Tag Archives: November 2008

Wal-Mart Helps Gamers Beat The Economy

WalmartVideo gamers very well might end up having a merry holiday season thanks to some fantastic pricing courtesy of Wal-Mart. The major retailer has created some packages for Christmas that will make those who have already purchased consoles and game titles turn green with price envy. With price deals that include the Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS and some relatively decent computers, the chain might just prove to be the hero of the season as the economy continues to pinch even harder.

All told, Wal-Mart is really plugging about 45 different money saving bundle buys. The Xbox 360 package includes a console, two games and an extra controller with prices starting at $259. The PlayStation 3 bundle doesn’t sound like much of a bargain compared to the 360 pricing, but it’s not bad at all. This one saves consumers about $50 and includes an 80GB console, a remote, two games and four Blu-ray movies for $488.

For gamers who like their action on the go, Wal-Mart has created a Nintendo DS Lite holiday bundle. This includes the DS, two games and an accessory kit for a low $149.

Other deals included in the promotion include a Compaq laptop bundle for $438, an iPod 8GB nano bundle for $157.88 and an Xbox 360 and Toshiba 32-inch LCD TV bundle for $698.

With budgets pinched tight for many as the holiday season approaches, these deals will no doubt be welcomed by many. I still can’t get over the 360 and DS pricing bundles compared to how much green I shelled out to buy mine! I have to admit I might be one of the envious.

Walmart Value Bundles

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Sony Wants To Get More Girls In The Game

G.I.R.L Gamers In Real LifeBreaking the glass ceiling in the video game industry might not be as difficult as it is in the American White House, but that doesn’t mean the task isn’t daunting. My hat is off to Sony Online Entertainment for recognizing this and trying to do something about it.

Torrie Dorrell, SOE’s senior VP of global sales and marketing, recently called on members of the International Game Developers Association to stand up and support the Gamers In Real Life (or G.I.R.L.) scholarship. Money given to this fund helps pay for college educations for women who want to enter the gaming field in such areas as design, creation and production.

“Today, I am challenging everyone to take action to help level the playing field for women pursuing a career in video games,” Dorrell said. “By donating to the G.I.R.L. scholarship, we can encourage diversity in development and make a difference, hopefully creating more opportunities for women and ultimately making more video games women will want to play.”

Link

Dorrell called on industry leaders to each make $10,000 donations toward the cause.

My congratulations go to Sony, and Dorrell, in particular for making an issue of the obvious, but often overlooked reality women gamers face. While there’s no denying we exist, all too often were aren’t taken as seriously as we should be. And, the simple truth is a lot of games aren’t designed with us in mind – at all!

I’m not a bra burner by a long shot, but it would be nice to see a woman’s touch in some titles – especially in MMORPGs where it seems a lot of the action and design work is geared solely for male players. Conan’s anatomically correct women are fine, but it sure would be nice to not have characters look so perfect!

Here’s hoping the effort to get a few more women actively involved in the behind-the-scenes creativity will result in titles that are at least slightly more balanced for the sexes.

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Analysts Expect Wii To Deliver Movie Content Soon

Nintendo WiiIt has cross-generational appeal. The price is right. The game play is fun. Still, there is something missing from Nintendo’s Wii that does help the competition edge it out with certain buyers. That something is a video delivery service, something at least one analyst thinks may soon be on the horizon.

Former Microsoft senior exec, Colin Dixon, who now works for The Diffusion Group, recently discussed the differences in consoles and content delivery.

“(Nintendo) Wii hasn’t delivered any movie services, but once they do, and we expect them to do that, they will have a much broader set of content.”

Evidence that Dixon’s prediction is correct is found in Japan where Nintendo plans to release a theater channel soon. No plans, however, have been discussed for a North American version – just yet.

Speculation as to what Nintendo will do for delivery of content ranges from besting Xbox Live with an even broader array of programming to turning the devices into cable delivery boxes to compete with local providers. There’s also hope in the gaming community a firmware release might enable DVD use.

