Tag Archives: October 2006

Sony Serious About PS3 Downloads

PS3The 100,000 Japanese consumers lucky enough to get their hands on a PlayStation 3 will be treated to some decent downloads and a promise for great things to come by year’s end.

It’s being reported that planned for the PlayStation Store at launch, or shortly after it, are such titles as:

  • Blast Factor
  • flow
  • Kazuo
  • Puzzle
  • Mainichi Issho

These titles will have free demos available, plus full versions of the games.

Kazuo is one of the big draws here, even if it seems a little hokey to blasting type gamers. This puzzle game will include 1,000 extra problems and much better graphics for PS3 users.

Old PS1 games are also being planned for the store. Reports say that at first they’ll only work on the PSP, but when emulators become available, it’s being reported the single download will work on both. Titles planned for the PSP/PS3 team up include:

  • Resident Evil Director’s Cut
  • Konami Antiques MSX Collection Vol.1
  • Konami Antiques MSX Collection Vol.2
  • Bishi Bashi Special
  • Arc the Lad
  • Jumping Flash
  • Minna no Golf 2
  • Silent Bomber
  • Tekken 2
  • Mister Driller

It sounds like the plan is to add about 10 PS1 titles a month to the store with games costing about $15. Not a bad line up and promise of things to come.

Related:
Sony Profit Projections Plummet
PS3 ‘Targets’ Lower Release Numbers
Sony Talking Up PS3 Launch
Find more…

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Wii Adds A Spin To Online TV

Wii channels
As downloadable movies and television rise in popularity, CNN is reportedly getting into the act, but adding a spin to what its counterparts at networks, such as NBC, have done.

Rather than go with what is now considered the “traditional mode” of getting content out to viewers in a new way, a la iTunes, CNN’s fired up to provide the content for the Wii news channel.

This is a great move by CNN and it’s also great news for those who like to get their TV and movies in a different way. The inclusion of the channels on Wii fit the console’s overall quirky design, and add to what makes it different from its two competitors – the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3.

According to reports, the CNN news bits will be available for Wii buyers in America and Japan. News will come by category, but users can also spin a globe to find country-specific content.

There’s also some talk of a new round of Wiis coming with DVD playback ability, but time will tell on that one.

A full listing of Wii’s intended channels can be found here.

Related:
Wii Shortages Expected
Wii Date, Price, Details Confirmed
Wii Titles Will Have Current-Gen Pricing
Find more…

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Thompson Wrong About Mortal Kombat

Thompson KombatThe Florida lawyer the gaming community loves to hate is at it again.

This time he’s reportedly attacking Midway over the release of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. It seems if the character creator is manipulated just right you can create a combatant that looks a bit like Jack.

So, showing his egocentric side, Jack’s reportedly fired off a cease and desist e-mail to Midway CEO David Zucker that says “It has today come to my attention that the newly recently Mortal Kombat: Armageddon contains an unauthorized commercial exploitation of my name, photograph, image, and likeness within the game. You are commanded to cease and desist immediately from the distribution of this game because of this unauthorized, illegal content.”

What’s not being pointed out here are three very important things Mr. Thompson should know, but doesn’t seem to:

One: There’s the fact the character creator can conceivably make a likeness of just about anyone. Screenshots available show all kinds of similar representations depending on how the game is manipulated by a player. Just because a player happens to create a fighter that looks like Jack doesn’t make it Jack, nor does it make it Midway’s fault a crafty gamer made a likeness of anyone.

Two: Jack’s a public figure. He’s made himself a public figure. Not only has he scrounged for headlines and media attention like an ambulance chasing lawyer, he’s now declared himself a candidate in the race for a judicial seat that happens to currently belong to the judge that smacked him down in his battle against Bully. By putting himself into the public spotlight like he has, he’s opened the door for criticism. Whether he likes it or not, Americans are free to poke fun, pick on or disagree with him as they wish when they wish. If a movie can be released that depicts the assassination of President Bush and “Saturday Night Live” can survive season after season of political lampooning, some gamer who manages to create a Jack likeness is certainly able to do so.

Three: Midway is not marketing the game as a Jack parody, nor is it seeking to make a profit off of any particular likeness. Of course, the fact it can create a parody of Jack (or anyone for that matter) is a bonus.

Hopefully, Zucker hit the delete button after having a very good chuckle.

Related:
Jack Thompson On Another Witch Hunt
A Jack Attack – Thompson That Is
Jack Thompson, Anti-Game Lawyer Strikes Again
Bully Gets Judicial Thumbs Up
Find more…

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ABC Might Help PS3 Buyers Get ‘Lost’

LOSTThere are reports out that say ABC is soon to announce the release of “Lost” season one on Blu-ray format.

If this one comes to fruition, it can be chalked up as a big win for the Blu-ray camp and PS3 fans in general.

Rumor has it the announcement will be the lead in for a series of “enhanced boxed sets the network plans to release in the coming summer.”

