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Missing Pieces: Wrapping up the week's must-know gaming news

Ah, slow news weeks. Don't you just love them? There's not a ton for us to cover this week—a new Halo project, some promotions, and maybe some cannibals. But don't get too comfortable—this is just the calm before next week's PAX East storm.

Here's all the gaming news fit to print from the week of March 31.

Halo on celluloid

Poor Neil Blomkamp. Despite his amazing test footage, he's now been passed over for a Halo project not once but twice since the cancellation of his planned Halo movie (assuming Microsoft didn't approach him only to have him say where they could shove Master Chief's helmet, that is).

In addition to the already-in-the-works, Steven Spielberg-helmed Halo TV show, Microsoft announced this week that another Halo project is underway—this one helmed by Ridley Scott. There's a quick turnaround on this one; the so-called "digital feature project" should be out by the end of the year, so expect to hear more details soon.

Judgment Day

Amazon is integrating Metacritic scores into its product pages, displaying it alongside Amazon's standard user reviews.

amazon metacritic score

On the one hand it's not a huge deal. Metacritic is a common starting place for many consumers anyway, and the same scores are already displayed on Steam. On the other hand, I worry about the effect such prominent display of those scores has on games with mixed reviews—say, Alpha Protocol, which was a love-it-or-hate-it game with a 72 rating on PC and a 63 on the Xbox 360. How many people won't buy those titles because they see the mixed rating?

Oh well. The number is there if you want it.

Xbox is for games

Phil Spencer is now Head of Xbox at Microsoft, after a promotion earlier this week. "It’s been a remarkable year for Xbox and I am honored to lead the team at this incredible time for Microsoft and the games industry," wrote Spencer on the Xbox Wire.

The promotion also comes with a refocusing of the Xbox brand, which left E3 last year tarnished and bruised. "Games and gamers have always been at the core of Xbox and the core of my work—and gaming will be our core as we take Xbox forward," wrote Spencer. After a year of Microsoft pushing the Xbox as an "all-in-one-entertainment-device," that's quite a bold statement for Spencer to make.

It's still early in the console generation, and thus a good time for Microsoft to make a change. Now to see whether the Xbox can win back hearts and minds.

Fez?

Good news: Phil Fish tweeted earlier this week, "im [sic] back! Fez II is back on!" Bad news: It was April Fools' Day.

Now I don't know what to believe.

Use the force, Amy

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Amy Hennig left Naughty Dog and Uncharted 4 for...uncharted waters. Well, now we know where she ended up: In a galaxy far, far away.

Hennig has landed over at Visceral Games, known for the Dead Space series. Visceral is one of the three studios EA tasked with the Star Wars license last year, and it's this game Hennig will be working on in capacity as creative director. "Two amazing things entered my life in 1977 - Star Wars and the Atari 2600..." Hennig tweeted after the announcement.

Oculus canabalizes Valve

oculus dk2

In the wake of last week's Facebook/Oculus news, one of my leading concerns was what would happen to the relationship between Oculus and Valve. If you'll recall, Valve was doing a lot of research and then handing it off to Oculus free-of-charge. After the Facebook acquisition I assumed this agreement would cease.

But maybe it doesn't matter. In the last week both Michael Abrash and Aaron Nicholls have left Valve to work at Oculus. At this rate, Valve's VR department must look pretty slim.

More reading

Not tired of hearing about Oculus yet? Okay, we had Oculus at the movies and a hands-on with the Oculus DK2. Amazon has a new set-top box/Android-based game console thing coming out dubbed the Amazon Fire TV, the Xbox One is receiving an update to make SmartGlass...actually kind of useful, Pokemon invaded Google Maps, and oh yeah—Cortana's voice actress from Halo is actually lending her voice to Microsoft's new digital assistant also.

And if you need a little laughter in your life, there's always Goat Simulator.

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