This week, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer complained openly that Sony will not allow Minecraft cross-platform play to include the PlayStation 4. Nintendo, another competitor, has no problem with this capability, however.
“We talk to Sony all the time,” Mr. Spencer told Gamespot. “With Minecraft on PlayStation, we have to be one of the biggest games on their platform in terms of sales and gameplay. Same with Nintendo. The relationship with Nintendo on this front has been strong. They’ve been great supporters and we continue to collaborate with them. But I think Sony’s view is different. They should talk about what their view is…”
As you may recall, Microsoft this past summer announced that it would consolidate the many different versions of its hit game Minecraft across (almost) all of the platforms it supports. It was arguably the singular blockbuster announcements of this year’s E3 conference. Since then, Microsoft has updated Minecraft with the Better Together update, enabling that cross-platform play.
Except on PlayStation 4.
We’ve known since E3 that Microsoft’s inability to bring cross-platform Minecraft play to PS4 was Sony’s fault. But Spencer and other Microsoft executives had, to date, expressed hope that the firm would do the right thing.
Today, it appears that hope has died.
“I have a real struggle making comments about their motivation or timelines,” he says. “I know there is a certain view that says if my friends have this console, they can’t play with people who buy another console. That’s a reason they go buy my console. That reason is not going to go away. So we’re putting Minecraft out there as one of the biggest games on any platform and allowing people to play together regardless of what device they bought. I don’t think everybody is taking that same approach to the ecosystem. So I’m never going to call anything a lost cause but I think some of the fundamental reasons and certain scenarios, they’re not really going away. So I don’t know what would change.”
Sony, come on. Seriously.
Minecraft has a strong tradition of celebrating Halloween and this year is no different. According to a Microsoft, Minecraft’s Halloween Server Spooktacular is coming to “haunt your pixelated dreams” starting until October 31.
For the next 20 days, Minecraft players on the Bedrock Engine can trick-or-treat across servers hosted by various companies.
Each server is filled to the brim with activities but here are some of the main ones you’ll find:
- Lifeboat Servers: Hostile zombie invasions will take over the Lifeboat lobby throughout the course of Spooktacular. There, players can enter a thrilling haunted house parkour course.
- InPVP Servers: InPVP has players hopping from gravestone to gravestone with the Haunted Mansion SkyWars map or exploring creepy houses to find surprises.
- Mineplex Servers: In Mineplex, players come face-to-face with The Pumpkin King for random quests and boxes filled with goodies. There are also random events which grant you even better rewards.
Now, you might be wondering if you have to pay to access the event? The answer is no. It’s free. Personal Minecraft Realms are the servers you have to pay for. The Halloween Server Spooktacular is open to everyone on the Bedrock versions of the game, which excludes PlayStation 4 and the PC’s Java Edition. Just log into a modern version of Minecraft and join the servers for lots of thrills!
With this year’s Game Developer’s Conference barely started, Microsoft has already rolled out a major announcement that has the potential to significantly change the console gaming landscape. By allowing for cross-network play on Xbox Live, Microsoft has signaled it’s willing to open the doors to one of gaming’s most frustrating walled gardens and help restore the platform-agnostic promise of the early Internet.
The question is, why now? Microsoft has been running Xbox Live since 2002, and it’s been nearly a decade since the similar PlayStation Network launched on Sony’s PlayStation 3 (not to mention PC-based networks like Steam). Why hasn’t Microsoft made public overtures to connect these disparate networks before now?
Part of it might be technical, on all sides. After all, it’s easier to develop a new, private gaming network with tens of millions of users if you are in total control of all the hardware that will be connecting together. The Xbox 360 and PS3’s vastly different system architectures may have made true online agnosticism difficult on console developers in the last generation as well.
But a large part of it was surely business-related, at least for Microsoft. The lock-in effects of closed gaming networks means console gamers have long had to effectively coordinate their system purchases to line up with those of their online gaming friends.
Ten years ago, when the Xbox 360 was launching, this was a key advantage for Microsoft’s new system. Back then, Microsoft had years of experience running Xbox Live (compared to Sony’s standing start with the PlayStation Network), a one-year head start in reaching market with the Xbox 360, and online-centric exclusives like Halo and Gears of War in the pipe to drive multiplayer-focused gamers to its console ecosystem.
The momentum driven by that Xbox Live lock-in among console gaming’s online early adopters was no doubt a large part of why the Xbox 360 was able to find relative market success—especially in the West—following Sony’s market-dominating PlayStation 2 (though it surely wasn’t the only reason).
That means, all things being equal, this console generation is much more likely to see a critical mass of your friends playing on Sony’s PlayStation Network rather than on Microsoft’s Xbox Live. If both online ecosystems are closed off from each other, more new console buyers are going to follow those friends to Sony’s console if they want to play online. But in the world of cross-platform play Microsoft is proposing, the Xbox One might suddenly get a second look—especially since the system will give you access to a new Halo in addition to letting you play Call of Duty and Madden with all your PS4-owning friends.
And it’s a flag that Sony doesn’t have to accept. By offering “an open invitation for other networks [read: Sony] to participate as well,” though, Microsoft is very publicly pressuring Sony to follow the same course. Otherwise, Sony will likely take a significant PR hit for trying to hold on to its own relative walled-garden advantage at the expense of player convenience. (Developers will also have to play along, but the notion of having a single, unified base of players across two major consoles will probably win out over any technical growing pains in connecting the two similar consoles).
