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Gaming:The WTF World of Wikipedia - 15 unbelievable "tr in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
You. Your friends and family. Your classmates and coworkers. In thebrave new world of the internet, everybody has power. Information isinteractive, knowledge is collaborative and history is open source. Thenerdy kid next door has just as much influence as a high schoolteacher; the dorky dude at the comic book shop has just as much voiceas a college professor.
Problem is, the nerds and dorks tend to have a lot morefree time - and passion - than the teachers and professors. The endresult? A hilariously skewed, terrifyingly twisted view of the world inwhich all the wrong things are deemed "important" and worthy of seriousacademic discussion.
Here are 15 mind-boggling examples.

See what we mean? When the deadliest, costliest war in the history of mankind has been trumped by a videogame franchise about that war,you know something's off. One involved over 50 countries and took over70 million lives; the other involves button mashing and tea bagging.
On an encouraging note, we did have to add all the Call of Dutygames' individual pages together to reach the crazy number above. On adiscouraging note, we didn't have to add Call of Duty 4 and itsnon-WWII setting, which would have brought the total word count to aneven crazier 18,927.
Oh, and on a simply ridiculous note? Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare beats "modern warfare"... 5,858 to 2,873.
Also less important than Call of Duty!
American Revolutionary War = 8,078
American Civil War = 11,729
English Civil War = 8,030
Napoleonic Wars = 7,951
Hundred Years' War = 7,992
War on Terrorism = 10,674
War on Drugs = 7,628
Cold War = 10,117
• "War" = 9,233
While the magic menagerie of super-powered, frilly-maned, sparkly-eyed, rosy-cheeked wonder beasts might make for slightly more exciting cards than a Three of Spades, the emphasis here is still extremely wonky.
Poker has been around for longer than anyone can remember... the Pokemon Trading Card Game was invented in 1996. Poker has created millionaires and forced bankruptcy... the Pokemon Trading Card Game might have resulted in some lost lunch money and a temper tantrum or two.
Also less important than Pokemon Trading Cards!
Baseball cards = 4,686
Blackjack = 5,228
Roulette = 5,492
Checkers = 2,326
Pool (Billiards) = 621
Bowling = 407
Wheel of Fortune = 4,521
• "Trade" = 3,038
• "Games" = 2,830

Before you get the wrong impression, no, the Master Chief does not win in a Wikipedia matchup against George W. Bush... though his approval ratings are undoubtedly higher.
The truly astounding thing, however, is that he does emerge victorious against not one, not two, but TENof this country's past commanders in chief. Yes, 23% of the men whohelped make the United States the strongest nation on Earth are easilydefeated by a fictional and faceless videogame character who barelyknows how to speak and takes orders from a naked hologram. Go America!
The orange word count above is an average taken from the USPresidents beaten by the Master Chief. Here's the full, patheticbreakdown:
Leaders of the Free World less important than Master Chief!
James Monroe = 2,820
(5th President)
John Quincy Adams = 3,457
(6th President)
John Tyler = 3,431
(10th President)
Zachary Taylor = 2,235
(12th President)
Millard Fillmore = 3,631
(13th President)
Franklin Pierce = 4,203
(14th President)
James Buchanan = 3,888
(15th President)
Rutherford B. Hayes = 2,686
(19th President)
James A. Garfield = 3,915
(20th President)
Chester A. Arthur = 3,078
(21st President)
          
                   
     


In the future, when Captain Kirk is battling tribbles and Data islearning how to love, this lopsided comparison will make completesense. Why wouldn't the entries for the glorious Starship Enterprise dwarf that for a dusty museum piece like the automobile? We expect the pages for hoverboards, robot maids, personal time machines and giant laser death rays to do the same.

For the present, though, why does a make-believe spaceship deserve more words than the planet's principal mode oftransportation? Also, why does that make-believe space ship deserve noless than nine separate pages, including unique entries for six different models of the NCC-1701? Seriously?!

Also less important than the Starship Enterprise!

Planes = 5,132
Trains = 2,850
Boats = 1,884
Bicycles = 5,112
Motorcycles = 5,446
Shoes = 3,241
Lunar rovers = 1,844
Space shuttles = 6,217
Space stations = 1,830
Outer space = 3,000







You think Hideo Kojima's cut scenes are long? Try reading Leo Tolstoy's epic tome. War and Peace waspublished in four books over five years, covers nearly a decade ofhistory and includes more than 1,400 pages, more than 560,000 words andmore than 3 million characters. It's generally considered one of thelongest novels - hell, one of the longest things - of all time.

Somehow, though, the writers on Wikipedia managed to summarize thewhole plot in 1,922 words. Well done! Now we'd be really impressed ifyou guys could squeeze the plot of a single damn videogame - even therambling old man that is Metal Gear Solid 4 - into less than 2,548 words.

The top numbers (in orange) are for the entire entries.The numbers in the preceding paragraph, as well as the list below, arefor the subsections entitled "plot," "story," or "synopsis."

Also less important than Metal Gear Solid 4!
(by plot, story or synopsis)


Romeo and Juliet = 770
Hamlet = 780
Moby Dick = 845
Of Mice and Men = 288
A Tale of Two Cities = 1,341
Atlas Shrugged = 673
The Hobbit = 465
Citizen Kane = 430
Casablanca = 834
Chinatown = 854







We won't get jealous and play the competition card here. EGM isimportant, a veritable titan of the industry with a massive and devotedfollowing. Many of us here at GamesRadar include ourselves in that camp.

But come on... do the latest screenshots of Chun-Li'sthighs really carry more weight than the 2008 election? Do you reallyneed to know the review score for Turok more than you need to know thereasons for the recession? Is the dropping price of the PS3 morecritical than the rising price of gasoline?

Yes, Electronic Gaming Monthly - and any videogame publication - is totally worthy of 4,429 words. We just wish that Time and other vital news sources received the same attention.

Also less important than EGM!

Newsweek = 1,393
USA Today = 2,685
National Geographic = 1,949
The New Yorker = 3,874
The Washington Post = 2,449
CNN = 4,281
Fox News = 3,758
• "Magazines" = 842
• "Newspapers" = 3,537
GamesRadar = 201







We love, love, love the soundtracks to Final Fantasy... but someone put way, way, way too much effort into this Wikipedia page. The intro alone is nearly 700 words, lengthier than the entries for many singers, bands and genres. Rock and roll, the biggest genre of them all, doesn't stand a chance.

Of course, the vastness of the web was made to hold such exceedinglyniche minutiae, but even the fan who owns all of these compilationalbums probably agrees that they could have fit onto the page forgeneral Final Fantasy music. Unless that fan is the one who wrote this obsessive love letter to begin with...

Also less important than obscure Final Fantasy music!

Beethoven = 6,268
Mozart = 6,331
Frank Sinatra = 5,743
Kelly Clarkson = 5,849
Amy Winehouse = 7,269
Rihanna = 2,977
Kanye West = 4,713
Jay-Z = 6,658
Nirvana = 4,157
Radiohead = 6,495



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Jeffrey Dahmer was a cannibal, Charles Manson was a deranged cultleader and John Wayne Gacy, worst of all, dressed up like a friggin'clown. Yet the complete list of these horrible, horrible murderers -together with dozens of depraved others - is apparently about 3,000words less significant than the list of Maverick boss characters in the Mega Man X series.

And that's compared to the list of serial killers by country. Look up the list of serial killers by number of victims andthe difference grows to 6,000. Go ahead and add the two lists togetherif you want - at 8,000 words total, they still fall short of the sheerterror and infamy inspired by Cyber Peacock, Blizzard Buffalo,Overdrive Ostrich and Armored Armadillo. Ooh, we're getting chills justthinking about them!


Above: The true face of evil







Let's be honest. Who doesn't love Gardulla the Hut? Who didn't havea poster of Cole Fardreamer or Elan Sleazebaggano hanging on theirbedroom wall as a kid? Who wouldn't beg their parents to buy them thatKlaatu action figure for the holidays?

Qwi Xux, Plo Koon, 2-1B, Chief Chirpa, Yarna D'al Gargan, BaronSoontir Fel, Meewalh, Oola, Commander Cody, Baron Soontir Fel, TraskUlgo, Gartogg, Wam "Blam" Lufba and, of course, little Windy... all ofthem are forever entwined in our dreams and imaginations.

Clearly, the list of minor characters in the Star Wars universe should be seven times as large as the page on the Founding Fathers of the United States. Clearly.

