Tag Archives: PlayStation 4

PlanetSide Arena Delayed Until Summer for a Simultaneous PS4 Launch

The launch date for PlanetSide Arena keeps moving further away, and at an accelerating rate.

The game, aimed to be a combination of Battle Royale and classic shooter scenarios, was announced back in back in December with a January 29th launch target.  I mean, it was just PlanetSide 2 recycled into an arena game.  It isn’t as though Daybreak hadn’t already built an arena shooter in H1Z1 already… and H1Z1 was built off of PlanetSide 2.  Seemed like a reasonable target or a low bar, depending on how you looked at it.

Meet the Promised Battle Modes

Then, just days before the promised launch, Daybreak came out and said it wouldn’t go live until March 26th, though if you had pre-ordered on Steam… because of course there was a pre-order offer… you would be invited to the Founder’s Season on February 20th.

Then, five days before that Founder’s Season, Daybreak has announced that the whole thing is being pushed out until Summer.  At least that was the correct usage of the Friday afternoon press release.  But here I am on Monday morning dredging it all up again.

The ostensible reasons given were related to feedback received during the closed beta as well as a desire to launch the game on across both the PC and PlayStation 4 platforms simultaneously.  We’ll see if a cross-platform launch includes cross-platform play, something Sony says it wants but acts like it is keen to avoid.

Maybe the reasons behind the push for a summer date even true.  But there are some other factors in the wind here.

One might be the recent launch of EA’s free to play entry into the Battle Royale arena, Apex Legends.  The title launched at the beginning of the month on Windows, PlayStation 4, and XBox One and is reported to have had more than 25 million downloads and 2 million players going at it concurrently.  Launching into the teeth of that with a pay to play title might be a big ask.

And then there is the refunds for those who pre-ordered.  Per the announcement:

In light of our revised launch plan, we are refunding all Planetside Arena pre-orders.

My guess is that while Fortnite alone didn’t scare them off the selling the box, the emergence of Apex Legends might have.  I expect, at a minimum, that this will mean PlanetSide Arena will be moving to a free to play model while Daybreak watches the market and starts building up a cosmetics cash shop.  They’re going to need to work hard on that, because I’ve never thought PlanetSide 2 was a pretty game.

Meanwhile, the pessimist in me thinks that this might be their Infinite Cisis, Turbine’s attempt to get in on the MOBA market that was too little and too late and which pretty much broke the company. (We got some dirty laundry aired after that.)

Not that Daybreak is down to just two aging fantasy MMORPGs the way Turbine was at that point.  No, Daybreak has two aging fantasy MMORPGs, an aging superhero MMORPG, an aging MMOFPS, and that Battle Royale game, though that last seems to be part of NantWorks at this point.  Also unlike Turbine, they don’t have a big company like Warner backing them.

We’ll see when the next bit of news about this hits I suppose.

CCP Launches Sparc Today

Sparc is a virtual sport, or vSport – a unique physical sport only possible in virtual reality, in which players compete in full-body VR gameplay and connect in an online community.

-What is Sparc, from the Sparc FAQ

CCP launched their latest title today, a VR game called Sparc.

Sparc – Virtual Sports

The press release from CCP says that it is available for the PlayStation 4 with PlayStation VR from the PlayStation Store for $29.99.  There is also a launch trailer.

There is a mention of a version for PC in the FAQ, but no firm date as yet.

The game itself has been compared to Wii Sports, the extremely popular game that was bundled with the Wii in many countries.  Wii Sports was an excellent demonstration of the potential of the Wii motion controllers, a potential that the controllers never really achieved.  Wii Sports was a selling point for the Wii.

That is a pretty high bar for Sparc, which is not bundled with anything and requires potential players to have invested in the PlayStation VR hardware.  Add in the fact that you cannot play locally against another player, having to connect to opponents over the internet, thus any match requires two PlayStation 4s and two PlayStation VR sets.

Still, a simple, fun, and not-too-expensive VR sports game might do well within the VR niche, even if it isn’t the killer app that Wii Sports was for the Wii.

The game has been controversial with a few EVE Online players since it was announced back in February of this year.

There is, of course, the usual outrage at EVE Online funding other games.  For all of the recurring “EVE is dying!” sentiment, it still pays the bills for CCP.  However, any business funds new projects from the profits of current projects.  That is just the way things work.  EVE Online itself was funded, in part, by profits from the board game Hættuspil.  What goes around comes around.  The problem is that, being an MMORPG, EVE Online never feels “done,” so taking money from a game that clearly still needs work (and will forever need work) does not sit well.

And then there is the fact that Sparc, unlike Valkyrie, Gunjack, or the late DUST 514, does not glorify the universe of New Eden.  A VR spaceship game might at least bring some attention to our internet spaceship game.  A cartoony virtual sports game doesn’t even do that.