Sony hasn’t given much indication how it will respond to Microsoft’s very open invitation/dare, but it would be in everyone’s best interests if they could bury the hatchet. Business concerns aside, there’s no longer much reason to force developers and players to a limited base of competitors with the exact same hardware if they don’t want to. Hopefully, Sony won’t let its current market dominance prevent a chance to finally unify a hopelessly divided online gaming landscape.
Update: As if to reconfirm Microsoft’s interest in cross-console play, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said on Twitter that he “would have liked to see [Epic] leave it on.”
People playing Epic’s Fortnite on consoles recently were surprised to discover a new feature had been quietly added to the game: the ability to play with gamers on other consoles.
Over the weekend, a number of Reddit users posted evidence of players from other consoles showing up in their Fortnite games, including a father/son combo playing on two different consoles in the same room.
The cross-console connection became apparent because of a little-known naming convention between the two consoles: Microsoft’s Xbox Live allows players to use spaces in their online handle, while Sony’s PlayStation Network does not. Thus, when PS4 players noticed random opponents in their matches with handles that included spaces, they knew something odd was going on.
An Epic spokesperson confirmed to Ars Technica that cross-console play had been turned on for the game recently, adding in the same breath that the addition had been a mistake. “We had a configuration issue, and it has now been corrected,” the spokesperson said by way of official comment.
While further on-the-record information isn’t forthcoming (Sony has yet to respond to a request for comment from Ars Technica), it’s not hard to guess what happened here. Since Microsoft started publicly pushing for cross-console play last year, a number of developers have gone on record complaining that Sony is the only remaining bottleneck to letting PS4 and Xbox One players join together for online play. “All we have to do is check that box and it would be up and running in less than an hour all over the world,” Psyonix VP of Publishing Jeremy Dunham memorably told Polygon about cross-platform play on the PS4.
The reality of Fortnite‘s brief “configuration error” allowing Xbox One and PS4 players to connect only goes to further prove that there are no remaining technical issues to be overcome here. While developers do have to deal with complications surrounding friends lists, invitations, and voice chat when tying the two networks together, no intractable compatibility issues prevent the servers from talking to each other. As Fortnite has inadvertently proven, the only problems keeping PlayStation and Xbox gamers apart are now political.
The release last month of the Better Together update for Minecraft brought together Minecraft players on most of the game’s many platforms: the Xbox One, Windows 10, mobile, and VR versions of the game now all use the same engine and can all play together without borders. Servers and content will be accessible from any Better Together platform. Microsoft has also announced that this version of the game will be coming to the Nintendo Switch, and it, too, will be able to join in the cross-platform play.
But one major platform is being left behind: PlayStation 4. Minecraft players on the PlayStation 4 will only be able to play with other PlayStation 4 users. Not because of any technical constraint, but because Sony won’t allow it.
Speaking to Gamespot, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said Sony regards platform lock-in as a way of driving sales and “that reason [for blocking cross-platform play] is not going away.” Spencer doesn’t hold out much hope for things changing, either: “I’m never going to call anything a lost cause, but I think some of the fundamental reasons and certain scenarios—they’re not really going away.”
In June, Sony execs insisted that the company has no “profound philosophical stance” against cross-platform play, and it has permitted play between the PC and PlayStation 4. But cross-console play is clearly a sticking point. While Microsoft isn’t the first developer to cite Sony’s refusal to allow cross-platform play—Rocket League developer Psyonix and Gwent developer CD Projekt have both blamed Sony for the limitation—this is the first time the company has itself fallen foul of Sony’s restrictions. Moreover, Spencer’s comments make clear that Sony’s desire to create lock-in appears to be its overwhelming concern.
For the past several years, Mocchi Hajikura has been working on recreating the classic Studio Ghibli film Laputa: Castle In The Sky in Minecraft. His work is now finished.
Hajikura started uploading his Laputa recreations to YouTube in 2013.
In 2015, he created this clip to correspond with Laputa: Castle In The Sky’s Japanese television rebroadcast. You can see how his work had improved.
As Net Lab notes, he uploaded his most recent (and final efforts) for the film’s 2017 TV rebroadcast.
Previously, Kotaku posted a Laputa recreation, but Hajikura’s effort has to be the best one yet.
The fifth game and first PlayStation 4 exclusive from Paris-based studio Quantic Dream lays out a world where humans and robots are almost indistinguishable.
Previously announced in 2015, Detroit: Become Human continues several traditions laid down by Quantic Dream predecessors like Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls.
Live actors’ performances have been recorded and digitised in pursuit of increasingly photorealistic portrayals, while storylines written by studio founder David Cage aim for parity with cinema or television.
Those have become prominent trends in video gaming; 2016’s action-oriented Xbox One and PC release Quantum Break alternated between interactive sections and short, pre-recorded episodes; August debut Hellbalde: Senua’s Sacrifice took advantage of not only motion capture techniques but also binaural sound mixing techniques that had players reaching for their headphones to feel like they were inside the main character’s mind.
As for Detroit: Become Human, it takes questions about the nature and value of life and holds them up to the mirror of artificial intelligence, casting us into a world where androids are near indistinguishable from biological humans.
Three main characters have been introduced over the course of the game’s pre-release period: police negotiator Connor, escaped servant and revolutionary leader Markus, and advanced model Kara who can pass for human in a way that other machines can’t.
