I didn’t want to believe it, but deep down inside, I knew that a 2013 release for Namco Bandai’s upcoming free-to-play games was a little too ambitious. Now, the company is here to tell me I have to wait longer. Both Ace Combat: Infinity and SoulCalibur: Lost Swords have been pushed back into 2014, lining up the year nicely as the company attempts to shift its business plans.
Ace Combat: Infinity is the long overdue return of Project Aces to its popular aerial combat game. 2011 was the last time we saw the series take off, but it was met with a lot of push-back from fans because of its Call of Duty-esque presentation as opposed to the majestic storytelling of earlier games. This new one brings back the old style in a whole new way.
SoulCalibur: Lost Swords re-imagines Namco Bandai’s popular fighting series as a loot gathering quest in which completing traditional one-on-one fights will reward players with materials to make new weapons. Unlike other games in the series, there will be no versus mode, meaning that your masterpiece weapons will not have the chance to be pit against your friend’s. This is a little weird, I think.
The two games will join Tekken and Ridge Racer as part of Namco bandai’s free-to-play lineup. The company isn’t completely giving up on the traditional retail model by a long shot, though. It’s long-running Tales series can still be picked up in stores, and of course, there is enormous hype surrounding Dark Souls II.
Four of its major franchises are going free-to-play, making Namco Bandai the first major console publisher to dedicate such a large amount of resources into the payment method. We’ll have to wait until 2014 to see how it pans out, but from all the announcements the company has made in recent months, I don’t think it’s exactly hurting for cash.
Could this be the new face of Namco Bandai?