New PlayStation 3 model - Featured

News Shelf: 9/21/12

Tokyo Game Show (TGS), the biggest games exhibition in Japan, generated most of the headlines late this week. While most note that the Japanese games industry has shrunk over the last few years, especially in comparison to the growth of developers and studios in North America, the home of Sony, Nintendo and other creators still puts on an impressive show every year. Let’s take a look at some of the notable TGS headlines (and others) at the News Shelf.

Sony announces new PlayStation 3 model, PlayStation Plus for PS Vita

New PlayStation 3 modelSony made a number of announcements at its TGS presentation on Tuesday, most notably a new re-design of the PlayStation 3 console. The third incarnation of the PS3 brings back the shiny piano black look of its 2006 original, while still clocking in at 25% smaller and 20% lighter than the current PS3 model on sale.

The console will be available in two models, one with a 250 GB hard drive and another with a 500 GB hard drive. The 250 GB version launches in North America at $269.99 and comes packed with the Game of the Year Edition of Uncharted 3, and a digital voucher for DUST 514. The 500 GB version, meanwhile, launches October 30 and comes with the upcoming Assassin’s Creed III.

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It’s worth noting that the 250 GB version, at $269.99, clocks in at $20 more than the current cheapest (160 GB) PS3. But with two extra games packed in, we’re considering it a wash.

The PS Vita didn’t go without announcements either. PlayStation Plus will now include Vita support, at no extra cost to current PS+ subscribers. The linked subscription includes discounts in the PS Store and an Instant Game Collection with a complete, separate collection for the Vita. (The IGC is a list of games you can play, in full, as long as you’re a paying subscriber.)

PS Vita with 3G support coming to Canada

PS Vita 3GIt’s been a long time coming, but finally a PlayStation Vita that you can also pay Rogers money to use is coming to the Great White North. 3G and WiFi-capable Vitas will launch in Canada on October 2 for $299.99. This bundle also comes with download vouchers for Gravity Rush and Unit 13 – the former we at Dork Shelf can unreservedly recommend. (The latter? Well, uh, Metacritic).

Data plans with Rogers have yet to be announced, but watch this space for when pricing details emerge, at which point we will undoubtedly grumble about them.

DigiBC holds “The state of the video game industry in BC” town hall

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DigiBCDigiBC, British Columbia’s Digital Media and Wireless Association, held a panel discussion earlier this week that looked at the province’s state of the industry amidst a handful of high-profile studio closures over the past year including Rockstar, Propaganda and Radical Games.

In the event’s presentation, PwC’s Rick Griffiths noted that over the past several years the highly mobile nature of games development saw studios move to Toronto, Montreal and other cities in Canada — meaning that B.C. is no longer number one in the country.

Counter to that, though, is the growth of small- and medium-sized studios – potentially with more creative freedom to try new projects and ideas. Ahead of the event, Silicon Sisters Interactive’s Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch talked about the growth of independent developers on the west coast in the Vancouver Sun. New studios, some of them started by the people who were left behind when the larger studios closed down, are doing more with less – “think $100,000, three months and three to seven people to build a game, compared to as much as $20 million, four years and hundreds of staff,” writes the Sun’s Jenny Lee.

“While there were incredible games that were pushing graphical capabilities, in terms of diversity of games, it had really gotten homogenous. What’s happening now is the opposite,” said Gershkovitch.

BioWare's Ray Muzyka and Greg ZeschukBioWare founders leave company; new Mass Effect and Dragon Age games announced

BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk announced their retirement from the company on Tuesday.

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The two doctors have been at the helm of the Edmonton-based studio since founding it with Augustine Yip in 1995 after completing medical school at the University of Alberta. I could selectively quote from Muzyka and Zeschuk’s outgoing blog entries like every other news site has been doing, but you’ve probably read the choice bits several times already. I’d rather recommend you read their pieces in full, as they give the reader confidence that BioWare is in good hands, thanks to their guiding vision over the decades, and that the two are indeed off to greener pastures, at least for now.

Canadians will likely be paying a lot of attention to Zeschuk’s The Beer Diaries project in the near future. Eager to prove that BioWare really isn’t shuttering its doors after the founders’ departure, the company announced several upcoming projects, including Dragon Age III: Inquisition and, according to Aaron Flynn, general manager of BioWare Edmonton and Montreal, more content for the Mass Effect universe and “an all-new game set in a fictional universe,” which could mean just about anything.

Patch Notes

  • Remember when I said last week not to expect a Steam box anytime soon? Never mind. While a real Valve-produced console is still a ways off, beta testing is scheduled for as early as next year. What that means, at this stage, is anyone’s guess.
  • The first images of the Circle Pad Pro for the Nintendo 3DS XL have appeared. Yes, it sure is big.
  • One of the recent offerings on the 3DS’s Nintendo Video service is a 3D version of the Black Keys’ music video “Little Black Submarines.” Check it out if you have a 3DS for some smart use of the third dimension thanks to the small, compact venue where the band performed its song and some short, close-in shots of the crowd.


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