Halo 3 at E3?
IGN is reporting
that a video Halo 3 will be unveiled at E3. While this is hardly exciting I do personally believe Microsoft will release Halo 3 for Xbox 360 on or around the Sony PS3 launch. Nothing steals thunder than releasing a killer game the same day as launch. Of course this is entirely speculation and based on zero fact.
Legislators Battle of Video Game Rights
Oklahoma legislators are facing a major legislative battle in Oklahoma this week with the continuing battle over HB 3004, which would criminalize the sale or distribution of violent video games to minors, even by their own parent. Similar legislation has been declared unconstitutional six times over the last five years, but that isn't stopping state legislatures all over the country from passing similar bills.
Passing this bill may deal a major blow to the video game community and subculture itself. If you or anyone you know lives in Oklahoma, please send a well-written letter to your state senators, or tell your friend to do so.
More info: Video Game Voters Network
Spread the Word: Send a Letter to OK residents
And the Revolution will not be televised
The console formerly known as 'Revolution' is now called Wii ( pronounced We) I am always completely perplexed by Nintendo. I didn't get the DS and I definitely do not get Wii. Whatever. People love em. People play em. Heck even I like the DS. Go Wii!!!
Exiled Gamers have put together a campaign and online petition
in an attempt to provoke a response from game publishers regarding abandoned games.
Hey there was a petition to get MobyGames to support the Spectrum and that worked. Who knows?
Games that go : Part 2
Well... Today was the second day of the Mobile and Online Games Forum and it really was a pretty good compliment to the setup of yesterday (although arguably less strong of a showing). It seemed to be more elaboration on the thoughts expressed yesterday, but that being said, today some people came who hadn't yesterday and its always interesting chatting with people who are into the gaming scene in different ways. Lots of varied sentiments were expressed ranging from the comparison of the flooded mobile games market to the Atari game boom of the '80s to trouble of trying to predict the level of industry growth for the next three years. However of the day, there were really two high points for me:
1) A representative of Konami told me that they would be putting some game music on iTunes in the next two months - which is very promising for the video game music market.
2) Chris Early, Studio Manager for the Microsoft Casual Games Group kind of got caught for a loop when news of Microsoft's purchase of Massive Inc. came up in the middle of a Q&A session just as the news broke on the net. It made for some pretty interesting spinning and recovery to say the least...
Overall a pretty good forum for discussion and I'm probably going to get to work shortly on compiling my notes into something that resembles coherent thought soon because I'm not quite sure how I was supposed to come away feeling about mobile gaming, especially considering I didn't know a whole lot to begin with. As an outsider looking in, I get the feeling they've got quite a ways to go before they'll reach any sort of stability.
Why there are so many bad cell phone games ... or ... Adam Smith is a bastard!
I am attending the second day of the Game and Mobile Forum
in NYC today. I heard the best quote today explaining why there are so many carpy cell phone games. The panel was discussing the costs associated with developing a mobile title and the general consensus was that it is not uncommon for a mobile game to cost around 500k to make. A huge driver of this high price tag is the necessity of porting and QAing the game on dozens of different handsets. As the attendees were filing out after the talk I overheard, "500k?!?! I can f@*#!ng make a DS game for that!" Well there you go. No wonder we see a lot of rehashed ports on the cell phone. I am not saying people aren't doing interesting stuff and there aren't good cell games out there, but when you can make a DS title for the same price it's no wonder that is where a lot of the innovation is.
Do you play cell phone games? What do you think.
