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Valve: PC Market is Not Dying, PC Retail in America is in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
While talking to TGR, VP of Marketing and Development at Valve DougLombardi touched on the PC market in general and what Valve thinks ofthe stories regarding the fate of PC gaming. Lombardi told us:

“We have really been outspoken lately about that. There is this brokenstory about the PC being on the decline, right? And that is one ofthese things like that we are really sort of being cranky about rightnow and being outspoken about and saying, it is not the PC market thatis dying, it is the PC retail in the states that is dying.”

Doug backed up this claim with comments regarding the state of PCgaming in other countries. “If you look at the revenue that we aremaking from Steam and the revenue that Blizzard is making from World of Warcraft,"he told us, "and you look at the sales of retail products in placeslike Germany and cyber café business in Korea, etc., there is moremoney now being made from PC business then ever before and it isactually dramatically increasing. I mean our Steam year over yearrevenues are up over 190%.”

Translation: with the increasing popularity of MMO games and the hugePC growth in Korea, PC gaming is here to stay for a long time yet. Anystory claiming PC gaming is dead hasn’t researched the facts or, justlooking at the sales chart in America.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:25 pm
Samsung SyncMaster 245T in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
There's an awful lot of panel sharing going on in the LCD market thesedays, isn't there? It seems that even some of the most no-name brandsare now sporting panels made by a few giant, well-known manufacturers.It's enough to make a consumer wonder whether paying extra for apremium branded monitor is really worth it.

With that in mind, what is there to think about Samsung's newlyincumbent 24-inch model, the 245T? One thing is for sure, if you want amonitor with a quality Samsung-manufactured PVA panel, you don't needto pay over £600 for a monitor with that Samsung badge on the front.There are plenty of other screens with Samsung PVA panels inside, andsome can be had for less than £350.

Hence, the key question is not whether the new 245T is a good monitor.Instead, the question is this: Can the 245T really be worth nearlytwice as much as the lesser branded but similarly specified opposition?

That's what we're here to find out...and we just happen to have a muchmore affordable 24-inch widescreen on hand, one powered by a SamsungPVA LCD panel. That'll be the Hyundai W241D-PVA.


Features and Build QualityThe 245T is hardly the last word inswishy, swanky styling. The aforementioned Hyundai (with its glossyblack and white plastics) roasts it for pure desktop presence, forinstance. But thanks to the high quality of its construction, itnevertheless has a certain understated class. The bezel is a slim 15mmall the way around which emphasises the display, although the entiremain panel is quite a weighty 80mm thick. Front to back, you'll need atleast 25cm of desk space to accommodate the large, sturdy base.


Click to enlarge

The no-nonsense OSD controls are an extremely welcome and user-friendlyfeature, as is the stand's comprehensive adjustability. Not only areswivel, tilt, rotate and height tweakage on the menu, but they are all incredibly smoothto operate yet easily hold any position set without the need for clipsor locks. Given the panels size and weight, it's not light enough tomove without some effort - but it certainly doesn't require brute forceeither.


Click to enlarge

In terms of inputs, most of the usual suspects make an appearance.Digital connectivity takes the form of a single DVI port and an HDMIsocket, both with HDCP support. However, there is no DisplayPortavailable. On the analogue side, it has the lot - VGA, S-Video,component and composite. In short, there's very little that you can'thook up to the 245T. It even sports picture-in-picture mode for smoothmulti-input juggling; however, that feature is limited to onlycomponent (AV), S-Video and composite, not the digital inputs or VGA.

A final disappointment is the presence of inverse ghosting. As we havementioned previously, inverse ghosting is a problem that's thought tobe a result of pixel-response-enhancing overdrive technology. In simpleterms, it involves a trail or shadow that appears in the wake of movingobjects in some situations, typically in more or less the oppositecolour to the moving object.

Most of the time, it's a minor issue with the 245T. But with certaincolour combinations, it results in some pretty horrific renderingartifacts. For instance the text on this page exhibits some particularly horrible black trails and smearing when jostling the window around.

It's absolutely not what you expect from a premium brandlike Samsung. What's more, if you had just invested over £600 on thismonitor, well, you'd have every right to feel extremely let down.



Click to enlarge

Final ThoughtsThere's a lot to like about the 245T includingits static image quality, viewing angles and contrast performance. Butat this price point, something close to perfection is to be excepted.At £600+ any major flaws are simply unacceptable and the fact that the245T actually has two – moderate input lag and occasionally seriousinverse ghosting – might seem pretty shocking.

However, these problems are related to the PVA panel technology thatdominates the high end 24-inch monitor scene at the moment. Moreprecisely, they appear when pixel overdrive techniques are used tospeed up the extremely slow response. In other words, they are hard toavoid on PVA monitors.

So, what we would really like to see is more choice in this part of themarket. Without question, IPS panel technology has some weaknessescompared with PVA as contrast performance and the depth of renderedblacks are typically a little off the pace. But PVA technology hasenough drawbacks that mean the extended choice would be very welcome.


In any case, the key points to note about the 245T go something likethis. Yes, it is that little bit more vibrant and accurate than cheaperPVA monitors from lesser brands; the colours boast better fidelity, theblacks are deeper and the whites a touch cleaner. But even Samsung hasnot been able to eradicate the overdrive related glitches that commonlyspoil 24-inch PVA monitors.

With all that in mind, it's pretty hard to recommend the 245T. If youcan live with the minor image quality issues, then you are better offwith a significantly lower priced but only slightly inferior model froma lesser brand. Even a TN+Film 24-incher with slightly sludgy coloursand washed out blacks makes more sense – it's certainly a much cheaper option and will do a much better job for games.

Until a monitor maker manages to solve the input lag and inverseghosting issues with PVA screens or plops in a quality 24-inch IPS TFTalternative, the perfect 24-inch panel will remain infuriatingly out ofreach.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:14 am
So You Want To Be a Video Game Artist ... in Graphic Design, Web Design and Creative Arts Concepts
In a market that’s oversaturated with incredibly talented artistsand writers, up-and-comers and semi-professionals alike face theoutrageously difficult task of gaining recognition in their chosenfield. One dilemma out of many is that many young artists are forced tocompete against traditional animators that didn’t get out of the mass layoffs and salary cuts plaguing Disney in the year 2001, the eventual closureof the animation giant’s 2D studios creating a flood of overqualifiedprofessionals entering into jobs that would normally be moreaccommodating towards talented students and other entry levelapplicants.
While this is hardly a bad thing– one would have a hard time arguingagainst widely-distributed mediums getting a boost in artistic quality–it leaves a lot of people scratching their heads, wondering how thehell they could possibly make it in the professional world, especiallywhen it comes to video games. You know how they say the right answer isoften the simplest? Well, here’s a simple answer to the headscratching:learn how to become a professional.


