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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”

May 2013

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Microsoft Poised To Put Big Investment Into Games For Xbox One

May 30, 2013

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns that has been noted around the Xbox One of late is the distressing lack of games. Indeed, the early launch topics didn't seem to have a whole lot to do with games at all, a development that had many on edge. But new reports suggest that those who thought that a note of patience was in order may be about to be vindicated.

The newest reports suggest that Microsoft is looking to lay fully $1 billion into game development, using that nine-figure wad to not only put some studios into play but also to obtain exclusives. The first year of retail alone is set to be marked by fully 15 exclusive titles, as well as eight properties that have never before been seen.

How Do You Follow World Of Warcraft?

May 29, 2013

At one point, it was earning more than some small countries did in an entire year. It also had a population that, had it been a real country, would have allowed it a seat at the U.N. I'm talking here about World of Warcraft, one of the biggest video game juggernaut franchises ever. But with World of Warcraft's revenues beginning to sputter, membership in the decline, and a lot of competitors in the fray, how exactly does one follow one of the biggest games ever?

E3 2013: What To Expect

May 28, 2013

It's hard to believe, but this year's E3--widely regarded as the great touchstone of video game releasing--is only a mere two weeks out from today. But this is likely to be a very special year for E3, and already, many are wondering what will make the rounds when the big show finally comes to town.

The biggest point here is that the hardware is likely to be muted. With Nintendo's next big entry already in play, Microsoft's Xbox One already unveiled, and Sony's PlayStation 4 at least talked about, hardware is probably going to take a back seat. Why?

Microsoft, It Shouldn't Be This Hard

May 27, 2013

The Xbox One, the latest entry in the ongoing console wars, has been filled with a lot of questions of late. A lot of restrictions, a lot of strangeness, and a whole lot of unexpected and unusual constraints on the system. But one more has come to light that is shaping up to be yet another shackle on a system that has been packed with them: region-specific coding.

Essentially, the current reports suggest that all software on the Xbox One will have to match the regions that the consoles were released in; games released in the United States, for example, wouldn't be playable in Europe, and Japanese games would be unplayable in the United States, unless someone had purchased an Xbox One from those particular locations.

Thankfully, the region-specific coding isn't going to be universal. Microsoft is set to leave the decision in the studios' hands for the most part, though the PlayStation 3 is--and potentially the PlayStation 4 will be as well--region-free, allowing most any PlayStation 3 game to play in any PlayStation system.

In some cases, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.





Gaming Innovation From A Surprising Source

May 23, 2013

With all the talk going on about the console market, it's worth taking a moment to look at some of the upcoming games in the field. There's a surprising amount of innovation coming up, and it's coming from a source that may not be expected.

The direction in question--and you'll want to brace yourself for this--is zombie games. Normally, zombies are little more than a wandering target that occasionally bites potential victims, but a pair of upcoming games are injecting some rather exciting new mechanics into things.

First, a game that's arriving this June: State of Decay. State of Decay offers not just zombie-fighting action, but also resource management and even a level of personality management to the mix as gamers keep a group of survivors together in a world turned upside down in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.

While State of Decay is offering some very interesting new dynamics in terms of zombie gaming, thanks to some new management and relationship simulation tools, it's not the only expected source of innovation in the zombie arena.





How The Newest Console Wars Shape Up

May 22, 2013

Now that all the pieces of the next generation console wars are in place, I figured it would be a good time to take a look at the overall market and make for a comparison of the various players in the field. Each one has some distinct advantages, as well as some fairly substantial challenges, which is going to make this particular go-round of the console wars especially interesting.

Of course, we need to consider the Wii U, as it's Nintendo's entry in the field. Though significantly behind its competitors in terms of overall technical capability--some were comparing its graphic output to that of the xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3--but it's also got its own line of very recognizable characters and a highly unusual control scheme. It's also got about a year's head start on the rest of the competition--especially since the Sony and Microsoft systems likely won't hit stores much ahead of the holiday shopping season, but it hasn't made a lot of headway with that year thanks to some issues in terms of getting the games to market.

The PlayStation 4, meanwhile, seems to have at least somewhat learned from previous issues.



