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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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December 2014

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The Best of 2014 in Gaming

December 31, 2014

So yesterday, we covered the worst that gaming had to offer, and indeed, it was a pretty substantial worst list indeed. We had emotionally charged issues, we had game play train wrecks, and we had complete silence on some of the biggest eventually upcoming releases of the year. We had plenty more than that go wrong, of course, but with 2015 only a few hours away, it's a great time to consider just what really rang positively about 2014 in gaming, and there was plenty of good to be had mixed in with the bad.

The Console Wars Heated Up

While it was clear that Sony was still well, well ahead of Microsoft in terms of the console war, Microsoft made some changes that were very well received. Divorcing the Kinect from the system itself and launching a price drop that ran through December was a welcome development to say the least.

The Worst in Gaming 2014

December 30, 2014

It may sound like the worst kind of cynicism and defeatism to look at the worst that gaming had to offer in 2014, but for my money, it's not a bad idea. Why? Because as a great cartoon mouse once noted, it's a meticulous analysis of history that leads to greatness. Seriously, it's on YouTube; it's “Pinky and the Brain” if you don't catch the reference offhand.

Are There Too Many Game Deals?

December 29, 2014

I have to admit, I spent much of the Christmas weekend perusing the various deals that came up on Xbox 360, and considering the idea that the Xbox One's promotional price was about to expire with the coming weekend. But a greater concept also hit me, and I got to wondering. Are there too many game deals out there? Are we frantically hunting down the best prices and not getting much for the effort?

Nintendo Plots Lobbyist Push to Take on Game Piracy

December 24, 2014

For intellectual property creators, the concept of piracy is one that chills the soul. It takes no small amount of labor to make a game or a movie or a book or anything else—believe me, I've written a few before—and the idea of someone taking the thing that hundreds of hours went into the construction of and just downloading it at no charge is a tough pill to swallow. While pirates sometimes make a good case for their own operation—not being able to buy some content, for example—it's still a disturbing point for the content creator, and Nintendo is taking its act on the road, hiring some lobbyist muscle in Washington to get more of a push against piracy.

The reports suggest that Nintendo has hired Choe Groves Consulting, and means to put the screws to the feds in terms of getting stronger intellectual property laws put in place. Nintendo is also reportedly looking for some changes in international trade and piracy laws as well, and Nintendo would have good reason to do so.

We Now Join Nintendo's Next Console Already in Progress

December 23, 2014

While there were some reports of a largely pessimistic nature, suggesting that, maybe, Nintendo was realizing the whole Wii U thing was turning into a disaster almost from launch day and thus was planning its next console release, the reports have emerged suggesting that, indeed, the company is planning a new console for an as-yet-undisclosed future launch date. But the word comes from about as close to the top as we're going to get, and that doesn't necessarily mean the Wii U is now an abandonware box.

The word came straight from Shigeru Miyamoto himself, and while interviewing with the Associated Press, Miyamoto did indeed confirm that Nintendo was hard at work on the Wii U's next successor. Naturally, Miyamoto rushed to reassure those who'd already bought a Wii U that the focus is still in fact on the Wii U--really! they mean it!

Steam Sales Under Pressure Thanks To...Amazon?

December 22, 2014

Now this was an unexpected slice of exciting news. Going into today, genuinely, I wasn't expecting much in the way of news at all, and with, let's face it, good reason. The last two weeks of the year are commonly slim in news as people take their final vacations of the year, and in the grandest Clark W. Griswold Jr. tradition, set up for a couple weeks of family, parties, last-minute preparations, and sleeping in. But here's an exciting proposition in that the Steam sale—a prospect thought by some to mean a slow death for game makers—is about to get some competition in the Amazon variety.

Reports out at Destructoid suggest that Amazon is set to offer up an array of PC games for download at comparatively inexpensive prices.

Playing the Villain: Hatred's Draw on Steam Greenlight

December 18, 2014

It may well be the most pronounced case of “playing the villain” ever to be noted in a game. A game called “Hatred” has been making the rounds, and is currently camped out on Steam Greenlight, seeking to get access to the popular online gaming marketplace. And while Hatred's oeuvre is about as dark as midnight in a mineshaft, it's not exactly unique. But what does this game—and this game's controversy—say about gaming as a whole?

