Archive for the ‘Activision’ Category

Activision will cut ties with Bungie, give up publishing control of Destiny

January 10th, 2019
Activision will cut ties with Bungie, give up publishing control of Destiny

Enlarge (credit: Aurich / Bungie)

The publishing deal that brought Halo's creators together with the publisher of Call of Duty has ended—two full years before it was originally slated to end.

Seattle-area game developer Bungie will soon become the sole publisher and handler of the Destiny online-shooter series that it developed in partnership with publisher Activision. Bungie announced the news on Thursday via a blog post titled "Our destiny," in which the studio declared that plans were already in motion "for Activision to transfer publishing rights for Destiny." The post begins with a specific framing: that during the game's plotting phase in 2010, in order "to launch a game of that magnitude, we needed the support of an established publishing partner."

Bungie's post thus implies—but doesn't outright state—that the developer no longer needs said support. More crucially, it does not make clear what exactly will unfold as a result of the 10-year deal signed in 2010 by the developer and publisher—meaning, whether either party owes the other anything for an early termination.

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Posted in Activision, Bungie, destiny, destiny 2, Gaming & Culture | Comments (0)

Activision ignores accessibility guidelines, skips Spyro subtitles

November 19th, 2018

More than 35 minutes of Spyro Reignited Trilogy cut scenes, none of which can be enjoyed by deaf or hard-of-hearing gamers (or those with the TV on mute).

Last week's release of the Spyro Reignited Trilogy disappointed many, including deaf and hard-of-hearing gamers, by not including subtitles in the games' many spoken cut scenes. Now, Activision's justification for that decision is angering many for seeming insensitivity to the needs of the community.

An Activision spokesperson gave the following statement to British site GamePitt when asked about the issue (the company was not immediately available to respond to a request for comment from Ars Technica):

When Toys For Bob set out to make an awesome game collection, there were certain decisions that needed to be made throughout the process. The team remained committed to keep the integrity and legacy of Spyro that fans remembered intact. The game was built from the ground up using a new engine for the team (Unreal 4) and was localized in languages that had not previously been attempted by the studio. While there’s no industry standard for subtitles, the studio and Activision care about the fans' experience especially with respect to accessibility for people with different abilities, and will evaluate going forward.

As GameCritics' Brad Gallaway phrased it on Twitter, many are taking the statement as Activision "basically saying 'we evaluated whether it was worth the cost and effort to keep Deaf and HH players happy, and we decided that it wasn't.'"

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 review: War games, now with battle royale!

October 19th, 2018
Players duking it out in the new Blackout mode.

Enlarge / Players duking it out in the new Blackout mode.

Call of Duty, like video game war simulations in general, is caught in a paradox. It never changes, and yet, every year, it definitely does change. Approaching a new Call of Duty, especially from the multiplayer side, is a bit of a challenge. How much do the various iterative changes matter, and do they manage to reshape the core of the game in any meaningful way? Call of Duty has long been a game about moving fast and shooting guns; what makes the latest version worth playing over the dozen-plus iterations prior?

To be fair, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 changes more than most. The highly choreographed, extravagantly cinematic single-player campaign that has been de rigueur for the series' entire lifespan has been excised. That leaves an awkward hole at the core of the experience, which developer Treyarch has filled with Blackout, an 88- to 100-player battle royale mode in the vein of Fortnite or PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. The rest of the game modes—the standard-by-now multiplayer suite and the ridiculous but addictive Zombies mode—fall in line around Blackout, creating a three-tiered experience of hyper-violence and militaristic energy.

Black Ops 4 is the biggest single-game change for the Call of Duty franchise in ages. But it's still, when it comes right down to it, just another Call of Duty.

“Where we droppin’, soldier?”

Black Ops 4 doesn't present its content in any particular order. As a player, you can jump freely between its three modes, and nothing—except for player progression in each mode—is gated from the start. The natural place to start, though, is Blackout, the newest part of the Call of Duty package, both the most derivative and the most distinct mode on offer. Taking place on a sprawling map stitched together from locations and motifs in Call of Duty's multiplayer past, Blackout heavily resembles just about any other battle royale game, both in concept and execution.

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Bungie prioritizing “simulation” over frame rate for console Destiny 2

August 23rd, 2017

Our own Mark Walton plays Destiny 2 at 4K and 60 fps on PC.

Here at Ars, we spend a lot of time talking about how developers deal with the trade-offs between resolution, frame rate, graphical detail, and simulation complexity they face at the top end of modern console and PC hardware. Quite often, the first-blush “wow factor” of more pixels and higher frame rates wins out in this constant balancing act. For Destiny 2, though, Executive Producer Mark Noseworthy says the team prioritized the complexity of the game itself over hitting a frame rate higher than 30fps.

In a Twitter thread back in June, Noseworthy said that the CPU limits on current consoles mean the game had to scale back to 30fps “to deliver D2’s AI counts, environment sizes, and # of players.” In the latest issue of Edge magazine (excerpted by WCCFTech), Noseworthy expands on the reasoning behind that choice:

It’s about the simulation of the Destiny world. Thirty AI at once, large open spaces, six players, sometimes with vehicles, and dropships coming in; that’s where we’re using the CPU.

Could we make a Destiny game that ran at 60fps? Yes, but the space would be smaller, it would be less cooperative, and there’d be fewer monsters to shoot. That’s not the game we want to make.

First and foremost, we’re trying to make an incredible action game. We don’t feel we’ve been held back by the choices we’ve made about world simulation versus frame rate; in fact, we think we’re offering a player experience you can’t have elsewhere because of the choices we’re making.

Put like that, the trade-off doesn’t sound like a bad one. Yes, a game that’s locked to 30fps looks markedly worse than one running at 60fps or more, all things being equal. The resulting lack of smoothness is especially noticeable in a reflex-based shooting game like Destiny 2 (though the server’s internal tick rate has arguably more impact on how the game feels). That said, a smoother Destiny 2 with fewer simultaneous enemies and fewer player characters in smaller battle locales would probably be noticeably worse to play, too. As long as the game can run steadily at a playable 30 frames per second, without dips, that sounds like a perfectly acceptable trade.

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Posted in 4K, Activision, Bungie, destiny 2, frame rate, Gaming & Culture, pc, Resolution | Comments (0)

Expect more gaming nostalgia after Crash Bandicoot’s revival success

August 4th, 2017

Enlarge / Sweet hat, Crash.

Crash Bandicoot generally doesn’t get the same kind of love as classic gaming mascots like Mario and Sonic in gaming’s nostalgia-obsessed zeitgeist. So the success of the recent Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy re-release is taking even publisher Activision by surprise, and it has the company thinking about reviving other classic properties.

N.Sane Trilogy was the top-selling game globally for the month of June, Activision said during a recent conference call, despite being only available on one console for two days of the month. The game was also the most downloaded title on PSN for July, according to Sony, results that “outperform[ed] even our most optimistic expectations” as Activision put it. That success is even leading to what’s probably the first ever example of some popular Crash Bandicoot-themed memes.

“We knew that there was a passionate audience out there for Crash—full disclosure, myself among them—but we had no idea…” Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg said in an earnings call yesterday. “It’s hard to tell if that’s a vocal minority or that’s a real mass audience until you put something out there. Crash has surpassed all of our expectations by a pretty wide margin.”

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