The Lord of the Rings War in the North: Eagles

Another new trailer for LOTR: War in the North, this one detailing your eagle ally. The game looks pretty cool, actually, and the people at Snowblind are really excited about it, to put it mildly.

Nintendo's Satoru Iwata on Free Games (He's No Fan)

The Wall Street Journal has a two part interview with Satoru Iwata, discussing all sorts of game related things from the Wii U to the new wave of cheap and sometimes downright free games.

This fellow really hates mobile and social games.

And don’t even go there when it comes to freemium content. Here’s a few snips:

We have no intention to provide a property to any other platforms, or making them available in a mode that does not require consumers to pay at all. Nintendo is a company, which is trying to maintain the overall value of video games.

If we were simply going to say OK, the only the way we could sell more products is by decreasing the price, then there wouldn’t be a bright future and the entire industry will fold. When we look at the entire system of freemium, it’s not always that everyone is happy with the offers. Actually, there’s only a limited number of people who are willing to pay and many others are not paying for game titles at all.

Nintendo is not interested.

I’m not interested in offering software for free of charge. That’s because I myself am one of the game developers, who in the future wants to make efforts so the value of the software will be appreciated by the consumers.

That’s just a small sampling and this entire two part interview is well wroth a read. Iwata may come off a tad dickish here but I certainly understand his point of view and if Nintendo doesn’t want to start charging less for its products, that’s really their business. His view on “software value” is very interesting and I think will be a big battleground in the coming years.

Booth Babe Bonanza? Oh Yes.

Rock Paper Shotgun has always been a thoroughly awesome blog, but their latest piece on “booth babes” – the scantily clad women who populate E3, catering to hoards of salivating game journos, random buyers and the like – is one of the most hilarious things they’ve ever done.

Basically a photo essay that turns the camera on the guys who are way, WAY too excited to get their pictures taken with random babes (or are just creepily filming them from a distance, or trying too hard to get upskirt shots, etc.), it’s just utterly wonderful. Thanks for bringing the satire, gents!

Read on: E3 2011 Booth Babe Babes Bonanza!

Peter Moore: There Will Be No Offline Games

Gamasutra talks with EA Sports’ Peter Moore on the future of the EA Sports label as well as bits on the Wii U, social gaming, and how my boy Peyton Hillis shocked the world.

Regarding the Wii U:

“My dev teams — their heads are exploding, in a good way and a bad way,” Moore says, and it appears the label will use caution in its eagerness here, too: “How do we look at this new technology? We don’t just want to bolt this on; this has to be relevant to the sports gamer.”

Moore says he likes Wii U, “from the perspective of once again, Nintendo is putting a different spin on things, showing that it’s not all about graphic fidelity and processing power. In the world of sports, our minds are racing as to how we can bring a sports game to life in a unique way.” For example, he feels that being able to use the controller to call plays in Madden would be “kind of a no-brainer for us.”

There is no info here, sadly, about how the developers of NCAA 12 rated Michigan’s defense a B+.

Seriously guys. Really. Come on now.

LBP on PS Vita

Cool video of LBP for Vita from the PS Blog showing off some features as well as the visuals. What a cool looking device.

Ex-Rockstar North Developer Goes Mobile

Chalk up another developer eschewing AAA development for going it alone to tackle the mobile market. Anthony Gowland, formerly of Rockstar North, and who has senior and lead design roles for games such as GTA and Red Dead Redemption on his resume, has left the company and formed Mainly About Games, a studio that will focus on mobile gaming according to a story on Develop.

“With the varied distribution opportunities now available to developers, it felt like the perfect time to move away from AAA development,” Gowland said. “It’s totally viable for a small team, or even a single dedicated guy, to create and market a successful game independently.”

Thanks Blue!

Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation Pack on June 28

So it looks like the latest content pack for BLOPS is going to drop on Xbox 360 June 28th, as many already knew due to “leaks” of box images.

