Hello my name’s Matt and this is Pixel Burn, where I look at some of the more important, interesting or irritating things that happened in gaming news this week. Or as much as I could, given I spent most of this week coughing up my own lungs and poking them back in again with a wooden spoon.
Much of gaming news this week was dominated by Nintendo, albeit for all the wrong reasons. The biggest in sheer business terms being their reported operating losses of 46.4 billion yen – or $457 million US dollars – for the last fiscal year, as well as significantly lower than expected sales of the Wii U. Back in January Nintendo revised it’s sales expectations of the Wii U downwards from a confident 9 million units to a significantly more modest 2.8 million, a cut of over two-thirds.
Unfortunately Nintendo couldn’t even hit this new target, with reported sales for the Wii U in 2013 being a woeful 2.72 million. Compare and contrast this to the PS4 which has sold 7 million units in just over six months, and the Xbox One which has sold around 5 million. As of March 31st this year the Wii U has sold a grand total of 6.17 million worldwide: since it’s release in November of 2012.
The 3DS has fared significantly better shifting 12.7 million units, although even that is still below the 13.5 million sales figure Nintendo predicted. A figure that was originally 18 million before Nintendo reigned in their expectations like they did with the Wii U. And yet the 3DS still managed to almost hit 2/3 of that original lofty goal, compared to the measly 1/3 the Wii U managed.
Needless to say things are looking a little bit dismal for old Ninty. They’re still nowhere near dead, not by a long shot, but that’s like saying a stampeding elephant full of bulletholes technically isn’t dead yet. I’m not saying we should start digging a grave for it, but we might want to seriously consider actually buying some shovels. Or hiring the Bagger 288.
In spite of this woeful performance however Nintendo remain optimistic – some might say delusional – and are looking to shift 3.6 million Wii U’s between now and 2015, pinning their hopes on Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros to pull their proverbial fat from the fire.
Or “pandering to their dwindling hard-core fanbase” as I prefer to call it. Instead of, y’know, maybe reaching out a little bit to a wider, more diverse audience with games that don’t all have a fat plumber in them. Which brings us nicely – in a roundabout sort of way – to the controversy around Tomodachi life, a sort of Sims-esque life simulator type thing with minigames that…um…er. You know what? It’s probably better if I just show you.
Of all the many mad and wonderful things you can do in Tomodachi Life however, one thing you cannot do is have your virtual representation, or “Mii” as they’re called, marry another person’s virtual representation of the same gender. The island setting of Tomodachi Life doesn’t even recognise the possibility, putting it behind even the US state of Utah which at the very least recognises same-sex partnerships if only for tax purposes.
Tomodachi Island wasn’t always so repressive however. A glitch in the original Japanese release allowed to male characters to not only marry each other but also get each other pregnant, in a glorious defiance of all the laws of nature. This didn’t extend to female characters however, and Nintendo swiftly…ahem, “fixed” the offending behaviour in a subsequent update.
Said update was a whole other can of worms I’m not going to open here, except to show you this line from the patch notes. [“HUMAN RELATIONS THAT BECOME STRANGE]
In response to a social media campaign asking for same-sex marriage to be put it, Nintendo made the following statement.
“The relationship options in the game represent a playful alternate world rather than a real-life simulation. We hope that all of our fans will see that Tomodachi Life was intended to be a whimsical and quirky game, and that we were absolutely not trying to provide social commentary.”
Except, y’know, the social commentary that comes from not even acknowledging homosexual people exist. To their credit however Nintendo have since come-out – no pun intended – pledging to include same-sex relationships in any future Tomodachi games.
“We apologize for disappointing many people by failing to include same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to change this game’s design, and such a significant development change can’t be accomplished with a post-ship patch…We pledge that if we create a next installment in the Tomodachi series, we will strive to design a game-play experience from the ground up that is more inclusive, and better represents all players.”
The key word here of course being the whopping great IF. Future instalments will entirely depend on how well the game sells, and if Nintendo are even inclined to even make any more after this kerfuffle. It would be a tremendous shame if they didn’t. Tomodachi Life is precisely the sort of fresh, bold, and bonkers stuff Nintendo should be making more of.
