July 14, 2008

Microsoft to Launch 60GB Xbox 360 SKU

Microsoft will launch a 60GB SKU for the Xbox 360 in August for $349. In the mean-time, the old 20GB Xbox 360 will go for $50 off at $299 while supplies last.

July 01, 2008

Trackmania Nations Forever Impressions

I've been addicted to this free game called Trackmania on the Steam. It is very addicting and reminds of the old Stunt Car racer on the Commodore Amiga and Indianapolis 500 on the PC. It has the "just one more time" feeling in spades as each track is pretty short and you keep wanting to beat your last time. It runs like a dream 8x antialiased 2560x1600 and I recommend it highly. You can't go wrong with the free price. There is a expanded version with more tracks that costs money.

June 28, 2008

February 23, 2008

January 29, 2008

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Priced and Dated

According to the official Playstation blog, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue will come out on April 17th for $39.99 on Blu-Ray (BD) and as a download. The Blu-ray version will have special behind the scenes HD video access to the makers of the game, Polyphony.

January 28, 2008

New Playstation 3 SKU with 120-160GB and Dual Shock 3

ArsTechnica is reporting Sony will discontinue the 80GB Playstation 3 SKU and replacing it with a 120-160GB SKU with a Dual Shock 3 controller. This coincides with the recent rumor that Best Buy's internal system already has the 80GB version slated to be headed out to pasture.

August 27, 2007

Whil Wheaton PAX Keynote Speech Audio

Our good friends at Joystiq have put up the audio file for Whil Wheaton's keynote speech at PAX 2007. I listened to it and if you're a old school gamer, it will bring a smile to your face. One of the best gamer oriented speeches I have ever heard. Pump up your fist and feel the electricity. Wii-ton! In fact, I liked it so much I just ordered his book, Just a Geek, on Amazon.

August 24, 2007

July 17, 2007

Gran Turismo 5 Videos

For Sony's sake, Gran Turismo 5 can't come here fast enough.  It looks like the GT5 Prologue is slated to be released in Japan by the end of 2007 on the Playstation Network (downloadable title).  Let's hope the US Version will come out soon after. 

The graphics and animation are simply breath-taking and photo-realistic.  A step way above even the free Gran Turismo HD demo.  On a separate note, did Audi pay for product placement or what?  Lots of Audis in there.
Video 1 - Video 2

July 11, 2007

E3 2007: Microsoft Press Conference Notes

Arogan gives his notes on the press conference:

-So I watched the entire Microsoft Press Conference. Stupid G4 broadcasts it live but then you have commercials so I missed some of it.
-Almost all footage was gameplay with several games being demoed right on stage.
-Only Resident Evil 5 won't come out this year (which BTW looked really good). All other games shown are set to come out this year which is pretty impressive.
-Biggest surprise? NO PRICE DROP! I think MS is thinking exactly like Rendition. From a consumer perspective it was almost a non-price drop for ps3. There are still the same two price points of $500 and $600 except they mix up the hardware a bit. Major Nelson alluded to this fact in the E3 pre-show G4 interview.
-Lamest reveal? Special edition halo 3 Xbox 360....Umm yeah it's grey.
-It was revealed that GTA 4 trailers (both of them) were from the 360 version. Man I hope they work on that framerate
-I was really impressed by COD4. It really looked great.
-Gears of war on PC will be for Vista AND XP. 5 new chapters including that big boss fight we never got on 360 but only saw in a cut scene.
-Single Player Halo 3 footage was shown. It's looking pretty good.

So after just one press conference here are my picks:

Must Buys
Halo 3
Assassin's creed
Mass Effect
Gears of war (PC)
Ace Combat 6
Call of Duty 4

Must have but maybe not on Day 1
Splinter Cell: Conviction

Wait and see
Medal of Honor: airborne
VF5 (online multiplayer on 360 version)
Guitar Hero 3
Rock Band
Lost Odyssey
Blue Dragon

This is going to be one EXPENSIVE Christmas. Nintendo and Sony press conferences happens today. Discuss

July 09, 2007

Sony is Brain-dead with the PS3 $100 Price Cut

After an initial denial, Sony announced that they will cut the price of the 60GB SKU by $100 to $499 and launch another SKU with an 80GB hard-drive and Motorstorm game bundle for $599.  It drives me crazy that Sony keeps making these brain-dead corporate decisions trying to "have their cake and eat it" too in trying to revive their games business, which is frankly on "life-support" this generation as the Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 are killing them.

Listen up Sony.  There are TWO reasons why the PS3 isn't selling.  1) There aren't any games worth paying up for.  2) The price sticker shock is too high for the average consumer. 

A few months ago, the 20GB SKU was selling at $499 and the 60GB SKU was selling at $599.  After this price cut announcement today, the price points remain the SAME.  The mainstream guy doesn't see the amazing technical specs of Wi-Fi, Cell processor, Blu-ray playback, and free online support.  They see the sticker price as the barrier to buying.  Sony hasn't done squat to improve their sticker shock with this move.  The guy sitting on the fence that didn't buy a PS3 before, isn't going to all of sudden want one because the hard-drive is 40GB more for the same price.

Sony needs to be creative in attacking the TWO major reasons outlined above.  What I would of done was keep the 20GB SKU that used to be at $499 and bring it down to a Xbox 360 competitive $399.  I would then also cut the 60GB SKU from $599 to $499 too.  This helps bring down the sticker shock. 

In terms of getting consumers exciting about the game-playing value.  I would bundle Motorstorm on both of these SKUs AND I would have 10-20 of the best Sony studio made PS2 titles already installed on the hard-drives.  These titles aren't adding much profits today anyway and it bridges the game-playing need until your PS3 killer apps come in the next 12 months.  BOOM!  You lower the sticker shock and offer a compelling game package value without hurting your profits.  Be creative like this Sony, it's your last chance.

And the guy that recommended that your more expensive $599 SKU not have the PS2 hardware emulation chips while the $499 does should be dragged out and shot. Permalink - Discuss

July 07, 2007

Xbox 360 gaining a bigger lead over PS3

On the game front, repair defect issues aside, it sure sucks to be a PS3 owner right now vs. the Xbox 360. Virtua Fighter 5 going online only on the 360. 60fps for both of this year's football games, only on 360. I mean it's pretty apparent at this point that the Xbox 360 is vastly easier to program for and maybe even more powerful overall in terms of end results because of its better memory configuration.

I pray that Heavenly Sword and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune become killer apps this Christmas.  However it is NOT looking good.  At least of all else fails, I have a decent Blu-ray player. [Discuss]

July 05, 2007

Microsoft to take $1 billion Charge to Fix Xbox 360s

Microsoft announced today it's going to take a $1.05 billion to $1.15 billion charge due to an "unacceptable" number of Xbox 360s breaking down.  We heard a major retailer days ago say the defect rate has been 33%, which is an insanely high incidence of red rings of death. 

