Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

August 2012

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Ever Want To Run Your Own Arcade?

August 30, 2012

The arcade, ladies and gentlemen, has seen better days. The rise of home consoles, of widespread network gaming, of significantly superior technology necessarily driving the prices up on full-size machinery to the point where huge prices have to be charged just to recoup the investment in any length of time...all of these have driven the arcade out of its former prominence. But now, it's looking to make a comeback thanks to the upcoming release of Arcadecraft.

Arcadecraft looks to show users the history of the arcade experience through a series of management decisions, as if the user him-, or her-, self were running an early 80s video arcade. You'll see the rise of the arcade, the disaster of the mid-eighties with the Nintendo Entertainment System first arrived, and then the resurgence in the early 90s.

How Much Does The Iranian Blizzard Disconnect Have To Do With Iran?

August 29, 2012

Normally, when reports start landing about a game being banned in some entire countries, the eyes of outraged gamers start looking at the government of that country in question. Sure, they usually swing back around to their own government as if in warning, but then they start looking at the country in question again. In the case of the recent discovery that battle.net, including World of Warcraft and Diablo 3, is inaccessible in Iran, the question may not be so much "What did Iran do?" so much as it is "What did the United States do?"

While some reports out of Iran suggested that Iran did the blocking, citing things like "mythology", "violence", and "revealing clothing"--those who wonder about the hypocrisy of forbidding violent video games in Iran are not at all alone--new reports from Blizzard itself suggest that Iran's bizarre cultural peccadilloes were really rather moot anyway, as the United States government forbade their doing business in those countries thanks to government sanctions.

Blizzard has even gone so far as to say that it cannot issue credits, or refunds, to those players who have already paid in, but will "happily lift these restrictions as soon as US law allows".

The issue, at least from the outside looking in, looks like nothing so much as a "you can't fire me; I quit!" exchange, with Iran insisting that it's dumping Blizzard over principle and Blizzard insisting it's all a legal matter. Meanwhile, right in the middle of the whole mess, are the consumers who want to get in and crank up a raid in their off hours, but are forbidden from doing so by a pair of dueling governments.





Xbox 360 Launches Election Hub--Makes Perfect Sense

August 28, 2012

It may come as a surprise to at least a few gamers out there, but the launch of the Xbox 360 Election Hub is now up and active. But will anyone be paying attention? There are actually good reasons to do so.

The Xbox 360 Election Hub will contain a wide variety of content, including interviews from the convention floor, information about voter registration for those who already haven't thanks to Rock the Vote, election news, daily polls from YouGov and more besides. As is commonly the case with Xbox 360, some of the content will be available to regular users, while large portions of it will be behind the Xbox Live paywall.

While many gamers may not think too much about their political leanings--and the content certainly isn't a help, the poll for today revolved around movies coming out this weekend and whether Lawless or The Possession was slated for a user's individual viewing this weekend, it's in their best interest to do so.



Can Guild Wars 2 Compete Against World of Warcraft?

August 27, 2012

Most any time a new MMO comes out, one of the first questions that's inevitably asked is, "Can it play against World of Warcraft?". The reason that question is as inevitable as it is, of course, is because pretty much every MMO that's come out in the last, oh, five years or so has been quickly outmatched by the wunderkind Blizzard rolled out. As for the answer, from the way the early going looks, it's a safe bet to say "it's got a chance."

How can we tell? While admittedly, there's only so much to go on--the game is technically just now active--the early indications suggest that something very big is going on in the land of Guild Wars 2.

First Ads In Games, Now Games In Ads

August 23, 2012

We discovered, not so long ago, that adding a few billboards to a racing game, or having a character break open a Coke machine to snag a few hit points, represented some big money for game companies. But what may well represent even bigger money is the converse: we've seen ads in games, and now Sony has just issued a patent to take advertising and turn it into a big game.

The basic concept goes like this: Sony has developed technology to use its hardware--the PS Eye, the Move, the Durashock, and the microphone--to interact with advertisements in such a way that the ads present what amount to mini-games. While the ad is running, users can play a game within the ad itself. One such example provided in the patent itself was using a Move controller to select a large button labeled "Buy" to order a pizza, and a second required a user to say the word "McDonalds" to end a McDonald's commercial.

For those trained in marketing, as I once was, opportunities start popping up in this particular concept like weeds after rain.



Cheating Pool: Changing The Online Gaming Landscape?

August 22, 2012

Once is a novelty. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a pattern. We're well on our way to a pattern with the recent announcement that Awesomenauts is looking to join in Max Payne's method for dealing with online cheaters: specifically, exiling them to their own play matchmaking.

Awesomenauts today showed off not only a new character--goes by the name of "Gnaw" and his weapon of choice appears to be the capability to throw up on his victims--but also the new mode.

End Of An Era: Is Nintendo Power On Its Last Life?

August 21, 2012

Some dark stirrings today in the gaming world, yet at the same time, dark stirrings that make all too much sense: word is that Nintendo Power, long the bulwark of Nintendo fans and kids everywhere, is coming to an end.