Games that go : Part 1
The first half of the Mobile and Online Games Forum was today and the trek in was well worth it. The conference for the most part has been very good with many thought provoking presentations made by people like Robert Tercek of Multimedia Networks, Matthew Bellows of Floodgate Entertainment, Wade Tinney of Large Animal Games, Eric Zimmerman of GameLab, and Alex St. John, founder of WildTangent. I especially got a kick out of Matthew Bellows's presentation (once it got started - I always love when technical difficulties pop up for the technical people) when he announced to the audience that he'd also be in pictochat during his presentation if anyone had anything to say they could communicate it through there. Alex St. John is also quite a character. I was looking forward to hearing him speak as I remember when he wrote for Maximum PC and he always had pretty good columns. He didn't disappoint as he had quite a bit to say about his companies new technology which in a sense solves many of the problems of marketing and sales for online games - the question of if he can actually turn the internet into a working arcade has yet to be answered though. Basically - you'll buy virtual currency for a fraction of what it would cost to own the game so you can play it in sessions so paying for the game becomes more manageable - but it actually better for the developer then a flat rental system. The problem I for see is that as a customer - If I feel I'm getting ripped off, or that I MIGHT even get ripped off - I wouldn't do it. No one has ever done anything like this before so It really could work. Or it could be a travesty. Given his track record though, I wouldn't bet against him.
Robert, Wade and Eric really helped to put the mobile and online games market in perspective. For someone who hasn't really followed the mobile or online game business market, they pretty much summed up the stop gaps and pitfalls of development for the respective platforms. Very thoughtful presentations and really will take a bit of time to digest. Overall though, it sounds like the mobile games market could use a hand in its business model and the games need to take better advantage of the platform's features ( IE voice, text messages, GPS and for some, camera abilities). Tomorrow should be just as interesting...
Sweet sweet Interactive Fiction
EA Gray Company
I got a random email from a friend at EA. I guess EA put up a not-well-publicized website for a new game with no title today:Project Gray Company
What exactly is this?
The Abandoned Gamesroom gets abandoned... for now
One of the most respected abandonware sites on the internet, the Abandoned Gamesroom, has been providing users with downloads of Sierra
games for quite a number of years, and users had the opportunity to vote in an on-line poll, asking them what game do they want to be put up next. Today, the Gamesroom no longer exists; not because of the ever-increasing traffic, but it has been busted by the ESA
, due to copyright violations.
U.S. copyright law states that "copyrights owned by corporations are valid for 95 years from the date of first publication", meaning that we won't be seeing a video game have its copyright expired any time soon. Half-Life 2
was made in 2004, for example. If Vivendi
doesn't shut down or they sell the game rights to another company, then HL2's copyright, as well as games that were released in 2004, won't expire until 2099. The legal mumbo-jumbo of it all is ridiculous, because we wouldn't exist by then.
The Gamesroom will be back, but only as a "fan site". I suspect that it would be the old one -- minus the downloads.
Sony drops the price of PS2 to $129.99 in the US
Well if you don't already own one maybe this is your excuse. With Xbox 360 already out the door and sort of available and PS3 right around the corner Sony is trying to juice demand for its already dominant game console. Pricing is an important and mysterious art. Why Sony decided to drop the price now is not really known. Analysts were expecting a much more dramatic price cut to $99 a little later. Obviously there are a lot of PS2 consoles out in the wild and the system will have a long, albeit budget oriented, life in the face of the next-gen systems. Have you been holding off getting a PS2? Now that the price is lower would you get one? Tell us what you think.Read more..
Should we drop the MobyDark theme?
We have been tinkering with improving the MobyGames interface. Our idea is to improve the overall design quality of the site, make the interface easier to use and to better communicate that MobyGames is a community driven site. Having two themes always means we have to check all interface improvements twice. Also as we add more graphics and icons we need to ensure that everything is antialiased off the correct backgrounds etc. As you can guess our to-do list is a mile long. The question I have been wondering is, "Should MobyGames drop support for the MobyDark theme?" Having one theme would free up resources to work on other things. However if people really like it ... well ... we love MobyUsers and we want to make you happy. We created this weeks poll to tally peoples votes. Tell us what you think.
And the countdown has begun...
E3 is about a month away and already we're starting to see the first pre-E3 announcements. Games getting announced so that they can beat the E3 rush of news and announcements so that they don't get lost in the see of new games that everyone will be talking about.
Among the pre-show announcements are :
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance from Raven Software
Frontlines: Fuel Of War from Kaos Studios
Guitar Hero 2 from Harmonix
C&C 3 from EA
Destroy All Humans! 2 from Pandemic Studios
Eragon from Amaze Entertainment
TerraWars: New York Invasion from Tri Synergy
Legend of Ares from Mgame
Red Steel from Ubisoft Paris
And I'm sure I'm missing a bunch and those are just some from the last few days.