If you figure it costs about $333 to send out a new Xbox 360 for each defect, a 30% defect rate out of the 10 million sold would match the $1 billion charge number.  That is crazy.  Meanwhile the PS3 reportedly only has a 1% defect rate, however there aren't any good games to play on it. [Discuss]

PS3 $100 Price Cut

GameDailyBiz is reporting they have a source from a major retailer that Sony is going to cut the PS3 price by $100 to $499 on July 12th. I don't think this will really have a big impact as we already had a $499 PS3 in the past (remember the 20GB SKU) that didn't sell well at all.  The difference between a 60GB vs. 20GB + Wi-FI isn't going to drive people to buy a PS3 all of a sudden.

The simple reason why the PS3 isn't selling is there aren't any killer app games for it.  Back during the PS2 days, it was Grand Theft Auto.  Right now, there is hardly anything. Xbox 360 is going to have Halo 3 this Christmas and exclusive downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto IV.  Where is our God of War 3 Sony?  Gran Turismo 5?  We need the killer apps pronto to beat Wii Sports into the ground.

June 28, 2007

Grand Theft Auto IV Trailer 2

The second trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV is out.  The detail of the world and environment is freaking amazing.

May 20, 2007

Programming Lead of Heavenly Sword Whines

It's not a good sign when the lead programmer of Heavenly Sword is whining about how developing it sucks. Yikes. This game is the biggest launch for the Sony Playstation 3 this Christmas. I was hoping it would make my PS3 worth the money I just paid for it.

Big mainstream games at the moment aren’t fun to work on… We are so stuck doing the non important stuff (1000 facial mocaps and shaders on 10 processors with actors and cameramen straight out of hollywood…) that the actual process of making the important bit (the gameplay) has becomes nasty… It sucks, its no fun and given how much work everybody (code, art, design, qa and production) has to do to make a game, having it being no fun, really isn’t good.

It's especially noteworthy as he seems to be complaining about PS3 centric technical issues.

April 02, 2007

Harmonix to Launch Rock Band

Harmonix the creator of Guitar Hero is going to launch a game called Rock Band later this year on the PS3 and Xbox 360. It will let players play guitar, sing on a mike, drums, and bass all at the same time online. Activision spent $100 million on the Guitar Hero franchise, but failed to buy the studio behind it all. Now the true creator of Guitar Hero is going to come out with a more expansive game in less than a year after Guitar Hero 2. Insane.

March 29, 2007

Grand Theft Auto IV Trailer

I always get hyped up for these games, buy it, play for few hours, and then never play it again. But once again, I am super-hyped for GTA IV. Looks like NYC present day. - Link to HD Video Trailer

March 27, 2007

Top 10 Reasons Why PS3 will be #1

I was a Sony PS3 hater as recently as a week ago. However now after I bought one thanks to Casino Royale on Blu-Ray and Motorstom, I am a PS3lover. I totally agree with what Brian Hastings has to say below, well except for the Wii being a "fad" part.

Full text is below as the original site requires registration. I'm sure they won't mind as they need to get the pro-Sony PS3 story out there as much as possible. Who would of thought last year that the PS3 is now the underdog I'd root for?

Insomniac Games Chief Creative Officer Brian Hastings discusses why the PS3 is the console to beat - Link [Registration Required]

First of all, let me make it clear that Insomniac is a 100% independent development studio. Sony has neither endorsed nor authorized what I'm writing here.

When I started this blog post I was planning to write about Home and Little Big Planet from a developer's perspective. But as I read some of the media and message board responses to Sony's GDC presentation, I wanted to address an ongoing industry phenomenon. Specifically, the sheer volume of negative spin toward Sony from both the mainstream press and the internet community. Mere minutes after Sony announced a beautiful, ground breaking, free, community-enhancing online PS3 service, 100 internet posters weretryingtoarguethatthis was somehow a bad thing. Whether you love or hate Sony, if you're trying to spin Home as a bad thing I can only conclude that you're part of Microsoft's $3.2 billion viral marketing campaign.

I'll be the first to say that Sony has had a very rough road from last E3 up through this year's GDC. Some of their wounds have been self-inflicted, but they've also had to face a conspicuously hostile media. Take the New York Times article "How the PS3 will kill your dog, steal your girlfriend, and infect you with Ebola." And Time magazine's piece "Global Warming: Is It The PS3?" And more recently, GameSpot's "Ten Complaints We Thought Up While Everyone Else Was Watching Little Big Planet."

For the last nine months it has been fashionable to bash the PS3. At first it was controversial, even titillating, to make sensational and dire predictions about the PS3's future. You could watch it happen again and again – a rumor starts on a message board ("The PS3s all caught on fire at TGS!", "Blu-Ray won't have any Porn!"), then it gets picked up by a games industry website, and a few days later USA Today runs the story with the headline "Experts Say PS3 Doom3d!1!!" But the tide has changed so much now thatit'sdownrightcontroversialtosuggest that the PS3 may yet be a success. So, in the spirit of sensationalism and controversy, let me present to you 10 reasons why the PS3 will be the console market leader by 2010:

1. Home & Little Big Planet
One of my jobs at Insomniac is to try to come up with "the next big thing." This is something everyone at Insomniac does, but as Chief Creative Officer it's also part of my job description. For the last two years there have been two concepts that I have felt had the strongest potential to be the next big thing. At GDC, Sony came out of the blue and delivered fully-realized versions of both concepts.

The first concept is a realization of the ‘Metaverse' from Neal Stephenson's groundbreaking novel Snow Crash. For those who haven't read it, it's what inspired Second Life. Over the last couple years, many of us at Insomniac have come up with lots of different ideas on how to make such a system for consoles. So when Home came out, already nearly complete and looking beautiful, it was both amazing and humbling at the same time. In short, Home is exactly what the online console community needs. I'm not saying thatbecauseit'sonthe PS3. I'm saying that because Home is a fully realized version of something I've been trying to figure out how to do for two years.

The other "next big thing" I had been thinking about is how to make a game that is primarily driven by player-generated content. So when Little Big Planet was announced I felt like Orville Wright tinkering on a bicycle-powered balsa wood plane as a learjet suddenly flew overhead. Not only does Little Big Planet have stunningly beautiful graphics, gorgeous animation, brilliant physics and intuitive controls, it's also a cooperative four player online game! This alone makes it accessible to a much greater audiencethanplayervsplayer games. And most important of all, it has an absolutely ingenuous system for creating and sharing your own levels. This is HUGE. This is something that's never been done on consoles and now it's being introduced not as a half-baked add-on to another game, but as an absolutely brilliant, fully realized, breathtaking experience. You can bet that dozens of developers will create their own Little Big Planet levels as soon as it comes out. Many future game designers will get their start by designingLittleBigPlanetlevels. Gamers who previously had no way to get their foot in the door as a game designer will have developers calling them in the middle of the night if they make a top-rated LBP level. I say again, Little Big Planet is HUGE.