My own view is a bit mixed.  I’ve worked on projects that basically paid all the bills in the past, and have been irked by resources being siphoned off to build new things.  And as an EVE Online player I always want CCP to pay more attention to the game.  But I also know that in business not expanding is often equated with dying, and the days of growth for EVE Online seem to be in the past.  The game has too much baggage and is far too niche to expect to reach new heights now.

So the best hope for EVE Online going forward is a healthy and prosperous CCP, and we get that by CCP doing well with other products, or so it seems to me.  We shall see.

Anyway, I have neither a PlayStation 4 nor any VR hardware, so Sparc clearly isn’t for me.  But if it does do well I suspect we will hear about it from CCP.

CCP – Losing Money and Getting Closer to Sony

A couple of interesting/odd things around CCP this week.

CCPlogo

The first is that CCP released their 2013 financial report (you can view it here), in which indicate that they lost $21 million for the year.  It says so right there at the bottom line.

However, if your reaction is, “OMG, Tobold was right! CCP is doomed!” you should calm down.

As Jester covered in detail, the loss came from a capital asset… in this case, software which they no longer feel will generate revenue… being “derecognized.”

Bascially, they wrote some software that they felt had value  because of potential revenue it might generate and called it an asset at some point, adding to the total value of the company.  Now they have decided that the software in question does not have value, again revenue potential comes into play, so they have to take it off the books.  To the shareholders, the company effectively “lost” that much in its overall valuation, but no actual cash money disappeared or changed hands.  The operational aspects of the company were profitable and, as expected, completely dominated by EVE Online, which generated most of the $74 million in revenue from games. (Which is a $9 million boost over 2012.)

So the real question has become, “What software got ‘derecognized?'”

Contenders seem to be World of Darkness related development, “walking in stations” code from the Incarna era,  or maybe some aspect of DUST 514, though the latter, as a whole, did actually generate some revenue in 2013, if not as much as CCP hoped.

The whole thing is muddied up by the fact that CCP dropped the financials out there without any accompanying press release or explanation.  This is no doubt why certain gaming sites, who would likely jump on such a headline as sure-fire click bait, haven’t put up stories about it yet.  “CCP Loses 21 Million Dollars in 2013” is a winner on that front, right?  But nobody has told them what to think, so they have yet to act. (I, meanwhile, will act without thinking at all!)

Well played CCP.  More as that develops.

Meanwhile, David Reid tweeted last night CCPs virtual reality game, EVE Valkyrie, which has been shown with the Occulus Rift headset up to this point (and which is reportedly getting closer to an actual consumer model), would also be coming to the PlayStation 4 using Sony’s VR headset, currently flying under the code name Project Morpheus… because The Matrix (and not some NASA lander project).

Nifty stuff.  CCP was already close to Sony through DUST 514, which remains (much to the dismay of many EVE Online players) a PlayStation 3 exclusive title.  Now CCP is getting closer still, being in a position to help boost Sony’s new peripheral with software that is already generating “oohs” and “ahhs” from those who have had a chance to play with it.

Over at The Nosy Gamer, there is also speculation that this further tightening relationship between Sony and CCP might also aim to help Sony crack the China market with the PS4 by porting DUST 514 over so they would have a free to play, made in China FPS game to bring to the table.  Or something.

But, going back to the CCP financial statement, one other theory being bandied about is that the “derecognized” software isn’t anything in particular, at least not a whole project being terminated, but rather a collection of odds and ends bundled up to be removed from the books in order to clean things up for a potential financial move in the coming year.  If CCP was going to be involved in a merger or get a major new investor, it would certainly be prudent to have their valuations rock solid.

And, of course, here is Sony, back in the picture again, potentially in a big way, with new technologies and a chance for “firsties” on the VR front in the console wars.

Completely circumstantial… and barely that… but it is enough to make you go, “Hrmmm…”

Tidbits for a Friday Post – Mammoths, Xboxes, and What is Next

A few items that I couldn’t really muster a full post… or much passion… about, but which I wanted to at least mention in passing so I could bring them up again in a year to see what happened.  That is one of my things.

EverQuest, What is Next?

I thought SOE must surely be trolling us.

I figured that they must have gone on some sort of bender after getting the MMORPG.com Best of Show Award at E3 with a game that almost nobody saw and which nobody can talk about. (Must be all the StoryBricks stuff, eh?)

Seemingly high and feeling cocky after those accolades, SOE announced that the final name for EverQuest Next would be… EverQuest Next!

Really?  Who was up watching TNG reruns at 3am and thought, “Hah, this will be great!”

But no, they seem serious. They have registered the domain and such.

I mean, I get it… sort of.  Or, at least I have been there.

When a project gets a code name and you use it a lot, it takes on a life of its own.  People within an organization will use internal code names for products for years after they shipped, much to the chagrin of marketing. (I have often been admonished by marketing over the years with phrases like, “Stop calling it that! That is not the name of the product!”)

Why not just go with what everybody is calling the product already, right?

But my own experience with many a badly named product makes me feel that, in the long term, sticking with EverQuest Next is going to be regretted.  To start with, what do you call the next game in the franchise?

