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Most Recent Wii U news

Activision’s E3 Expo Lineup

With just over 24 hours till the official opening of this year’s E3 Expo, Activision have revealed what they’ll be wetting our appetites with at the show. Activision will be showcasing what they’re dubbing as “a new era” for the Call of Duty franchise with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the latest in the innovative Skylanders series and the hugely anticipated Destiny will be playable on the show floor, as will Skylander Trap Team.

“This year’s E3 has been years in the making for us,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, Inc. “Each game we are showcasing is the result of our commitment to quality and innovation: our first 3-year development and our first new lead developer on the  Call of Duty franchise in a decade with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Our biggest innovation since we invented the Toys-to-Life category with  Skylanders Trap Team. And the result of over four years of passion, partnership and investment to bring Bungie’s vision for Destiny to life. I think this is the best slate in Activision’s history and I can’t wait for gamers to get a closer look.”

 


Call of Duty Advanced Warfare 1Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

While Sledgehammer Games had a hand in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, they’re now running the show with the development of their first Call of Duty title in the new tri-annual Call of Duty cycle. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare promises to deliver gamers a truly exceptional experience with an immersive and compelling narrative, stunning visuals and all new gameplay which will redefine how Call of Duty is played. With the power of a mechanical exoskeleton, players become an advanced future soldier empowered by an arsenal of never before seen weaponry, new abilities and gameplay mechanics to match. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the first Call of Duty is the first in the franchise to be developed with the now current-gen Xbox One and PS4 consoles as the primary development focus. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare retains its early November slot, this year releasing on the 4th on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and Windows PC.

 

Destiny_31Destiny

From the creators of the infamous Halo, Bungie brings us Destiny. An epic action-packed adventure title set in a mysterious universe that resembles our own. Destiny is trailblazing a whole new way to play first person shooters with a story-driven universe filled with single player, cooperative, competitive, public, and social activities, all seamlessly connected in a vast, persistent universe, creating the world’s first “Shared World Shooter”. Players take the role of Guardians of the last city on Earth, wielding incredible powers and exploring the extremities of our solar system. From September 9th, Destiny will be available on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. 

 

 

Skylanders-Trap-Team_Snap-ShotSkylanders Trap Team

After the roaring success of Skylanders, see  our review here, Toys for Bob are hard at work creating Skylanders Trap Team. In the next chapter of the Skylanders journey, kinds will be able to take characters out of the digital world and bring them into the real world. In  Skylanders Trap Team, Portal Masters seek out and defeat the most wanted villains in all of Skylands, taking them out the game by capturing them in Traps. Players can then send the villains back into the game where they become playable characters, fighting for good. Skylanders Trap Team will include the Traptanium Portal, a ring of magical energy that enables kids to not only bring their Skylanders to life, but also capture villains using Traps.  Skylanders Trap Team introduces new heroes known as Trap Masters and will be available on October 5th in North America for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U. A completely unique version will be available on the Nintendo 3DS hand-held system.

 

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E3 Expo LIVE on UGP

E3 Expo LIVE right here on UGP!

 

E3 Expo 2014 was a fantastic event with some really awesome unveils and news coming out of L.A.

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Nintendo closes European HQ

nintendo-wii-u-systemNintendo has announced that it is closing its European HQ in Großostheim, Germany, laying off 130 employees in the process. The firm’s offices in Frankfurt will be the new home of for the European HQ operations. It is understood Nintendo are also looking at “outsourcing and reorganising some functions” within Europe.

“These intended measures have not been made lightly and have only been arrived at after thorough analysis and careful consideration,” the company said in a statement.

“The intended measures will sadly have a direct effect on some of the employees based in the Großostheim and Frankfurt offices in Germany and would lead to the release of approximately 130 permanent employees.”

Nintendo is going to seek consultation before the closure and lay-offs are finalised and is hoping that in the long term the measures will “better enable the European business to adapt to the rapidly changing business environment.”

