The industry moves at such a rapid pace that we don’t always have enough time to provide detailed coverage for some of the exciting stuff that happens between the bigger announcements. Each week, we’ll gather some of those news tidbits and share our thoughts on why we believe they deserve to be highlighted, even though for one reason or another they didn’t quite make it to center stage during the preceding seven days. We think you’ll agree that they’re still quite interesting.
If you were worried on behalf of Electronic Arts that the company might not make enough money from its Battlefield 3 Premium service, worry no more. Patrick Soderlund of EA Games told USA today that more than 800,000 players signed up for the service within its first two weeks of availability. That’s apparently enough to exceed internal expectations. “We are very pleased with the performance so far,” Soderlund said. Given the stiff competition offered by Activision’s similar service for Call of Duty, it’s easy to see why EA would be satisfied with that level of performance.
Valve has a lot of things going for it, but the company owes much of its success to the popular Half-Life franchise. Despite that fact, gamers have traditionally been rewarded with very little information pertaining to the possible release of a third episode of Half-Life 2. This week, art circulated that supposedly was created way back in 2008. Many gamers assumed it was bogus artwork, but that may not actually be true. According to a post from some volunteer moderators on Valve’s official forums that was subsequently reported on by VentureBeat, the content was not leaked intentionally and it’s also genuine. “This is official art,” posted Smash, “and I’m shocked this day has come.” That’s exciting news for fans, but don’t take it as confirmation that a third episode will ever actually release.
Sega is no longer at the top of its game. If you needed a more recent reminder than the painful failure of the Dreamcast and the company’s resulting exit from the hardware business, look no further than a round of office closures this week. Gamasutra reported this week that company branches in France, Germany, Spain, Australia, and the Netherlands are set to close on July 1st. Sega titles will still be available in those regions, thanks to distribution deals with Level03, Koch Media, and 5 Star Games, but a lot of people are without jobs now as Sega further streamlines its operations in order to avoid extinction.
After two years with LucasArts, Clint Hocking is leaving the company. Hocking is a talented designer with previous experience working on titles such as Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Far Cry 2 for Ubisoft. Hocking didn’t say where he will be going next, but he is dealing with “the living hell of relocation” and he did say that he already has a project waiting for him. We’ll likely hear something fairly soon.
People sometimes forget that you can’t make money with someone else’s intellectual property. The actual IP owners don’t tend to take kindly to that. Sometimes, though, you build something great just because you’re a passionate fan, and then your passion rewards you. That’s precisely the scenario that has played out for Exploding Rabbit, the development team behind Super Mario Crossover. What began as a Mario clone with characters from other games of the 8-bit era has turned into an original new project using that same technology as a starting point. The indie developer took the idea to Kickstarter and excited gamers responded with funding pledges. The project has already passed the $20,000 mark (which is more than twice its initial goal), so now the team is looking at how it can apply the additional money to make the end experience even better.