Still, I went and made an EverQuest Next category for the blog.  I am sure we will be talking about it much more in the not-so-distant future, though I am trying not to pin artificial hopes and dreams on it quite yet.

Microsoft and Xbox One Policies

It was interesting to see how quickly Microsoft changed its mind on a number of the policies that made Sony so popular at E3.  Though, after the Adam Orth Twitter fiasco not too long ago, not to mention all the grumblings when this sort of thing was just rumors, one wonders why they needed to get that far in order to see the light.

Of course, some people are skeptical at this change of heart.  Microsoft isn’t as despised as Electronic Arts, but there are still trust issues.  I think that, for the most part, people don’t think Microsoft will shoot itself in the foot again on this issue any time soon.

So all that is left of the PlayStation 4 win at E3 is the $100 price premium for the Xbox One, which I suspect will become a non-issue in the absence of the other items.  The $100 gap seemed like a an obstacle when part of that list, but if that is all that stands between you and the next version Halo, it won’t seem like all that much.

More amusing to me though are the responses… of lack of responses… to this change of policy from some vocal individuals in the industry who were aggressively defending Microsoft’s initial plan.  One is already loudly proclaiming that consumer feedback had nothing at all to do with Microsoft’s retreat.  Keep on keeping on, man!

The Mammoth and The Art Department

There is a forum post up about revamping the industrial ships in EVE Online.  Industrials are the low end haulers that most players start out using. The plan is to try and give every ship of that class a viable role.

Not a bad idea.

Over the years CCP has added ships rather haphazardly at times, leaving some ships as second best at everything, so nobody bothers to fly them.  Lately CCP has been revisiting and revamping ship classes to try and create a place in the universe for everybody.  Last August it was mining barges.  Then it was frigates, then cruisers, then battlecruisers, and most recently battleships.

However, one of things mentioned in the industrial revamp post was a plan to swap the roles of two of the Minmatar haulers, the Mammoth and the Hoarder.  The Hoarder would become the largest capacity hauler while the Mammoth would be given some other task in life.

This was kind of a “WTF?” item in the middle of an otherwise sane… well, sane for CCP forum post in any case… discussion of a hauler revamp.  A lot of people out there, like myself, followed The Complete Miner’s Guide back in the day which recommended the Mammoth because it was the biggest hauler you could get into quickly.  The sausage-like Iteron V could haul more, but you needed Gallente Industrial V to fly it, which took more than a month to train.  The Mammoth could be yours in hours and, with further training and the right fit, could haul a jet can worth of ore, making it a nice fit for a miner.  The Mammoth became very popular.

My Mammoth and Retriever – September 2007

So people wanted to know why CCP would want to make everybody who flew a Mammoth for its capacity trade it out for a Hoarder.

The answer that came back was that the art department did not like the Mammoth model for purely aesthetic reasons.  They wanted the Horder model to be the main Minmatar hauler.  This lead to a lot of “But, I love the way the Mammoth looks!” replies to the thread (a few Hoarder fans chimed in as well, and I must admit that ship isn’t as ugly as I recalled) along with the perhaps more logical “Why would you screw some people over for this trivial reason?” argument.

In the end, the art team apparently wasn’t that invested in the change and let it drop in the face of some forum noise.  Pick your battles and all that.

Jester (twice) and Nosy Gamer (and now Funky Bacon) have relevant quotes, links, and discussions about this issue and the overall proposed industrial changes, if you are interested.

My world view is a lot less complex.  I like the Mammoth model and don’t really want to have to swap out three rigged Mammoths for no good reason.

On the other hand, it wouldn’t actually put me out that much if I had to.  So, whatever.

PlayStation 4 Wins

Today at E3 it was dueling presentations between Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4.

Microsoft went first.  I think this sums it up.

It is hard to come to a conclusion besides “Total Victory for Sony” at E3.

The PlayStation 4 will:

  • have a base price of $399, $100 less than the Xbone
  • support used/traded/rented games
  • not require an internet connection to play
  • not have that creepy always on Kinnect watching your every move

I am not in the market for a next generation console, but if I were I know which way I would be leaning.

Still, it is only June and the PlayStation 4 isn’t due out until the holiday season.  There is still time for Sony to follow its tradition of screwing something up with each console launch.

Meanwhile, I thought I heard somebody mention something called a “we-you” or some such.  It was hard to tell with Shigeru Miyamoto sobbing in the corner.

Xbox One – What’s in a Name?

When it comes to the recently announced Xbox One, I am not the target audience, having no desire to get another gaming console.  That is all going to pass me by.  Gaming middle age and such.

But I have to admit, when it comes to naming,  I’m with that clerk.  Shouldn’t “one” be the first in line?  Isn’t that what we could reasonably call the original Xbox?

I get the all-in-one entertainment center symbolism and such, having paid at least a little attention to the announcement.  But still, you know some parent somewhere is going to disappoint their child by coming home with an original Xbox they got off Craig’s List for “really cheap.”

Sony will never has this problem with the PlayStation 4.