Daily updates on video games and popular culture, along with Australia’s grooviest gaming podcast.

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Microsoft owns Minecraft

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Tuesday 16 September 2014ADD COMMENTS

An image tweeted by Microsoft to promote the sale announcement.

Last week the WSJ published rumours of a Minecraft buyout and it has today been confirmed that the reports were bang on the money. Microsoft has purchased Mojang, the Swedish indie developer responsible for Minecraft, for approximately US $2.5b.

In confirming the deal, Xbox head Phil Spencer said that it “adds diversity to our game portfolio and helps us reach new gamers across multiple platforms.” Spencer went on to confirm that existing versions of Minecraft, including those running on PlayStation hardware, will continue to be supported by Microsoft and Mojang.

Company founder and Minecraft creator Markus ‘Notch’ Persson has elected to depart Mojang following the sale. Expressing disillusionment with his public profile, Persson noted that he was not a “CEO”, but rather a “nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.”

According to Persson, the sale will again allow him to concentrate on smaller scale projects. “It’s not about the money,” he said. “It’s about my sanity.”

Dying Light dawns early

Posted by Matthew Hewson On Monday 15 September 2014ADD COMMENTS

The Strictly Ballroom reboot alienated long time fans.

With a release date that seems to hop around more than a one legged zombie, Dying Light has finally settled on when it will be unleashed on the world. Wednesday 28 January 2015 is the day when the undead will swarm upon the gaming public. This change in date is actually a move forward as the game had previously been delayed until February. It is nice to see a release date move in the forward direction for a change.

Dying Light, for those that don’t know, is a new open world zombie game from Techland, the developers that brought us the decidedly average Dead Island games and the super excellent Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. It appears to be an amalgamation of their previous zombie game and Mirror’s Edge with the key feature being a free running/parkour movement system.  The game also incorporates an interesting day/night cycle with the player going from the hunter during the day to the hunted in the night hours.

Hopefully Techland has taken on the feedback they received after their last undead adventure and have created the game that Dead Island always had the potential to be. If so then it could be onto a genuine winner.

Next Forza will delay rollout of microtransactions

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Sunday 14 September 2014ADD COMMENTS

One prominent Forza player reacts to the news.

When the Xbox One launched almost a year ago, many players were surprised by the presence of microtransactions in a handful of Microsoft published releases. This was all good and well in the case of the free-to-play Killer Instinct, but titles such as Crimson Dragon, Ryse: Son of Rome and Forza Motorsport 5 demanded a significant upfront investment only to immediately nickel and dime players for additional content.

It seems that the creators of the forthcoming Forza Horizon 2 paid close attention to the backlash. In a recent discussion with Kotaku, Playground Games design director Ralph Fulton noted that the latest instalment in the hardcore racing series is set to launch without this controversial feature. Fulton promised to deliver “a game which is balanced such that you never need to spend a penny on it.”

While this decision is sure to be a winner with fans, Fulton left the door ajar to adding microtransactions at some point post launch. “I’m sure there’ll come a time when we want to offer our players more choice,” he said. “But we won’t do that at first.”

Resident Evil goes episodic

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Friday 12 September 2014ADD COMMENTS

Capcom is poised to roll the dice on an episodic release schedule for the recently announced Resident Evil: Revelations 2. The new survival horror campaign will be broken up into four segments to be issued on a weekly basis. Players will be able to purchase each episode as it comes out or opt for a season pass at a slight discount. Once the story has been wrapped up, the whole kit and caboodle will be offered on a retail disc, which will apparently include additional content. The announcement coincides with the release of a new trailer for the game.

Will a headline act like Resident Evil revive interest in episodic gaming? Just a few short years ago, mainstream publishers were trialling the concept with some of their biggest brands. Valve famously released a pair of Half Life 2 episodes, while SEGA offered up two Sonic the Hedgehog 4 instalments. Since then, Telltale Games has kept the concept alive with a succession of licensed offerings, and there have been one or two examples in the indie world, but interest in episodic gaming has seemingly cooled in recent times.