UPDATE: The 2013 BAFTA winners are in and they're a doozy. Dishonored took top honours, winning best game overall, which is odd as it didn't win in any other awards. Conversely, Journey received a whopping five awards in various other categories.
7th January 2013
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The first UK games chart of 2013 shows another week of no Wii U-exclusive titles in the top 40.
It's the third week in a row this has happened. The last time a Wii U-only game was spotted in the top 40 was the week ending 15th December, when Nintendo Land was 39th.
A week earlier, Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U were 26th and 35th respectively. A week before that, when the Wii U launched, Nintendo Land was 11th and New Super Mario Bros. U 14th. The brilliant ZombiU made its only top 40 appearance at 17th back then.
So here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody's having four pints at lunchtime then trying not to be sick while racing round Poundland in search of a last minute Secret Santa present for someone about whom they know nothing except name and gender. And at least one of those is in doubt. Ho ho ho!
Unlike PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 demos, trial versions of Wii U games downloaded from Nintendo's eShop are limited to a certain number of uses.
FIFA 13 Ultimate Team has been down this week but now it's returned.
Update: EA says that Origin hasn't been breached and has issued the following statement:
UK video game shop chain GAME has claimed it's in good shape despite the collapse of Comet, also owned by OpCapita.
UPDATE: The patch is out now for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Last night the BBC aired a segment on consumer rights telly programme Watchdog about FIFA 13 and the prevalence of game-ruining bugs in it. EA since issued a formal response.
FIFA has sold 7.4 million units in four weeks, EA announced today as part of its most recent quarterly financial report.
EA wants its peers to be Apple, Google and Facebook, not publishing rivals Take-Two, Activision and Ubisoft.
There's good and bad news about FIFA 13 on Wii U.
FIFA 13 remains top of the UK all-format charts for a fourth week, seeing off competition from toy phenomenon Skylanders Giants and Bethesda's Doom 3: BFG Edition.
Borderlands 2 took America by storm. Gearbox's celebrated co-op shooter RPG sold a whopping 1.82 million copies during September.
UPDATE: That FIFA 13 patch sorry title update didn't launch over the weekend as planned.
Why? Because EA noticed it caused a problem.
"We apologize for a delay in the FIFA 13 Title Update," read a tweet from EA Sports FIFA. "A knock-on issue was detected in the patch planned for this weekend so it was held.
The colossal FIFA 13 defended against strong competition from Resident Evil 6 to retain the UK chart top spot this week.
The most downloaded PlayStation 3 game in September was FIFA 13, Sony announced on the EU PlayStation blog.
FIFA 13 is the biggest sports video game ever.
Annual football fiesta FIFA 13 has sold a million copies during its first week on sale in the UK.
It becomes the fourth game in history to do this, following Call of Duty titles Black Ops, Modern Warfare 2 and 3.
Video game sales jumped by 196 per cent in the past seven days. FIFA 13 accounted for 71 per cent of all games sold and 80 per cent of all revenue from game sales - both of these figures are higher than last year.
If you had told me at the start of the year that I would spend more time in 2012 playing a football game not made by EA Canada than I did in the grip of its imperious FIFA series, then I guess I would have told you there was more chance of Robin Van Persie signing for Manchester United. But hey, strange things do happen.
Weirdly though, this unexpected interloper wasn't PES 2013, although Konami's latest is a fantastic football game. It was New Star Soccer. By breaking football down into short bursts of its most exciting and rewarding elements, like long-range shots and Hollywood passes, and tying that into a shallow but addictive management sim, New Star Soccer completely took over my free time. Through my long hours playing it, I often thought that Konami and EA Sports could learn a thing or two from its success and that of games like it.
Well, it looks like EA has done. The new Skill Games mode in FIFA 13 is exactly the sort of bite-size football challenge that makes smartphone treasures like Flick Kick Football so compulsive - except that it's built on one of the best football gameplay engines around, with all the pomp and connectivity you'd expect from a modern sports game.
UPDATE #2: EA has issued permanent bans to players it found using the FIFA 13 Ultimate Team exploit, detailed below.