Also more important than the Founding Fathers!

Minor Star Wars droids = 10,105
Minor Star Wars villains = 9,648
Minor Star Wars bounty hunters = 5,236
Minor Sonic the Hedgehog characters = 12,595
Minor Mortal Kombat characters = 6,286
Minor StarCraft characters = 5,640
Minor One Piece characters = 17,446
Minor Sailor Moon characters = 7,251
Minor Gundam Wing mobile suits = 3,584
Minor recurring characters in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine = 5,097

Heed our warning - Wikipedia is only the beginning. Soon, textbookswill have entire chapters devoted to fairies and fishmen. Languagestudents will learn Goron instead of Greek. History class will forgothe Romans for the Rito, while anthropology discards the Spanish andSwedish for the Subrosians and Skull Kids.

Nonsense, you say? Tell that to the 730 million residents of Europe, whose deep and diverse ethnic backgrounds just got pwned by a bunch of elves, gnomes, talking twigs, golden frogs and mutant chickens.
Oh yeah, and Tingle.

Also more important than the population of Europe!

Elder Scroll races = 8,489
Pokemon types = 4,362
Final Fantasy monsters = 6,637
Halo aliens = 5,478
Middle-earth orcs = 4,845
Fictional cats = 10,248
Fictional dragons = 8,651
(there are non-fictional dragons?)





No surprises here. After all, Superman (10,641 words) has been known to survive a nuclear explosion... inside his own ass. And Batman (10,818 words) invented his own damn brand of shark repellent Bat spray!

Obviously, these guys are far superior to the rest of us. End of discussion.



Above: Holy sardine!






Both the fictional Umbrella Corporation and the real world National Human Genome Research Institute studythe mysteries of genetics. Both engage in the cutting edge field ofbiomedical engineering. Both are located in small towns. Both haveseemingly harmless, yet somehow creepy names. Both have seeminglyvague, yet somehow menacing logos.

Wait a second - are these two organizations actuallyone and the same?! Has Umbrella been a front all along, a clever ployto distract us from the true zombie overlords? We knew that tiny word count seemed suspicious...


Above: Oh shit.






According to Wikipedia, Kirby is "a small, pink, spherical creature with large red feet."

Exactly. Done. Enough said. Oh, if only that were the case...instead, that is merely the first sentence of a 1,512 word subsectionentitled Characteristics, which goes on to describe - in disturbinglydetailed sub-subsections - the Personality, Abilities and Species of Kirby. Yes, species.

The dog hasan overall longer page, sure, but the fact that Kirby's"characteristics" actually overcome those of man's best friend isabsolutely insane. They shouldn't even be close.








                              

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
                    
               
          
          
          
                   
            


As expected, Jesus whoops Mario byquite a large margin in total Wikipedia word count. In a miraculousturn of events, however, Mario's Legacy section is actually longer thanJesus' Legacy. Yes, you heard right - a pixelated plumber is consideredto have had a bigger impact on the world than the central figure ofChristianity and, to some, the physical embodiment of God. Wow.

Then again... Jesus can walk on water and heal the sick,but Mario can shoot fireballs out of his hands and turn into a raccoon.Jesus has an awesome beard, but Mario's got a super sweet mustache.Jesus ushered in much of modern religion, but Mario ushered in much ofmodern gaming. Both can come back from the dead, though to be fair,Jesus only did that once.

Dunno, seems like a tie to us





Also less important than Mario's legacy!


Albert Einstein's legacy = 153• John F. Kennedy's legacy = 436• Susan B. Anthony's legacy = 252• Princess Diana's legacy = 196• The Wright brothers' legacy = 175• Mother Teresa's influence in the world = 117






At last, we reach the ultimate showdown. In this corner, we have God, who Wikipedia describes as:

"... the principal or sole deity in religion..."
"...the creator and overseer of the universe..."
"... omnipotent and eternal..."
"... the source of all moral obligation, and the greatest conceivable being existent..."

His opponent? Knuckles of Sonic the Hedgehog fame, who Wikipedia describes as:

"... a red, teenage, anthropomorphic echidna..."
"... the fourth most popular character in the series..."
"... shy around girls..."

And, uh, yeah. How did this guy beat God by more than 4,000 words again? Well, to reach Knuckles' number, we did have to add two pages together, one for his game character and one for his comic character. To level the playing field, we should probably give God the Bible or something, right? Of course, we'll also have to give Knuckles his comic books and two videogames (Knuckles Chaotix and Sonic & Knuckles) to keep things even...




Damn! Sorry God - you lose again. Looks like we have a new omnipotentoverseer in the universe... or at least in the strange, silly, scaryand seriously skewed universe that is Wikipedia.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:21 pm
The Hardcore Niche - The changing Videogame market in Gaming
The video game market is changing incrediblyquickly right now, probably at the fastest rate since the big crash ofthe mid-1980s.
Not only is the market expanding to include women and casual gamersonce again, the definition of what constitutes a game is expanding. Iwouldn't say it’s expanding within the minds of game developers, but itis expanding in the context of the mass media and mass consumers, andthat’s who drives the market in the first place.
As sick to death as we all are of talking about microtransactions,free-to-play MMOs, and casual online spaces, the advent of these thingsis changing the game landscape for good, whether we like it or not.
    
Interactive Media - At Face Value
The lines between an online community portal and an MMO are blurredto the point of being indistinguishable. Consider the numbers — Audition Online has tens of millions of users worldwide, and a dedicated TV show in Vietnam. Kart Rider has tens of millions of users. Ditto Habbo Hotel and Club Penguin.
Traditional games - like most people reading this are developingtoday - may never be able to reach that large of an audience. Our gamesare too focused, too hardcore, and bear too much of the stereotype of“gamer.”
                         
               
Right now, Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, and World of Warcraftare considered our blockbuster titles, and flagships for the industryin popular culture. But when you think about it, it’s still justshooting aliens, playing gang banger, and swinging your sword in theforest.
Boiled down to their essentials those things appeal to a verylimited group of people, and the complexity of game controls preventseven blockbuster movie attendees, whom we should be attracting, fromplaying these things.
At least, that’s the common line. But is that really the case? Doaliens, wizards, and soldiers really make a piece of entertainmentinaccessible? Many millions of people went to see the Iron Man movieover the past two months, and a large percentage of them have probablynever picked up a comic book in their lives.
Why is it that people will go see The Lord of the Rings' movies, but many of them will not play the games?
The Real Mass Market
It’s common knowledge that game controllers are intimidating, thatconsoles have a certain stigma to them, and that most mass marketconsumers consider games to be either a waste of time, or activelydetrimental.
These can all be debated until the end of time, but the perceptionexists, and either that has to change (Nintendo is doing good workthere), or we have to change. Otherwise we’ll end up with acomparatively small fraction of a growing market.
Will it be possible to make a game like Assassin’s Creed or BioShockin 2015? It’s already becoming difficult to justify large budgets forsingle-player experiences, and it stands to reason that it will getmore difficult as time goes on. What does that mean for developers ofthese games? What happens to the concept of a game auteur?
One possibility is for these hardcore games to essentially becomethe art-house cinema of the video game world, which would be odd, asthat’s a role currently filled by indie titles.
Interestingly, never has the film/game analogy worked less well than it does currently. In the PS2 era, you could correlate Grand Theft Auto III with a movie blockbuster, and Ico with an art-house film.
But now, in terms of scope, money, and global social impact, Kart Rider or Club Penguin would be that blockbuster, and Call of Duty 4 would be the art-house equivalent, though content- and budget-wise Call of Duty 4 is much more your traditional blockbuster material. Something seems awry there.
The fact is, these simple-to-play social experiences are here.They’re growing in popularity, they’re dwarfing our multi-milliondollar projects that sell through to 5 million people at max, and theycost a fraction of the price to make.
With the market expanding as it is, and the dollars going wherethey’re going, the $20 million budget bestselling console title oftoday is going to be the hardcore niche title of tomorrow, art-house ornot. Unless development costs get significantly lower, it seems we havean online future to look forward to.
New Things Are Stupid
To wit: online games are taking over, and I, curmudgeon that I am, don’t really like it.
Certainly there will always be the hardcore players that will wantthat deeper experience. There’s no doubt about that. But the questionis: in an industry where we’re getting our asses kicked financially byweb developers, of all people, who will pay us to make it?
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:55 am
The Princess Bride game has been released. It's odd.... in Gaming
The Princess Bride game - based on the much-loved Rob Reiner flick from 1987 - has finally been released:



Gosh, it looks like Dragon's Lair, doesn't it? It plays that way too- all clunky controls and really basic interaction. It's essentially 5minigame mechanics: 'Time Management' on the farm, 'InconceivableTrivia' with Fezzik, 'Puzzle Platformer' vs. the ROUSes in the FireSwamp, 'Hidden Objects and Potion Cooking' with Billy Crystal and CarolKane and 'Inventory Collection & Assembly' at the castle. A Flashgame in Princess Bride clothing. Meh. It doesn't feel much like it'saimed at me (an old skool fan of the film), which the new 'song' by atrio called Clique Girls is testament to. (Avril Lavigne has a wholelot to answer for)
But if you are sill compelled, you can download the free trial (PC only at the moment) from here.
As an addendum, I've been trying my darndest to figure out the bestplace to add this little bit of telly trivia. Did you know that Connections, the 1980s TV series in which science historian James Burke takes us on a personal journey along the pathways of innovation, was turned into a computer game?
Which other inconceivable game-media marriages have you seen? Do tell and I'll put them in a long post in the future.
Here are a couple of starters for ten:

  1. Beverly Hills Cop for the C64 and the Amiga
  2. Dirty Dancing for the PC.
  3. Little Britain for the PC and PS2
  4. Desperate Housewivesfor the PC
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:46 am
Rating the Games-on-Demand Services - with WIRED Video in Gaming
Digital delivery -- downloading games directly onto your console --is going to be a big part of the future of videogames. But Sony,Microsoft and Nintendo are all taking different approaches to theconcept, and none of them are entirely superior.


In this week's episode of Game|Life the Video, we rate the Wii's,Xbox 360's and PlayStation 3's games-on-demand services in twocategories: How the services stack up against each other now, and howthe companies' strategies will shape the future potential of theservices.
Which has the most potential: Xbox Live Arcade, WiiWare or PlayStation Store? Tell us in the comments section, won't you?
As always, if you're having trouble viewing the embedded video above,this week's episode of Game|Life the Video is also available on Wired's YouTube channel and on iTunes.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:22 am
The multiplayer future of The Sims, MMO Style? in Gaming
Weeks after the closing of EA-land, formerly known as The Sims Online (TSO), the head of the Sims Division at EA is hinting at a multiplayer future for this popular life-simulating strategy game. Isn’t she, like Merlin, getting the timeline backwards?
Surely the bestselling computer game of all time would haveexperienced a smoother transition from single- to multiplayer,especially a game with a social needs bar; friendless Sims end upmoping around on the couch and experiencing Social Bunny hallucinations. Yet TSO was poorly received.

The fact that EA had nixed user-createdcontent and turned a multitude of flexible worlds into one persistentworld did not help. Most disappointingly, the necessities of eating,sleeping, and acquiring career skills ended up overshadowing whatshould have been the central aspect of TSO: socialization. After fiveyears of stagnation, TSO was demoted to EA-land in February, then closed down altogether last month.
Mere emoticons and asterisk-enclosed actions don’t cut it for everyone. Fellow conversationalists seem more real if their avatars can visibly laugh, shrug, weep, grin, or even just sit there.
At the same time, there’s a necessary element of unreality invirtual worlds. Although the real world doesn’t allow you to walk up tosomeone and click “flirt” over and over, reach the “propose” optionhalf an hour later, and start a new family over the course of anevening that strikes me as a little too close to home for many players.The life-simulating MMORPG presents a paradox of the real and theunreal.

Why does World of Warcraft have 10 million active playerswhile Second Life has only about thirty thousand? My guess: peopleprefer to visualize themselves as powerful conjurers rather than ashuman beings. When we interact in human form, the corresponding humanfantasies pushing themselves out into the open—the sudden significanceof sexual preference, the out-of-the-blue professions of love—might beharder to deal with than any challenge a WoW raid could present.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:19 am
Spore Creature Creator tops US charts - have you got it? in Gaming
The NPD Group has released US PC software sales datafor the week ending June 21, with EA's Spore Creature Creator comingout on top.
Maxis reported that one millionSpore creatures were created and shared during the stand-aloneprogram's first week of availability. The full Spore game will bereleased in September.
Sales of Spore Creature Creator werestrong enough to place the game at number six on the All Categorieslist - the only game to appear alongside business, education andutility software.
                   
The Top Ten best-selling PC games in the US for the week ending June 21 were:

  • 1      Spore Creature Creator (EA)
  • 2 The Sims 2 Double Deluxe (EA)
  • 3 Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (Eidos)
  • 4 World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Expansion Pack (Vivendi>
  • 5 World Of Warcraft (Vivendi)
  • 6 World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest (Vivendi)
  • 7 The Sims 2 FreeTime Expansion Pack (EA)
  • 8 The Sims 2 Kitchen & Bath Interior Design Stuff Expansion Pack     (EA)
  • 9      Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare     (Activision)
  • 10 Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (LucasArts)


The Spore Creature Creator was software that allowed players to create their own creatures with a standalone version of the Creature Editor from Spore; the software was one of the first aspects of the game to receive focused development, and had undergone ten rewrites since the start of development. It was rated E by the ESRB in early March 2008, indicating that the editor would be released separately well before the game's release as a utility program. Electronic Arts told MTV Asia that "EA Screen will provide visitors a chance to interact with EA's game producers hailing from the studios, and unveil the hugely anticipated SPORE Creature Creator demo version to gamers for the first time in Asia." Electronic Arts VP Mark Buechner stated on the Spore Facebook page that the editor would be released in June or July 2008, saying, "We are looking at releasing it two to three months before the launch of the full game."

The SimCity Box artwork showed a blurb stating that the creature editor would be included with it. IGN revealed that the Spore Creature Creator utility will be available in two different versions on June 18, 2008. There was a paid version (for $9.95) and a free demo that was downloadable from Spore.com and included for free, bundled with The SimCity Box. The free version of the editor only contained 25% of the available creature parts that were found within the full version.

The utility included a test environment for players to see their creatures go through animations and allow the player to import other user-created creatures through the Sporepedia at Spore.com. The utility included screen capture and video tools as well, including YouTube functionality.

The editor also gave the user the ability to create animated avatars,and output in RSS and embeddable HTML code to facilitate easy incorporation into such sites as MySpace and Facebook.

Shortly after its introduction, the Creature Creator was used to create creatures with oversized genitalia, either stand-alone or engaged in coitus (a phenomenon quickly dubbed 'sporn'). EA responded with e-mails sent to those who made pornographic machinima from its demo, and has flagged certain on-line accounts for "TOS violations". Furthermore, YouTube has pulled several such videos for violations of its own TOS.

By June 24, 2008, users had already created over one million creatures.

It has been noted by those using the Spore Creature Creator, that while the Social and Attack categories can reach a max score of 20 with enough parts on the creature, the Abilities category does not achieve a max in the Creature Creator. This has led to speculation from it being the brain levels to advanced sensory abilities to telekinesis.


Electronic Arts confirmed that Spore will be receiving post-release expansion packs. No other information is available as to what sort of content the packs will feature, but EA has hinted it will be similar to The Sims expansions.


In the news
Spore Creature Creator free in the UK Videogamer.com

A Wii spinoff of the game has been mentioned by Will Wright several times, such as in his October 26, 2007 interview with the Guardian.Buechner confirmed it, revealing that plans for a Wii version were underway, and that the game would be built from the ground up and would take advantage of the Wii Remote, stating, "We're not porting it over. You know, we're still so early in design and prototyping that I don't know where we're going to end up, so I don't want to lead you down one path. But suffice to say that it's being developed with the Wii controls and technology in mind."The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Spore are still under consideration.

Merchandising

There will be an iTunes-style "Spore Store" built into the game, allowing players to purchase external Spore licensed merchandise, such as t-shirts, posters, and future Spore expansion packs.There are also plans for the creation of a type of Spore collectible card game based on the Sporepedia cards of the creatures, buildings, vehicles, and planets that have been created by the players.There are also indications of plans for the creation of customized creature figurines; some of those who designed their own creatures at E3 2006 later received 3D printed models of the creatures they created. The Spore Store also allows people to put their creatures on such items as T-shirts, mugs and stickers.