All three feature in a new trailer released for PlayStation’s showcase at the 2017 Tokyo Game Show, ahead of a planned 2018 launch on the PlayStation 4. — AFP Relaxnews
After taking a back seat to consoles for the past few years, personal computers are enjoying a resurgence in gaming, thanks to the popularity of e-sports, customisable machines and faster software releases.
This week’s Tokyo Game Show will feature a main-stage tournament for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a hit online survival PC game that’s been downloaded more than 10 million times since March.
Sony Corp’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Corp’s Xbox One consoles are heading into their fifth years, while Nintendo Co’s Switch is in a bit of a lull before new titles are released for the year-end holiday shopping season.
Spending on gaming-ready PC rigs are on track to climb an average of 6.6% per year through 2020, while the market as a whole is projected to decline 3.8% annually, according to Gartner Inc. Revenue from PC titles will grow by 3% to 4% over the coming years, while console-game sales are seen flat, according to DFC Intelligence.
Written off years ago for being too expensive, complex and bulky for mass appeal, gaming PCs are seeing a resurgence that could even threaten consoles, according to Kazunori Takahashi, Japan gaming head at Nvidia Corp.
“The abundance of titles and the popularity of e-sports is bringing a lot of excitement to PC gaming,” said Takahashi, whose employer supplies graphic chips to PC and console makers. Even in Japan, “it’s not unreasonable to think that PCs can eventually become a presence that threatens console gaming.”
Although consoles have traditionally dominated in Japan, their long development cycles and lead times for new game releases have started to frustrate consumers who want to get their hands on new titles. Consoles also can’t offer superior graphics and cheaper online networks for multiplayer gaming. Valve Corp’s Steam, a popular game downloading site, lets developers release titles for PCs months or years before they’re available on consoles.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, known within the gaming community as PUBG, was released through early-access six months ago. Since then, it has sold more than 10 million copies and achieved a record for the most concurrent players on Steam, beating out well-known titles such as Minecraft, League of Legends or Counter-Strike. That’s even driving gamers to buy PCs just to play PUBG, according to NVIDIA’s Takahashi, a phenomenon that’s more common in the console market.
Sony and Microsoft haven’t ignored the threat, and last year began releasing upgraded versions of their consoles to prevent gamers from migrating to PCs. Consoles are also priced lower than PCs, and have a rich library of exclusive titles that keep customers hooked on their platforms for years. The console market is also much bigger; Sony forecasts that it will ship 18 million PlayStation units in the year through March, and Nintendo is predicting 10 million units for the Switch. By comparison, PC gaming-rig sales will be about 7 million units this year, according to Gartner.
In June, Microsoft announced a deal to release PUBG on Xbox by the end of the year. Sony hasn’t said when a version might be available for the PlayStation 4. Meanwhile, the game’s graphics demands make it unlikely it will appear on Nintendo’s Switch.
Laptops are another reason for the renewed popularity of PC games. With graphics chips getting smaller, along with better cooling systems and battery technology, some laptops now offer performance that can rival desktops, letting PC gamers play outside their home offices and living rooms. Gaming notebook builder Micro-Star International Co has seen revenue from gaming notebooks in Japan doubling every year since 2014, according to Ricky Chang, head of sales and marketing in the country. Shares of the Taipei-based company have more than doubled since 2013.
At the Tokyo Game Show, Japanese publishers, which built their businesses through consoles, are also showing signs of change. Square Enix Holdings Co will unveil new title Left Alive, which it plans to release on PC and PS4 around the same time in 2018. Similarly, Konami Holdings Corp’s Metal Gear Survive will see a PC release at the same time as the PS4 version next year.
The Tokyo Game Show started on Sept 21, and is open to the public Saturday (Sept 23) and Sunday (Sept 24).
“PUBG isn’t even available on consoles, so being able to play it on PC is hugely appealing,” said Satoshi Fujiwara, a 25-year-old Tokyo gamer who grew up playing consoles but recently spent US$2,000 (RM8,395) on a PC gaming rig.
“All the YouTubers and streamers and pro-gamers are using PCs. For those who really want to play competitively, they all end up going to PC.” — Bloomberg
Players of generation-defining creation, construction and exploration game Minecraft can now play with each other regardless of the console, computer or phone they’re dialing in from – with a few but notable exceptions.
First emerging in 2009, the explosion of enthusiasm surrounding Minecraft saw it become a phenomenon, at first confined to computers but in 2011 spreading to mobile through iOS and Android editions.
From there, games consoles got in on the act with a 2012 release for Xbox 360 and subsequently for PlayStation and Nintendo platforms.
Since midway through 2016, Microsoft – which bought Minecraft studio Mojang in 2014 for US$2.5bil (RM10.49bil) – has been working on ways to unify the various home and portable editions of the game.
A Windows 10 Edition, released in 2015, encouraged computer users to upgrade from previous versions of Microsoft’s operating system and enjoy local multiplayer with iOS, Android and Windows Phone players.
That feature’s now been expanded to consoles – specifically, the Xbox One – thanks to the arrival of a Sept 20 update called Better Together.
Using Mojang’s proprietary Bedrock Engine, editions of the game capable of cross-platform multiplayer will be known as Minecraft while legacy versions will have relevant suffixes attached: the original Java-based computer game is now Minecraft: Java Edition, while the Wii U edition, which is not getting the update, is still Minecraft: Wii U Edition.
One other bonus of the transition is that progress can be logged on one machine and continued from another.
