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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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January 2013

You are browsing the archive for January 2013.

Sony Might Get The Drop On Microsoft After All....

January 31, 2013

A bizarre, disturbing, yet thoroughly plausible scenario popped up in my field of vision earlier today. It started as so many scenarios do, with a tweet. That tweet, meanwhile, kicked off a cascade effect that stands to alter the next generation of console gaming but good.

The tweet came from Sony, which comprised of just a link. But the link contained a date, a time, and a critical piece of information: February 20, 2013, six PM eastern, and the line "See the future".

"Video Games Is A Bigger Problem Than Guns"

January 30, 2013

What's with that grammatical death trap of a quote up above, you're likely wondering by now. Well, that's word from no less a figure than Senator Lamar Alexander, who delivered that rather fateful line earlier today. But we're not here to play grammar cops and robbers...oh no, we're here to look at what this means for the game industry as a whole.

Now, first off, we must give Alexander due credit. Because while he apparently thinks that images on a television screen somehow have the potential to turn poor innocent children into slavering savages--though if he's seen some of the "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2" videos featuring children shrieking racial epithets, he might well think he has a case--he also acknowledges that games have protection under a very important part of the Constitution: the First Amendment.

That's great.



Will Ultra HD Get A Big Boost From Gaming's Next Generation?

January 29, 2013

I was reading over at Ars Technica's gaming section--and that line alone likely surprised a lot of people--but they had an exciting bit of commentary that said that Ultra HD, or 4K as some are calling it, might be in line for a big boost from the next generation of gaming. But is such an idea valid? Possibly...but not without some flaws in the thinking.

One of the biggest points made was that Sony could offer a way to download Ultra HD movies from the cloud to a console as a way to provide added value for gamers. Ostensibly, Microsoft could do likewise.

Got An Indie Game? Guess Who May Want To Publish It.

January 28, 2013

Right now, there are probably several hundred firms and individuals developing indie games for various systems. While many of these games, no matter how good they are, will never see the light of day, more of them than normal might thanks to a new development from Double Eleven.

Double Eleven, the firm that brought out the PS Vita version of LittleBigPlanet, recently brought out word that they were looking to not only keep developing their own line of games, but also market and distribute other indie studios' titles for both the PS Vita and the PlayStation 3. The folks at Gamasutra raised an interesting question as part of this, however, wondering if the indie distribution plans affected Double Eleven's previous deal with Sony to develop exclusively for Sony.

If it did, frankly, it would be a shame. Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade has a substantial indie base loaded with games, some of which are actually quite good.



What's Killing Xbox 360 Sales?

January 24, 2013

It may not surprise too many to hear, but despite the fact that, not too long ago, the Xbox 360 was seeing some pretty impressive holiday sales, the overall sales of the device are down. It's a pretty safe bet what's killing those sales, too, and everyone's looking squarely in June's direction.

Basically, the numbers that came out of Microsoft today all say the same thing: the Xbox 360 may be the best-selling game console of the 2012 Christmas shopping season, but it's still down significantly--about 25 percent--from the same time the previous year. The 2011 figures said that Microsoft had shipped fully 8.2 million Xbox 360 units, while in 2012, that number fell to 5.9 million.

The obvious explanation, of course, is E3. The chances of seeing the new Xbox--now said to be called the Xbox--at the June event are surprisingly high, especially given all that we've heard about it in recent days.



Don't Look Now, Xbox, You're Not Alone

January 23, 2013

E3 may still be just under half a year out, but we're already starting to get in plenty of news in terms of the next generation of console technology that's likely to make an appearance out at the next round of the big show. This time, we're turning away from Xbox and checking out the other major competitor in the non-casual stakes.

That's right; we've got word about the PlayStation 4, and the current word says that Sony's powerhouse gaming system has a pretty fair chance to be ready to show at E3 as well. With that word also came some word about the new device.

It's clear that Sony wants to match Microsoft as much as possible between the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox (which at last report is now the Microsoft next-gen entry's name), since the PlayStation 4 is set to pack in a set of four dual-core AMD64 "Bulldozer" chips for a hefty eight cores total, an AMD R10xx graphics processor, eight gigabytes of system memory, 2.2 gigabytes of video memory, a Blu-ray drive and a 160 gigabyte hard drive.



