Train2Game News: Games with Gold offer extended

Xbox 360Microsoft have announced that the Games for Gold initiative on Xbox 360 has been extended past 2013.

It was announced at E3 in June this year as a limited-time promotion, Games with Gold gives Xbox Live subscribers two free games to keep each month, with new titles made available on the 1st and 16th.

Since then Microsoft says over 120 million hours have been played with Games with Gold titles. These have included Fable 3, Defense Grid: The Awakening, Assassin’s Creed 2, Crackdown, Dead Rising 2 and DR2 prologue Case Zero, Magic 2013, Rainbow Six Vegas, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes and most recently Halo 3.

Despite switching focus to Xbox One in the run-up to the console’s November 22 release, Xbox chief marketing and strategy officer Yusuf Mehdi said in September that the company will continue to support Xbox 360 for years to come.

“If you look at Xbox 360 that platform has lasted for seven to eight years and it’s going to go for another three years. It’s incredibly profitable now in the tail,” he said. “We are going to continue to invest in Xbox 360 and the two devices can work in concert. So it isn’t just like the day we ship Xbox One, Xbox 360 won’t work, we will continue to support it. In fact, we are going to ship over 100 new games on Xbox 360, so you will still be able to play your games, just not on the same exact box.”

So for all those not wanting to go next generation from release you should still have at least three years with your Xbox 360.

Train2Game News: Mid-week round up – 14.11.12

Cliff Bleszinski, better known as CliffyB, has received a mysterious package in a hotel room he is currently staying at. The package contained a phone with a Ubisoft background and one phone number in it. CliffyB told his twitter fans that he would ring the number saying “I do have a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me an asset for people like you.”

What started off as a breeding ground for indie titles now seems to be the only form of submission to the digital distribution service, Steam. This is a bold move by Valve as it means not only the bedroom developers but also the big hitters will have to submit their game to Greenlight.

Halo 4 earned $220 million on the day it launched. This isn’t quite as much as Halo 3 or reach but it is still an impressive figure. Microsoft reckons its juggernaut franchise is on track to hit its $300 million global sales target within its first week, thrusting lifetime sales for the Halo franchise passed the $3.38 billion mark.

Of course the other big release lately is Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2. The game is Amazon’s most preordered game ever beating last year’s Modern Warfare 3. Amazon said it “shattered” the previous record. The company wouldn’t reveal any further details on the launch or preorders of Black Ops 2.

Valve president Gabe Newell has has revealed Valve is working on a next generation successor to the Source Engine. Newell also confirmed the Source 2 engine would be completely new, instead of just another update for nearly ten year-old tech. Source made its debut in Counter-Strike: Source and Half-Life 2 in 2004.

Mass Effect 4 will run on DICE’s Frostbite engine, the latest version of which was used in Battlefield 3. There also seems to be a lot of interest in being able to play as different alien races, similar to the style of Dragon Age:Origins.

Halo: Reach finally released

Halo ReachStores across the world opened at midnight last night to celebrate the launch of the much anticipated Halo: Reach. Here in the UK, hundreds of people queued up in the early hours to be some of the first to get there hands on Halo: Reach, the latest game in Bungie’s highly successful series.

Halo: Reach is the fourth instalment of the Xbox exclusive shooter, and comes three years after the release of Halo 3. However, Halo: Reach is not a sequel but rather prequel to the previous instalments of the Halo franchise.

Halo 3 was the biggest selling video game of all-time, a record now held by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Microsoft will be hoping that Halo: Reach can repeat the success of Halo 3, having invested an extra 60% in marketing spending according to Xbox 360 Director Stephen McGill. The entertainment and devices director told MCV:

“Halo: Reach is extremely important for us. Not just from a revenue and business perspective, but Halo is such an iconic franchise and one that has delivered huge innovation with every release.”

Meanwhile, Editor of GameSpot UK Guy Cocker told the BBC that Halo: Reach is “quite a big deal” and is by far the game that Xbox 360 owners are most excited about right now.

“We’re able to track activity and Halo: Reach is the most popular game on the site right now,”

“In comparison to Halo 3 though, I’m not sure how well it will go down.

“It’s had a good critical reception, but Microsoft are certainly spending a lot of money promoting the game.”

Halo: Reach certainly has had a great critical reception with its current score of 92% on Metacritic.

The Halo series games have sold over 34 million copies since the original was released on the Xbox, and analysts suggest that a Halo game could once again encourage people to invest in one of Microsofts consoles. Anita Frazier, an anal list at research firm NPD said:

“If hardware sales react in a similar fashion to what was experienced when Halo 3 was launched in September 2007, September could be a huge sales month for Xbox 360 hardware. We can expect big numbers to be reported with September results.”

Halo fans may have only been playing Halo: Reach for a matter of hours, but already Bungie have had reports of cheaters.  The developers say that they’re ready to ban any Halo: Reach players caught cheating.

“Our team is standing at the ready behind the sights of our fully operational Banhammer Battlestation. We take the Reach online experience VERY seriously.”

The Halo: Reach midnight launches echo similar events for the release of Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty earlier this year.

So have any Train2Game students got your hands on a copy of Halo: Reach yet? Perhaps you attended a Halo: Reach midnight launch event? If you don’t own an Xbox 360, do you think the release of Halo: Reach could encourage you to do so?

And have you spotted any cheaters yet?

You can leave your thoughts on Halo: Reach here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.