The Spore team is working on a partnership with a comic creation software company to offer comic book versions of your own Spore story. Comic books with stylized pictures of various creatures, some whose creation has been shown in various presentations, can be seen on the walls of the Spore team's office.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:13 am
PC piracy is as high as 1:20 in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
The ratio of legal sales to illegal piracy of high profile PC titlescould be as much as one to 20, according to Crytek's CEO Cevat Yerli.
During an interview with IGN,Yerli sought to explain what he saw as the reasons for Crytek's titleCrysis' lacklustre sales, blaming lower than expected reviews and poormarketing decisions but placing most of the emphasis on PC piracy.
"The PC industry is really, at the moment, I would say the mostintensely pirated market ever. It's crazy how the ratio between salesto piracy is probably 1 to 15 to 1 to 20 right now," Yerli said.
                   
"For one sale there are 15 to 20 pirates and pirate versions, andthat's a big shame for the PC industry. I hope with Warhead I hope weimprove the situation, but at the same time it may have an impact on[our] PC exclusivity in the future."
This mirrors Yerli's comments earlier this year, in which he said Crytek led the charts in piracy and would no longer make PC-exclusive titles.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:51 am
ASA warns envelopes with marketing must be transparent in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
An envelope used in a Virgin Media mailshot broke advertisingrules because it failed to make its marketing nature obvious. Theenvelope should have stated clearly that it contained marketingmaterial, the UK's advertising regulator has ruled.

The letter describing the cable company's broadband offer wassealed in a plain white envelope with no markings to identify thepromoter.
The envelope featured a small hole that went right through theenvelope and some of its contents and was designed to look like abullet hole surrounded by burn marks. Ten people complained to theAdvertising Standards Authority (ASA), saying that the bullet holewould cause offence and distress. The ASA rejected thosecomplaints. It said the hole "was likely to be recognised as astylised design gimmick" and that "recipients would appreciate thatit was unlikely that an envelope would arrive with a bullethole."
The ASA had its own concern, though, about Virgin's failure toidentify the envelope as a promotion.
Small text on the reverse of the envelope provided a PO Boxreturn address but Virgin Media's identity was only revealed torecipients if they opened the letter. In some cases the letter wasaddressed to the recipient; other times it was addressed to "TheOccupier".
The ASA ruled against Virgin Media in an adjudication publishedtoday.
"We concluded that the envelope should have stated clearly thatit contained marketing material to avoid ambiguity or confusionabout the status of the envelope," said the ASA. "On this point,the ad breached CAP Code clause 22.1."
That provision states:
"Marketers, publishers andowners of other media should ensure that marketing communicationsare designed and presented in such a way that it is clear that theyare marketing communications. Unsolicited e-mail marketingcommunications should be clearly identifiable as marketingcommunications without the need to open them."
Virgin was told to ensure that in future mailings envelopesshould state clearly that they contained marketing material.

See:
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:47 am
Games Industry Movers: Trion, 38 Studios, Kongregate & M in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
his past week, 38 Studios (the developer founded by Red Sox pitcherCurt Schilling) announced that Thom Ang was appointed Director of Art.He will oversee the direction and management of 38 Studios' artisticdevelopment, including the MMOG codenamed Copernicus, whileworking closely with Todd McFarlane and R. A. Salvatore. Ang willreport to Vice President of Creative Development, Scott Cuthbertson.
"38 Studios' creative teams have been meticulously crafting thesignature look and feel for our upcoming MMOG over the past 18 months,"said Brett Close, CEO and president. "Thom's extraordinary talent andexperience will be key in driving the vision and quality of our OnlineEntertainment Experience."
Ang has been working as a director for notable franchises and brandsfor over 15 years. He's worked as a senior artist at DisneyInteractive, working on titles like Toy Story II and Tarzan. Ang also created illustrations for TV shows, including The X-Files and was a storyboard artist for Sony/Columbia/Tri-Star TV Animation programs, which include Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles and Max Steel.He then moved on to be art director at EA LA, where he headed up artproduction, team management and visual concept development for the Medal of Honor franchise. In his last position, Ang was art director at THQ, managing more than 25 titles.
"38 Studios is absolutely committed to the next evolution of MMOGs, andevery team member has great pride in the value of what they do,"remarked Ang. "I am excited to contribute to this vision and become apart of an extraordinary team."
Lisa Jablonsky - Kongregate
Kongregate announced this past Friday that Lisa Jablonsky will open thecompany's New York ad sales office. She will work with Kongregate'sChief Revenue Officer Lee Uniacke to secure high-profile advertisingpartnerships based on the site's reach and appeal to young men, ages 13- 34.
"With high user engagement and a growth rate of over 25 percent monthover month, Kongregate provides the ideal medium for advertisers tryingto reach this hard-to-pin-down demographic," stated Uniacke. "As webuild our sales force to address these opportunities, Lisa's proventrack record in developing successful partnerships across a range ofyouth-driven digital consumer brands will add tremendously to theexpertise of our team."
Jablonsky has worked in the New York advertising scene for 21 years andshe was as an early proponent of the digital advertising arena. Amongher projects, she has conceptualized and implemented ground-breakingfilm contests for Intel and Kohl's, and created one of the first mobilecontests for Alltel. Jablonsky helped create games for McAfee Softwareand the National Guard, as well as construct an editorial integrationprogram for Coke's NBA March Madness Flash game. She was most recentlyan account executive with MTV Networks, where she successfully droveadvertising and integrated sponsorships for Comedy Central,AddictingGames.com, Shockwave.com, and AtomFilms.
"Kongregate is an advertiser's dream as it attracts young men betterthan virtually any other site on the Web and puts them in a cool, edgyenvironment where our audience can really interact with their brand,"commented Jablonsky. "At over 3 million unique users today, a highgrowth rate, and just being named one of Time Magazine's Top 50 sitesfor 2008, we're on track to give advertisers the big reach that theyneed to effectively target the young male demographic this fall."
Trion World Network - Glen Van Datta
Trion World Network announced recently that Glen Van Datta has beenhired as Vice President of Engineering and General Manager of TrionWorld Network Austin. He will oversee day to day operations at Trion'sAustin studio and supervise all customer service, quality assurance,operations and other support activities with relation to the Trionplatform.
"Glen is a tremendous hire for Trion and an excellent addition to ourworld class technical organization", said Nicholas Beliaeff, VicePresident of Product Development & Head of Trion World Network SanDiego. "Glen's vision, leadership, and deep history maturing andproductizing compelling online game technology will help Trion take ourserver based game technology to the highest levels while helping us andour partners get to market more quickly."
Notably, Van Datta has worked for over 22 years in softwaredevelopment, including the past dozen in game development. He wasco-founder and Vice President of Engineering at RTIME, where he oversawthe development, design and testing of the RTIME SDK online, in-gameand player matching platform. Van Datta most recently worked at SCEA asDirector of Online Technology, where he oversaw a team of more than 80employees that developed SCE-RT SDK to enable online games for PS2, PS3and PSP games, including Singstar, Warhawk, Resistance, Home and GT5 Prologue.
"For more than 12 years I've believed that online games, online socialnetworks and online media distribution were the future ofentertainment," said Van Datta. "Trion's innovative, dynamic platformand content are the next generation in the online entertainment space."
IGN Entertainment – Jamie Berger
IGN Entertainment announced recently that senior vice president ofconsumer products and technology Jamie Berger will start overseeingbusiness development for the company. He will continue managing IGN'ssubscriptions, digital distribution, and e-commerce portfolio includingIGN's Direct2Drive and GameSpy Technologies.
Berger has over 16 years of professional brand management and marketingexperience from within the online gaming industry. He began hisprofessional career as an Account Manager with the NCR Corporation.Berger spent six years in the consumer products division of The WaltDisney Company before joining IGN Entertainment. He currently helpsextend the IGN brand by creating and leading partnerships thatdistribute content and drive revenue.
AMD - Emilio Ghilardi
AMD, which runs the ATI graphics card business, announced this pastweek that Emilio Ghilardi has been appointed senior vice president andgeneral manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). He will beresponsible for all sales and marketing operations within EMEA,starting in mid-August 2008. Ghilardi will report to AMD chief salesofficer Gustavo Arenas.
"Emilio adds tremendous global sales and marketing leadership to AMD inEMEA which we expect to help strengthen and grow relationships with ourend-user customers, OEMs and distribution partners," said Arenas.
Ghilardi comes to AMD from HP, where he started as vice president ofConsumer PC Clients in EMEA. He then moved on to be vice president andgeneral manager of Commercial Hardware within the Imaging and PrintingGroup. Ghilardi was most recently vice president and general manager ofHP's EMEA Consumer Business Unit, managing the business for consumerPCs and Imaging and Printing products.
AMD added that Alberto Macchi, corporate vice president of Sales andMarketing for EMEA, is departing the company "to pursue newopportunities."
Warner Bros. Digital Distribution - Jacqueline Jourdain Hayes
Warner Bros. Digital Distribution (WBDD) recently announced thatJacqueline Jourdain Hayes has been named Senior Vice President Businessand Legal Affairs. She will manage legal issues around new digitalbusiness models (such as distribution of Warner properties on Xbox Liveand elsewhere) globally, oversee the negotiation of Warner Bros.video-on-demand and electronic sell-through licenses across multipledigital platforms, and provide legal counsel to the Company's seniormanagement on the acquisition, distribution and protection of contentfor digital platforms and other digital initiatives.
"Jackie has been working on our digital business for quite some time,her expertise in this area is unparalleled," said Clarissa Weirick,General Counsel, WBDD. "The digital business is still one of thoseareas where you are often making the rules as you go along, whichrequires someone like Jackie who is confident and creative innegotiating this new terrain. We are extremely fortunate to have hercontinued expertise as our digital business moves ahead."
Hayes has worked as an Associate in the Corporate Departments of TroopMeisinger Steuber & Pasich in Los Angeles, of Goulston and Storrs,P.C. in Boston, and of Moses & Singer in New York City. She joinedWarner Home Video in 1998 as Counsel, and was promoted to VicePresident Business and Legal Affairs of WHV in 2000. Hayes joined theWarner Bros. Digital Distribution division in July 2006.
TC Digital Games – Andi Smithers
Recently, TC Digital Games announced that it appointed Andi Smithers tothe new position of Director of Technical Development. He will overseedevelopment of the company's digital services, including mediatechnology and format strategy as well as interoperability of digitalservices and devices.
"Andi joins our team at a pivotal moment in the evolution of Chaoticand TC Digital," said Bryan C. Gannon, President and CEO of TC DigitalGames. "He will become an integral part of our efforts to enhance theChaotic online experience and further develop our digital services.Andi's expertise in developing technology, his extensive background increating computer game software and his vision for emerging technologymake him a perfect fit to lead this innovative game play convergence."
Smithers has held several executive roles and technical positionsthroughout his 20-year career, having worked for Microsoft, Activision,Psygnosis, LucasArts, and Midway. He was most recently with Sony OnlineEntertainment where he served as Senior Engineer in the Research andDevelopment group. Smithers pushed advanced physics and graphicstechnologies forward to ensure their quality and was responsible foroverseeing the strategy and development for a cloth simulator.
Microsoft – Michael Delman
As we previously reported, Microsoft this past week appointed MichaelDelman to the position of corporate vice president of global marketingfor the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) in the Entertainmentand Devices Division. He takes over the role for Jeff Bell who left thecompany earlier this month. Read more about the move here.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:42 am
Wall-E: Are Movie Games Getting Better? in Gaming
Largely in anticipation of going to see the film tonight, I went a few rounds with THQ's game based on Wall-E. (It is of course available for every game platform under the sun, but I played the Xbox 360 version.)
My goal: To see if games based on movies have, at least in somecases, made a leap beyond the utter trash they used to be when Iactually played them. Results: Somewhat. I still wouldn't actually playWall-E unless I was being paid to, but it's clear that there'sa great deal of polish, and the translation of the movie's action intogameplay is clever and varied.
You begin the game by playing as Wall-E. The first thing I noticedis that, instantly, it's fun to control the little guy as he zipsaround the ruined Earth on his miniature tank treads. When he jumps, hecurls up into a box and flies through the air. It's a satisfyingfeeling, not awkward at all.
                                                      