[TABLE][TR][TD][/TD][/TR][/TABLE]
Art in its many varied forms has, and always will be, a staple ofevery human culture that has ever walked the Earth. Over time, nearlyeveryone has debated what constitutes art that’s worthy of display, ofreflection; why a single image may evoke a great deal of emotions inone person while it leaves another cold and uninterested. This worksrather well for art contained within the many varied galleriesscattered across the globe, but that kind of ambiguity will rarely getyou honorable mention in mediums that rely heavily on– you got it–technical expertise.
The consumer market may be easy to fool with rudimentary attempts atfan art from your favorite game or anime, but knowing you have thetalent and expanding that talent are two extremely different things. Unfortunately, thanks to social networking sites like deviantArt and its numerous clones, many are under the delusion that the groping their ego receives in the form of comments or favorites make them impervious to conventional criticism. So here’s rule number one, in case you missed it:
You are never above criticism no matter how good you think you are.
The only way an artist will be anywhere near capableof making ends meet in a market that’s incredibly competative is bystanding out, both in their list of skills and in the body of work theypresent in their portfolios.Fresh ideas are just as paramount to getting that dream job you’redrooling over, but having a solid understanding of drawingfundamentals– perspective, life drawing (prudes are advised to get over naked people) and proper use of negative space– is going to be one of your most treasured assets.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a representative from Raven Software’s creative team over lunch, and later received a tour of their headquarters (which I, unfortunately, can’t tell you about, other than to say: holy crap that was cool). My tour guide had been a technical artist for Electronic Arts in the past, citing the impressive wealth of knowledge that landed him those jobs in the first place. Hestated in no uncertain terms that one of the ways an applicant canreally stand out is by showing proficiency in manipulating gameengines, saying that being able to produce mods for various games using the Unreal Engine would be an immediate edge over other prospective employees. Similarly, a solid understanding of 3D software such as Maya–including how to create detailed textures for the models you create– isincluded in the mix, even if your entire job revolves around sketchingconcepts with pen and paper. In short: wherever your strengths may lie,being able to showcase versatility in many different aspects of gamedesign is much more likely to land you a job in the industry.
Sounds difficult, doesn’t it? As if learning all the basics of drawing wasn’t hard enough, right? Well, it isdifficult; no matter how much encouragement you might receive from yourpeers and loved ones, nothing will erase that fact… but if you’reanything like me, you look forward to the learning process as much asyou look forward to landing that dream job.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:13 am
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
30 Most Anticipated Games of E3 in Gaming
30. Rise of the Argonauts (PS3, X360, PS3)
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Liquid Entertainment
Est. Release Date: Sep 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Anaction RPG that promises to be way more action than RPG, Rise of theArgonauts has a winning mythological premise and lots of little designtouches that keep the game looking fresh. Take the Argo—the ship oflegend will act as a seafaring headquarters from which your recruitedArgonauts will provide support. There is also a “deed” system that willincrease Jason’s abilities via the acquisition of Xbox LiveAchievement-like trophies. So it’s bursting with interesting ideas, andit’s all running on the reliable Unreal Engine 3—this could be thesleeper hit of the year.


29. High School Musical 3: Senior Year Dance (PC, Wii, PS2, NDS, X360)
Publisher: Disney Interactive
Developer: TBA
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Considerthis your representative sample of licensed games that promise to sellgangbusters regardless of quality or media reaction. And High SchoolMusical 3 is likely to be the biggest game of its breed this year: themovie of the same name is the first time this children’s blockbusterfranchise will see a theatrical release, meaning the marketing for theproperty is likely to be even more inescapable than usual. Beyond theusual niceties of rhythm games—coop and competitive modes, mechanicsspecific to each system’s control scheme—it will have the songs fromHigh School Musical movies past and present. That last one is almostcertainly the only feature the game needs to add another million insales to the franchise’s life-to-date count.

28. Borderlands (PC, X360, PS3)
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox Software
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Capabledeveloper Gearbox has never swung for the fences with quite as muchgusto as with Borderlands. The fact that the game is original IP isn’teven the half of it—it also promises a procedural item creation systemthat will provide this sci-fi first-person shooter over half a millionweapons. If that’s not enough, Borderlands also shares some ambitionswith big-budget role playing games: the world will be expansive,character growth and classes comes standard, and missions and sidequests will populate the landscape. Borderlands has all the earmarks ofa breakout hit, and its scope should easily take the breath away fromboth shooter and science fiction fans.

27. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (X360, PS3)
Publisher: Midway
Developer: Midway
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Goingon the title alone, Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe feels a decade late,like it should have been slugging it out with Marvel Vs Capcom for thequarters of 90s teenagers. But it’s actually a better idea,commercially, in 2008—now the game can ride the tide of successfulcomic book film blockbusters. It can pull from the years of soliddesign work and franchise reputation rebuilding that culminated inMortal Kombat: Armageddon. And with an anticipated ESRB rating of T forTeen, there’re no retail hurdles to keep the adolescent maledemographic from eating this up with a spoon.

26. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky (PC)
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: GSC Game World
Est. Release Date: Aug 29, 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.:Shadow of Chernobyl was hardly the biggest first-person shooter of 2007in the west. But it posted platinum-level sales in Eastern Europe,where its freeform gameplay and mythos steeped in Russia’s uniquescience fiction struck a strong chord. With little similar competitionin the region, its sequel Clear Sky should do well for itself therealso. Which isn’t to say the rest of the world shouldn’t (or won’t)give it a go as well—Clear Sky will add a tactical, squad-based turfwar to the already eccentric proceedings, and should be just as curiousand interesting a beast as its predecessor.

25. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (PS3, X360, Wii, PS2, PSP, NDS)
Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: LucasArts
Est. Release Date: Sep 2008
Officially Announced for E3: No, but it might as well be

TheForce Unleashed could well be the biggest project to bear the Star Warsfranchise name since Episode III ended the franchise’s non-animatedtheatrical run. Every Star Wars fan has been curious about the periodright before the Original Trilogy when Darth Vader had his run of thegalaxy; Force Unleashed promises to capture this period from theperspective of the Dark Side, using exciting new technologies torealistically render bot the AI and the Force itself. If the persistentrumors are true, this could well be the last project completely builtby LucasArts’ internal studio—but in that case, it will be one heck ofa send-off that a lot of Star Wars fans will experience.