It's humbling to know that other developers had not only thought of these two concepts, but brought them to fruition in such stunning fashion. Mostly, though, it's very encouraging to see Sony taking more of a lead in online innovation. While some people were accusing them of merely copying the competition, Sony has been quietly working on two of the most innovative ideas of this generation. "Mii too?" Give me a break.

2. Free Online
Among all the talk about the price of Sony's console, I almost never see anyone mention the significance of Sony's free online service. Xbox Live Gold costs $70 to sign up for 1 year, or $20 for three months. You can renew your membership for $50 a year. So if the Xbox 360 stays around for five years, you'll be paying 70 + 50 + 50 + 50 + 50 = $270 to access features that Sony gives you for free.

I agree, Xbox Live is overall offering a better online service right now. But $270 better? And Sony is steadily narrowing the gap in online features. With improvements to the messaging system and support for background downloading, Sony is rapidly catching up with many of the key advantages that Live has enjoyed. Add to that the fact that Sony is offering virtually lag-free dedicated servers at no cost, while on Xbox Live you are paying for a more laggy peer-to-peer service. Furthermore, one of the biggest advertisedfeaturesofXboxLive is matchmaking, yet the implementation of this feature has been inconsistent since it is left up to the developer. The matchmaking service on Resistance: FOM, meanwhile, has been one of its biggest successes, proving that even at this early stage the PS3's online capabilities are very competitive. And free. As the PS3 community continues to grow with new features and player-generated content from Home and Little Big Planet, Sony's online service is looking better and better. And, again,they'renotchargingyou$270 for it.

3. 50 GB games
If you ever hear someone say "Blu-Ray isn't needed for this generation," rest assured they don't make games for a living. At Insomniac, we were filling up DVDs on the PS2, as were most of the developers in the industry. We compressed the level data, we compressed the mpeg movies, we compressed the audio, and it was still a struggle to get it to fit in 6 gigs. Now we've got 16 times as much system RAM, so the level data is 16 times bigger. And the average disc space of games only gets bigger over a console's lifespan.Asgamesgetbigger,moreadvanced and more complex, they necessarily take up more space. If developers were filling up DVDs last generation, there are clearly going to be some sacrifices made to fit current generation games in the same amount of space.

Granted, some really great Xbox 360 games have squeezed onto a DVD9. Gears of War is a beautiful game and shows off the highest resolution textures of anything yet released, partly because of the Unreal Engine's ability to stream textures. This means that you can have much higher resolution textures than you could normally fit in your 512 MB of RAM. It also means that you're going to chew up more disc space for each level. With streamed textures, streamed geometry and streamed audio, even with compression, youcanquicklyapproach1 GB of data per level. That inherently limits you to a maximum of about 7 levels, and that's without multiplayer levels or mpeg cutscenes.

Sometimes people ask us, "If Resistance takes 14 gigabytes, why doesn't it look better than Gears?" Well, for one, Resistance didn't support texture streaming, so we had to make choices about where we spent our high-res textures. Resistance also had 30 single-player chapters, six multiplayer maps, uncompressed audio streaming, and high-definition mpegs. That all added up to a lot of space on the disc. Starting with Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction we are supporting texture streaming, which willmaketheworldslookevenbetter, and will also consume even more space on disc.

There's no question that you can always cut more levels, compress the audio more, compress the textures more, down-res the mpeg movies, and eventually get any game to fit on a DVD. But you paid for a high-def experience, right? You want the highest resolution, best audio, most cinematic experience a developer can offer, right? That's why Blu-Ray is important for games, and why it will become more important each year of this hardware cycle.

4. Casino Royale
Casino Royale is the first high definition title to crack the top 10 on Amazon's DVD charts, rising up to number seven shortly after being released. This is significant because it dispels the myth that high definition discs are merely a niche and will never take off with the mainstream.

A lot of people have been waiting on the fence to see whether Blu-Ray or HD-DVD would emerge as the winner of the format war. Well, at this point the war is as good as over. Blu-Ray has won a TKO. It always had superior technical specs and much wider studio support, but there was the question of whether HD-DVD's earlier release and initially lower price would capture enough of the market to make it the winner. But Blu-Ray has already surpassed HD-DVD in overall discs sold, and is currently outselling HD-DVD discsatabouta3:1rate.Many neutral observers in the A/V community have called the war in favor of Blu-Ray. If you want minute-to-minute updates, you can follow what's left of the format war at various locations on the internet:
These sites mainly compare Amazon sales data, but the Nielsen sales data shows the same thing: Blu-Ray discs are outselling HD-DVD by a steadily increasing margin.

Many of Disney, Fox and Sony's biggest box office movies will release exclusively on Blu-Ray in the next three months, likely pushing the sales separation between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD to a margin where many retailers will begin phasing out HD-DVD. Retailers hate a format war even more than consumers, and I suspect they'll take the initiative to end it as quickly as possible.

A lot has been said about Sony's choice to ship with composite cables. I won't say I agree with that decision, but I think too little has been said of the fact that even the cheaper PS3 SKU supports HDMI 1.3. The PS3 was the first consumer device to support it, and this is a very important future-proofing step. When you go to buy higher-end TVs, the PS3 will support the highest possible audio and video input the TV and receiver can accept. If and when high-def movies start requiring an Image Constraint Token,thePS3willstillbeable play them in high definition.

Right now, HDMI seems primarily to be a selling point to the hardcore audio and videophiles of the world. But HDTVs are getting cheaper and more popular all the time, and consumer sophistication and knowledge of high definition audio and video is growing. In a couple years, HDMI devices will be the standard. Graphics and audio in games will also continue to improve, and more and more consumers will want HDMI in order to get the best results on their home theater setups. As this happens, Microsoft has a difficultchoice–dothey stick with "last gen" video output, or do they release a premium version of the Xbox 360 that includes HDMI but effectively forces early adopters to re-buy the system to get the best results? Sony ultimately made their console more expensive by including HDMI, but over the next couple years it's likely to play out as the right choice.

6. Standard HDD
When we were developing for PS2, I was jealous of Xbox's standard hard drive. There are so many things this allowed you to consider as a developer – virtually unlimited save data, improved load times, custom music, downloadable content and user-created content just to name a few. But since hard drives, no matter what the size, never get cheaper than about $50, Microsoft lost money trying to compete with the PS2's price. That may be the reason they left it out of the cheaper Xbox 360 SKU, thinking that Sony wouldagainleaveoutthe hard drive on the PS3. Instead, Sony made the hard drive standard for both SKUs. This added to the cost of the PS3, but it also let developers use the HDD in games.