The Xbox One: What It Means For Gaming

May 21, 2013

And so, that was it. A whole bunch of sound and fury later and now, we have the last player in this the newest round of the grand console wars. The Xbox One has made its appearance, and it's time to take a closer look at just what this new console means for gaming as a whole.

Indeed, Microsoft's new console got many of the expected new features. The updated Kinect is in appearance as many expected.

Twas The Night Before Microsoft's Big Debut

May 20, 2013

There are only a few hours left until the big event, where the console wars are joined in earnest by the newest launch from Microsoft. But what will show up at tomorrow's event? What won't? I know there are some things I'd like to see, so with only a good night's sleep and then some ahead of the big event, I took a little time to run down my wish list.

Easily one of the first things I want to see in the next Xbox, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan: "Mr. Ballmer, tear down this paywall!".

New Word About EA's Star Wars Plans

May 16, 2013

Just yesterday there was some exciting news emerging that DICE L.A, an offshoot of DICE Sweden, would be focusing completely on Star Wars games as part of the new license between EA and Disney. As it turned out, that wasn't to be the case, and the resulting news is enough to make one wonder just where EA's going with this license.

EA's PR director, Pete Nguyen, offered up a bit of clarification, saying that DICE L.A. was a branch of DICE Sweden, and both companies are working on the same project. That same project?

eSports & Plantronics--A Winning Team

May 15, 2013

Those of you who were around earlier in the week remember our earlier discussion about eSports, and how the Meltdown London may be something of the first step toward a whole new paradigm. Well, eSports just got another metaphorical shot in the equally metaphorical arm thanks to a whole new sponsor signing on.

Plantronics joined up with Riot Games as an official partner of the League of Legends Championship Series, where it will be the official headset maker of Season 3's tournament games. This by itself is only reasonably important, but when it's added into the larger picture, the picture becomes a little clearer: eSports is starting to take off.

Right now, no one's talking about just what kind of cash was necessary for Plantronics to put down before being allowed to be an official sponsor, but in all likelihood products are part of the deal along with any other considerations. But it's clear that eSports is coming into its own.

There are three separate components in any sports league: an audience, players, and sponsors to keep the league operational.





Konami Has Big Plans For E3

May 14, 2013

Exciting news has emerged with Konami's plans for E3, which is only a little over a month out. Some very impressive games are getting ready for the pre-E3 show, but it's not just the games that are worth noting with Konami's pre-E3 event.

The Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) has been a big deal for some time. When E3 shows up, all the big names put on a big show--with varying degrees of big, of course--but the common thread is that the upcoming titles for most every console get trotted out. Konami looks to be no exception on this front with several titles prepared.

Why The eSports Bar Could Be Up For High Scores

May 13, 2013

Earlier today, word came out from several sources about the upcoming opening of the Meltdown London eSports bar, a sports bar that would offer not only a variety of video game-themed drinks, but also a variety of video games.

The whole package--as far as Meltdown London would go, anyway-- would include not only game time for amateurs, but also for those amateurs looking to compete in local tournaments, as well as the ability to watch professional gaming contests in action. Locals would be able to play things like "League of Legends," "StarCraft II," "Street Fighter IV" and others.

This isn't the first such occurrence of a bar with video games, of course--several others from the Mana Bar in Australia to the other Meltdown locations in Paris and Berlin to several across the United States like chain restaurant Dave & Busters are all in play. But the idea of an eSports bar is still something a little on the new side, and it may well prove to be the kind of thing that catches on.



BlueStacks' GamePop Out To Offer Quick Games Faster

May 9, 2013

The idea of mobile games on big screens has been gaining in popularity of late, with several companies looking to get in on the market space. One of the latest such attempts to step in is BlueStacks, which was formerly well known for bringing Android apps to desktop PC platforms. Now, with BlueStacks' Gamepop service, the company is poised to make a splash in the gaming market as well.

BlueStacks' Gamepop service offers its subscribers access to 500 different Android game titles, routing said titles through a game console that bears more than a little resemblance to a Boxee Box with a different color scheme. Those who get in on the pre-order running this month will get the console--and a controller besides--at no charge. 

Can New Consoles Bridge The Entertainment Gap?