24. Beyond Good and Evil 2 (PS3, X360)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier (likely)
Est. Release Date: TBA
Officially Announced for E3: No

Allthat’s known about Beyond Good and Evil 2 is that it’s currently beingworked on by Ubisoft premier designer Michel Ancel. But in this case,that’s more than enough—Ancel’s resume does include perennial hitRayman and (naturally) the first Beyond Good and Evil, after all. Andthe first Beyond Good and Evil is particularly beloved. The smallaudience that played it has been talking about it ever since, praisingits varied gameplay and realistic, strong female protagonist Jade. Sothe sequel is exciting, and though its commercial success is by nomeans assured it’s possible that maybe the adult gaming audience isfinally ready for this franchise.


23. Lock’s Quest (NDS)
Publisher: THQ
Developer: 5th Cell
Est. Release Date: Fall 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

2007’sbiggest surprise sales blockbuster was a little DS game called Drawn toLife, built by a little mobile developer called 5th Cell. That gamegave the independent studio a reputation for creating innovations withstrong market appeal, and it could cement that reputation with Lock’sQuest, a curious RTS/Action/RPG/minigame hybrid with cute graphics,quick thrills and a world that can be completely remodeled by theplayer. In other words, it has a lot of elements that appeal across awide variety of gaming demographics, as well as a lot of ambition. Ifthis one lives up to its potential, it would be great to see it succeed.


22. Puzzle Quest: Galactrix (PC, X360, NDS)
Publisher: D3 Publisher of America
Developer: Infinite Interactive
Est. Release Date: Fall 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Lastyear’s Puzzle Quest combined the most addictive parts of the casual“match three” puzzle game with the most addictive parts of RPGcharacter development, a powerful cocktail that murdered productivityand sold in huge numbers. There’s no reason this follow-up shouldn’tcontinue in that trend—it’s still a match three puzzle game (this timemore Collapse than Bejeweled), it still has those all-important RPGelements, and it’s being built by the same studio. The only differences(besides the science fiction setting) all look like improvements.There’s an element of strategy gaming. Players can enhance not justtheir character, but also their spacecraft. Downloadable content willabound. It all sounds like a game that players will itch to play afterthe first hit.


21. Crysis: Warhead (PC)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Crysis
Est. Release Date: Fall 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Allegedlythe last PC exclusive from the bastion of PC gaming high technology,Crytek’s side story to 2007’s Crysis looks every bit as graphicallydazzling as its predecessor. It also promises to be a moremarket-friendly title (a tall order considering Crysis’ million-sellingstatus); Warhead provides a less strategic, more bombastic run-and-gunaffair compared to the original Crysis. And with a year of hardwareadvancements in between Crysis and Crysis: Warhead, that more widelyappealing design will find that a lot more people have the rigs toactually run it well. And who knows? If Warhead does manage to findthat perfect balance, perhaps Crytek will stick to their PC-exclusivestomping grounds for a while longer.

20. Tomb Raider Underworld (Wii, PS2, PS3, X360, PC, NDS)
Publisher: Eidos
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

It’sbeen a few years since Crystal Dynamics took the Tomb Raider franchiseand reinvigorated it with Legend. But it’s really with Underworld thatthe series’ previous mistakes have been taken to heart. Rather thanrest the game on its laurels again, Underworld is a creation that lookstoward with the new; the game engine is all new, the way the worldinteracts with Lara is more realistic, combat now has melee and willflow fluidly into the puzzle mechanics. And if that wasn’t enough toguarantee sales, Lara has a motorcycle now too.


19. Sonic Unleashed (Wii, PS2, PS3, X360)
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: No

Thesedays it feels like SEGA promises the moon with every Sonic title, tothe point where it’s hard to fall for it anymore. Take Sonic Unleashed;it’s promise of a revamped, re-invented Sonic echoes the promises SEGAmade before this generation’s first Sonic the Hedgehog hit the Xbox 360with a sad plop. And yet, franchise sales have never followed the samecurve as the blue blur’s review scores. This is mostly because ofSonic’s strong appeal to the child market, but on some level thegraying Genesis owner wants to believe what we’re told, that this nextSonic really will reclaim the glory days. Anyway, Sonic Unleashed. It’srunning on a new engine and has some 2D environments. It’ll sell, andas for the rest of it? Here’s hoping.


18. MadWorld (Wii)
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Platinum Games
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: No

PlatinumGames, formerly Seeds, formerly Clover Studios, isn’t known for makingcommercial hits. No, that team is known more for making instant,beloved classics. Okami certainly, but Viewtiful Joe is in there aswell, and the only people who remember God Hand these days love it toabsolute death. MadWorld, a blood-soaked black and white Wii exclusive,feels like a return to the playful, experimentation that made this teamfamous. Will it sell? Well, it’s nice to think that just maybe, thistime, the market has caught up to what Platinum is doing.


17. Animal Crossing Wii (Wii)
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Est. Release Date: TBA
Officially Announced for E3: No

Asof this writing, Animal Crossing Wii still exists as a hopeful glimmerin the eye of the gaming public. Nintendo hasn’t said anything at allabout it yet, though almost all speculation says that it exists andwill be announced soon—and if that’s the case, E3 is as good a place toshowcase it as any. It’s a completely believable theory. Nintendo’sChristmas lineup is currently a complete mystery, and Animal Crossing,already a surprise hit on GameCube and DS, is such a good fit for thecasual Wii-loving audience it’s startling it’s not on the systemalready.


16. Left 4 Dead (PC, X360)
Publisher: Valve Software
Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Valvedoesn’t release duds, and it doesn’t buy teams that can’t deliver. Sothe fact that it purchased Turtle Rock Studios and have put a greatdeal of PR muscle behind Left 4 Dead speaks volumes as to how good thisgame could be. The game has a completely innovative, yet highly marketfriendly hook in its “four survivors must cooperate to survive thezombie horde” premise, though players of a less polite persuasion canalso take up the role of a super-powered zombie. This could very wellbe the next major online phenomenon, like Team Fortress 2 before it.


15. Resistance 2 (PS3)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Insomniac Games
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Thefirst Resistance was the big win for the PlayStation 3 at launch, butResistance 2 looks set to spin that good first impression into anempire. Resistance 2 pushes the game out of London to the morerelatable (in the US, anyway) environs of the United States. A goodmove, but not as good as the massive 60-man multiplayer that the gamepromises. That’s fantastic scale for an online console game; add onsome more focused, objective-oriented teamplay and Resistance 2 is agood contender for gamer’s next networked obsession.