No matter how you crack it, if Nintendo does add some sort of video delivery ability to the consoles, they’d go up immensely in perceived and actual value. I can tell you in our home, the PlayStation 3 doubles as a DVD/Blu-ray player and is used more for that than gaming. The Xbox 360 also gets a fair amount of use as a movie-viewing machine when programming on our local cable company’s on-demand channel is light.

It would be nice to see Nintendo enter this fray. I might never have to buy a DVD player again! My fingers are crossed.

Via The Wiire

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Black Friday Video Game Buying Tips For Parents

ESRB RatingsThe final hours of counting down to Black Friday are on and the video game deals are hot. It’s hard not to go gaga over some of the advertised pricing on titles kids and teens are probably asking to see under the tree.

But, you’re a responsible parent, right? You don’t want to give your child a game that you’re uncomfortable with – no matter how much he or she wants it or how little it costs.

So, how can you check into the appropriateness of titles with only a few hours left to go before the huge sales are unveiled?

There are a few things you can do to guide purchases in an informed manner. Some tips that help even in a time crunch require only the Internet. The best things for you to look at to help assure yourself you’re really getting a good buy are:

  • The game’s personal Web site – Look up the titles your kids want on the Internet and physically visit specific titles’ Web sites. On most video game sites you’ll find a breakdown of the game, what it’s about and the style of play involved. In many cases, you’ll even find demos you can check out.
  • The ESRB rating – The Entertainment Software Rating Board offers titles on games released in America. These ratings charts will tell you if a game has language, violence, nudity and so on. It will also offer you a suggested age range for beginner play.
  • Reviews – If you have the time (I know the clock is ticking) check into reviews others have written for the titles on your child’s list. These will tell you a lot that the ratings board and the game makers won’t.
  • Play the game yourself – If stores or web sites offer demo play, take advantage of the opportunity to play yourself. This is the best way for you to see if a title fits your standards or not.
  • Age appropriateness – Consider your child carefully as you explore video game options. While the ratings might say Teen, your child might not be ready for the graphic action of some games. Ultimately, you are the best judge.

Buying video games for kids and teens can be a crapshoot if you don’t take the time to consider appropriateness. If you don’t want your child playing a game that has them gunning down terrorists or stealing cars, it’s up to you to check into the titles. It only takes a few minutes to get a good handle on what most video game titles are about.

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A Return Of Wii Holiday Shortages?

Nintendo WiiGamers wondering what will be hot this holiday season only need to look back to the past two years to see what’s coming. While Nintendo is promising a good supply of consoles for the season, some retailers are not convinced they will be able to meet demand. GameStop, in particular, is expecting a complete sell out.

According to GamePro, David Carlson, GameStop’s CFO, is anticipating a run on the consoles. In particular, he expects Wii Fit to sell out.

“Wii Fit is in very, very short supply. It sells through as quickly as it hits the stores,” Carlson said. “And although the Wii hardware is in very good supply right now we believe it may as well be out of stock by the holiday season.”

Nintendo, however, is confident it can meet the holiday demand for consoles. The Wii Fit is another issue all together though.

“With Wii hardware, I think we’ve got a good shot at meeting demand during the holidays,” Reggie Fils-Aime recently told Forbes. “With Wii Fit, I know we’ll fall short.”

With many holiday shoppers looking for bargains and value both, Carlson’s prediction makes a fair amount of sense. The Wii, as much as I picked on it in the past, does offer both value and excellent pricing. This is a console that can cut across generational lines and give owners some serious bang for their bucks. While it might not have the bells and whistles of the competition, it is a purchase that will get used – unlike many other gifts out there for kids and adults both.

So, if you want to get your hands on a Wii for Christmas, my suggestion is to shop now. Chances are reasonably strong that finding one as the holiday approaches will become increasingly more difficult.

More links:
Wii: Deadly Creatures Creeps Into Stores This December
‘Extra’ Wants Its Viewers To Get Wii Fit

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Video Gamers Have A 1 Up On The Economy

MoneyIn a time when most earning reports are bleak and the economy looks even bleaker, video games seem to be doing more than holding their own. If you’re a fan of console or computer-based gaming, chances are you already know the reason why: Video games can offer a big bang for the buck.