The update’s major caveat is that owners of the Xbox One disc edition have to play five or more hours, or purchase a digital add-on, by Jan 30 2018, in order to receive the digital update.
The whole thing is co-ordinated through Microsoft’s online network Xbox Live, and while Nintendo is happy to play ball when it comes to the Switch console’s upcoming Better Together update, Sony hasn’t been so keen with regards to potential PlayStation 4 action.
While Sony’s lack of participation appeared to be to do with legal responsibility for minors – “exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after” an executive said in June – a more profound level of objection is thought to rest on the PlayStation 4’s popularity relative to other modern home consoles.
Though Microsoft stopped reporting unit sales of its Xbox One in late 2014, the PlayStation 4 is thought to have outsold its nearest competitor by a ratio of at least 2 to 1.
It’s in Sony’s interest that players migrate to PlayStation in order to play with friends that are already there, rather than plump for another platform and link up with their Minecraft mates on PlayStation all the same. Why would Sony erode its advantage and encourage existing users to sign up for Xbox Live accounts in one fell swoop?
Evidently the appeal remains for Mojang. “We would love to work with Sony to bring players on PlayStation 4 into this ecosystem as well,” explains the Better Together FAQ. — AFP Relaxnews
Minecraft fans now, in theory, never have to stop playing their favourite game thanks to an update that brings it to a variety of platforms, including Xbox One, Android and Windows 10 computers.
The Better Together Update from developer Mojang not only connects more gamers, allowing them to play together, but it also facilitates new usage scenarios, for example the option to start a game on a console and then move onto a smartphone when you leave the house.
The update also brings new features such as playing time on community servers and automatic synchronisation of updates and content across all devices when you’re logged in with an Xbox Live account. — dpa
Mojang released Minecraft: Pocket Edition [$6.99] on the App Store back in August 2011, and initially the game didn’t feature many things to do besides very simple crafting and survival compared to its desktop counterpart. This led to our underwhelmed feelings in our original review of the game from November 2011. Despite that, Minecraft: Pocket Edition became the number one paid game for quite some time on the App Store, and it continues to hover near the top to this day. Mojang has released many updates to Minecraft: Pocket Edition since its original release, completely transforming it, which led us to re-review the game in October of 2015, giving it its rightful 5 stars. And even since then Minecraft: Pocket Edition has continued to receive significant updates, adding in the Minecraft Marketplace this past June and then the ginormous “Better Together” update just last month. Mojang rebranded Minecraft: Pocket Edition to simply “Minecraft” and introduced many features that may make you want to reinstall the game on your iOS or Android device. Rather than try to re-review the game yet again, we’ve put together a short list of some of the most significant new features that may make you want to revisit the mobile Minecraft if you had given the lesser versions a try previously.
A highly requested feature by many Minecraft fans was that if you played on mobile, console, or even PC you could play with other Minecraft players no matter their device. Well, with Microsoft’s help Mojang was able to integrate cross-play on iOS/Android, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and (of course) Windows 10’s edition of Minecraft (which is available in the Windows 10 store). This is a massive feature to be added to Minecraft since it hasn’t ever been playable across devices.
Marketplace to Spend Your Coins
When I see new players playing Minecraft, I always seem to find them to never be able to find servers since they’ve just joined the community and unsure of where to find servers. Mojang has made it easier than ever to join servers if they’re approved by Mojang. Currently, there are only three featured servers which are Lifeboat Network, InPvP Network, and Mineplex. These are really great servers and seem to be very high quality. Those servers alone are a great reason to reinstall Minecraft.
Xbox Live Support
Lastly, Xbox Live support. This may seem like a terrible thing since Xbox doesn’t make mobile games and it’s one of Microsoft’s gimmicks but it actually has a really great use. If you own multiple copies of Minecraft; let’s say Xbox One, Windows 10, and on iOS, they’ve allowed for great syncing of information so all your stuff stays the same so you’ll never notice when you switch to different platforms. It’s all the same across both platforms.
Disguise Brings the Digital Adventures of Minecraft™ to Life with First Ever Minecraft™ Halloween Costumes
POWAY, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Disguise, Inc., the Halloween costume division of leading toy manufacturer, JAKKS Pacific, Inc. (NASDAQ: JAKK), is thrilled to launch the first ever Minecraft™ costumes and accessories; available now at retailers nationwide in time for Halloween.
Disguise brings the digital adventures of Minecraft™ to life with first ever Minecraft™ Halloween Costumes
Disguise® has created authentic, licensed Halloween costumes and accessories based on fan-favorite characters from Minecraft™, the wildly popular sandbox video game. Players mine and craft 3D blocks in an exciting world of varied biomes and terrain. Explore alone or adventure with friends!
Kids can choose from iconic characters such as Steve, Alex, or the Creeper, or don a full set of diamond Minecraft™ Armor, to take digital adventures off-screen for the Halloween festivities. Pants and tunic are designed to mimic the game’s 3D blocky aesthetic, with ample range of motion perfect for trick-or-treating. The long-sleeve tunic features detailed character artwork on the front and continued print coverage on the back. The half-masks include mesh eye-plate and foam insert designed to be more comfortable for wearers and allow for outstanding range of vision.
Adventuring is made easy when kids add the Minecraft™ Sword or Minecraft™ Pickaxe as an accessory to complete their costume.
Available in child sizes 4-6, 7-8 and 10-12 at retailers nationwide for an approximate retail price of $69.99, and the Minecraft™ Sword and Minecraft™ Pickaxe retail for $11.99 each.