14. Killzone 2 (PS3)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Guerilla Games
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Threeyears on and Killzone 2 is still trying to shake off its disastrous“showing” at E3 2005. Admittedly the team at Guerilla has done a finejob of actually approaching the target in that first badly marketed“target render,” with more recent previews showing the game asappropriately attractive and bombastic for its high position in Sony’sportfolio. But it still needs a big floor to show off, and it needs aman to say “in-game graphics” about one thousand times in front of somehuge HD Killzone if it wants to really nail the market. E3 historicallyhas had some very big floors.


13. Fable 2 (X360)
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Est. Release Date: Oct 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Alot on Fable 2 is already known, and most of it is interesting on avariety of levels. There’s the in-game dog, a character ofunconditional love that will act as the player’s anchor to the game’sworld. There’s the Pub Games, a series of Xbox Live Arcade titles thatwill act as both encapsulated products and previews for the bigrelease. Then there’s the gay marriage, pregnant adventuring, and allmanner of family matters to deal with in the game as well. It’s a gamethat promises to push boundaries and break some of the medium’s moreridiculous unnecessary taboos. Considering the success of the originalGable, it’s likely many people will choose to experience this moveforward—surely a good thing.


12. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 (PC, X360)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Los Angeles
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

RedAlert’s Cold War gone hot is one of the most beloved scenarios is allof strategy gaming, and the franchise’s long seven year absence makesthis game even more exciting and desirable. And by adding thepseudo-Japanese Empire of the Rising Sun faction the festivities geteven more campy and strange, complete with towering mecha, psychicschoolgirls and parachuting bears. So it’s got a lot of hooks for boththe longtime fan and sugar-crazed newcomer alike.


11. Far Cry 2 (PC, X360, PS3)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: No

FarCry 2 has found a unique gaming setting in the jungles, savannahs andtowns of Africa, and it plans on giving the player a lot of thatsetting – 50 square kilometers, to be precise. Plenty of new gameplayelements will make themselves known as the player crosses that expanse:some wounds have to be treated with field medicine (ie. fishing abullet out with a knife) and brush fires can be started, only to bewhipped up realistically by wind. Far Cry 2 is an underutilized brandmoving to an underutilized setting while adding multiple newinnovations, making it an extremely strong contender in the hardcoreshooter market.
10. Prince of Persia (X360, PS3)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: No

Princeof Persia: The Sands of Time was one of the last generation’s definingmoments, so it would have been easy for Ubisoft to just build astandard sequel on the successes of its previous trilogy. The fact thatthis is not the case, that the series is instead being rebooted with anincredible hand-painted aesthetic and open world, show a strongdedication to making the Prince one of the most lasting and importantfranchises in gaming (though the big budget movie helps on that scoreas well). While previous PoP titles did sell well, after theblockbuster success of Assassin’s Creed, the timing is perfect for thePrince to really make it big.


9. Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Est. Release Date: TBD
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Sinceclosing the door on the last console genre, Square Enix has relied onhandheld games and Wii side stories alone. If the publisher’s lastfiscal statement said anything, it was that’s no way for a company tolive—so while Square Enix has some other interesting console games inthe pipe, it needs to bring its megaton franchise back into the publiceye. It’s not surprising that Final Fantasy XIII will show up in someform at E3—and regardless of what form it takes or what the game lookslike now, it could certainly steal the show if it tried.


8. Street Fighter IV (PC, X360, PS3)
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom/Dimps
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Atworst, this is a surprise come back of one of gaming’s most iconicfranchises. At best, this could be the surprise come back of agenre—certainly if anything could revive a flagging fighting gamefield, a new numbered entry in its greatest series would be the thingto do it. Perhaps the best sign that this game knows what it will taketo succeed is its reverence to Street Fighter II—all of the charactersfrom that game will return, and the gameplay mirrors the measured paceof that early entry. Considering versions of SFII still sell in strongnumbers, it’s easy to see how this strategy could succeed on the market.


7. Rock Band 2 (X360, PS3, PS2, Wii)
Publisher: MTV Games
Developer: Harmonix
Est. Release Date: Sep 2008 (X360 timed exclusive, with other versions to follow)
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Nomatter what other companies say, the fast-paced game of catch-up thathas gripped the music genre says one thing louder: the four-piece RockBand is the standard for the field. And while little is known about itat this point, what is known proves that Harmonix hasn’t lost the plotwith Rock Band 2. Sticking to its “platform” guns, the game will befully backwards compatible—with old DLC, with old instruments, theworks. And while user-created content is not a go this time, there arecertainly things about the game yet to be announced—you don’t want tomiss this one at the show.


6. LittleBigPlanet (PS3)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Media Molecule
Est. Release Date: Oct 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Despiteseemingly constant delays, LittleBigPlanet remains one of the mostunique products in Sony’s first-party arsenal. The idea of a game thatlives and dies by the content created by its users has been triedbefore in first-person shooters, but LittleBigPlanet, with its lovelytextured graphics and universal, non-violent charm wants to be muchmore—the YouTube of games perhaps, or the Legos of the 21st century. Ofall the games that could bring PlayStation 3 to the mass market, thisremains the best hope.


5. Halo Wars (X360)
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Ensemble Studios/Bungie
Est. Release Date: Oct 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

HaloWars is more than just the next title from Microsoft to have the Haloname. It’s also more than the first Halo project not spearheaded byBungie. Halo Wars wants to be a revolution in real-time strategy, aconsole exclusive built from the ground up for a console controller—inother words, Halo Wars wants to do for real-time strategy what Halo didfor first-person shooters. If it succeeds, it could crack wide open thenascent console RTS market as gamers try it based on the franchisealone. It’s been reported that the game will be playable by the mediaat E3, so the show should give a much better idea as to how itssucceeding.


4. Spore (PC, Mac)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Maxis
Est. Release Date: Sep 7, 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

It’scertainly something that even after the seemingly endless amount ofwords typed about Spore, even though it’s appeared in publications asnon-game centric as The New Yorker, even though the wait for the gamehas been years long and interminable, almost everyone who knows aboutit is still excited at its promise. And after the success of therecently released Creature Creator, that excitement is still mounting.Will Wright’s SimEverything could very well the next big thing, tossingaside silly ideas like “demographics” and just appealing to everyoneeverywhere. In other words, the next Sims.