Sony's early-morning (UK time) Tokyo Game Conference kicked off with the abrupt announcement of the heavily rumoured PS3 super duper slim.
The console weighs only 2.1kg; it's half as heavy as the fatty pants original PS3, and 25 per cent smaller and 20 per cent lighter than the PS3 Slim. And it's got a sliding disc cover.
UK shoppers will have two buying options: a 500GB model that arrives on 28th September, or a 12GB flash memory model that arrives on 12th October.
With around a fortnight to go until this year's Eurogamer Expo, our headline sponsor Virgin Media has announced what it's going to be doing on the show floor, and it's not just a bunch of variations on the Usain lightning Bolt gesture. (Although...)
UPDATE: The FIFA 13 demo has just launched on Xbox Live Marketplace. You can download it now via Xbox.com.
EA Sports has unveiled its second pass at a Season Ticket, a one-shot payment that unlocks up to $100 worth of DLC across series such as FIFA, Tiger Woods and some of those there American sports.
I hate DLC. I hate online passes. I hate EA.
"Really, to describe what EA has produced here as dreadful would be to do a terrible disservice to things that merely inspire dread."
UPDATE: EA has announced that Messi will be joined on the FIFA 13 UK cover by Arsenal star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Man City and England number one Joe Hart.
Playable EA games at the Eurogamer Expo 2012 next month include Crysis 3, Dead Space 3, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, SimCity and FIFA 13.
Rumours of a buy-out have boosted EA share prices today, as unbelievable as that sounds. Or is it?
The new FIFA game that's heading to Sony's PlayStation Vita won't connect with the PlayStation 3's FIFA 13 - though EA Sports is focusing on hooking up the FIFA experience across different platforms.
FIFA father David Rutter took to the Gamescom stage today to demonstrate FIFA 13 PlayStation Move motion-sensing controls, which will available at launch next month.
The Move nunchuk controls player movement, but the wand controls a line and circular box that comes out of their feet. This points passes and can paint runs for team mates. Players are tracked by pressing the T button.
The demo was brief and some goals missed. The Move controls were very similar to PES on Wii.
The FIFA 13 demo will be released on 11th September, EA announced today at Gamescom.
That demo will feature the new EA Sports Football Club Match Day mode, which lets you follow the real-life progress of your favourite football from within FIFA 13.
Commentary even reflects what's happening in the real-life game - a feature demonstrated by the nerve-wracking last day of the Barclay's Premier League when Man City staged a late and dramatic comeback to beat Manchester United and win the league. The commentators reflected on this in their comments. Quite how EA will achieve this, other than by recording new commentary every week, is beyond us.
Mario Balotelli's Hulk celebration is in FIFA 13. Yes it is.
The last time there was parity between Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo versions of FIFA, producer Matt Prior reflects, was back in the days of GameCube. The HD era has been enormously successful for EA's series, but the core game's evolution has happened at the expense of similar progress on Nintendo platforms, which have played host to more experimental takes on the beautiful game.
When Wii U launches, the first message EA wants to stress is that early adopters will get the full-fat, full-resolution football experience. Which is broadly correct, although, as a rep notes while I'm giving the Wii U version a run-out at EA Canada, this is "FIFA 12.5" - in the sense that it won't carry every new feature from this year's PS3 and 360 updates, since the team has had so much porting work to do on the new platform.
The other main message, though, is that the GamePad enhances FIFA in ways only possible on Nintendo's new hardware. A sentence you can expect to read in every Wii U press release until you go mad and stab yourself blind with a telescopic 3DS stylus. But in this case, the early signs suggest it could be good news for the hardcore as well as those suspiciously attractive, well-adjusted families you never see outside of a Nintendo TV ad.
EA Sports has unveiled FIFA 13 for Wii U and described exactly how Nintendo's touch-screen tablet controller will be implemented in the game.
A new FIFA 13 trailer has shown off the new Man City home kit.
It's our first virtual glance at the kit that will be worn for real on Friday when the Premier League champions play Arsenal in a friendly in Beijing.
