The Bulletin is a roundup of a few game-related news stories from the previous week.
Double Fine needs more money to finish Broken Age, won’t stop until it owns all money
At the top of Double Fine’s golden tower, studio founder Tim Schafer sits at a desk carved from the bones of the world’s most endangered animals, counting his piles of Kickstarter money. After setting a goal of $400,000 to fund a new adventure game called Broken Age, fans pledged $3,336,371—making it one of the biggest success stories in Kickstarter-funded game development history—and now Schafer wants more. In a post for the project’s backers (and as reported by Rock, Paper, Shotgun), he essentially explains that his out-of-control creative vision has exceeded even the 800-percent funding that Kickstarter users gave Double Fine in the first place. If Broken Age’s development were to stay at the pace it’s going, Schafer believes that it wouldn’t be ready until 2015, a full three years after the Kickstarter campaign ended.
Because of this, Schafer has decided to split the game in half and release the first part of Broken Age on Steam Early Access this January, which would allow Double Fine to charge money for what is basically an unfinished product and then use that revenue to finish it in a timely fashion. It sounds like a solid plan—especially if it means the game will come out without any major cuts—and this is certainly less shady than starting another Kickstarter to extract more money from people who already gave so much. Of course, there is the possibility that this is simply another step in Double Fine’s plan for world domination, but I guess we’ll just wait and see how that goes.
Microsoft Don Mattrick is dead, long live Zynga Don Mattrick
The news only broke a week ago, so you might not have had enough time to properly process it, but it’s official: Don Mattrick, the now-former head of Microsoft’s gaming division (and a good friend of The Bulletin), is now the CEO of Zynga. Since Mattrick was the smiling face of the Xbox One’s catastrophic reveal and flip-flop, the timing of his exit seems to suggest that someone wasn’t happy with how things were playing out for the upcoming console. But as more information emerges, it sounds like this move has been in the works for a little longer than the past few weeks. Either way, when the guy in charge of launching a new game console jumps ship months before the thing actually comes out, it doesn’t inspire a feeling of hope. But the Xbone wasn’t inspiring much hope anyway.
Now Microsoft needs to figure out its next step, and that means finding a replacement for the great Don Mattrick. According to a Bloomberg report, current Windows division head Julie Larson-Green is poised to take over the entire company’s hardware engineering, which would also put her in charge of the Xbox division. If she does, it doesn’t necessarily mean that any changes are on the horizon for the Xbox One. I doubt someone promoted within Microsoft will have a vastly different vision for the future of game consoles, but crazier things have happened (like, for example, the flip-flop). Also, as this Joystiq article points out, Larson-Green was in charge of the Windows 8 launch, and everyone likes Windows 8, right?
Microsoft to possibly hold press conference at German gaming convention since its last press conference went so well
Suggesting that maybe things aren’t going very well for Microsoft and that it needs another opportunity to make a big show for gamers and convince them that the Xbox One is not an evil soul-sucking demon, a source has told CVG that the console maker is planning to hold a press conference at the German gaming convention Gamescom this August. As Polygon points out, Microsoft skipped the event altogether last year, and the company hasn’t held a press conference there since 2005, the year it launched the Xbox 360. If this rumor is true, it certainly appears to indicate that something is going on beyond just the upcoming launch of the Xbox One. I doubt Microsoft will announce that it is dropping the price and that the system will now be able to play Xbox 360 games and that it will also allow you to communicate with deceased loved ones. But the event will certainly try to show off all of the cool stuff that the Xbox One actually can do. Like, I don’t know, Titanfall? Either way, I’m excited to see if Microsoft can outdo the number of digital people it murdered at E3.
SOCOM creator to revitalize the most neglected video game genre: military shooters
Back in the days before Call Of Duty was the biggest military shooter name in town, Sony’s SOCOM series took a more methodical approach to killing foreign people on the PlayStation 2. The SOCOM games focused on smart tactics instead of twitchy reflexes and were some of the earliest super-popular online console shooters. Now, perhaps by perching on top of my hill and cautiously peeking through a scope for the last few years, David Sears, the creative director for the original SOCOM games has found a hole in Call Of Duty’s defenses. Sears is coming back with, you guessed it, a spiritual successor that is, you guessed it, Kickstarter-funded.
According to the Kickstarter page, the game will be titled H-Hour: World’s Elite (and I assume that doesn’t stand for “Happy Hour,” but what if it did?) and it will be a “tactical, team-based, military shooter” for the PC and PlayStation 4 that will have a heavy focus on user-created clans rather than generic multiplayer matchmaking like in Call Of Duty. Interestingly, the team behind H-Hour, SOF Studios, did not want to use its Kickstarter to pay for the entire game, but rather to pay for a proof-of-concept demo that it can shop around to Venture Capitalist investors. So, even though the Kickstarter has ended with the project fully funded, we still might not ever see more from Happy Hour: World’s Elite. But hey, maybe trying to get some actual rich people on board will mean they won’t run out of money a few years in, like a certain other developer.