The trick is if you can announce yourself before hand, be the talk of town while the show is going on, AND be on everyone's minds after the show has come and gone; you're set and are in prime position to have your game do awesome.
That is... provided you can get your game out in a reasonable time.
But... does this maybe cause E3 to lose some of its luster? Wouldn't you rather be surprised about the titles coming out?
Sometimes it just seems a bit much to be getting a whole month of a head start of covering games that are just going to get more detailed coverage in a month.
Games and Mobile Forum
and I will be covering the 5th Annual Games and Mobile Forum
April 25 - 26 in New York City. I am looking forward to the conference. The mobile platform is really interesting in my opinion. There hasn't been that killer game yet and there isn't a single dominant company. Yet people are definitely playing and buying games on their cell phones. What does this mean? Well that there is a lot of potential and a lot of people and companies are trying new things. Don't get me wrong there are a lot of crummy games out there, but it sure makes for some interesting conversations. MobyGames has had a pretty good start documenting BREW, J2ME games a the like. We still have a long way to go. As always if you are attending the conference and want to say hi drop us a line
Macintosh is here!!
After a some fits and starts, a lot of hard work and a lot help from a lot of people Macintosh is finally a supported platform on MobyGames. Adding computer platforms to MobyGames always requires a lot of work. We need to investigate all the various technical attributes to accurately modeling the data for the platform. Mac was especially tough since it spans over twenty years on three major hardware architectures ( 68000, PPC, Intel ) with a huge number of operating system versions and technical attributes. This would not of been possible without the help of a large number of people who volunteered their time to research, ponder, model and debate all the various aspects of this wonderful personal computer. There are too many to thank, but you know who you are and you have my and all MobyGamers everywhere, undying gratitude.
We decided to add Macintosh as a single platform and break out the various operating systems and versions in the attributes. No one is perfect. Even tough we have really poured over the system I am sure we have missed something. Please drop us a note
and let us know what needs to be added, changed or dropped altogether. Start digging around your closet and dusting off those old games. We have a lot of Mac games to get into the system.
Ubisoft drops StarForce copy protection, more to come?
On Ubisoft's Heroes of Might & Magic V forum
, a community manager announced that the company has decided to no longer incorporate the dubious StarForce copy protection in its products. StarForce has been under a lot of pressure lately, with customers complaining about corrupted disc drives and unstable systems. The software even stays present after uninstalling the game, and is hard to remove.
StarForce is going through a rough time. Recently, when Galactic Civilizations II
was released and topped the American charts, without relying on copy protection, a StarForce administrator posted a torrent link to an illegal version of the game on the company's forum, with the message: Right now several thousands are downloading the pirated version from that web-site. Is it good for the sales? Unlikely. [sic] Good game surely would have the high sales rate even if it doesn't have any copy protection, but not because of that. Good protection is the tool, which increases the rate.
The offending post was soon removed, but this move raged gamers worldwide, accusing StarForce of relying on mafia-style blackmail activities to run its business.
Ubisoft's move does not imply, however, that copy protection will disappear. Other, and hopefully less intrusive systems will be used. One of the reasons leading to this sudden move is probably the $5M class action suit
Christopher Spence filed against Ubisoft for using Starforce DRM in their games.
Today, The Game Initiative
held the second annual Advertising in Games Forum
in New York City. I never went to the first, but jumped at the chance to go chat it up about the state of advertising in the game industry and who was doing what about it. When I arrived though, I quickly realized that I'd grossly underestimated the power that was being wielded here. Many companies are positioning themselves with technologies that, if used properly will serve a duel purpose in enriching virtual worlds with realistic product placement AND help to provide publishers and developers with much needed additional funds to offset the ever rising costs of game development. At its best, it’s a great idea and will bear much fruit for developers and publishers and will make your realistic games more realistic. At its worst, The Elder Scrolls 5 will feature Nike, Coca-cola, and Jet Blue as its primary sponsors and will feature jets flying along side dragons, +3 shoes of Michael Jordon, and a coke machine in your favorite local dungeon.