The “Lost” boxed set will reportedly come with lots of features and extended scenes that weren’t released with the earlier DVD version. The pricing, however, is looking pretty high – about $199.99 if rumors are to be believed.

The PS3 is set to release Nov. 17. The pricey package will come with a built-in Blu-ray player, however, fans will likely have to wait a while to get their hands on the gaming console as some issues with the diodes are lowering release window shipment expectations.

Related:
The Blu-ray Debacle
Warner Answers Blu-ray, HD-DVD Question
PS3 ‘Targets’ Lower Release Numbers
PS3 Release Date, Price Firmed Up
Find more…

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Xbox 360 On Track For 10 Million

Xbox 360Word on the street is Microsoft is sticking with its 10-million unit projection for the Xbox 360 by the end of the year. This means Microsoft will have to sell about 4 million units over the busy holiday period.

Can it do it?

That’s the real question. With competition coming on the market from the PlayStation 3 and the Wii both in time for the holidays, it will be close. Considering the fact, too, that only 1 million 360s have sold between July and now, it could be a big reach.

However, since the available PS3s will only fall in around 500,000 worldwide at launch in about three weeks, Microsoft might just get a break. But, four million by the end of the year could be reaching.

Despite this, Microsoft is holding firm to its projections. With a huge expansion for the Halo franchise and other big releases coming up, like Gears of War, who knows, it could pull it off.

Related:
Xbox 360 ‘Gears’ Up For PS3 Launch
Wii Date, Price, Details Confirmed
PS3 Release Date, Price Firmed Up
PS3 ‘Targets’ Lower Release Numbers
Find more…

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Wii Shortages Expected

Nintendo WiiWith a target of having 6 million units good to go between launch and March 31, 2007, Nintendo is still expecting Wii will fall short of filling its demands.

The word comes from Nintendo’s Yoshihiro Mori, who said the company is well on track to reach the 6-million production point. The problem is, he also thinks demand will be higher.

With the pricing point, the draw of the Wii-mote and what is expected to be a fairly good, and affordable, launch line up, Mori is more than likely correct. Add to these things the fact the PS3 won’t really be a factor during the all-important holiday season due to already known console shortages, and the prediction seems more like a forgone conclusion.

Wii ships Nov. 19, but the initial launch day allocations are already sold out in many markets. The PS3, which is also sold out, launches Nov. 17.

In the meantime, Microsoft’s looking to unload about four million consoles, so a shortage there is not likely.

Related:
Wii Date, Price, Details Confirmed
Wii Pre-Orders Sold Out
PS3 Release Date, Price Firmed Up
Wii Titles Will Have Current-Gen Pricing
Find more…

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Marvel Ultimate Alliance Cheats Out

Marvel
Marvel Ultimate Alliance has only been out a few days, and already it’s topping U.S. sales charts and getting the attention of cheaters.

The action RPG allows gamers to create their own team of super heroes, a “dream team” of sorts. The game starts off with 20 different playable heroes from the Marvel line and allows the unlocking of more as the action progresses. All told it features more than 140 characters.

In addition to some very cool sounding single-player action, Marvel Ultimate supports up to four players in a multiplayer team or competition mode. There are even some pretty nifty sounding comic book missions that can be unlocked throughout the title, allowing players to reenact famous Marvel storylines.

And, as impressive as the title sounds, what’s even more impressive is the fact it’s come out of the gate as a big winner. According to Reuters, it’s holding the No. 1 spot on UBS Securities’ weekly U.S. list of best-selling video games.

Add to that the fact there’s already a host of cheat codes known for the Xbox 360 version, and it’s pretty easy to see this game’s giving hope to all of those who are chomping at the bit for the Marvel MMORPG to hit the market.

Cheats out include the codes to unlock some of the characters, including Silver Surfer, and some of the achievements, too.

The title is out for the 360, but it’s also available for a ton of other platforms, as well.

Related:
Marvel MMOG’s Coming To Xbox 360
Marvel, Virgin Sign On With Planetwide
City Of Heroes, Villains Will Continue
Ghost Rider Video Game Coming Soon
Find more…

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20 Worst Video Games

20 worst video games
The poor guy that reviewed video games to create a list of the 20 worst of all time for the 150th issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly has posted his findings in more depth on the Web.

As he put it, “It takes a special kind of failure to make it into this list. A game has to be more than boring or poorly executed. To become one of the 20 Worst, it starts as a bad idea and ends by actually lowering the quality of life of people who haven’t played it.”

With such titles as Total Recall, Heroes of the Lance and White Men Can’t Jump making the list, it’s a wonder this guy didn’t poke his eyes out half way through doing the reviews on the individual games. It does sound as if his sanity was challenged, however.

“Shaq Fu is a game about Shaquille O’Neal battling in a super-powered martial arts tournament, and I was in such a cloudy state of mind that I forgot to include it.”

I’m not sure how he did it!

To find out who won the dubious honors of first place and to see the full list, check it out here.