Spanish trickster David Silva, French maestro Samir Nasri, Italian moper Mario "Mega Man "Balotelli and Argentinian goal machine Kun Aguero all stand over a free kick.
EA Sports has responded to claims its FIFA team has been "copying" bitter rival PES, with football boss Matt Bilbey voicing sympathy for his accuser, Konami's Jon Murphy, suggesting the development team didn't "listen" to him.
EA has released a video showcasing the voice commands available to Kinect owners who play FIFA 13.
As the end of this console generation approaches, life seems pretty rosy for the FIFA team. Widely regarded as having outplayed its competition not only commercially but also in quality in recent years, building a commanding lead in the process, complacency is as big a threat as whatever Konami comes up with next.
The pressure of maintaining a hard-earned 90 Metacritic rating, always the pet obsession of EA's Peter Moore, ought to be enough to dispel any likelihood of that. And, as is traditional, the team is boasting of more game-changing features for this season's update when I poke my head inside its Vancouver dressing room this month.
They're obliged by the marketing department to peddle that line every year, of course, but there are a few good reasons at this stage to believe FIFA will raise its game again in 13. The focus this year is captured in a Mourinho quote producer Nick Channon flags up: "One of the great things about football is that it is unpredictable".
But where is Robin Van Persie?
Arsenal's new away kit is purple. Not scrambled egg yellow, not blue - purple.
Pro Evolution Soccer developer Konami has criticised rival EA's emphasis on aesthetic tweaks for FIFA 2013.
EA has announced the FIFA 13 Ultimate Edition and two shop exclusive pre-order bonuses.
The Ultimate Edition includes 24 FIFA Ultimate Team gold packs, and is described by EA as the "most extensive global pre-order incentive in the history of the FIFA franchise". The Ultimate Edition will be available to buy one day only: 28th September 2012, the day FIFA 13 launches. You have to pre-order or buy it on the day.
You'll get one FUT pack per week for 24 weeks - what amounts to a total value of over £15. Each gold pack has a mix of 12 items, including players, contracts, stadiums, managers, staff, fitness, healing, balls, kits and badges. Gold packs have players rated 75+ in-game and one rare item.
Jon Murphy has had enough. I can see it in his face as we sit down for our interview in Konami UK's Chiswick offices. And I can feel it in every answer he delivers to all the questions I put to him.
FIFA 13's Kinect features were detailed in Microsoft's E3 press conference - and they seem to be limited to voice commands that allow you to direct the action on and off the pitch.
At the time of writing, EA Sports has already unveiled a handful of fairly influential changes to the FIFA formula for this year's iteration, but after playing a dozen or so games of FIFA 13 the one that really stands out is the one with the least exciting name: Attacking Intelligence.
Although FIFA 12 was a wonderful football simulation in a lot of ways (and an even more wonderful platform for synchronised physical comedy), it wasn't without its annoying quirks, one of which was that you would often find yourself short of support from team-mates once you crossed the halfway line, forcing you to hold up play in hope of attracting reinforcements.
The idea was that Attacking Intelligence would bring more players into the attack, allowing you to sweep forward in waves, exploiting space between isolated and retreating defenders, and crash against the opposing penalty area with enough force to hoover up any rebounds or shots spilled by the goalkeeper.
EA Sports has officially lifted the wraps on FIFA 13 and introduced this year's big gameplay improvements, with Complete Dribbling, First Touch Control and Attacking Intelligence all coming to this year's model.
It's not over until it's over, as those in pale blue who left the Etihad Stadium before full-time on Sunday found out to their own eternal embarrassment. This year's Premier League has seen the title move from one side of Manchester to another, a seismic shift that some five years ago would have seemed improbable.
This console generation's battle of the football titans has, at times, felt equally dramatic, as full of fumbles and moments of flair as anything the Premier League has offered up in the last nine months. It started with Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer as champion elect, but now looks set to end with FIFA in a position of unquestionable supremacy.
"It's been an amazing journey. I think it's been the most exciting journey that I've ever been on. But it's come with plenty of sleepless nights," says EA Sports' executive vice president Andrew Wilson, a fast-talking Australian who's the embodiment of corporate cool.