Wall-Edoesn't do much. His entire programming is based around compactinggarbage into tiny cubes and then stacking them. So unless the designerswere going to turn Wall-E into a tiny killing machine and totallypervert the movie's message, they had their work cut out for them. Thesolution was that all of Wall-E's actions are based around making, thenthrowing, cubes of garbage.
He can create cubes out of normal old trash, which are good forthrowing far and hitting targets that open up new paths in the level.Cubes made out of electronic waste that still has residual batterypower left in it are good for charging up other electrical equipmentthat opens up more paths.
Before this has a chance to get too boring, you're playing as Eve,Wall-E's flying robot girlfriend who can, in fact, shoot things. Eve'slevels alternate between flight exploration as she searches for plantlife on Earth, and something resembling a single-player racing game inwhich she zips through tunnels, blasting away debris and trying toreach the finish line before time runs out.
What's ultimately disappointing (and all too familiar) about the treatment of Wall-Eis that the movie's story and characters aren't used for anythingbesides window dressing. I am not suggesting for a second that there isgoing to be anyone who plays the Wall-E game voluntarilywithout seeing the movie, so it's not as if anyone is going to betotally stumped forever. But it does seem like a bit of a waste to havethese characters and storyline all ready to go, then fail to capitalizeon them.
That said, if the future of movie tie-in games is products that areclearly inferior to the film but not utterly objectionable as games,I'm fine with that. Wall-E is playable and fun, and probablywill not make children cry, which is far more than could be said forthe movie games I grew up on.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:41 am
Revealed: Sony's future plans for PS3, PSP and TV in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
"This is not your father's Sony", sums up what Howard Stringer has done at Sony since taking over the reins in 2005.
TheWales-born CEO was underlining the challenge that the company now facesin the digital age, as he led the Japanese giant's corporate strategybriefing in Tokyo today.
In the absence of any attention-grabbingnew hardware announcements, most headlines are likely to go to Sony'spledge to increase revenues in the PC, Blu-ray-related and componentsbusinesses.
Game plan
Stringer said thatSony would build these into "trillion-yen businesses" by FY2010,putting them alongside the core business units of TVs, digital imaging,gaming and mobile phones. One trillion yen is currently worth around£4.7 billion.
Although gaming is a traditional Sony strength, thedivision is mired in red ink after the costly development and launch ofthe PlayStation 3. Addressing that, the CEO promised to bring it toprofit by March next year.
Stringer also outlined plans to investclose to £9 billion in new technology in a concerted drive to becomethe world leader in LCD televisions within three years. Beyond that,the assembled execs wouldn't be drawn on precise numbers or revenuetargets.
Mobile content
Although he didn't address recent speculation about the possibility of a PSP phone or the stability of the Sony Ericsson joint venturethat produces mobile phones, Stringer did emphasise that such handsetswould continue to be sold and that "Sony music and pictures content[would be] embedded in all key Sony Ericsson product lines."
As expected, there was no discussion on life after Blu-ray– the so-called 'death of disk'. However, a hint of how quickly onlinedistribution will move centre-stage came in the news that SonyPictures' summer blockbuster, Hancock, will be made available exclusively to all internet-connect Bravia televisions in the US before its DVD release.
Movie download service
The movie theme resurfaced in a presentation from Kaz Hirai, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment, with the news that the long-anticipated film download service would finally reach the online PlayStation Network this year.
Hiraiconfirmed that US users would get first crack at PS3 movie downloads inlate summer, with Europe and Japan to follow by year's end. He addedthat full details would be announced at E3 in LA next month and thatboth standard- and high-definition titles would be available.
       
