating system, along with a beta to make sure the thing actually works.

The third piece of the puzzle was the announcement of an ambitious controller to tie it all together. The pad comes sans-analog sticks, with dual trackpads taking their place. Additionally, new haptic feedback tech will, apparently, offer a much greater range of effects than current rumble pads. There's also a clickable touchscreen in the centre of the pad. Crucially, the pad is apparently backwards compatible with everything on Steam, regardless of whether it's been developed with the pad in mind.

The last nugget of hardware-related news (we told you there was a lot of it) is good news for platform holders rather than your average gamer. China lifted its ban on console sales, opening a huge new market for hardware-manufacturers.

Big Name Releases Due this Month
Big Name Releases Due this Month
Call of Duty: Strike Team - Activision
Diablo III - Blizzard
FIFA 14 - Electronic Arts
Grand Theft Auto V - Rockstar
Killzone: Mercenary - SCEE
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars - Disney Interactive
Lost Planet 3 - Capcom
[url=http://spong.com/game/11051691][i]Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection - Konami
PES 2014 - Konami
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II - Disney Interactive
Total War: Rome II - SEGA

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
Grand Theft Auto V
PES 2014

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