Related:
Activision Scores Rights To Barbie Games
Video Games Are Hot American Pastime
CNN’s Six Games to Watch
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NCSoft, City Of Villains Rocks

City of Villains
If I had the ability to give out an award for the most responsive, bend-over-backwards customer service department in the MMORPG business, I’d present that award directly to NCSoft.

For the last year or so, I’ve been playing EverQuest II almost exclusively. My City of Heroes account was still there, but alas, I had a greater call to play a mystic than a defender.

Thanks to a few stories I’ve done recently, the itch to fly, have some fun and just mess around in a comic book world got the better of me. Rather than return to my defender and protecting the streets of Atlas Park, however, I opted to check out the dark side.

This is where my brush with customer service came in. After a lapse of about a year in playing, I could no longer remember my account information and was having trouble getting my ducks in a row to fire up a nasty villain.

To complicate matters, my husband and I both decided we wanted to start playing again – CoV and City of Heroes, too. With two copies of CoH and CoV in hand and no account information to be found, we contacted customer service.

These folks bent over backwards to help out. It took them about a day to get everything tracked down, but in the meantime we received two e-mail updates as to what was going on with the hunt for our lost information.

I’ve played multiple MMORPGs through the years, and never have I been treated with the kind of respect that NCSoft’s folks dole out. My usual experience with a customer service department is hurry up and wait, and wait and wait. This is just not the case with NCSoft.

I have no idea what NCSoft would be like to have to deal with on the phone, this I must admit. However, even when playing solely CoH, I never really needed to elevate a customer service call to the telephone – they answered questions so quickly there was no need.

When it comes to managing games, NCSoft has its act together. Now, if they could just help me get through robbing the Atlas Park Bank, I’d be all set!

Related:
MMOART.com Immortalizes Gamers’ Toons
City Of Heroes, Villains Will Continue
Vanguard’s Eye Candy Is Incredible
Find more…

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Xbox 360 100-Gig Drive Ups, Downs

Xbox 360Microsoft’s unconfirmed move to create a 100-gig hard drive add on for the Xbox 360 console could be a huge bonus in the gaming system’s battle against the slow-to-launch PlayStation 3. Or, it could be a complete flop.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of the idea:

Pros
More flexibility. This is a defininte plus. Gamers could buy the stripped down system and add on to it as they can afford, or desire. There’s no need to pay out the rear for something they don’t want or can’t financially swing just to be able to start playing 360 games.

More affordability. In line with the above, the add on set up of the 360 enables gamers to buy what they can afford to get playing and allows them to build up to an uber console as they go. There’s no reason to have to wait to play.

More storage. With all kind of goodies available on Xbox Live and the possibility for more music and video purchases down the road, the extra storage will no doubt come in handy for gamers. This, too, will enable the 360 to better compete against the PS3’s total entertainment package marketing.

Cons
Functionality. The onus will be on Microsoft to make sure all the parts work together correctly from Day One. Sony’s already going through this with its Blu-ray drive for the PS3’s. If add ons like the 100-gig drive and the HD player don’t work right, Microsoft could be sorry. I’m not saying the add ons won’t work, but if this issue arises, it could be a problem.

Pricing. To make the add on idea work, Microsoft will have to take care to ensure the pricing for the nifty add ons don’t make the total package more expensive than the PS3. If the bottom line is higher, gamers will very likely run right to Sony, if and when, the bugs are worked out on its next-gen offering.

Cyborging of the machine. This is one of the complaints I’ve heard from gamers about the add on HD-DVD drive for the Xbox 360. As one friend put it, “Why would I go out and buy a bunch of add ons for the 360, which may or may not work entirely as intended, when I can wait and get the full package in the PS3?”

Sure the drives will be made to work with the 360, but they “won’t be a part of it.”

Granted, the hard drive add on currently available seems to work very well, but when this is coupled with the HD-DVD add on, the 360 could begin to resemble an Erector Set of electronics, which won’t present the best images.

There’s no word on when the 100-gig drive will hit North American streets, or exactly how much it will cost. If it works well (and the HD-DVD drive does, too), it could be a huge score for Microsoft. It will likely be Sony’s win if it doesn’t.

Related:
Xbox 360 Gets ‘Sourced’
Xbox 360 HD-DVD Will Be Cheap
PS3 ‘Targets’ Lower Release Numbers
PS3 Release Date, Price Firmed Up
The Blu-ray Debacle
Find more…

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PS3 Equals $1.7 Billion Loss For Sony

PS3 controllerThe old adage goes that you have to spend money to make money, but Sony might be taking it to the extremes. The company has reportedly upped its projected losses in the game division for the fiscal year that ends March 31, 2007, to an estimated $1.71 billion. This is nearly twice what Sony had previously stated.

The drastic increase is being blamed on the “additional costs of PlayStation 3,” according to Sir Howard Stringer, the company’s CEO.

The additional costs also are partially blamed on Sony’s move to favor its Japanese customer base only with a discounted PS3 coming out of the gate. The home-turf favoritism isn’t winning the company fans in other regions, nor is its failure to deliver on the planned worldwide launch.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s still taking a beating with costs associated with the Xbox 360. The company’s numbers look better a year after launch, but they’re far from being in the black.

