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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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December 2013

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2013's Top Scores In Gaming

December 31, 2013

Yesterday, we took a look at some of the low points in the year of gaming, but now, we have an opportunity—this being the last day of the year and all—to run down some of the big points in gaming. And man, were there ever plenty of those! It was a fine year indeed, and though we had some disappointments and some sadness along the way, we also had some fine times and some great things come out that made  this year a real joy in terms of gaming.

State of Decay

It's hard to look at this year in gaming without considering one of the most entertaining, most engrossing, and purely exciting games of the year, and that's got to be “State of Decay.” I spent a lot of time cruising the highways and byways on this one, and when the expansion version came out, I was in line pretty quick for a download. I called this one easily the most realistic console-based zombie apocalypse simulator ever, and it wasn't hard to see why.



A Sad Last Look At 2013: The Lows Of The Year in Gaming

December 30, 2013

About this time of year, most folks involved in writing like to start looking back at the year that was, and start looking forward at the year that is yet to be. There's quite a bit to look back at, and even more to look forward to. But before we indulge in a little starry-eyed fond remembrance of 2013, it's worth looking at some of the low points as well, just to keep us grounded and help us remember where we came from, so to speak. So with that in mind, here's a look back at three of the lowest points in 2013's gaming year.

TheSurvivor2299.com

This particular bust kept Fallout fans eager for a bit of news from Bethesda on the ball for days.



Can Wearable Tech Be A Part of Gaming?

December 26, 2013

Now here's an exciting question that's recently cropped up. Some have noticed that there's been something of a move recently to bring gaming to the smartwatch concept. While this approach has met with something less than full success thus far, it's enough to make one wonder: could the smartwatch—or other items of wearable tech—be a part of gaming? The answer is, in all likelihood, yes, but it depends on just what wearable tech comes under consideration.

More specifically, Polygon's Michael McWhertor took advantage of the Christmas holiday to note that the Pebble smartwatch—likely a gift located under more than one tree this year—has found itself pressed into service as a gaming platform.

Merry Christmas, Gamers: Holiday-Themed Events In Games

December 25, 2013

It's an interesting question, make no mistake. Most of us have played a game at one time or another in which a special holiday event or holiday-related memorabilia has come up. But do these things make our games better? Or do they just fill space and empty holiday hours?

The answer to that question is, as ever, it really depends on the event.

Gamers Helping: Farmville's Holiday Lights Brings Charity To Gaming

December 24, 2013

This is the time of year, out of most any other time of the year one cares to name, that the world's attention should be focused on giving and helping others. It's an important point to a lot of people—charitable giving does seem to go up with the arrival of the Christmas season—and on Christmas Eve, there's one story making the rounds that sums up this development rather well: Zynga's Holiday Lights expansion to Farmville.

While Zynga hasn't exactly had a good run of things in the recent past—Santa might well have put them all on the naughty list for a variety of points—this particular move should buy the company a wealth of good press. A big part of Farmville, as those who play it regularly know, is the customization of one's farm, complete with a variety of plantable items and other extras. In this case, as was to be expected, Zynga rolled out some new trees and decorations and such with a holiday theme.

Could the Oculus Rift Mean Big Things In Gaming Peripherals?

December 23, 2013

One great principle that seems to follow business is “nothing succeeds like success.” It's a principle that's powered more than a few movies, not to mention books, webcomics, and especially video games. But recent moves in the field of virtual reality have set some to thinking, is this the next big thing, and if so, where will the money go in terms of backing up new potential projects?
We're all familiar with new developments, like the Oculus Rift VR headset, and to a lesser extent the Virtuix Omni treadmill. But reports are growing that suggest Virtuix is hopeful that the increasing popularity around the Oculus Rift will help drive interest in what could be its ultimate companion item, Virtuix's treadmill. We've already seen the two work in tandem together, and this pair produces a surprisingly immersive experience that might well be best described as Holodeck Version 0.5.

