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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”

March 2014

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Xbox Gamers Take Heart; New Moves At Microsoft Make Xbox "First Class Citizen"

March 31, 2014

It wasn't so long ago that gamers all over were a bit on edge about the moves at Microsoft, especially when there was word that Stephen Elop would be slipping into devices at Microsoft. That was a particularly distressing development, but a new letter from Microsoft shaped things up quite a bit, and gave gamers everywhere—particularly Microsoft gamers—reason to hope again.

The new letter came out from Satya Nadella, current CEO of Microsoft, who announced a few changes to the business roster at Microsoft. The biggest parts of the letter came in putting Stephen Elop in at devices, and Phil Spencer in a very exciting slot indeed. Spencer's new slot essentially put him in charge of all things Xbox, from Xbox Video to Xbox Music to even Microsoft Studios, the game-making arm of Microsoft.

Titanfall Cheaters' Pool Activated On PC--A Clever Approach To Online Cheating

March 27, 2014

Cheating in games is a fairly universal problem. While the cheat code has been comparatively sanctioned, its use in online play is much less so and represents a fundamental difference between the offline cheat and the online cheat. While different strategies have been put in place to address the concept of cheating, some have put together a more unusual package than others. "Titanfall," meanwhile, has put out something of a unique solution that's been seen before, but isn't seen often, in the creation of a "cheater pool."

Basically, "Titanfall"'s makers put up the anti-cheating mechanism known as FairFight on PCs, and under FairFight, those found cheating are moved to a specific subsection of gamers that were also found cheating, and now online cheaters can cheat their weasely black guts out, to borrow the phrase from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series.

Facebook Buys Oculus: Good News For Gamers?

March 26, 2014

Recently we all found out a bit of news that was likely shocking to most, though whether or not it was shocking in a good way left many uncertain. Facebook bought Oculus VR, the company that makes the Oculus Rift head-mounted display, in a deal valued at $2 billion in a combination of cash and stock, and the speculation promptly started. I was in on that speculation myself, and the first thing I said was that this was probably going to be good news after all.

Naturally, there's only one way to find out just how this will all turn out, but I say the news is good indeed. Now, it's easy to see why there would be concern; after all, Facebook has fairly minimal contact with video gaming, and the contact it has had might best be described as “superficial.” Games like “Farmville” and “Mafia Wars”, after all, don't exactly need the hottest processors and huge monitors to adequately display them, so Facebook isn't exactly the top choice to know gamers' concerns or respond to them accordingly.

But Facebook has a significant interest in developing its own fortunes.

Why The Wii U Could Be The Indie Developer Console of Choice

March 25, 2014

We've heard about indie development quite a bit when it comes to gaming. The PC has probably been the ultimate destination for same for some time going back as far as the days of shareware and game modding. Mobile devices are stuffed full of same, with indie gaming flooding iOS and Android development shops. Consoles, however, have only recently gotten in on the action, but are taking to it pretty rapidly.

Redbox To Rent Next Gen Games This April?

March 24, 2014

The long, cold winter of 2013 – 2014 is coming to a close—whether it likes it or not, and based on the weather for much of this week the answer is decidedly “it does not like it one bit because it is kicking and screaming its way to the door”--and spring at last is upon us. And games seem to be taking notice of the change in season bringing along one big change in particular: a new distribution channel. If the reports received so far follow through, we're in for a whole new place to get the latest games: Redbox outlets.

Admittedly, referring to Xbox One, Wii U and PlayStation 4 titles as “next gen” is slightly disingenuous as it's really current-gen, but given how many gamers out there are still rocking their previous systems, it's worth making the distinction for a while longer. But the current reports say that, starting March 25—this Tuesday, the standard day for new release movies to make their appearance for the last two decades or more—a set of Wii U games ranging from “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze” to “Super Mario 3D World” were spotted on the coming soon pages for that days.

Numerous Improvements Set For Xbox One; Too Little, Too Late?

March 20, 2014

While Microsoft's position in the latest round of the console wars is perhaps best described as weak against its chief competitor Sony, Microsoft certainly isn't down and out yet. In fact, a couple of new developments are poised to emerge that could give Microsoft a bit of advantage as we carry on down the next round of the console wars. So what are these two happy developments? A bit of augmentation in the visual presentation, and a whole new feature of sorts besides.

The news came in two parts, which is how some of the best stories come around.