May 8, 2013

It wasn't so long ago that, for entertainment, the idea that people would use game consoles only for gaming was pretty much etched in stone. Sure, some were using them to play DVDs and Blu-rays in some cases--this was half the selling point of the PlayStation 3 in its early days--but for the most part, consoles were for games and everything else was for, well, everything else. But now, consoles are changing, and we may well be at a point where consoles can serve as the ultimate in entertainment boxes.

No less a personage in gaming than Will Wright actually started wondering something similar himself while at the GameHorizon Live event on a live webcast. During the resulting Q&A session that followed, Wright--the creator of such major titles as "The Sims" and "SimCity", started discussing how the upcoming game consoles could prove to be "connective tissue" between games and entertainment like movies and music.

EA's 2014 Fiscal Year Seems Short On Star Wars

May 7, 2013

Strange developments are emerging as Electronic Arts (EA) staged an investor call to talk developments for fiscal year 2014, which runs from April 2013 to March 2014. EA took a look at several titles to emerge in said fiscal year, and the development list looks strange indeed.

EA is planning to offer up 11 major titles across the standard slate of consoles and on PC, though there's not much discussion about the next generation of consoles. It could be that ports are planned, but the early term looks like EA will be focusing on the more standard fare. Set for release in the 2014  fiscal year are the next Madden title, FIFA and FIFA Manager, the standard array of regular sports games like NCAA Football, NHL and NBA Live, the next "Need for Speed" installment, the next "Battlefield" and "Command and Conquer" installments, "The Sims 4," and "Fuse."  "Fuse," for those not already familiar, follows a group of operatives in search of a stolen alien power source known as, as the game implies, Fuse.

If something seems missing from this list, it's because fiscal year 2014 will not feature a Star Wars game, especially noteworthy as EA had announced only yesterday that it had picked up a multi-year deal with Disney to build Star Wars universe titles.



Do Games Need To Get Shorter?

May 6, 2013

I caught a great article today on VentureBeat's gaming section all about the length of games, and that got me to thinking about my own gaming experiences. The more I thought about game length, the more I got to wondering how the length of games would impact the industry as a whole.

Basically, the VentureBeat article ran down some very important points. Specifically, it talked about the average age of gamers, the growth of the mobile industry, and the concept of bloated games, and it all started around a recent tweet from Hideki Kamiya around the upcoming release of "The Wonderful 101." Seems that the game may prove to be a bit shorter than some were hoping for.

While a game that's too short can be a serious problem, a game that's too long can be just as much a problem.



The Smell Of Gaming: Does It Smell Like Success?

May 2, 2013

Considering the sheer number of things that have been tried in terms of perking up the gaming industry, it's not surprising that games might try different kinds of feedback beside the visual. Haptic feedback--feedback of touch--has been a major part of development for some time, but what about the other senses? Sure, aural feedback gets plenty of action, as does visual, but what about one of the more underappreciated senses: smell?

Recently, the NeuroGaming Conference and Expo featured some discussion on how best to get smell into gaming, so as to make it even more immersive than any generation of gaming since, well, the first, really. Sure, there have been attempts to do the job in the past with chemical packs and dispersers, but the folks at the NeuroGaming Conference and Expo want to step things up a notch to included digital devices that can add smell to games while playing.

In a sense, this sounds like a great idea; imagine the smell of brine in any of the Bioshock titles, for example.



Selling Games In A Saturated Market

May 1, 2013

It's getting to be downright amazing how many games there are out there, but with more and more games showing up on a regular basis--huge names and indie fare among them--that's posing a bit of a challenge to marketers, and to players alike.

Recently, Nintendo's president Satoru Iwata took some questions from investors while discussing Nintendo's annual financial results. During the course of that conversation, he made note of that aforementioned development when it comes to gaming: there are more and more games in play with every passing month, and the games that are showing up aren't having the kind of impact they used to.

Iwata said, more specifically, that "...these improvements are becoming less noticeable." Indeed, Iwata even went so far as to say "In short, what one platform can offer will eventually become saturated. Every consumer will inevitably become tired of and get less excitement from the same type of entertainment."

Basically, it's a sort of analogue for the law of diminishing returns.