Big numbers for Video Games this Holiday Season
I went to my local games retailer yesterday and was absolutely dumb struck at the length of the check out line. The store is tiny and I have never seen it this busy ... ever. I ended up spending 30 minutes in line to get The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas
. Walking out I thought to myself, "Wow. This has got to be a great year for the industry."
Well, Spong is reporting
some of the first sales numbers of the season. In the UK the 2006 holiday season was the best ever. Need for Speed: Carbon
took the number 1 slot with Pro Evolution Soccer 6
and Call of Duty 3
following close behind.
Every year people complain about what it wrong with the games industry and each year more games are sold and more people become gamers. Is the industry really broken? Or do people just like to complain?
Kotaku is running a wonderful feature
chronicling the rise and very quick fall of PS3 prices on Ebay. Retailers like Fry's and Wal-Mart have units in stock albeit via expensive bundles, eBay auctions are going at or near list price, stories of PS3 speculators returning unsold units to stores. Kotaku graphs the going price on Ebay and the apparent collapse of demand before
Christmas. Did anyone pick up a PS3 this season? Did you wait in line or get it from the speculators?
Video games satisfy a psychological need
Dec 29, 2006
Submitted by Trixter (8728)
Several news organizations, including the CBC, are reporting on the results of a University of Rochester study that shows that video games satisfy basic psychological needs
, possibly explaining MMORPG obsessions, clan wars, etc.
I hate to sound cynical, but... DUH. Did we really need a study for this? Anyone who is anything more than a casual game player knows this... We play MMORPGs to live a more satisfying life than our own, play shooters to release stress... heck, even my wife, who *is* a casual game player, remarked a long time ago that she plays repetitive games like Tetris and various enhanced versions of Space Invaders because they lend structure and order to her hectic life.
Next-gen games and their next-gen pricing
Dec 29, 2006
Submitted by Trixter (8728)
Ever wondered why PS3 and Xbox 360 games cost $10 more than the current industry standard pricing? In another Forbes.com report, it has less to do with great products and more with gambling
-- on the part of the publishers, that is, who are gun-shy to support a brand-new platform until it becomes a success. Which leads to a chicken-and-egg situation for the first year of a console's life: Nobody's buying consoles because there aren't any killer games, but there aren't any killer games because nobody's buying consoles...
Dev kits and 3rd-party support libraries for the 360 and PS3 are better than their parent generation's kits, so you could argue that developing a game for modern consoles is actually easier
than previous consoles. However, those savings are eaten up by the unending march of technology and expectations: All in-game characters must have full voice acting and several outfits; there must be at least 16 different levels and 12 hours of gameplay; etc. So I guess the cost of games, moving forward, is still pretty much the same -- as soon as the first year of a console goes by...
Devices stay on when you turn them off
Last night I noticed for the first time that my Wii pulses blue when it is turned off. I thought that I must of left it on because nothing could be that bright and obnoxious when off. Wrong! The Wii isn't the only device in my house that seems to stay on when when its switched off. The PS2's red LED, my satelitte receiver, my stereo are all on, drawing power and doing something
even though I have turned them off.
The Wall Street Journal's Jason Fry reported
on his experiences finding the biggest power hogs in his house. The results are no surprise. Low tech stuff light the lights, fridge and dryer consumed the most amount of electricity. The power consumption of consumer electronics were relatively modest.
However he readily admits various shortcoming in his analysis. With the proliferation of electronics in the home this small 24 hour a day trickle could turn into a flood of wasted energy use. What really bothers me is that these devices have stopped obeying my commands. When I want them off, they decide ... "Nah. He didn't really want me off. I am going to stay on and blink and pulse until he wants to play with us again"
Is when we can no longer turn off our machines the first step towards when they take over?
Video games cause bad driving
The New Zealand Herald is running a story
( via a Destructoid post
) that teenage reckless driving is to be blamed on the Playstations and Xboxes of the world."Three Auckland teenagers were killed when the vehicle they were in crashed off the Northwestern Motorway in Auckland during a high-speed police pursuit on Christmas Eve.