About Disguise, Inc.
Since 1987, Disguise has been a leader in the Halloween industry creating innovative and trend setting costumes and accessories. Based in San Diego, Disguise produces costumes and accessories under many of the world’s leading licensed brands as well as its own proprietary brands for the nation’s largest retailers including specialty, party and pop up stores. As a wholly owned subsidiary of JAKKS Pacific since 2008, Disguise designs and manufactures millions of costumes for the American and other markets worldwide each year bringing smiles and creating memories for kids and adults alike. To see Disguise’s extensive Halloween collection, please visit www.disguise.com.
Disguise is a trademark of Disguise, Inc.
About JAKKS Pacific, Inc.
JAKKS Pacific, Inc. (NASDAQ: JAKK) is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of toys and consumer products sold throughout the world, with its headquarters in Santa Monica, California. JAKKS Pacific’s popular proprietary brands include BIG-FIGS™, XPV®, Max Tow™, Disguise®, Moose Mountain®, Funnoodle®, Maui®, Kids Only!®; a wide range of entertainment-inspired products featuring premier licensed properties; and C’est Moi™, a youth skincare and make-up brand. Through JAKKS Cares, the company’s commitment to philanthropy, JAKKS is helping to make a positive impact on the lives of children. Visit us at www.jakks.com and follow us on Instagram (@jakkstoys), Twitter (@jakkstoys) and Facebook (JAKKS Pacific).
©2017 JAKKS Pacific, Inc. All rights reserved
Mojang AB is a Microsoft-owned games studio based in Stockholm, Sweden. We’re responsible for the relatively popular video game Minecraft. We also created the card-collecting tactical battler Scrolls, and have dabbled in publishing with Oxeye Game Studio’s awesome side-scrolling robo-blaster Cobalt. We’re developing more games, too, but we’re not ready to talk about those quite yet.
JAKKS Pacific, Inc.
Rachel Griffin, 424-268-9553
MINECRAFT FANS: Build Battles, VR, a costume contest, YouTubers and more at Minefaire. Event is held at the Philadelphia Expo Center
If you’re a superfan of Minecraft, you’ve got to be there.
Minefaire, an official Minecraft fan experience, returns Oct. 14-15 to the region where it was created. Earlier this year Minefaire was held in Houston, Charlotte and Washington DC. Did you know that guinnessworldrecords.com says last year’s Minefaire held at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center set a Guinness World Record for largest convention for a single video game?
Minecraft is the virtual game where you build new worlds, block by block, by mining the resources you find.
“It’s not just a game,” Minefaire cofounder Gabe Young said in a press release. “While you’re making dinner and your kids are playing Minecraft, they’re experiencing the huge educational and inspirational aspects that are driving them to become an engineer or an architect — to think really, really big.”
Chad Collins, one of the Bucks County fathers who founded Minefaire, also had a statement: “Minefaire is a chance for parents to connect with their kids through their favorite game and have a blast. We were determined to create a one-of-a-kind Minecraft experience you won’t find at home.”
So how big is Minecraft?
The Minefaire folks tell us that Minecraft is the second best-selling stand-alone video game of all time, with more than 122 million units sold. That’s second only to Tetris.
Where is Minefaire being held?
Halls A and B of the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Ave., Upper Providence. That’s 150,000 square feet of all things Minecraft. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for both Saturday and Sunday.
Give me a summary of what’s going to be there.
A Mineplex with more than 45 original free-to-play games for varying skill levels (and 10 million players); Minecraft Virtual Reality Experiences; live performances on four “mega-stages;” a Minecraft costume contest; meet and greets with Minecraft YouTube stars; Build Battles for both kids and adults; a Learning Lab with official Minecraft mentors and educators that are using Minecraft in local classrooms; and new, rare and custom Minecraft items.
What’s the admission price?
All-inclusive tickets start at $29.50, free for ages 2 and under.
Please tell me there’s a website.
Frustration over Final Fantasy XIV’s housing shortage has come to a head after two players angered a lot of others by buying up 28 homes in the land-strapped massively multiplayer online game. Now, players are questioning whether virtual housing is an equal right or a privilege meant for the rich and over-dedicated.
The two players bought their homes in a formerly vacant corner of the game, a server called Mateus, where they could pursue dual ambitions of opulence and privacy. Their critics say they’ve hoarded land from dozens of FFXIV citizens, who feel they deserve a chance at housing. That criticism has gotten ugly as players hotly debate whether their elitism—or desire for mass amounts of property—has any place in a game where everybody pays the same fee.
“Given we both came to Mateus for the quiet, it’s distinctly uncomfortable to have others come in and insult us,” one of the bulk home-owners, a player who goes by the name Martyr Igeyorhm, told me during a tour of their two-occupant neighborhood today. “We’ve had to report people for harassment a few times.” Her housing partner Seraph Altima agreed, adding, “I think it’s wrong that people ignore the work and just see themselves being deprived.”
FFXIV has had housing drama as long as it’s had houses. When producer Naoki Yoshida introduced housing to FFXIV in 2011, he emphasized fair land distribution. But in the intervening years, housing has become a contentious topic in the game as speculators and thick-pocketed players monopolized property on big servers. Other times, players didn’t even use the houses they buy; it’s just a status symbol.
