•••• "Minecraft's" release on Xbox Live has gone about as well as anyone could have hoped. Early sales figures project that the game sold over 400,000 copies in the first day it was available. [Major Nelson]
•••• Beyoncé is being sued for $100 million by game developer Gate Five for abruptly backing out of a deal for a game called "Starpower: Beyoncé." It appears as though Gate Five was having trouble securing financing, and when Beyoncé walked it had to lay off 70 employees. [NY Post]
•••• That rumor about the $99 Xbox with Kinect bundle with a two-year subscription? Confirmed. It's only a pilot program being run through sixteen Microsoft stores, but it's nice that the $15 a month subscription fee includes an Xbox Live Gold membership. [Engadget]
•••• "The Avengers: Battle for Earth" has been confirmed by Ubisoft as a motion control game for the Wii U and the Xbox Kinect (sorry, PlayStation Move). Nothing says "2012" like a comic book movie game done with motion control. Someone from the 2020s is already making fun of this, and someone in the 2030s is already super-nostalgic about it. [Washington Post]
•••• "Diablo III," which finally drops on May 15, is the most pre-ordered PC title ever. To summarize, it's been an excellent spring for the Devil. That's not in reference to anything in particular, it just sounded really metal. [Joystiq]
•••• The British Board of Film Classification is giving up its game-rating responsibilities in the UK to the Video Standards Council, which will adhere to European-wide standards. The biggest tangible effect that may come into place is that a retailer who sells a game rated 12 or higher to a child may face criminal charges and jail time. Just a friendly public service announcement to our many readers across the pond who operate video game shops. [BBC]
Tweet of the Week
Blowing off Steam
There was news this week that season 2 of HBO's "Game of Thrones" is on pace to be the most pirated show of 2012. Erik Kain wrote a well-done and thoughtful piece for Forbes about why HBO could prevent a large portion of the piracy by making their shows more accessible to non-traditional cable subscribers. Kain doesn't condone piracy, but he does put the ball in the court of the companies that basically ask for their stuff to be illegally distributed because they don't offer an affordable and easy way for people to buy it.
I'm with Kain 100 percent on this logic, for movies, software, video games and music. We saw how the music industry dealt with piracy in their own hamfisted way, finally succumbing to the iTunes/MP3 store model. Music piracy isn't dead, but the risk/reward proposition is a lot worse for someone who just wants a couple of songs and is considering downloading them illegally. Games, film and television are not there yet, but they need to be. The good news is that it's only a matter of time — they need to adapt their distribution model or die at the hands of someone who will.
Where I stop with Kain's argument is the level of blame falling primarily on HBO. While they are behind the curve in making their content available, it's still their content. Just because "Game of Thrones" isn't easily accessible to people who want to see it without a subscription doesn't give anyone the right or moral justification for downloading it illegally. These arguments about piracy always fall to pieces, because there is no way around the fact that it's stealing, plain and simple. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves.
In my early 20s, I was a supreme pirate. I had a library of illegal music, television and games that was like a Library of Congress for 90s and 00s entertainment. I made the same justifications for downloading stuff that I had previously owned but lost, things that were out of print or there was no easy way to access legally. However I spun it in my own head or to my roommates when I hogged the bandwidth with BitTorrents, I was stealing. No distribution model is going to change that.
Really Important Video
The first trailer featuring actual gameplay for "Assassin's Creed III" ishere!It's titled "Outsider" and it gives us some hint of the lead character's motivations. There's also lots of gory attacks on the redcoats and some slick-looking acrobatics. October cannot come soon enough.