Microsoft’s game division has lost $96 million in the July-September quarter, which is an improvement from $173 million during the same period last year.

Keep in mind, losses in the games and devices divisions for both companies are expected. It does cost money to make money. The real cash cow is not in the device sales, but in the games that follow.

However, $1.7 billion equates to a whole lot of games. Between this and the battery issue, it will be interesting to see if Sony can pull up and out as time rolls by.

Related:
Sony Profit Projections Plummet
Sony Gives U.S. PS3 Fans The Shaft
PS3 Apology Isn’t Enough
PS3, Sony’s Strategy Is Flawed
PS3 European Failure Possible
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Sony Profit Projections Plummet

SonyIn a year that could have been a banner one, entertainment giant Sony is warning investors to expect a big drop in net profits from its earlier July forecast.

The drop, according to a report in The Globe And Mail, is a full 38 percent thanks to the battery recall and price cuts it plans to offer in Japan for the PlayStation 3. The hard numbers fall in at 80 billion yen, or $673-million (U.S.), for the fiscal year through March 2007. Earlier projections had been at 130 billion yen.

Fitch Ratings analyst Tatsuya Mizuno has been quoted as saying the troubles at Sony are far from superficial. “The battery problem is not a simple one-time problem for Sony because it hurts the company’s reliability as a supplier in its core electronics sector,” Mr. Mizuno said.

The price cuts for Japan and the delay in global launch for the PlayStation 3 are also begin blamed for the poor forecast.

What this all amounts to is Sony’s failure to thrive following massive diversification. Rather than stick to a few key products, the company has gone out on a proverbial limb in a big way and is struggling as a result. With everything from movies and games to consoles and televisions now made by the company, Sony’s lost sight of what it does best, and that’s make electronics.

With a focus divided, the company’s mainstay business is hurting and taking public relations hits left and right. It’s not delivering on promises, and its word is starting to mean less and less.

If any company can pull out of this, Sony can. But, it will take honesty, not ego. It will take streamlining, not hype.

The question isn’t whether Sony can fix the image of its electronics division; it’s whether Sony is willing to?

Related:
Sony Gives U.S. PS3 Fans The Shaft
PS3, Sony’s Strategy Is Flawed
PS3 European Launch Delayed
PS3 ‘Targets’ Lower Release Numbers
Find more…

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Xbox 360’s Not Just For Gaming Anymore

Xbox 360 sizzles
Ever since the Xbox 360 launched, I’ve been whining that it doesn’t do dishes. Heck, it does almost everything else. Why not have it double as a kitchen aid, too?

Little did I know it could actually be used as one!

Taking advantage of an unfortunate early demise of his Xbox 360, one amusing gamer has proven once and for all the console isn’t just for gaming any more. It’s a super, duper, scrambled egg cooking wonder, too.

The 360 did have to come out of the case for the gourmet creation to cook just right, but with the box popped open those eggs really began to sizzle. Talk about overheating problems!

Had I know, the first one we bought could have been put to much better use.

If you don’t believe me, check out the video on YouTube. Be warned, however, this Xbox not only serves as a frying pan, but also a plate. Yuck!

Maybe Microsoft could market it as a high-tech frying pan to help push console sales toward that 10 million mark?

Nods to Engadget

Related:
Xbox 360 On Track For 10 Million
S Sued for Faulty Xbox 360′s
Faulty Xbox 360s Spur Petition Drive
More Xbox 360 Crashes Reported
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PS3 American Launch Cuts On Horizon?

Ken Kutaragi/PS3With the official launch of the PlayStation 3 just days away in Japan, there are reports out saying the already scaled back allocation numbers are being scaled back even further.

According to reports in the Nikkei Keizai Shimbun newspaper, the 100,000-unit figure has now been cut to 80,000. This is a huge cut considering the paltry numbers the PS3 will release with overall.

At the heart of the issue are production problems with certain components of the super gaming machine, namely the Blu-ray diode.

Japanese gamers enjoyed 900,000 PlayStation 2s at that console’s launch back in 2000. A mere 500k worldwide is a huge let down for gamers around the gamers – especially those who have now been told they’ll have to wait for months to get their hands on a PS3.

On the upside for the Japanese launch, the consoles will cost gamers less. Sony’s paying the price for that move, however.

There’s no official word from Sony on the Japanese cuts, but if they turn out to be true, one can only wonder if the electronics giant will be able to produce the 400,000 units its promised in America (at the full Americans-get-screwed price, of course). But then again, since Americans won’t have enhanced subsidies on their PS3s, my guess is Sony will do everything possible to fill the orders here first.

My eyes will be open for any word.

Related:
Sony Gives U.S. PS3 Fans The Shaft
PS3 European Launch Delayed
The Blu-ray Debacle
PS3 Equals $1.7 Billion Loss For Sony
Find more…

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New Eragon Screens Available

Eragon
Time’s ticking away on the upcoming release of Eragon the video game and Sierra’s turning up the tease factor.

