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”

May 2014

You are browsing the archive for May 2014.

Sony Makes Indies A Big Offer For The Tokyo Game Show

May 29, 2014

While right now, most of the attention in the gaming world is focused squarely on Los Angeles and the upcoming E3 event—and with good reason—there's another event that comes not too far after that, and one that should make indie developers particularly happy. Not so much for the upcoming event itself, but rather for what will happen therein.

Mystery aplenty, I know, but the word is that, when the Tokyo Game Show arrives this September, Sony will be paying all the indie developers' exhibition fees who show up in the Indie Game Area at the event. While it's not yet known just how many developers this offer has been extended to, or how many maximum will be able to get in on the action, the reports suggest that the offer will go out regardless of what platform the game in question will appear on. Sony is set to put up somewhere around $1300 per developer total—exchange rates will likely render this number moot tomorrow let alone what it will do by the time the show comes around in September—to cover the costs of exhibition, but that's not where it ends.

More Games, More Swag: Skillz Enters The Real-Money Fray

May 28, 2014

It's been something of an increasing development lately that games are allowing users to compete in real tournaments for real money. We've seen several examples of this already, and now, we're about to get one more with the release of Skillz, a platform that allows gamers with the aforementioned skills to put same to the test on a platform where users compete for the real-money prizes.

Gaming for money is not specifically new. We've already seen the rise of the e-sports phenomenon, but this is different; a much more accessible overall platform that essentially allows players to put wagers on their own skill, though in 37 states in the United States, it's not really considered a wager. The rest either consider skill-based gaming a form of gambling, or just haven't set up legislation allowing such games to go on.

Women In e-Sports: Where Are They?

May 27, 2014

While the concept of e-sports is one that's still largely getting started, it's already drawing a bit of fire for the composition of its player base. Most of the players in e-sports seem to be largely male, and that's got some asking a critical question: where are the women when it comes to e-sports?

Polygon's Emily Gera asked the question, and then proceeded down a reasonably cogent analysis of e-sports' marketing efforts and the like, and seems to set up the basic idea that there aren't many women involved in e-sports because the marketing for e-sports is trending very much in the direction of “affluent young men,” a market that's pretty well universally coveted by most any marketing venture one cares to name.

But here's the interesting thing: despite the fact that the marketing is clearly geared toward the gents, the ladies are clearly into the e-sports field as well. Female viewership went from 15 percent to 30 percent in just the last year according to reports, and that's a staggering jump. We're talking from about one in eight e-sports viewers being female to around one in three, and that's a jump that can't be taken lightly.

The big thing about this development is that it forces an already young industry to be looked at a little more critically.





Play Games, Win Stuff: Lootsie Brings Real-World Swag To Gaming

May 22, 2014

Admittedly, when we had reached the point in gaming where it was entirely possible—if only technically so—to make a living playing video games thanks to various tournaments and the like, we all kind of remembered how it used to be, when arcades offered free prizes in exchange for tickets and tokens and the like (indeed, some arcades used to compress tickets down into small coins which had a ticket value), allowing Skee-ball prowess to be rewarded with stuffed bears or plastic trinkets or the like. Now, that same mechanic is getting a comeback in the form of Lootsie, who recently brought out a new software development kit to give games a whole new level of reward.

With the Lootsie kit, games can add on the ability to generate points for various accomplishments. Said points can then be taken to the Lootsie Marketplace, where said points can be traded in on various prizes, including gift cards for Amazon or Walmart, among a variety of others. Indeed, what Lootsie believes it's hit upon is a way to offer advertising that users won't ignore.

The Link Between The Oculus Rift & Chuck E. Cheese

May 21, 2014

It's perhaps one of the most preposterous ideas seen lately, but it's no less true for its sheer outlandishness. There is indeed a link between the Oculus Rift and kiddie pizza haven Chuck E. Cheese, and it's one that alternately horrifies and makes too much sense. According to some current reports, Chuck E. Cheese may soon be dropping the bulky machines and instead going digital.

Right now, the process is a comparatively simple one. 29 Chuck E. Cheese locations will be getting Oculus Rift systems, all geared to replace just one game: the Virtual Ticket Blaster.

Dota 2: The Six Million Dollar Championship...So Far

May 20, 2014

When July 18 dawns in Seattle, reports suggest it's going to bring a slice of history right along with it. What's the big driver of this particular bit of history? Well, it all has to do with Dota 2, the popular action-strategy title from Valve, that will be having its championship event at the Key Arena in Seattle. While this might not mean so much to casual viewers, this year's Dota 2 championship is set to be the biggest such event ever recorded.

