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Tuesday Newsday: GTA V gets a release date

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What's that in the distance? Could it be... Grand Theft Auto V?

What's that in the distance? Could it be... Grand Theft Auto V?

Deviating from the usual formula, this week's news round-up is only mostly bad news rather than entirely bad news.

Grand Theft Auto V dated but delayed

It's a pretty substantial schedule slip, and it has made some fans very angry indeed.

Initially announced for a "Spring 2013" launch - Autumn in Australia, so between March and May - Grand Theft Auto V has been given the official release date of 17 September 2013, at least four months later than previously promised.

The internet rumour mill immediately went crazy, citing any number of theories as to why the game will be delayed for so long. Some cite the continuing sales slump in the gaming industry (talked about in more detail below) and claim that GTA creator Rockstar is hoping for economic recovery and/or pushing the game closer to Christmas.

Another school of thought is to blame gaming hardware. Some hopeful PC gamers have suggested that Rockstar will be bringing out a PC version on launch day, instead of after a year or so as they did with GTA IV, hence the longer wait. Others claim that it's delayed because Rockstar has decided to make a Wii U version.

Still others say it's because GTA V will be released on the next generation of gaming consoles - the popularly-named PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720.

As for Rockstar, they say they just want it to be good."GTAV is a massively ambitious and complex game and it simply needs a little more polish to be of the standard we and, more importantly, you require," they said on their official site. "Trust us, it will be worth the extra time."

Epic Mickey studio to close down

Despite high expectations, not least due to the primary creative force behind it being the legendary Warren Spector, the original Epic Mickey reviewed poorly and did not sell as many units as projected. The recently-released sequel, Epic Mickey: The Power of Two, promised to fix all of the original's issues, but it too was met with mediocre reviews and lacklustre sales.

Sadly, this has led to Disney announcing the closure of Junction Point Studios, the creative team that created both games, under the guidance of Spector. The staff there must be feeling a bit cursed: many of them are refugees from Ion Storm, with many of those fleeing to Ion Storm after the closure of Looking Glass Studios.

The timing of the closure, hot on the heels of the unveiling of Disney infinity, does not seem to be coincidental. Disney said it is "aligning its resources with key priorities", or in other words shifting their attention to more profitable ventures. This suggests a gigantic investment in Infinity, so clearly Disney has a lot riding on this new project.

Games business is still doing badly

Worldwide, the video game business is not doing terribly well, mainly thanks to reduced sales in the two largest markets: US and Europe.

The Global Financial Crisis is like a vicious terrier, and no matter how hard they shake, neither the US or Europe can dislodge its tenacious grip. Ongoing attempts to end the crisis, especially hard-hitting "austerity measures" have achieved nothing except to make people poorer and more desperate.

In such an economic climate, it is hardly a surprise that an expensive entertainment item like a video game console is not high on everyone's shopping list. Last year, the entire video game market in the US was 27% lower than in the previous year according to data collected by Nintendo - a huge drop in any industry. Games software sales dropped 23% in the same period. Europe was having similar problems, with Nintendo's figures showing a 24% drop in hardware sales.

This is bad news for gamers. With a seemingly never-ending recession still sinking its fangs into markets all over the world, video game companies are going to remain cautious and conservative. Expect less risky titles, more sequels, and yes, even more studio and publisher bankruptcies.

PlayStation 4 soon to be announced?

It isn't much, but it's enough to start people talking.

Sony has announced a major press event in New York on 20 February, plugging it with phrases like "See the future!" and "Be the first to know!" and a video that showcases the four familiar PlayStation button shapes and the PlayStation logo. Sony has also started to use the #PlayStation2013 hashtag.

Frankly, if they announce anything other than the next PlayStation at this point, they're likely to get lynched. The PS3 is now seven years old, and is definitely showing its age. A February announcement allows enough lead time for the new console to be under Christmas trees at the end of 2013.

Of course, it is unlikely to be called the PS4, as the number 4 in Japanese sounds like the word for "death" and is therefore considered unlucky. While Sony is unlikely to abandon its iconic PlayStation branding altogether, the console's name is likely to have an extra word attached rather than a number. Some are hoping that the console's pre-release codename will stick; the PlayStation Orbis doesn't sound too bad, actually.

Microsoft announces the end of XNA

Many independent game developers have relied on XNA for almost a decade. The free toolset, first released by Microsoft in 2004, helped developers make games for Windows PCs and the original Xbox, and later the Xbox 360 and Windows phones.

Sadly, that era is coming to an end. Microsoft has sent an email to employees stating that XNA will no longer be patched and improved, and on 1 April 2014 it will be officially discontinued.

Many classic indie games were created with the assistance of XNA, including Chime, Cthulhu Saves the World, Bastion, Ilomilo, Magicka, Terraria, Dust: An Elysian Tale, and Fez. Sadly, we are unlikely to see any more, as developers are likely to switch away from the unsupported toolset and focus on learning new platforms.

This could in turn mean that the Xbox 360's excellent track record of hosting quirky independent games may be coming to an end. It will be sad if the new Microsoft console - that will no doubt be announced during 2013 - has no support for indies.

Got some news for next week's Tuesday Newsday? Submit news items to SPYourTurn@gmail.com for inclusion in next week's news round-up.