National's transport spokesman Maurice Williamson says today's young people think they are bullet-proof. He blames Playstations and X-boxes for making teens think they can drive stupidly and just push the reset button if anything goes wrong."
Destructoid has some pretty spot on commentary. It has slowly come to my attention that gaming is really the root of all evil. We should outlaw them all and return to when the world had no problems. Uh....
Cheating is good for you
Dec 26, 2006
Submitted by Trixter (8728)
Another surprise from Forbes, Mia Consalvo has written an article on why cheating in video games is good for you
. She cites reasons such as "it can keep you active and involved in a game, reward game play and allow expert players to teach others."
I'll alienate a few people and say that, yes, I cheat as well, but I've got very strict and simple guidelines for cheating: I only cheat if I'm stuck so badly that I'm frustrated and angry. Because, let's face it, the primary reason we play games is to have fun. It doesn't matter if I'm stuck due to poor level design or my own stupidity -- if I'm stuck, I'm not having fun. So the cheats come out fast and furious until I'm not stuck any more. And I'm happy, and my family is happy, and ultimately, the game studio is happy because I forget my frustration and buy the sequel.
So when do you cheat? Or, more piously, on what games are you proud of that you have never
Yes, Virginia, you CAN get paid to play games
Dec 26, 2006
Submitted by Trixter (8728)
Forbes -- one of the last places I would expect to see information like this -- has a very helpful article for those who want to learn how to play games for a living
. Be careful what you wish for, however: Working for a studio is work
, make no mistake. Long hours at crunch time, playing one section tens or hundreds of times looking for a bug, and (initially) low pay mean you really
have to want it. And be flexible in where you live, because "Staff gets laid off... You will jump around from studio to studio."
Brian has already headed towards his ancestral home. I leave today. We wish everyone a very happy and safe holiday season. We'll be checking in from time to time, but expect us back to full strength in a few days.
Study finds in-game advertising mostly ineffective
Dec 23, 2006
Submitted by Trixter (8728)
2old2play, a website I rapidly find myself identifying with, is reporting that a London-based organization called Bunnyfoot did a study on in-game advertising and found that, for the most part, it's completely ineffective
. One of the more humorous examples is Project Gotham Racing 3
, which had an effectiveness of zero
because, let's face it, who can read advertising at 250 MPH?
I'm hoping that this is the first of many studies that will finally get in-game advertising out of games. I'm angered by any in-game adverts that I see -- advertising is supposed to be the payment you make for free
things. If PGR 3 has advertising, then why isn't it half the price of other games? Morgan Webb of X-Play fame made a similar point about a month ago on G4: If online play inserts advertising into the game, why isn't Xbox Live (for example) a free service?
Microsoft to Extend Xbox 360 Warranty
According to this post
on the NeoGAF forums ( by way of Kotaku ) Effective 12/22/06 6:00 AM PST, the one year warranty is now the standard for the Xbox 360 console."
Additionally, the warranty extension is retroactive so customers who paid for repairs may get reimbursements. This in effect covers every Xbox 360 ever made since 360s purchased before 1/1/06 already had their warranty extended. No word on whether Microsoft has fixed Xbox support. My guess is no.
Of course this is all just rumor. However, Microsoft rumors seem to always come true. The official
announcement will happen today.
It appears Microsoft has no intention of making any money on the 360 any time soon. Given the evidence of overwhelming numbers of busted systems the quantity of repairs and replacements has to be staggering. So much for Sony having a better standard warranty. Now the question is: Will Brian ever get his 360?Update: Rumor confirmed. c|net is reporting that the warranty has been in fact extended.
That Game Blog posted
that "Microsoft and Burger King announced that the Burger King games have sold 2 million copies since they launched a little over a month ago."
This puts Sneak King
on par with Gears of War
. Of course there were three Burger King games, it only cost $3.99 and the games were for Xbox and Xbox 360. Still, 2 million sold. That's a lot of crappy game. I wonder what the trade in value is?