Several new screenshots for the game are now available for viewing, including some of the dragon Saphira. The screens look pretty darn good, but the shots of Saphira are a little more cartoony than I expected. The trailer, however, looks great.

The game releases Nov. 14 and it will include a co-op feature that allows two players. This mode allows team attack bonuses and even dragon fight/flight combo gameplay. The game will be released in a number of formats, including the Xbox 360, PS2 and PC.

The movie based on the books comes out Dec. 15.

Related:
‘Eragon’ Actors Voice Video Game
Eragon Game, Movie Coming Out This Year
Find more…

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F.E.A.R. Creeps Out Gamers For Halloween

Fear
Xbox 360 and PC gamers are getting a special Halloween treat courtesy of Sierra.

F.E.A.R.
Extraction Point for the PC released Oct. 24; the Xbox 360 version of the original paranormal action thriller comes out on Oct. 31. The original title is considered one of the best in the horror/paranormal genre for action gaming.

Extraction Point picks up where the first creepy thrilled left off. “Once the hunter, now the hunted, your new mission is simple…escape.” If the title’s anything like its predecessor, escape won’t be easy, especially if the jump scenes work on you like they did me.

The PC title sells for $29.99. There’s a free demo available if you want to check it out before you buy it.

The Xbox 360 version of the original contains new levels to create an “intense action movie experience.” It will set gamers back the standard next-gen $59.99.

Related:
F.E.A.R. to sport Director’s Cut Edition
New F.E.A.R. Trailer
Special Edition of F.E.A.R. to be U.S.
Find more…

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Vanguard Has 7-Year Plan

vanguard
Gamers who doubt the serious thought going into the Vanguard project only have to turn to Sigil Games’ founder Brad McQuaid for reassurances.

McQuaid has been quoted as saying the new MMO is being designed to be a “never-ending” title. “We have it all mapped out for the next 7 or so years.”

On the table for the game, which is expected to go live sometime in the first quarter of next year, are monthly content additions to go along with annual expansions. With these being planned out in advance of the original launch, it’s very possible later expansions won’t feel forced as they have in other MMORPGs. The long-term planning is very smart.

If Vanguard holds true to what sounds like a very good development plan, the title could in fact survive a full seven years or more. Just look at the original EverQuest’s longevity. The goal for Vanguard is to strike a balance between spoon-feeding players and challenge. If it falls in the middle point that developers are striving for, Vanguard could give titles like WoW real runs for their money.

The game’s currently in Stage 3 beta testing with preorder expected to come around the holiday time. I, for one, have my cash counted and ready to go.

Related:
Vanguard Gears Up For Launch
Vanguard’s Eye Candy Is Incredible
EverQuest Mods, Cheats
EQII Map Mod Is Incredible
Find more…

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WoW’s Burning Crusade Delayed

World of WarcraftWord of Warcraft fans keeping their fingers crossed for a Burning Crusade Christmas are going to have to put something else on their holiday lists. Blizzard has announced BC won’t launch until January 2007.

The delay is designed to give development a few extra weeks to ensure the new content is “refined” for shipment.

“We appreciate the enthusiasm surrounding World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, and we’re excited about putting the finishing touches on all of the new content,” said Mike Morhaime, president and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment in a media release. “We feel confident that the extra time spent polishing the game will result in the high-quality experience that our players expect and deserve.”

The delay isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s better for Blizzard to keep its content and quality high, rather than rush to the market. The company’s protecting a large customer base (and itself) from disappointment.

Gamers might balk, but they’ll likely forgive quickly if Burning Crusade is all it’s cracked up to be.

Specific release dates and final pricing are expected in the near future, too.

Related:
WoW Edging Toward 7 Million Mark
WoW Beats Jesus, George Bush On Searches
‘South Park’ WoW Parody Is Scary Accurate
Gaining Real Wealth With WoW
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Xbox 360 Losses Don’t Worry Execs

XBox 360If you’ve ever wondered why only three major companies remain in the video game console business, it’s simple mathematics. You’ve got to spend money – a lot of it – to make money.

Despite losses in its game division of $1.26 billion for the fiscal year 2006, which ended June 30, Microsoft remains committed to the Xbox 360.

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner has been quoted as saying the company continues to “believe” in the gaming system. “This is a company that is committed to sticking to things that we believe in. Certainly, this is a space we believe in.”

With less than a year into the new console’s sales, and more importantly, game sales for the next-gen machine, why wouldn’t they?

For any doubters, Turner pointed out this little fact: “People forget. Steve [Ballmer, Microsoft CEO] reminds me it took seven, eight, or nine years before Windows was profitable.”

It takes an ability to handle big loss in the beginning to front a system like the Xbox 360. Microsoft has that ability and the intestinal fortitude to back it up Turner says. “To invest for the long term, you have to believe and you have got to be committed. That commitment gets tested when things get tough.”

