Shawn Layden States Fans Will “Likely See Us Start To Make More Noise In The New Term” When Speaking On PlayStation Multiplayer

Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studio CEO Shawn Layden has been reemerging from Sony’s overall silent end of 2018 by speaking more to multiple news outlets. With much of Sony’s road map of 2019 for the PlayStation 4 being relatively unknown outside of the upcoming Days Gone from Bend Studios in April, one area Layden mentions fans should expect to see a higher emphasis on is multiplayer.

Speaking Business Insider, the long term Sony gaming staple touched on a multitude of topics, such as the staggering units sales that the PlayStation 4 has accumulated, which currently has surpassed 91 million lifetime units sold. While the positives for the gaming company rolled, the PlayStation guru was given a somewhat devil’s advocate approach: for all of the success this past year (and the overall console generation), what is something that PlayStation has whiffed on? “For all of the advances we’ve made, and the high bar we’ve focused on in storytelling” Layden began. “I mean, I dare anybody to experience something like The Last of Us and not feel emotional about it; and with God of War, that story of a father and son; and Horizon: Zero Dawn, and the power of Aloy, the protagonist. All of these things, I believe we’ve done quite well. I’m very happy with the Spider-Man game that went out last year. And looking forward, Days Gone is coming in a couple months. That’s not only compelling and gripping, but it will emotionally try you very hard. I think all those things we do really well. What we don’t do so much in is multiplayer.”

Admittedly, while PlayStation has been the go-to home console for many gamer’s needs this generation, they have seen a distinct drop in first party multiplayer based games. Many Sony owned franchises such as Killzone and Twisted Metal that rely heavily on multiplayer aspects, have laid dormant for year; with the former of the two last releasing in 2013, with Killzone: Shadow Fall on PS4. While they haven’t necessarily been hurting because of it, due to the immaculate resume of their single player, first party experiences, it is something that Layden has noticed and looks to address moving forward.

When asked for clarification on if he meant local or online multiplayer, Layden specified his intentions on online multiplayer. “Couch co-op — I mean that’s a whole category I think the industry needs to look back at. We have that with sports titles, and some racing titles, but not with much else. And I think that speaks to the power of the internet on the one hand, but otherwise we might wanna revisit that to get more family engagement in the gaming experience. But, no, I was referencing more with the things like GTA 5 Online, or you look at Call of Duty, or Fortnite, or any of those experiences. Worldwide Studios, like I say, we’ve been going really heavy into story-driven gaming. The power of the narrative. Big, spectacular experiences. But not a whole lot in the multiplayer side of things, I think. That’s an area where you will likely see us start to make more noise in the new term.”

With confirmation of Sony’s departure from this years upcoming E3 event later last year, both media and consumers remain optimistic of the Japanese tech giant’s 2019 year, but the mystery surrounding its releases does make some cautious. Layden has gone on record via a tweet stating “see you in the new year” when pressed about the upcoming year, but many releases outside of April’s Days Gone still don’t have dates attached, including The Last of Us Part II, Death Stranding, and Ghosts of Tsushima. Hopefully by Layden’s recent media presence it means that more information on PlayStation’s 2019 isn’t that far in the distance.

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Blizzard Announces New Overwatch Map, Paris

Blizzard Entertainment has announced that their hit hero shooter Overwatch will be receiving a new map soon that is set in Paris, France, and it is currently live on the game’s Public Test Region for PC players.

Announced through the game’s newest set of patch notes along with a tweet from Overwatch‘s official Twitter account, the new map themed around the famous European city is an Assault map, which pits teams against each other by capturing and defending a pair of points throughout the map. ‘Begin your journey at the Cabaret Luna, where the velvety alto voice of preeminent diva Luna charms movie stars, revolutionaries, locals, and tourists alike” described Tom Powers, Community Manage of Overwatch within the patch notes. “After the encore, step outside to see the sights and seize victory. Artisanal shops line the streets as you approach the first point, so duck in to sample a macaron or escape enemy fire. Battle through alleys and corridors before clashing with your foes on the banks of the Seine. Once you establish dominance over your adversaries, make your way to Maison Marat and deliver the coup-de-grâce.”

Paris will be the first map to hit Overwatch since the addition of Busan in September 2018, along with the first Assault map since June 2017’s Horizon Lunar Colony.