You've heard the best .... Now see the rest
has been made over Sony's lame attempt at viral marketing and the alliwantforxmasisapsp.com fiasco. Much of this happened without my witnessing the actual site before Sony yanked it down
. Well our friends at the Consumerist has a cache of the site up
along with the deliciously horrible videos. Enjoy.
Let's hear it for for the lawyers
Kotaku is reporting
that the law firm Green Welling LLP has filed "a nationwide class action lawsuit on behalf of the owners of the Nintendo Wii against Nintendo of America, Inc."
Why you may ask?"The class action lawsuit seeks to enjoin Nintendo from continuing its unfair or deceptive business practices as it relates to the Nintendo Wii.The lawsuit also seeks an injunction that requires Nintendo to correct the defect in the Wii remote and to provide a refund to the purchaser or to replace the defective Wii remote with a Wii remote that functions as it is warranted and intended."
Seems pretty lame to me. While Duey, Cheatum and Howe LLC doesn't explicitly state the Wii mote strap as defective that is my guess. Nintendo has already offered the replace the strap free of charge. I cannot imagine what these lawyers are trying to pull.
Moving to Hi-Def may lag your gameplay
Dec 20, 2006
Submitted by Trixter (8728)
A co-worker with a fairly expensive home theater setup asked me over to his house the other day to troubleshoot an odd problem: He purchased Guitar Hero 2 for PS2, but couldn't hit anything properly. When I got there, I saw there was noticeable lag
between the response of the controller and what we actually saw on screen. It was at least 2-3 frames, which is enough to really throw you off!
We traced the problem to his video processor (HDTV upscaler, deinterlacer, etc.) which he had recently added to his theater setup. By feeding the processor an interlaced signal, it was employing a deinterlacing strategy that needed 2 or 3 frames to work, and that meant 2-3 frames delay in the output. As you can imagine, this made playing games nearly impossible because the video lagged behind the actual game action.
Guitar Hero 2 contains a "lag offset" feature to try to deal with this, and it turns out that some people are using this to measure their home theater setups
. We tried it, but all it did was reduce the error rate; you can't magically send your button presses forward in time to compensate for real lag.
The solution for him was to purchase the PS2 component cable, plug it directly into the TV (bypassing the video processor), and setting the PS2 output to 480p (progressive). But I wonder how many other people will spend thousands of dollars on home theater setups, only to run into the same problem and wonder what's going on...
You are in a maze of software shelves, all alike
Dec 19, 2006
Submitted by Trixter (8728)
Joystiq is reporting that Microsoft's Games for Windows plan, which is their effort to get all Xbox 360 and Windows Vista games integrated across both platforms, will kick off with a retail conformance initiative
. Meaning, after being certified on various criteria like ease of installation, compatibility with the 360 controller, etc., all Vista games under the Games For Windows initiative will also require "branding" with similar packaging, the GFW logo, etc. The hope is that PC gaming choices "will become less intimidating to mainstream consumers -- no longer will the PC games isle be a cluttered mess of disparate titles."
While this conformity makes sense from a technical standpoint, I'm saddened by the decision to take it to the retail standpoint. Part of what I loved about buying, playing, and collecting computer games is the wide diversity in the personal computer field. Are we losing yet another unique aspect of our artform, or am I just being melodramatic?
Using all of the PS3's resources is impossible
1UP is running a story
quoting Sony's President of Worldwide Studios Phil Harrison on MTV about the PS3 saying "nobody will ever use 100 percent of its capability"
. His reasoning was equally perplexing. Apparently no developer will be able to max out the PS3 due to firmware upgrades and new uses for the Sixaxis controller.
Between the high price, screwy HD display and lack of force feedback I am none too excited about the PS3. However I am still going to buy one. Call me a sucker but I feel an obligation to own every console and handheld no matter how expensive or how wonky. Are there others out there? I wonder If I will be able to get a refund on the unused portion of the PS3.
You don't deserve it?