It’s expected the 360 will take losses again in 2007 and start turning a profit in 2008. And, with all kinds of announcements about the Halo franchise, Gears of War and other 360 titles creating major buzz, this could be more than possible.

It’s likely the PlayStation 3 will also start off in the red, while some believe the Wii will be profitable very shortly after its launch.

Related:
Xbox 360 Ads Killing Console In Japan?
Xbox 360 Titles To Top 80 By Summer
Halo 3 Logo Is Done
Halo Breaks Out Of Its Box
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‘Eragon’ Actors Voice Video Game

Eragon
Sierra Entertainment and 20th Century Fox have made it official, the video game based on the upcoming movie will in fact feature the voices of the film’s actors.

Edward Speleers, Sienna Guillory, Garrett Hedlund and Robert Carlyle will reprise their roles from the film.

The video game will have players assuming the role of Eragon as he and his dragon Saphira ride into battle to save Alagaësia. It sounds like the combat system will be pretty neat for the game as players will be able to move in and out of co-op mode with other characters from the story.

News that the actors are taking the lead roles in voicing the game is more than good, too. Video games that don’t have the same familiar voices, such as “Buffy,” just don’t seem to ring as true.

Eragon, the game, is due out Nov. 14 for play on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Boy Advance, PSP, Nintendo DS, mobile and PC. The film hits the theaters on Dec. 15.

Related:
Eragon Game, Movie Coming Out This Year
Vivendi’s E3 Lineup Packs A Punch
Half-Life Movie Won’t Suck
Spark, Sierra Team Up For Next-Gen Title
Find more…

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Video Bytes Oct. 2-8

Dark Messiah
Cartman took on the World of Warcraft and won. Advertising executives once again proved themselves lacking in abilities to appeal to a mass audience. Wii production numbers are looking great. And, last and maybe least, another Boll-created movie disaster is on the way.

With so much going on, some great stories missed getting their time in the spotlight on our front page. Here’s some of the other news that happened on the gaming front the week of Oct. 2-8:

Sony Earns 5 BAFTA Awards
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe scored a total of five honors at the British Academy Video Games Awards held this week in London.

Per Sony’s media release on the proceedings, LocoRoco garnered two for Best Children’s Game and Best Character as Shadow of the Colossus took home double honors for Best Action and Adventure and Artistic Achievement. Buzz! – The BIG Quiz also won for best Casual and Social game.

Take-Two Releases NHL 2K7 For PS2
Just in time for the NHL season, Take-Two has released its 2K7 for the PS2 system. Coming in at $19.99 this title offers gamers the chance to play with the big boys.

NHL 2K7 features new camera angles, improved visuals, ProControl and the all-new Pressure Control.

Dark Messiah Download, Demo
Steam has Dark Messiah Might and Magic available for pre-order at $49.95. Anyone who pre-orders and pre-loads can start playing the game as soon as it’s made available.

DMM&M is an action-PRG by Ubisoft and Arkane Studios that’s powered by the Source Engine. The game offers single-player and multiplayer combat that’s set in the Might and Magic world.

Steam’s also got a demo of the game up and running.

Final Fantasy XII Leaked
Playable copies of Final Fantasy XII found their way to several BitTorrent sites much to the dismay of Square Enix. The company asked the sites to take them down, which was attempted. But, it seems there are so many torrents out there, it’s just about impossible to get rid of them all.

The game releases on Halloween.

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UK Stores Ban Bully

BullyAfter protests, organized legal battles and a lot of fuss, Rockstar Games’ Bully has found its way to North American retail outlets. The game became available today for owners of the PlayStation 2 at a price of $39.99.

The title has gamers taking on bullies and unreasonable teachers at the fictional Bullworth Academy. Armed with a baseball bat and slingshot, Jimmy Hopkins must learn to survive in his new school.

And while attempts to block the game’s sale failed in North America, some European retailers are standing up to Bully and refusing to take part in that continent’s upcoming Oct. 27 release of the game.

PC World, Currys and Dixons are refusing to sell the title, per Games Industry.biz.

And, despite my usual anti-censorship stand, I have to say hats off to them.

The title, renamed Canis Canem Edit for European sales, will be available elsewhere, of course. The official statement from Currys acknowledges this. “We’re fully aware people will be able to buy this game elsewhere, but we feel this game is not appropriate for Currys’ family-friendly image. We have a good relationship with the game’s producers Rockstar, and look forward to working with them going forward.”

Now, that’s the way game protests should go down. Currys’ has a right to refuse to sell anything it desires. If it feels a game is too saucy for its shelves, so be it.

European gamers still have the ability to go out and get the title elsewhere.

Granted, it’s likely Currys and the others caved to pressure from special interest groups, but isn’t that a store’s job? To stock the items its customers want on the shelves and refuse those they don’t?

Sure the move by the three outlets might make it harder for gamers to get their hands on a copy, but the decision does not block anyone’s right to own, play or enjoy Bully.

