Welcome to ‘Weekly Updates,’ an initiative at picking out and summarizing some interesting news announcements this week with a slight spin at the end by yours truly (helloazae).
Headlines between March 3rd to March 10th — 2017.
1. ‘Nintendo Switch’ Launch Sales are the best in company history, but minor problems emerge post-Launch.
Nintendo Switch has launched as of March 3rd, meeting successful sales figures as reported by sources in Famitsu in Japan and Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime for the Americas. Famitsu reports that in Japan, an estimate of 330,000 units have sold in the first 2-3 days, placing it above the Wii U’s Launch sales at 308,000 units sold and below the Wii’s sales at 371,000 units sold.
Successful thought the numbers may be, consumers had reported that popular distributor/retailer Amazon was unable to meet expectations to ship Launch Day switches, with orders cancelled or delayed in spite of orders being placed weeks to months in advance. Angry customers took to reddit and NeoGaf to voice their frustrations.
But troubles were not all over, as a small number of consumers who were able to purchase and receive their Launch Day Switches reported minor connection issues regarding the left JoyCon controller. The small controller would often unsync or fail to connect when played without the JoyCon Grip Controller. No news yet for a solution.
Last to note, the physical copies of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is leaving (literally) a bad taste in peoples’ mouths.
Sources: Polygon, NeoGaf, Kotaku, IGN.
All around, I’m happy to see the Switch launch successfully. Having Nintendo sit a seat on the table between Microsoft and Sony is healthy for the market. The question again becomes whether they can garner enough Third-Party Support to keep them afloat. I’m personally holding out to see some kind of Bundle of Switch & Zelda/Mario in time for the Holidays of 2017. That near $560 CAD price-tag is a bit much for launch hardware with nothing else apart from Zelda.
Cheers to the successful launch though. I’m cautious of Switch’s future prospects, but viewing it as a handheld with TV-out capabilities makes it seem more appealing than a dedicated home console.
2. PS4’s 4.5 Firmware Update, Launched!
On March 9th, Playstation 4 users were treated to an update on their firmware. Some of the notable changes and updates include the following:
– External Harddrive Support.
– Boost Mode for PS4 Pro.
– Custom Themes.
– PSVR Improvements
For all the specifics, head to the Playstation.blog!
Source: Playstation Blog, IGN
This is a welcome change for PS4 users, in particular the support for External harddrives. Erasing the need to selectively delete and make room for new purchases and downloads for games of ever-increasing size. Looking at you DOOM (2016) and Witcher 3, with your near 80GB file sizes!
As an amateur photographer experimenting with Horizon’s Photo Mode, the inclusion of Custom Themes in particular tickles my desire for that amazing photo. It’s a fun addition for those searching for static themes on the internet. Although personally, I really wish there was a way to create your own dynamic themes.
3. The Division Promises ‘Free’ Updates during Year Two.
Nearly a year after The Division’s release, the team as Massive has supported the game with multiple paid expansions. Now going into its second year, plans have shifted to a new model: Free!
As IGN reports, “future updates will feature three components” including a new ‘event system,’ leaderboards, and a degree of vanity items. There is a reluctance to reveal details of story-driven content, given the difficulty of balancing the RPG aspects of the game with the way story-missions are delivered. Nonetheless, there will still be some form of narrative content to look forward to.
This announcement, as Kotaku notes, is quite vague and broad, contrasting it with Destiny’s Year Two support of the title.
Sources: IGN, Kotaku.
Reading up on the subject, The Division has met with some acclaim over the past year. Not all of their expansions have been up-to-snuff in the opinions of adopters playing since launch, but for players briefly wading in over content lapses the game feels reinvigorating to play.
Opinions are genuinely mixed going forward. Having only played The Division nearly a year after its launch, I can see why the game enamoured audiences. And with so much content to catch up on and given the Loot-Grind itch this game scratches, newer players like myself who enjoy this wonderful mix of Third-Person FPS/Loot-Grind will easily be content. But for those having supported The Division since its launch back in 2016, the ambiguity going forward isn’t doing them any favours.
Then again, Destiny 2 is coming long…
4. Crytek’s Black Sea studio officially sold!
In a recent update according to Polygon, “SEGA Europe and Creative Assembly have acquired Crytek’s Sofia, Bulgaria-based Black Sea studio.”
In the midst of financial struggles and reports of unpaid wages, Crytek had announced back in December of 2016 they would be selling off their multiple studios, with only their Frankfurt studio remaining. All of Black Sea’s projects were shifted over to Frankfurt before the sale.
The previous Black Sea studio has been officially renamed as Creative Assembly Sofia.
Crytek’s sale of the studio is a reminder to the world that their brand is slowly dwindling. Having played Crysis 1-3, and seen some of the amazing tech demos of CryEngine 3, it’s a bit concerning. They are a company that really pushed for the graphical prowess in the PC space with Crysis, and when they entered into the console market with Crysis 2-3, it became a game of diminishing returns.
Perhaps it is time for Crytek to shift their focus on licensing their proprietary engine to other developers. I for one would love to see them go forward with a new IP in the future, but everything about their financial situation just screams ‘dire!’
5. Notable Launches of the Week:
This is primarily a section for myself to take a look at some major releases that have peaked my interest. Just two in particular this week.
NieR Automata: The Demo released months back attracted a great deal of attention for its high-paced action, diverse shifting perspectives, scale, and distinct music. At the time of writing, the game is sitting at a 90 on meteoritic. While it doesn’t automatically make the game ‘good’ it does speak volumes to the reviewers and journalists who seem to have enjoyed the game thus far.
Zelda – Breath of the Wild: Launching with the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo’s darling action-adventure game has garnered nothing but praise. Sitting very proudly with an average score of 98 at the time of writing, Nintendo has a game of the same critical acclaim as Ocarina of Time, beloved in the gaming industry. The sandbox nature of the title, in spite of whatever limitations placed on it by the Switch, shines brightly. Truly, the developers have breathed new life into The Legend of Zelda. You can creatively solve the many puzzles in shrines, or simply get lost in its vast landscape.