Last month, May, Nintendo’s published accounts showed a net annual loss of £135 million while predicting a somewhat measly 3.6 million annual sales for its flagship WiiU console for 2014/15 financial year.

 

Full Statement from Nintendo Europe

Nintendo of Europe has entered into a consultation process on a number of changes it is intending to make to its European business which, in the long term, will better enable the European business to adapt to the rapidly changing business environment.

The measures include the consolidation of the current European headquarters in Großostheim (Germany) to Frankfurt (Germany), the closure of the warehouse and office in Großostheim, as well as outsourcing and reorganising some functions.

These intended measures have not been made lightly and have only been arrived at after thorough analysis and careful consideration. The intended measures will sadly have a direct effect on some of the employees based in the Großostheim and Frankfurt offices in Germany and would lead to the release of approximately 130 permanent employees.

Nintendo of Europe is committed to a fair consultation process with the local Works Council in Germany with the objective of providing clarity and support for all affected employees as soon as possible.

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What is the “WAR” mentality in the so-called console ‘debate’?

Okay, since 2000, Sony has shipped nearly quarter of billion PlayStations in the different guises of two, three and now four. Similarly, Microsoft, since 2000, has shipped nearly 110 million Xboxes (360/original). Nintendo, in the meantime, has sold 105 million Wii (both original and U). These numbers don’t include Vitas, DSs or any handheld games consoles. So, obviously PlayStation sold more, around double their nearest competitor. However, there are around 2,8 billion gamers worldwide, the above accounts for only a fraction of that number? It’s not as clear cut as the media like to make out.

Next Gen ConsolesYou just need to type into Google, “Xbox One versus PlayStation 4”. The response is epic! You’ll get articles on ‘Sony and Microsoft, at War’ to ‘Sony destroy Xbox’. The current batch of articles surround the notion that Sony, who shipped 4,3 million PlayStation 4 consoles over the Christmas period trounced Microsoft who “only” shipped 3,2 million units. There are factors that the press seem to be ignoring or unable to comprehend.

According to research by ParentDish, pester power over past five years (since the recession started) has seen economics beat child pester power. Therefore, Xbox could be loosing out because it is ‘so much more expensive’. However, angry PlayStation newbies have been angrily messaging PlayStation community walls with messages of PlayStation Plus membership woes – which by the way adds £40 to the bundle. The PlayStation Eye is another purchase that Microsoft Xboxers don’t have to worry about.

But these issues don’t seem to be evident in the wider reportage. Forbes, for example, has a great headline “Why Sony’s PS4 is Crushing Microsoft’s Xbox One In Sales So Far”. What a great headline. It would make any browser think Microsoft was done for! However, there isn’t a single mention by Paul Tassi, the author, about the fact PlayStation 4 consoles are sold at a loss – he mentions the extra cost of the Kinect. According to leaked memos, Sony needs to sell double the initial quota to even begin to break even. The Microsoft Xbox (including the Kinect sensor) on the other hand, has been priced so that each console has a marginal profit for Microsoft. So if Sony are selling their consoles so cheaply they’re not making any profit, which console is beating who here?

NSA spying and the Kinect has been a big issue. The ‘always-on’ element of the Xbox One has scared off many users. Think about it, a US-made camera in every bedroom or lounge in the world ‘spying’ on you. It’s ridiculous – even if PRISM was spying on me, I can’t for the life of me think why and I feel sorry for the poor analyst who has to look at video footage of me there shouting at Ryse, FIFA or CoD. But that’s for another article. In reality, the price difference and the fact Kinect hasn’t been wholly justified, has dented sales. But we are too early yet to declare winners.

nintendo-wii-u-systemIn fact, there are no ‘real’ winners. People like playing games – there will not be one dominating platform that will take over the gaming world. We like variance and variety and as such some will sell more, others will sell less but they will continue. Microsoft Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are now part of a dynamic of mobile, computer and console gaming that will continue to grow. We need to evaluate user needs and experiences alongside ‘zero sum’ game approaches to initial sales data. There is a large body of academic research that argues Hollywood was destroyed the moment it started publishing box office takings. Once it was about ‘money’ and ‘return on investment’ the artistic verve was lost. We are slowly creeping towards such a period that will see consoles and games destroyed because they ‘didn’t sell enough in the opening weekend’.