This PR is full of flowery rigmarole and somewhere inside are details on what’s actually in the thing:

Call of Duty: Black Ops, the best selling game ever on the Xbox 360, is ready to blow fans away with the worldwide release of its third content pack on June 28th,: Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation. Black Ops continues to draw millions of gamers online globally, logging billions of gameplay hours since its launch in November. Fueled by the breakthrough First Strike and Escalation content packs, The blockbuster title is also already the highest selling add-on content in Xbox LIVE history, according to Microsoft. In fact, more gamers play Call of Duty on Xbox LIVE than on any other platform. The newest offering, Annihilation, will launch first on Xbox LIVE and features four new multiplayer maps and a Zombie experience that’s sure to keep gamers coming back for more.

“With Annihilation, Black Ops fans will get four exciting and unique multiplayer settings with Hangar 18, Drive-In, Silo and Hazard,” said Treyarch Studio Head, Mark Lamia. “Players will also enjoy an all-new Zombies experience, Shangri-La, an exotic and mysterious map filled with deadly traps, dark secrets and innovative gameplay that will challenge even the most daring Zombie hunters.”

(I have decided to not strike quotes in these PRs, I’ll let you wade through the hyperbole.)

Additionally, to celebrate the upcoming release of Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation, Treyarch will host a Double XP weekend beginning Friday, July 1st.

Shadows of the Damned Bird Boss Trailer

This drops next week while I will be away at Yellowstone, so Barnes will have a write up as soon as possible.

Game looks insane.

Assassin's Creed Revelations E3 Walkthrough

Here’s a look at the E3 Presentation demo we saw on the show floor. This is much nicer to watch when sitting at your PC in your home office because it’s not ridiculously loud and I’m not hearing Just Dance blaring in the background.

The Critic Proof Game

There are games, much like there are movies, which are 100% bulletproof when it comes to “critical” reviews.

Let’s take Pirates of the Caribbean. What started as a fun romp where Johnny Depp could channel his inner Keith Richards has since turned into a complete farce filled with shockingly poor writing and actors who are at this point phoning it in. This latest film has surpassed 200 million at the box office despite taking a beating in the press. As a surprise to no one, this franchise remains critically bulletproof….

Duke Nukem Forever is such a game. Duke’s not very good, and that’s being polite. It has all of the redeeming qualities of head lice. I feel bad for everyone involved, really. This is also what makes this whole Redner Group fiasco all the more disheartening. No one should ever lose their job over Duke Nukem Forever. If Jim Redner only understood before he tweeted in a bout of anger and frustration — Duke’s immune. Let the press have their say. Allow us to exercise our ability to beat a game up against the ropes until it collapses in a bloody heap.

Let us be Joe Louis to its Max Schmeling because the truth is, we live for that stuff. Writing “good” reviews isn’t nearly as fun as writing a review about Duke Nukem Forever.

A Gamasutra article today discusses how an analyst has predicted that Duke will sell anywhere from 1.5 to 2 million units. You HAVE to assume development costs for this, as far as 2K and Gearbox is concerned, wasn’t high. God I hope not. If Duke sells 2 million units it is a commercial success. Despite being a truly terrible game Duke went in basically immune to criticism.

Perhaps this is in part what Gearbox head man Randy Pitchford meant when he said that those who write poor reviews will have to answer to readers? If Duke’s going to sell like this…maybe he’s right?

What does that say about the buying public? What does that say about name branding? What does that say about the role of game criticism? Are we less important than we’d all like to think? (hint: yes)

I’d be lying if I said that to see a game like Duke Nukem Forever sell 2 million units while a game like Metro 2033 sells less than 500,000 didn’t irritate me a little. The fact that 2 million people might actually sit down to play Duke Nukem, I assume merely due to name recognition and curiosity, takes a while for my brain to process.

In the end, I’m thrilled to see Duke hit the stores. It’s out,. It no longer has that vaporware tag attached to it — a game that is still talked about when people wonder what might have been. Duke is real. It’s a physical thing.

And here’s hoping we never have to speak about it ever again.