3. Gears of War 2 (X360)
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Epic Games
Est. Release Date: Nov 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Gearsof War 2 is a lot of things. To the gamer, it is epic, the sequel tothe game that dominated man hours spent on Xbox Live for most of 2007.To developers, it’s the new baseline, as every new Epic game has cometo represent the state of the art for the now industry standard UnrealEngine 3. In both regards Gears of War 2 looks great. A fewimprovements to the constantly evolving engine have already been shown,and most gamers agree that new mechanics like martyrdom and the “meatshield” look like fantastic fun. Gears of War is already one of thisgeneration’s emblematic franchises, so it will be great to see how thesequel goes about cementing that status.


2. Resident Evil 5 (X360, PS3)
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

RE5is not even close to a retail release, and yet it’s already one of themost interesting topics in the industry. It brings with it the highlyrespected pedigree of Resident Evil 4, hands-down one of the best gamesof the last generation, and will probably sell strongly to the audiencethat loved, or even heard about, that game. Yet it’s also mired incontroversy over some concerns regarding racism. So it’s a projectthat’s walking many tightropes of expectation, and there’s potentialfor huge success or massive failure here. As a result this E3 could bethe most important public showing for RE5 until its release—it shouldbe fascinating.


1. Fallout 3 (PC, X360, PS3)
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Est. Release Date: Oct 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Fallout3 shows great evolutionary leaps every time it’s displayed for publicviewing, with recent revelations—the childhood simulating charactercreator, the 500 endings—being particularly fascinating. Now that it’scoming precariously close to its announced release date, this E3 shouldrepresent the game’s biggest showing yet. If there are any surprisesleft in the title to announce, expect them to get announced at somepoint during the week. But even if there aren’t, Fallout 3 has alreadyproven itself to be a sprawling, ambitious project that anyone in thegaming audience would wait to spend more time with.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:55 am
Has the PC sports market has declined? in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
Consoles like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have lured sports gamersaway from a PC market already moving towards a download model and underthreat from piracy, forcing developers to prioritise other formats.
That's the view of Peter Moore, boss of EA Sports, who outlined his views on Peter Moore's Official Blog this week.
Next-generation consoles "with their high definition graphicsand 5.1 sound capabilities have attracted millions of consumers toeschew the 'lean in' PC sports gaming experience for the 'lean back'full room console experience," Moore wrote.
                   
"Businesses have to make hard trade offs for where toinvest for the best return, thus creating capital to make even moregames," he explained. "I know this concept touches a nerve with some ofyou, but our industry is founded on publishers that have driven forfinancially-successful games and then re-invested the proceeds indevelopment of even more content for gamers to enjoy.
"It's a simple financial premise, and an obligation forpublically-traded companies who answer to their shareholders. We arenot making games in garages or bedrooms any more."
But Moore reserved his harshest criticism for the people who steal games off the Internet. "Piracy is an issue," he wrote.
"Sorry, I know many of you disagree with me on this, but thenumbers don't lie. Companies spend millions developing content, anddeserve to see a return on investment for their risk. The employeesdeveloping the game design, writing code and creating art deserve toget paid for their work. Period."
Moore's comments are particularly interesting as they come just days after Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime told Eurogamer.netthat suggestions the PC games market is in decline are "just completelydead wrong". "PC is the gaming platform with the largest installed basearound the world. It's also the platform with the best margins,"Morhaime had said.
Morhaime was reacting somewhat to similarsentiments from Valve boss Gabe Newell, whose company flew journaliststo Seattle in May from around the world to evangelise the PC as aplatform.
Quote:
"We think the number of connected PC gamers we areselling our products to dwarf the current generation of consoles puttogether," Newell had told the press on that occasion. "There aretremendous opportunities in figuring out how to reach out to thosecustomers."

For his part, Moore added that EA Sports is stillexploring options on the PC. "In order to make fundamental shifts in anecosystem, you sometimes have to hit the reset button. That's what wehave done this year at EA Sports as regards some of our franchises onthe PC," he wrote.
"That does not mean that we aren't coming backnext year with new, innovative, maybe even less-expensive ways to playall of our franchises on the PC, but for right now we are assessing allof the options open to us to shift the current paradigm for our gameson this platform," he wrote.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:52 am
HMV: Videogames "are the new rock 'n' roll" in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
HMV's head of games, Tim Ellis, has told GamesIndustry.bizthat videogames have entered a "golden period" for the retailer, and"are the new rock 'n' roll" when it comes to popularity for consumers.
"Anyone who has been following the development of our gamesoffer really shouldn't be that surprised by this level of growth," hesaid, after the company revealed that the technology and games divisionnow makes up 21 per cent of the overall revenues, up from 14 per cent ayear ago.
"We'll always love music - it's in our DNA after all, but, ifit's not too much of a cliché to say it, the truth is that games reallyare the new rock 'n' roll."
                   