Console data is about quarter periods (i.e. three monthly periods) not weekends or months. It takes time to ship, to dispatch and sell consoles. As such, it’s wrong that it hasn’t even been a full quarter yet and we are already stating that consoles are dead and buried. Last year Nintendo was ‘dead’ and ‘buried’ because Wii U hadn’t sold enough. People predicted that Nintendo would have shut down the Wii U by 2014. It’s 2014 and Wii U is, whether you like it or not, still with us. We need to allow diversity within the gaming sector. How boring would life be if the fanboys and fangirls got their way? A beige generation of gamers would be born. I, personally, would hate for that to happen. So let’s stop thinking about wars, destruction and end-games and star thinking about consoles plural. Innovation only happens when companies compete. I know many people don’t like or want to hear this but, Microsoft needs Sony and Sony needs Microsoft – as much as Nintendo needs both Sony and Microsoft. It’s a dynamic that will continue and one that should be applauded. Last thing we want is for games to turn out like movies. “Oh, I didn’t buy Titanfall because it wasn’t in Amazon’s top 10 best seller list?” That would be a horrendous blow to great games development. So let’s try to be a bit more open-minded and help maintain the integrity of the games industry by being proactive in terms of competition.

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Call of Duty Ghosts Squads - Ultimate Gaming Paradise

Call of Duty Ghosts multiplayer glitch on “Squads” Mode Reported by Users on CoD Community Forum

The Call of Duty Ghosts Community Forum, over the past forty eight hours, has been abuzz with rumours and murmurings of a ‘squads’ mode Call of Duty Ghosts multiplayer glitch. According to several users, glitches – on several platforms including Wii U, Windows PC and Sony PlayStation 4 – have found that their ‘squad’ members would simply disappear. The initial cry came from “VoldermortGamer88”, on the Call of Duty community forum. The irate gamer claimed “my guys are disappearing in front of my eyes” and “I try to switch and plan ahead and my buddies are just plain not even there.”

Call-of-Duty-Ghosts-Squads-Screen - Ultimate Gaming ParadiseFor those who don’t know about ‘Squads’ mode, it’s a new way to experience online multiplayer gaming. The mode lets you play alongside or against teams of AI controlled soldiers. A squad consists of a ‘handful’ of AI controlled squaddies who work together to assault or defend against waves of bot-driven teams. The approach is to help widen the appeal of the multiplayer genre by allowing a collaborative individual challenge to the old single player mode approach.

Call of Duty: Ghosts, for those who are of a hermetical disposition, has been hit hard by patch updates. Launch day saw a huge patch download – even before you where allowed to play the game. Thereafter, there have been variances from 1.06 to 1.09 depending on your platform. There have been a lot of column inches on paper and in cyberspace about the development woes and the lack of BETA testing for such a headline product. That said, Activision have said a new patch will be available by the end of December.

That said, the new Call of Duty Ghosts multiplayer glitch has been in a mode that other patches haven’t really addressed. Now the game is nearly a month old, people will be moving in to explore more and more features within the game. Extinction is another game mode that has a few rumours of errors and glitches in gameplay. Therefore, just as Christmas is around the corner you can bet your ass that more gamers will vent some serious spleen over the festive period as they explore more and more content from within the buggy Call of Duty Ghosts title.