Hatred's premise is as simple as it is disturbing.

Microsoft Arcadia: Microsoft's Streaming Service in the Making?

December 17, 2014

The competition between Sony and Microsoft has been downright frantic for most of the last year now, and while Sony has been the clear winner for some time now, there are signs that Microsoft is making some gains and posing a serious threat to the clear front-runner. One new sign, however, is showing some serious moves in the background, as Microsoft may be poised to bypass its Rio game-streaming technology with a whole new system known as Arcadia.

Arcadia is actually based on Microsoft Azure, an already-impressive and sublimely potent cloud computing mechanism, and is part of a streaming system developed in the Operating Systems Group, according to current reports. This is actually similar to the way Sony's Gaikai system works, and represents a major new addition to Microsoft's overall profile. Arcadia was also reportedly looked at in terms of running apps as well, but the reports suggest that Microsoft has shut that idea down for now, possibly to put more juice behind the gaming developments.

For Freebies, It's Tough to Beat PlayStation

December 16, 2014

An unusual development hit recently, as discovered out at U.K publication Push Square, and it was a development that's going to render some shocks to console gamers with special account passes. Push Square did an analysis on how much value the games that PlayStation Plus gave away over the course of 2014, and brought back results accordingly. Polygon's Owen S. Good then did similar math for the Xbox 360, and discovered something very interesting all told: PlayStation players got quite a bit more than Xbox players did, but for an unexpected reason.

The math spells out the issue quite clearly: those who were PlayStation Plus members netted a hefty $1,349.29 in free games, while Xbox Live Gold members landed only $584.67. Sounds like a slam-dunk to Sony...until it's considered that the games involved for PlayStation Plus weren't just PlayStation 3 titles, but rather also PlayStation 4 and PS Vita titles as well.

Microsoft Takes November; Changes Afoot?

December 15, 2014

In life, there are few better ways to get people interested in a product than to offer it up cheap. That basic premise proved to be no exception for the Xbox One, as an NPD report showed that Microsoft didn't just take Black Friday as we heard previously, but it also laid claim to the top-selling console for the month of November as well.

November, according to word from Xbox Marketing corporate vice president Mike Nichols, represented a new record for Xbox One sales, and made it the best seller not only in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, driven by a combination of Black Friday sales and bundle pricing. Despite these gains, however, it wasn't enough to drive the hardware market as a whole, which along with the software and accessories market saw an 11 percent drop. This drop was attributed mainly to huge slowdowns in the seventh-generation hardware, the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii. After all, NPD analyst Liam Callahan noted, eighth generation consoles saw a three percent gain over November 2013's sales.

Part Game, Part App, Part Movie: The Hunting

December 11, 2014

I'm a sucker for a good horror movie. But even horror movies can get a bit dull, as you do nothing but sit there and watch. A game allows you to control the action, and that makes things a bit more fun. But Allan Plenderleith has taken this particular concept up a notch, and has brought out “The Hunting”, an iOS game that's part game, part movie, part app, and more zombie mayhem than you can shake a severed limb at.

I was absolutely shocked to note that there was preview content for this thing going as far back as 2013, but it was a recent interview in Venture Beat that drew my notice to Plenderleith and his game.

Carrots and Sticks: Destiny Players Who Forego Dark Below Reportedly Lose Bonuses

December 10, 2014

The growth of downloadable content online has been a major move indeed for a lot of companies, as game makers realize that sales don't need to stop just because everyone who wants a copy of a game has one. But banking on downloadable content can be a tough proposition; maybe people are satisfied with the game as it is and aren't in a hurry to spend $10 or more on a new branch. But Destiny, the new online shooter, may well have settled on a disturbing conclusion better suited to National Lampoon than to video gaming: buy this expansion or we shoot these features.

While Dark Below comes with plenty of value—a new Strike and Raid, for starters—as well as new content, there's one key point that will likely have a few people unnerved. The Weekly Strike and the Weekly Nightfall Mission, for example, all use content from Dark Below, so those users who don't get Dark Below, in turn,reportedly no longer get access to those modes of play.

Trouble for Microsoft? Street Fighter V Goes Exclusive for PS4.

