Party Members! They valuable assets in video games, most notably in RPGs, but more often than not, you are given more than you need or can use. Sometimes the amount of possible party members borders on the ridiculous, Final Fantasy VI had over 30 party members (granted over half of which were temporary), but some are mild like Persona 4 which featured 7 possible characters to choose from, including yourself. 

Players in Persona 4 of course control, their blank avatar who they name and whose personality is shaped around the player's decisions. Along the way players quickly build up their first full party consisting of Chie Satonaka, Yosuke Hanamura, and Yukiko Amagi (Depicted to the left). Of course, as the game continues players are given 3 more members to choose from, Kanji Tatsumi, Teddie, and Naoto Shirogane. But switching out any of your previous party members for a new one isn't exactly easy. 

By the time a new party member comes into play you've usually become attached to your current party and having working strategies set up around their movesets, stats, and abilities. Some have no problem switching out the old for the new, especially in games like Pokemon where it's better to switch out a water type to a fire type to fight a grass type gym leader, but some people find a workaround to avoid such problems because they can't bear to change their party for some personal reason. So I want to know, what keeps you from changing party members in RPGs like Pokemon or Mass Effect?

Earlier today, a user on NeoGAF dropped this bit of interesting news related to the highly anticipated Watch Dogs, from publisher and developer, Ubisoft. As has become common practice among triple A titles in recent years, Watch Dogs will have a special edition with some additional content, namely an extra single player mission and the ability to attain the "Vehicle expert perk".

Here is the translated description for what the special edition will feature:

The Special Edition includes an additional single-player mission, namely the Breakthrough Mission Pack:

There is secret meeting going on. The Chicago Club does power negotiations with CEOs of large companies. The club has hired scramblers to block. Monitoring devices Race through the city to find the scramblers and take them out. Grab all the names of those attending the meeting and upload their photographs for the rest of the world.

After completing the mission you get the Vehicle Expert perk: Get free vehicles through your Underground Car Contact and get discounts on exclusive cars.

While I can't confirm at this time what form this special edition will take, a first run or pre-order bonus or an alternate version of the game sold with a higher price point, a perk and a singular mission seems a bit small for a fully standalone special edition. As such, if I had to guess, I'd say that this will be a pre-order bonus in some way, shape, or form.

It looks as though the newest installment in the incredibly popular Call of Duty franchise is going to be unveiled on May 1st, according to some photos IGN received of a Gamestop display blueprint. It's worth noting that the official announcement for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 fell on the same date last year.

Just a few days ago, there was also a rumor circulating that the next game in the franchise would be entitled Call of Duty: Ghosts; given that the date of the official reveal and the date the rumor started circulating are so close together, it's very possible that the rumored title, Ghosts, will end up being the official title.

Marcus Beer has quickly become one of my favorite talking heads in the industry. He isn't here to bullshit anyone, and as such he thinks Nintendo's move to not have an E3 Press Conference is a brilliant decision. It's about the games, and that is what Nintendo is focusing in on. So much so, they want to let press have early show floor access to their booth to get extensive hands on time with the actual games so they can better talk about them. Aka, as long as the games being shown off are really damn good, you're going to hear a lot of positive vibes coming out of the gaming press.

He also goes on to talk about Metacritic. How there are paid people who make user scores on the system to try and bump the user score over the Meta score (and in his example, they failed horribly at it... but they still tried) and on and on about how Metacritic is this holy grail for pay. While Metacritic is not in any way responsible for the fact companies use them as such, it is a bit shady they don't reveal how they actually come to their final meta scores with their weighting, and in the end, it is sickening that Metacritic is so important. They aren't the only ranking site out there (Game Rankings does it too), but Game Rankings averages all the reviews fairly. Metacritic does not. IGN's reviews, as an example, is likely more heavily weighted than Destructoids. Just not good.