And he went on to underline the company's ambition to become the leading player in the specialist videogames market.
"We've been telling the world for some time that we are veryserious about our commitment to the games market. We've been investingsubstantial resources into the format so that we can become a seriousand credible force as a leading games specialist.
"There is significantly more trading space in-store andincreased numbers of staff dedicated to it. Our level of marketing andpromotion has also gone up considerably - much of it in our 'getcloser' brand style, which aims to get players closer to the games theylove; while we've also consistently offered some great deals onbundles, pricing and points rewards - both in-store and online athmv.com.
"Obviously it also helps that the last twelve to eighteenmonths have represented a bit of a golden period for games in terms ofnext-generation console launches and fantastic software releases, butwe had to put ourselves in a position to make the most of thisopportunity, and I think we're doing that."
He also shed some light on the company's plans to launch apre-owned videogame sale service, a practice which has proven popularfor customers in other specialist outlets, but which is disliked bypublishers.
"We've regularly monitored pre-owned activity in the gamesmarket, and have periodically reviewed our own stance in this area, asany business would," he said.
"We recognise that pre-owned is important for some consumers,though not necessarily the most dominant factor for them, while it'sclearly also a key element to the business model of some gamesspecialists.
"With this in mind we think it's worth trialling pre-owned togauge what our customers expect from us and also to assess the impactnot just on HMV's own games offer, but on our wider trading operation.
"Any decisions we make will have the best interests of ourcustomers in mind, and if we can, we will look to achieve this throughpositive dialogue with our suppliers."
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:44 am
CrossfireX: 2560x1600 gameplay becomes a reality in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
“AMD ATI Radeon4850/4870 CrossfireX” review at Guru3D. Hilbert’s lost it again – high poweredgraphics have that effect on him... Anyway, what’s come to light, lately, isthe high power consumption of the 4800 series (now double-up on the cards andimagine), and the irregular driver performance. You can see a broad spectrum ofresults, but when Hilbert gets CrossfireX to work, it works great. But do putthings in perspective when reading: with the latest generation of graphics cardsworking in dual-GPU setups, you’ll be looking at buying a 30-inch LCD for2560x1600 gameplay.Readit here.
XS Reviews is cracking open the Zalman GS1000 computer case, targeted at justabout anyone who wants to build a supercomputer at home. It supports E-ATX andvery long PCI cards and has hot-swappable bays for HDDs. Lots of space inside,if you’re “just” using a standard ATX mobo, but the panels are a bit dodgy,thinks the author. Not a snip at £100, but if Zalman could swap out those panelswith something better, they’d have a winner.Readon.
A few years ago we were hack-napped off to a press conference abroad just tosee how Philips would conquer the world of mobile telephony. Some 18 monthslater, Philips withdrew from the market, unable to compete with the big namesand (our personal opinion) mostly due to their utterly rubbish user interface.Now Philips is reviving the brand (Xenium 9@9) in China with the brand new X800.ePrice in Taiwan has the review. The X800 is a full touchscreen design (no, youwon’t have nightmares about the old Xeniums) and it looks like something out ofHTC’s workshop, to be honest. Careful when reading the page, it didn’t play nicewithGooglenglish,but you’ll get the gist (and the photos).
Andrew at Tweak Town took some time to write a guide on how to replace theheatspreaders on your RAM. Naturally it’s one of the warranty-voiding themes,but if you’re in need of improving cooling, it’s a necessary evil. Andrewsoutlines three basic methods to do this (hot, cold, lukewarm), but it all comesdown to be REALLY careful with sharp metallic objects in close proximity of aPCB.Letloose the mad aussie scientist in you.
T-break had a party with the ECS P45T-A Black Edition. ECS isn’t really knownas a top grade mobo maker, but it doesn’t fall behind the competition featurewise with this one. The board supports Crossfire, but it’ll break down the lanesinto 2x8 as per the P45 specs, but when you try your hand at an overclock, Abbasthinks you’ll be left wanting. The “Black Edition” brings to mind ideas ofmodding, overclocking and serious tweaking. That isn’t the case, it seems. Goodprice, tho’.Readon.
Tosh has hit the Portégè brand with its shrink ray and launched the G810.It’s no longer a notebook, as it were, it’s a Windows Mobile 6.0 smartphone witheverything touchscreen. It’s targeted at the same market as the HTC TouchCruise, but you really can’t avoid comparing the details with the iPhone. It’sHSDPA enabled and even includes GPS functionality. The only real thing goingagainst it is the slow speed of the image capture (slow flash, we guess). $550will buy you one.Readthe review here.
Hardware Zone is gobsmacked by Gigabyte’s most extreme P45 mobo – the aptlynamed GA-EP45T-EXTREME. This board has it all, it seems, even a waterblock onthe northbridge that runs liquid cooling to the southbridge and the rows ofcapacitors. It also allows you to stick in 3 ATI cards and is populated by abevy of LEDs that alert you about your overclocking misdeeds. It’s only apreview, butit’stasty.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:42 am
AMD with three new Phenom CPUs at opposite ends of market in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
The raw specs are 140W TDP for the 9950 at 2.6GHz and 65W for the 9350e at2.0GHz and 9150e at 1.8GHz. The prices are $235, $195 and $175 respectively, andthe sharp-eyed among you will notice that the 9950 costs exactly what the 9850does. That is because in a week, on July 7, the 9850 will drop to $205. Bothwill remain 'Black', but the 9950 will be blacker because, before the end of theyear, the 9850 will fade from black, and go back to a locked part.
You have to wonder why AMD is bothering to lock Phenoms at all, with theBlack parts selling at effectively no premium, why not just let people have fun.Anything AMD can do to foster the enthusiast market at this point is probably agood thing, and if you don't have the raw speed, play up the features.
In any case, the interesting part of the bunch is the 9350e. It isn't a barnburner, but for media center boxes, coupled with a 780G board, or better yet a790GX, it could be a pretty solid media/casual gaming rig. This part fills ahole in the market, there aren't any sub 95W Intel quads out there formainstream consumer use, but there could be quite easily if the 9350e is a hit.
In any case, hardcore gamers will probably turn up their noses at the lowclock speeds in the -e parts, but as long as you are not trying to eke out thelast FPS, these parts would make a dandy low-noise desktop.
So, how did they do? Using the same exact setup as the we did with theoriginal780G review, the numbers lined up quite well. To recap, that is a GigabyteGA-MA78GM-2SH mobo, Corsair DDR2 1066 memory and a PC Power and Cooling/OCZSilencer 750W PSU. Power draw was measured at the wall with an Extech True RMSPower Analyser. The same caveat as last time needs to be said, the PSU isunderworked and far less efficient that it would be if we were pulling 500+ W,so knock about 20+ per cent off the wall power to get power used by the boarditself.
We ran our usual power draw test, 3DMark06 under XP SP3 patched to current asof June 28. Just for fun, we threw in the 4850e and the X4 9600 from the lasttest, as well as the 8750 X3. So now you can compare a K8, X3, X4 B2 and a X4 -ein terms of power. It looks like this.

