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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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September 2013

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Has The Xi3 Piston Thrown A Rod Already?

September 30, 2013

Very recently--like earlier today recently--the Xi3 Piston made something of an appearance, complete with some information about its spec loadout and similar matters. Though the Xi3 Piston isn't exactly a Steam Machine, it's set to offer many of the same functions. Examining that spec loadout, however, reveals some distressing points that may well derail Steam Machine before it can really get chugging along.

The Piston itself is a tiny marvel of design, looking like a wonderful polygonal X-shape. Additionally, the spec loadout makes this certainly look like a little more than some kind of fluff box; it's packing eight gigs of RAM, 128 gigs of solid-state storage, a quad-core AMD Trinity processor running at 3.2 GHz. This is a fairly impressive loadout that should be able to handle quite a bit of Steam's lineup, but there are already some issues that certain spectators are noticing, particularly in the graphics card.

Forbes' Jason Evangelho pointed out that many of the bigger-name games out there aren't exactly going to be welcome on the Piston, thanks to its AMD Radeon 7600G graphics, which is in turn part of AMD's Accelerated Processing Units, making it more of a graphics core than a complete GPU.

An Exciting New Perspective in Gaming: First Person

September 26, 2013

One of the things that's always caught my attention about the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series are the combination of deep RPG gaming with the immersive quality of first-person gameplay in a wide open space that often kept me from getting nauseous as I might with a normal FPS. But that may be about to change with the development of some games taking the first person perspective in some new directions.

Nether, currently under development with Phosphor Games Studio, is a MMO with a new perspective, first person. This isn't commonly seen when it comes to gaming, though the third person perspective is well represented. Nether actually gets a note of inspiration from DayZ, the zombie-themed modification to Arma II.

Can Valve's Steam Machines Roll Over The Living Room?

September 25, 2013

Today was the big day for the second of three announcements from Valve, and the news today was focused distinctly on hardware. From the SteamOS that would power such hardware to the hardware itself, Valve is really opening up some exciting possibilities, and it may well have substantial implications for gaming as a whole.

Valve has, at last report, developed a new prototype for the Steam Machine line, and plans to offer up free Steam Machines for 300 Steam users who apply for the beta test, so that any issues can be winnowed out before the devices go live. Valve is already, according to the earlier announcement, working to pull in several hardware manufacturers to get several different Steam gaming systems up and on the market in 2014, backed up by the SteamOS package. The different machines will emphasize different points, at last report, with some devices focusing on lower price, while other devices focus on ambient noise levels generated and others even focus on being of the smallest size possible.

Those interest in getting in on the prototype, meanwhile, will only be able to qualify after completing what Valve is calling an “eligibility quest” that stars with joining Steam Universe, agreeing to the company's beta terms and conditions, making a total of 10 friends or more on Steam—those with 10 friends already have passed that part of the quest—and then setting up a Steam Community profile and playing a game using a gamepad and Steam's Big Picture mode.

Microsoft ID@XBOX Games May Hit Early 2014

September 24, 2013

It's not the best news that gamers could have had, especially those gamers spoiling for a sweet, sweet slice of indie gaming joy from Microsoft and its new entrant into the next gen gaming stakes. But the indie developed games should be making a landing not too long after launch, as the current projections say that the games in question should arrive in early 2014.

Microsoft's ID@XBOX system, the program by which indie games make a landing on the Xbox One, has been garnering big interest almost since its announcement. Phil Harrison, VP with Microsoft, called it an “avalanche” of interest, though this avalanche is also what's causing part of the delay. Microsoft needs to go over all those applications, and get the relevant consoles out to the developers who qualify for the program.

Is SteamOS the Start of a Living Room Destabilization?

September 23, 2013

The idea of a PC in the living room is really nothing new. Why should it be? PCs these days connect to an HD television just as easily as a monitor thanks to included HDMI ports, and a computer can access Hulu Plus and Netflix as easy as anything else can. But the idea of a PC in the living room, while not necessarily novel, hasn't really caught on.