While Blizzard has not released a specific date on which the map will go live from PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One players, normally the test period lasts a few weeks before integrating them into the game’s main map rotation. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the map go live by the end of February (if not earlier).

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Mario Kart Tour Delayed Until Summer 2019

Announced exactly one year ago today, Nintendo’s upcoming mobile iteration of its best selling kart racer, Mario Kart Tour, has been delayed to this upcoming summer.

The announcement comes from the release of Nintendo’s latest fiscal quarterly highlights, which shine a light on many aspects of the Japanese gaming giant’s business aspects. The decision to push the game from its initial from early 2019 release date was made ‘in order to improve the quality of the application and expand the content of the service after delivery’.

Originally announced to release during Nintendo’s past fiscal year (April 2018-March 2019), Mario Kart Tour plans to bring Nintendo’s iconic cast of characters from the Mario franchise to your smartphone device in all of their wacky and fast-paced kart racing glory. As of now, Mario Kart Tour is planning to release on iOS, Android, and the Google Play Store.

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Cyberpunk 2077 Creative Director Joins Blizzard Entertainment

CD PROJEKT RED, home of the critically acclaimed Witcher series and highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077, will soon be looking for a new Creative Director, as Sebastian Stepien has recently left the company to join Blizzard Entertainment.

As first discovered by ResetEra user Gerwant, the longtime employee of the Polish gaming company had recently updated his LinkedIn profile to reflect the change in employers. Most recently credited as Narrative and Setting Director, Stepien also served as Creative Director on CD PROJEKT RED’s projects since early 2013. His time at the company spanned over 12 and a half years.

While employment changes like this aren’t necessarily uncommon in the gaming industry, it does raise some eyebrows on a few aspects. Normally, in a situation like this, when an employee on the development side of the project leave, it likely because their obligation to the project has wrapped. In this case though, Stepien was credited as Creative Director on Cyberpunk 2077. Many industry members, analysts and commentators believe the upcoming open world, futuristic RPG is still a few years off, but given the change in leadership, it may signal the game is a bit further along than some may this. With the game being in a playable state, and a lengthy demo shown to public, this may signal the game is already in or close to a beta build. At the same time, this speculation could be off but it does raise a flag of interest towards the Polish gaming entity.

With all of the negative press surrounding Blizzard over the past few months, this seems to be a great get for the PC-centered gaming giant. While nothing has been announced on what the project could be that Stepien was hired on to oversee with Blizzard, it will be interesting to see the fallout on both sides of the spectrum for each entity.

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EA Cancels Open-World Star Wars Game From Vancouver Studio

According to reports from those close to the studio, publishing giant Electronic Arts has canceled its open-world Star Wars project. Originally developed by Visceral Games, the game has since continued its development under the arm of EA Vancouver.

First reported by Jason Schreier of Kotaku, the Vancouver based studio had been developing the project since October 2017, when EA shut down Visceral, While the project was under development at Visceral at the time of closure, reports suggest that the development of the game had changed quite drastically since the Vancouver studio took control. Code-named Ragtag, the game centered around a linear action-adventure play-style, with Uncharted director Amy Hennig leading the project. Since taken it over, EA’s in-house studio replaced much of the game, outside of a handful of art assets, to fit their open-world gameplay.

EA Vancouver handles support for multiple franchises within EA, including FIFA and Battlefront, with the Ragtag being a main focus with a portion of those within the studio. While it is not clear what EA Vancouver’s next project will be, but Scheier suggests that it may fall within the Star Wars IP.

In 2013, Disney and EA signed an exclusive, 10 year licensing agreement for EA to publish Star Wars games developed by then Visceral Games, DICE, BioWare, and now Respawn Entertainment. While the deal is approaching its sixth year, it has only beared witness to two console experiences (Battlefront 1 & 2), along with the mobile experience Galaxy of Heroes (iOS and Android). With the poor reception to both Battlefield entries from DICE, along with multiple game cancelations for the series, one must ask, at what point does Disney explore its options with the IP, including terminating its agreement with EA?

Respawn Entertainment, an EA owned studio, announced at EA Play event at E3 2018 that they were currently developing a new single-player, narrative driven Star Wars game, titled Jedi: Fallen Order. The game is currently scheduled for a 2019 release, with many expecting to see the game hit store shelves this fall.