About 2,500 houses are available for each of FFXIV’s servers, which on average host over twice that amount of players. Houses aren’t a necessity in FFXIV, but owning one means having your own space to invite new raiding friends, host parties and, most importantly, decorate. Players paste ornate wallpaper to their walls, fill rooms with carved wood chests and candles and decorate with garlands and gold trimming. They cost several million FFXIV gil, unfurnished. Fur rugs, wall-to-wall bookshelves, portraits and hot tubs garnish the homes of more thick-pocketed players who choose to sink their resources in home decor. Smaller apartments remain available too, but without the grandeur of a garden or street entrance (and on some servers, houses are still available.)
Out of this design frenzy, an FFXIV adaptation of Cribs has even emerged. A year ago, it featured the player Seraph Altima and her “sanctuary,” complete with a lush garden, an attended full bar and stone partitions.
Altima had carved out sanctuaries on two of FFXIV’s most populous servers. There, not even apartments, the less sought-after housing option, remain on the market. Publisher Square Enix has been adding more plots to keep up with demand, and will add more in the future, but right now, there’s not enough to go around. Over e-mail, a Square Enix representative told Kotaku that players are only able to purchase one house per character. But because both individual players and Free Companies—FFXIV’s guilds—can own property, players break that mandate a lot.
Last year, Altima fled the game’s more populous servers and established her new home on the quaint Mateus. At that point, it was one of the only servers with a wealth of land. She and Igeyorhm claimed 28 plots and thought they’d have that space to themselves. Likely, their land avarice wouldn’t have become a problem if thousands of refugees hadn’t recently fled booked-up servers searching for fresh housing frontiers.
Square Enix started offering free server transfers prior to FFXIV’s June Stormblood expansion, so players who wanted to avoid the influx of returning fans could game in peace. Mateus, which was unofficially designated a new role-playing server and was still a pristine (and cheap) housing frontier, was quickly full of home-scouters. Eventually, the housing options in that server filled up, too. When incoming transfers realized that they could no longer purchase plots on Mateus, of all places, and noticed that two players owned a plush 28 plots, accusations of greed and unfeeling avarice spread. Over Facebook and Reddit, hundreds of players had angry words for the alleged gentrifiers who felt “entitled” to own all that property when so many recent transfers (and players still saving up) never had a chance to carve out a home on Mateus.
Altima estimates that their 28 homes, the majority of an entire ward, cost around 150 million gil. If they had bought that gil, it’d have cost $375. On FFXIV this morning, Igeyorhm described themselves as “omnicrafters,” or players who “make all of our own items and sell other items for profit.” (To save a few bucks, most of their decor was made using FFXIV’s crafting system, too.) It took a lot of time. And she doesn’t feel sorry for players who put in less effort, or got to Mateus later along with the crowds. On a now-viral Tumblr post in response to public outcry, Altima wrote, “Many people feel entitled to own a house. They feel that even knowing there are only 2,160 plots (soon to be 2,880) on any given server, they can and should be allowed to go at their own pace and have free access to any content they like, including housing. They want a house of their own, but they don’t want to accept that lots of other people want it badly enough to work harder for it than they did.”
“Good lord,” a Redditor wrote. “People who aren’t rich enough to afford houses just aren’t TRYING hard enough? Not wanting neighbors putting up ‘ugly’ Paissa houses in ‘MY neighborhood?’ It’s like the most stereotypical rich snob attitude I’ve ever seen, except it’s apparently REAL (other than being in a video game).” Another described their actions as “selfishness because this person wanted to make a bastion of single-player content in a multiplayer game.”
I met Altima and Igeyorhm at the entrance of Goblet Ward 12 on FFXIV’s Mateus server. There, they fielded my questions while we toured through their saccharine two-floor cake shop, picture-perfect schoolyard, somber church to the FFXIV deity Zodiark and many, many gardens. Igeyorhm excitedly pointed out ice crystal formations and bubbling fountains between dives into hand-designed underground libraries and the like. I asked whether home construction was something she pursued in other games.
“Not really,” she said. “A lot of people like to ask us, ‘Why not play the Sims?’ Because we do so much other stuff!” Igyorhm said that, after her husband died, she hasn’t decorated much in real life. A few months later, she met Altima, and together they’ve spent an estimated thousand hours curating their 28 plots.
Neither thinks they’re unfairly eating up FFXIV’s limited housing resources. They blame Square Enix for not accommodating players’ passion for home-ownership—at least with houses. Although more cramped apartments are available on some servers and more housing will be added soon, the problem is more of philosophy than accessibility: Are players entitled to property in FFXIV—any more than they’re entitled to raiding mounts or veteran rewards? Is it the richer players, or the ones with more free time to grind out crafting exp, who are more entitled to take up space?
I asked Altima and Igeyorhm whether they’d give up any one of their plots for a new transfer desperate for a home. They paused. “These are our memories. Our precious time spent together,” Igeyorhm said.
Of course, some players still think they should be able to get those houses. “Not everyone needs everything in-game,” counters Altima. She argues that she’s not depriving anyone of housing; the plots were empty for years before they took them. “For example, not everyone deserves the Savage raiding mounts if they don’t do Alexander.”
Today’s 4.1 update to Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood introduced new player housing in the scenic, Far Eastern-themed district of Shirogane. Servers went online at 6AM, putting 720 new housing plots on the market. The choicest locations were gone before many players could even clear the login queue.
