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Industry Update: May 31th

To consolidate the relatively small amount of press releases I receive, here is the most pertinent information from the last few days, with a bit of commentary strewn in:

From EA

The typically cash-grabbing modern corporate icon that is Electronic Arts has gained a reputation for delaying the release of certain content pertinent to their associated games for the sake of additional profit, which makes their latest free-to-play release, Command and Conquer Tiberium Alliances, all the more suspect.

Tiberium Alliances, having gone live on May 24th, is a browser-based, massively multiplayer online strategy game set around the idea of territory domination, as past C&C games have excelled at.  Players can choose to join two factions – the Global Defence Initiative or the Nod – in a dynamic conflict that involves harvesting resources, fostering alliances, and building up massive armies to combat both other players and AI-controlled enemies.  Its interface includes in-game status updates and news feeds, and the game will feature cloud-saved game data to allow play on tablet, smart-phones and their household desktop computers. Overall, it seems as though EA has a good grip on this project, though doubting their motives isn’t necessarily out of the question.

EA has also announced that one of their most popular subsidaries, BioWare, is developing Command and Conquer Generals 2 on the powerful Frostbite 2 engine, so keep an eye out for that.

From Square Enix

Ah, Square Enix.  Your proliferation in various genres never ceases to amaze, even if the end result is less than impressive.  The developer has released two press releases with plenty of tidbits to intrigue fans.

First, alongside Barnstorm Games, Square Enix Inc. is developing the newly announced American Mensa Academy, a brain training game similar to, well, Brain Age and Big Brain Academy (yes, the theme is clear) and based on the “renowned global high IQ society”, Mensa.  It will sport three distinct modes: Play, which will feature more than 100 challenges in 5 disciplines – Math, Language, Logic, Memory, and Visual – that are apparently replayable, Coach, which will act as a training mode to hone the player’s skills, and Test, which evaluates player skills and gives them a Mensa Academy score upon completion.  This is indeed a unique take on license-based gaming and brain training;  all that remains is to see if it is as entertaining as it is useful.

Second, Square Enix has announced the return of Kingdom Hearts veteran voice actors for the next installment in the series, Kingdom Hearts 3D.  This all-star list includes the likes of Leonard Nemoy (Master Xenahort), Haley Joel Osment (Sora), David Gallagher (Riku), Hayden Panetierre (Xion), Jesse McCartney (Roxas, Ventas) and Quinton Flynn (Axel/Lea).  Clearly, the company is setting this release in its famed series to be one of the biggest releases of the year (perhaps even the franchise’s history) with these big-name actors, but that only puts more pressure on both them and Disney Interactive to deliver on their promise of greatness.

From Activision

Three pieces of recent news have made their way out of the selfish corporate conglomerate that we have come to know as Activision.  Fortunately, this news may intrigue existing fans and improve relations with other gamers.

Last Friday, Men in Black: Alien Crisis hit shelves to coincide with MiB 3, the long-awaited continuation to the sci-fi franchise.  Alien Crisis puts players in the shoes of MiB agent Peter Delacoeur in a battle against extraterrestrial invaders (as with all previous installments in the series), being described in the press release as a “third-person arcade shooter” where Delacoeur takes part in intense shooting sequences, upgrading classic MiB weapons (like the Noisy Cricket), and secretly interrogating subjects to uncover the larger conspiracy.  This interesting addition to the series is available for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii, with two-player co-op and four-player “hot-seat” modes and support of the PSMove, Top Shot Elite and the Wii Zapper.

More recently, Activision has released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Content Collection#2 over the Xbox LIVE Marketplace, with plans for other platforms.  The Collection consists of seven new multiplayer maps, with three ordinary maps (Sanctuary, Foundation and Oasis), two Face-Off maps (Getaway and Lookout), and two Spec Ops maps (Kill Switch and Iron Clad), each with their own special features and unique additions to the Call of Duty formula.

Finally, the incredibly long-lasting Activision/Infinity Ward trial concerning Vince Zampella and Jason West’s termination has come to an end after two years.  Having confronted claims by Zampella and West that they fired the two to avoid paying them “substantial royalty payments” for Modern Warfare 2, revealed to be approaching $27 million, Activision has resolved the issue privately and with no apparent plans to disclose its “strictly confidential” settlement to the public.  Good to see that the company is learning from its mistakes, but hiding behind careful wording and legal procedure does make for some concerned critics.  Just saying, Activision.

From Gamer Codex

Bringing the news back to us, there are several things to look forward to.  Several new writers have been found for the site, and will be providing new reviews and assorted articles to increase the existing variety.  We now have a YouTube page with some new videos taken from Sleeping Dogs and Quantum Conundrum, both interesting new properties in their own rights which will make following the road to their releases all the most enlightening.  In terms of article-based content, expect some nice Halo retrospective  and an emotion-stirring analysis of the soulless product that is Mindjack in the near-future.  So in other words, keep reading, gamers.

-Kurt Hvorup, Writer and Founder

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