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 2013

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Xbox One Gets A New Edge, This Time Thanks To Skype

August 29, 2013

Granted, for a lot of people out there, the idea of playing multiplayer matches on Xbox Live with anyone short of close friends or family is a disturbing idea indeed. But with the coming of a new console comes a new reason to consider it: much better voice quality.

Making the rounds is a small comparison bar, featuring an audio sample of audio recorded from an Xbox 360 chat session, then the same sample of audio from an Xbox One. The difference is stark, clear, and absolutely breathtaking. The reports suggest that Xbox One is now using some of the same audio technology that Skype uses to present clear audio for its users.

Unity Making Huge Gains In Game Development

August 28, 2013

For game developers, one of the biggest words to watch as the next generation of gaming kicks off in earnest is likely going to be one no one expected. The word of choice here? "Unity."

Not only is Unity itself making these moves, but there are signs that others, like Facebook, are also moving toward Unity, making both sides of the equation work toward the same end. First, Unity recently rolled out Unity Cloud, a set of online services designed to give mobile developers some help in some of the tough parts of game production, like getting people to show up and play the games, as well as letting people know about the games in question, and of course, the big one: getting money out of those gamers.

Gaming's Huge Surprise Demographic: Moms

August 27, 2013

When it comes to video gaming, we normally consider the kids first, then not too far behind them, the older folks who've been at it for a while. While debate has been going on for some time about the idea of getting the ladies more involved in gaming, it turns out that there's been one whopper of a surprise demographic that's been quietly gaming for some time now: moms.

A study released from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA)—and if you're drinking something right now you may want to put it down or risk some splash damage on your hardware—says that fully 74 percent of moms is playing games on some level. That is probably a huge surprise for some out there, but the rest of the ESA's report won't be quite so unexpected. 75 percent of those moms that game only game about once a week or so, and fully 65 percent trend toward iPads or Android phones for gaming.

Puzzle and logic games are a huge draw, bringing in about 63 percent of the flock, and 40 percent turn to card and tile games.

Cash Is Now King On Xbox Live Arcade As Microsoft Points Decommissioned

August 26, 2013

It's a big move for Microsoft, and while some think it couldn't have come fast enough to suit them, some can't help but wonder what all the fuss is about. Still, on Xbox 360, cash is now king thanks to a big move from Microsoft.

Pretty much ever since the Xbox 360 got started, the way to get things via digital download on Xbox Live Arcade was by way of Microsoft Points. Microsoft Points were purchased via credit or debit card online, or in stores with any method that shopkeepers would accept. This left some people a little discomfited, as trying to do math to figure out how much a game cost in actual dollars left some cold.

For those with Microsoft Points, fear not; said points are still valid, and have been converted into actual cash for use on Xbox Live Arcade as normal.

Where's The Cash In Mobile Gaming?

August 22, 2013

A new survey from EEDAR—a company specializing in research into the gaming market—has recently unveiled some unexpected truths about the field, specifically, who's spending money on mobile gaming, and several other facts besides.

The EEDAR survey covered fully 3,000 mobile gamers, accounting for both smartphone and tablet gamers, and what it found was quite surprising. It turns out, according to the EEDAR survey, that in terms of spending on games, it's men who spend the most at virtually every potential level of spending. The top five percent of spenders, for example, are two thirds—66 percent—male. The number is nearly identical at 65 percent for gamers who don't pay at all when it comes to mobile gaming, but the gender is reversed: it's the ladies that account for the largest portion of non-paying gamers.

Further, those big spenders are also big in terms of time spent gaming; the “whale”--or the highest-level spender—put in on average 11.8 hours a week on just mobile games.

Why The Elder Scrolls Online May Mean Trouble For Sony

August 21, 2013

It's a strange thought, to consider that a game that so many are looking forward to may ultimately mean trouble, but in this case—as is so often the case—it's not necessarily the one point in isolation but rather the impact on the broader market. In this case, it may well mean trouble ahead for Sony, and it may be an opportunity for Microsoft to win some credibility back.

