The smell is in the air. Go online and you can see forum comments, news, previews, and reviews of the scant late spring releases crinkling at the edges, singed by proximity. It’s E3 season! That mad time of the year when the video game’s loudest and richest publishers and developers descend upon Los Angeles from all around the world to debut what games will dominate the next eighteen months. It’s been the white hot zenith of the video game business cycle for nearly twenty years now. But times are changing.
Nintendo, Japan’s veritable godfather of gaming, is foregoing its big E3 opening press conference in favor of separate small presentations for press and retailers, as well as Nintendo Direct broadcasts aired direct to players at home. Sony and Microsoft have brand new consoles, but both companies will have shown them off at Apple-style private press conferences ahead of the convention. In the changing world of gaming, where the business has transformed, where more creators are striking out on their own, where big releases are increasingly coming out all year round and not just at Christmas, E3 isn’t what it used to be.
Jetsetter, Digital Trends’ weekly column devoted to import gaming and international game development, is ok with E3’s decline. There’s plenty going around in the world at any given time, and all you need is a web browser to find out about it. Here’s what’s happening outside the good ol’ U.S. of A. this week.
Amazon drops Nintendo Wii U price in the UK to £149.
Nintendo’s been promising big momentum for the Wii U in the back half of 2013. The machine’s been selling in catastrophically low numbers across the first half of the year. New games are coming, but the UK’s biggest retailers aren’t waiting around for them. They want Wii U off shelves now, and they’re pricing it to move. According to Eurogamer, UK retail chain Asda slashed the price of the Wii U down to £149 for the Basic model and just £199 for the Deluxe Set, about $232 and $309 respectively. Those aren’t huge price drops when compared to the US retail list prices of $300 and $350, but considering Wii U launched in the UK at £250 and £300 (around $389 and $467), the downgrade is a bit more dramatic. Asda is just one retailer in the Wii U fire sale abroad, though as both Base.com and Amazon.com have matched those prices.
Maybe this isn’t all bad news, though. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was actually a bestseller in the UK last month, selling out at many stores. Fingers crossed these crazy price cuts get the console in enough hands to spur some new development.
German symphony plays arrangements from Final Fantasy’s golden age.
Richard Wagner was a man who knew how to tell a story with opera. His work in the mid-19th century is the foundation for leitmotif music writing. Leitmotif refers to brief melodies that recur when characters or settings reappear in an opera, a theme that is associated with and defines what it accompanies.
Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy X, arguably the most adored games in the series, are in part adored for their letimotif-laden scores written by Nobuo Uematsu. Who doesn’t remember Kefka’s cajoling theme song or Aeris’ wan, sweet melody? That makes them the perfect subject for the latest production of Thomas Böcker’s Merregon Studios.
Final Symphony, a performance of suites from all three games, will be played by the 80 piece Wuppertal symphony orchestra on May 11. Nobuo Uematsu himself and his longtime collaborator Masashi Hamauzu, composer of Saga Frontier 2 and Final Fantasy XIII, will be in attendance.
Sawfly Studios goes blue with its first game, Men’s Room Mayhem for PS Vita.
Liverpool, England was once a hot spot for big budget game making, but heavyweights like Sony Liverpool, creator of Wipeout, have been closed with alarming frequency in recent years. The closure of big studios has led to the forming of many small independents, though. Sony Liverpool alums Andrew Jones, Jon Eggleton, Mike Humphrey, and Karl Jones founded Sawfly Studios in January, and now they’ve unveiled their first game: Men’s Room Mayhem. You control a janitor responsible for making sure people, well, go to the bathroom in the right place. Indie publisher Ripstone is helping put the game together with Sony.
Is it like Boogerman all over again? Maybe not. “Extra points are scored for maintaining proper men’s room etiquette as well as for demonstrating good personal hygiene,” says producer Phil Gaskell. Nice.