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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
Gaming Overtakes DVD Sales in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
The gaming industry took in $18.85 billion during 2007, a figurethat trumps the $16 billion in DVD sales earned by the movie industryin that same year, reports Gamespot.
While this is the first year that gaming has eclipsed DVD sales, theindustry continues a trend of topping movie theater revenues ($9.6billion in 2007).
Still, the gaming industry doesn't quite trump Hollywood overall.Between theater revenue, DVD sales and DVD rentals, the movie industrybrought in nearly $33 billion -- a figure that gaming's single retailavenue simply can't match.


Report: US game sales surpass DVDs [Gamespot]
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:42 am
50 Skills that Every Gamer Should Master in Gaming
Just being able to play games is only the beginning. If you're goingto call yourself a proper gamer (as opposed to a casual pretender)there are a few requisite skills that you must master first. 50 skills,in fact. And they're all right here...
1. Give a game a review score without ever actually playing the game
A cursory glance from 20 paces of a grainy postage stamp-sized superlo-res scanned-in screenshot pinned to the ass-feathers of a headlesschicken in a sandstorm should be all you need to confidently attributean authoritative and infallible review score to any game. It's howprofessional reviewers have been doing it for years.
2. Be able to spot whether a game is running in 720p
Just by looking at it.
3. Survive with only four hours sleep (max) a night
We all abide by the 'one more go' mantra. It demands that we are strong in the face of severe sleep deprivation.

4. Play Wii without using the wrist strap
Or, master the art of gripping. Even newborn babies can do it.
5. Attack the weak point for massive damage
Look for the big red/yellow/orange thing. It's normally located on anenemy's back/ass/forehead. If a sustained assault yields unsatisfactoryresults, try attacking it with the last weapon you picked up. Thatnormally works a treat.
6. Be an expert in the work of one particular developer besides Miyamoto
Support the people that make the games you love. Pick a team. Find ahero. Whether it's an entire studio or just a single creative. Getexcited about the games they make. Know their history and what they'reabout. Hunt out their gameography. Get informed. We're sure Mr Shigstuff won't mind if some of the love gets spread around.
7. Beat a really bastard hard game on any tier of difficulty higher than Normal
Real men play on MASOCHIST!
8. Estimate remaining PSP battery life and calculate device's lastability on journey
If you've gone to all the trouble of uploading an extensive selectionof softcore pornography to your PSP in advance of a business trip, itcan be hugely upsetting to run out of juice before you've even had achance to make yourself tired in the airplane convenience.
9. Play driving games without 'steering' the controller
Unless you're a girl. Then you can't help it.

10. Become unhealthily obsessed with one particular game and play only that game for six months solid
Winners don't quit. They become addicts.
11. Instantly recognise any game being played on a TV show or in a movie
Computer Space in Jaws, Asteroid Deluxe in The Thing, Galaga in Trains,Planes and Automobiles, Centipede in Never Say Never Again, thesound-fx of Pac-Man in Ferris Bueller's Day Off... plenty more here.
12. Easily spot at least 5 differences between any PS3 and 360 comparison shots, that are invisible to the normal human eye
You're looking for things like lighting, texture resolution, draw distance, anything pink or slightly gay, lumps or growths etc.
13. Expertly pick the right game for the right moment
You might think your sozzled post-pub friends are having an absoluteparty huddled around your monitor watching you level up in World ofWarcraft. But they're not.
14. Be able to navigate to the 'Invert? Yes/No' option in under 5 seconds
Pause. Controller Options. Invert Yes/No. Unpause.
15. Be fluent in l337 5934k
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16. Instinctively know the location of all controller buttonsand their respective numerical, alphabetical or symbol-baseddenominations
When playing, a real gamer never has to look at the controller. Unless it's to check that it's not on fire.

17. Perfectly repackage console/PC snugly back in its box, complete with Styrofoam and cable ties
Put those ninja-honed Tetris skills to good use.
18. Make in-game moral choices quickly and without flinching
Stop being such a lightweight and kill the Little Sister already. We'repretty sure God doesn't take make-believe evil into account whendeciding who gets locked out.
19. Have a selection of "I only lost because..." excuses prepared and rehearsed in the event of defeat
Here's a few for free: "...I couldn't take my eyes off your lap"; ...Ihurt my fingers when your mum sat on them"; "...Satan told me to";"...I was a victim of sexism" and so on.
20. Own non-gaming friends at absolutely anything
You've never played the game before. The pad's missing buttons. You'vegot amoebic dysentery and you can feel a hairy-ass spider crawlingacross your face. So what? When you're up against a newbie there is noexcuse for anything less than comprehensive ownership.
21. Perform tea-bagging like a pro
Don't bang away like a demented pneumatic penis. Get rhythm. Tea-bagging is an art - as our own educational video reminds us.
22. Immediately know what to dump when your inventory is full
Don't know what to drop after the Goblin's Cleaver of Apathy made youover encumbumbered? Stop being a massive tool and just relinquish someof the unused crap you've been pointlessly clinging on to for the last30 hours.
23. Engage in the 'Are games art?' debate without sounding like a pretentious twat or a moronic dumbass
Find the middle-ground between this:

"I think you'll actually find that videogames are a post-modernexpression of individualism while simultaneously collectivising itsdigital form and manifesting as abstract interactive entertainment."
And this:
"Art is for pussies. I just want to kill make-believe people."

24. Always spot the 'hidden area'
Remember: nothing screams "HIDDEN AREA!" louder than a cracked wall.
25. Gather enough tech speak to make it sound like you know how to make games better than developers themselves
"Sure, they might have nailed the anisotropic and bilinearfiltering, but you can unzip me like a banana if the Cartesiancoordinates and phong shading aren't an absolute bucket of wank." Smartsounding development speak makes you superior. This site is a good place to start.
26. Memorise enemy/item spawn points
Want to know how tHE dEfec8or is always smoking your ass withthe rocket launcher? It's because he's all over the longitude andlatitude of those maps, and he's snorting up the coordinates of everyspawn point and he knows exactly what it'll spawn and he knows exactlywhen it'll spawn it. It's called dedication and that's why tHE dEfec8oris a winner.
27. Complete unlocking/defusing mini-games first time, every time
Should be like making Einstein recite his five times table.
28. To never be suckered by game store offers pimping crappy games and shitty third party peripherals
An Hour of Victory and Turning Point: Fall of Liberty bundle for 40notes with a TatTech controller thrown in for free is not a bargain,it's a piss-take.
29. Be condescending, patronising and impatient when playing with non-gamers
Alternatively, feign kindness and offer to show them "how to do it". Once you've got the controller, never give it back.
30. Be shit-faced drunk and still be able to rock at Guitar Hero or other popular party game
Preferably be able to keep getting more drunker while playing.

31. Bluff your way through a conversation about a retro game you never actually played
Don't ever admit to having not played some geriatric, incontinent pieceof gaming history that some rose-tinted retrosexual is eulogising. Justfudge your way through. It's not hard: "Geoff Spectacles and theSubatomic Android Invaders on the Vic-20? Of course I played it! Thatwas the one with the monochrome 2D graphics and beepy sound effectswasn't it?"
32. Instantly identify enemy types by the sound they make
Don't stop with enemies. Utilise your ears as nature intended andrecognise weapons, vehicles, power-ups, score multipliers... anythingat all with the amazing power of hearing.
33. Confidently guess what a developer's secret project/unannounced title is
If all else fails, predict Shenmue 3.
34. Passionately champion at least one obscure game that nobody has ever heard of and win it some new fans
Ever heard of Warriors of Elysia? It's the long overdue sequel to Bikini Karate Babes. We're sure it's going to be awesome.
35. Get the highest possible rank/medal/award in any tutorial level
Tutorial levels are weak and pathetic. An insult to proper gamers,they're a monumental mismatch on the same scale as a bare-knucklesbrawl to the death between Chuck Norris and Barbara Bush.
36. Know which elemental attack will be most effective against an enemy
Water>Fire. It's not exactly rocket surgery.
37. Master the art of reloading
Don't ever let your gun get caught with its pants down. It's humiliating.
38. To simultaneously perform other important life tasks while playing
Multi-tasking is the cornerstone of every real gamers' brain. Youshould be able to eat pizza, guzzle coffee, fill in a jobapplication, build a house of cards AND successfully evade a six-star wanted level in GTA IV all at the same time.

39. Skip every cut-scene and still understand what's going on
No matter how convoluted the machinations and exposition, when it boilsdown to it you're basically just trying to beat the baddies.
40. Identify boss battle attack patterns in under 20 seconds
Lunge. Lunge. Guard. Burrow into ground/disappear/become temporarilyinvincible. Emerge from ground/reappear/stop being invincible. Chargespecial attack. Release special attack. Expose weak spot in atactically foolish and totally unnecessary manner <Playerstrikes&gt; Repeat until dead.
41. To know everything about the game without ever having to consult instruction manuals
Apart from a few semantics and trivialities, once you've read one instruction manual, you've pretty much read them all.
42. Argue effectively in a gaming Internet forum
At the most basic level this entails typing "HAVE YOU ACTUALLYPLAYED THE GAME!?" over and over and over until the foul dealer ofscurrilous mistruths slinks away like the miserable dog that he is.
43. Well developed bladder control
You're not going to get to level 70 by taking a piss break every three hours.