According to Reuters, sales of video game-related hardware and software climbed an estimated 18 percent in October. While sales were down 7 percent in September, Wii consoles became a shining star in boosting the numbers for October. With an estimated 800,000 units sold in that month alone, the little console that could just keeps on going. In fact, the Wii is said to have sold 13 million units since its debut two years ago, making it more popular than even World of Warcraft.

As more people scale back their entertainment spending and look for things that offer repeat fun and real value, I wouldn’t be surprised to see video games continue to do well in sales.

Microsoft, however, isn’t completely banking on this based on David Dennis’ quote: “We feel cautiously optimistic (going into the holidays), we don’t see anything in this (NPD) data that leads us to believe there’s a pullback.”

With the overall industry remaining robust at about $22 billion in sales for the year, Microsoft probably doesn’t have much to worry about.

What Reuters failed to point out in its article is the likely reason why games are doing so well. It all comes down to smart investments. People today can spend $50-plus on dinner and movie or take that same money and buy a game, which can be played over and over again. Console buys are smart, too, because they can double in for other entertainment. Watch a Blu-ray disk on a PS3 or rent a move over Xbox Live and the real beauty of being a gamer in this economy becomes clear.

While critics out there might scoff, gamers are ahead of the curve when it comes to surviving in this economy and having a little fun along the way.

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EVE Online Gets New Packaging Deal

EVE OnlineEVE Online has been taking a band of faithful gamers to a galaxy far, far away for about five years now. This coming spring, the space-based MMORPG is hoped to get an interest jolt thanks to a new deal with Atari.

According to Geek.com, CCP, the creator of EVE, has inked a deal to put the game with a cult following back on retail shelves. A boxed release is said to be coming to stores throughout North America, Europe and the Asian Pacific. The boxed set will include all nine expansion packs, 60 days of free play time and some extras. The targeted release is March 2009.

CCP’s CEO, Hilmar Veigar Petursson, is quoted as saying, “This partnership comes at a great time in the history of EVE where, through a series of technical breakthroughs, we are able to support a vast increase in the number of concurrent players in our single shard persistent world.”

EVE, as Geek.com points out, is a very pretty game. While it hasn’t necessarily taken off like some other MMORPGs (WoW), it does have a loyal following. A few friends of mine have been playing the title since practically its launch and have continued to play despite being involved in other games like AoC, Vanguard and CoV at the same time.

The team up between CCP and Atari sounds like a stroke of brilliance that will potentially breathe some new life into this underestimated title. Now, if someone would step in and save AoC from the incessant PVPing that has turned that beautiful game into a veritable ghost town as far as new blood is concerned!

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Xbox 360 Price Slash Comes To Australia

Xbox 360Aussies who have been holding out on buying their very own Xbox 360 consoles in hope of a similar price slash like the one that happened in America earlier this year got their wish in time for the holidays. Microsoft has officially dropped the cost of its 360 Down Under to a price that makes it much cheaper than a PlayStation 3.

According to PC World, the new price points for the 360 in Australia are $299 for the arcade version, $399 for the pro and $549 for the Elite. Sweetening the deal, free games will come with the consoles for a limited time. The basic arcade model will offer SEGA Superstars Tennis. The Pro and Elite models will boast Kung-Fu Panda and LEGO Indiana Jones.

The price slash hit American shores in September. Fans of the system within the States can now find 360s at places like Best Buy for $199 for the arcade version. The elite system will still set a gamer back $399. The pricing change, by the way, does officially make the 360 rival the Wii in pricing.

I have to admit, the prices are just low enough now to make me raise an eyebrow and consider adding a new console to my holiday shopping list. We’re on our second 360 right now and it’s seen better days. While the system is functional, it doesn’t take kindly to having disks swapped out any longer. We’re stuck with Halo 3 in the machine as a result. (Not that this is a bad thing entirely!)

I’m just hoping if I do break down and buy my third 360, it will hold up a wee bit better than the other ones. Not that they didn’t get their fair share of use. But, still, in today’s economy it’s hard to justify spending $200 on gaming every year for a replacement machine.

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