Three Things The Google / Twitch Affair Shows About Gaming

May 19, 2014

Recently, word started emerging about plans on Google's part to pick up Twitch, the livestreaming company with a particular focus on games. The reports suggested that Google was prepared to pay $1 billion for the company in a straight cash deal, and though Google didn't confirm the deal's existence, the idea of it alone was enough to capture a lot of imaginations. In fact, there were three things the idea of a Twitch service owned by Google made abundantly clear to me, so I put said things together into convenient list form.

It's important to note that Google, at last report, noted that it doesn't “...comment on rumors or speculation,” so all of this may ultimately come to naught. But even the idea that Google would be prepared to drop fully nine figures on Twitch says quite a bit about the state of things in gaming today.

Gaming Franchises: Perhaps The Best Idea Yet

May 15, 2014

It's a strange idea to be pulling for the franchise, isn't it? A strange idea indeed to consider the franchise, that stable of familiarity, that morass of innovation, that death of all that is alive and vibrant in gaming to be a smart idea. But there are some very good reasons afoot, and these are evidenced by some interesting common threads in terms of the use of the franchise concept.

There were two pieces of news that I spotted today that coalesced into the concept of the gaming franchise as being, basically, the future of gaming. One was a comparatively minor piece about an upcoming title from 3D Realms, the guys who made Duke Nukem.

Why Gamers Don't Lose With Microsoft's New Moves

May 14, 2014

With the flood of news that arrived yesterday regarding Microsoft's gaming future, it wasn't surprising that some would start considering the implications of such news, much as we did yesterday. But I caught one article today about how the end of Microsoft's impressive vision for the next generation means that we all lose, and to that point, I had to respond.

Some have already suggested not really incorrectly, that Microsoft's constant backpedaling will make it more likely to fear change in the future, since it got on the bad end of change this time around. Also of note is Microsoft's “refusal to stick to its guns”, its “botched...messaging around the Xbox One's launch,” and indeed, an idea that it may have gone to this innovation a bit too soon. Of particular note is a point that I've personally been echoing for some time, pointing to word from Microsoft senior director of product Albert Penello, in which Penello noted: “...I'm glad we've gone back to the disc model.

Huge News From Microsoft Gives It New Ground In Console Wars

May 13, 2014

It was as though a valve opened somewhere, and a flood of amazing news landed from Microsoft just over the course of the last few hours. Some very staggering revelations, some which gamers had been hoping for for years, emerged, and suddenly, Microsoft got a second wind in its ongoing battle with Sony only mere weeks ahead of the annual E3 event.

The first bit of news was actually somewhat longer in coming, and made a great case for Microsoft's future endeavors. The company took down its notorious paywall, allowing users who didn't have Xbox Live Gold service to get access to video and entertainment apps, including apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus and YouTube, making the service substantially more valuable to potential buyers. While some services will still require Xbox Live Gold access like multiplayer gaming, gamers will no longer have to essentially pay twice for access to subscription services, or in YouTube's case, have to pay at all.

Next came word that Microsoft's popular Games with Gold program—in which Xbox Live Gold members get access to free games—would be extended to Xbox One starting in June. While it wouldn't be quite as generous as its Xbox 360 version—those who cancel Gold on Xbox One lose access to the free games—but Deals with Gold would also be coming along for the ride, giving gamers access to discounted titles, something that's been eagerly awaited for some time.

But perhaps the centerpiece of Microsoft's day in news came from the announcement that a version of the Xbox One without the Kinect would be available for sale starting June 9, at a significant discount as well.





OneDrive, Xbox Music May Be Set To Combine

May 12, 2014

Microsoft's cloud might be about to get a little fuller, according to some new reports, thanks to a potential combination in the works that would combine OneDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage platform, with Xbox Music, the company's app for bringing music to the user. The combination seems to make its share of sense, and opens up some new possibilities for the console as a whole.

According to reports from LiveSino, who studies Microsoft technology—of which Xbox matters are a pretty substantial part these days—the combination of OneDrive and Xbox Music is said to be a separate folder called OneDrive Music, and it even comes with a little bit of description, which reportedly reads: “Meet your OneDrive Music folder. Upload your music files to this folder, so that you can play them via Xbox Music from any of your devices. You can also add files to this folder using the OneDrive app from your computer.” Users get a full seven gigabytes of storage with OneDrive, and users can also up storage amounts permitted in any of several different ways.

Now, this is actually a pretty exciting concept, when you get right down to it.



A Nintendo News Round-Up Shows Nintendo Has A Serious Battle Plan

May 8, 2014

Nintendo has been a big part of the news in recent days, with its sales numbers and net losses making some wonder how long before a big old “for sale” sign is hanging on the Mushroom Kingdom proper. But several new reports have emerged, just today, that show off some of Nintendo's plans for the future, and you have to give Big N credit for sheer audacity, because the company is throwing just about everything short of the kitchen sink at the problem.