Storm8 Mobile Gaming Clears Major Milestone

January 22, 2013

If you've never heard of the mobile gaming company known as Storm8, it's okay; you're not alone. But there are plenty of gamers who have, and in Storm8's case, a recent milestone's worth of gamers have joined up as active daily users.

Storm8, the mobile gaming leader, recently crossed the 10 million daily active users mark. That's a big deal in its own right, but the numbers actually look better when you expand the numbers outward to encompass total users. Storm8 reaches a maximum of 200 million players the world over.

Early Word Emerges On Xbox 720 Specs

January 21, 2013

Now here we go!  Finally! Finally we're getting some advance word about the upcoming next generation of consoles and what we're getting is looking very interesting indeed. Sure, it's not all sunshine and roses, but the word emerging today about possible specs on Microsoft's next-gen hardware is looking pretty bright.

This is, of course, not the first time that word has emerged about the Xbox 720--otherwise known as Durango--and its array of specs, as we got a shot of that not too long ago with the swan song for Xbox World magazine.

A New Tax On Violent Video Games?

January 17, 2013

A disturbing new trend is making the rounds in the halls of a cash-strapped Congress following the Sandy Hill shootings. The familiar scapegoat of "violent video games" is making an appearance, and new laws are being proposed to address the concept in the only way Congress seems to know how any more: lay taxes on it.

Basically, the plan--which seems to be limited to Missouri right now--would amend current Missouri tax law by tacking on a one percent surcharge for "violent video games", here defined as any game labeled T and up.

Of course, that would raise a lot of interesting questions, as somehow the state of Missouri would essentially be saying that games like "Zumba Fitness 2", "Rock Band", and "Forza Horizon" somehow qualify as violent, which makes about as much sense as washing laundry in a blender.

Meanwhile, the proceeds from said tax would be routed into a special fund used for the "treatment of mental health conditions associated with exposure to violent video games". This sounds fine and well, of course, until you look more closely at the statement itself.





Valve Has A Familiar Idea Waiting For GDC 2013

January 16, 2013

With the 2013 installment of the Game Developers' Conference coming to San Francisco's Moscone Center in a little over two months, it's clear that some are already looking to see what's coming up. Valve is set to lead the way, complete with some very impressive new offerings, including two that may look a bit familiar to long-time gamers.

GDC 2013 will add two talks as part of their Programming and Design tracks at the GDC main conference delivered by the profoundly popular gaming company. The talks in question will focus on two key points: one, on the porting of Valve's popular series Team Fortress 2 to VR goggles, and two, a discussion of the overall challenges in research and development of head-mounted display systems. Among these particular challenges include stereo support, rendering 2D user interfaces in a 90 degree field of display and several others.

Sure, the idea of virtual reality was huge in the 1990s, but we never really lost the longing for a gaming experience so thoroughly immersive that we actually felt like we were there.



What's So Strange About Star Wars: The Old Republic's Planet Makeb?

January 15, 2013

A lot of people have been enjoying the Star Wars MMO, "Star Wars: The Old Republic". But one particular enhancement, and one particular point in that enhancement, in one particular expansion is making a whole lot of trouble for EA and Bioware.

For this one, we're looking at the "Rise of the Hutt Cartel" expansion to "Star Wars: The Old Republic". The new arrival of planet Makeb is bringing with it a lot of new gameplay options, along with the rise of the Hutt Cartel, a group of Hutts who want to grow being smuggling and criminal behavior to become the new law--and power--in the galaxy. One option in particular is giving both EA and Bioware a lot of headaches: SGR.

"SGR", if you're not familiar with the acronym, stands for "same-gender romance".



Fallout 4's Boston Return Seems A Bit More Likely Now

January 14, 2013

Not too long ago, we got some early word that suggested there was a return in the works for Fallout 4 and that we would likely be headed back to the East Coast, though not quite where we may have expected. Recently, fresh word has emerged giving us a little more information about the game, and those of you out there who can't get enough of the Lone Wanderer, prepare to get happy.

The good word comes in a couple directions from recent news to make an appearance back at the start of the weekend. First, while all the CES what not was going on--and man, did we get plenty of exciting news from that affair--a very familiar voice put up a tease. Erik Dellums, the voice of no less than Three Dog, put up a Tweet specifically saying that 1.

CES 2013: Microsoft's IllumiRoom Makes Games Huge & Immersive

January 10, 2013

Perhaps one of the most sought after effects in all of gaming is immersion, that feeling of being "in the world" in which gaming is happening. Feeling like you're "there", losing hours as part of this larger experience. But something new has emerged from the still-going Consumer Electronics Show that may well put the immersion factor into just about any game out there.