Virtual world
Warmingto the theme, Hirai added, "Please expect more from our evolvingPlayStation business." That evolution will also include themuch-delayed PlayStation Home virtual world, which Hirai demonstrated,along with new dynamic in-game advertisements that change according tothe context.
The littlest PlayStation also featured prominently,with the PSP being positioned as an interactive extension of the PS3console, as well as a tool for accessing the PlayStation Store for gamedownloads and, possibly, feature films at some undisclosed point.
Hirai's presentation concluded with something of a surprise in a new network service called Life With PlayStation.The rough demo showed a view of the Earth from space, which rotated toreveal location-related news items, reminiscent of similar services onNintendo's Wii.
Innovator and creator
Returningto the podium to sum up, Stringer emphasised his firm's creative skillsand took aim at a company many see as having inherited the Sony mantleas innovator supreme.
"We have products to get excited about [including] OLED TVs, Rolly, CyberShot smile detection and the new Bravias.
"Appleis a boutique company, but we're a large conglomerate. We recently cameout number one in a poll by Incite on innovative companies, just aheadof Apple. I rest my case."
Whether or not that's overstating thecase, Stringer's confidence in the once-troubled company is almosttangible, leaving little room for doubt that Sony is back and that itmeans business.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:41 am
Why the PC is the future (from VALVE) [FEATURE] in Gaming
When Valve summoned a handful of US and UK journalists to itsSeattle headquarters at the end of last month, it promised to talkabout the future of Steam, its digital distribution system. That itdid, revealing the ambitious Steam Cloud service for remote storage of game data, and boasting that it would soon be making more money selling games digitally, all the while remaining untroubled by piracy.
Valvemastermind Gabe Newell and his cohorts had an ulterior motive forbringing reporters together, however, and unusually for an ulteriormotive, it wasn't a wholly self-interested one. It was this: toevangelise the PC as the games platform of the future.
"Thisreally should be done by a company like Intel or Microsoft, somebodywho's a lot more central to the PC," says Newell, pointing out thatcompanies like Blizzard, PopCap and GameTap would have just as much tosay as Valve about how PC gaming is leading innovation in technology,business models, and community-building. But, notwithstandingMicrosoft's occasional promotionof Games For Windows - an initiative Newell refrains from attackingdirectly, but exudes disdain for - that support has not beenforthcoming.
Where console platforms have merciless andwell-funded PR armies poised to combat any criticism, negative storiesabout the PC - mostly publishers, or developers like Crtyek,complaining of rampant piracy and flat sales - run unimpeded. Salesdata that focuses solely on boxed copies sold at retail appear to backthem up. Valve has had enough. "There's a perception problem," saysNewell. "The stories that are getting written are not reflecting whatis really going on."



You want figures? There are 260 million online PC gamers, a marketthat dwarfs the install base of any console platform, online oroffline. Each year, 255 million new PCs are made; not all of them forgaming, it's true, but Newell argues that the enormous capitalinvestment and economies of scale involved in this huge market ensurethat PCs remain at the cutting edge of hardware development, andconsoles their "stepchildren", in connectivity and graphics technologyespecially. Meanwhile, Valve's business development guru, JasonHoltman, notes that without the pressure of cyclical hardware cycles,PC gaming projects - he points to Steam as an example - can groworganically, over long periods of time, and with no ceiling whatsoeverto their potential audiences.

More pertinent, perhaps, are thefigures directly relating to games revenue that the retail charts -admittedly a stale procession of Sims expansions and under-performingconsole ports - don't pick up. "If you look into the future, there's animportant transition that's about to happen, and it's going to happenon the PC first," says Newell.

At its heart, he explains, is a shift from viewing games as aphysical product, to viewing them as a service - something that is alsohappening in other entertainment media. Digital distribution is part ofthat; more fluid and varied forms of game development, with games thatchange and engage their communities of players over time, are another;as is, naturally, the persistence and subscription (or otherwise)revenues of MMO games. None of this is reflected in the sales chartsanalysts, executives - and gamers - obsess over.
Valve sees 200per cent growth in these alternative channels - not just Steam, butincluding the likes of cyber-cafes as well - versus less than 10 percent in bricks-and-mortar shop sales. Steam has a 15 million-strongplayer-base with 1.25 million peak concurrent users, and 191 per centannual growth; none too far off a console platform in itself. The PCcasual games market, driven by the likes of PopCap, has gone from nextto nothing to USD 1.5 billion dollar industry in under ten years, andhas doubled in size in just three. Perhaps most surprisingly, Valve hasfound that digital distribution doesn't cannibalise retail sales - infact, a free Day of Defeat weekend on Steam created more new retailsales than online ones.


And then there is the game that many claim has been the death of PCgaming, but that Valve sees as its greatest success story, and itsfuture. "Until recently, the fact that World of Warcraft was generating120 million dollars in gross revenue on a monthly basis was completelyoff the books," Newell says. "Essentially, [Blizzard is] creating a newIron Man every month, in terms of the gross revenue they're generatingas a studio. Any movie studio would be shouting about that from therooftops. But it was essentially invisible."
Newell thinks thatWOW is "arguably the most valuable entertainment franchise in any mediaright now", and also believes, rightly, that it could only ever havehappened on the PC. He also tips his hat to South Korea's Nexxon forits enormous success with free-to-play, microtransaction-driven gameslike Kart Rider and Maple Story, soon to be aped by EA's BattlefieldHeroes.

There is another reason for the gulf between theperception and the reality of the games market, Valve thinks, and it'sa geographical and linguistic one. The dominance of the Englishlanguage gives the US and UK games markets, where the PC is weakest,undue prominence. In several major Western markets - notably Germanyand the Nordic countries - the PC performs much better. What's more, inthe emerging markets of China, Korea and Russia, where gaming is seeingunprecedented, explosive growth, console install bases are negligible,and the PC is king. Valve thinks that there's a silent majority ofglobal gamers who are skipping the console era entirely, the way thesedeveloping nations already skipped dial-up internet.

Steam isavailable in 21 languages for this reason, and Valve reckons that itsspeedy localisation and lack of physical distribution is an effectivecounter to the piracy common in these markets. It's also allowing Valveto get games to players in regions traditional channels don't support."PC's are everywhere in the world," says Holtman simply. "PC's are thesame all over the world. All of sudden, if you can open up emergingmarkets and go somewhere like Russia or South East Asia, you've goneway further than you can go with a closed console. There are 17 millionPC gaming customers in Russia alone."

A key shift in this brave new world of games as services rather thanproducts - and one that runs contrary to the traditional image of PCgaming - is a move away from graphical fidelity being the yardstick ofprogress. "As a company that's really proud of the job we do withgraphics it's funny to say this," Newell says, "but we get a betterreturn right now by focusing on those features and technologies thatare about community, about connecting people together."
He citeseasy uploading of gameplay videos to YouTube as a bigger source ofentertainment value than marginal improvements in graphics. "I thinkthat people thinking about how to generate web hits on their serversare a lot closer to the right mentality for what's going to besuccessful in entertainment going forward, than somebody that's used tohaving conversations about how to get end caps at Best Buy."
Therevolution in distribution and business models also offers a major newopportunity for smaller games - and smaller games developers - tothrive. The demands of retail - the logistical problems of gettingboxes to shops, and the budgetary drain of huge marketing campaigns -mean that bigger is necessarily better in the traditional games market.
Notso on Steam and its equivalents, says Valve, pointing to the hugesuccess of indie darling Audiosurf, as well as its own Portal. "As youmove away from that huge first weekend, big blockbuster mentality,"says Newell, "you're getting back to an area where smaller and smallergroups can connect with customers. I think you're going to find thatthe enjoyment of being in the game industry as a developer on the PC isa lot greater than outside of it."

He's backed up by an actual indie, Audiosurf creator Dylan Fitterer.This one-man development, created without financial backing -impossible on consoles, due to the cost of development kits - was thebest-selling game on Steam full-stop at its release, outclassing manybig-budget titles. "I didn't have to ask anybody if I could release it,except for my wife," Fitterer says. "It took a few years, and I waspretty darn tired by the time it was ready. Something likecertifications? No thanks." He also points out the tight limitations ofconsole servers versus PC servers for online gaming; Audiosurf'sscoreboard for every song ever recorded would be out of the question ona closed platform.
Holtman argues that Steam and Steamworks - thesuite of free tools it offers - revolutionise the environment fordevelopers and publishers. The auto-updating system means that a gamecan be developed right up to release and beyond. It eases painfulcrunch times, and allows game makers to respond to their audiences,publishers to develop their titles as continuously evolving franchisesrather than finite products.
"All of a sudden, PC games becomethis thing that's reliable and up-to-date," says Holtman. Team Fortress2 designer Robin Walker weighs in, noting that the PC version of theshooter has had no less than 53 updates since its release last year -something that certification cost and time have prohibited for onconsole - and that this "ship continuously" ethos is a key component tothe success of the best multiplayer titles. Steam, he says, makes thatprocess fast and transparent.
"I don't want anyone between me andmy customers," says Walker. "I want to write code today and I want allmy customers running it tomorrow." Possible on the PC - Steam inparticular, naturally. Not possible on consoles. For his part, Fittereradded achievements to Audiosurf in a total of two days. This constantiteration creates a feedback loop between developer and customer that,reckons Walker, can only improve the quality of the game. "The more Italk to my customers, the better my decisions will be. Without a systemof talking to my customers, I will make bad decisions."