A New York CNN staffer writes
about her experiences waiting in line and actually buying a Wii this holiday season. Not a launch day story, but has all the launch day dramatic elements. Hope, fear, joy. She ended up having to get a police escort away from the store as the clerks announced that the supply had run out and the crowd turned menacing. One shopper told her, "There's no way you deserve that game system..."
Can someone really deserve a Wii more than another? Sure there are fans and there are FANS, but if you wait in line and pay the money, what entitles one person over another?
This just in: Successful game to get Sequel
IGN is hinting
that Square Enix
may be working on a new installment in the Kingdom Hearts series
. During a company trailer at the Jump Festa show in Tokyo the words "New Project Starting in 2007"
appeared briefly at the end following clips from Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, a Japanese release of the English version of Kingdom Hearts II.
I am sure the company reasoning when something like this, "Hmmm. Kingdom Hearts II was pretty successful. What should our next project be? Maybe, Kingdom Hearts III"
Everyone always complains so much about sequels and then those very same people go out an buy the next installment in the franchise.
Video games are baaaad
From the Detroit Free Press by way of MSNBC is running a story
that Joel Zumaya, the relief pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, missed three games of the American League Championship Series due to a Guitar Hero
I've heard of missing work because someone was up all night playing WoW
, but this takes it to an all new level. What is your worst/best story about games interrupting your life?
More fun news for gamers and a tragedy in Philly
The Philadelphia Inquirer is running a story
about allegations of a 25 year old man, Tyrone Spellman, killing a 17 month old girl after the man believed that the toddler had broken his Xbox game console. "'She pulled the cord and the whole game console fell over,' Spellman said in his statement, read by Homicide Detective John Cummings. 'I thought it was broken. I popped her in the face. I picked her up and tossed her in a chair.'"
That nutty lawyer from Florida is planning his public mass media gloating I am sure.
Replace your strap
Nintendo nimbly responded to the wrist strap breakage
quite quickly. Starting in early December Nintendo started shipping the Wii consoles and Wii motes with a upgraded heavier strap. Nintendo will also replace the wrist strap
the original version of the wrist straps for the Wii mote with a newer version. Quite impressive given how quickly Nintendo was able to source a new strap and integrate it into their supply chain. I for one will not replace my strap. First, I have a nearly indestructible CRT and not a fragile plasma. Second, no matter how excited I get I find it inconceivable that I will lose my grip and send the Wii mote flying.
Kids these days
Always improving 1UP.com is running a story
where they took six kids ages 11 through 13 and had them play ten classics from the 70s and 80s. Donkey Kong is 'lame.' Tetris is 'boring.' Space Invaders 'needs a superbomb or something.' And why play Pong when it's more fun to 'jump up and down on one foot'?"
Interestingly enough The Legend of Zelda
(NES 1987) received quite favorable treatment.
Fallout fans rejoice
Next Gen is running a story
is planning a Fallout
MMOG. The news was "broken"
by a SEC filing
. The proposed $75 million dollar price tag is large enough to have to raise money in the public financial markets, thus the filing.
Does the world need another MMOG? Does $75 million seem a bit steep? Would you buy a mutual fund that invests in video game projects?
More great Microsoft Xbox Support
Might wanna grab your flamethrower...
Sega announced a deal with 20th Century Fox to put out Alien games on the Next Generation Platforms, starting with a FPS and an RPG to be released in 2009.
Personally, I'm glad someone picked up the Alien license, and all the better that it's Sega. They always seems to be hit (Otogi
) and miss (Shadow the Hedgehog
), but with a franchise as important as Alien, I'm sure they'll give it the appropriate care it needs... I hope. Given my current experience playing Full Auto 2: Battlelines, I'm more than inclined to believe that if
The The Hollywood Reporter
picked up a bit more information, including that the games will not directly be based off of the four movies, but may include characters or elements.
There's always been this idea that movies make terrible games, but when your movie (or franchise, in this case) has been out forever, does it still apply? Recently The Godfather
have come out which aren't bad
which is saying something I guess. But then there were Die Hard:Nakatomi Plaza
and Fight Club
, real dogs by any stretch if the imagination.