In the end, it is a hot mess, and I start to agree that despite the usefulness of the site to consumers, maybe it is better for us to just not have the site at all. I mean, when I want to know about other products I read reviews for them on various sites, so why can't the game industry be one that festers the whole "actually reading the review" thing instead of just basing it on a score and nothing else?

Hot off of the news of 2K's announced E3 absence, Valve admits that the company will be a no-show this year as well. sent an email to the company inquiring on Valve's close summer business decisions. These questions involved the Steam Box and the development of Half-Life 3. However, the third entry in the Half-Life series is still a mystery, as Valve's reply was rather blunt.


Valve is not exhibiting at e3 this year.

Thanks for checking with us."

Valve is one of the few gaming companies that has never had a huge presence at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, but the publisher's lack of presence is strange considering the Steam Box, Valve's attempt at entering console gaming, will be available to the public within a few months. However, E3's biggest news stories are undoubtedly going to involve the PS4 and Microsoft's next console. This is one of the reasons explaining why 2K and Valve are ducking out for the year and Nintendo's decision to show less presence at the expo.

What are you thinking of this year's E3? Sound off in the comments below.

Digital business and forming an online community have been big focuses for Nintendo during this generation of game platforms. As such, Nintendo has been putting a large emphasis on, among other things, their eShop service. According to Nintendo's recent Financial Results Briefing It seems the attention given to the eShop is paying off. Iwata has reported that viewing Nintendo Direct presentations on the eShop seems to have become the preferred method for consumers to view the material.

His direct quote was:

... we are starting to gain confidence that the Nintendo eShop is beginning to play a very important role as one of the common ways to view Nintendo Direct, which is gaining ground as Nintendo’s direct communication tool with our consumers. This seems particularly true for the generation of consumers who do not own their own PCs or smart devices, and it appears that the Nintendo eShop is becoming a very important place where they can access information about a variety of games at their convenience. With some of our recent installments of Nintendo Direct, it became common to see total views for a single video reach five hundred to six hundred thousand in a matter of about 10 days on the Nintendo eShop while they did not show apparent growth on YouTube, meaning that people do indeed actively watch our videos on the Nintendo eShop. It is no exaggeration to say that the most preferred viewing option has now become the Nintendo eShop, and it is not uncommon to find that approximately 60 to 70 percent of total views come from the Nintendo eShop.  -- Iwata

More inside.

Just a few days back, Nintendo dropped the bombshell that they wouldn't be holding a full-scale E3 press conference, and apparently they aren't the only ones shying away from E3 this year. 2K games, publisher of the cult hit XCOM: Enemy Unknown and the Borderlands franchise, has announced that they will not be attending E3 2013.

They made sure to add "we will have a lot of great news coming your way this spring." So if you are following any of their games, don't worry about a lack of news, just don't expect to see it at E3.

It's interesting to see some publishers skipping out on E3 this year; perhaps it's a sign that the importance E3 once held is diminishing. What do you think? Will we be seeing E3 fade away more and more each year? Or is this just a coincidence?

If you're among those still looking to buy a Nintendo 3DS or even a Nintendo DSiXL, Nintendo has just opened up a new option for you to do so; they've started their own online store for selling refurbished hardware. Currently, the store offers only basic 3DSes alongside DSiXLs and software bundles for each, but in the future I wouldn't be at all surprised if the item selection grew. If I had to guess, I'd say that Wii Us and 3DSXLs are not yet being offered due to how new they are and, by extension,  how few units of refurbished hardware exist of either platform.

The short description given above the item selection of the store reads:

Authentic Nintendo Refurbished Products are the only refurbished products in the market that have been cleaned, tested, and inspected to meet Nintendo’s high standards. They come with a one year warranty – the same warranty we offer on our new products. These products are only available directly from Nintendo. Authentic Nintendo Refurbished Products are guaranteed to be fully functional, but may have minor cosmetic blemishes.

