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”

2018 (Likely Wrong) Predictions

Last year, I refrained from making any telecom predictions.   And no one complained.  And this year I was content to continue down...

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20 Years Later, Dialpad Disrupts Communications Again

History was made this week As Dialpad launched a free version of their UCaaS platform for up to five users. This amounts...

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MegaPath Leverages Years of Experience to Lead in SD-WAN

MegaPath is in a unique position in the SD-WAN space as they were on the leading edge of the MPLS curve...

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Value Added Services In IoT

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to speak at TechXLR8 Asia in Singapore.  It was a dynamic conference covering...

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TELoIP Brings SD-WAN to Companies of All Sizes

The market predictions for SD-WAN growth show a hockey-stick. What is most interesting about this growth is it’s literally across the spectrum...

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SD-WAN is Booming and Airespring is Providing its Customers Innovative Solutions

SD-WAN is eating the WAN, cloud and IP communications all at once. We’ve all seen the amazing projections of market growth but...

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TPx Communications Successfully adds SD-WAN to its Portfolio of Services

IP Communications is just one of the important areas where SD-WAN is making a big impact. One company, TPx Communications got its...

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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 "...in 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.



Nintendo Switch Offers Value in Online Connection

February 7, 2017

Nintendo's outings in the console market have been less than well received lately, with the company's fates collapsing ever since the release of the groundbreaking Wii system. Now, Nintendo will have to compete against systems commonly regarded as more powerful than its own releases at the outset, and Nintendo's looking to provide value in other areas, like the online connection cost.

The new reports suggest that Nintendo Switch will allow users to play online for about half the cost of Microsoft and Sony alternatives, running under $30 a year. That's going to represent a significant value for Nintendo gamers, and one that might give it an edge in the market going forward.

Since some of the Switch's biggest games--like Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers--will require online play on at least some level (it's not known as yet just how much online connectivity will be required or if such connectivity will be charged for) to get the most out of them, being able to connect on a budget will be a welcome development if it goes in the direction it might.

There's also been some discussion over Nintendo's upcoming VR plans, particularly the use of the new Joy-Con controllers that the Switch is slated to use. It's not much discussion as yet--it's mostly centered around one quote from Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima--but notes that Nintendo's actively working on "...resolv(ing) the issues with playing comfortably for long hours..." which will then be put into play as soon as possible.

Granted, most probably aren't framing their buying decisions on the ongoing costs of connection.







PS4 Pro's Boost Mode May Give it a Market Edge

February 6, 2017

We're coming to a very strange time in the console gaming market, with a new version of the PS4--the PS4 Pro--already on hand and the Xbox Project Scorpio poised for launch. Even Nintendo's bringing out a new console in the Switch, which will destabilize the market even further. That's prompting significant marketing efforts, and PlayStation's may have emerged with the new "Boost Mode" for PS4 Pro.

The new PS4 Pro option would actually deliver on a noteworthy proposition: to improve older games' performance without the need for patching or similar measures. Currently, reports note, getting the benefits of extra PS4 Pro hardware requires a little extra programming work in the form of patches.

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