We have a whole lot of video games in this world today, but I want you all to know one thing: This is Jetsetter’s house. Whose house? Jetsetter’s house! I said whooooose house? JETSETTER’S HOUSE! In the house y’all, in the house y’all.
Welcome once more to Jetsetter, Digital Trends’ weekly column covering the international world of video games. We do more than trade in decades-old RUN-D.M.C. references, we talk about the games coming out outside the United States, the biggest video game market in the world, to give you a taste of what it’s like abroad. From French Canadian indie beat ‘em ups to Russian MMOs, Jetsetter has got you covered.
This week we start in Australia, where a long overdue changes in the game industry finally bear fruit, before going to check on Norway’s biggest MMO, and then looking at Microsoft’s latest business in the UK.
* Nintendo publishes Australia’s first Adult-rated game.
June was a momentous month for the Australian video game industry, because the country’s government finally introduced the R18+ rating for games. Prior to this year, games like Grand Theft Auto IV and Mortal Kombat have been barred from release since their was no classification marking games purely for adults. Up to now, though, no game released in Australia has actually received the R18+ rating. Nintendo and Team Ninja are blazing a new trail with the R18+-rated Australian release of Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge for Wii U. Due to “violence that is high in impact because of its frequency, high definition graphics, and emphasis on blood effects,” Ninja Gaiden 3 on Wii U will be Australia’s first adults-only game. It’s a strange world we live in when Nintendo, the company most obsessed with maintaining an image of family friendliness, is the publisher giving Australian gamers their first legal taste of ultra-violence.
* The Secret World finds new life in semi-free-to-play.
Norway’s Funcom has struggled to find a lasting audience for its ambitious MMO The Secret World. Since adopting a new semi-free-to-play sales model in December, wherein people who buy the game for $30 get access to all story content, massively improving the game’s lifetime sales in just a week. Where the company had only sold about 200,000 copies of the game back in August, it brought that total up to 300,000 in December. Pretty great news for players of the Ragnar TØrnquist-developed game since so much of its pleasures are reliant on a large number of players. Shame the influx of customers didn’t help Funcom much, as the studio announced a massive restructuring on Friday that will see staff laid off across all its offices in Norway, China, Switzerland, Canada, and the US.
* Microsoft expands its UK gaming business with new flagship studio.
As we reported on Thursday, Microsoft has opened anew studio called Lift London, assembled by former Sony Computer Entertainment executive Phil Harrison and led by ex-Rare Ltd. staff member Lee Schunerman. The studio will specialize in games that are services, more focused on updates made over the cloud than selling new disc-based games at stores. Lift London is also an incubator for young studios like London’s Dlala. It won’t just foster European development, though, it will specifically serve the European game maket. “Europe is our main focus,” said Schunerman during the press conference announcing Lift’s opening, “We are here to deliver entertainment as a service, when, where, and how you want it. We going beyond he box, onto tablets, mobile and TVs. And we are made in London, a diverse city that’s full of possibilites.” Okay, Mr. Schunerman, enough with the PR pap. No get back to making some games. Your most recent credits are on Kinect Sports and Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Yeesh.