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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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Rockstar will add Heists to Grand Theft Auto Online in early 2015

Grand Theft Auto Online players will feel the Heat next year as Rockstar has announced that they’re finally ready to release the “Heists” update for Grand Theft Auto V‘s multiplayer component. “Heists,” a cooperative mode that requires each player to complete multiple objectives to complete the job, will be available in early 2015:

GTA Online Heists are coming early in 2015 – check out the new trailer for the four-player co-op mode for Grand Theft Auto Online that allows players to plan, prepare and execute multi-tiered Heists across Los Santos and Blaine County. These will require tight communication and coordination, with players taking on specified roles at each point to accomplish multiple objectives on the way to each Heist’s epic finale. Featuring new gameplay, new vehicles, new weapons, new clothing and much more.

Rockstar has been talking about the “Heists” update for a long time and Lead Mission Designer Imran Sarwar sat down with IGN this morning to talk about why the mode has taken a little more time than originally expected.

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Creative Assembly discusses the possibility of Alien: Isolation 2 “daily”

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This article includes MASSIVE SPOILERS for Alien: Isolation.

For a long time, it has felt like a curse has become attached to game adaptations of the Alien franchise… you could say like a facehugger on John Hurt. But it looks like Alien: Isolation has finally lifted the bad juju on the series with acclaim from both critics and the gaming public. Naturally, this has lead to speculation about a sequel, so AvPGalaxy went directly to the source. They recently sat down with Gary Napper, Lead Designer at Creative Assembly, and asked him about his thoughts on Alien: Isolation 2.

Napper responded that the possibility of a sequel is discussed within the walls of Creative Assembly “daily” and that the team has considered taking a prospective sequel in several different directions:

AvPGalaxy – The end of the game is left very open for a sequel. There’s quite a lot of fan speculation about what really happened. Did Amanda get infected in the hive, did she die in space? How much thought has Creative Assembly put into continuing Amanda’s story after the events in Alien: Isolation?

Gary Napper – The plot for a sequel is a daily topic in the studio sometimes. People have their own ideas for where it should go, our writers have some solid concepts and yes, we do have a great opportunity to continue her story. I personally think that Amanda did not get infected in the hive, as when she wakes, the closest egg remains closed…

What do you think happens at the end of Alien: Isolation? And are you excited for a sequel? Hopefully, Sega and Creative Assembly will figure out where they want to take their successful series soon.

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First live gameplay footage of Street Fighter V debuts at Capcom Cup

Capcom debuted the first in-game match from Street Fighter V during this weekend’s Capcom Cup, the finale of the Capcom Pro Tour season. Players were once again treated to a battle between Ryu and Chun Li, but this time it was played live on stage.

Capcom also unveiled an extended version of the Street Fighter V trailer they premiered during the PlayStation Experience event. This new version of the video (which is available after the break) ends with the ominous reveal of Charlie. Charlie is known to fans of the Street Fighter Alpha franchise as Charlie Nash, Guile’s former partner. And fans of Street Fighter: The Movie will remember him as the soldier M. Bison mutated into Blanka.

Street Fighter V is currently without a release date, but we know that it’ll be released sometime in the future exclusively for the PC and PS4 (sorry Xbox One owners).

And in case you were wondering, Yusuke Momochi captured the first ever Capcom Cup with a victory over Ho Kun Xian. (more…)

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Evolve’s fourth behind-the-scenes video focuses on “The Planet Shear”

Turtle Rock Studios is back with the fourth episode in their “Evolution of Evolve” series of behind-the-scenes videos. Once again hosted by Adam Sessler, this episode focuses on the game’s alien world, “The Planet Shear,” and all its exotic flora and fauna. Viewers will learn all about how Evolve’s environments evolved from the earliest prototype stage to their current incarnation available at expos and conventions and during the game’s “Big Alpha.”

Evolve will be released for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One on Feburary 10.

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New Releases: Guilty Gear Xrd Sign, MGS5: Ground Zeroes PC, Divinity: Original Sin

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The video game industry continues its slow march towards the end of the year with three new releases this week…

  • The latest Guilty Gear game from Arc System Works, Guilty Gear Xrd Sign, will be released for the PS3 and PS4.
  • Konami will bring Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain‘s prologue, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, to the PC.
  • And Larian Studios will released a boxed version of Divinity: Original Sin, their very successful turn-based RPG, for the PC.

That’s it for this week and that’s likely it for all of 2014 as no games are currently scheduled to receive a retail release during the remainder of the year.

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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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The greatest trick CoD: Advanced Warfare ever pulled was being Nov 2014’s best-selling game

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Activision’s Call of Duty franchise continues its reign atop the video game world by capturing the top spot in The NPD Group’s survey of November 2014’s best-selling games. It managed to hold off a strong challenge from Grand Theft Auto V, which received a huge boost from its new-generation re-release.

Nintendo had a very good month as Super Smash Bros. For Wii U and Super Smash Bros. For 3DS managed to sneak into the top three thanks to their combined might (The NPD Group considers them one game for the purposes of the monthly list). Further down the list, Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire shot to #5 while Pokemon: Omega Ruby owned the #7 spot (for some reason, the latest Pokemon release is considered two separate games by The NPD Group).

Ubisoft also had multiple games in the top ten, including Far Cry 4 at #6. Assassin’s Creed: Unity entered the list at #9, and while that’s an impressive achievement, it’s well below the top-three ranking attained by both Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag during their respective debut months.

Finally, Microsoft has plenty to crow about tonight as they’ve revealed to IGN that that the Xbox One outsold the PS4 for the first time.

The full top ten for November 2014 can be found after the break. (more…)

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