Many industry leaders turned out including representatives from three of the largest players in the push for in game advertising, Massive Inc
, Double Fusion
, and Adscape Media
. Also in attendance were the other parts of the equation, representatives from publishers like Vivendi Universal
and from developers like Bioware
. Talks ranged from the discussion of the latest in-game advertisement technology, to case studies about certain marketing campaigns to other ways for advertises to penetrate the gamer market. This thing goes deep. VERY deep. In a way, it’s scary. Today was a meeting of the minds to get the ball rolling even further on what advertising content you might see in and around games in the next couple years – and you had no say in it. Like most things, you’ll end up voting with your money. And the industry will correct itself.
Lets just hope it won’t take a Ford Focus being featured in Tam’ riel to get people in the industry to learn to be careful.
Study Claims Games Lead to Drug and Alcohol Abuse
A study entitled "Effects of Media Violence on Health-Related Outcomes among Young Men" has concluded that "violent" games make the men who choose to play them more likely to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol.
Anti-game activists are sure to throw their weight behind the claims from Dr. Sonya Brady from the University of California, San Francisco and Professor Karen Matthews from the University of Pittsburgh. According to the report, of 100 males aged between 18 and 21 asked to play either The Simpson's: Hit and Run or Grand Theft Auto III, those who were assigned the more violent game "exhibited greater increases in diastolic blood pressure from a baseline rest period to game play, greater negative affect, more permissive attitudes toward using alcohol and marijuana, and more uncooperative behavior in comparison with men randomly assigned to play The Simpsons".
The study, published in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine concludes that violent video games lead to "permissive attitudes toward violence, alcohol use, marijuana use, and sexual activity without condom use".
Specifically: "only among participants with greater exposure to home and community violence, play of Grand Theft Auto III led to elevated systolic blood pressure in comparison with play of The Simpsons". And it continues: "Although youth growing up in violent homes and communities may become more physiologically aroused by media violence exposure, all youth appear to be at risk for potentially negative outcomes".
Holy carp MobyGames Nominated for a Webby!!
The Webby Awards
are like the Oscars for websites. Just being nominated is quite an honor, especially considering the co-nominees. This is really a recognition of a lot of hard work of a lot of very dedicated and talented people. MobyGames started with a fundamental belief that video games are important. They are as important to our cultural history as movies, music or television. MobyGames mission is to document every single game ever made and offer that information free to the public. Thousands upon thousands of people also believe in the mission and have tirelessly worked to make MobyGames great. Often when I have talked to people they look at me like I am a little bonkers when I tell them about the project. Being nominated for a Webby really vindicates what we have been doing for the last seven years. You people rock!
Please go ahead and show your support for MobyGames in the People's Voice Awards
Watching objects and people explode, virtually.
It seems like there are always stories about videogame violence on the Internet, followed by people (many of the folk on this website) pointing out the positive aspects of various videogames and making a case that crazy situations in videogames do not necessarily mean the player will try to replicate those situations in life.
But not all games are created equal, as the Mobygames database itself will show, and ZDNet's Clive Thomson writes a quick piece
on how the best-selling first person shooter are over the top and focus only on one thing, blood!. Discuss.
PS3 to cost over $600?
Sony Vice President George Fornay told a French radio station that the PS3 will cost somewhere between €499 and €599. That's around $612 to $734. This is a much more specific price range than previous comments from Sony head Ken Kutaragi (which he stated the PS3 as being simply being "expensive"). Fornay also confirmed a November release for in PS3 in France and presumably the rest of Europe as well, thanks to their new worldwide launch policy. He also reiterated that the delay of the Playstation 3 was due to last minute changes in the Blu-ray’s copy protection.
Worldwide console launches make no sense. Sony has committed to a worldwide launch of the PS3 this November. We shall see if they hit their dates. There is speculation that Nintendo will simultaneously launch the Revolution worldwide. Manufacturing a console is an interesting business. Basically the console makers either break even or lose a little money on each and every console they sell. However the manufacturer receives a pretty hefty licensing fee from the independent software publishers. This is around $8 per game sold. The name of the game is get as many consoles into the hands of gamers as possible. Be the dominant console system and sit back and reap the rewards.