New Oculus Rift DK2 Shows VR Is Gaming's Future

March 19, 2014

We all knew that the Oculus Rift was likely to shake things up when it came to gaming, and with new developments coming out in the rest of the gaming world, it became pretty clear that, indeed, gaming was never to be the same following the rollout of the Oculus Rift's developers' kits. But now, a new version of the Oculus Rift developers' kit, the Oculus Rift DK2, shows us that this market isn't going to grind to a halt, dismissed as a mere fad any time soon.

The Oculus Rift DK2 is said to be a substantial improvement over the original model. It's currently available for pre-order with an expected ship date of this July. The new version offers expanded freedom—six degrees of freedom, in fact—to help users better navigate around the virtual world in which said user is immersed. With improved position tracking, the headset can better tell where the user is looking, and in turn can make the experience overall much more realistic.

When Scandal Hits eSports

March 18, 2014

It wasn't so long ago we were talking about how the eSports market in general is making major gains, how it's gaining viewership and sponsorship and all those things that make it a truly viable alternative to actual sports, and potentially even the future of gaming as a whole. But now, one part of the action that perhaps we might have hoped would never arrive seems to have done just that. I'm talking of course about scandal, and it's reared its ugly head in our eSports system, this time in South Korea.

The results of an investigation staged by the Korean eSports Association (KeSPA) seemed to find corroboration of match-fixing efforts involved in the Korean leagues. This was a development that one of the biggest names in Korean eSports, Cheon Min-Ki, actually confessed to last week just before his attempted suicide.

March 17, 2014

The release of “Titanfall” on the Xbox One was regarded by many as a big move for Microsoft; the launch of this title was going to either make or break the Xbox One, at least in the short term. Though it was debatable whether or not a bad showing for “Titanfall” would actually do that much damage to the system as a whole, the end result was quite clear: “Titanfall” did land-office business, and the Xbox One's March numbers will get a likewise boost to match.

The good news—and good it is indeed for Microsoft—is that so far, “Titanfall” is 2014's best selling game in the U.K., which is no small achievement, beating out the previous record-holder FIFA 14 by a factor of two to one. That's good news by any measure, but it gets better; the hardware got a boost as well. Hardware sales nearly doubled in the week to week comparisons—up 96 percent on the week—and thanks to the earlier-noted “Titanfall” bundle represented fully 70 percent of all Xbox One hardware sold for that week.

Interestingly, “Titanfall” represents the first time a non-FIFA game has held the top sales slot since March of 2013, at last report, when “Crysis 3” took the crown.

Wii U Debut Beating PlayStation 4's In Japan

March 13, 2014

That's a statement right there that would act like a brick to most anyone's temple, but the reports suggest it is indeed the case. While the PlayStation 4 is having a field day over most of the planet, and likely giving Microsoft a fit or two in the process, there's one place where the sales patterns are running a bit backwards on the rest of the world, and that anomaly is right in Sony's home turf: Japan.

There's a Japanese firm known as Media Create that runs comparisons, following the ebb and flow of the gaming systems sold in the country. Numbers go back decades, by some reports, and the gaming industry is laid bare in Japan, an industry that seems a bit on a downhill slope.

But the PlayStation 4 is perhaps the most interesting example of these recent developments, especially as compared to the Wii U. In just the first two days of sales on the Wii U, back in December 2012, the Wii U sold a hefty 308,142 units. It promptly followed that up with the next two weeks' sales, bring the three week total to 557,901 units total.

Google's Green Throttle Games Buy May Be The Start Of Something Big

March 12, 2014

Earlier today, word emerged around Google's purchase of Green Throttle Games, a studio that had two key parts of a gaming equation right under one roof. But this newest bit of news joins a wider coalition of facts that suggests some very big things ahead for Google, and in particular, Microsoft may want to watch out.

Green Throttle Games offers up both the Android Arena—an app that allows users to turn an Android powered tablet or smartphone into what amounts to a small gaming console driven by Android games—and the Bluetooth Atlas controller, a device specifically geared toward controlling such games. It was a reasonable enough concept—give gamers an opportunity to play games, console-style, pretty much anywhere said gamers happened to be—and though it didn't quite work out for Green Throttle Games, it may work out very nicely indeed for Google.

See, the problem wasn't so much one of technology, but seemed to be more one of market. For Google, however, having such technology on hand would be a huge part of a new all-in-one set-top box that could be a rival for most anything on the market, including Microsoft's new Xbox One.

Titanfall A Huge Download On PC--Are Games Getting Too Big?