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Vanguard Gears Up For Launch

Vanguard
If Sony Online Entertainment and Sigil Games Online’s Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is all it’s cracked up to be, Blizzard might have a reason to be concerned.

Building on the lessons learned from other MMORPGs like EverQuest I and II, Vanguard sounds like it will be a middle-of-the-road game that will offer challenge with a break from the tedium many MMORPGs tend to dole out. If the balance works, the title could be well on its way to success even before it’s launch.

Speaking of the launch, it appears as if the title’s running right on track. Sony has announced pre-orders will be taken starting in early December and the official release is still set for the first quarter of 2007.

The pre-orders come with some nifty features, too, that make them worth taking a look at for those who intend to jump ship from other games to give the world of Vanguard a whirl. They include early access to the game, specialized running speed enhancement for a single character on an account, an invite to open beta and more. And, that’s just the regular pre-order box at retail for $49.99.

The collector’s and guild edition, which will set gamers back about $90, offers many other bonuses, including an art book, cloth map and guild kit.

Wii was on the top of my Christmas list, but reality has set in. I think Vanguard just took its spot!

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Massive Wii Giveaway

Nintendo WiiIf you didn’t manage to get in on the EB Games pre-order extravaganza for the Nintendo Wii, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in a rather large crowd.

Fortunately for Wii gaming wannabes, Toys “R” Us intends to give away a reported 25,000 Wiis in conjunction with “Deal or No Deal.”

The word is the store’s weekly circulars through the end of the month will have two game pieces included. They will be shaped like the suitcases on the TV show.

Those who take game pieces into a Toys “R” Us can either A.) use the piece to get 10 percent off an item, or B.) opt to have the piece scanned for entry into the contest. Those going with the “No Deal,” or B option will either $1 million and a trip to Los Angeles to see the show, one of 25,000 Wiis, a host of other prices or 5 percent off a single item in the store.

Considering I was a day late and a dollar short on my chance to get in on the pre-orders, I’m going to have to hunt down some Toys “R” Us circulars. Although, I must admit that given the option, the 7-year-old would probably rather win the chance to see “Deal or No Deal” live. Never mind that Wii or the $1 million.

Kids today!

And, if the Toys “R” Us deal isn’t working out, there’s always the Pringles contest with 100 units up for grabs.

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Bully Gets Judicial Thumbs Up

You’ve got to hand it to Jack Thompson. He’s almost like the Energizer Bunny of failed legal pursuits. The more he loses, the more he keeps on going.

In the latest round of the Thompson saga, a Florida judge denied his request to block the sale of Rockstar’s Bully. Thompson had filed a motion earlier in the week, asking the court to “grant some relief to stop the witless, crass release of this game.”

The judge exercising what can only be called due diligence checked out the game personally and decided there was nothing dubious enough to prevent its sale. Thompson has, of course, disagreed. He’s even written the judge a pretty nasty letter to espouse his disapproval.

For his part, the Florida judge has made quite an impression. There’s even a GU Comic up about him and his Bully playing ruling.

Bully goes on sale Oct. 16.

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Video Bytes Sept. 25-Oct. 1

baten kaitos origins
The week’s news was again dominated by next-gen antics and some oddities, as well.

As Sony claimed it wasn’t worried about Wii or the 360, Microsoft made some big game announcements in relation to Halo. The much heralded franchise will be getting some new titles beyond Halo 3 and gamers will finally be able to command an army of warthogs and scorpions. Uwe Boll even took to the boxing arena to fight back against critics. The Boll Boxing bash is still available online for folks to see.

Between boxing and the next-gen battle, these news items didn’t make their way to our front page, but they’re worth mention:

L.A. Noire Under Development
Notorious Rockstar Games has a new next-gen title in the work. L.A. Noire will be a crime thriller created in partnership with Team Bondi Pty. LTD. The title is an interactive detective story that takes place in the late 1940s.

A trailer for the game is due out Oct. 5. There’s no word on a release date for the actual game.

Wii Gets Frosty Fun
Ice Age 2 The Meltdown will be available for Wii this holiday season. The title will utilize the Wii’s unusual controller to give young (and older) gamers lots of interactive fun, too.

The title’s already available for a multitude of platforms, but it sounds as if Wii’s will be a bit different to take advantage of the controller.

RPG Returns To GameCube
Nintendo has announced a new RPG title for GameCube fans. Baten Kaitos Origins will have gamers delighted with more than 60 hours of game play that spans cities, dungeons and more.

The title involves a card-based combat system that involves more than 600 cards. It’s not looking too bad either.

Splinter Cell 360 Exclusive
Ubisoft president Yves Guillemot seems to be in love with the Xbox 360. Although the company is hedging its next-gen bets by developing titles for all platforms, Splinter Cell will have an exclusive 360 volume.

“Splinter Cell was created on the first Xbox, so we thought it was important to come back for one volume with Microsoft to create a very good quality title focused on using the full power of the system.” He added later, “We love Xbox 360 because it’s easy to develop on and that’s why we want to put great quality products on it.”