The implication is a striking one: sporadic, excessively controlledupdating means that console multiplayer games will never reach theheights of their PC counterparts. There is a counter-argument - that PCgames descend into a poorly-defined, indistinct mess of constantpatching - but it is effectively squashed by the fact that, if you lookfor a multiplayer game with the longevity and massive popularity of aWOW or a Counter-Strike on console, you won't find one (with the veryarguable exception of Halo).
Auto-updating is the reason Valvecreated Steam in the first place. It's the reason it now finds itselfin an odd position for a developer: semi-publisher, leadingdistributor, market analyst, agony uncle and technocrat - not tomention defender of a platform that's still being proclaimed dead, whenall signs point to the very opposite.
At the end of the day, PCgaming's health - and its trickiest challenge - comes down to a bottomline that even the format's detractors can't refute: there are just somany of the damn things. "We think the number of connected PC gamers weare selling our products to dwarf the current generation of consolesput together," states Newell. "There are tremendous opportunities infiguring out how to reach out to those customers.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:22 am
25 rarest Nintendo games ever in Gaming
We could've filled the entire list withantique Game & Watch titles alone (they're manna from heaven forcollectors), but for the sake of balance here's a list of some of themost valuable games across Nintendo's entire portfolio.


So before you throw out any 'junk' boxes from the loft, best check they don't contain any of these 25 rare classics.


Harvest Moon (SNES, US) - £60
The SNES version of Harvest Moon is still considered the best amongfans of the whimsy-heavy farming/courting sim. It doesn't come up veryoften on eBay, and when it does you can expect to pay at least £60 fora good boxed copy. The N64 version was released soon after, accountingfor the SNES game's initial lack of popularity.


Banjo-Tooie (SNES, PAL) - £60
Rare's first Banjo-Kazooie game was extremely popular, but Banjo 2 gotstuck in development and ended up coming out towards the end of theN64's lifespan. Although you may be able to pick up a copy cheaper, agood boxed version will set you back at least £50, and sealed copieshave been known to go for as much as £100. You'll probably see theseprices rise when more news of Banjo-Kazooie 3 on Xbox 360 emerges.


Dracula X (SNES, US) - £70
The final Castlevania game released on SNES wasn't as popular asprevious iterations, but the series has gained great cachet with gamersmore recently, especially since prices for Castlevania: Symphony Of TheNight skyrocketed on PS1. Dracula X is unlikely to go down in value.


Sin & Punishment (N64, jpn) - £70
While the version released on Virtual Console has adversely affectedthe original's price, this N64 classic is still a jewel in the crownfor any Nintendophile. This Treasure shooter was designed for the N64analogue stick and is always best played on its host hardware. A goodinvestment and a collectable game you'll actually bring out from timeto time.

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Naruto: Clash of Ninja (GameCube, PAL) - £75
Although it's worth very little in America and Japan, the PAL releaseof Naruto Clash Of Ninja didn't see wide distribution and it's beenknown to fetch up to £75 on eBay. Expect other GameCube titles such asChibi-Robo and Baten Kaitos to increase in price because of theirlimited numbers.


Earthbound (SNES, US) - £80
This Japanese hit was released in the US but failed to make much of animpression. Now it's lauded for its RPG in-jokes and humorous take onAmerican culture. Again, rumours abound that EarthBound is to bere-released on Virtual Console, which may bring the price down on thisUS import.


Paper Mario (N64, PAL) - £80
Another rare PAL gem. Though Paper Mario continues to be one of themost popular titles on Wii's Virtual Console, collectors will stillfork out good money for this great mix of platforming and puzzling inits original guise. Until recently, copies of this SNES classic couldstill be found in many second-hand game stores.


Bakuretsu Muteki Bangaioh - (N64, jpn) - £80
If you thought the Dreamcast version of Bangai-O was good, you shouldcheck out the original N64 version with its sublime analogue controls.Only 10,000 copies were released in Japan and it's been going up inprice ever since. Find a mint, boxed copy and you'll have collectorsknocking your door down.


Chrono Trigger (SNES, US) - £90
Chrono Trigger isn't rare by any standards - indeed, thousands ofcopies are on the market. However, the game is so good, and has builtup such a reputation, that people are willing to pay upwards of £100for a sealed, boxed SNES copy. You can even get it as part of FinalFantasy Chronicles for PS1, but still the collectors pay big money forit. Rarity isn't really the main consideration, we guess.

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Ninja Gaiden Trilogy (SNES, US) - £150
Even though this comprises all three of the Ninja Gaiden games releasedon NES with a graphical update, it didn't sell very well when it firstcame out in 1995. But since the next-generation Ninja Gaiden games werereleased, Tecmo's star has risen, enhancing the price of this cartconsiderably.


Final Fight 3 (SNES, PAL) - £180
The PAL version of Final Fight 3 is a hidden treasure waiting tohappen. Let's face it, unless you're a collector you're unlikely toknow its true value and this is your best chance of picking up a gem atthe local car boot sale. A naked cart is probably only worth £40, butif you can find a good boxed copy then you're likely to achieve £180 to£200. And it's a decent game, too, containing two extra characters inDean and Lucia Morgan.


Space Invaders (Virtual Boy, jpn) - £200
A good boxed copy of Space Invaders on Virtual Boy can now fetch £200.It's notable because it's one of the better games on the system, and solong as you don't play it too much (giving yourself a much-warned-aboutmigraine) you'll get some fun out of it. Virtual Boy games have shot upin price in the last five years and this trend doesn't look likeabating. It may be a good investment for the future...

The Flintstones: Surprise at Dinosaur Peak (NES, US) - £200

As the NES drew to the end of its lifespan, publishers began releasingtheir games exclusively to game rental companies, bypassing traditionalgame shops. The Flintstones II is typical of this, and although it's alittle easier to track down in Europe than elsewhere, it can stilldemand high prices. United States copies can go for £200, thoughfinding ex-rental games in good condition is like finding a joke in anepisode of My Family.

<!--[bigpic]--> Starfox Super Weekend/Donkey Kong Country Competition Carts (SNES, US) - £200

These two separate carts were manufactured specifically for use inBlockbuster in-store competition promotions. Only about 2,500 were madeof each but they were initially sold off in stores for a knock-downprice. Because of their rarity you can expect to see them sell on eBayfor around £200, depending on what kind of condition they're in.


Rendering Ranger R2 (Super Famicom, JPN) - £200
This run-and-gun classic came from the makers of Turrican, so Lordknows why a game of such pedigree was only released in Japan. It'sunusual for a rare game in that it's actually very playable today. Acart-only copy might still sell for £80, but find it boxed and completeyou're looking at a sum of £200.

Fire Emblem Thracia 776 Collectors' pack (Super Famicom, JPN) - £200

Thracia may sound like a disease you'd pick up in a Bulgarian brothelbut this is actually a super-rare Fire Emblem collectors' pack. As itwas only released in Japan in limited numbers, you're unlikely to findit at the local car boot, but it shows that you should always keep youreye out for limited edition releases - and keep all the gubbins thatcomes with them.


Bubble Bath Babes (NES, US) - £250
Panesian was a company that produced several adult titles for the NES,including Peek-A-Boo Poker, Hot Slots and Bubble Bath Babes. Forobvious reasons the games didn't get Nintendo's seal of approval andended up being distributed via mail order catalogues or rental shelves,hence their scarcity. Interestingly, they didn't come in NES boxes butVHS-style cartons, so many are still undetected. The limited graphicsmake the sauciness factor rubbish, though.

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Mountain Bike/Speed Racer Combo (SNES, US) - £300
This SNES combo underlines the fact that combining two or more gamesonto one cart for a limited print run is always going to have raritypotential. Good boxed copies have generally only come out of Nintendo'sown warehouses and if you can find one with the strange LifeFitnessBike peripheral then you're looking at a price in excess of £1,000.It's a cart that will always go up in value, but it's worth around £300today.


Myriad six in one (NES, US) - £350
This is the rarest unlicensed NES game and consists of six titles:Bookyman, Adam And Eve, Cosmos Cop, Magic Carpet 1001, Balloon Monsterand Porter. Its rarity is due to the fact that Myriad Games put outfewer than 1,000 carts and they were individually numbered. Gamescollectors speculate that there are only 100 left in existence, butonly 15 have ever surfaced.