The problem with including a hard drive in one version of the 360 and not in the other is that developers can't use it for the games. Or, at least, they can't use it for any required features. When you are guaranteed to have at least a 20 GB hard drive in the console, you can write your load caching routines around it, or use it for your application's storage needs. To a developer, an optional hard drive is roughly equivalent to no hard drive at all.

Another advantage of the PS3 is that it will let you put in any third party hard drive you want. From a developer's standpoint, this is good news because the market will gradually be able to support larger downloadable games over the course of the PS3's life. As downloadable content gets larger and more sophisticated, PS3 owners can choose to buy larger hard drives at the best market price. The more this happens, the more developers will be encouraged to create better and better downloadable games.

7. The Wii Fad Will Fade
OK, this one's going to be controversial, but I have to say it. I like Nintendo a lot. I think Nintendo has innovated far more than any other company in the industry. And I think the Wii is really, really fun. But… let me relate to you a story that may sound familiar:

Your friend Reggie invites you over for a Wii Party. It's awesome. You and your friends partake in whatever beverages are legally appropriate for your age group. The next day everyone who went to the party rushes out and buys a Wii.

A week later Reggie hosts another Wii Party. This time only half the group comes. It's still fun, but there isn't quite as much shoving to get at the Wiimote.

The next week Reggie hosts another Wii Party. You tell him you have bird flu.

Obviously I'm exaggerating, but the Wii does have many characteristics of popular mainstream fads. It's instantaneously accessible, it's unlike anything you've tried before, and it's great fun to share with friends. In short, it's everything Nintendo said it would be and it has captured the world's imagination. The only downside is that the world is easily distracted. Tickle Me Elmo captured the world's attention at one point, as did Furbies. They were both instantly accessible, were unlike anything people hadseenbefore,andwerefun to share with friends. But a year later, after everyone had seen them and tried them out, their popularity waned.

The Wii is currently riding on a massive wave of mainstream attention and has been purchased by lots of people who don't normally play games. But how many of those people who are hooked on Wii Sports will also buy Wii Need For Speed? Mainstream fads usually run their course within a year. As the honeymoon period fades, the Wii will be going up against more and more graphically impressive games on the PS3 and Xbox 360. More people will be buying HD televisions and looking for the most immersive and stunning experiencesavailable.Forthesereasons, I think the Wii will be more successful than the GameCube or N64 but in the long run will still be outsold by the PS3.

8. PS3 Has a Major CPU Advantage
The GPUs on the Xbox 360 and PS3 are roughly equivalent, with the Xbox 360 arguably having a slight edge. The difference in CPU power, however, is far greater with the PS3 enjoying the advantage. The PS3's eight parallel CPUs (one primary "PPU" and seven Cell processors) give it potentially far more computing power than the three parallel CPUs in the Xbox 360. Just about any tech programmer will tell you that the PS3's CPUs are significantly more powerful. The problem is that it has been challenging thus fartotakeadvantageoftheCell's parallel architecture.

With the PS2, Sony got away with making a fairly developer-unfriendly system, and its success allowed their hardware designers to ignore developer's complaints as they made the PS3. People high up at Sony have realized that approach simply won't work anymore and are trying to fix the problem. Sony is actively improving their libraries, tools and developer support in order to make PS3 development easier. They are giving first party developed techniques and code to third-party developers so that multi-platformgamesshouldstartlooking better on PS3.

Games developed from the ground up on PS3 are the ones that will really show off the PS3's CPU advantage. The complexity of the distributed processing architecture means that PS3 engines won't fully blossom until a little later in the lifecycle than the PS2. This has put the PS3 at a disadvantage early in its lifecycle, but within two years you will see games that surpass what is possible on the Xbox 360.

9. PS2 still outselling 360
I know, it's outselling the PS3 by an even larger margin. But the continued strong PS2 sales really are a good thing for Sony. Anyone buying a PS2 at this point is probably not going to buy a PS3 or Xbox 360 in the next year. And when they do choose to buy the current generation of hardware, the PS3 will be in a lot better position. The price will have come down, the game library will be broad, and the top PS3 titles will probably have the edge in both graphics and sound. Just as important, the people buyingintothePS2now will be getting into many of Sony's exclusive franchises that they will then later want to play on the PS3.

10. Something For Everyone
One of Sony's biggest advantages is that it has strong franchises in every genre. Whereas Microsoft's successful titles are mostly M-rated, and Nintendo's are mostly E-rated, Sony has a big list of hit titles across the spectrum. When a 30-something gamer (like me) goes to buy a game console, it's a lot easier to justify the purchase when there are games he can play with his kids as well as more mature stuff.

To Microsoft's credit, they are doing a good job of catching up. The acquisition of Rare and the development of Viva Pinata have helped to broaden their spectrum. But it takes time to build a franchise, and Sony has been building their suite of titles for over a decade. Consider the breadth, success and critical acclaim of some of their exclusive properties: The Getaway, God of War, Gran Turismo, Hot Shots Golf, Jak and Daxter, Killzone, Ratchet & Clank, Shadow of the Colossus, Singstar, Sly Cooper, SOCOM,andTwistedMetal.Theseareall million-plus sellers worldwide that are either already announced or likely to appear on PS3. Add to this Sony's new line up of first-party titles, including Heavenly Sword, Lair, Motorstorm, Resistance: Fall of Man, Uncharted and White Knight Story, and they have an even deeper and stronger line-up than what they had on PS2.

A lot of industry watchers and even a handful of publishers have been quick to write Sony off this generation, and I think that's near-sighted. Sony has made a lot of decisions with the PS3 that may have slowed them down in the short run, but should give them a big advantage in the long run. The high price, hardware complexity, and the uncertainty of the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD format war have contributed to the PS3's slow start out of the gate. But as the price drops, developers master the hardware, and Blu-Ray becomesthenewDVDstandard,Sony's early disadvantages turn to advantages. As downloadable games become more common, the 60 GB hard-drive will be a big advantage to developers and consumers. As games get bigger and more sophisticated, Blu-Ray storage will increasingly become a major advantage. And as more and more of Sony's exclusive first-party titles get released, the PS3 will begin to outsell the competition on a monthly basis. Those publishers who have shifted resources away from PS3 development will find themselvesbehindthecurveandlosing money as the market center gradually shifts toward the PS3 over the next two years.

