The stories for this week:
- Microsoft and Live to Blame for Champions Delay
- Microsoft Drops Elite Price to $299 to Counter PS3 Slim
- Raven Software and Maxis See Layoffs
- Guitar Hero 5, Champions Online, Muramasa This Week
- PAX This Week as Well
After a couple weeks off with me being gone on vacation, I’m back just before the most of the gang makes the trip to Seattle for PAX this week. Onto the stories:
Microsoft and Live to Blame for Champions Delay
Not really a surprise here, but Cryptic COO Jack Emmert has come out to say that Microsoft has delayed the release of Champions Online over Live problems. Those would be problems having to do with what kind of cut they should take on subscriptions as well as the fear that there could be a World of Warcraft-like popular MMO game that could overtake the Live system and hinder the ability of non-subscription fee games to be played on the network.
You’d think almost 4 years into this that Microsoft would have figured something out for MMOs outside of Final Fantasy XI. It’s obvious developers want to bring these games out on the 360.
Source: Colony of Gamers
Microsoft Drops Elite Price to $299 to Counter PS3 Slim
Another non-surprise here as the rumors have been floating since even before the PS3 Slim was actually announced. Microsoft maybe could have gone an extra $50 less on there because when you compare the Elite and PS3 Slim you find that hardware wise the PS3 actually has the advantage with the Blu-Ray player and the built in Wi-Fi. On the 360 you still have to pay $100 to get a wireless card for the 360, a price point Microsoft should really think about dropping.
Of course Microsoft is more hanging its hat on their massive attach rate with games, the huge Live subscriber numbers and their console lead in most countries around the world. Should be interesting to see if there is an increase in sales over this or not. There is also rumor of a 250GB version coming and also of note is the Pro System has dropped to $250 while supplies last as Microsoft is phasing it out.
Raven Software and Maxis See Layoffs
Maybe the economy is not upturning like many believe. Activision and EA both announced layoffs at some internal studios this week. Raven was hit hardest with about 30-56 laid off from its 180 person staff. Activision and Raven said the downsizing was in reflection of what the developer is working on, which is currently only Singularity. Rumors are flying that the over budget Wolfenstein and delayed Singularity created this layoff, but playing through Wolfenstein right now, it isn’t that bad of a game as long as you aren’t expecting anything earth shattering.
Maxis also saw layoffs of roughly a couple dozen people. EA says it is to focus the Maxis IPs, including Spore, and the overall Maxis company. Since the Sims are no longer under Maxis, former 1Up man Jeff Green was not laid off. Infamous Maxis guy Chris Hecker was though, he of “Wii is a s****y system” fame. Sad to hear about both of these, but I guess the industry is still working itself into a slim, but efficient, one.
Guitar Hero 5, Champions Online, Muramasa This Week
The big question this week is whether Guitar Hero is still as popular as it once was. Shipping out just over a week before Rock Band Beatles, this should be an interesting case for where the rhythm genre landscape is. The MMO Champions Online finally sees release this week as well, from what I played of the beta I was pretty impressed for someone that doesn’t get sucked into MMOs because I’m afraid it will suck all my time away from me. The other notable game out this week is Murasama on the Wii. The game looks fantastic, but is certainly a niche game that will probably not sell much.
PAX This Week as Well
Most of the Co-Optimus gang will be headed to Seattle for the yearly Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX, this week. I personally won’t be there having just come off of vacation and the fact that a trip like this can hurt the pocketbook pretty hard. I’ll be here for Beyond Co-Op next week, but for the most part this place could be a ghost town as the group gets acclimated and starts to get some PAX news out since a ton of games will be shown off. For those users going to PAX, enjoy it.