Over a period of eight years the original Wii has sold over 101 million units, and Nintendo didn’t do that by pandering exclusively to its die-hard fanbase with Yet Another Bloody Mario Game. Releasing more broadly-appealing games like Tomodachi Life and having them be more inclusive won’t magically turn the company’s fortunes around either of course, but it would be a bloody good start.
On the topic of monolithic Japanese corporations, the details of Sony’s conference at E3 this year were supposedly leaked to gaming news site Dualshockers this week by an anonymous source.
Assuming it’s an actual leak and not just a sneaky tidbit authorised by Sony higher-ups to build hype, it certainly makes for some interesting reading. At least some of it does. There’re more than a few things on there I couldn’t give two fucks about.
Like a 3 minute trailer for Uncharted 4 showcasing “in-engine” footage – that’s PR talk for cutscenes by the way – interspersed with actual gameplay and sporting a release date of Summer of 2015. According to Dualshockers’ anonymous source its visuals will be unprecedented and set a benchmark for console graphics.
Unprecedented graphics, hehehe- I have a PC.
Another thing I couldn’t give two hoots about is a remastered version of Grand Turismo 6 running in 1080p at 60 frames per second. I’m not hostile to the idea or anything, I just don’t care enough about cars to be excited for it.
And I couldn’t be any less excited about a CGI teaser trailer for God of War 4 with snippets of gameplay. Not unless you pumped me full of horse tranquilisers and dressed me up like Kratos. I’ve illustrated this bit with a selection of clips from random God of War titles though don’t ask me which ones: they all look to the same to me.
God of War? More like God of SNORE. Unless they ditch that angry Spartan rubbish and do one set in mythological Egypt. Because I’ve always wanted to fight Ra on the deck of his flying boat as it pulls the sun through the sky. And not just in videogames.
In other stuff-I-can’t-be-arsed-to-care-about Quantic Dream has a trailer ready to be slotted into the presentation, in case Microsoft go heavy on the CG in their own presentation earlier in the day. No word on what it’ll be but we can probably expect at least another glimpse of Quantic Dream’s patented Old Man technology.
And with all that dull guff out of the way I can now talk about the stuff that genuinely interests me. Assuming any of it is true of course.
First up is a new title from Media Molecule, creators of Little Big Planet and Tearaway, designed to be a showcase for Sony’s Project Morpheus VR headset featuring 3D world building and beautiful visuals, according to Dualshocher’s source. It might also have something to do with the “Entwined” trademark Sony filed last week. That’s all we really know right now, but it’s enough to get me interested.
Japan Studio and From Software’s Project Beast, details of which leaked last week, is also down to make it’s debut and not a moment too soon. I can’t keep looking at these blurry screenshots forever, and with nothing else to go on I’ll have to keep reusing this footage of me fighting Ruin Sentinels in Dark Souls 2.
While Project Beast will most likely be a PS4 exclusive, part of me secretly hopes it’ll also come to PC with cross-platform play. Hey, don’t laugh. Sony and Valve did it with Portal 2 on PS3 so it’s totally possible.
Unlikely, sure, but still possible.
I’d really like to play it on my PC.
And speaking of beasts, a retooled version of The Last Guardian by Team Ico is also on Sony’s E3 announcement list with a release date of Winter 2014. And about bloody time too. The Last Guardian started development in 2007, was officially announced at E3 2009 and originally scheduled for release on PS3 in 2010. It’s agonisingly long development process, peppered with rumours of cancellation, has gone beyond even a running joke, yet watching the original PS3 trailer even now still sends a little shiver up my spine.
Of course with this being a Team Ico game you just know the griffin creature is going to die at the end. Either that or the boy dies. Or they both die. Like, the boy will die and the griffin will bury him on some lonely mountaintop somewhere, and then lie down on his grave like Greyfriars Bobby and just…*sniff*…just quietly waste away…
There are lots of other bits in this leaked list, too many to go into here, so I’ve included a link to the Dualshockers article in the description below. Because I’m nice like that.
And that’s sadly all I’ve got for this episode of Pixel Burn. If you liked it then please do let me know, and let your friends and assorted creatures know as well. At the very least I hope you found it tolerable. And if you didn’t like it then you can take some comfort in the fact I physically suffered this week. Either way you can go now.