Welcome to the Weekly Gaming News Roundup, Gaming Moment’s new weekly feature covering all of the week’s biggest gaming news. I’ll have a new Roundup every weekend (posted Friday, Saturday, or Sunday) that will not only act as your one-stop destination for all of the week’s biggest gaming news, but also give you my take on that news and what it means for you.
- Next Xbox not coming out in 2012, Sony waiting on Microsoft before announcing PS4: Microsoft’s French marketing manager Cedrick Delmas recently told French news website Le Point.fr that the next Xbox won’t be released in 2012, noting that “The cycle of the Xbox 360 is by no means complete.” Meanwhile, in an interview with the same French website, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe’s Phillipe Cardon says that Sony will be the last to announce its next system.
-Nick’s take: Games like Battlefield 3prove that current-gen consoles need to be replaced. With the next Xbox not coming out until at least 2013 and Sony’s PS4 not being released until after the next Xbox, however, it looks like gamers will have to stick to their current systems for now. Expect Microsoft to at least drop hints about the next Xbox at E3 in June. All eyes will be on the release of Nintendo’s upcoming Wii U (slated for an end of 2012 release) to see if there is consumer demand for new consoles.
- THQ had a very rough week: After vowing to ditch the family game market in favor of pursuing core gamers with franchises such as Saint’s Row and WWE, THQ had a terrible week that went from bad to worse. On Tuesday, THQ was issued a warning from the NASDAW global securities market that its stock had been valued at less than $1 for more than 30 days and was now facing a delisting if THQ’s stocks don’t rebound to $1 or more by July 23. Then, early Wednesday morning, the head of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Mobile Special Interest Group said that THQ had cut 170 employees. That figure proved to be optimistic, however, as THQ noted later in the day that it had actually lain off 240 employees. As a result, THQ CEO Brian Farrell will be taking a 50 percent pay cut. Finally, on Thursday we learned that THQ had a horrible 2011 holiday quarter, with a total net loss of $55.9 million. In a statement, Mr. Farrell noted that “Sales of the uDraw GameTablet and related software, and other titles in the kids, family and casual category were far weaker than anticipated, substantially reducing our financial results for the quarter.”
-Nick’s take: Things weren’t all doom and gloom for THQ, as it was revealed that Saint’s Row the Third shipped 3.8 million copies so far and WWE ’12 has shipped more than 2 million copies. Still, THQ is in trouble right now, and I’m not sure that focusing on the volatile hardcore market is the right way for THQ to rebound. With solid franchises like Saint’s Row, Darksiders, and WWEunder its belt, however, maybe THQ can turn things around with a bit of luck and a new hit IP or two.
- Bungie.net ending Halo updates/features on March 31: After Bungie officially handed the reins of the Halo franchise that it created to new Microsoft studio 343 Industries last year, fans could at least still go to Bungie.net for updated Halo player stats. Come March 31, however, that will no longer be the case. Bungie.net will still store all legacy Halo player data, however. In addition to Halo player stats, the Bungie Pro service that gave hardcore players unlimited data storage for saving Halo videos and gametypes will no longer function starting March 31. 343 Industries””come March 31″”will handle all updated Halo stats via its Halo franchise app, Halo Waypoint (available as a free download on Xbox Live).
–Nick’s take: This bit of news affects me personally, as Halo has been my favorite video game franchise ever since I first played Halo: Combat Evolved back in 2001. Bungie is working on what I believe to be an MMOFPS for next-gen consoles, so it’s understandable and expected that they would have to pass the burden of stat-tracking on to 343 at some point in time. Halo seems to be in good hands at 343, but Bungie will always be the main reason Halo has been such a successful franchise.
- DRM-equipped Ubisoft games to be unplayable on PC next week: DRM (digital rights management) continues to be a hot-button topic in the PC gaming world. Publishers and developers use DRM in an effort to combat piracy, while gamers argue that DRM doesn’t work and actually hurts legal customers of those games. The anti-DRM crowd is getting another reason to hate DRM, as many of notorious DRM supporter Ubisoft’s PC and Mac DRM-equipped games””such as Might & Magic: Heroes 6 and the Mac version of Assassin’s Creed“”will be unavailable for play starting next Tuesday (February 7) due to server updates. Ubisoft does not yet know when these games will become available for play again, either.
-Nick’s take: Punishing legal video game purchasers is a big no-no, yet that’s exactly what DRM supporters like Ubisoft do. It’s not like pirates haven’t already figured out how to crack the DRM and leak copies online before a game’s release, anyway. This should be a wakeup call for Ubisoft; stop including invasive DRM in your games!
- Oklahoma representative proposes new tax on violent video games: Oklahoma state representative William Fourkiller wants to place a one-percent tax on any game rated “T” for Teen or higher by the ESRB. The tax money would go towards programs aimed at preventing bullying and childhood obesity.
-Nick’s take: “Violent video games contribute to some of our societal problems like obesity and bullying,” according to Mr. Fourkiller. In other words, this tax is based upon one man’s opinion that is backed by very little (often contradictory) scientific data. Preventing bullying and childhood obesity are noble goals, but they seem like red herrings meant to distract people from the shoddy science that is the very reason for this tax. Taxing video games doesn’t make sense and always seems like a money grab, especially in this case where Teen rated games would be taxed.
- Kaz Hirai named president and CEO of Sony: Current president of Sony Computer Entertainment International Kaz Hirai will replace current Sony president Howard Stringer as president and CEO of Sony on April 1. Hirai was instrumental in launching the PS2 and PS3 for Sony, as well as infamous for giving the world the “Rrriiiidddge Racer!” meme at E3 a few years back.
-Nick’s take: Congratulations to Mr. Hirai for his big promotion. He’s been instrumental in the PlayStation brand’s success at Sony and will surely put video games near the top of Sony’s priorities going forward.