I'm sure many of you may have comments about my point of view. If you do, please email blog@insomniacgames.com and I'll do my best to respond. Also, I'll be visiting the various forums to see what people think, including our own at www.insomniacgames.com (click on the community tab). Hope to see you there. [Discuss]

March 26, 2007

Interview with the Director of God of War 2

God of War 2 is one of the best action adventure games of all-time. Cory Barlog talks about how he took over the franchise from David Jaffe and created the sequel:

Was there anything specific that afforded the team that kind of efficiency? "Foolishness was most of it," said Barlog frankly, adding that the team would simply think of something to implement, and decide to do it. "Occasionally, the art director would come to me and say, 'Dude. We can't do this. This is way too big.' Somehow I would convince him--drug him, give him a beer--that this would be possible. He'd walk away saying, 'Did I just agree to do that again? I told him I wasn't going to do it.' But to hiscredit, he found solutions to problems we thought were unsolvable, where on God of War I we thought, 'This is it. This is the best it gets.'

March 21, 2007

PS3 Firmware 1.60 Comes Out Thursday

A new 1.6 version firmware release is coming out tomorrow for PS3 users. The key new features are background downloading (if they had more game demos I'd be more happy about this), Folding@home (help Stanford use your PS3 computing power to do disease research), and Bluetooth keyboard/mouse support.

Beginning Thursday, PS3 users will be able to connect to Stanford University's Folding@home program, a distributed computing project aimed at understanding protein folding, misfolding, and related diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and many cancers. Using the power of the Cell Broadband Engine(TM), the PS3 system can perform computer simulations for the Folding@home program 20-30 times faster than the average home PC. Once a PS3 system is updated to version 1.60, users can easily sign up to join the
Folding@home program by clicking on the associated logo on the XMB(TM) (XrossMediaBar) under the Network icon. The user is then able to link to a distributed network of PS3s, conducting simulations and sending them back to a central computer at Stanford University for compilation and analysis.

Enhanced Downloading
Firmware version 1.60 delivers a more convenient process for downloading content to the PS3 from the PLAYSTATION Store. PS3 users will now be able to queue up to six downloads at one time. Progress of downloads can be easily tracked under a new Download Management menu under the XMB's Network icon. In addition, content will be able to be downloaded in the background while using some PS3 system features, such as accessing the XMB to display videos and photos from the system's hard drive, playing music, and browsingthe Web.

Text Entry and Web Browsing
Firmware 1.60 also will support keyboards and mice enabled with Bluetooth wireless technology. Text entry is further expanded with the option to use a full QWERTY on-screen keyboard, in addition to the existing single tap keyboard. PS3 system's built-in Web browser will also be enhanced with the ability to zoom in to the optimal viewing size for the selected area of a Web page at the press of a button, as well as an optional tool for reducing flicker when the PS3 system is using interlaced video out (480i or1080i).

Other Feature Upgrades
* Remote Play -- This feature, enabling you to access photos, videos, and music on your PS3 system's hard drive from a nearby PSP(R)(PlayStation(R)Portable) system, will be available for the 20GB configuration, when utilizing an external Wi-Fi router or local wireless access point.
* Disc Auto-Start -- This new option under System Settings allows you to choose whether or not a disc should start automatically upon inserting the disc or turning on your PS3 system.
* Blu-ray Disc Rewriteable (BD-RE) -- PS3 system can now playback BD-RE discs (version 3.0).

Xbox Live Identity Theft

Although this could happen to any online account that has people's credit card information, it has happened to Xbox Live users. According to CNET, Microsoft is investigating a number of instances where gamers reported their Live accounts had been hijacked and their credit cards used to buy Microsoft points.

March 20, 2007

Black Xbox 360 with 120GB Hard-drive and HDMI for $480

Thanks to a leak to Kotaku, Game Informer is publishing in their April issue that Microsoft will come out with a black Xbox 360 SKU that will come out with a 120GB hard-drive, HDMI output, and a HDMI cable for $479.99. The release date is late April. A Microsoft source said the reason they didn't include HD-DVD is because the format is "not proven" yet.

Devil May Cry 4 Goes Multi-Platform

Capcom has announced on their website that Devil May Cry 4 has gone multi-platform and will launch simultaneously on the PS3 and Xbox 360 with a PC version coming later. It looks like all the high profile 3rd party titles that for exclusive to Sony in the last cycle are now going multi-platform due to the Xbox 360 installed base. Sony couldn't afford to keep Grand Theft Auto IV exclusive for one year like in the previous cycle as the PS3 installedbased currently pales in comparison to the 360.

Capcom's "Devil May Cry 4" Goes Multiplatform! Mega-hit Title set for PLAYSTATION 3, Xbox 360 and PC!
Capcom Co., Ltd., a world-wide leader in the gaming industry, is proud to announce the development of "Devil May Cry 4" for the PLAYSTATION®3, Xbox 360™ and PC platforms.

"Devil May Cry" is a series of popular, stylish action games, with a cast of unforgettable characters. Since the release of the original "Devil May Cry" in 2001, the series has shipped 6,800,000 copies as of December 31st, 2006, proudly making it one of Capcom's flagship titles. The series appeal is not limited to games; an animated TV series to be broadcast on Japan's WOWOW network is slated to air Spring 2007. The latest iteration, "Devil May Cry 4" will take advantage of each platform's hardware strengthstoachievethemost stunning visuals in the series to date, and the introduction of a mysterious new protagonist will keep the action fast and fresh. Even before its release, "Devil May Cry 4" has been met with tremendous anticipation, as fans patiently endured long lines at TOKYO GAME SHOW 2006 for the chance to play the demo. "Devil May Cry 4" will be released simultaneously for the PLAYSTATION®3 and Xbox 360™ platforms. [Thanks Arogan for the tip]

February 26, 2007

Electronic Arts Gets New CEO

Electronic Arts announced today that John Riccitiello will become its new CEO. John was formerly the COO and President of EA before he left to co-found the Elevation Partners investment firm. Elevation had recently acquired both Bioware and Pandemic. The current CEO, Larry Probst, will remain as executive chairman of the board of directors.

I met Larry a few years ago. He's by far the most successful CEO in the history of videogames bringing EA out of Trip Hawkins' hands to the dominant force it is today after 16 years. Unlike many other executives in the industry, Larry truly knew his stuff and was a strategic visionary. He should be celebrated for all that he has done for the industry over the years. I've criticized EA for losing its way recently, but still recognize what Larry has done over his career. [Discuss]

February 10, 2007

Nintendo DS Guitar Simulator

Neat little Nintendo DS guitar simulator in action video. What will they think of next?

December 25, 2006

You Don't Know Jack is Back

A franchise that is a blast from the PC past is back as a web-only game. It's fun and has polish, worth a try.

December 24, 2006

First Gen PS3 Games Look Worse than Xbox 360

Gamespot has a nice comparison piece with screenshots that show that the Xbox 360 versions of various games have better graphics than the PS3. This will probably change next year, but for now the 360 has the best versions of the multi-platform titles.

