Gaming News: Halo Reach breaks sales records, APB is dead or is it, Pirates to go F2P, Activision to sell cut scene movies, Steam introduced new wallet

This week heralded the Tokyo Game Show, with more news about forthcoming Japanese games.

Stories from Tokyo that caught my eye were the announcement of Valkyria Chronicles 3, but not for the PS3. I think that’s a shame, the first game is a super RP tactical strategy game with a very different type of tactical strategy combat from games like Final Fantasy.

Never mind, the trailer of Studio Ghibli’s Ni No Kuni should keep PS3 RPG fans happy for now. (WANT!!)

And Phantasy Star Online 2 was also announced and due for the PC in 2011. I never played the original but I remember it had a huge cult following, so MMO fans might want to keep their ears peeled.

Microsoft also took the opportunity at their TGS conference to predict 3m sales of Kinect this Christmas and announce some Kinect exclusive games. More interestingly, they predict that there could be 5 years of life left in current gen consoles (admittedly they have a vested interest in encouraging people to buy them, but it may also be true.)

In WoW news, wow.com has changed its name back to WoW Insider and moved domains to wow.joystiq.com. They answer questions about the change here. But you have to wonder whether a domain name like wow.com will be allowed to rot in limbo.

Halo Reach breaks $200m in first day sales

Halo Reach has been breaking sales records, recording over $200m in sales in America and Europe on it’s first day. This actually makes it the biggest US entertainment release of the year, beating opening weekend sales for top blockbuster films as well as gaming releases. Amazingly, this still falls short of the Modern Warfare numbers last year. The game has been getting great reviews in the media, too.

And this is why we will always have AAA shooters.

The sad demise of APB

Realtime Worlds failed to find a buyer for APB as a going concern, and the servers closed down this week, about 80 days after launch. This is a record, as far as I know, for MMOs.

It isn’t clear what sort of legal rights any buyers have, although requests for refunds are being directed towards retailers. That’ll certainly make them keep to take more new MMOs in the future. There is a rumour that a buyer may have emerged for APB, but even if true that doesn’t mean they want to actually run the game. They may be more interested in the codebase.

Pirates of the Burning Sea announces switch to F2P

Flying Lab software have announced a change in charging scheme for their pirate themed MMO, Pirates of the Burning Sea. The producer comments in his post:

Finally, in the modern MMO environment, players often rotate through several games that they’re engaged in. With a subscription, it’s a hassle to cancel and then re-subscribe as they move back and forth between games. With F2P, players can play the games they want to play right that moment without having to keep in mind what they committed to weeks or months ago. F2P is a win for the player, and it’s a win for a more diverse MMO community.

I remember thinking that Pirates was a rather cool game when I tried it in beta, just I didn’t want to commit to subscriptions. And I think his point that players often rotate through different MMOs these days is a really interesting one. May add more thoughts about that this week, but the idea of finding an MMO to become your virtual home is probably looking old fashioned right now to a lot of players.

They haven’t announced a date for the switchover but fans of nautical combat and economic PvP might want to give this one another look. It’s very different in theme and style to other games out there, having more in common with EVE than with WoW.

Anyone want to pay for a collection of cut scenes? Activision says yes

Bobby Kotick is keen to monetize cut scenes. Although he was talking about selling them separately as a movie, I can’t help wondering whether they’d be keener to sell them as extras to existing games (which is probably a bonus if you hate cutscenes and never want to see them again.)

Speaking about these cutscenes, Kotick said: “If we were to take that hour, or hour and a half, take it out of the game, and we were to go to our audiences for whom we have their credit card information as well as a direct relationship and ask, ‘Would you like to have the StarCraft movie?’, my guess is that … you’d have the biggest opening weekend of any film ever.”

Does anyone else find it creepy when he reminds everyone that they have the credit card information from their audience (not to mention untrue because I don’t recall that you are forced to buy the game direct from Actiblizzard)?

My thought is that sure, you could have a fairly large opening weekend if it was CHEAP. No one who spend £45 on a video game is going to want to spend half again on the same cutscenes … are they?

Still, I could  imagine paying a fiver for a collection of nicely edited together cutscenes for a game I really liked. I enjoyed watching through the video collection of warcraft 2/3 clips showing Arthas’ story pre-WoW.

Speaking at the same conference, Kotick also claimed that Activision have no wish to charge online fees for CoD, or in-game ads at all. It is quite odd to hear him talking about showing respect for his customers, wonder what happened to the real Bobby Kotick.

New Steam wallet

Steam are planning to let you load your account up with cash, which will be available via prepaid cards (ie. if you want to give one as a gift or don’t have a credit card) as well as via credit card purchase or offer codes. They have chosen not to go with their own virtual currency.

This will be a boon to people who want to sock some cash away when they are feeling flush in order to get the most out of the infamous Steam sales later on.

They do note though:

Funds added to the Steam Wallet are non-refundable and non-transferable