December 9, 2014

A bit of dark news closed out last week, at least, it's news of a darker variety for Microsoft fans. Capcom closed out the week with the announcement that Street Fighter 4 was making its way to consoles and PC, but only to the PlayStation 4. Capcom put up a teaser trailer at the end of the week, and though the trailer subsequently went private, there was enough exposure to make the point clear.

It's one of the great principles of the Internet, that once something hits—especially something like a trailer for one of the biggest fighting games around—it tends to stay hit regardless of what kind of copyright claims go out. It's both blessing and curse, in its own strange way, but it is what it is.

Is Fallout 4 The Next Half-Life 3?

December 8, 2014

Once again, Bethesda fans and Fallout buffs were skunked, as the Game Awards 2014 event came and went, leaving behind no mention of Fallout 4 or anything else from Bethesda. The recent appearance of the 2014 Bethesda Christmas Card also offered precious little, by some reports, and the end result was a lot of unhappy gamers who are asking themselves one downright terrifying question: is Fallout 4 the next Half-Life 3?

To clarify, Half-Life 3 is a game that's been eagerly anticipated for some time, a follow-up to a very big game of its time, Half-Life 2. Gamers have been hungry for the further adventures of Gordon Freeman for some time, but there's been little word as to when this game will actually see the light of day, if ever. This parallels into Fallout 4, a game which has been hotly anticipated since 2011 came and the end of downloadable content for Fallout: New Vegas arrived.

The Bethesda 2014 Christmas Card failed to help matters, featuring Deathshead from Wolfenstein in a profoundly godawful Christmas sweater complete with kittens on the front, and the Keeper from The Evil Within.

Razer Gets a New Edge with Gideon Yu

December 4, 2014

Razer is pretty well known in gaming circles—particularly in PC gaming circles—for offering up some really top-notch peripherals as well as even some impressive gaming platforms outright. But the company known for its keyboard, mice, and similar such matters now has a new reason to pay attention to it in the form of Gideon Yu, who has recently joined Razer's board.

Yu was brought in, according to reports, to provide experience and insight in both high tech and financial management. This is particularly handy as Yu is co-owner of the San Francisco 49ers and was a general partner with Khosla Ventures, as well as chief financial officer for YouTube and Facebook, as well as senior vice president of finance at Yahoo. That's an impressive body of work by any standard, but for a company that was looking for high tech and financial advice, it probably doesn't get much better than Yu, who has both of those things and in substantial number.

Razer is a terrific company, but it's always been a little on the smallish side.

E-Sports Broadcasting Finds Gains, Losses

December 3, 2014

The idea that e-sports could be considered a mature market may actually be a little more likely thanks to some recent news from the field. Two separate pieces have come together to suggest that this market may be farther along than some might think, and it's news that illustrates both gain in the field and loss as well.

First, the gain. E-sports broadcasting is getting a whole new force in the market, and it's from a force that we probably should have seen coming: Valve. Valve recently introduced Steam Broadcasting, a system that allows Steam players to upload footage of their various gaming adventures to both the Steam client and to the Web as a whole, which allows viewers in on the action.

Xbox One Takes Top Slot in Black Friday Sales

December 2, 2014

Two things have been very clear for the last few months: 1. Microsoft its getting its lunch eaten by Sony in the market, and 2. Microsoft is not taking this development lying down. Several recent developments have hit from Microsoft in aid of ratcheting up its own presence in the market, and these developments have been seen to coalesce and generate one particularly noteworthy result: new word from Infoscout suggests that Microsoft may well have won Black Friday.

The Infoscout report says that Microsoft actually comprised 53 percent of all console sales for Black Friday, while the PlayStation 4 took 31 percent.

Will VGX Finally Prove The Start of Fallout 4 News?

December 1, 2014

The idea of Fallout 4 has been enough to fire imaginations in gamers for some time now, but a pronounced lack of news has given rise to plenty of hoaxes. However, history suggests that we may well be facing the end of the drought of actual news on this one, thanks to an event set to hit later this week.

Specifically, we're talking about the VGX 2014 event, formerly known as the Video Game Awards show on Spike. That particular event has always offered a lot for gamers, ranging from discussion of the year's biggest names to even some advance looks at future titles with new trailers occasionally showing up. Reports suggest that GameTrailersTV host Geoff Keighley, who also serves as VGX's executive producer, had a "great night" of planning recently with Bethesda staffers.

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