Game On: Getting More Gamers In On E-Sports With Beyond Gaming

September 19, 2013

The idea of turning gaming into a profession has long been the dream of kids pretty much since gaming was invented, and though today there are more opportunities to do so than ever before—here I cite games journalism, just like this, and the entirety of Michael Pachter's career—actually playing games for a living is out of the reach of many gamers. Beyond Gaming, meanwhile, is looking to change that up just a little bit, and is trying to get the amateur and casual player more involved in competitive gaming.

Beyond Gaming has built a website allowing players of various skill levels to build accounts and start competing against those in their perceived skill bracket. Games like e-sports staple “StarCraft II” are on hand, as well as both “TrackMania” and “ShootMania”. There's also a connection between Beyond Gaming and Ubisoft for its “The Next Level” gaming experience.

There are even prizes for certain competitions, like the “Play For It” matches that offer up things like gift cards in exchange for winning a single match.

Are Microsoft's Dreams of Living Room Dominance Nightmares To Be?

September 18, 2013

Today I'm going to really open up shop on a topic that some might not expect, but I'm looking at the overall thrust of Microsoft's marketing ambitions and suggesting that on this point, perhaps the Emperor's clothes are of substantially less density than he believed. Microsoft's dreams of living room dominance are nothing new, but there are two points that suggest there may be a mistake brewing here.

Earlier today, reports emerged that Microsoft had some plans to launch new television projects, which it would likely show off by the end of the year, which is about the same time that the system itself is due to roll out in earnest. This goes to join the recent efforts undertaken by Steven Spielberg to bring out a Halo title, and though we don't know the exact nature of the content coming soon, there are likely to be some things that remain fairly standard. And this may well be part of the problem.

One, it's a safe bet that Microsoft's new content will remain behind the Xbox Live Gold paywall.

A Gamer Registry In The Face Of Navy Shipyard Shooting?

September 17, 2013

Earlier today I read something rather unsettling that came from Elisabeth Hasselbeck during an airing of “Fox and Friends” on the Fox News network. It came following the recent shooting at a U.S. Navy shipyard in Washington D.C., and while that's a tragedy by any standards, Hasselbeck's remarks certainly weren't a help. During the airing, Hasselbeck broached the idea of what amounts to a registry for gamers that would track time spent and automatically shut down play after a certain point.

More specifically, Hasselbeck was quoted as saying: “What about frequency testing?

A Gamer Revolt At Dragons Of Atlantis Shows Importance of Customer Service

September 16, 2013

Free to play games have long been a difficult balancing act. People's interest in paying for a free to play game is commonly low—said gamers didn't show up looking for a “cheap to play” title—yet by like token a game company commonly isn't interested in giving away a game for free unless some kind of compensation is forthcoming. Advertising revenue, corporate sponsorship, or making some parts of the game accessible to paying customers are all valid avenues to pursue making a buck on a game. But sometimes, said efforts don't go over well with the gaming community, and the result just showed itself recently in a full-on player revolt.

Over at Kabam's “Dragons of Atlantis,” what's described as a “small but vocal minority” of players is up in arms about recent changes to the game.

iPhone 5: Mobile Gaming's New Best Friend?

September 12, 2013

Naturally, with the emergence of the new iPhone 5S, a lot of people are taking a close look at this new device, and are emerging from this consideration with a variety of conclusions that seem to vary from one user to another. But when the topic changes to that of gaming, there's not quite as much consideration as yet. So I figured it was a good time to take a look at a major new device and see just how it stacks up in terms of gaming.

One of the big things that seems to be a bit of a disappointment in terms of the Apple iPhone 5S is the display, which on some fronts—naturally, this whole thing is going to be a bit on the subjective side—isn't stacking up very well against its contemporaries like the Samsung Galaxy S4. This isn't quite so important when it comes to mobile gaming as some might think; after all, we're talking about a four inch display showing at a resolution of 1136 x 640.

Sixense's New Controller Hits Kickstarter, May Be Oculus Rift's Best Friend

September 11, 2013

While there has been plenty of attention paid around the launch of the Oculus Rift lately—still a forthcoming event at last report—there's the issue of controllers that will work well with the incredible visual display system. While some have suggested standard gamepads, and others have turned to massive conglomerations of treadmills, Sixense Entertainment is out to get in on the action itself with a new kind of controller, and it's looking for funding to get it up and running with Kickstarter.