The news recently emerged—earlier today, actually—that Bethesda was planning to charge users $15 a month for access to “The Elder Scrolls Online”. Reasonable enough, really; MMOs are commonly subscription games. But what caught more than a few by surprise was that, once again, the paywall was about to attack, and that $15 to play “The Elder Scrolls Online” was in addition to the Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Network account needed to play an online game.

Microsoft and Sony Go To War For The Indies

August 20, 2013

It's something of a recent development in terms of gaming, but more and more, we're seeing development shy away from big studios pulling out triple-A titles—there's still plenty of them to be had, though—and more toward smaller, independent studios putting out smaller titles. But with the spectacular success of some of these titles, the independent game is getting quite a bit more credit, and both of the newest sides to join the console war are looking to get the biggest slice of indie cred.

Both Microsoft and Sony are rolling out the red carpet for the independent gamer. Sony, during its press event at Gamescom, showed that not only is Sony committed to working with the platforms developers use, particularly the Unity game engine, but is also putting support into indies with self-publishing options and a publishing fund to help out financially.

A good offering in its own right, of course, but Microsoft won't be outdone on that front. Not only is Microsoft offering up two Xbox One development kids to qualified developers, but also, Microsoft is opening up the full resources of Xbox Live for publishers to hit the Xbox One.

Even Nintendo has some support on this, with reports suggesting that the company is opening up development for both HTML5 and Unity on the Wii U as part of the Web Framework.

All three of the major companies seem to want in on the indie market, and are offering progressively greater rewards to get indie developers interested in getting in on the next generation of gaming.

Gaming's Soon To Be Last Generation Not Dead Yet

August 19, 2013

Granted, these days, most of the focus is on the next generation of gaming. With the 2013 Gamescom event about to fire up in earnest, the eyes are squarely on the future, on the horizon, of gaming. But gaming's last generation won't go out quietly, oh no...and every indication suggests that it's going to go out with a bang.

The Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 are, not surprisingly, taking a lot of attention--even the Wii U to some extent--but there's quite a bit in the hopper over the next few weeks before the release of both new systems to keep interest.

Naturally, there are a variety of new games coming out.

Digital Delivery And The Summer Sales Numbers

August 15, 2013

When it comes to the video game market, we appear to be on the cusp of something very big. A sea change, really, in the way that video games reach our systems and how we interact with same. It was the kind of thing that's been in the making for some time now, but recent changes have made things a little more noticeable than before.

First, the results of a study undertaken by SuperData: the digital games market in the United States reached $1.1 billion in July, which in turn is up 5.4 percent over the same time the previous year. That's a sound number no matter how you look at it, but it's the breakdown of that number that's especially noteworthy.

Battlefield 4: Use The Past To Tap The Future

August 14, 2013

It's not unheard of in the gaming world to see the events of the past influence the future, at least on some level. But the past is looking to come back in a big way with Battlefield 4, and the use of this particular technique is likely to spark some significant interest.

DICE, likely wanting all of today's news to not be about Call of Duty: Ghosts, dropped word that the next installment of the Electronic Arts-published Battlefield saga, Battlefield 4, would allow users to carry over stats from previous games into the next generation. Since Battlefield 4 is set to drop for the current generation hardware on October 29, that's a good way before the release of both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Sensing, therefore, that many gamers would probably choose to wait, the word came out that the stats gained in Battlefield 4 for a previous generation system—or what will be previous generation when the next generation arrives—will carry over.

There's an important caveat here, though; the carry-over effect will only be valid in-brand, that is, Xbox 360 carry-over can only go to the Xbox One, and for PlayStation 3 players, only PlayStation 4 will accept the stats.

Microsoft Relents Further With Kinect

August 13, 2013

It's not hard to hand it to Microsoft. The company is clearly paying attention to what the gamers want and what they don't want. Sure, some may say—with perhaps a note or two of cynicism—that Microsoft is merely following the money, but whether it's out of a desire to protect the bottom line or build good will among the gaming community, the end result is still comparatively the same.

In this most recent case, it's sort of a good news / bad news setting. Remember the idea that one day Microsoft might put together an Xbox One package that didn't boast a Kinect?

How Much Is Too Much In Pre-Order Bonuses?

