Microsoft today announced the purchase of Minecraft creator Mojang for the hefty sum of $2.5m.
Rumours began circulating a week ago that the two companies were in discussions over a possible acquisition by the computer software giant, but considering that the Minecraft developer has been one of the poster boys of independent gaming ever since Minecraft’s phenomenal success thrusted the company it into the limelight, joining forces with a company that seemed to be the antithesis of the image people had projected onto Mojang seemed pretty far from the truth.
The majority of the company’s significant personnel will be leaving the company, including founder Markus Persson (Notch), allowing him to focus more of his time on the smaller projects that he was unable to pursue due to the massive responsibility that Minecraft had become.
Mojang’s own Owen Hill commented: “As you might already know, Notch is the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder at Mojang. He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He’ll continue to do cool stuff though. Don’t worry about that.”
Fortunately, Microsoft have committed to supporting Minecraft across all platforms, including Xbox, PlayStation, iOS, Android, and (of course) PC – which addresses some of the primary concerns voiced by the larger gaming community following Minecraft’s recent PS4 and Xbox One releases. Whether Mojang’s new overlords hold the much anticipated PS Vita edition in limbo remains to be seen.
Update: Markus ‘Notch’ Persson has issued a statement on the Mojang acquisition via a post on his personal website.
Persson states: “I don’t see myself as a real game developer. I make games because it’s fun, and because I love games and I love to program, but I don’t make games with the intention of them becoming huge hits, and I don’t try to change the world. Minecraft certainly became a huge hit, and people are telling me it’s changed games. I never meant for it to do either. It’s certainly flattering, and to gradually get thrust into some kind of public spotlight is interesting.”
The article concludes with the simple line: “It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.”
Strider is the latest release from Amazon acquired developer Double Helix Games, and an attempt to revitalise one of Capcom’s most unloved heroes.
For the duration of this hack and slash adventure you play the role of Hiryu Strider – a futuristic, sword-wielding techno assassin – as he hacks and slashes his way through hordes of Russian robots. As far as story goes, that’s about as deep as it gets; there are no Metal Gear Solid style cinematic cut scenes, no Mass Effect inspired dialog trees, and no game changing choices, you’re simply presented a hero, a villain, and then thrown straight into the action without any unnecessary dialogue.
Strider follows a tried and tested formula that harkens back to the NES days of 2D Metroid and Castlevania. You’re left to your own devices to navigate a sprawling world, defeat bosses and acquire upgrades that unlock previously inaccessible areas (sound familiar?). The game’s controls feel tight, with Hiryu’s sword swipes feeling fast and satisfying, while his signature cart-wheels and slick maneuverability allow for some rapid acrobatic destruction that gives you a great sense of power while throwing enough enemies at you to maintain the challenge of the game.
Stylistically, the game looks good without ever being beautiful. The colourful 3D character models pop against the backdrop of blue and grey, but the areas just aren’t varied enough to ever make them particularly interesting, and screen after screen of cold futurism quickly grows tiresome. One or two infuriatingly cheap boss battles may also sour the experience, but that’s also kind of the point. The elation you feel that one time you’re victorious is enough to offset the frustration of countless deaths leading up to it. Much like Capcom’s iconic Mega Man series, you’re encouraged to hone your skills and memorise enemy attack patterns in order to progress.
Strider is a game that combines old school mechanics with modern aesthetics, which ultimately makes for a fun experience. It’s not revolutionary by any stretch of the imagination, and it has its fair share of flaws, but if you’re looking for a challenging 2D side-scroller to tide you over until Shovel Knight or Mighty No. 9, then you can’t go far wrong with Hiryu’s latest adventure… Especially considering it’s free via PlayStation Plus throughout July.
No Man’s Sky – with its infinite procedurally generated, massively multiplayer universe – was undoubtedly one of the biggest hits of this year’s E3 conference.
Developed by a small group of UK based developers, No Man’s Sky managed to steal the show without any of the pomp and bluster that typically accompanies E3 announcements; there were no booth babes, no flashing lights or theatrical displays… They didn’t even have a booth.
The core idea of No Man’s Sky was what resonated with so many people and propelled this ambitious indie game to the forefront of the video game industry.
This brief video covers the inspiration for the game, the obstacles Hello Games managed to overcome, and how a tiny team of UK based developers outshone the likes of Ubisoft and EA:
Nintendo just casually dropped a bomb shell in the form of Star Fox on the Wii U.
In the midst of E3 2014 it seems that Time magazine have mistakenly published an interview with acclaimed video game producer, Shigeru Miyamoto, confirming details of an upcoming Star Fox game on the Wii U.
The game is clearly still in the early stages of development, with Miyamoto claiming to have spent 6 to 10 months experimenting with the concept: “We originally began working with Star Fox back on Wii, and we had a small group of people experimenting with it for many years, maybe about six years, but we didn’t find an idea that really brought that together for the Wii. So instead we moved experimentation to the Wii U using some of the same assets.”