Is Microsoft Taking Pages From The Book of Steam?

December 19, 2013

Those paying close attention to Xbox Live sales, whether for Gold members or otherwise, may have noticed that Microsoft started something up a couple days ago, a big “countdown to 2014” sale featuring a slew of good deals, including a new deal every day until New Year's Day, along with some deals that will show up on a weekly basis. Almost as though it were planned this way—I say almost, of course—the Steam Sale emerged just today, and it got me to wondering, is Microsoft taking a page or two out of Steam's book?

The sales had me quite enthusiastic. Not only were there some very impressive deals like a 75 percent off sale on “Borderlands 2”, as well as a 67 percent discount on “Terraria”--I personally landed a nice deal on “Bioshock: Infinite” at 65 percent off—but there would be fresh deals arriving on a regular basis throughout the season, and that was happy news to say the least.

Then, just a couple days after all that started, I saw the word on the Steam Sale, and that flipped a switch of sorts in my head and I looked at the situation and said, hey, whoa...is there a connection here? On the surface, it certainly made sense.



What's the Biggest Draw on Kickstarter?

December 18, 2013

We all know that Kickstarter is a very big deal when it comes to gadgets and the like. It's not hard to see new projects there most every day, from books to gadgets and even, sometimes, new food concoctions. But what may surprise some out there is that, when it comes to Kickstarter, the biggest draw of all is one that's near and dear to us all: video games.

In fact, video games is the biggest draw by a pretty wide margin, too. New statistics released from Kickstarter show that the company raised fully $920 million from crowdfunding efforts across all categories for 2013.

Microsoft is Down Against Sony in the Console Wars, But Is There Hope Ahead?

December 17, 2013

The numbers tell the story so far, and the story is not a good one for Microsoft. Online shopping portal BuyVia makes the numbers very clear, and both demand and interest in the PlayStation 4 is outstripping that of the Xbox One. But there may be a new development on the horizon that could give Sony a bit of a crimp in its rapid gains, and give Microsoft some new hope.

The BuyVia numbers are unmistakeable, really: in the period between November 25 and December 14, over 150,000 users went looking for a PlayStation 4 on BuyVia. By way of comparison, 45,000 users turned to BuyVia to find an Xbox One. Those who actually pulled the trigger on a game purchase, however, were a bit closer than the numbers imply: 57 percent of buyers turned to PlayStation 4, while 43 percent turned to the Xbox One. BuyVia's founder, Norman Fong, suggested that the perceived scarcity of the device may have helped fuel the differences; people regarded the PS4 as harder to find, and thus when it was available, pulled the trigger lest the choice be made for them, and possibly not to their benefit, later in the form of “sold out” messages. This is possible, but not necessarily the case.

But there's something of a new development on the horizon that may give Microsoft a bit of a hand. Not only are there the standard refinements, post-launch shakedowns and similar matters to consider—especially if a price cut comes along, the Kinect goes optional, or both—but new word has emerged suggesting that Microsoft may have a shot at the Chinese market, one that Sony may not be able to get.



Capcom Cup Draws Fighters From All Over, Adding New Level To Pro Gaming

December 16, 2013

Most of the time, when people think about e-sports, it usually starts with a first-person shooter or a MOBA game. But not so long ago, fighting games were regarded as the ultimate in competition, and were what many thought of first when the idea of professional gaming got kicked around. Though fighter games have been somewhat on the decline of late, their importance in the overall field of competitive gaming was made quite clear with the recent playing of the Capcom Cup.

 

So Is There Interest In Major League Gaming? More Than You May Think.

December 12, 2013

There's been a lot of news lately around professional gaming, what with how the audience is growing and the players are getting involved and there are more games coming out around its support. There's a lot going on, but is anyone paying attention to all that gaming action? New information, however, suggests that the Major League Gaming market is a lot more involved than some might think.