December 18, 2006

Dragon Quest IX for Nintendo DS

Here's a teaser trailer for Dragon Quest IX for the DS. Ouch Sony, ouch.

December 07, 2006

November NPD Sales Figures

NPD Group released their U.S. videogame sales figures. Software came in at $804 million, up 15% over last year. Hardware came in at $771 million, up 69% over last year, with the new launches of the PS3 and Nintendo Wii.

Gears of War sold 1 million units. Zelda: Twilight Princess sold 412,000. Guitar Hero II sold 356,000. Final Fantasy XII sold 896,000. The PS3 sold a paltry 197,000 units. The Wii came in at 476,000. The Nintendo DS ruled over all with 918,000. PS2 did well at 664,000. GBA was 641,000.

Overall it was a great month for Nintendo as the DS continued its amazing run and the Wii has good launch supplies. Sony had a mixed month with the PS3 supply constrained and the PS2 continuing to do well. Source

December 03, 2006

Electronic Arts CEO Says Only 200,000 PS3s were Shipped

Sony promised that they will ship 400,000 Playstation 3s at launch, however the CEO of Electronic Arts said at a conference that only 200,000 were actually shipped. He also said only 500,000 to 800,000 are likely to be shipped by the end of the year. Ouch.

WarioWare: Smooth Moves Gameplay Video

This game will be released on January 15th.

Gran Turismo HD Cancelled

Kazunori Yamaouchi, CEO and producer of Gran Turismo, has said they will cancel Gran Turismo HD and focus on developing Gran Turismo 5. Don't fret however, as they will release Gran Turismo HD as a downloadable game on December 24 at least in Japan. It will feature 10 cares, 1 course, and the new engine that will be in Gran Turismo 5. There will be no head-to-head online support other than a network ranking. I guess this means we won't see the online version of Gran Turismo 4 either that was promised a million times.

Sony Names New President After PS3 Fiasco

Ken Kutragi is will give up current role as president and become chairman. Ken will have a more strategic role and give up day-to-day operations control. Kazuo Hirai will become the new president and chief operating officer. This comes at a time when the Playstation 3 is reeling from component supply issues and being unable to launch at sufficient quantities. Ken Kutaragi was one rumored to be a leading candidate to become CEO of Sony. Now it seems he is all but gone as a future candidate.

November 28, 2006

Nintendo Wii Sells Out

Nintendo announced it has sold 600,000 Wiis in the first 8 days from its launch. Gamestop has said the software tie ratio has been 3 to 1 which is double the Playstation 3 (as most people are just flipping them for a quick profit on eBay). Zelda: Twilight Princess has a 75% attach rate to each Wii console.

Keyboard and Mouse Adapter for Xbox 360 in the Works

A keyboard and mouse adapter is in the works for the Xbox 360. This will be murder for online multiplayer. Link [Thx Arogan]

November 19, 2006

Review: Elite Beat Agents for Nintendo DS by Masem

The surprise success of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! as an import title for the Nintendo DS spurred into motion into getting a regional release of the game for the States as well as other regions around the world; unfortunately, the title, produced by iNiS (who have also produced Gitaroo Man), is rather solidly tied to Japan due to the music and story presented; even a translation would have been difficult to accomplish. Instead, they have decided to reversion Ouendan into "Elite Beat Agents", which provides new songs and new stories and visuals, while still keeping the same great gameplay and overall approach to the game.

Story: B+
Similar to Ouendan, the story is based on a group of elite government agents, called the Elite Beat Agents, which are sent out to assist people when they call for help by dancing to music and improving their motivation. The stories are more Americanized, such as a babysitter trying to score with her boyfriend while tending to kids, or a movie director trying to make the next great blockbuster, but there's still a hint of the Japanese background in the visuals (retaining the same stylings as they had back in Ouendan). Do well, and your story's protagonist will succeed, while poor performance will lead to failure. While the stories have their unique aspects, they're just a tad less quirky and witty than those from Ouendan, even though I now understand everything going on (nothing as funny as the old potter's story), but they're certainly not bad little tales.

Gameplay: A
The basic game of Elite Beat Agents is unchanged from Ouendan. As the music plays, spots will appear that require you to tap them with the stylus in order and in time with the music, You're scored on how synchronized you are with the music, which improved both your score (even more so with long combos) and keeps your beat meter high and running. Miss a beat, and you'll break your streak as well as take a hit on your beat meter, and if it drops low enough, you'll fail and have to restart the song. Besides the beats, there's tracks that you have to drag with your stylus in time to a marker and the music, as well as the spinning disk that requires a good number of spins to get the beat right. Each song has between 2 and 4 sections; after a section, you're given an intermission scene which will depend on how well you're done so far; if your beat meter is high enough, it's a good outcome. Once you've completed the song successfully and a final scene, you're given your stats and ranking for the song; you can now also save your performance (one save for any single song over all difficulty levels) to be used as 'ghost' data for yourself or that you can transfers to others. I did note that at least two of the stories have multiple endings depending on how well you were at the end of the song, which I do not believe was in Ouendan. A definite new feature is that when you fail, you have the option to replay the last section to see where you failed so that you know where to work at the next time.

While you play, you'll have the Elite Beat Agents dancing in time to the rhythm on the bottom screen, while the characters in the story working at a pace set by how well you're doing in the game. As with Ouendan, neither of these are distractions, but there's times I wish I could see what was actually happening there. Fortunately, the new replay feature does allow you to review the action at a later time.

Value/Replayability: A-
The game has 15 songs and 3 bonus songs across 4 difficulty levels. As with Ouendan, you have to work through 1 to 3 songs to unlock the next set, with one ultimate level actually having two songs to work through to complete. The bonus songs become unlocked once you have achieved enough total cumulative points from all successfully completed songs at any level. The first two difficulty levels are available from the start; the third and the fourth require you to complete all the non-bonus songs of the previous difficulty to unlock them; generally with higher difficulty, the song requires more hits and odd patterns than compared to easier difficulty levels, and also has a beat meter that drains faster compared. Compared to Ouendan, I would say that the difficulty is shifted about 1/2 level up in Elite Beat Agents; that is, the late songs in the 2nd difficulty level for EBA were as tough as the first handful of songs at the 3rd difficulty level of Ouendan, and the late 3rd level songs to be as incredibly hard as with the 4th level in Ouendan. This helps to make the game feel longer than Ouendan as you'll likely be replaying some songs a bit earlier. While still relatively short to go through all the songs once (less than 2 hours at the second difficulty level, for example), the game keeps your best scores and records and allows you to continue to work to improve them as to unlock all the bonus songs.

