Are video game publishers still neccessary?

Several years ago, the music industry was completely run by a few record labels. Musicians who weren’t able to get a contract with a large company like Capital Records didn’t have much of a chance of ever reaching mainstream audiences. Eventually, though, the internet changed things (as it has done in any imaginable industry. The general public were now able to go online and listen to any artist imaginable, and artists no longer needed a record company to be heard. Now, record companies are no where near extinct, but they do not pull the strings of the music industry in the same capacity as decades past. Large record companies play a similar role to modern video game publishers. Having a video game published by companies like EA, Square Enix, Konami or others have been the only way to make games that anyone will really see for a long time. However, like with the music industry, the internet is turning the table on publishers. Continue reading

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Do Shareholders Influence Game Development?

123_ASIC Company Shareholder TableMany of the largest publishers and manufacturers in the video game industry are publicly traded, meaning shares of the company can be bought on the marketplace. This allows fans to own a piece of the companies they like/love and hopefully make a profit through. That’s fine and dandy, but the people who put big bucks into buying shares rarely have little knowledge of the product the company is making, they just want a piece of the action in a huge industry. Continue reading

Ubisoft, Child of Light, and the Push for Big Publishers to make “Indie-like” Games

Ubisoft_logoOver the last few years, indie games have seen a huge surge in popularity. Certain games like Minecraft have even managed to outsell some of the biggest franchises in history (Though Minecraft is no longer independent after being bought by Microsoft). So it’s no surprise that big publishers like Ubisoft want to know exactly how these developers are taking up such a large share of the market, and how they can compete in that space. Continue reading

Far Cry 3 Delayed Until December

Ubisoft announced this past Monday that Far Cry 3 has been delayed until the holiday season. Originally announced to be released early in September, this highly anticipated title has been pushed back until November 28th for the UK and December 4th for the U.S. According to producer Dan Hay, the team decided to delay the game because they want to take “more time to create the best possible gameplay experience.”

As of this moment Far Cry 3 is the only title scheduled for December, however this new release date could potentially hurt its sales. Originally slated to be released in September, the only other close by first person shooter was Borderlands 2, which releases on September 18. With this December 4th release date, Far Cry 3 now comes out after Halo 4 (11/6/2012) and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (11/13/2012), which are two highly anticipated and competitive titles. What do you think, does Far Cry 3 stand a chance in the sales against these highly popular titles? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to check out the Far Cry 3 preview to see what we think of this upcoming title.

U.S. History Just Got a Bit More Interesting – A Preview of Assassin’s Creed III

U.S. History was always a subject I could never really quite get that into.  I mean I consider myself to be quite the history buff.  I love ancient history and world, but for some reason the Battles of Lexington and Concord or the signing of the Declaration never really resonated with me as much as say the battle of Thermopylae or discovering the Rosetta Stone.  Maybe call me un-patriotic or what have you, but I just never really found our nations history to be that riveting or exciting.  That is, until now.

In Assassin’s Creed III, the next installment to the critically acclaimed Assassin’s Creed series, the on going war between the Assassins and Templars has been moved from the dense and rich European cities to the vast and open American frontier.  Taking place over the course over 30 years, the story is before, during, and after the American Revolution.  Unfortunately the sauve yet badass Ezio will not be making the long trip to American shores, however we are introduced to a new character and lead, Ratonhnhaké:ton or better known as Connor.  Half Native American and half British, Connor is conflicted on whom to fight for, however it is this conflict that makes the story.  This is Connor’s story and how he became a part of the Assassin order and how he becomes a part of the fight in the American Revolution.  Along the way Connor will encounter numerous historical figures such as George Washington, Ben Franklin, Charles Lee, and others, ensuring that history is still a staple aspect of the series.

In an interview with CVG (computerandvideogames.com) Ubisoft president Yves Guillemot stated that this Assassin’s game “will be the biggest to date,” and from what’s been revealed so far it certainly appears to be that way.  Ubisoft Montreal is returning yet again to spearhead this latest installment in the Assassin’s Creed series, so it should be of no surprise then that a lot of the same elements seen from previous Assassin’s Creed games will be returning, however they have been totally revamped and made a new, creating a fresher and new take to the Assassin’s Creed formula.

The combat has been totally redone and a new controller scheme has been created for this upcoming title.  In being a new assassin Connor now always fights dual handed.  According to creative director Alex Hutchinson, the brand new controller scheme “allows you continual access to tools such as pistols on one button, as well as maintaining access to your core weapon, such as the hidden blade.”  This creates a more fluid control when it comes to combat making Connor not only easier to handle, but also making him look extremely graceful and badass when it comes to killing.  Since the game takes place during the American Revolution guns have become a bigger threat in this Assassin’s game as opposed to past.  According to Hutchinson “firing lines are a key feature of the period and we’ve integrated them into both combat and pre-combat, to give the player different opportunities such as the meat-shield.”  Countering is still a huge aspect when it comes to combat.  Enemies now attack in unison generating a new and stylish “duel counter” and according to Hutchinson after you counter an enemy “you have a choice of what to do, whether to assassinate, dodge, or throw them.”  They call this a “window of opportunity,” which creates a new and refreshing taste when it comes to combat.  On top of this the assassinations have also been totally redone.  In being a new assassin Connor can now assassinate with any weapon, and can also perform “running assassinations,” giving off this impression that Connor is always on the move.