Recently, the Nintendo Miiverse page was launched for web browsers. When attempted on the 3DS, however, the web browser claims that there is an error, and that Miiverse is not compatible with the 3DS. However, when tried on its competing system, the Playstation Vita, it works. This was proven by a NEOGAF post, in which the image that is being used for the cover of this article was posted. Nintendo has, however, promised that Miiverse will be coming to the 3DS by the end of the year, and it appears that it will be a dedicated application. So, what is your opinion on this chain of events? Speak your opinions in the comments!

Iwata has been saying a lot recently about his intent to bring more third party developers to the Wii U, but for the most part he hasn't really told us how he plans to do it. We've gotten a lot ofvague references to the Wii U's apparently great lineup of unannounced games, but just not very much in the way of concrete plans. While it's still not the solid news we've been craving to hear from Nintendo about exactly what these future Wii U titles are going to be, Iwata has given us a little nugget of insight to try and prove that the Wii U is actually garnering more third party interest. He says that since Nintendo's GDC presentation for Nintendo Web Framework, they've been in contact with several hundred new developers, some of which are companies and some of which are individuals.

More inside.

Panorama View is a neat new feature Nintendo promised us not too long ago, and now it's finally available on the Wii U eShop for free! Panorama View includes a few select tours of various locales across the world, and additional tours can be purchased for only $2. NintenDaan recently got his hands on Panorama View and uploaded this nice little tour of the application to YouTube. Of course, nothing beats downloading the application and experiencing the tours in real life — except maybe actually going to these places — but hopefully the above video gives you a good idea of what Panorama View has accomplished. it's not long, so take a moment to check it out!

Demon fusion in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise has always been a bit more on the tedious side, especially when you're going for a certain command set-up, but Shin Megami Tensei IV looks to remove such frustration thanks to a few adjustments made to its compendium. 

Players will be able to search for demons based on their skills such as fire, ice, force (wind), and electricity. After choosing the desired traits SMT4 will give you the fusion recipe you need to obtain the desired demon and choose the skills you'd like it to inherit from the fusion-material demons. But that sounds hard, doesn't it? So for those just looking for a faster approach to get a good demon but without such hassle they can use the option for recommended fusions to bring up good, but effective demons to use in battle.

Order in the court! This fancy new Ace Attorney 5 trailer is too good to overlook. Too bad it's entirely in Japanese, but you can get a pretty good idea of what's going on based on known information. The most notable parts of the trailer are the inclusion of some new clips from the game's anime sequences along with some footage of the game's courtroom gameplay which includes the new Heart Scope feature to help aid players & Phoenix in the courtroom. The game will be out in Japan on July 25th, and while confirmed for a Western release there is no date for when it will arrive in North America. 

The Wii U Virtual Console has just released with a modest library of eight hits from Nintendo's early days. Though right now, the Wii U Virtual Console only sports games from NES and SNES, Nintendo says in a PR email that games originally released on Game Boy Advance and Nintendo 64 are schedules to release one day for the Wii U Virtual Console.

"A library of quality classic games is planned for the Virtual Console on Wii U, with favorites such as Balloon Fight, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Excitebike, F-Zero, Ice Climber, Kirby's Adventure, Kirby Super Star, Mario Bros., Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream, Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario World, Super Metroid and Yoshi on the way soon. Game Boy Advance and Nintendo 64 games are scheduled to be added in the future." — Nintendo PR email

I, frankly, would rather have Game Boy Advance games on my Nintendo 3DS, but as long as Nintendo's promising strong support for the WIi U Virtual Console, I'm satisfied.

In Nintendo's financial results briefing, Iwata has said a few words regarding the slow progress of Wii U sales. As many have feared would be the case since the Wii U's unveiling, he cites their failure to properly advertise the Wii U as one of the major factors behind its low sales. The official statement read:

"we have not been able to solidly communicate the product value of Wii U to our consumers yet, which has been a grand challenge for us. Some have the misunderstanding that Wii U is just Wii with a pad for games, and others even consider Wii U GamePad as a peripheral device connectable to Wii. We feel deeply responsible for not having tried hard enough to have consumers understand the product." -- Satoru Iwata

More inside.