The raw numbers
The lowest idle number is of course the 4850e, and it beats the quads byalmost 20W, the really odd part is the greater than 20W gap from there to the8750 X3. Lose one core, gain 20W? Binning problem, or binning opportunity? Thedual core 4850e also takes the bottom of the loaded power charts, and there is abig 33W gap to the 9350e. From there, the 8750 and 9600 are almost on top ofeach other.
Performance is about where you would expect it to be, the 4850e taking up thebottom with sub-1200 scores, and the others right on top of each other at1540+/-2. A quick overclock of the 9600 to 2.8GHz barely moved the score, so3DMark06 looks pretty GPU bound here.
In the end, with the new parts are priced pretty low, but won't challengeIntel for supremacy. For the high end 9950, you gain 100MHz for a few watts somake sure your mobo can handle the extra. In a week, it will not cost you anymore than a 9850, so you might want to hold off for a few days.
The 9350e and the 9150e look to be solid and inexpensive workhorses for theHTPC/SFF/quiet office PC set. You give up 200MHz for 30W, not a bad trade. Theyare solidly mid-range parts that won't stun any gamers, but they plug gaps inthe market, and do so quite nicely.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:15 am
Neopets Ambitious New MMO in Gaming
It's so early in development that it doesn'thave a name yet, but I'm already quite intrigued by the new MMO fromthe creators of Neopets.
Adam Powell and Donna Williams struck it rich with Neopets,an online virtual-pet site that grew so popular with kids and femalegamers that the pair sold their creation to Viacom in 2005 for $160million. Now, as founders of a startup called Meteor Games,they're working on something markedly different for an encore: A newMMO game that blurs the lines between traditional massively-multiplayergames, social networking, and casual gaming.
"We're World of Warcraft players ourselves," says Powell, "and wewouldn't want to compete with them. The game is really more casual --we want players to be able to play it for five, ten minutes at a time."
Imagine sitting down for a game of chess inside the 3-D virtualworld of the MMO. Your opponent is a real live person, but they'replaying the game in a simple Flash browser window, without all of thefluff around it. Or imagine playing a version of the classic cell phonegame Snake, but at the end of the game, the snake comes to life in theMMO and starts attacking enemies for you.
                                                      
Neopets,Williams and Powell readily admit, is often seen now as a child'spastime. But that game's original target audience was an older set --teens and young adults. But after the pair launched Neopetsin 1999, the game took on a life of its own and became so popular withthe younger audience that the twosome didn't want to sacrifice theintensely lucrative younger market.
The goal of their unnamed new project is to capture the traditionalgamers. The art style is going to be cartoonish, certainly, but unlike Neopets,it won't trade realism for saccharine sweetness. Instead, Williams andPowell are drawing inspiration from a litany of sources near and dearto children of the 1980's.
"It's sort of traditional high fantasy with a little bit of sci-fi,"says Powell. "It's like a lot of 80's films that we love, like Labyrinth or Legend."
"Or The Dark Crystal," adds Williams.
So then, is this game merely lifting ideas from the lucrative well of collective nostalgia to compete with World of Warcraft?Apparently not. The game itself seeks to target a demographic somewherein between the hardcore MMO fan and his 7-year-old younger sister. Theword "tween" was mentioned, though I picked up on an obvious distastefor the term.
Key to attracting this audience, say the designers, is the game'sreliance on a hybrid financing plan. Players will be required to payfor a subscription, though Powell was very quick to point out that itwon't be nearly as expensive as those of traditional MMOs, whichgenerally run in the neighborhood of $15 per month.
Instead, the stated goal is to offer players a monthly fee of under$10, making up the difference and more with the ability to buy in-gameitems with small microtransactions. But kids with more pocket moneywon't be able to power up for cash.
"We are strongly against letting players buy an advantage," saysPowell. All of the microtransactions, he says, will augment theplayer's looks, not powers: New houses, new clothes, new pets.
And yet neither subscriptions nor microtransactions are anything newin the world of online gaming, so what sets this unnamed MMO apart fromthe rest of the pack? Synergy. Don't worry, they didn't actually dropthat buzzword during our conversation, but after describing the way thegame would span several different platforms in real time, there simplyisn't a better word for it.
As an example, Powell detailed one possibility, involving a simplegame of chess. At launch, the game itself will span both a traditionalMMO client as well as a social-networking website, and that simple gameof chess can be accessed through either, he explained.
Let's say one player is sitting inside the MMO. He's at a table inhis own fully 3-D virtual house and in front of him is a chessboard. Hemoves a pawn, waits, and the opposing side moves against him. Onlyinstead of challenging another player within the MMO, he's playingagainst someone who is playing chess via a simple Flash applicationembedded into the website. Each of their moves is relayed to oneanother in real-time, and both receive certain levels of virtual rewardfor the activity.
To explain how the reward system would work for someone interactingwith the MMO from the outside, Powell offered another example the grouphas planned for the title.
Remember Snake? That game where you maneuver a squigglyline around a board to collect pellets in the hopes of extending yourline's length? If you don't recall, check your cell phone. I guaranteeit's on there. The new MMO's website will have a Flash game similar to Snakebuilt into it. Instead of simply hoping for a high score, playersmaneuver the snake around the board in a hunt for pellets with theultimate goal of making the snake come to life.
Once you've collected enough points in the Flash game, your snakewould spawn within the 3-D MMO world and start attacking foes on yourbehalf, earning experience points for you whenever it successfullykills something.
Besides the basic versions of the mini-games, the social networkingsite will also contain your standard sort of Facebook-styled features.It's unclear how in-depth the system will be, but expect messaging,friends lists and everything you've come to love and/or loathe from theMySpaces of the world.
At launch the game's technology blending will only stretch as far asthe MMO itself and its official site, but the duo also plans toeventually roll out cell phone software that works with the system.Powell and Williams said that they have not yet decided how the phoneswould be implemented into the overall world, but giving players thechance to interact with the game while away from a computer is the sortof idea that could result in unforeseen levels of MMO addiction anddevotion.
Normally I'd be very cynical about a game relying so heavily on thissort of technological confluence -- particularly given thehyper-adorable, kid-centric current state of Neopets -- but assuming that these creators can actually deliver on the ideas they have for this game, it could be huge.
Of course, since the game is extremely early in development, no oneoutside of the 40 people on the development team will be playing it anytime soon. Powell and Williams say that they hope to publicly demo thetitle for the first time at Penny Arcade Expoin Seattle this August. If things go well, they plan on releasingsomething playable, whether it be the final game or a public beta, inearly 2009.




Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:14 am
BBFC hits back at UK games industry and MS - 'we can cope' in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
"We are disappointed and concernedabout attempts by one or two video games publishers to pre-empt,through recent press statements, the forthcoming public consultation onvideo games classification. Their statements are misleading in severalrespects," says BBFC director David Cooke.





Full report
   BBFC Rejects Criticism Of Byron Games Classification Proposals
The BBFC says itsaverage turnaround time for games classifications is eight calendardays and there should be no reason why the increased role for the BBFCenvisaged by Dr Byron should lead to delays.

A statement frothe BBFC reads: "BBFC classifications are already cheaper for manygames than those under the Pan European Games Information System(PEGI). Because the BBFC currently deals mainly with the mostproblematic games, BBFC costs will fall if, as Dr Byron recommended, wetake on all games, physical and online, rated '12' and above.

"It is absurd to imply that the BBFCcould not cope, or would need 'a building the size of Milton Keynes'.The BBFC is a larger and better resourced organisation than PEGI, andis well used to gearing up, and to providing fast-track services whereappropriate.

