Microsoft's stunning U-turn on its controversial Xbox One policies has delighted gamers and retailers - but are developers and publishers just as happy?
Has any game been more inescapable over the past 12 months than Battlefield 3? EA's biggest ever shooter has drowned the industry in a tsunami of orange and teal, dominating the headlines pre, during and post launch.
With the release of the latest, gargantuan patch, some fans believe Battlefield 3 is now the game that should have launched in October 2011. Now, they believe, half a year after EA unleashed the shooter upon the gaming public, Battlefield 3's promise has finally been realised.
When DICE announced at its recent Battlefield/Medal of Honor event that its upcoming pack of DLC, Close Quarters, would focus on tight, indoor firefights, reactions were understandably divisive. "If you're going to focus on an indoor shooter, you might as well play Call of Duty," said one voice in the room. "This is great. The worst part about Battlefield 3 is that it took too long to find anybody because the maps were so goddamn large," said another. "A part of me died when I saw that Medal of Honor trailer," said another yet.
While there's no accounting for taste, DICE is doing its darnedest to try by releasing themed DLC packs catered to fans with divergent play styles. While Close Quarters will focus on cramped infantry-focused indoor affairs, the following DLC, Armored Kill, promises to have the largest terrain of any Battlefield to date with loads of vehicles and epic scale wars. There will be a third pack too, Endgame, but DICE remains cagey on the details there.
"We want to widen the spectrum of how we play these games. It comes back to the idea of having choice as a player," DICE general manager, Karl-Magnus Troedsson explained. It's a smart move, and a decidedly honest model that ensures players will only have to pay for the type of experience they want, without having to fork over extra dough to collect their favourite maps spread haphazardly across several nondescript map packs.
One of the less popular trends of 2011 was the ramping up of the retailer-exclusive in-game extra. You know the sort of the thing - pre-order a title from Game and get a couple of extra character skins, choose HMV and get some weapon unlocks, or give your money to Zavvi and get early access to a map.
Depending on where you stand, it's either a nice bit of added value or a nuisance that prevents fans experiencing absolutely everything a game has to offer. Until recently it's been fairly easy to ignore. But things took a left turn with the release of Batman: Arkham City earlier this year, when UK supermarket giant Tesco secured a significant slab of DLC content all for themselves - a separate set of missions called Joker's Carnival Challenge Map. A sign of things to come, perhaps?
With that in mind we approached a number of UK retailers, publishers and developers to find out more about the process, why it happens and whether gamers are doomed to suffer as a result.
Hello everyone! Welcome to episode 93 of the Eurogamer.net Podcast! This week we're focusing on Battlefield 3's spangly new downloadable content, Back to Karkand.
Some might say that the war was over before it truly began. The extraordinary sparring between Electronic Arts and Activision, encompassing developers and executives alike, may well have made for good copy for us journalist types, but where it matters - with the gamers - the results look rather one-sided. Preliminary sales data points to just one winner in the great Battlefield 3/Modern Warfare 3 kerfuffle: Activision has clearly emerged triumphant with what it is describing as the biggest launch in the history of the entire entertainment business.
For many PC gamers there is a nasty stigma attached to multi-platform releases. The common criticism is that the development of games on the PC platform, not to mention the commercial uptake of GPU hardware tailored towards new technologies such as DirectX 11, has been hamstrung by developers' growing attention towards the console platforms over the years.
And that's your first week on the new Eurogamer. Eventful, wasn't it? We hope you're settling in OK.
As some of you may know, the general embargo for publishing Battlefield 3 reviews online expired at 8.01am UK time this morning.
Eurogamer and many other websites only received finished console copies of the game yesterday morning. Our reviewer signed for his at 7am.
There were a few reviews online yesterday based on the PC version of the game. When it became apparent last week that there might be a distinction between timings for PC and console reviews, we asked for PC code but were told none was available. We still haven't been sent a PC copy of Battlefield 3 despite being told it is the leading version.
The wait is almost over: this week sees the release of perhaps the most anticipated first-person shooter of the year (well, apart from that other one). Tomorrow DICE pushes the big red button and Battlefield 3 goes live for millions of gamers around the world.
In an age where triple-A game development leads on console, there's a strong argument that cutting-edge PC development is a thing of the past, a relic of a bygone era. But next week, PC gaming enthusiasts can afford themselves a little old-school rejoicing, because DICE's Battlefield 3 changes that: it's a top-of-the-line experience that leverages the power of PC architecture and offers up a game that is technologically way in advance of its console siblings.
I'm lost. It's not something I'm proud of, but I have no idea where I need to be going. I'm on the attacking force in a Squad Rush multiplayer game of Battlefield 3 and I'm running around like a headless chicken, trying to work out where those target markers are pointing.
Everything we have seen so far of Battlefield 3 on PC suggests a consummate example of video game warfare, realised by pushing back new barriers in rendering technology courtesy of DICE's phenomenal new Frostbite 2 engine. However, the lack of marketing focus on the console versions has led many to wonder whether current generation hardware has the power available to provide any kind of equivalent experience to the incredible DirectX 11 computer game. To put it blankly, can consoles really handle a satisfying Battlefield 3?
Eurogamer is delighted to announce the 10 nominees for its Game of the Show, Eurogamer Expo 2011.
It's easy to forget when you spend so much of the year jetting around seeing games in development - especially when some of the games look a bit 6/10 - that being invited to meet games developers and talk to them about their work in progress is a tremendous privilege.
Two months out from release and we still haven't been told anything substantial about the story behind Battlefield 3's campaign, and judging by what executive producer Patrick Bach has to say when we visit DICE to check on the game's progress at the end of August, it may well be kept under wraps most of the way to launch. However, we do have a good sense of what not to expect.
Battlefield earned its stripes as a multiplayer game. Fast forward 11 years and Battlefield, now promoted as the contender to the colossal Call of Duty, will have to exhibit similar skill at telling a story. Who better to hire as help, thought Battlefield 3 developer DICE, than best-selling author and former SAS member Andy McNab.
The nineties had Mario and Sonic, the noughties brought us Guitar Hero versus Rock Band, and now? Now we've got Battlefield going up against Call of Duty in the war of screaming men, waged by two publishers who shout just as hard and twice as loud.
It began, as ever, with a leak. With just hours to go until Microsoft's absurdly lavish... Wait a second, this is last year's intro. Oh well, it turns out it still works: where last year we heard about Kinect before we'd even donned our space ponchos, this year we knew about Halo 4 and several new Kinect sequels before Don Mattrick even had a chance to start educating us about "growth and innovation".
It's an early bird special this week, with many of the biggest upcoming games available to pre-order now for really low prices. With all the new announcements coming out of E3, it looks like we've got an exciting year of gaming ahead of us, and this is your chance get in on the fun at discount prices.
Behold! Here's your essential weekly guide to spending slightly less on games than you might pay otherwise. Cheap This Week is a collection of the best deals from across the land every Wednesday; read on to find out which gaming deals we think are worth your attention this week. If you want updates about which games are cheap pumped into your web browser every second, be sure to head to SavyGamer.co.uk.
"You're almost tricking me into a position where I'm telling you about the story!" laughs Patrick Bach, Battlefield 3's senior producer. After witnessing the code in action at DICE's Stockholm HQ, I asked him about how earthquakes in the game affect the storyline, and whether this catastrophe-mechanic is in any way similar way to Spec Ops: The Line's sandstorm-sundered Dubai. But no dice.