Those Crazy Politicians Are At It Again
You’d think there weren’t other pressing issues in America based on the way politicians keep falling all over themselves to create anti-video game legislation.

In the latest attempt, Fred Upton of Michigan has introduced the Video Game Decency Act of 2006 to “prohibit deceptive acts and practices” from developers. A full disclosure of content must be given or punishment can ensue.

This one just might fly and meet constitutional muster, but it sure could take the fun out of some games!

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Sony Australia Not Good With Numbers

PS3In a case of the pot calling the kettle black, Sony’s Australian boss has gone on the record questioning the price of the PlayStation 3’s two competitors.

Michael Ephraim has been quoted as saying the Wii is “a lot to fork out” and the Xbox 360 is “pricey.”

Let’s take a look at the numbers. The Wii will run about AUD $400. The Xbox 360’s pricing out around AUD $499.95 for the core system. The anticipated price for the PS3 is AUD $830 for the lower-end system and $999 for the higher.

In regard to the Wii, Ephraim had this to say. “Even though it’s affordable, at AUD $400 (EUR 237) plus whatever you need to buy accessories-wise, I’m guessing you need to spend about AUD $500 (EUR 296) to take home a Wii and enjoy it.”

Even if he’s right and a full AUD $500 is necessary to “take home a Wii and enjoy it,” that’s still $330 less than the PS3. Plus, there’s always the fact that Wii + Xbox 360’s core system still adds up to less than one high-end PS3 in the pricing.

It appears as if Ephraim needs to go back to remedial math. “For this Christmas, I think that price point is still not family entertainment because AUD $500 is a lot to fork out.”

But $830 to $999 isn’t?

Of course, PS3 and its pricing won’t be a factor in Australia this Christmas.

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Xbox 360 Ads Killing Console In Japan?

Xbox 360There’s no denying that Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has the popularity of a slug in Japan. In fact, a slug just might be more popular than the 360.

The console’s sales numbers are so awful, it might as well have not been released there. If the next-gen sales battle depended on Japan, Microsoft would need to just pack up and go home.

But, why is this? The 360’s a pretty good gaming console. It has some fantastic titles. So, why isn’t it selling in Japan?

Perhaps it’s all in the marketing? At least that’s the guess the folks over at TechnaBob.com are making, and it’s as good as any. As they point out, the Japanese web site for the 360 is awful and the commercial Microsoft is running is even worse.

The 360 sells in the U.S. because of its power, its hard core appeal and, of course, its gun-shooting Halo action. The web site and the commercial for Japan don’t present the impression of any of the these things.

Why would Microsoft choose to go all bubble gum happy in its Japanese marketing when its strengths lie in elsewhere?

One can only wonder.

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Halo Movie Loses Studio Backing

Halo
Fox and Universal Studios have reportedly both backed out of funding the Halo movie after learning the proposed budget runs around $350 million, according to a report in All Headline News.

It seems the studios were under the impression the movie based on the video game would be much cheaper to create. Microsoft won’t back down on what the flick should cost to create.

Despite what seems to be a set back, it’s also being reported that work on the film is continuing at Peter Jackson’s New Zealand-based studios. Director Neill Bomkamp has been brought in to handle the movie, which has previously been announced.

There’s no word on whether this will delay the release of the movie yet again, or if Microsoft will decide to fully fund it.

Regardless, this is one of the situations where you can’t blame parties on either side. After seeing the creations of Uwe Boll, it’s not surprising no one wants to fork over $350 million for a video game-based movie. However, Microsoft’s also right in not being willing to back down. Another lousy video game movie won’t do anyone any good.

I’ll be keeping my ears and eyes out for any more word on this. The Master Chief’s story could be a good one on film – if it’s handled correctly. By all indications, that’s exactly what Microsoft is trying to ensure.

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PS3 ‘Targets’ Lower Release Numbers

PS3We’re down to just a few short weeks before the official launch of the PlayStation 3 and it looks like Sony’s still having all sorts of trouble on the production front.

The company has already scaled back its release numbers and now it appears as if its stated 2 million for the year to Japan and U.S. and 6 million worldwide by March 2007 will fall short.

The shortage is being blamed on a parts issue with the Blu-ray drive, according to a report in CEPro. Jack Tretton of Sony, is admitting there’s been production issues and is calling the 6 million a “target” rather than a promise.

Guess that’s easier than admitting, “hey we messed up.” Or, “the next generation doesn’t start until we can figure out how to mass produce our console efficiently.”

And while it looks like 2007 will shape up for Sony like 2006 did for Microsoft, there is good news on the gaming front for the PS3.

It appears as if the console will launch with about 20 titles, some of them pretty darn good ones (Oblivion, Call of Duty 3), and EA alone has 30 titles under development for the system.

Of course, it won’t matter how good the titles are if gamers can’t get their hands on the console.

What’s really sad about all of this is the fact Sony could have had a much smoother launch. If it had set its sights more realistically from the start, it wouldn’t be looking at having to backpedal.

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