 - James "DexX" Dominguez

twitter DexX is on Twitter: @jamesjdominguez

29 comments so far

  • Its sad news about Junction Point Studios. Disney did try a fair bit with them, they even traded an ESPN commentator to regain the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. I guess shifting the first game to the Wii from 360/PS3 affected them a fair bit, and their timetable for making the games seem kinda tight. I guess going the Skylanders route with Disney Infinity is more of a sure thing for them.

    I got the notice about the Sony press event as they sent an email to my account that's linked to a US PSN account. It likely is the PS4 announcement (nothing else will match the hype they're building up), but makes you wonder why they didn't tell everyone with a PSN account, instead of only the Yanks. Sure its a New York press event, but the gaming world pays close attention to these things.

    GTA V being delayed is good news for me. I did not expect this time period to be packed full of game releases (Devil Survivor: Overclocked, Tomb Raider, MGR: Revegeance, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, Bioshock Infinite, Dragon's Dogma Dark Arisen, God of War Ascension, Dead Space 3, Crysis 3, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Gears of War Judgment just to name a few. Actually just realised all these games I listed are sequels XD) so it helps that its delayed. Also, I've always felt the GTA games to be particularly overhyped, namely IV, so if its being released at a time when I don't have many games I may want, the more likely I'll get it.

    Commenter
    Raito
    Date and time
    February 05, 2013, 6:22AM
    • That's a hell of a lot of games, Raito. And here I was about to tell DexX that gaming sales have slumped because games suck more than they used. Maybe I'm just getting old and bitter.

      But if this reply doesn't make sense the first time, try reading it again.

      Commenter
      TC
      Date and time
      February 05, 2013, 12:53PM
    • I'm a little worried about GTA V. GTA IV's faults got glossed over at the time and you only hear about them in comment threads. How could they possibly go wrong this time?

      Commenter
      Leigh Martin
      Date and time
      February 05, 2013, 7:14PM
  • The only GTA that hasn't lived up to my expectations has been IV, so I'm hoping I can keep my expectations down before this one comes out.

    That said - I think I'll be struggling to find the time anyway as very soon there will be a little crying, distracting, interrupting thingamajig in the nursery that will probably end any hope of me continuing my gaming pasttime...

    Commenter
    ZeroZeroOne
    Location
    Syd
    Date and time
    February 05, 2013, 7:42AM
    • First kid, ZZO? If so, it's easy at the start, they just sleep a lot. Two kids becomes way more time consuming. Third? Kiss your gaming life goodbye. ...or your job - take your pick.

      Commenter
      TC
      Date and time
      February 05, 2013, 12:41PM
  • I'm glad GTA V is delayed: too many games to get through and try and finish before I start any this year.

    I used to be excited about console releases about 10 years ago, but now I don't really care. I wish I could muster some enthusiasm but really, I just wait and see which one suits me best. I wonder if Sony will even contemplate backwards compatibility, or create a divide with exclusives.

    Commenter
    Joka
    Date and time
    February 05, 2013, 8:04AM
    • Also, just found this out late last night: La Noire blooper reel. Quite fascinating stuff:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8lTUAs30-w

      Commenter
      Joka
      Date and time
      February 05, 2013, 8:05AM
      • I'm very much ready for new consoles. Come on, Sony.

        GTAV is a bit disappointing, as it's easily my most anticipated game. However, it'll give me a few months to catch up on the crowded release schedule in the first half of the year.

        Also, I may be wrong, but aren't CDPR revealing their new game (i.e. The Witcher 3) in the next day or so?

        Commenter
        js
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        February 05, 2013, 8:37AM
        • I don't argue with the fact that there has been a general economic downturn that, in turn, has impacted on the gaming industry. But DexX your comment on 'austerity measures' conflates the specific issues dealing with the PIIGS countries and their ongoing problems within the EU and the banking imbroglio that stemmed from the sub-prime mortgage crises. While the two are no doubt related, austerity measures have not been implemented to solve the GFC. They are specific policies directed at specific countries who, like Greece, have long term structural deficits built into their economy, and are much more complex than simply making people 'poorer and more desperate'.

          But since this is a gaming column, perhaps discussion of global finance is not really appropriate.

          Commenter
          Sam
          Date and time
          February 05, 2013, 8:38AM
          • Will be interested to see what the details of the PS Orbis are. I'm becoming ever more tied to my PC at the moment. The 360 might as well be shuffled back to the same room as the SNES and PS2, and I haven't felt the need to pick up a Wii-U. The PS3 does get some play (Dragon's Dogma and Ni No Kuni when I get a copy), but I'll need some definite system sellers and a lot of encouragement to jump on the next generation in any reasonable timeframe. Platform exclusives are holding less sway as I just don't have the time to get through every game I could be playing. I'm consigning ever more games to the "Pick it up when it's cheap" because I can look up examples of whatever genre I want to play and find standout titles from the past 5 years that I'd skipped over at release.

            GTA V will likely be purchased. I'll try to resist, because I'm quite critical of IV and not confident that heading back to Los Santos will recapture San Andreas. I think they're so focused on telling stories now that the immense detail is crowding out the beauty of the formerly simplistic sandbox. But it'll likely get near perfect scores and oodles of hype, and any cracks won't be seriously discussed until months after the fact.

            The XNA news is pretty strange without a clear indication of what is supposed to fill the hole. Something for the new XBox announcement?

            Commenter
            Lucid Fugue
            Location
            Melbourne
            Date and time
            February 05, 2013, 9:34AM

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