In order to acquire one of the new housing plots, players had to be fast. Grabbing one involves making their way as quickly as possibly to the area their preferred plot is located in and staking a claim before anyone else. One helpful tip circulating for players hoping to score a home this morning involves setting their character to busy, so other players can’t attempt to interrupt the purchase by opening a trade window. It’s a cutthroat game that’s over in a flash.
The login queues did not help. The launch of a new update is a busy time for any popular MMO, and the 4.1 “The Legend Returns” update is pretty huge. According to reports gathered in game and in the Final Fantasy XIV forums, many players who had prepared for today’s land rush found them stuck in login queues, their hopes of a new home ticking away with each passing minute.
Final Fantasy XIV’s housing system is notoriously bad. Where other games allow players to carve out a private space for themselves or their guild as they see fit, Square Enix’s MMO keeps available housing limited. Up until today’s patch there were three housing areas in each server. Each housing area features 12 wards, with 60 plots of varying sizes in each. That’s 2,160 spots for players and free companies (guilds). Taking into account players who like to horde housing or free companies attempting to buy up plots en masse, that’s not a lot of space.
Adding 720 more plots per server doesn’t help much, especially when they’re fresh and new and oh-so-pretty. The forums and Reddit are filled with nightmare stories about today’s chaotic land grab. It’s the worst part of an otherwise excellent patch. It’s souring the entire experience. Players are talking about canceling their accounts. My free company leader mentioned hearing someone suggest the Shirogane area’s name be changed to “Shiogane” (“shio” is Japanese for salt.)
It’s a rough system, to be sure. It’s been rough for years. When housing was introduced in Final Fantasy XIV back in 2011, I was excited at the idea of owning my own little home and decorating it with all sorts of virtual FF items. Then I saw the exorbitant prices for player homes and the relatively slim chance of actually getting one, and I gave up. I am a bold adventurer. I have conquered gods, demons and kings and averted world-ending catastrophe on several occasions. My home is wherever my sword or fishing rod takes me.
Seriously though, please fix this, Square Enix. I am fine with anything. Build us a Final Fantasy-flavored slum and I will live under a box, as long as I don’t have to fight for it.
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is a great action role-playing game marred by a shoddy localization. Following fan outcry over grammatical errors, inconsistencies and typos, NIS America announced today it’s doing the whole thing over again.
In a letter addressed to “All Customers of Ys VIII,” NIS America president and CEO Takuro Yamashita acknowledged that the localization had not reached an acceptable level by the company’s standards, and an internal investigation was being held to discover how it occurred as well as ensure it doesn’t happen again. More importantly, the company is having the entire localization gone over again to fix the existing problem.
As for Ys VIII itself, we will have a new translator and editor go over the entire localization to fix grammatical errors, typos, inconsistencies, and also to take a fresh look at the dialog and characterizations. For the script, where necessary, we will re-translate and re-edit the game including updating voicework to reflect these changes.
That’s some pretty substantial bending-over-backward to make players happy right there, but an appropriate response given the scope of the flubs and fumbles made in localizing the eighth game in the venerable role-playing series to English.
One of my favorite examples involves a place named the “Crevice of the Archeozoic Era” in Japanese. It sounds so mysterious, doesn’t it?
Here’s the English version:
Not only did this place already have a perfectly good English language name, the translators opted to translate “crevice” as “big hole.” Big hole.
Along with poor translating, localization errors also led to food recipe names being swapped, leaving players confused over which buffs were received when eating in-game meals.
The images in this post are all derived from a gallery linked on the Reddit page for fans of Ys developer Nihon Falcom, which organized a write-in campaign aimed at letting the Japanese video game maker know how poorly North American publisher NIS America had botched the localization.
Yamashita said the company plans to offer the results of the re-localization as a free download to PlayStation 4 and Vita players next month, with the delayed PC version launching with the updated translation.
In 2001, after a mere nine issues ending with an unresolved cliffhanger, popular fantasy comic series Battle Chasers was put on hold so creator Joe Madureira could pursue game development. If recently-released turn-based RPG Battle Chasers: Nightwar is any indication, it was a good move.
The Battle Chasers comic book was pretty huge in the late ‘90s. One couldn’t walk by a comic shop or bookstore without seeing posters emblazoned with bright and colorful fantasy characters wielding giant weapons. Creator Joe Madureira is often credited with bringing the influence of manga art to Western comics, and Battle Chasers felt like a Japanese role-playing game in comic book.
But Joe had trouble getting the comic book out on a regular schedule. Between switching from creator-owned label Cliffhanger to DC and eventually Image, Battle Chasers averaged a whopping six months between issues. The series’ cancellation was not unexpected, but it was still very disappointing for fans who’d stuck it through.
Sixteen years after Battle Chasers got put on hold, Battle Chasers: Nightwar gives fans of the series a chance to get reacquainted with the comics’ group of stalwart heroes as they embark on a mildly unrelated adventure.
The game opens with sulky swordsman Garrison, hulking golem Calibretto, wizened mage Knolan, wildly irresponsible bounty hunter Red Monika and hard-punching nine-year-old Gully flying their airship over an unfamiliar island. Suddenly attacked by unknown forces, the party is separated, their airship trashed. Thus begins an epic adventure to bring the band back together, figure out why they were targeted and deal with those that targeted them in spectacular turn-based fashion.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar combines Diablo-style exploration with dynamic turn-based battles to create a clever little amalgam that’s quite fun to play. First we’ve got the overworld map, where players move from point-to-point, battling creatures and harvesting crafting materials and treasure. It’s not the most thrilling way to get around the map, but it works.