 

On Copyright, Let's Play Videos, and Symbiosis

December 11, 2013

A recent development in the YouTube community is proving somewhat jarring to fans of video game-related content, and to those viewers of same. Specifically, several providers of what are known as “Let's Play” videos are finding themselves on the bad end of a lot of copyright claims, and the story behind these claims—and the impact said claims will likely have—is pretty substantial.

The story recently came to light as several YouTube operators, including TheRadBrad's own Brad Colburn, discovered a litany of copyright claims raised against a variety of the videos in question, targeting things from sounds to music to even gameplay. While under normal circumstances, reportedly, copyright claims come in small doses particularly for video game-related content, this particular blast was quite different thanks to markedly higher total numbers of claims. The number was so high that, by some reports, it had never been seen before.

How Time's Gadget Of The Year List Shows Gaming's Mainstream Appeal

December 10, 2013

For a long time, many thought of gaming as something to hide, something to keep quiet, something better done in the confines of one's own home, especially if said gaming was done over a certain age. But the changing of generations shows that gaming is taking on a much more mainstream position in society, and what's reflecting this change is, oddly enough, Time Magazine and its annual Gadget of the Year list.

 

While the list held a few surprises—Apple losing out the top slot to Google for the Chromecast, for example—there were still plenty of gadgets whose appearances made perfect sense.

Fallout 4: Of Hoaxes and Good Marketing

December 9, 2013

So it goes, folks. Hoaxes. Hoaxes never change. Sometimes they get better, sometimes they get more elaborate. There was no denying that thesurvivor2299.com was easily one of the most elaborate hoaxes seen in recent memory, but still, the word about same came out, and now we can take a look back at this thoroughly...well...thorough hoax and deconstruct it, and in the process, say a few words about marketing.

eShop, Steam Show There's Still A Place For Retro Gaming

December 5, 2013

One of the great things I love is when there are two or more news stories that can come together to show one critical point. Making leaps of logic is one thing, but leaps of logic supported by multiple branches is another. Today's critical point: there still seems to be plenty of room in the field for retro gaming, as evidenced by new releases found in both the Nintendo eShop and on Steam.

 

The Next Generation Of Console Wars May Get Crowded

December 4, 2013

Right now, with the newest generation of the console wars in place, it's looking like a two-horse race. Sony and Microsoft are dueling for the hardcore gamer market while Nintendo doesn't seem to be doing much of anything but waiting and apologizing for the wait, with some notable exceptions. However, recent word from Electronic Arts' CEO Andrew Wilson suggests that the field may not be so slim much longer, and some notable names may decide to get in on the action.

Of course, the console market isn't strictly Microsoft and Sony right now. There are dark horse competitors like Ouya, as well as potentially major destabilizing measures like the Steam Machines that are set to emerge fairly soon.

E-Sports: Opportunities and Challenges Abound

December 3, 2013

It's the kind of concept that parents dread and kids embrace with a fervor some might reserve for religion: the idea that possibly, one day, a particularly impressive video gaming record could elevate a gamer to the levels of the professional, and said gamer might be able to make a living at shooting people in an FPS or the like. But this is a dream that's indeed coming true for some players, and it's having a lasting impact on not only these gamers, but other gamers in the field, right alongside developers and the various leagues involved in e-sports.

Indeed, e-sports is presenting both challenge and opportunity. A report from VentureBeat shows that the players are finding their way to decent incomes by most any standard—some of the best are making six figure salaries—yet these players aren't just making revenue from gaming. There are endorsement deals, online video content monetization, and complete packages that add up to these impressive revenue totals.

State of Decay: Breakdown Proves There's Still Life In The Xbox 360

December 2, 2013

So admittedly, when I first got a glimpse of the new "State of Decay" download, "Breakdown," I was concerned. A meager four megabytes was supposed to be a worthwhile augmentation? The subsequent 91 megabyte patch certainly helped things, but how did it play? I was pretty eager to find out, and so, I tucked in, aided and abetted by a long holiday weekend.