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

Microsoft owns Minecraft

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Tuesday 16 September 2014No 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 2014No 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 2014No 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.”

The Black List 262

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Saturday 13 September 2014No Comments

Welcome to The Black List, your one stop shop for the stories published on the site this week.

SUNDAY JUST ANNOUNCED Game 4 > The team responsible for Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers and the more recent BattleBlock Theatre has unveiled (though curiously enough declined to name) its latest project. Best known for its quirky character action games, The Behemoth has surprised its fans by announcing a turn based strategy title. For the moment at least, the project is known as Game 4. READ MORE

MONDAY TEST TUBE Ultra Street Fighter IV > It seems like a long time ago that Street Fighter IV was originally released to praise from reviewers and fighting game fans alike. Ever since its release, it’s proven to be one of the most popular games at EVO each year. The latest edition, Ultra Street Fighter IV, is available as both a standalone product and a paid title update for some previous versions of the game. So what else could this game possibly add at this point that would warrant another upgrade? READ MORE

TUESDAY NEWS Atari resurrects classic horror titles > The name Atari has made something of a resurgence of late, mainly through mobile games, but in an attempt to move back into the console world, the current owner of the brand has decided to revisit not one but two of Atari’s old horror properties. The first is Alone in the Dark and shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone over the age of 25. READ MORE

WEDNESDAY NEWS Sunset Overdrive extras inbound > Microsoft has outlined its plans for what will almost certainly be one of the most significant third party exclusives released for the Xbox One this year. According to the official Xbox Wire, a forthcoming season pass for Insomniac Games’ stylish third person shooter Sunset Overdrive will provide players with “even more explosive action and mutant-infested mayhem”. This will come as a relief to those of us quietly fearing a mayhem shortfall in the latter months 2014. READ MORE

THURSDAY JUST ANNOUNCED Assassins Creed: Birth of a New World – The American Saga Collection > Publisher Ubisoft has announced the impending release of yet another Assassin’s Creed collection, following on from the Heritage and Legacy collections previously available. Lengthily titled Assassins Creed: Birth of a New World – The American Saga Collection, this particular compilation focuses on entries in the series set in and around the Americas and will feature Assassins Creed III, Assassins Creed Liberation HD and Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag. READ MORE

FRIDAY NEWS Resident Evil goes episodic > 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. READ MORE