Things get much more exciting in the game’s dynamically-generated dungeons. The view shifts to something a little more isometric, giving a much more detailed look at the game’s lush environments. When not engaging in battles, players are free to explore and search for ancient texts, rare crafting materials and powerful equipment. There’s even a basic fishing mini-game, because no fantasy adventure is so urgent that we can’t have fish.
The downside to dungeons is that developer Airship Syndicate tied most of the story’s plot progression to events that take place deep within their winding pathways. Odds are if the next step in your quest is to get to a point on the overworld map, there will be a mandatory dungeon between the two points that’ll take a good half hour to clear. There are subtler ways to impede player progress.
The dungeons can sometimes feel like little more than filler between battles, but when the battles are this good, I don’t mind filler so much. Joe Madureira’s signature art system animates beautifully in Nightwar’s simple-yet-sophisticated turn-based combat.
It’s a finely-honed system that encourages using the parties’ complementary skills to maximize damage and efficiency. As battles increase in difficulty, the party is forced to work together in order to juggle buffs and debuffs, healing and damage. Spamming basic attacks is hardly ever the answer.
Now that the Battle Chasers video game is out, word is there are more comics on the way. I’m not so sure we need them anymore. Gully and friends feel more at home in Nightwar than they ever did on the printed page.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is now available on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. A Switch version is in the works.
2004’s Spider-Man 2 is fondly remembered for being a pretty good movie tie-in game with some amazing web swinging. New York is a blast to zip through, but one speedrunner decided to see how fast they could complete the game without using its most exciting feature.
Slyfincleton decided to speedrun their way through Spider-Man 2 without ever using the superhero’s iconic web swinging. In Spider-Man 2, the fastest mode of travel is to toss out a line of webbing and swing around the city. Slyfincleton forgoes all of this in favor of furious wall running and long jumps that turns Spider Man into a bouncing daredevil, ping ponging from building to building like a jittery flea.
The only time that he ever employs webbing for movement is a web zip, which allows Spider Man to quickly shoot some web to pull himself forward. It gives a quick burst of movement but can’t quite match the momentum of a full swing. Using zips might feel like a bit of a technicality, but it proves essential for sequences where Spider Man is meant to spend extended time in the air, such as a battle above the Hudson River against some UFOs created by the special effects mastermind Mysterio.
Slyfincleton’s run is a bit of a gimmick; it’s the only complete “no swing” run. He finished with a time of 1:43:31, bouncing all over the place. It’s a silly run that shows off how nimble Spider Man is even when he’s not web slinging.
Fancy construction sets are nice, but there’s plenty of building to do in Minecraft proper. The first wave of Minecraft Adventure Figures from Jinx are the perfect way to just hang out at your desk with Steve and the gang.
Available this month at Walmart, Target and collectible retailers like Gamestop (they also dabble in video games), Minecraft Adventure Figures are a series of six lovingly-crafted vinyl statues celebrating the life and death of Steve, Alex and their various enemies.
I’m not normally one for toys that don’t actually do anything, but there’s something about the design of these that implies action without actually imparting any. The slight curve to the characters’ bodies, the sway of their blocky arms. They are ready for adventure, even if that adventure never comes.
The initial assortment includes Diamond Steve, Enchanted Alex (aka Hawkeye), Zombie, Zombie Pigman, Skeleton (or jack-o-lantern with Skeleton friend) and, of course, a Creeper. They run $9.99 apiece and surprise—they are sold in window boxes, so you don’t have to worry about doubles.
Check out some shots of the Minecraft Adventure Figures in relative action in the slideshow below.
You can’t go wrong with good old Diamond Steve. While staying true to texture, the Minecraft adventure figures give the characters’ bodies a slight curve, adding a sense of momentum to the stationary toys. He is charging towards a thing, and that thing is probably adventure.
Turkey scans the waiting room of the parent-teacher conference for any conversations that look ripe for some anti-Minecraft agenda. In the corner, near the pyramid of alphabet blocks, Poland and Belgium are discussing the recent failures of the school’s soccer team over Beanie Weenies and paper cups of Hawaiian Punch. As Turkey moves closer, it becomes apparent that Poland’s refreshment contains a hint of vodka.
“I dunno, I think we could use a good goalkeeper. You think Spain’s kid would be interested?” Poland’s question is punctuated by sips and masked winces.
“I’m sure my little one would love the opportunity!” interjects Turkey, “There’ll be plenty of free time once we get that insipid Minecraft out of the house. My partner and I, we like to call ourselves the ‘Family and Social Policies Ministry’, decided that there’s just too much violence in the game! You can murder those poor blocky animals any time you wish. Just yesterday I saw my child slaughtering a pig in his ‘farm’. It was horrifying!”
Belgium, on the verge of slipping another toothpick-speared Beanie Weenie into his mouth, blinks and begins to slowly lower the item back onto his plate.
Poland is the first to respond. “Wow, that’s pretty harsh, even for you. Think your kid’s gonna hold a grudge?”
“Of course not! We thought the tears would never end when we took away 4chan and Richard Dawkins’ website, but those dried up soon enough. Just to be safe, we even removed access to any Wikipedia articles related to genitalia. You know, my partner and I tried to take away the Youtube, but, between you and me, we like to lift the ban every now and then and sneak on there together late at night.”
Poland takes one last gulp from the spiked punch and sighs, hoping it’s next in line for conferences.