Call of Duty Ghosts customise your soldier - Ultimate Gaming ParadiseUGP earlier this week published an article on patch updates and the future threat of mass patch updates on the reputation of these next-gen platforms. This new rumour, which has yet to be highlighted by any of the Call of Duty developers, is another sign that the game was rushed. The development and subsequent release has found errors in every single variant of gameplay from “Extinction” to “Campaign” via multiplayer modes. This is just another embarrassment for Activision and co; they need to get on top of these issues. The next-gen consoles first few months are the most important for their continued development. The rumours and issues with the Wii U made developers stay away. Sony and Microsoft need to make developers publish titles that have higher standards of quality control. Only by adhering to strict standards can gamers start to expect excellent game content. Let’s hope that the developers get all this Call of Duty Ghosts multiplayer glitch sorted quickly and the game is soon working. We don’t end up with the eternal patching that we had with Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 or a game that’s taken 6 months of patches just to work like SimCity.

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Coding

PATCH UPDATES: The Single Biggest Threat to the Future of Next-gen Gaming

The console launches, last November, of Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen video games platforms marked a new era in home video game console playability. The increases in graphics, social networking and wider entertainment facilities have created the spectre of a gaming and entertainment hub in each and every living room or bedroom throughout the world. However, the current spate of patch update after patch update news, seems to indicate an issue. This issue is harming not one single platform but the entire next-generation platform. In four weeks, there have been issues with the following games (on all next-gen platforms):

  • Ryse: Son of Rome – required a 550mb patch
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts – required a 375mb patch
  • Grand Theft Auto V – required a 227mb patch
  • Battlefield 4 – at time of writing, required a 447mb patch – that could grow with current issues still unresolved
  • FIFA 14 – required a 220mb patch
  • Dead Rising 3 – required a 600mb patch

Dead Rising 3 Game - Ultimate Gaming ParadiseGames developers and publishers, much like Activision, Electronic Arts, Capcom and DICE have released titles that have been literally “plagued” by glitches, bugs and other critical errors that have brought the next-gen consoles into disrepute.

There is an argument, noted by many, that argues that a new console is always paired up with mediocre software. This is inherent in the fact publishers and developers do not have enough time to ‘fully utilise’ the technology of the next-gen console to create a better title. However, bugs in 90s or early noughties consoles where something one had to ‘live with’. The Sonic the Hedgehog 1 glitch on Level 3 is now infamous. However, the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One – and in some respects the Wii U – are network connected and thus, because of the ‘platform network (your PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live subscription), these ‘patches’ are mandatory. “You will not be able to use Microsoft Xbox Live if you decline this update” was a regular occurrence on the Xbox 360. Many gamers, and commentators, believed the next gen consoles would bring about what the PC has done (and many smart phones) over recent years – downloads and updates in the background while you “get on with it”.

This didn’t happen. In fact, more worryingly, key platform features – defining features some would argue – were on purpose left out of games. A notable example is the PlayStation 4 – which has 1080 ability for High Def gaming. This functionality was not present on the disc of the Call of Duty: Ghosts title; you had to download a patch thereafter. This seems to indicate 1080 ability was an afterthought and not a central part of the design focus?

The single biggest next-gen mess-up is the release of Electronic Art’s digital unit Dice’s premier title: Battlefield 4. The Battlefield series has been EA’s attempt to dislodge war gamers from Activision’s Call of Duty series. The well-reviewed Battlefield 3 saw a migration of users away from Black Ops 2 to Battlefield 3. The new platform and the bigger investment by EA into the franchise should have resulted in Battlefield 4 becoming the premier title on the platform. The game, on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 platforms, has been plagued by repetitive ‘patch updates’. The title has received approximately 4 patch updates globally since launched in November.

Call of Duty Ghosts advert - Ultimate Gaming Paradise

RYSE was a key launch title by Microsoft. It was meant to be a title that defined Xbox One. However, this was also ruined by the spectre of day one ‘patch’ updates. If the next generation of video gaming will be a

continuum of patch after patch update, how will this affect gamer perceptions of the platforms? The rise of mobile gaming, the resurgence of PC gaming (along with the investment by Apple into Mac OS gaming) has created viable competition to Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. They, in true US fashion, needed their ‘game faces on’ when it came to launching the Xbox One, the Nintendo Wii U and the PlayStation 4. The result was far from a coherent effort to lead a vanguard attack on other gaming platforms. In reality, some argue, the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 will become a poster child for the exodus of gamers to other – more stable platforms.