EBA features wireless play as well. Two players can co-op on songs (as long as both have the game), trading off tracks much like Guitar Hero co-op with a common beat meter. Alternatively, you can do a verses mode with 2 or 4 people (playing 2-on-2) with special stages set for 2 team action. In this mode, only one player needs to have the game, and others can download the information needed to play.

Audio: A-
The songs vary from some older rock ballads ("YMCA", "September", "Jumpin' Jack Flash") to pop songs of the last few decades ("Material Girl", "Sk8ter Boi"), and while most are suited for the game, "Canned Heat" by Jamaroquai (aka that song from Napoleon Dynamite) and "Lets Dance" from David Bowie really stand out as capturing the unique j-pop stylings that Ouendan had and fit the playstyle well. Technically, these songs all are covers, but the limited speaker quality of the DS makes these songs sound as good as if they're off FM radio. While some of the newer songs aren't as familiar to me, I think the selection works here, though if they were to make a sequel, I'd definitely stick to Jamaroquai/Bowie type stylings as they really were good selections and some of the harder songs to complete. The only other nit in songs is that some of them seemed shorter than the j-pop tunes in Oeundan; just a few measures of note tapping then I was back at an intermission. However, these were generally only for the easier songs, and so it may just be the lack of difficulty clouding my perception.

Graphics: A
Graphically, the game looks just as good as Ouendan - the same artists are used for the characters and animation, and the story is told in the same comic book style. There's also a few Ouendan characters that show up here if you watch carefully.

Overall: A-
If you've had the chance to play Ouendan, you'll know exactly what to expect out of Elite Beat Agents - the gameplay is unchanged, and while the songs may not be exactly to your liking, it's a great title. If you haven't had the chance to experience Ouendan but like music games, you'll definitely want to grab this now that it's stateside - it's a great portable music game that presents a good challenge. [Discuss]

Review: Guitar Hero II for PS2 by Masem

There's very little to say about Guitar Hero 2, produced and distributed by Harmonix and Red Octane, beyond that it a truly outstanding sequel, exceeding the original title by having a better selection of guitar-ripping tracks, tightening up gameplay in favor of the player, and adding more multiplayer modes.

Gameplay: A+
The game plays, for the most part, exactly as it's predecessor. You're the lead guitar in a band trying to earn money and better gigs. For each song, notes come at you along a guitar fret, including held notes and chords, and using the special guitar controller (which you can buy with this game, or you can get the game without the controller if you already have it) with 5 fret buttons, a strum bar, and a whammie bar, you attempt to keep pace with the music. You also can use hammer-ups and pull-offs to hit fast sequences of notes which is a key tactic needed to beat the higher difficulty levels Keep a good job, and the audience cheers and hollers as you rock out, while they'll boo you off the stage if you make too many mistakes. Selected phrases will be marked with stars as to build up your Star meter; once filled, tilting the controller up will activate the Star power and double your score for a short time.

The game has improved to help the player more. For one, the hammer-downs and pull-offs are a bit looser and easier to pull off, which makes them more usable in actual gameplay in order to hit fast rifts. You can now practice any song you've unlocked at 4 different speeds to help with fingering and finding where the hammer-downs and pull-offs should be used. You can also practice, if they exist for the song, the bass and rhythm lines, either to get used to them for the music, or to be ready for co-op play - unfortunately, you can't go through career mode playing these parts. These are all necessary as the difficulty of the game seems to be a bit tougher; I found Medium to be a very tough challenge - not that I had to repeat any of the songs, but my left hand was aching after even a few songs near the end with the amount of fingering needed for these songs. Many of the medium songs had a lot of fast fingering, with the blue fret key (4th one) used a lot more often than I remember in Medium difficulty songs from the first Guitar Hero. A few shots at the Hard songs were laughably failures, though I'm sure I'm out of practice for these. Despite it being more difficult, I found it to also be a lot more fun, in particular due to the familiarity of the tunes and excitement of the guitar riffs. Even though some riffs are simplified for the Medium level, there's still a sense of accomplishment being able to pull off some of the most well known guitar solos yourself.

The playsets is much better this time around; the bulk of the songs contain really strong guitar parts with at least one significant solo section, with a much heavier emphasis on classic hard rock bands. The most significant song this time around is the full length version of "Free Bird", a perennial rock anthem and the last song in the normal game. and fully treated with the respect within the game; the last song you play prior to it will leave the audience chanting for "Free Bird", and the game makes sure that you really want to play it as, at more than 10 minutes long, it's a rather long haul. Add in some Rush, Motley Crue, Guns N' Roses, Nirvana, Megadeth, and Van Halen, and the setlist contains some of the best guitar-thrashing songs in existence. There's even some tracks specifically made for Guitar Hero 2 riding on the success of the first, such as the near-impossible "Jordan" by Buckethead, and a handful of fun tracks, including Spinal Tap and "Trogdor" from the Strongbad Emails. With a lot more classic tracks, it makes it easier to anticipate the guitar riffs that you need to make to succeed, and in generally, the tracks I hadn't heard of were the hardest to make it through.

Value/Replayability: A
There's 40 songs in the main playlist across 8 different venues, set up similar to Amplitude; you need to complete 3 of 4 songs in the set, and the play the encore in order to unlock the next set. There's also 4 difficulty levels to try to complete, with much tougher riffs to hit with increasing difficulty. Depending on how well you play, you'll earn money that you can spend to unlock new characters, guitars, videos, and 24 additional songs. There's also a lot more stats to look at after a song, including a section-by-section breakdown so that you can practice only the tougher sections as to improve your scores. Playing once through the Medium difficulty took me about 3-4 hours, but even trying my hand at some Hard songs, I figure I'd need 10s of hours just to be able to complete that difficulty, much less the Expert one. Of course, you'll also want to go back and aim for 5 star ratings on each song to unlock special guitars, and that's just a matter of continuing to train yourself.

Multiplayer (on the same console, sadly) has been expanded to include two new modes beyond the original 'dueling' face-off format. There's the Pro face-off, where instead of sharing some of the notes at a time, you play the song at the same difficulty at the same time, making it harder to hear where your part is compared to your opponent's. Alternatively, you and a friend can co-op on a song, with one playing the lead guitar, the other playing either the bass or rhythm line, in order to make sweet music together, though the overall performance and star power meters are shared by both players.

Graphics: A
As you play, the lights, stage, and crowd will respond to the music as well as to your performance, with a bit more additions than from the first game. The stage venues are a bit more fleshed out with a lot of active stage elements to try to keep track of if you're an observer. There's nice little details, like the crowd with lighters during the first half of "Freebird", or the exploding drummer at the end of the Spinal Tap song. Some of the loading screens for specific songs are also cute little references to the original material you're about to play. Unfortunately, as the player, you're likely too engrossed in the actual play sequence to see most of this, but this was also the same problem with the first game as well. The graphics seem a bit tighter and a tad less cartoony from the first game, for the most part, but otherwise there's little change in the general appearence and artwork.

