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”

July 2014

You are browsing the archive for July 2014.

MMOs and Xbox One Making an Increasingly Great Team

July 31, 2014

For anyone who's ever played an MMO, there's certainly an appeal there. Teaming up with friends, teaming up with people you've never even met, and going out to conquer worlds or just blow up large portions of them certainly has points to its merit. But the MMO was largely a province of the PC gaming market, at least, until now. While games like Defiance started things up, the near future will be a big one indeed for MMOs on Xbox One.

There are actually several MMOs set to arrive on Xbox One before too much longer has passed, and not just in the United States market either.

The Legend of Zelda on Oculus Rift Shows VR's Truest Power

July 30, 2014

When the original Nintendo Entertainment System came out, way back in the 1980s, there were fewer bigger names around than The Legend of Zelda. In many ways one of the first open world games, the tale of brave warrior Link roaming a series of dungeons and connecting fields to defeat the evil wizard Ganon and rescue Princess Zelda were widely known and widely loved. But this beloved relic from the past holds a chunk of the future in it thanks to a recently released recasting of The Legend of Zelda specifically for the Oculus Rift, putting this classic title in a whole new perspective, and showing us just how strong this new platform can be.

By any standard save that of its own era, the graphics on The Legend of Zelda are poor. It's all eight-bit, sprites, limited colors, so on and so forth.

EA Access: An Idea The Industry Can Learn From

July 29, 2014

It's easy to hate on EA. Really, it is; not so long ago it won The Consumerist's award for worst company ever two years running, losing out on a three-peat this year to Time Warner Cable. But EA may have just had an idea that's about to shake up the industry, especially if the rest of the field starts to learn from it. EA Access is set to charge a $5 monthly fee—or a $30 annual fee, which is about a 50 percent savings over the monthly version—to allow access to several EA titles, allowing users to play certain titles right from that single interface.

HBO's "Love Child" Asks One of Gaming's Toughest Questions

July 28, 2014

The “just one more” phenomenon is widely known among gamers. Just one more boss fight, just one more round, just one more level, just one more game; it's a phenomenon almost as old as video gaming itself, and for the most part, it's innocent enough. Many gamers out there know what it's like to see a Saturday morning sunrise after playing a game all of Friday night. But is it possible to go to far?

Do Game Rentals Mean Game Sales?

July 24, 2014

While the days of the video store seem to be somewhat in decline, and the idea of the rented game was going out with such edifices—for a while there, it was almost impossible to rent a game for the Xbox One, before massive outcry from the user base turned that around—there's a new report out that suggests that it may be a good idea to leave the game rental side of things alone, particularly in terms of Redbox.

While streaming and downloading are increasingly the way to go to get new games for many users, there are still plenty who turn to physical discs and the distribution methods for same. Redbox's director of video games, Ryan Calnan, pointed out that there's as much as a 50 percent conversion rate for gamers who rent games through Redbox subsequently going out and buying said game later on. Calnan's figures suggest that there's a minimum of a 20 percent conversion rate, but either way, that's a pretty good figure. Reports suggest that time of year is a major factor in whether it trends toward the bottom end or the top end of the scale, and represents a big opportunity for game makers.

Reports suggest that two games that tried specific Redbox promotions—Saints Row 4 and Thief—actually saw incremental purchases from those who normally wouldn't classify themselves as gamers.



The Long Dark: Whither Survival Gaming?

July 23, 2014

Ever feel like the game “How to Survive” was horribly misnamed? Ever play hardcore mode on “Fallout: New Vegas” and wish every game was like that? There may be some hope as yet with a new kind of game that seems to be cropping up of late, at least on PC, and it's being exemplified in a new game known as “The Long Dark.” But “The Long Dark” has got me to thinking, what's going on in the field of survival gaming, anyway?

There have been some efforts on this front. On a certain level, “How to Survive” took a run at it, and the Xbox Live Arcade indie title “Survivalist” gave it a shot as well.

Microsoft's Quarterly Numbers Prove Xbox One's Worth

July 22, 2014

Last quarter, Microsoft shipped 1.1 million Xbox units. That's a pretty stark number to start things out with, but there's quite a bit more to that number than meets the eye. In fact, starting to run down that number along with the rest of the numbers from the fourth quarter of Microsoft's fiscal year 2014 shows some key points that suggest the Xbox division is looking fairly sharp.

