Snackbar Speculator: Houses divided

January 17, 2010

We’re back with another edition of Snackbar Speculator.  This week’s topics: The DS2 and lots of internal politics. 

Current scores:

Andrew Passafiume: -35

Graham Russell: 0

Shawn Vermette: 5

Nintendo readying ‘DS2’ for mid-2011 release

The Game Boy Color was released in 1998. The Game Boy Advance was released in 2001. The Nintendo DS was released in 2004. It has now been almost 6 years since the release of the DS, and history tells us that a new handheld system should be on the verge of being released. Nintendo still refuses to discuss the possibility, but there are rumors swirling now that not only is Nintendo readying a new handheld, but it is aimed for a June 2011 release, with information on it to be released at E3 and the Tokyo Game Show this year. There’s no question that the DS is starting to show its age, but is Nintendo ready to move on considering how much of a cash cow the DS has been for them?

Andrew: Knowing Nintendo, this seems like a pretty good possibility. But what else could they do with the DS aside from simple upgrades that we’ve seen? That is uncertain, but people would buy the system nonetheless. I can definitely see this happening. 75%

Graham: If you look at the GBC, GBA and DS, it seems like it’s time.  We have to remember, however, that the original Game Boy lasted for nine years.  After the GBA, the company was so nervous about the short lifespan that it came up with the whole “third pillar” spiel to cover for it.  Is Nintendo working on a successor?  Of course.  It’s not inconceivable that it won’t come out until 2012, though, since they might want to give the DSi more time. 50%

Shawn: The only advantages the PSP seems to have over the DS are its graphics and multimedia capabilities. I can definitely see Nintendo announcing a new system that has all the abilities of the DS and the connectivity and graphics (or better graphics) of the PSP. And, following standard Nintendo policy for handhelds, it would not be launched during the holidays so mid-2011 is as good a time as any to predict. 75%

Modern Warfare 3 not on Infinity Ward’s plate

After creating the Call of Duty series and then rejuvenating it with the Modern Warfare sub-brand, word is that Infinity Ward won’t be working on the next installment in the Modern Warfare series. For a while, Infinity Ward has wanted to get away from working solely on Call of Duty, but they’ve never had a chance due to the lack of another high-profile studio that could take over for them. Reports are now surfacing though that Infinity Ward is working on an all-new IP rather than beginning preparations on Modern Warfare 3. Activision has a new studio headed by the men behind Dead Space, but would Infinity Ward be willing to hand over the reins to a new studio, regardless of its pedigree?

Andrew: I can see this happening, and I think Infinity Ward would want to get away and work on something new. Activision knows any future Call of Duty game will be successful either way, no matter what developer is behind it, so either way Modern Warfare 3 is bound to be successful. Whether or not Infinity Ward will allow another studio to take over is hard to figure out, but I could see it happening. 60% 

Graham: Bungie wanted to escape Halo.  Infinity Ward wants to escape Modern Warfare.  This is the kind of craziness we have in the games industry.  What other developer out there wouldn’t want to be at the helm of an incredibly successful franchise?  But people get restless, and Infinity Ward has only been partially responsible for the series.  (Their installments are generally accepted as better, but still.) Bottom line: it’s possible.  It’s stupid too. 40%

Shawn: I can definitely see Infinity Ward being tired of working on nothing but Call of Duty. After all, that’s all they’ve worked on for nearly a decade. However, considering the lack of success Treyarch has had living up to the quality and reputation of Infinity Ward developed CoD games, I can see how Infinity Ward would have trepidation over giving it over completely for a cycle. Given the amount of money and effort Activision has put into building this new studio, however; I believe it is likely that there’s faith in that studio to at least do as good a job as Treyarch. Due to this, I find this rumor entirely believable. 75%

Midnight Club canceled by Rockstar after internal studio strife

The game industry was hit years ago with a work scandal at EA in the now-infamous incident over unpaid overtime that resulted in millions paid out in class-action lawsuits. Now that same scene is repeating over at Rockstar San Diego. Accusations of the same treatment and unpaid vacation/overtime have been leveled at the management of Rockstar San Diego by numerous spouses and former employees. The key to this rumor though is the accusation that the Midnight Club development team has been dismantled and everyone either fired or farmed onto game projects that have been struggling for years. That there is strife and disarray is unmistakable, but would Rockstar have really allowed such a profitable series to fall by the wayside?

Andrew: I really find this one hard to believe. Rockstar doesn’t seem like the kind of company to do this, their development studios definitely seem a lot more lax than most. I doubt they would let something like this happen, and I doubt a fairly popular game series would be canceled because of it. If the series is canceled, this reason seems highly unlikely. 5%

Graham: The bottom line of this is Midnight Club’s cancellation.  It’s certainly possible, since 2K seems to be impatient with any Rockstar series that isn’t GTA.  It’s a fairly popular series in a genre that was recently vacated by the other giant, EA’s Need for Speed. If it’s gone, it’s a tragedy. 30%

Shawn: I find this rumor somewhat unfathomable. After the turmoil and bad press the game industry received last time, I was sure no other major developer would do these things; however, apparently the IGDA has offered to step in and help with some conflict resolution at the studio, so there may be some truth to these rumors. That something is going on over there is obvious, but I doubt Rockstar will simply cancel the Midnight Club series because of it. 10%

Max Payne 3 to be delayed due to internal studio strife

Mirroring the strife at Rockstar San Diego, it appears Rockstar Vancouver has also had the same charges leveled at management there. Rumors are swirling of 14-16 hour workdays being enforced at Rockstar Vancouver for all employees working on Max Payne 3. Despite these long workdays, it appears the strife and discord brought on by working conditions there are having more of an impact than the increased workload, as its being rumored that Max Payne 3 will be delayed again because of it.

Andrew: This is a tough one, because I can see Max Payne 3 being delayed, but I very much doubt this reason is valid (for the same reasons I stated above). I can see the game being delayed though, and if it is, I can’t imagine us finding out why. I will say there is a good chance the game is delayed, but I doubt it’s for this reason. 50%

Graham: Man, Rockstar has some issues, doesn’t it? Yeah, games get delayed, and Max Payne 3 is no exception.  There’s no way to know whether this strife was the cause of the delay, because they won’t ever admit it.  Therefore I can’t say anything. 50%

Shawn: Considering the game is scheduled to come out in August, such long days and ‘crunch time’ management seems to be to be a bit far-fetched for the moment. I agree with Andrew on this one, the game will likely get delayed, but I doubt this will be the reason…if we ever even know the reason. 35%