The crux of the issue is that, if 24/7 network connectivity means developers can release shoddy games with shoddy code and expect users to eat up bandwidth through downloading “fixes”, it will, in the long run, affect gamers’ playability and therein their connectedness to the platform. It is important developers and publishers BETA test their platforms to a greater level. These consoles take the gaming experience to the next level – it’s only right publishers and developers take their pre-launch testing to the next level in order to maintain high expectation of latest titles and their increased playability over other platforms?

It’s important that the next gen consoles retain their simplicity. They have always been ‘plug and play’ experiences and it is important that this experience is not altered. The mobile gaming world is enjoying massive growth with the development of such mobile titles – like FIFA, Call of Duty and Need for Speed; that allows users a simple ‘pick up and play’ experience. PC Gamers on the other hand, have always been used to Windows updates and therein updates from their games publishers. It is part and parcel of the experience – newer graphics cards etc. have resulted in more patches being issued for PC games. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are meant to be the showcase platform – incorporating excellence (like the PC experience) with simplicity (like the mobile experience) but in a concurrent gaming experience. To save this experience from being eroded by the plight of patch updates, it is crucial that developers really start to understand how these ‘patch updates’ can affect the long-term playability, and therein platform loyalty, that could result in gamers moving to other platforms – Amiga and Sega’s decline was, at its core, about quality. Microsoft and Sony need to heed the historical along with the current issues facing their next-gen platforms in order to protect their platforms from becoming obsolete.

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Wii U Gamepad

Wii U is a Failed Successor to the Wii, says Nintendo

How many of us can say that we played a Wii U and enjoyed it thoroughly? I imagine that the number of people who say yes is low. Nintendo acknowledges this fact in their latest fiscal brief, as they touch up on the many financial details of their business and the sales for all their platforms. As it turns out, the Wii U isn’t doing as good as they wanted. Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata said this in the fiscal brief:

“Except for its backward compatibility with existing Wii software and accessories, we have so far failed to make propositions worthy of Wii U’s position as a successor to the Wii system. I remarked a while ago that it is difficult to change our prospects with just one title. Our objective for Wii U for the upcoming year-end sales season will be to dramatically change the environment surrounding Wii U with multiple key titles that can appeal to a wide range of consumers.”

Yikes. That doesn’t sound so good and I can completely understand where Iwata is coming from. While I’ve never had the luxury of sitting down and really trying out the Wii U, I watch a lot of gamers on YouTube known as “Let’s Players” and when this new Nintendo platform was released a couple of them tried it out and recorded the results. The consensus reached, I felt, was simply that the Wii U does a great job with typical Nintendo titles like Mario and Luigi, but that the Wii U is bad for games that are meant to engage more serious gamers, since you constantly have to switch your attention between two screens and the controls were terrible anyway.

Nintendo has a solid wish in that it wants to appeal to a wide range of consumers, but is that really possible with the way the Wii franchise is built? The Wii was an excellent platform for party games and casual games and it was hailed as such. What is the Wii U being hailed as? The ads still say family fun but I’m certainly not getting that feeling.

I’ve been in many households that possess a Wii system and I have never seen any of the big Triple-A titles that were ported. Video games such as Call of Duty had Wii iterations and I can honestly say that, I’ve never heard of or seen anyone purchasing it. Simply put, the public opinion of the Wii and now the Wii U is that it’s not a platform for games like this. It should stick to casual and it should stick to party games. Stay in the niche it thrives in and don’t ‘test the waters’ in another genre. There’s nothing wrong with focusing on what you do best, and I feel that Nintendo would do well to remember this fact.

What do you guys think? Should Nintendo keep trying to expand the market for the Wii platforms? Or, should they reconsider that idea and focus on where they have proven to be successful?

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