That 1.1 million units actually represents both Xbox One and Xbox 360 units, and actually represents a 10 percent increase in total sales for the devices. Not particularly exciting, of course, but here's the interesting part; the Xbox One is priced quite a bit higher than a 2013-era Xbox 360 was, so that's a boost in revenue for Microsoft; fully 14 percent extra revenue, in fact, taking the total for the quarter to $104 million.

It's Game On For Android Wear Smartwatches With Swip3

July 21, 2014

While Android Wear hasn't exactly been around for long, it's already starting to turn some heads in the wearable tech department, and with good reason. After all, it's a whole new idea in terms of getting the Android platform out of just smartphones and tablets and directly onto users' wrists. Not surprisingly, this was the kind of development that the gaming market couldn't help but get in on, and Swip3 represents the first game, at last report, specifically designed with the Android Wear in mind.

Swip3 takes advantage of the limitations inherent in a smartwatch—small display and comparatively tight control spaces—to bring out a game where users simply flick blocks around a field, much in the same way that “2048” did. Though this time, instead of a four by four grid crammed with numbers, it's a five by five grid full of colors.

Xbox Shuts Down Microsoft Entertainment Studios

July 17, 2014

Today was an absolutely grim day for large portions of Microsoft. The company dropped somewhere better than 10 percent, by some reports, of its global work force, planning to drop 18,000 jobs out of a total work force around 130,000 and shattering the old record of 5,800 firings by a factor of better than three to one. While this firing has a massive human cost, there is some silver lining this ominous dark cloud.

The good news is that not everyone fired will be immediately fired. One, this takes place over the course of a year, not immediately.

Volition Gets A Tax Dollar Boost From Champaign

July 16, 2014

Not so long ago, we had a look at how tax dollars were impacting gaming as we knew it with a Tax Day look at how Georgia was offering up some incentives to provide tax breaks for various gaming companies in the field. We even had Tripwire Interactive Vice President Alan Wilson drop in to lend a little extra perspective on the move as well, which was terrific. But now, it seems that the move is going on outside of Georgia as well, as the city of Champaign discovered it wanted Saints Row IV developer Volition to stick around, and was willing to put its money where its mouth was, so to speak.

Ever since the success of Saints Row IV, the company was looking to make some expansion efforts. Word emerged that the company was eager to do some remodeling, expand its operations, and make some new hires, including 100 new developers.

How Gaming Can Put Sizzle Back in Restaurant Eating

July 15, 2014

It's kind of a strange idea, but it's an idea whose time may have come as well. While some restaurants may have been on the downward slide lately, others are discovering a whole new life by bringing gaming into the picture, particularly in terms of an organization known as Buzztime, who's taking restaurant eating to a whole new level with gaming and interactive menus.

Buzztime offers a sort of two-pronged approach these days, offering tablets that contain not only a restaurant's menu but also a set of games built into the tablet to play while waiting for food to arrive. Now, the Buzztime system—including the recently-released Beond platform—is currently available for play in not only all 1,000 Buffalo Wild Wings locations, but also at a grand total of 3,000 total locations with a combined play count of 52 million games per year. Some places have seen staggering increases in business following the introduction of Buzztime material; one in particular, JR's Pub in South Carolina, saw a 30 percent jump in Tuesday night business.

Now, a bit of background; I have always loved gaming in restaurants, for about as far back as I can remember.



Fallout 4: Canny or Catastrophe?

July 14, 2014

Being as I write about video games fairly often—I like to describe myself as a professional geek because it sounds awesome and it's not too far off from the truth—I routinely come in contact with news about gaming platforms, gaming peripherals, and games in general. But today, I wanted to ask one question about one game in particular, and wonder, about Fallout 4...is Bethesda being canny, or poising for a catastrophe?

I am not alone in my eager anticipation for the latest round of Fallout. Ever since the last slice of DLC emerged for Fallout: New Vegas—a development that was relegated to the ash heap of history back in September 2011—a new trip to the world of Fallout was eagerly anticipated. Of course, first, there was our inevitable layover in Tamriel, and that was always a pleasant enough stop if not quite as jolly as our time in Post-Apocalyptia, as our boy Three Dog put it.

Microsoft Reconfirms Commitment To Xbox Line Amid Insecurity

July 10, 2014

It seems like every so often, new word emerges suggesting that Microsoft's commitment to the Xbox line isn't as strong as it could be. Some even go so far as to suggest that Microsoft wants out of the game business and is ready to take steps accordingly. But a new memo released suggests that Microsoft is sticking with Xbox, and that any reports to the contrary are safe to ignore.

