Working Title 01.25.13: Everything is CRAZY!
Posted by Jordan Williams on 01.26.2013
411's Jordan Williams checks in with his thoughts on WWE's video game license finding a new home and the rest of the fallout from the THQ auction, the latest rumors regarding the next generation Xbox and its companion X-Surface and more!
If you pre-order now, you get a pair of zombie balls to use as a paperweight.
Welcome to the #1 Column to not be bought at the THQ Auction, WORKING TITLE. Holy hell has it been a newsy-ass-news week? First we have all of the drama involving the death and sell of THQ. Then we have even more drama about Atari almost doing the same exact thing...and THEN we get the whole X-Surface Hoax that took some of the more gullible news sites out there by storm. So what the hell do I talk about this week?
All of it.
I'm going to talk about pretty much all of it. Well, as much of it as possible before I hit deadline or get bored. Whichever comes first?
I don't know of a witty little name to call this so I'll just pretty much call it what it is.
The Working Title News Report
Wow, that makes it sound like the column has some sort of...official an actual name. Nuh uh. We can't have that.
Working Title: Everything has gone crazy!
THQ is Dead.
As of Wednesday this week, THQ is dead. Now it's always sad to see a lot of people end up out of jobs, but at least they managed to salvage as much of the situation as possible by auctioning off as many of the higher named properties it's owned. As of the time I am typing this, these are the properties and studios that have been sold and to whom.
✞ Ubisoft has purchased the rights to THQ's Montreal Studio, andSouth Park: The Stick of Truth. There is no immediate word on how this purchase will be affected by South Park Studios' lawsuit to prevent their property from being included in this sale. Also of note is the fact that Patrice Desilets, the former Assassin's Creed creative director who left Ubisoft to pursue new opportunities at THQ, is now back with his former publisher for at least the moment.
✞ Koch Media, the parent company of Dead Island publisher Deep Silver, has purchased Volition Inc. and the Saints Row brand, as well as the Metro franchise.
✞ Sega will be taking control of Company of Heroes developer Relic Entertainment.
✞ Crytek has purchased the rights to the Homefront franchise for some reason.
✞ Take-Two Interactive takes over Turtle Rock Studios' Evolve. List is credit of GiantBomb.com
Also other sites have been reporting that Take-Two also snagged the WWE license.
So out of this list, the properties I really care about that got shifted are honestly Volition/Saints Row to Koch and WWE to Take Two.
I think these are great moves, but...they also fill me with a bit of suspicion. I was one of the people who really didn't care for or like Dead Island. So to see that the parent company of Deep Silver has picked them up and given them to go ahead to lead on the production of Saints Row 4. I am aware that most of the problems that I had with Dead Island could be attributed more to TechLand than to Deep Silver...but given Deep Silver's recent decisions regarding promotional items and just the decisions they made in regards to budget with Dead Island it just sort of makes me wonder if they are really going to do right by Saints Row 4.
Saints Row 4 was probably one of the biggest budgeted games, and I just don't know if Koch/Deep Silver has that budget or is willing to GIVE Saints Row that big of a budget to really explore all of the options that need to be explored in Saints Row.
On the other hand we have Take-Two snatching up the WWE license and with that one I am really optimistic. I am not a fan of Basketball games, but from all accounts I have heard the NBA2k series have been some of the best sports games made. They update the rosters mid-season, they upgrade the stadiums, they have great models and animation and most of all it actually seems like the games are made by someone that cares about the sport rather than someone who just wants to crank out another annual and be done with it. So the idea of Take-Two snatching up the WWE license and maybe turning the boring and old WWE [Year] series into WWE 2k[Year] or something actually seems like a good move.
We can actually get a roster that's full and up to date with current stars for once instead of a roster that was seemingly finalized 6 months before the game was even in cycle. We could actually get updated models! The WWE games have had just straight up shitty renders of the WWE Superstars for YEARS now. I am sure people who frequent certain site on the internet have seen this comparison image before, but just look at this.
Usually I am not one who will sit there and praise graphics above all else when it comes to games, but I think there are two games where you have to make that exception to the rule and put a higher stake in value. Sports (or Sports Entertainment) games and Driving games. Presentation holds a much higher standard when you are trying to emulate something that you see on weekly television and for a long time now that actual presentation of the WWE licensed games has been straight up terrible.
Now of course, all of these changes would be great and would help spark interest in the WWE Games...but two things would have to happen for this to become a reality.
First off WWE would have to be willing to at least skip a year in the annual WWE franchise in order to give Take-Two sometimes to build up a new engine to take advantage of these changes and start fresh. And the other almost goes hand in hand with the first one in that Take-Two needs to cut Yuke's loose from the WWE license.
For all of these years THQ really just was the publisher and the face of the WWE games, most of the bad shit and lackluster things we don't care about from these games came more from the laziness of Yukes more than anything else. They have reused the same animations for half a decade, the same wrestler models, the same engine with just minor tweaks. Just look at some of the big bullet point items they've advertised as 'engine improvements'.
This year one of the big changes was being able to catch an opponent in a finisher while they dove.
The year before were additions to the TLC matches.
Before that? Better Tag Team matches.
These are not improvements or advances in the engine. These are things that should have already been in the engine to begin with. These are things that someone who makes a highly successful sports game could really fix and take advantage of.