The Sixense controller—which for right now appears to be named the STEM—uses motion sensing capability to figure out its current location, and then translates the relevant movement the controller undertakes into motion in the game itself. Technology behind the Sixense concept—which appears to be largely driven by magnets—has actually been around for some time, with names like Razer and Valve working with it previously. But thanks to the rise of the Oculus Rift, the idea of a control mechanism that can work in a three-dimensional space has taking on a whole new level of importance.

Where Do The Kids Turn For Gaming?

September 10, 2013

Easily one of the biggest markets in gaming is the under 18 market. The kids turn to gaming for fun and relaxation in fairly large numbers, and having access to parents' disposable income certainly doesn't hurt either. But a recent NPD study suggests that the kids' market may be making a migration away from consoles toward a new, but largely familiar source.

NPD's report, dubbed the “Kids and Gaming 2013” report, showed that kids are still putting in a lot of time on consoles, but increasingly are turning to mobile devices—tablets and smartphones, mainly—to get the gaming fix craved. Fully 53 percent of mobile device owners, according to the study, were spending more time gaming on said devices now than those owners were in 2011.

Microsoft Ratcheting Up The Xbox One Offerings

September 9, 2013

Sometimes the best stories come around as a result of combining separate news items into a new and exciting whole. Microsoft is going to give us the chance to do just that today as it looks to show off the value proposition inherent in its upcoming new console release as a result of two critical points.

Admittedly, this won't just be about the Xbox One, but it will certainly have an impact on it all the same. First, there was a bit of news that called attention to Microsoft's work in revamping the Xbox Music system. This is the big thing that isn't just about the Xbox One, of course, as it's going to work with the Xbox 360 and both the iOS and Android mobile platforms.

Imminent Next Gen Doesn't Slow Gamers Buying Much

September 5, 2013

A new report has emerged from the NPD Group that suggests that gaming purchases haven't slowed down much even with the imminent arrival of next generation consoles. The numbers tell an interesting story, but considering the numbers in the broader market makes for some exciting possible conclusions.

The NPD Group report showed that gamers have spent, so far, $2.88 billion, including fully $769 million for new physical titles and hardware, along with $343 million on used and rental games, rounded out with $1.77 billion in digital goods. That's a big chunk of the market, and includes a lot of smaller subclasses like downloadable content, Steam games, and things in social games like those found on Facebook. While this sounds downright amazing—and it is on several levels—it's down slightly from 2012, losing around three percent of the 2012 total of $2.97 billion.

Naturally, part of that is due to an overall reduction in the amount of content available to purchase in the first place.

Battle Lines Are Drawn In The New Round of the Console Wars

September 4, 2013

With November—and the launch of two new consoles—just around the corners, strategies are now quite clear and there's quite a bit to cover. But who's got the best position going in? Who's likely to lead in the early stages? And who's likely to ultimately come out on top?

Sony and Virtual Reality May Be Getting Closer Together

September 3, 2013

The Oculus Rift is a device that's captured imaginations like few before it since the creation of the Internet got going in earnest. But according to some new reports, it may not be the only game in town when it comes to virtual reality, and the next big thing in virtual reality could be coming from a much more familiar name than some would see coming.

Reports indicate that Sony is looking to put together its own virtual reality headset for the PlayStation 4. Taking several cues from the Oculus Rift visor, the Sony version will offer a wrap-around 3D image. The reports further suggest that the system is actually being demonstrated to developers using DriveClub, a PS4 launch title.

September 2, 2013

First off, a happy Labor Day to everyone out there, and I hope you had a pleasant weekend of it. It may not surprise you to note that a large portion of my Labor Day weekend was spent in gaming, and with one game in particular. Yet while I was playing this game, I had a bit of insight: there's one big problem with open world gaming, and it goes by the innocuous yet disastrous name of "Time."

The game in question that occupied the lion's share of my Labor Day weekend was none other than "Saints Row IV," a massive open-world gangster comic thriller that was one part "Mass Effect," one part "They Live," one part "Grand Theft Auto" and one part "The Matrix" all in one convenient, often hilarious, package. But by like token, it represented a serious problem, because by the end of the long weekend, I had still not managed to beat the main game.

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