Here is where the tricky part comes in. The console system by itself is pretty worthless. As much as I LOVE my XBox 360 I would never buy the thing if there were not a few good games to play. People buy a new console to play games. The publishers make games for a specific console only if there is a sufficient number of them out in the wild for the publisher to make some money. It is chicken and egg problem, but if one manufacturer become the dominant system the rewards are huge. In business we call this a network externality.
Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo all want their system to be the dominant one. Microsoft has a huge advantage by being first to market. They have a whole year to sell systems before Sony launches the PS3. Of course Microsoft is squandering its lead with supply problems. The problem is first one of supply. Once a console is finalized that is pretty much the console that Sony or Microsoft will have to live with for the next generation cycle. They may be able to make slight modifications, but nothing fundamental that would affect how the game performs. A manufacturer basically wants to jam as much horsepower and functionality as possible to be competitive in the marketplace while still giving the publishers time to produce the first set of launch titles. This means that at launch the on hand supply and manufacturing capabilities are no where near demand.
So why is a simultaneous launch stupid? Well first it makes already chronic supply shortages even more acute. Instead of blasting out one type of console Sony or Nintendo will have to make a few different versions with different power requirements and video standards. This diminishes their economy of scale and ultimate lowers their initial manufacturing capacity. Demand may vary in different geographical regions. Five months after launch you still cannot get a Xbox 360 in the US. However in Japan there is a plentiful supply. Unless the console maker has a worldwide shortage the net effect is that there are fewer systems in the hands of gamers since the systems that go unsold in Japan could very easily be in the hands of gamers in the US. Second, games are published regionally. While the top AAA titles are published world wide on all systems the video game publishing business is still rather regional. The math is simple. As a publisher would you rather make a game that you can sell on 1 million systems all with the same language, all with the same regional tastes OR make a game you can sell on 1 million systems, but with three or four different languages with three different regional tastes. I know for a fact that Madden NFL 06 is more popular in the US than it is in Europe. I don't know why. It is a great game. Yet these regional preferences exist and publishers have to be aware of them.
What should Microsoft have done? The answer is simple. Microsoft should of launched the Xbox 360 in North America. The US is still the largest video game market, it is Microsoft's home territory and demand is incredibly high. Once Microsoft had fixed its capacity problem and dominated the US market it should move on to Europe and then possibly Asia. If you look at the most successful console launch in history, Sony's PS2, that is exactly what happened.
Judge overturns Michigan violent video game law
U.S. District Judge George Steeh has ruled that the Michigan law violates the First Amendment. The basic premise is that games are a "form of creative expression that are constitutionally protected under the First Amendment,".
Right on! Really this is cool on two fronts. First, an obviously dumb law is overturned. Second, this ruling lends credence to the arguments that video gamess are art.
Every once in a while the good guys win.Read more at News.com....
UMD: The beginning of the end?
Sony's Universal Media Disc (UMD) format has come under hot water due to disappointing sales. A number of major studios, including Paramount Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video, have cut back on production of UMD movies, or completely stopped releasing movies on the format. Wal-Mart even considered abandoned sales of the format.
The poor sales could be for a number of reasons: a) The format only runs on the Sony PSP. The format cannot be played through any other storage device; b) The region-coding for DVD also applies for UMD, meaning that the word "Universal" is irrelevant; and c) UMD movies do not have an advantage over DVD. Other than the movie itself, it does not have the extra features. I believe many people buy DVDs because they enjoy the extra features.
Ed note: What do you think? Will the studios stop releasing films on UMD?
Get a free game
I haven't posted a new item in a while. I am sure there are many news worthy things going on in the world. Between getting ready for finals and graduation and getting caught up from GDC Microsoft could buy EA and I would hardly notice. While this is hardly newsworthy it is worth mentioning that MobyGames gives away free games
! There is a catch. We require that you pick a relatively new game not yet in the database that is a top seller and that you contribute a complete game entry including credits and everything in a week or two. I dunno it sounds pretty good to me. Definitely check it out. Speaking of Microsoft buying EA I totally forgot it was April fools yesterday and got zinged by all the bogus news stories out there. Damn you April 1st.