August 12, 2013

Watching the “Saints Row” series has been an exciting ride. From the straightforward action of the first one, to the comically-infused styling of the second, to the over-the-top madness of the third one, it's tough to tell just what's going on with this series. If anyone ever thought that the fourth one would go back to the straightforward, well, that idea is pretty much dead with “Saints Row IV”'s release of the Super Dangerous Wad Wad edition. There's only one of them ever to be released.

Exclusives Abound With Next Generation Console Releases

August 8, 2013

With the next generation of consoles set to arrive in just a couple of months now, the early word is getting an augmentation and some of the new premiums are stepping up to match. Each side is offering a different package, but which one will prove best will depend on just what the individual gamer is looking for.

Microsoft gamers are set to get some exciting benefits with the “Day One” edition, in both a tangible and an intangible sense. First, getting a console at the outset gives access to the “Day One” achievement, which will be offered once the console is activated. As a point of value, well, it's not exactly much—it's just a point of bragging rights, really—but having that “Day One” achievement on the gamer tag will be a slice of credibility to go.

Is The Game Publisher Dying...Or Just Changing?

August 7, 2013

We've heard before about not needing a publisher any more when Kixeye's Will Harbin took the stage at Casual Connect and started decrying his own position, suggesting that the status of the industry was shifting in such a direction that a publisher really wasn't necessary any more. But now, Harbin is joined by a rather unexpected source in Xbox co-creator Ed Fries, who offered up an interview with “The Daily A-List” about the future of big-time publishers.

Fries examines the issues of digital distribution, of physical distribution and beyond in framing his response, suggesting that the age of big publishers may be on the outs as games can be had more readily via download than ever. “Walmart didn't want to deal with a hundred companies,” said Fries, “they wanted to deal with four or five.”

Given that Fries is currently an advisor for the Ouya gaming platform, it might require his words to be taken with an appropriate grain of salt, though considering that he's scarcely alone in saying this, there may well be a movement after all. Though Fries does somewhat gloss over other issues, like connectivity in rural settings that will preclude a purely digital delivery system, the fact of the matter is that a lot more downloading of games is going on, and some games will never be found in a brick-and-mortar store.

The recent moves seen in the console gaming space are also pointing to a future with more indie developers.

Asda and Bethesda May Make Two Much Trouble For Wii U

August 6, 2013

Sometimes, the strangest news comes from the confluence of two separate news items. That may be the case with a double shot of news about the Wii U, one slightly old, the other comparatively new, and both adding up to make what looks like a potentially unpleasant situation for the beleaguered console.

We've noted here on more than one occasion that the Wii U's biggest problem is its comparative dearth of games. While the 3DS doesn't have such a problem, nor does the Wii, the Wii U is simply lacking on the game front, bad news for a console in the neighborhood of its first anniversary. This puts Nintendo into something of a Catch-22 situation; third party developers aren't in too big a rush to make Wii U games when Wii U consoles aren't selling, but where's the motive to buy Wii U consoles if there aren't games for it?

Can The Xbox One Keep Its Cool?

August 5, 2013

When the Xbox 360 first made its appearance, it looked like a clear winner was in the offing. Not only were there more games on hand, but the system actually cost significantly less than its competitor, the PlayStation 3. But the triumph didn't last long as the greatest horror Xbox gaming had ever seen arrived on the scene in the red ring of death phenomenon.

The good news here, however, is that Microsoft seems to have learned its lesson from the Xbox 360's disastrous past.

Does Microsoft Plan A Bounty On Gaming Trolls?

August 1, 2013

There aren't many people out there who enjoy gaming trolls. Sure, sometimes the antics of same can be amusing, but all too often it's a slew of racist jokes, sexist comments, and all-around unpleasantness that just puts more than a few people off gaming. Microsoft is out to counteract this by offering up what may be one of the first such things of its kind, a kind of bounty system to find trolls in two new initiatives.

The initiatives in question are called Enforcement United and Xbox Community Level, in which Microsoft turns over issues of the community to the community. Enforcement United allows gamers to take a more active role in deciding whether certain content issues violate Microsoft's terms of service.

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