“… When we were developing a game, I wind up playing it for many hundreds of hours, and so because of that, I tend to get a little further away from the experience people have when they’re playing it for the first time. But that’s something we always pay attention to when we’re developing the game, and in this case I think Star Fox will be a game you spend a little bit of time getting used to the controls, but that once you do, then you’ll understand what’s fun about that experience.”
Miyamoto then explained some of the proposed control concepts of the newly announced title, with the Wii U’s unique (but often underused) GamePad and motion controls being a clear priority this time around: “… I also think that for a lot of people, they don’t have experience playing this sort of dual-screen gameplay, where you’re aiming with motion control and playing across two screens at once, so that also is maybe taking people a bit longer to get used to. But I look at video games as something that people who play them… One of the thing they enjoy is learning the controls, learning to master the game. And once they do, that sort of opens it up for them, they’re thinking about, “Oh, what’s this play style?” And then as they get deeper and deeper into the game and get better at it, they feel that sense of accomplishment having mastered it.”
“And then once you get used to the play style… I didn’t go into this detail the other night because it starts to get a little bit complicated, but once you get it, you’ll also be able to press a button to switch the view from one screen to the other. So you could play with the cockpit view on the TV and the fighter view down on the GamePad screen if you feel like that’s a better way to play.”
Miyamoto concluded with a suggestion that Star Fox Wii U could take the form of a series smaller bite-sized games (presumably similar to the episodic structure popularised by recent Telltale Games releases) rather than one long standalone AAA title, comparing the approach to a TV series: “… One thing I’m thinking is that with this Star Fox we may take a different approach, so that rather than one big title we have multiple releases that are connected through different missions. If I was to describe the Star Fox series up until now as being sort of a movie series, I guess I’d describe this new approach as something that’s more like a TV series for Star Fox.”
Alongside F-Zero and Metroid, Star Fox is one of the key Nintendo franchises that die-hard fans have been clamouring for since the divisive Star Fox Adventures and disappointing Star Fox: Assault on the Nintendo GameCube somewhat tarnished the franchise’s reputation.
The bad reception that those two titles received certainly contributed to Star Fox being left out in the cold throughout the Wii’s life cycle but – with the Wii U struggling for exclusive games and third-party support – Nintendo is seemingly listening to its customers and looking toward its most recognisable characters to address some of the Wii U’s problems.
Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U will be compatible with Nintendo GameCube controllers, courtesy of an adapter revealed by Nintendo today in a promotional video for E3’s Super Smash Bros. Invitational Tournament.
The adapter will seemingly occupy two USB ports on the front of the Wii U system, allowing players to connect up to four wired Nintendo GameCube controllers to play the upcoming Super Smash Bros. title.
This is big news for competitive Smash Bros players, with the Nintendo GameCube controller being widely considered as the definitive Smash Bros control option, especially considering the Wii U Pro Controller’s questionable button layout.
Nintendo declined to comment on whether this peripheral would be compatible with other games, or if wireless Wavebird controllers will also be supported.
The announcement of GameCube controller super has also lead to speculation that Nintendo could be adding some much-requested GameCube games to the Wii U’s Virtual Console library.
Nintendo just nonchalantly announced that Pullblox World – the sequel to the brilliant downloadable 3DS puzzle games, Pullblox and Fallblox – will arrive on the eShop this June.
Pullblox (or Pushmo as it’s known in North America) launched on 3DS in 2011, and was quickly followed by successor Fallblox (or Crashmo) just one year later.
Pullblox World will launch on the 19th June, and customers that have previously purchased either Pullblox or Fallblox will receive a generous 30% discount on the new title.
Nintendo has announced a new affiliate program that allows “proactive” creators of YouTube Let’s Play videos featuring Nintendo games to a cut of the ad revenue.
In a statement to Gamasutra, Nintendo announced: “We are preparing an affiliate program in which a portion of the advertising profit is given to the creator. Details about this affiliate program will be announced in the future.”
This is a vast improvement over the stance they took in 2013, when Nintendo controversially began claiming ad revenue on YouTube videos featuring their intellectual property. However, the initiative still requires Let’s Play creators to jump through hoops to qualify, with YouTubers being required to seek official permission from Nintendo before they’re entitled to a cut of the revenue.
Nintendo have been notoriously awkward when it comes to the streaming rights for their games in any capacity; the Evo 2013 fighting game championships dropped Super Smash Bros. Melee from the event after Nintendo of America denied the tournament holders permission to broadcast the game online. Nintendo quickly changed their stance following widespread backlash, and the game was quickly reinstated, but it just goes to show how out of touch Nintendo can be when it comes to the wider gaming community.
Rocksteady have just served up a first look at the next installment in their famed Arkham series of Batman games, Batman: Arkham Knight.
Long story short: it looks incredible and perfectly demonstrates why this game is a next-gen exclusive and will not be appearing on the PS3 and Xbox 360.
Featuring a myriad of Batman’s deadliest foes, the much-loved Batmobile making it’s playable debut in a Rocksteady Batman game, and some of the most gorgeous graphics ever to grace the PS4 and Xbox One, I think it is safe to say that this conclusion to the Arkham trilogy may finally validate the the purchase of a next-gen console for those still sitting on the fence.