The word is that Big N has quietly refused to renew is licensing contract with Future Publishing, the folks that handle the publication duties for Nintendo Power. Also, Nintendo has no plans to take over the publication itself, leaving Future Publishing, essentially, all dressed up with no place to go.

It's not looking good for the continuing story of a magazine that's been in continuous operation for nearly a quarter of a century, since the early word also suggests that many of Nintendo Power's staffers are quietly being shuffled around to other publications, and that Tweets from the main figures involved--quickly deleted after the fact--are promising some impressive things for the last issues, it's a safe bet that the band is already tuning up for this particular Titanic of publications' last round of "Nearer My God To Thee."

A shame, especially for the legions of kids--which included yours truly back in his misspent youth--who eagerly awaited that month's issue of Nintendo Power in their mailboxes to find out about all the games coming up, all the games currently out, and to get a better look at the inner workings of the games that we knew and loved. Yet given the growing number of print magazines in the gaming industry which are shutting down and moving online, it was a safe bet that so too would go Nintendo Power one day.

Though no one knows as yet if Nintendo Power will remain online, and it's merely the print arm closing up shop, it still represents a sad day indeed for those numerous gamers out there who remember free posters, contests, Howard and Nester, and the legion of great moments that a magazine could bring.







Is Fallout Going Back To The East Coast?

August 20, 2012

One of the biggest games out there that precious few people actually know anything about is the next Fallout title. While even the name is a bit tenuous--most are calling it Fallout 4 right now--there's a new report that suggests there may a location that's in the works, and if this one pans out, we'll be going back to the East Coast for the next round of Fallout.

The report, generated by a Reddit post from a user that says they can't say much more about it than this lest they lose their job, says that Bethesda has been out scouting the Boston area, and has some strong ties in at MIT. Obviously, this is still early-stage stuff and needs to be taken with the appropriate grain of salt, but there is some justification for such a rumor in the storyline already.

Those who have played Fallout 3 recently likely remember vague tales of the Institute, an organization within the Commonwealth, said to be a kind of revived nation-state encompassing a large swath of New England. For the most part, not much is known about the Commonwealth or the Institute, except for three critical points:

1.





Gamescom 2012: The Oculus Rift Is Made For Those Who Wear Glasses

August 16, 2012

Normally, when some kind of headset system comes out, the first question that's asked by a lot of people--yours truly quite included--is "Yeah, but will it fit over my glasses?" In the case of the Oculus Rift, a headset designed to offer an impressive new visual effect in gaming, the short answer is "no". The longer answer, however, is "No, but it doesn't need to."

The Oculus Rift, you see, combines head tracking technology with a 1280 x 800 viewing area to provide a nice, clean, and downright impressive overall viewing surface. But like a lot of head mounted displays, it's not going to allow users to wear glasses with them. While this will likely disappoint more than a few users--rather, potential users who may well be ready to stop reading when they think they're hearing about a device they can't use--it's the rest of the story that's interesting here.

See, instead of being usable with glasses, the Oculus Rift itself is instead used to replace glasses.



Gamescom 2012: The Lineup Looks A Bit Dark

August 15, 2012

One of the great things about any gaming convention is that there's always something interesting going on. Those keeping an eye open for that something going on may well even be able to catch hints about the future of the industry as a whole, and it's starting to look like the upcoming game line may be trending a bit darker.

First off was only slightly unexpected news that DayZ, the popular adaptation to Arma 2, is looking to branch off from just being a mod and is looking to make an appearance all its own on consoles. While console gamers like myself should be reasonably intrigued by this, the execution of such a plan is a bit unclear at this stage.

Moreover, some trailers hit today that definitely caught my attention, including the official trailer for the WiiU's attempt at survival horror ZombiU, the next big D&D expansion Neverwinter, and Rain.

First off, ZombiU is actually looking pretty sharp for a WiiU release--maybe Big N's finally coming around to the realization that they've there are people over the age of 12 who like to play games. I'd love to see this make a jump to the other systems at some point, but given that they're calling it "exclusive to WiiU", it doesn't look like that will happen, at least, not any time soon.

Next, Neverwinter brought out its Ebon Downs trailer for Gamescom 2012, and the news on that front is as good as you can expect.







Will Black Friday Be The Big Day For The Wii U?

August 14, 2012

Release dates on consoles are, in many respects, secrets closely guarded at a level overmatched only by the release of Apple products. We won't be tackling the iPhone 5, or the iPad Mini here, though these days they're no less gaming devices than any other. Today we'll be checking out the Wii U, and the reports that suggest that Black Friday is the big day for Wii U.

The reports are varied, but many seem to point to a Black Friday--or at least the week of Black Friday--launch for Nintendo's latest entry into the console wars. While that, at this point, certainly hasn't been substantiated by any official word out of Big N, it makes no less sense for the lack of official reporting.