Can you really make an RPG out of the franchise (the RTS was awful
)? Any particular Alien games stick out in anyone's mind as being a cut above the rest?
And the Game of the Year is ....
1 Millionth Approval!
Here is a piece of MobyGames trivia for everyone. Yesterday saw our 1 millionth approval. Certainly this is some sort of milestone in MobyGames history. The piece of information in question is a UPC (711719472421) for Formula One 2003
submitted by karttu
. Unfortunately, we don't have any PS3's or Wii's to give out as a prize. >:-)
Throwing the Wii-mote like a bowling ball. You can't do that!"
c|net is reporting
that Nintendo is advising Wii owners "when waving the controller, use the wrist strap, keep your palms dry and, whatever you do, don't let go."
I had to laugh at the last sentence of this recent posting on Cnet. The blatantly obvious must consistently be spelled out for the consumer.
Of course it could be that the realism of the action in the sports games built for the Wii are taping into people's muscle memory.
Families that play together, stay together
Reuters is reporting
from its retarded journalism experiment in Second Life that increasingly parents are playing games and most often with their kids. "We're really seeing an emerging generation of parents who are also gamers,"
said Paul Lundquist, research expert with the Harrison Group. "An online survey of 1,014 U.S. children and their parents, conducted by market researcher Harrison Group -- and commissioned by U.S. game publisher Activision -- found 58 percent of parents surveyed said they play video games and more than half this time is spent with their children."
The survey also found that nearly 3/4 of parents are just fine with video games being a part of their family life. Of course no article is complete without the idiots chiming in about the danger of violent video games for children. It's nice to see evidence that the vast majority of parents out there are realistic and rational. All to often the hysterical extremes hijack the public discourse when human tragedy and an easy scapegoat present themselves.
'How many units did we say we'd sell before the end of year?... oh crap."
has a report up with the early sales data from Japan which says Nintendo sold 371,936 Wiis
. Combined with earlier reports that they've sold more than 600,000 in North America, they're sure to break their first million with the additional shipments to the US since launch day.
When you also consider that the data from the Australian isn't in and that the European launch is forth coming (December 8th), it's not unrealistic that Nintendo will have a good holiday.
European ship numbers though are expected to be tight according to reports from early last month of sites and stores unsure as to if they'd be able to fill the pre-orders they'd already taken.
Now, figure that between North America and Japan that a bit over a million units have been sold. That means essentially between Europe, Australia and additional units being available in the North America and Japan that Nintendo has roughly 3 million units to go to meet the four million unit sold projection by the end of the year.
While I have my doubts as if to they can reach the four million milestone. I'd say they'll probably get close (probably within about half a million). Microsoft
had sold six million XBox 360s
by September 30th and had projected to sell another four million in the three remaining months. This seams pretty unrealistic now. Next-Gen
ran an article that had numbers from Arcadia Investments that put the XBox 360 at having sold more than 500,000 units in November (with 200,000 going on black friday week alone). But, this means that Microsoft would need to clear around three and a half million units between October and December which seems very unlikely. And to those who might argue that projections change, Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell told Next-Gen that they were still on track to meet the ten million projection, which Microsoft's Peter Moore
re-affirmed today and agreed with the notion that they might even exceed the ten million mark. Seems mighty unlikely.
And then there's Sony
... Sony sold a little over 80,000 Playstation 3s
in Japan combined 125,000 to 175,000
they shipped to North America (less the 15,000 of those that were for kiosks) puts them quite a bit away from their target mark. There were supposed to be 400,000 units from North America and not making that number has made things that much more difficult.
In August, they projected
four million, then it was two million
, then as little as about two weeks ago, the projection
was lowered to one million units. Now with only around 200,000 units out in the wild, selling a million by years end seems to be a pipe dream.
Had they hit the 400,000 ship number for North America, they might
have met this projection, but with around 800,000 left to produce, ship, and sell in about 25 days seems impossible.