BBFC Statement




"We reject any suggestions that the Byronproposals for dealing with online games are not future-proof. Countriessuch as the USA and Germany already classify such games in a way whichreflects national cultural sensibilities. The BBFC has made clear thatwe are prepared to work through PEGI Online, which already recognizesBBFC symbols. But, with online games, the real need is not apan-national grouping of markets, but rather soundly based andindependent initial classification, full information provision, andresponsible self-regulation of online game-play backed by properlyresourced independent monitoring and complaints mechanisms.
Quote:

"The games industry really does have nothing to fear from a set ofproposals which would provide more robust, and fully independent,decisions, and detailed content advice, for the British public, andespecially parents. The Byron proposals, far from envisaging thecollapse of PEGI, specifically provide for a continuing PEGI presencein UK games classification. They also provide significant opportunitiesto reduce duplication of effort and costs. And they would make wideruse of a system, the BBFC's, which British parents recognize, trust andhave confidence in."


"TheBBFC has made clear that we are prepared to work through PEGI Online,which already recognises BBFC symbols. But, with online games, the realneed is not a pan-national grouping of markets, but rather soundlybased and independent initial classification, full informationprovision, and responsible self-regulation of online game-play backedby properly resourced independent monitoring and complaints mechanisms."

Games industry fear
Cookewants to reassure games publishers and developers alike, claiming: "Thegames industry really does have nothing to fear from a set of proposalswhich would provide more robust, and fully independent decisions, anddetailed content advice for the British public, and especially parents.
"The Byron proposals, far from envisaging the collapse of PEGI,specifically provide for a continuing PEGI presence in UK gamesclassification. They also provide significant opportunities to reduceduplication of effort and costs. And they would make wider use of asystem, the BBFC's, which British parents recognise, trust and haveconfidence in."


Plans to introduce cinema-style ratings for computer games aimed at theover-12s came under criticism as the world's largest games developer voicedits opposition to the proposals.
Electronic Arts (EA), maker of the Battlefields and Command & Conquertitles, said that the new scheme would confuse parents, be unworkable andlead to games being released later in Britain than in the rest of the world.
Computer games for the under-18s are rated under the self-regulatory, PEGI[Pan European Game Information age-rating system] scheme. The 18-plus titlesare examined by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).
Tanya Byron, parenting guru and columnist for The Times, has said in agovernment-commissioned report that parents do not understand the PEGIsystem and proposed that the BBFC rate all games that would attract a 12certificate and above.


EA, which makes about one in five of the games sold in the UK, wants legalenforcement of the PEGI system. Keith Ramsdale, who runs EA's business inthe UK, said: “What we need is a single system. "There are somegames that are already rated at 18 on the current system but would be at 15on the new cinema model. What we do need is legal enforcement of the PEGIstandard, because now if a child of 12 wants to buy a 16-plus game, theretailer has to sell it to them.”
His comments came as ministers begin consultations on how best to implement DrByron's proposals. She said that she sympathised with industry concernsabout the cost of compliance but did not accept EA's complaints. “Parentsdon't understand PEGI, and while adults don't buy Texas Chainsaw Massacrefor their children, they might still buy a [violent] game like Grand TheftAuto,” she said. Dr Byron said that legal enforcement of the PEGIregulations would be “a good compromise” between a statutory scheme andself-regulation. She added that her wish to have the BBFC rate all games“may be changed slightly as a result of the consultation”.
EA argues that the BBFC proposal is also unworkable because games increasinglyinclude extra levels or components downloaded from the internet. Mr Ramsdalesaid that the BBFC would need “a building with the size of Milton Keynes” tohouse all the censors needed to handle the thousands of game components andelements that companies like his hope to sell. The games industry has saidthat the proposed system could collapse because the BBFC could not cope.
Concerns about the need to regulate online games were overstated, Dr Byronsaid. “The majority of people buy games in the shops - that's where themarket is today,” she said.
EA asserted that the UK release of games would be delayed by “weeks, notdays”, while games released globally were made to comply with Britishratings. The pan-European PEGI system could be undermined if the UK, thebiggest single games market in Europe, walked away from it. Germany is theonly other big country in Europe to have its own ratings system. Last yearBritons bought £1.7 billion of video games.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:04 am
Laptop pricing continues to fall in the UK in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
Costs of PCs in the UK are set to continue to fall, according to the latest market reports from analysts at IDC.
Thenew IDC report states: "The UK PC market demonstrated solid performancein 1Q08, as overall PC shipments for the quarter reached more than 3.25million units, an increase of 14.3 per cent year-on-year."
Thenotebook market continues to grow at a healthy rate, growing "by a veryhealthy 41.8 per cent, thanks to renewals, further expansion of theinstalled base to new buyers, and multiple-equipment purchases."
The end of the Desktop?
Many users are now choosing to replace their old desktop PCs with new, affordable laptops.
"Demandfor notebooks, stimulated by fierce vendor competition and aggressivepricing, will remain a key engine for growth throughout the year," saidLucie Jichova, research analyst for IDC's EMEA PC research group.
"Economicpressure will continue to drive cautious spending behavior, but thearrival of low-cost ultraportables, increasing traction of telcobundles, and mobile solutions in the business space, will maintainstrong momentum in the notebook market in the second half of the year."
Cheap laptops for all
Thereallly promising news for UK consumers is that the price of laptops isgoing to continue heading in the right direction – downwards.
"Consumersare going to benefit from attractive notebook offers as competitionamong vendors in the retail channel intensifies," states the IDC report.
"Recently,we have seen an introduction of affordable ultraportable PCs, whichhave been very well received by consumers. IDC expects that these basicsurfing devices will continue to sell extremely well throughout 2008."
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:04 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
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
EA: 'Five Battlefield games in development' in Gaming
Battlefield: Heroes executive producerBen Cousins has revealed that EA is currently developing five differentBattlefield games.


Speaking in Paris at the GDC today, Next-Gen is reporting the developer said: "We've got five [Battlefield] titles in development, which is more than you'd expect."

Expanding on this he added, "We're actually developing a battlefieldgame with Neowiz for the Korean market and separate from Heroes," headded.

He didn't comment on the specifics of the other titles,but we're going to hedge our bets and say the remaining three aredifferent versions of the Battlefield console title - one version foreach console.

Battlefield: Heroes, the first of the five, should be available to play online for nothing sometime during the summer.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:26 am
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