March 11, 2014

I spotted an odd bit of news earlier today about the PC release of "Titanfall," in that it would represent around a 22 gigabyte download, and an even bigger installation thanks to the use of uncompressed audio. And after having examined some of the other games going on of late, it's started to make me think: are games getting too big for our own good?

A 22 gigabyte download, just for one game. That alone is kind of staggering when you think about it. Granted, it's showing in an impressive resolution--792p at last report for Xbox One, and that number is, based on reports, "likely to increase"--and offering some staggering gameplay, but 22 gigabytes for one game download is a staggering number.

Twitch & Capcom Readying Street Fighter League

March 10, 2014

Real sports, generally, have a season. Fall, for example, is football's time to shine, and as fall fades into winter, basketball takes over into April and a bit beyond for the playoffs and finals, then major summer sports like baseball and golf come until football season arrives once more. But when it comes to e-sports, there's no season necessary, and most every day can be a game day, as long as the power's on and the network's running. To that end, Twitch and Capcom are getting together to produce a new wonder in e-sports: the year-round fighting league known as the Capcom Pro Tour.

Tapjoy Gamers: Older, Wealthier, TV Buffs?

March 6, 2014

There's a certain image that the gaming community has, mostly fat white young men whose primary diet and about 15 percent of their wardrobe involves Cheetos. Some have embraced it, others rail against it, but the idea of basement dweller as the face of video gaming has stuck. Just ask the guys at "South Park" who tapped the image for their "World of Warcraft" themed episode. But that perception may be about to take a hit thanks to recent marketing data from Tapjoy, which shows the basement dweller is not at all its key demo.

Tapjoy's network boasts around 450 million total consumers, and recently surveyed same to find out more about just what kind of audience it was serving.

Twitch To Go: Streaming For Mobile Games Now Available

March 5, 2014

While some may find the idea of watching other people play video games to be the zenith of uselessness, the idea that this activity might be fun is catching on, and more and more people—and platforms—are turning to Twitch to watch the action, and to broadcast same. While PCs and consoles have been seen getting in on the fun—the Xbox One's Twitch capability is said to be ready for the launch of Titanfall—Twitch has recently been seen migrating to a new platform: mobile devices.

Recently Twitch saw some big success in its own right with a new milestone, reaching over 10 million total installations for iOS and Android devices. This may have been something of a prompt for Twitch, and subsequently, the company rolled out a new mobile software development kit, currently available through Twitch's developer program.  But this is far from an industry first; mobile streaming has been on hand for some time thanks to Everyplay and Kamcord, among others, which offer gamers the ability to record and share gameplay on mobile devices.

The Ouya: Making The Jump To Hardware Near You?

March 4, 2014

While the Ouya hasn't exactly made a big splash as its own game console--even news about it has been in short supply--a new development may prove to be a much bigger splash than some might expect. New reports suggest that the Ouya is set to make a jump that actually makes a lot of sense when examined more closely, specifically, to other consoles altogether.

Specific word about which consoles are to be involved in this, sadly, isn't really available yet, but Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman described plans in which Ouya officials were talking to other hardware manufacturers back during the Consumer Electronics Show. Reports suggested that the various hardware manufacturers were interested--Uhrman describes the "takeup" as being "so great that we're really jumping into the strategy with both feet this year." The Ouya itself will serve as a "reference device" for other manufacturers to put to work in bringing the software to other devices.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions to go with this news, like just which platforms will be ending up with Ouya compatibility, and just what form same will take. Now, the obvious and potentially best answer is "as many as possible," so as to allow the broadest possible experience and open the floor up. Android would seem to be a great stop for this as many of the compatibility issues would likely be easy to resolve, and if this could show up on iOS and Windows Phone hardware, well, that really opens up the floodgates.

Nintendo: The Healthy Game Maker?

March 3, 2014

Things have not been good for Nintendo of late, and that's almost a bit of an understatement. With rivals Sony and Microsoft trouncing the daylights out of the company on shelves and Nintendo itself seen regularly apologizing to gamers over an ongoing lack of games, it's clear Big N is not as big as it once was, nor is it likely to be so again. But Nintendo has something of a strategy afoot to take on a new and potentially more lucrative market, one that may help the company find a new path in a post-console wars future: health gaming.

We've heard previously how Satoru Iwata, the company's chief executive, wanted to step past gaming and offer up a new kind of entertainment, specifically, one that improves the “quality of life” for people. Naturally, many will balk at the idea of opening up a new product line while sales on the core product are clearly in decline, but this isn't a new strategy for Nintendo.

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