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”

Can a Class 4 Softswitch run in the Cloud?

Can a Class 4 softswitch really run in the cloud?  This was a question I got at Mobile World Congress from a...

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Where's the Margin? (Part 1)

As much as I grumble often about the VoIP/UC providers and their lack of differentiation, SD-WAN is going to be just...

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First Hackproof Wi-Fi, then Grab Some IP Communications

While most of TMCnet blog readers want to monetize IP communications, most of the world just wants to be able to use...

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Software Media Servers Help CPaaS Offerings Such as GENBAND Kandy

Cloud communications are giving customers deployment options they never had before. Big data centers running ‘you name it’ communications functions and software...

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New Flowroute Customer Onboarding Platform Lubricates CSP Porting

Smoothly and effectively onboarding new enterprises is one of the most significant operational challenges for cloud communications providers. Flowroute is aiming squarely...

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CounterPath Bria-X Delivers Cost-Effective UCaaS Solution

In the 1990s Novell had a lock on servers in the enterprise. There was no Linux but SCO UNIX and IBM's AIX...

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Stupid Mistakes Lead to Kelihos Botnet Spam Lord Arrest

Russian Pyotr Levashov spread ransomware and other malicious software through the Kelihos botnet, possibly hacked the U.S. election and probably ran the...

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High Hopes: Nintendo Set to Ramp Up Switch Production

March 20, 2017

Though the launch of the Nintendo Switch hasn't been without its problems, there's no denying that sales have been brisk. Nintendo's expecting some very big things, though, and is already set to double Switch production for 2017, making sure there's no shortage of devices on hand to come.

Such a measure would put the Nintendo Switch on par with the Nintendo Wii, and give Nintendo the level of success that it likely needs. The doubling would ramp up production to 16 million units for the year, and given that Nintendo only sold 13.5 million Wii U systems--and the Wii sold 17 million in its first year-- during the entire four years it existed, that's a level of optimism that's unusual even for Nintendo.

Given that the Wii was released in the holiday season, it's going to be very difficult for the Switch to match the Wii's performance without that major potential sales boost. However, there's a point that helps here: the earliest word notes that the Switch sold around 1.5 million units in the first week, and Nintendo noted it was on track to ship two million by the end of March, though new reports suggest that number may not come off after all.

Even here, some early word from analysts noted a good chance of big sales; SuperData projected five million units sold through the end of 2017, and IHS suggested slightly lower sales of 4.4 million.

Everything Old is New Again at PAX East

March 14, 2017

The recently-concluded Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East event in Boston brought with it an odd, unexpected bit of theme. While there was no doubt that there were new items in attendance, there was also some unexpected touches of retro at the show, which proves that gamer history can pave the way for gamer future in a surprisingly large number of cases.

First, retro slasher made new again, and again in some cases, Friday the 13th got a whole new trailer. Updates about the release date were sadly not on hand, and the word about "early 2017" is still in place. Given that "early 2017" is technically less than three weeks away from being over--the second quarter starts April 1--that looks a bit in doubt.

Nintendo's Switch Bracing for Non-Gaming Apps' Arrival

March 13, 2017

It was probably, in retrospect, one of those things that's really only a matter of time away. New reports suggest that the Nintendo Switch is set to get a slate of non-gaming applications, which will come "in time" and include some of the usual suspects for gaming system non-gaming apps.

Reports note that Amazon, Netflix and Hulu are all in talks with Nintendo to bring out apps to the new system, and that should be a help going forward if Nintendo can get these apps in place with sufficient speed.

The Switch itself has already distinguished itself with both an excellent launch weekend and some positive reception from critics--though the acclaim hasn't been universal, the phrase "better than nothing" applies--but a few key features do seem to be absent as yet. The basics like Web browsing, video streaming, music and the like are out of the picture, but Nintendo is eager to rectify that as noted by Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, who noted:

"We built the Nintendo Switch to be a world-class gaming device, meaning we want you first and foremost to play games on the system and have an incredibly fun experience. We’re talking to a range of companies about other services, companies like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon — things that will come in time.

The Wii U: Less a Virtual Boy, More a Dreamcast?

March 7, 2017

Over the weekend I saw a great report from Ars Technica that did a post-mortem of sorts on the Wii U, which will soon be Nintendo's last generation console model thanks to the release of the Switch. This is a console that had a lot of problems, almost from day one, but there are those that believe this needs to be ranked more among the "good failures" like Dreamcast rather than the "bad failures" like the Virtual Boy. I find myself eagerly agreeing.

There were indeed many problems from the beginning. The Wii U tried valiantly to be innovative, a development that would have been hard coming off the Wii, a system also referred to by some as the "It Prints Money" system for its popularity and potential for fun. Sure, it had graphics that would have looked out of place on the systems before it--an original PlayStation had the edge on the Wii graphically in some cases--but considering how many people made a Wii part of a fitness regimen, it wasn't such a bad idea.

The Wii U, however, innovated in what turned out to be less than desirable directions.

My Terrible Luck with Indie Games

March 6, 2017

Normally I like to talk about the news when I handle End Game pieces, but today I figured I'd take the opportunity to talk about an issue fairly dear to my heart. It's about indie games, and why so many of them turn out godawful in the end.

I've tried quite a few indie games, mainly on Xbox One but also Xbox 360, over the last few years, and more often than not I've proven disappointed at the end. I've had some great times with indie games, make no mistake, but there have also been some serious problems.