Audio: A
The audio, needless to say, is excellent. While these songs are covers (all are presented "as made famous by" their original band), there's little problem with either the instrumental parts or the vocals. The environmental sounds for the crowd and other effects are also nicely done, and give you subtle hints to how well you're doing without having to take away from the fret bar.

Overall: A
There's little to say wrong about Guitar Hero 2 - like it's predecessor, it's an outstanding music game with little wrong, and even better this time around due to a rather impressing playlist set and improved support for learning the tracks before playing it. For a game that has almost no fundamental changes to the gameplay, Guitar Hero 2 is a sequel that may even exceed the popularity of the first, and shows that the series has legs for the anticipated follow-ups into genre-specific releases. It's doubtful that if you've gotten the first Guitar Hero that you already don't have that, but if you've yet to experience. [Discuss]

November 18, 2006

What will the Gaming Professionals Buy?

Gamasutra asks the developers themselves on which next-gen console they will buy.

Already got my Wii, through the company we got it on the launch date. And I'm not planning on buying a PS3. I worked on two Wii titles (and helped a lot of other projects), PS3 is too expensive and I love the Wiimote! - Joel Tremblay, Ubi Soft

Definitely a Wii (already pwii-ordered). The price point of the PS3 and the lack of enticing launch titles makes me as interested in a PS3 as I am interested in getting a root canal. - Ryan Conlon, Gearbox Software

Wii - pre-ordered. I applaud the attempt to expand and explore game interaction with the Wii. I will not be purchasing a ps3. - Jim Perkins, EA Canada

Neither, I'm happy with my 360. The supposed benefit of a Blu-Ray player in the PS3 isn't enough to make me break the bank to buy it. And despite the weak graphics and lack of HD support, I was tempted to buy the Wii. But then Nintendo packed in a game I didn't want and vied to charge me fifty bucks for it. I've already bought the 360, and there's more games for it than I have time to play, so getting another system would just be gluttonous. - Dale Mulcahy, Activision

Top 20 Best Selling PC Games of October

1. The Sims 2 Pets- Electronic Arts
2. World Of Warcraft - Blizzard
3. Battlefield 2142 - Electronic Arts
4. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn Of War Dark Crusade - THQ
5. Flight Simulator X Deluxe - Microsoft
6. The Sims Glamor Life Stuff - Electronic Arts
7. Company of Heroes - THQ
8. Paws & Claws Pet Vet - Valusoft
9. The Sims 2 - Electronic Arts
10. Flight Simulator X - Microsoft
11. Guild Wars Nightfall - NCSoft
12. Seaworld Adventure Parks Tycoon 2 - Activision
13. Desperate Housewives - Buena Vista Games
14. Civilization IV - 2K Games
15. Age Of Empires III: The WarChiefs - Microsoft
16. Guild Wars Nightfall: Collectors Edition - NCSoft
17. Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy - LucasArts
18. Age Of Empires III - Microsoft
19. Sim City 4: Deluxe - Electronic Arts
20. The Sims 2 Nightlife - Electronic Arts

The Sims continues to dominate the charts after all these years. I can't believe people still buy Microsoft Simulator.

November 17, 2006

Playstation 3 Going for $2500 on eBay

What more can I say. People are willing to pay a $1900 premium to the $600 to have the Playstation 3 today. Never mind there really isn't a game worth playing the console.

November 15, 2006

Nintendo Wii Review

PC Magazine raves over the Nintendo Wii. The summary is although graphics are weak, the gameplay of the Wii controller rules. At least you will be able to buy a Wii it seems vs. the Playstation 3, which is going to be in shortage.

Fans of in-depth, pixel-popping twitch games will be disappointed, as will big-screen HDTV owners. But for everyone else—from kids to casual gamers to families—the Wii will deliver twice as much fun for half the price of the others." - Source

Analyst Says only 150,000 to 200,000 PS3 Units at Launch

The analyst at Lazard said that he expects only 150,000 to 200,000 PS3 units at launch according to his retail channel checks. Sony previously had promised 400,000 units at launch and 1 to 1.2 million units by the end of 2006. Even Electronic Arts has been skeptical and said they expect only 500,000 to 800,000 by the end of the year. The Lazard analyst expects Nintendo to sell 1.2 million units by year end. - Source

November 14, 2006

Sony Cutting U.S. PS3 Launch Numbers

Gamestop was expecting to sell 8 PS3s per store and even took in $100 pre-order down payments. Gamestop however told Gamespot that Sony will not be able to fulfill pre-existing pre-orders. To appease upset customers, Gamestop will give them a free used game or DVD that is $19.99 or lower.

"We are beginning to notify our customers that our initial shipment of PS3 systems will not be what we expected," the representative said. "As this is not an ideal situation, we are asking employees to wait to purchase systems until the second shipment. We are anticipating having systems to cover reservations before Christmas."

November 13, 2006

Japanese Playstation 3 Launch

Due to a production problems of the blue lazer diode, Sony had to scale back its launch of the Playstation 3 to only 100,000 units. Media reports that Sony sold 88,400 units in the first two days with Ridge Racer and Mobile Suit Gundam being the biggest software winners at 30,000 each. Auction sites are reportedly seeing PS3s go for 4 times the launch price. If I was a software developer, I would be very upset at these meager launch volumes. Software guys need at least 1 million units to be considered a success and at these hardware launch numbers, that simple isn't going to happen.

November 04, 2006

Crysis and Army of Two Pushed Out

During the EA's latest financial conference call, the company announced that both Crysis and Army of Two would come out in their 2008 fiscal year. This means we won't see either until after April 1st, 2007 to March 31st, 2008. This news may be a good thing as many of us don't have DX10 graphics cards, which Crysis is supposedly the killer app for.

October 28, 2006

Final Fantasy X - To Zanarkand (Piano Collections)

Our very own Arogan shows us his piano chops. - Discuss

October 18, 2006

World of Warcraft Destroys Lives

Luckily for me, I was able to beat the World of Warcraft addiction after 3 months. Some people aren't so lucky. - Link

October 12, 2006

Activision to Sell Games Via Steam

Following Majesco's lead, Activision has decided it wants to sell some old games on Valve's Steam digital distribution service. The list includes Call of Duty 2, Gun, Call of Duty, and Call of Duty United Offensive. Thanks to forcing most Half-Life 2 and Counterstrike gamers to use it, Steam now has 10 million customers. It's a great distribution channel because it doesn't require paying the retail store, packaging and CD media costs. The downside is you have to pay Valve a cut. The upside is a lot of these old games aren't selling much in the store anyway.