One of the first new points is a new plan from Nintendo to better pursue emerging markets like China. Instead of simply crating up some more Nintendo 3DS and Wii U orders and shipping same into the midst of Africa, China and the like, the company's got a plan for a new line of specialized hardware for the emerging market. While the exact plan is still being kept somewhat under wraps, and it's unclear if the hardware in question will be able to work with the current line of games or not—such as it is—the idea of bringing out specific and less-expensive hardware for emerging markets is a great way to go after the field using a penetration market strategy, a classically-recognized tactic.

Nintendo also brought out word about a line of character figurines that work using near field communications (NFC) technology.



Apocalypse Gaming: Why Do People Love It So?

May 7, 2014

Whilst on the hunt for news to discuss—and for once, not Nintendo-backed news—one of my favorite haunts for news came in from VentureBeat, who described the field of apocalypse gaming. Indeed, many of the biggest titles of the last few years were dealing with the apocalypse in one breed or another, and that lead to the inevitable question of why. Dealing as I do with video games—and also with movies, the close relative and progenitor of video games—I felt I had a reasonably good handle on why apocalypse gaming was so fondly received.

VentureBeat actually raised a few good points on its own. Art often reflects life, and as things are increasingly unstable in real life, so too does our art—movies and video games, and the like—reflect our life.

Can Nintendo Solve Its Problems By Opening Up Its Vaults of History?

May 6, 2014

 

Yesterday, the news looked pretty bleak for Nintendo. The incredibly slim number of Wii U consoles sold looked like an obituary for a company that started a lot of gamers down the path of staying indoors and having most of their fun with a controller. But a new concept emerged today, and one that certainly captured my imagination.

While reading up on VentureBeat's expected appearances at the upcoming Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) event—most of the no-shows would remain no-shows, but “Fallout 4” would likely make some kind of appearance because it was high time and it actually stuck to earlier release scheduling (though VentureBeat's neat symmetry was somewhat stymied by the knowledge that there was “Fallout: New Vegas” to consider between “Fallout 3” in 2008 and “Skyrim” in 2011)--one point jumped out at me like a family of chupacabras at a goat ranch: what if Nintendo put the power of its Virtual Console system to work in the Netflix style?

Stop and think that one over for a minute.



Trouble for Nintendo as New Numbers Emerge

May 5, 2014

The word came out just recently about Nintendo's sales and profit figures, and the word sounded like a disaster the second it hit. While earlier word suggested profits afoot for Nintendo in its fiscal year, the newest reports hit like a blue turtle shell in the last lap of a “Mario Kart” race, and end with losses.

Nintendo warned investors in April that the company was likely to not see earlier projections of a $539 million net profit, but rather would instead take a $240 million loss in its fiscal year. That's a drop of fully 36 percent when matched against just last year, and perhaps the biggest reason as to why is the horrifically low sales of Nintendo's newest home console, the Wii U.

Nintendo proceeded to make a bad situation even worse, describing how the company sold just 2.8 million Wii U devices for the entirety of the fiscal year, bad enough in isolation, but even worse when compared to the much shorter term numbers posted by the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Microsoft Xbox One: Sony has over seven million such devices shipped, and Microsoft is around five million. What's worse, those are the numbers just since November; for roughly half of Nintendo's fiscal year, neither PlayStation 4 nor Xbox One existed.

What's worse is that not even the release of several major new games seemed to help.





PlayStation 4 Welcomes Indies With Plenty Of Titles To Follow

May 1, 2014

It's been pretty readily apparent for some time now that indie games are going to be pushing the next generation of console gaming as hard as—or potentially even harder than—most anything else in the field. While we've seen quite a few moves in recent days designed to make things easier for the indie market to get involved, the produce has been a little less than awe-inspiring. However, there have been some bright spots, and reports suggest that something very big is coming to PlayStation 4: over 100 titles set to arrive.

According to word from Adam Boyes, who serves as Sony's vice president of publisher and developer relations in the U.S game division, there are over 100 titles set to emerge for both the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Vita. That's likely to only prove a start, as well, as it was further noted that there were over 1,000 developers licenses for self-publishing on the console, and as Boyes clarified further “Every day we have more.”

Right now there are 21 such titles on the PS4, ranging from “Warframe” to “Outlast,” and what's more, the titles are finding plenty of support on the live streaming front as well. The PS4 so far has seen fully eight million spectator sessions for self-published games; reports suggest for every one person who broadcasts play on an indie game, 15 people are watching.

This is great news for players, of course, who get access to a range of new experiences that may not have ordinarily come to pass, and it also helps bolster those who bought in on PlayStation 4.