For every Stardew Valley that I couldn't get enough of--I'm actually still playing my first farm, and it's almost approaching year five--there's been a Kill All Zombies that turned out to be nothing more than a poorly-scripted wreck where I shot everything in sight.

I was abundantly happy by the concept of Crypt of the Serpent King when I first heard about it--a first-person fantasy adventure in the vein of Skyrim?

Smithsonian Makes Another Push on Preserving Video Game History

March 1, 2017

It would be easy here to scoff at the notion of "video game history." After all, this is an industry that's basically only existed for about 40 years or so, give or take, and depending one where exactly you start counting forward from. In that time, however, we've seen a lot of big moves come and go, and an industry go from "things losers do in their parents' basement" to "things you can actually make a decent living doing." The Smithsonian, meanwhile, is making another step into the field, protecting the past of this still-young industry.

More specifically, it's come to the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, which has launched a new plan to preserve the history of video game developers. Known as the Videogame Pioneers Initiative, it's an effort to preserve gaming history with attention to oral histories, assorted documents, and similar matter.

The announcement of the new initiative came at the DICE Summit, which is one of the biggest such events for the game industry around.

ZeniMax Goes for Oculus' Throat; Files Worldwide Injunction

February 27, 2017

The ongoing drama between ZeniMax and Oculus / Facebook is still indeed ongoing, from recent reports, and now a new development has cropped up that is nothing short of earth-shattering. ZeniMax has filed a new injunction against Oculus, complete with a recommendation that, if followed, would basically pull Oculus out of the market for a good long while to come.

The recommendation with the injunction--filed just Thursday--proposes that Oculus be "...permanently enjoined, on a worldwide basis, from using...any of the Copyrighted materials, including but not limited to  (i) system software for Oculus PC (including the Oculus PC SDK); (ii) system software for Oculus Mobile (including the Oculus Mobile SDK); (iii) Oculus integration with the Epic Games Unreal Engine; and (iv) Oculus integration with the Unity Technologies Unity Game Engine."

Naturally, Facebook--who likely has entire battalions of lawyers trained for purposes just like this--responded to UploadVR, suggesting the filing was both "legally flawed" and "factually unwarranted."

This follows a huge blow to Oculus / Facebook, which came in the form of a $500 million verdict in ZeniMax's favor in the recent civil suit over ZeniMax's copyrights.

However, not everyone believes this will go off as planned; IP law firm McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP partner Joshua Rich noted that the jury verdict might actually hurt ZeniMax's chances of getting that injunction passed. I'm not a lawyer, so I'm struggling through the parsing here somewhat, but basically, the jury DID find that Oculus broke a non-disclosure agreement, and did make use of code portions and logos. That same jury, however, rejected claims that Oculus had directly taken "trade secrets," a point that would have made ZeniMax's case for an injunction much stronger.

Even Gabe Newell Thinks VR Might Be a Failure

February 20, 2017

Hearing Gabe Newell describe virtual reality (VR) as a possible "failure" is like hearing Henry Ford suggest that the car could be completely useless against the longer-lived slower pace of horses. Yet Newell has a point here, and it's one he made recently.

Valve has been putting a lot of time and resources--read: money--into the SteamVR project as well as the HTC Vive headset, and to acknowledge that such efforts could be largely in vain is about as unnerving as it is, well, accurate.

Though Newell described himself and his company as "optimistic," noting that VR itself was "going great" and " a way that's consistent with our expectations", Newell also noted that the company was prepared for a catastrophic failure, noting that "We're also pretty comfortable with the idea that it will turn out to be a complete failure."

Newell took predictions like former Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe's, which expected "north of a million sales" for the first release of the Oculus Rift, and ramping that up to "hopefully many millions" for the second-generation version, with a clear grain of salt easily the size of a baby's head. The major problems with the concept are just in place now as they ever were.

VR requires some pretty impressive muscle in order to operate, which means a hefty expense out the door before one even gets hands on a VR system.

Valve Working on Console Development, Finding it Frustrating

February 14, 2017

For console gamers out there, one of the most frustrating things around is seeing lists of games going to PC that, with seemingly little tweaks, could go to consoles as well, but for reasons unclear to the console gamer, don't. Those frustrations seem to be shared by developers--particularly Valve--but for wholly different reasons.

Valve head Gabe Newell was widely known for saying that he didn't have an interest in returning to the "walled garden" of console development, but a lot of his complaints don't seem to have quite the same ring of truth they did back when he made a foray into that garden with the Xbox 360 and PS3 generations.

While issues of product planning played a major role in the earlier generations, particularly when it comes to free-to-play games, it's obvious that the free-to-play model has come into its own in the console market.

Newell also noted that issues of bureaucracy--"red tape" proved especially annoying--often prevented games from releasing quickly.

E3 Goes into Wide Release This Year

February 13, 2017

E3 was always something of a gamed system, according to reports, especially given the growing proliferation of independently-operated games media stations. Now, however, E3 is changing the way it's operating, and for the first time ever, officially opening up the show floor to incoming members of the public.

Those concerned about massive new crowds need not be; the operation is running essentially on a lottery system run on a first-come-first-serve basis. Starting February 13 at high noon Eastern time, E3's parent organization, the Entertainment Software Association, will sell 15,000 "consumer passes". The first 1,000 will sell for $149, while the remaining 14,000 will sell for $249.

Businesses concerned that this will cheapen the value of their current passes need not be; the business and press pass holders will have a specific entrance point just for them, a "VIP Business Lounge", and several other perks.

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