Most Recent: Mobile

Insert Quarter: How Did 2014 Treat Indie Developers?

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

It is a precarious time to be an indie developer. Steam’s Greenlight and Early Access initiatives are producing just as many misses as hits and discoverability is still a problem on the Xbox Games Store, the PlayStation Store, and mobile storefronts. Matthew Handrahan examined the squeeze that indie developers are feeling from all sides as part of GamesIndustry.biz’s roundup of 2014’s major stories. The picture he paints is one of gloom and doom, but also one that can be overcome with the right level of talent and a genuinely groundbreaking idea:

So are indies heading towards a “mass extinction event”? Overcrowding is certainly a key aspect of the overall picture, but the act of making and releasing a game is only getting easier, and the allure of development as a career choice seems to grow with each passing month. It stands to reason that there will continue to be a huge number of games jostling for position on every single platform – more than even a growing market can sustain – but there’s only so much to be gained from griping about the few remaining gatekeepers. If the days when simply being on Steam or Kickstarter made a commercial difference are gone, and if existing discovery tools still lack the nuance to deal with all of that choice, then it just shifts the focus back to where it really belongs: talent, originality, and a product worth an investment of time and money.

The full article is available for your perusal at GamesIndustry.biz.

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Insert Quarter: The Rise and Fall of THQ’s Empire

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Gamers often didn’t know what to make of THQ. The publisher built its empire on the backs of tie-in games based on Nickelodeon and Pixar properties such as SpongeBob SquarePants and The Incredibles. But they also produced intriguing original games such as Saints Row: The Third and Darksiders. They were even the initial driving force behind Evolve, one of 2015’s most anticipated games. But that all changed when the company went bankrupt early last year.

So what happened? Tracey Lien, writing for Polygon, set out to discover the answer by talking to as many former THQ employees as she could including the charismatic (but possibly crazy) Danny Bilson. Her portrait of a publisher in free fall makes you wonder, could anything have been done?

Many blame the company’s fall on the licensed games well drying up. Some pin it on the commercial failure of the company’s uDraw tablet for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Others point to poor management and too many risky bets.

“There isn’t any one, isolated event that killed the company,” says a former THQ executive who asked to not be named. “This was one of the most successful video game businesses in America. We were a billion dollar company. It was complicated.”

THQ suffered a “death by a million spider bites,” the executive says.

The full article is available for your perusal at Polygon.

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NetherRealm is making WWE Immortals for mobile devices

netherrealmstudios-logoWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has announced that NetherRealm’s mobile team has teamed up with the WWE to create WWE Immortals for mobile devices running iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) and Android. In recent years, the team has produced mobile games based on Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Injustice: Gods Among Us.

“It’s amazing to be working with WWE to offer a new way for fans to experience the brand on mobile platforms,” said Greg Ballard, the Senior Vice President of Mobile, Social, and Emerging Platforms at WB Games. “NetherRealm Studios are experts in creating award-winning games and the team is working hard to deliver the same quality of engaging gameplay with WWE Immortals.”

“We are excited to partner with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and NetherRealm Studios to create WWE Immortals and bring a new action-packed mobile experience to our passionate fan base,” said Casey Collins, the Executive Vice President of Consumer Products at WWE. “By tapping into NetherRealm’s legendary game development studio along with the unparalleled reach of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, we are creating a new way for fans to engage with the larger-than-life WWE characters.”

Chicago-based Phosphor Game Studios will assist in the development of WWE Immortals, which will be available sometime in 2015.

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Halo: Spartan Strike now scheduled for early 2015 release

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Halo: Spartan Strike has been delayed to early 2015 from its original December 12 release date, according to the Halo Waypoint blog. Bravo from 343 Industries said that the delay is due to the developer’s desire to fix the matchmaking issues in Halo: The Master Chief Collection:

“While we’re excited about this all-new Halo experience, our commitment to resolving the current matchmaking issues in Halo: The Master Chief Collection remains the top priority. As a result, we have decided to move the release of Halo: Spartan Strike to early 2015.”

Halo: Spartan Strike was announced earlier this year as a “touch-based top-down shooter.” It is currently scheduled to be released for Steam, Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8. The game might make its way to consoles in the future as the first game in the series, Halo: Spartan Assault, was also released for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition wins Game of the Year at 2014 Game Awards

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The inaugural Game Awards was held last night in Las Vegas. In between all the major announcements for future releases, Geoff Keighley and crew managed to hand out awards in 16 categories honoring 11 of 2014’s best games.