Some reports even suggest--though these reports seem to be coming out of a Gamestop employee in New Jersey--that pre-orders for the popular devices may start as early as next week, which certainly isn't outside the realm of possibility, especially given that Black Friday is about three months out from next week.

If Nintendo is the only new console out for holiday shopping--the Black Friday corridor encompasses Christmas and Kwanzaa alike, with Hanukkah showing up about two weeks after Black Friday lands--then Nintendo stands a very good chance at securing some serious sales. 





Sennheiser Uncrates New Gaming Headsets, The PC323D & The PC310

August 13, 2012

Sennheiser is commonly regarded as a great source of audio, especially for the gaming set. This is evidenced nicely with the rollout of some new headsets, the PC 310 and the PC 323D.

The PC 310 is geared more for the budget-minded gamer--and let's face it, when it comes to PC gaming that budget can get smashed up right quick thanks to all the hardware and peripherals that can get involved in the process--but still offers up a solid experience. Included in the package is an attached noise-cancelling microphone, open-acoustic ear cups geared for extra comfort, and that standard top-notch sound quality that users have come to expect from Sennheiser. Users will be able to pick these up for $59.95 apiece and will also get Sennheiser's standard two year warranty.

The real boost here, however, comes in the form of the PC 323D.



Connecting Games: Wave Of The Future?

August 9, 2012

Something has been catching my attention lately, and though the news itself may be a bit old, the dots are starting to connect, or at least look like they're connecting. And like Rorschach told Nite Owl II, if it looks like a field mouse and squeaks like a field mouse, well, get your mouth off my mask, you freak, I just have laryngitis. Anyway, today's topic comes from the confluence of two separate news items: one, the recently-launched star-studded Kickstarter project known as Steam Bandits: Outpost, and the other, the recently established connection between DUST 514 and EVE Online.

You may already be familiar with Steam Bandits: Outpost, the product of Iocaine Studios, itself the product of several big-name game alums including World of Warcraft and Fallout: New Vegas. Now that's a pedigree to reckon with, says I, but the key takeaway here is that Steam Bandits: Outpost, when it's done, will essentially be three games in one.

Zynga COO Jumps Ship--Trouble Ahead?

August 8, 2012

In general, there are things you don't want to hear, especially when it comes to a company that's recently launched an IPO. "Lawsuit" is one of them. "Investigation" is another. Today, Zynga seems to have landed another key point when it comes to dark phrases in a post-IPO framework, specifically, "The COO's leaving.".

COO John Schappert announced his departure earlier today, effective immediately.

Wargaming.Net Makes Bigworld Buy--Several MMOs In The Works?

August 7, 2012

The word of late seems to be MMO, as the folks at Wargaming.net have made a substantial purpose recent in the form of Bigworld. Wargaming.net picked up Bigworld for $45 million, but it's what they might be looking to do with it that's impressive.

Wargaming.net has been working with the Australian software maker Bigworld for some time now, and thus, Wargaming.net wanted to formally acquire them so as to have control over their provider's operations. Since Wargaming.net is currently the proprietor of World of Tanks, World of Planes and World of Warships (formerly World of Battleships), they already have an excellent base from which to work.

Moreover, they're quick to assure Bigworld users that they'll continue to support Bigworld products. Wargaming.net, meanwhile, gets reduced development costs, faster turnaround, and the ability to supply production services to other studios who want to produce MMOs. Basically, it's entirely possible that Wargaming will kick things into high gear and start putting together a whole lot more in the way of MMO for other studios.



Is Microsoft Plotting MMO Entry?

August 7, 2012

Unexpected bit of news--and it's extremely early-stage stuff, so expect speculation to be rampant on this one--as Microsoft puts in a trademark on the name "Galactic Reign". What is Galactic Reign? What does it mean? And does it mark a whole new field of play for beleaguered Microsoft?

It's not surprising to note that Microsoft has a variety of deals in progress with a variety of publishers right now.

Does Dawnguard Explain Sony's Horrible First Quarter In Gaming?

August 2, 2012

It's a strange question I put before you, and a question that may well not have an answer. The numbers for Sony's first quarter have been released, and the news, especially for the gaming side of the equation, isn't looking good. But does Skyrim's recently-released DLC, Dawnguard, explain why?

The numbers looked like the fiscal equivalent of a train wreck, if the train were carrying the equivalent of all the fake blood used in the entire Saw series. Sony's first quarter accounted for a $312 million loss.

The War Z Takes A Lot of New Ground In Under A Day

August 1, 2012

Some interesting news has emerged around The War Z, which we talked about here not too long ago. This interesting little slice of zombie apocalypse intermingled with MMO gameplay has brought some equally interesting statistics along with it. First is the revelation that it's got a new website. This by itself wouldn't mean all that much, really, except for the purely unavoidable fact that the beta also opened up, and in just under 24 hours, the beta already has 100,000 interested signups.

Now, obviously, the measure of a game's success by the number of players interested in the beta is shaky at best.