This is the news
If you like your news with sprinkles of controversy on top youd have had a feast on this weeks big headlines; Microsoft secretly pays YouTubers to promote Xbox One in a deal thats apparently widespread, and Candy Crush publisher King starts a furor over trademark disputes for the words candy and saga.
Meanwhile Sony has a special announcement in the pipeline, a new Apple TV is tipped to be a treat for gamers, and an Assassin's Creed developer accuses Warner Interactive and Monolith of cloning code and assets for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Heres your roundup of the biggest news this week. Its all kicking off...
YouTubers bribed to promote Xbox One
Theres nothing wrong with a bit of paid promotion so long as you maintain full disclosure. But the brown stuff hit the fan this week when it emerged that Microsoft had quietly offered money to YouTubers within the Machinima network to promote Xbox One and its games.
Without full disclosure, major YouTube bloggers were encouraged to post videos showing Xbox One in a positive light for bonus cash. Machinima and Microsoft said in a joint statement, This partnership between Machinima and Microsoft was a typical marketing partnership to promote Xbox One in December. YouTube star Boogie2988, aka. Francis, said in a video response that deals of this nature are common and widespread. You need to take the things that you see on YouTube with a grain of salt, because not everybody feels the need to be transparent, he said.
Next Apple TV said to play video games
The notion that Apple could mount a direct assault on the console market with a machine of its own has been kicking around for some time, and the latest rumor is that the firm will use its Apple TV media streaming device to do it.
According to a report, a new Apple TV coming in 2014 will have access to a new App Store--similarly to iOS devices--which will contain, among other things, video games. A separate report further claims that Apple is developing a Bluetooth controller for Apple TV, which would essentially turn the slimline media device into a fully-functional games console. The firm has already made its mark in the games industry with the rapid rise of smartphone and tablet gaming lead by its iOS platform. Would a gaming-capable Apple TV be of interest to you?
Xbox One shipped 3.9 million in 2013
Microsoft may have sold three million Xbox One consoles in 2013, but the firm certainly didnt let demand outstrip supply. According to its FY14 Q2 financials report, the firm had shipped 3.9 million Xbox One units into retail globally by the end of the year. For the avid stat-trackers out there, this compares with the 4.2 million PS4s sold worldwide in 2013.
This, in addition to some 3.5 million Xbox 360 consoles shipped in the last three months of 2013, helped the firm achieve record revenues of $24.52 billion in the quarter. It also saw significant growth in its Devices and Consumer Hardware division, which umbrellas Xbox, accounting for $4.7 billion in revenues, up from $2.8 billion the same period the prior year. Basically, Microsoft is doing pretty well.
Slimmer PS Vita on the verge of Western release
Sony has told press its preparing to make an EU announcement within days. It wont say what the announcement is about, of course, but its hints aren't exactly subtle. "Following the biggest launch in PlayStation history, join us for an introduction to the slimmest", an invite sent to press reads. Thatll be the PS Vita 2000 for Europe, then.
Thats the slimmer, lighter PS Vita that was released in Japan on October 10 last year. At 19,929 Yen (around 128/$200 USD), the slim Vita is 20 per cent thinner (15mm) and 20 per cent lighter (219g) than the original Vita. It also boasts other hardware changes, such as an LCD screen (replacing the original OLED display), and small design changes including a rounded body and repositioned buttons. If (when) a European release is outed, we expect a US announcement to follow close behind.
Candy Crush firm trademarks Candy, goes on legal rampage
The firm behind Candy Crush Saga King.com, which has made millions from a game arguably heavily influenced by PopCaps Bejewelled, managed to successfully register the word Candy as a trademark this week. It then commenced issuing indie developers with requests to remove games from the iOS App Store if they had the indistinct word in their title. King later entered into a trademark dispute against developer Stoic over the word saga.
To put it lightly, this hasnt earned King many friends. Stoic commented, "We won't make a viking saga without the word Saga, and we don't appreciate anyone telling us we cant, adding that the dispute threatens the release of a The Banner Saga sequel. Meanwhile, Mathew Cox of indie developer Stolen Goose publicly accused King of "double standards, claiming the firm cloned a Stolen Goose game, Scamperghost, with their game 'Pac-Avoid' in 2009. King has since pulled Pac-Avoid.
Assassins Creed dev accuses Warner, Monolith of imitation
Warner lifted the veil on Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor this week with new gameplay footage and press access, but not everyone was pleased with what they saw. Charles Randall, a former senior member of the Assassin's Creed 2 development team has accused Shadow of Mordor of ripping off parts of the Ubisoft adventure he worked on.
According to Randall, Shadow of Mordor appears to contain assets ripped directly from AC2, including animations and code. Seriously, can someone tell me how Assassin's Creed 2 code and assets are in this Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor game? commented Randall via Twitter, before saying that the assets are for sure taken from AC2. I spent two years staring at AC2. I know it when I see it, he said. He later suggested that perhaps a licensing deal exists between the two developers, but Warner has kept silent and Ubisoft declined to comment.
Grand Theft Auto V listed for PC on Amazon
The French and German arms of Amazon this week listed Grand Theft Auto V for PC, once again reviving the widespread notion that Rockstars generation-defining blockbuster will, despite the resilient silence of its maker, inevitably make its way to mouse-keyboard gamers.
Nothing further was revealed, with the listing boasting little more than a placeholder box art and no release date. But this wouldnt be the first time the retailer has outed an unannounced game, and not even the first time it has listed GTA V for PC--it did the same thing back in May 2013. The PC version of GTA IV was released seven months after its console debut. If a similar pattern is followed for GTA V, a PC port should be out by early summer 2014.
Share your thoughts
Would you buy an Apple TV thats capable of playing video games? Do you care if YouTubers are paid to tell you that a certain game or console is awesome? Which random, general-use words are you considering trademarking in the next few years? Let us know what you think in the comments below.