BioWare’s Dragon Age: Inquisition took home “Game of the Year” honors as well as “Best Role Playing Game.” Three other games took home two awards including Mario Kart 8 (“Best Family Game” and “Best Sports/Racing Game”), Valiant Hearts: The Great War (“Best Narrative” and “Games For Change”), and Destiny (“Best Score/Soundtrack” and “Best Online Experience”).

In addition to Mario Kart 8’s two wins, Nintendo also collected the “Developer of the Year” award and “Best Fighting Game” for Super Smash Bros. For Wii U. The consolemaker’s four wins were matched by Ubisoft who matched Valiant Hearts’ two awards with wins in “Best Shooter” (Far Cry 4) and “Best Performance” (Trey Parker as Various Voices in South Park: The Stick of Truth).

Other winners include Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (“Best Action/Adventure”), Shovel Knight (“Best Independent Game”), Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (“Best Mobile/Handheld”), and Grand Theft Auto V (“Best Remaster”).

The full list of winners in a handy list format (including all the viewer-voted categories) can be found after the break. (more…)

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Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice launched yesterday… so here’s a launch trailer

Telltale Games is at it again. Just a week after the launch of the first episode of Tales from the Borderlands, they’ve outdone themselves and launched episode one of another series: Game of Thrones. The first episode, “Iron From Ice,” focuses on House Forrester of the North. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll recognize some of the voices, like Lena Headey, Natalie Dormer, and, of course, Peter Dinklage.

Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice is now available on the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. It’ll be released for mobile devices and the PlayStation 3 soon.

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Insert Quarter: Unreleased Games and the People Who Trade Them

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Unreleased games will always be of interest to gamers. Who among us wouldn’t be interested in Nintendo’s 64DD version of Mother 3 or Free Radical’s late, lamented Star Wars: Battlefront 3. But these games have managed to live on thanks to a shadowy network of collectors and archivists who trade and preserve the neglected pieces of gaming history. Kotaku UK’s Leon Hurley sought out some of these amateur historians to get the complete story on the trading of unreleased games:

You’ve probably seen videos of unannounced or cancelled games. Not necessarily the older retro stuff, but more recent things like Star Wars Battlefront 3 or Stranglehold 2. Did you know there’s a keen, and occasionally zealous, culture of collectors and traders passing these things around?

[…]

There are many levels to all this. Some simply collect and play the games, others code and and hack, extracting fresh info from old files or reinstating missing features. There’s even a community quite happily extracting and modding Halo maps. For others it’s about preserving the often transient world of video game history.

The full article is available at Kotaku UK.

Posted in 3DS, DS, Insert Quarter, Mobile, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, Vita, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One |

Peggle Blast launches on mobile devices today

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Electronic Arts has announced that Peggle Blast, the first Peggle game built exclusively for mobile devices, is now available to download from the iTunes App Store and the Google Play store. In addition to a brand new vertical screen orientation, Peggle Blast will add a handful of new features to the franchise’s formula. At least, that’s the line that the EA Blog is selling:

1. Ready, Aim, Pop!: Easy to learn, fun to master – each level challenges you to clear all the orange pegs, rack up bonus points, and hit style shots. Earn at least one star on each round to progress to the next level.
2. Meet the Masters: In Peggle Blast, you progress through the magical Peggle world, meeting new Peggle masters along the way. Old favorites like Bjorn the Unicorn join a whole new cast of playful masters including Kablooey the Peacock and Pearl the Octopus, who are here to help you aim for greatness!
3. Devious New Challenges: Gooped pegs, time bombs, and Gnomes are all-new challenges in Peggle Blast! You’ll have to learn new techniques to overcome these obstacles.
4. Explosive Boosts: Brand-new boosts give players even more ways to spread joy – from the Egg Net and Ring of Fire, to Extra Balls and the Super Guide, peg-blasters have never had so many options!
5. Anytime, Anywhere: Peggle Blast is the first Peggle game built from the ground up for mobile. Whether you’re looking for an intense marathon session on your couch or a quick hit of fun while standing in line, it’s never been easier to get Peggleicious!

That said, it won’t cost anything to buy into their ideas as Peggle Blast has been released as a free-to-play game. But if you need additional convincing, you can find the game’s launch trailer after the break. (more…)

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