Microsoft showed off what they're currently calling the "IllumiRoom" system, which combines the Kinect for Windows camera with a projector to change the appearance of the room in which your television is located, making the television part of a larger tableau. This in turn is set to not only give users a wider field of view--possibly allowing users to see incoming enemies and the like--but also lending an extra feeling of motion, as things move into frame and exit.

There's an accompanying video along with this currently on YouTube, and the whole affair starts with saying "Xbox / Go big", allowing users to start using the IllumiRoom system.



CES 2013: GameSkunk Asks--Do Your Games Stink?

January 9, 2013

While under normal circumstances, asking a question like that is a quick way to wind up under prolonged psychiatric examination, when CES comes around, there are few questions not worth asking.  SensoryAcumen is making a very unusual case for that exact question with the planned release of the GameSkunk.

GameSkunk is, essentially, a device that will allow users to actually smell the games they play. GameSkunk has access to over 30,000 different scents, created as needed by a series of scent cartridges, which are subsequently deployed according to what's going on in the game. The cartridges are connected to a compressor, which distributes the smells as they come into play in a game.

CES 2013: Razer Brings Out The Edge Tablet

January 8, 2013

After last night's foray into CES gaming, it's impressive to discover that, once again, we've got another gaming topic to bring into play. A brand new gaming tablet has been unveiled, and it's special for a surprisingly large number of reasons. Not only is who made it a bit of an eyebrow-archer, but so too is how it was made and what it's packing.

The folks at Razer brought out their new gaming tablet, the Razer Edge, at CES 2013, showing off the kind of power that might be hoped for from a tablet geared toward gaming. This isn't Razer's first foray into gaming hardware; they've been regularly making peripherals like mouse controls and keyboards for some time now, and not too long ago they brought out the Razer Blade, a gaming laptop, and the Razer Switchblade, a smaller portable gaming device.

Xi3 & Valve Show Off A System For Steam's Big Picture

January 7, 2013

With CES 2013 in full swing, there's a new development making the rounds out in beautiful Las Vegas. With Ultra HD and a variety of other home entertainment technologies being shown off, one of the biggest developments is just for us: the gamers.

The development in question comes our way from a combined force of Xi3 and Valve, who unveiled a new computer in an Xi3 Modular Computer chassis. Not only is this a computer tailor-made for living rooms everywhere as it's only about the size of a grapefruit, it's also specifically optimized to handle Steam's recently-minted Big Picture Mode. This is a development that likely has Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo very concerned indeed.

Admittedly, specs are a bit short on the ground for the product--likely because at last report, it was still in the development stage--but if it's sufficient to run Steam, then it must be pretty sound spec-wise. But if it does work with Steam, it's going to have a lot of possibilities.

Steam is most familiar for its sales, in which incredible amounts of PC games are offered for extremely low prices.





How Will Android Impact The Console Wars?

January 3, 2013

I know everyone's looking, with no small enthusiasm, toward E3 and the likely release of some new console systems, but one system in particular is shaping up to be a bigger destabilizing element than anything, and it likely doesn't have a name you'll recognize on it. We're talking about the Ouya, and it's got some very strange things going for it.

Perhaps the most immediately noticeable thing about the Ouya is that it's running on a very unusual operating system: Android. We've seen Android phones, and Android tablets...but an Android gaming console is something of a new one. It managed to raise $8.5 million on Kickstarter last year, and it will be coming our way in fairly rapid fashion.

The Biggest iPhone Games Of 2012 Have Something In Common

January 2, 2013

So there was some very interesting news to show up today thanks to a recent look at the iTunes games market. Turns out the top grossing iOS games and apps of 2012 all had one critical point in common.

What was that particular point? As it turns out, they were all free to play. In the entirety of the top ten for iOS games downloaded from iTunes, they were all free to play.

Gaming's 2013: What To Watch For

January 1, 2013

Welcome to 2013, everybody, and with the dawn of 2013 comes a whole lot of new possibilities in gaming that few have even considered. Everything's looking a lot more real now that it's measurable in terms of months instead of saying "next year". But what's got my hackles up for 2013 in gaming? Well, that's what you're here for today, so let's run down what will hopefully be the biggest news of 2013.

1.