But, like I said. It all pretty much hinges on whether or not Take-Two decides to go with Yukes or not.
All in all I do think it's pretty sad that THQ died. A lot of people are out of work and out of jobs because of what could only be described as a monumental chance taken by the higher ups and a lot of good developers and people in the games industry are paying the price for some poor management.
Of all of the people listed on the list I am really surprised that Vigil didn't get any takers. I know that Darksiders II wasn't the most warmly received game last year but it was FAR from being a terrible game and Vigil is far from a terrible studio. Hopefully by now maybe someone else might step in and take on Vigil, or at least the talent that is now out of a job.
I just find it really weird that someone would spend 500k for the Homefront rights, a game that is part of the reason for THQ's downfall...but would let Vigil stand by the wayside.
But I guess that's the world of business, right?
Man, almost on the same exact day THQ died, we got word from an insider who leaked all sorts of wonderful information and details regarding the new Xbox and its companion the X-Surface.
The internet went sort of crazy for a few hours with the rumor mill starting to spin and spout out all sorts of inside theories behind the change from Xbox 720 to Xbox and the idea that there would be a gaming specific Surface tablet made just for gaming.
And as soon as the news began to take the world by storm, it was revealed via the perpetrator himself that it was all an elaborate hoax to prove just how shoddy gaming journalism can be.
He included the email he sent proof of who he sent it to and even a list of the first sites that took the bite. You can read it all here.
So naturally after a lot of sites had fallen prey to this hoax, they all began to examine themselves a little deeper. Is this what gaming journalism has become? No longer talking about real issues within the gaming world but instead trying to 'scoop' everyone else with the hottest news and trying to maintain decent hits? Now I am not so naive that I don't understand that scooping is an inherent part of ANY type of journalism...I mean this is primarily a website about wrestling that nine times out of ten that news is nothing but dirt sheets and rumors.
And also scooping in the video game world has led to some of the more memorable news stories of this generation. Just look at Giant Bomb's Patrick Klepek who was the main voice behind the Infinity Ward/Activision split.
The question really is does Gaming Journalism want to be known as people who are just endlessly hungry for the next scoop or do we actually want to have well thought out pieces about the industry and the community involved with video games?
I don't know if I am the person here to answer that question because I do not consider myself a game journalist. Hell, I don't even consider myself as any sort of journalist. I'm just a guy who runs a blog and every now and then posts a rant column on a website. I don't get paid for this, I didn't go to school for this. I don't know if those are qualifications that are needed to be considered a games journalist or not but even when you take those factors away I don't think I am one of those games.
I'm not on the level of Adam Sessler, Jeff Gerstmann, and Ryan Davis. I'm not those dudes.
But if games journalism is starting to become less about the 'journalism' part and more about this TMZ-styled tabloid rumor mill press I'm not sure I WANT to be part of that level.
But when you report on an business like video games you just have to take everything with a grain of salt, as Mr. X-Surface said in his hoax post; don't trust anything unless it comes from a source. So in years like this when we are expecting new consoles to be just around the corner you just can't trust all of the news that comes out unless you hear it from someone who represents the company. Period.
But speaking of new consoles...
New Console Announcements - The End is Nigh
So you know how everyone is going apeshit that this year is THE year? That this year is the year we finally get our new consoles?
I don't think that's gonna happen. I just have this feeling that if we were REALLY on the road to getting new consoles in our hands this year then we would've known about them or had some concrete evidence by now. I know it's still only January but if you really think about it unless SOMEONE gets the ball rolling very soon we are going to be dangerously close to Expo season with no real news out of Sony or Microsoft.
And I don't think they would wait so long to see who blinks first now that Nintendo already dropped its next console. Let's just say that they do announce that there is indeed a new console coming this year in February. That means we will get the first look of it and ANY launch line up games at E3 at the earliest. That's about four months at most to get everything in check with your previous console before moving onto the next one and I just don't think that's going to happen.
Seeing as a lot of us have so much invested into the current console generation I feel we are going to need a really wide lead-in for the next generation. So to clarify my point, I think by the end of 2013 we are going to have concrete evidence that the new consoles indeed exist. But I highly doubt we are going to have them in our hands.
And let's just say I am completely wrong, as usual, and we DO get our new consoles this year...
Will it be worth it?
If we really think about Sony and Microsoft already have its big guns coming out for the current generation or already had them come out LAST year.
Sony already has Last of Us coming out this year for PS3. Ditto for the next God of War game. Microsoft launched Halo 4 last year and has a new Gears game this year. So if you are going to drop a new console how the hell are you going to pull that off with some of your guaranteed console sellers already out?
I just don't think it's going to happen. Do you remember how bad the PS3 and Xbox 360 launch line-ups were?
I don't think we want to go through that again, ESPECIALLY with a generation that really doesn't have the guarantee of saving us from what many see as a creative slump in gaming.
Top 5 Games I've Never Beaten
5 - Final Fantasy 8
4 - Super Mario Bros. 3.
3 - Metal Gear Solid
2 - Resident Evil
1 - Chrono Trigger
Until next time, I'm Jordan Williams...and one of these days I might actually talk about meaningful things and issues in the games industry like inherit sexism and all of that.