The memo, released from Microsoft's newly-minted CEO Satya Nadella, thanked employees for their various contributions, and also laid out the company's future plans. On page four of the six page memo, Nadella mentioned Xbox, saying:

“I also want to share some additional thoughts on Xbox and its importance to Microsoft.



Samsung's Gear VR: A Missed Opportunity?

July 9, 2014

There was some very exciting news earlier today that struck me as a good idea to touch on further, specifically, the announcement of Samsung's plans to bring out its Gear VR system at the upcoming IFA 2014 event. Developed with help from Oculus VR, the device has some very exciting potential, but it may well prove a missed opportunity for Samsung as well.

The device isn't set to be a standalone device, but rather will be intended to connect to Samsung mobile devices via a USB 3.0 connection. From there, the device will use the smartphone's associated hardware—the gyroscope, the accelerometer, the processors and so on—to generate that virtual reality effect and follow the user's head motions. The device also comes with a “see-through” button that allows the user to, at the press of a button, connect to the phone's camera and essentially see through the device by looking out of the camera.

Microsoft Offers $75 In Freebies--Smart Move?

July 8, 2014

It's hard to imagine that the idea of offering free goodies to the fan base could ever be considered as not being a smart move, but the idea has more validity than some might think. Though it's got its high points, it's also got some unfortunate lows, and this adds up to a picture that might make some think twice about Microsoft's plan to hand over some free goodies.

Basically, the whole thing started when some users were reporting the arrival of a certain screen upon firing up the Xbox 360, saying that, once said user purchased an Xbox One or an Xbox One Bundle, either from a Microsoft Store or from certain local retailers, subject to the standard array of terms and conditions, said user would receive a pot of money in the form of a $75 promotional code from Xbox, good for a variety of games, add-ons, movies, or just about anything else.

That's pretty good by most any standards; a Kinect might go for about that much—except of course for the Windows compatible version which is reportedly around $200 at launch—or a game and a movie or two would fit into that price bracket nicely. But the problem here seems to be in the nature of who's getting these codes. The promotion seems to be not specifically offered to all users, and exactly who's getting in on this action seems to be somewhat varied, with some users from Canada reportedly getting in on the action, and not much of a pattern emerging just yet.



Could The Retron 5 Kick Off A Retro Gaming Renaissance?

July 7, 2014

There's a certain kind of value in retro gaming, a kind of value that's hard to deny, and potentially somewhat difficult to quantify. Maybe it's the feel of old friends come home again, or the expansion of a historical perspective, allowing us a look at where we're going in gaming by showing us conclusively where we've been. But a product known as the Retron 5 may represent something of the future in the gaming of the past.

Under normal circumstances, retro gaming can be a difficult prospect. With several different systems to factor into the equation, and several different connection systems, retro gaming in the fullest sense can be expensive, time-consuming, space-consuming and an all-around mess.

The Finnish Hearthstone Paradox: Banning Women To Promote Women In E-Sports

July 2, 2014

We've heard a lot over the last few months about women in gaming, particularly in terms of professional gaming but also in regular gaming as well, and for the most part, quite a few people seem to agree that having women involved in gaming is a good thing. Different perspectives and all like that can't really be a bad thing, and on the off chance women make games that aren't particularly interesting to the male demographic, then the market will respond and those games won't do well. But a strange new development in professional e-sports emerged recently as the Finnish Assembly recently banned women from a Hearthstone tournament, for reasons that were really only clear under a very narrow viewpoint.

This was a staggering development; in an era where women in gaming is being championed on many sides, and even most of the gamers are at least somewhat in favor of such a development. But the Finnish Assembly put out the word that, as far as the Hearthstone tourney went, you needed a Y chromosome to play.

Drakerz-Confrontation Shows Power of Augmented Reality Gaming

July 1, 2014

These days we spend a lot of time considering virtual reality, and not without reason. For the first time in a long time, we've had the necessary tools—even competitors looking to offer other versions of said tools!--to really talk seriously about virtual reality. But with “Drakerz-Confrontation”, we have something a little different, though not something unheard of previously. More specifically, we have an augmented reality card game.

For those who heard the words “augmented reality card game” and immediately thought “Screw the rules; I have money!” you may rest assured to the point of certainty that you were not alone.