The biggest and most intriguing change with Assassin’s Creed III however is the environment and animation.  The dense gridded cities that always made up the scenery in past Assassin’s games are gone, and has instead been replaced by the vast and open American frontier.  This change of surroundings has lead to a totally redone parkour and navigation system that has always been a staple part of the series.  Tree navigation is the newest and most significant addition to the overall navigation system.  According to Hutchinson tree navigation “allows Connor to deal with forests, cliffs, uneven surfaces as fluidly and smoothly as previous Assassin’s dealt with cities.”  The team at Ubisoft Montreal is “trying very hard to keep natural shapes, organic surfaces, to make believable terrain” according to Hutchinson.  The environment is no longer gridded with square surfaces, and Connor can now grab onto all sorts of different shapes and objects.  “You can go anywhere.  Anything you see that has a handhold that’s climbable is climbable, and we really highlight the areas where you can’t go,” says Hutchinson.  This new navigation system not only brings a fresh take on how to traverse and travel throughout the environment, but it is also a major leap in gaming animation.

With this new environment it opens the door to a whole new type of gameplay.  Seasons such as winter and summer are now implemented in the game, and both have their own unique effects on Connor.  For instance during the winter, snow slows Connor down encouraging him to climb and stay off of the ground.  This introduction of the frontier has also introduced wildlife to the series.  “There are over 200 different species of animal in the game,” says Hutchinson and they all offer unique opportunities or threats to Connor.  Although the vast frontier has replaced the populated city, cities or rather colonies will still play an important role in Assassin’s Creed III.  Colonies such as New York and Boston will be central areas in the game, and will offer a different take on gameplay as opposed to the wilderness.  With two virtually different atmospheres to explore, the environment in Assassin’s Creed III will be a refreshing take to not only the series but also action adventure games in general.

Hutchinson and the team at Ubisoft Montreal truly believe that they “have the most robust third person character in action games today,” and from what’s been seen and revealed so far they just might.  If anything can be said, they for sure have the most robust third person character in any Assassin’s Creed game to date, and this title is definitely shaping up to be the best in the series.  With super tight animation, a new combat scheme and navigation system, this is one title that for sure needs to be on your radar when it comes out later this fall on October 30th.  Be sure to check out the gameplay video and let us know what you think, and stay tuned to updownright for all the latest on this highly anticipated title.

Welcome to the Jungle – Far Cry 3 Preview

An adventure.  The one thing everyone strives to have in their life, and what better way to have an adventure then taking the quintessential backpacking trip in another country.  In Far Cry 3 you assume the role of Jason Brody.  An “everyman” setting out on a backpacking adventure with three of your friends on a remote and luscious island situated somewhere between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.  However, this is not a normal island, and soon after you disembark you find yourself fighting for your life in order to save yours and others from the crazed inhabitants of this tropical paradise.

Ubisoft Montreal, the team behind the various Assassin’s Creed games as well as Far Cry 2, takes the lead for Far Cry 3.  It should be of no surprise then that a lot of the same elements that were in Far Cry 2 will be present in Far Cry 3.  It’s still an open world sandbox game that has structured story missions; however as in past games there will be a heavy emphasis on exploration.  A 360-degree approach to missions will also be seen, making it a “your battle your way type of game.”  If you want to approach an enemy encampment through stealth and pick off each enemy one by one you can; or if you’d rather go in guns a blazing you can do that too.  There is no limit to what you can do in this game, and according to an interview with Gametrailers.com, Mark Thompson the level design director stated that “the tools are not the limitation.  It’s you as a player.  It’s your choice.”

What’s most intriguing about Far Cry 3 however, are the psychological aspects of the game and the island itself.  In a recent interview with Gamespot.com, lead writer Jeffrey Yohalem stated that they “want a game that directly relates to the player on a psychological and social level.”  All of these issues are explored within the game and the island itself instigates all of them.  According to Yohalem “the characters all represent different levels of psychology.”  So far we have only been introduced to two characters; Vaas, the insane pirate terrorist bent on killing everyone, and Dr. Earnhardt, the crazy doctor that sends you into caves to find shrooms.  Each character is a product of the insanity the island creates.  Their personalities are a result of their lives on the island, and this could very well represent the transformation that Jason will undergo.

Each character Jason meets also represents a different take on a mission.  With Vaas for example you are in a kill or be killed situation.  His missions will focus more on the shooting elements of the game for example, whereas with Dr. Earnhardt his missions will be more focused on the exploration aspects of the game.  This creates a lot of variety within the game, and represents that no two missions will ever be the same.

Multiplayer can also be found within the game.  As opposed to past multiplayer shooters where there can be a heavy emphasis on the lone wolf type of play style, Far Cry 3 tries to break that mold by having a heavy emphasis on team play.  In an interview with Gametrailers.com, game designer Daniel Berlin, stated that the team “set out to create a set of core team play features with interaction that would funnel through the entire experience.”  One of these features for example is the battle cry, which is used to buff your teammates either by giving them faster reload time or quicker health regeneration.  According to Berlin these team play features “give you a team play resource, and then you can spend it and call in the heavy ordinance, the real cool stuff, which we call the team support.”  Some of these ordinance packages range from a UAV to a hallucinogen drop causing opponents caught in the gas to perceive everyone as enemies.  The map/level editor from Far Cry 2 will also be making a return giving players the opportunity to create their own maps or play on other custom ones.

Far Cry 3 is aiming to be the “definitive shooter.”  According to Yohalem it “will be about what shooting is about, and we want to close the issue on some level.  That once you’d play Far Cry 3 you will have dealt with what it means to kill people using a gun in a video game.”  Far Cry 3 is an ambitious and bold game that is creating something new in the FPS genre.  With an engaging story littered with insane characters that hit at a strong psychological aspect, and a robust multiplier that offers a fresh take on multiplayer, Far Cry 3 is well on it’s way to being the one all be all first person shooter.  I guess we will all know for sure when it comes out later this year on September 4th.