Virtual Bowling (Virtual Boy, JPN) - £400
Only 22 games were ever released on Virtual Boy, although somecollectors believe there could be rare prototypes hidden away thatdidn't make it to retail. Virtual Bowling is actually a pretty goodbowling sim, offering practice and tournament modes, but the lack of asave battery means your scores are wiped when you switch off.Fortunately, passwords save the day. Not to be mistaken for Nester'sFunky Bowling, which is much more common.

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Flagman (Game & Watch) - £450
There are plenty of rare Game & Watch titles we could have listed,including the obvious competition-only Super Mario Bros YM-901 (justtrips off the tongue), or the eminently collectable The Legend Of ZeldaGame & Watch, but it's likely to be the less well known titles thatwill surface down at your local flea market. A boxed Flagman could bagyou a small fortune.


Stadium Events (NES, US) - £500
Though common in PAL territories, Stadium Events is one of the NES'smost collectable games in America. Although it's a terribly averagefitness game, its value is due to Bandai printing a test run of thegame that was sold in Woolworths stores for a very short period beforeNintendo bought the rights. Rumours suggest there are only 10 completecopies on the market, and even unboxed Stadium Events carts can sellfor £400.


Virtual Lab (Virtual Boy, jpn) - £500
It's all too easy to look back on the Virtual Boy debacle and laugh,especially at the poor souls who thought it looked cool to wear a pairof heavy, red goggles and bellow, 'come on Mario, you can do it!'. Butwho's laughing now? Some Virtual Boy games are fetching massive prices,including this J-Wing developed Japanese puzzle game. The fact'Nintendo' is charmingly spelt 'Nintenndo' on the back of the box onlyadds to its value.


Balloon Fight Crystal (Game & Watch) - £600
This has to be one of the rarest Game & Watch titles, and boxed,good condition units have been known to fetch up to £600. Releasedtowards the end of the series' run for the Crystal Screen range,Balloon Fight's simple gameplay is reminiscent of Williams' Joust andhas since gone on to make an appearance in Animal Crossing.
Posted by Editorial Team Sun Jun 29, 2008 6:36 am
Call of Duty 6 goes sci-fi? in Gaming
Ahead of this weekend's Call of Duty:World at War reveal, via Xbox Live Marketplace, comes a tasty littlerumour hinting that the COD4 developer's next game will be a bit on thescience fiction side.


Take it with a pinch of salt for the time being but an insider from Infinity Ward is reported to have said,"we are currently working on a new sci-fi title, we cannot release anymore information as of yet, we may or may not announce it at E3."

We're not sure how much into the future we're talking here and we hopewe're not going to be shooting little green men or vampires on Mars.We've done a little digging only to be greeted by blank looks, whichdoesn't actually rule anything out in our experience. But it doesn'tconfirm anything either.

Usually we wouldn't go for such randomness, but we've got a funny feeling about this one. More soon maybe...?
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 23, 2008 6:07 pm
nVidia turning it's GPU's into 'PhysX Physics Processors' in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
3D card manufacturers shouldn't take this the wrong way, but ittakes a lot to make us crawl out of the communal Eurogamer bed (yes,all the Eurogamer writers share a single large bed - we do it forfrugality and communality, which remain our watchwords) and go to ahardware presentation. There's a nagging fear someone may talk maths atus and we'd come home clutching the local equivalent of magic beans.And then we'll be laughed at by our fellow writers and made to sleep inthe chilly end where the covers are thin and Tom left dubious stains.That's no fun at all.
Then again, there's some things you can'thelp but go and have a gawk at. So when an invite claims, "All toooften new hardware brings with it a small performance increase - maybea 5-10 percent over the previous fastest thing. Wouldn't it be far moreexciting to see a speed increase of x20 or even x100... well, we'll behappy to show just that on Friday," you have wander along. Even thoughyou suspect it may be a trap and they're going to attack you withill-shaped blades, you have to find out what on earth they're talkingabout.
As we suspected, it wasn't quite what we were hoping for.Sure, there are programs which gain a x100 increase via the methodsNVIDIA talks about on this particular Friday, but unless you're workingin economics or astrophysics modelling, it's not exactly that relevant.However, something more quietly astounding was explained. Mainly, thatdespite the fact that no-one you know bought a PhysX card, if you're aPC gamer with a relatively recent NVIDIA card, you've already got one.Or, at least, you will soon. Spooks.

Get him!

The primary idea NVIDIA was trying to push was Optimised PC - the approach discussed in Rob Fahey's interview with Roy Taylorthe other day. The idea being that the traditional PC approach whereyou buy the fastest PC processor you can doesn't actually lend the bestresults, at least in most situations. If you spent more on -predictably - a GPU-driven 3D card, for an increasing number of areas,you're going to get much higher performance. If the program is usingthe GPU in a meaningful way, anyway. NVIDIA highlights areas likeimage-processing and HD video-encoding, as well as - natch! - games.You lose in single-threaded activities - like, say, just booting up aprogram - but they argue a small loss in opening a Word Document isless noticeable than frames in games or similar.
Where it startsgetting interesting is NVIDIA's development language, CUDA. The problemwith all the threading programming methods is that it's radicallydifferent to single-threading (and, yes, we're getting into, "Why wouldanyone care about this but a programmer?" territory, but its backgroundfor the key point later). It's hard to do, and CUDA is basically a wayto make things more accessible.
NVIDIA claims anyone experiencedin C or C++ will be able to get a grip on it (i.e. not us, but theaforementioned programmers). This means that anyone who codes in CUDAcan program the GPU to do pretty much whatever they like; it's byturning the 3D card into a bank of processors that the financialanalysts and the astrophysics guys are getting such impressive results.And impressive savings, as it's a lot cheaper to do it this way.

Now, NVIDIA claims that the fact GPU solutions are cheaper is goingto push better GPUs into more business machines. This will help pushthe idea that an okay CPU/good GPU machine gives better performancethan a good CPU/okay GPU, leading to more machines with better GPUs...and so, making more PCs abstractly available for gaming. Or, at least,raising the bottom level of hardware that you can expect people to have.
Interms of a more general use, transcoding video can take hours. Later inJuly, all GeForce 8000+ cards will ship with Elemental HD, a programwhich manages to perform the odious task - in the words of NVIDIA - "ina matter of minutes". The software will also be available for people todownload online, probably with a small fee ala Quicksave if theyalready have a GeForce card.
Point being: this CUDA malarkeyisn't something that's just for future NVIDIA technology. It'ssomething that allows the hardware many PC gamers already have to berepurposed.
For example, PhysX. NVIDIA's Physics 3D Card systemwas only supported in a minor fashion, as no-one would buy a card justto make explosions fancier, but with CUDA it can run on one of theother GPUs. A proportion of the 3D card's power can be given over torunning physics, giving those fancy PhysX-style interactions withoutactually having a specific card for it. CUDA's porting to PhysX willbecome available to the public in July, but developers already have thetools.

The Euphoria engine of Natual Motion. It's hard to illustrate this sort of thing.

You'llbe able to - for example - manually, up front, decide to devote aproportion of your 3D card's power to PhysX. Alternatively, developerscan commandeer it and do exactly the same thing. The new generation ofcards which are about to be announced are able to deal with pretty muchanything that exists on the highest setting with power left over, sothat power can be given over to acting like a 3D card would.
Andit goes further. Where previously you'd have just thrown out your old3D card when you upgraded your PC to a new one, if you have a G8000+ 3Dcard already, you can keep it, and just set it to concentrate solely ondoing PhysX tasks. This isn't a SLI situation where you need two of thesame cards working in tandem - any post-8880 card, rather than beingput out to digital pasture, can be given a job of deciding how bits ofglass bounce off a skyscraper, or similar. NVIDIA claims it's talkingto ATI to try and get them to use CUDA too, which.... well, we'll seethere, eh?
The potential is interesting. Demos shown include Natural Motion, whose Euphoria engineis heavily physics-dependent, allowing unique, convincing moments ingames. A straight collision isn't enough, as straight ragdolls areludicrous - the system involving AI (so the hit object will try andmove limbs to protect self and similar) leads to impressivelynaturalistic results. The first sign of this publicly was in GrandTheft Auto IV, but Natural Motion's own American football game, Backbreaker,is a fascinating example of what a physics-heavier approach tocollisions can give games. And, with CUDA-esque use of GPUs to do thisstuff, the PhysX related boon is accessible to even more of us.
So they did talk some maths, then, but we survived.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 23, 2008 5:11 pm
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