So, lets see what we've got here. Nintendo is pretty much on target, but probably gonna run a little short, Microsoft who apparently believes that making bold claims will sell units, and Sony who apparently has trouble counting how many units they're going to actually ship.
Who is going to make their ship numbers? Are the attachment rate of games to consoles be more important? Why does Europe keeps getting screwed in terms of system launches?
Our friends at GameDaily.biz are reporting
that at least one analyst believe Apple will enter the game industry fray with a hardware offering. Jesse Tortora, a securities analyst at Prudential, believes there is a "very real possibility"
that Apple will offer a console or handheld in the near future.
Tortora stated, "The game console device could be morphed out of some combination of the MacMini and iTV, while the handheld player could be developed as an enhancement to a future version of the widescreen iPod,"
If any of Apples past offering are to go on the iConsole ( or whatever it will eventually be called ) will be beautiful to look at, work seamlessly, and be outlandishly expensive. Apple also has had a die hard following that puts even the most fanatical Nintendo fanboy to shame. Do we really need another hardware platform? Does Apple stand a chance?
USA Legalizes Abandonware
The blog science fiction observer misleading posts
that new rules allowing "public access to commercially unavailable software"
is in essence making abandonware perfectly legal. In truth however it is not so simple. A few souls on the Digg forums bothered to actually read the rules and determined that the sensational headline was in fact not really accurate. Specifically;"Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that have become obsolete and that require the original media or hardware as a condition of access, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of preservation or archival reproduction of published digital works by a library or archive. A format shall be considered obsolete if the machine or system necessary to render perceptible a work stored in that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace."
Well it seems nearly all abandonware does not fit this criteria. The rules seem to explicitly require original hardware or media excluding emulators. The DMCA exception seems to be focused of libraries and archives and not websites like HoT and Adbandonia. From my understanding of the issue the rule change was granted by the USPO specifically with Archive.org in mind. The conclusion that abandonware is now legal is either horribly irresponsible or a cynical attempt to sensationalize an otherwise banal story.
Thanks to tarmo888
for pointing out the story on the forums
in the first place.
Pro Gaming: The future of sports television or cheap filler ?
Lately, competitive video games have been getting more of a presence on TV. USA Networks have been broadcasting the 'Boost Mobile MGL Pro circuit' which chronicles the competitive Halo 2 scene and The New York Times is reporting
that CBS is going to be broadcasting a special on December 30th called 'They Got Game: The Stars of the World Series of Video Games Presented by Intel'.
But while the screen time is good to have, it almost seems handicapped. These programs seem to air in morning/afternoon time slots on Saturday morning - which would tend to mean that the intended audience is kids. Because of the time slot, CBS is even going so far as to extremely limit the amount of actual game play footage being shown. The reasoning is simple, most of the games end up being pretty graphic - blood and violence aren't new to TV, but don't really have their place during Saturday morning. This is some what foolish because the games (Halo 2
, Quake 4
, ect...) are mature rated games intended for the 17 and over - why would you put a show with content intended for a higher age audience in a time slot for kids?
The answer is that they still really haven't figured out who they should be marketing to (or they know and just don't care). With the way TV is programmed, this most likely fail to capture its target audience (which given the time slot is grade school kids) regardless of how many people actually watch it and instead of someone realizing that they can probably get a time slot for a more age appropriate audience, they'll throw the baby out right with the bathwater.
Will competitive video games ever find their true place on TV? What will be the break through game? What really needs to happen to make pro gaming a spectator sport?
And more importantly, would you watch televised competitive gaming?
Virtual assets taxable?
c|net ran a news piece
regarding the possible taxation of virtual goods such as items from online games like World of Warcraft
or Second Life
With rare items and powerful characters being sold daily for very considerable prices, not to mention the many "gold farming" services easily found for the most popular online games, this market thrive on the lack of regulation (like many other internet services), but for how long will treasuries worldwide neglect the possible income from e-trades?