We will continue to provide more information as it becomes available.

UPDATE (1/16/19): More details have began to surface since our previous post. Schreier notes those close to the project, codenamed Orca, have detailed that it would’ve set players in the role of a scoundrel or bounty hunter who could explore various open-world planets and work with different factions across the Star Wars universe. He also notes that the game was quite early in development, and that when EA’s top decision maker’s examined their internal road map for the next handful of years, they decided they wanted to get a project out sooner rather than later. Enter a new, smaller-scale project that EA and their Motive studio will be heading, that is planned to launch as early as 2020 (also noting this would line up well with the rumored 2020 launch of next generation hardware, although none of this has been confirmed). Also important to note that EA did not lay off anyone as part of this transition, and possibly rebooting the Ragtag project (technically again) isn’t off the table in the future.

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Bungie Announces Split With Activision, Retain Rights to Destiny IP

With an announcement of astronomical proportions, developer Bungie has announced their departure from their publishing partnership with Activision. In doing so, Bungie has also announced that they will retain publishing rights to the Destiny IP.

In a release by Bungie, the developer detailed the process moving forward, which has already entered the processes of completing the transition. “When we first launched our partnership with Activision in 2010, the gaming industry was in a pretty different place” the developer stated. “As an independent studio setting out to build a brand new experience, we wanted a partner willing to take a big leap of faith with us. We have enjoyed a successful eight-year run and would like to thank Activision for their partnership on Destiny. Looking ahead, we’re excited to announce plans for Activision to transfer publishing rights for Destiny to Bungie. With our remarkable Destiny community, we are ready to publish on our own, while Activision will increase their focus on owned IP projects.”

For a few months now, rumors have began to appear leaning towards tensions between the Destiny developer and publisher Activision, with Jason Schreier mentioning the rift dating back before the first title even shipped. Earlier today, Schreier reported that he had gained knowledge that Bungie was scheduled to have a team meeting, saying “the buzz around the studio is that it’s “good news” for them.” He declined to share more details at the time, but broke the story as soon as the word was official. Schreier also stated that at the meeting today, the staff cheered loudly for the announcement, expressing their excitement to fully own the Destiny IP and to no longer feel weighed down by Activision’s restrictive annualized schedule.

“With Forsaken, we’ve learned, and listened, and leaned in to what we believe our players want from a great Destiny experience” the team continued in the release. “Rest assured there is more of that on the way. We’ll continue to deliver on the existing Destiny roadmap, and we’re looking forward to releasing more seasonal experiences in the coming months, as well as surprising our community with some exciting announcements about what lies beyond.”

Following their split from Microsoft in 2007 to become an independently owned studio, Bungie continued to develop exclusively for Microsoft’s then-current console, Xbox 360. In 2010, they then signed a 10 year publishing agreement with Activision. Schreier also points out that the developer showed the same excitement when leaving Microsoft at the time.

We will continue to provide updates on the situation as more information becomes known.

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Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Just Cause 3 Available Now on Xbox Game Pass

Xbox Game Pass continues to become one of the best values in gaming to date, and the on-demand gaming subscription service has just added two more titles to its lineup.

In a tweet released by Xbox Game Pass’s official Twitter account, the service surprised fans by announcing the addition of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Just Cause 3 to their ever growing lineup of games. This comes as a surprise to many, as both games were not previously schedule to appear on the program. The addition of the two games now brings the total number of games up to 209 titles currently available, spanning all three generations of Xbox hardware.

Released in December 2016 as a timed exclusive on the PlayStation 4 followed by a Xbox One and PC release the following March, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is everything fans loved about the games originally release in 2011 but packed to the brim with content. The ultimate version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 comes fully loaded, including all previous DLC, Marvel vs. Capcom: Official Complete Works, and boasting full HD 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second.

Just Cause 3, from Avalanche Studios, sets players in the Mediterranean republic of Medici, where citizens are suffering under the brutal control of Dictator General Di Ravello. Enter Rico Rodriguez, a man on a mission to destroy the General’s hold on power. With over 400 square miles of complete freedom from sky to seabed and a huge arsenal of weaponry, gadgets and vehicles, prepare to unleash chaos in the most creative and explosive ways you can imagine. First released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in December 2015, Just Cause 3 is sure to scratch that thrill seeking itch you just can’t seem to reach.

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