44. Condense even the most convoluted control system into easy-to-manage verbal instructions
"Basically, move the sticks and press X"
45. Always know the best spots for camping
So you can root them out or dig in deep, depending on your mood.
46. Memorise important cheat codes for fast fingered employment at a moments notice
If you can't remember Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A then you weren't there.
47. Have at least one game that you are unbeatable at
Take the time to master a game. Play it with your eyes closed. Learnevery pattern, every combo, every counter, every weak-spot. But don'tbrag about it. Just casually lure people into your virtual domain. Toywith them. Give them false hope. Maybe even let them win a couple oftimes and say something all humble and wimpy like: "Gee, you really gotme. Well played." Then bring the real noise and let the shuntingcommence. Their humiliation will feel rudely satisfying.
48. Be like Rainman when converting Microsoft/Wii points
It's the ultimate geek party trick. If you can calculate that 190,608Microsoft points is $2,381.65 without even flinching then you will get chicks. Believe us. Mental arithmetic makes ladies hot.
49. Read the back-of-box blurb and decipher it into 'What It Actually Means'
"State-of-the-art 3D environments and characters" = "We done some graphics". More here.
50. Know when NOT to talk about gaming
"Sure, as maps go if you've got a competent team together thenCrossfire can be pretty badass, but Wetworks is off-the-hook whenyou're gunning solo. Oh yeah, sorry to hear about your entire familygetting killed with the bird flu. Must be a real bummer. So... youwanna play some COD?"
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:41 am
Rethinking Traditional Advertising Methods in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
You see, for all the talk of monthly periodicals' demise, SEO'simpending reign, the downfall of FM stations and television'sinevitable implosion, we, err, sort of forgot to mention one thing:essentially that, despite posting up ratings far from the halcyon daysof the pre-TMZ.com era, mass media outlets such as ABC, CBS, CNN andNBC; Time, Newsweek and USA Today;and even regional Cineplex chains still generate the kind of audiencenumbers most interactive entertainment execs would give their last USBcable to connect with. Tactics may be changing, with custom tradeshows,advertorials, movie-type trailers and cover wraps replacing simple pageads and product giveaways. But as an industry, we're far from preparedto divorce ourselves completely from traditional advertisingplacements, or shift marketing dollars exclusively onto the Internet.

"Something most gamemarketers miss about the broadcast space is the need to keep messagingpointed and simple" - Steven Roberts, DIRECTV

To wit, column after news brief after investigative report may continueto bemoan the death of old-world media. However, as any marketingdirector can attest, its core vehicles still remain one of the bestways to rapidly generate mass awareness amongst PC- or console-owningaudiences. Hence, although blogs and video aggregators deliver greatbang for the buck and generate tremendous street-level buzz, theycontinue to be promotional outlets that most core publishers have yetto wholly embrace, let alone fully commit to. Thus the reign ofhigh-profile primetime spots for titles like Grand Theft Auto, Madden and Halo rolls on.
And so, just as I humble myself before my new daughter, who hasn't meta pair of slacks she hasn't enjoyed redecorating yet, I willinglyprostrate myself before the industry-at-large and beg forgiveness. Asthe following executives – representing the television, motion pictureand direct marketing industries, respectively – are quick to remind, weshould all think twice before acting so rashly and completely writingthese businesses off.
Suffice it to say that they may not generate the same kind of headlinesin 2008 as rich media providers, online networks or widget creators,but thanks to new technology, changing tastes and increasing audiencefragmentation, let's just say they're far from out of the game.
Steven Roberts
Vice President & General Manager, Games and StrategicInitiatives for DIRECTV, overseeing broadcast ventures like 24/7interactive games channel Game Lounge and the internationally televisedChampionship Gaming Series professional league.
"Broadcast TV is absolutely not dead – just changing. Popular as gamingis, you can't look at entertainment in a vacuum... you have to considerthe overall mass-market. There are 120 million television homes outthere, with millions of people who just want to be entertained in thesame way they have for the last 50 years. NFL football still puts uphuge ratings every Sunday, and millions still tune in to watch livemusic and sports – you don't see that on an Xbox 360 console.
"True, television has to evolve, and will become more interactive toengage subscribers... if that's what users want. But what we're reallylooking at here in the immediate is developers/publishers grapplingwith a question of increasing audience segmentation. Something mostgame marketers miss about the broadcast space is the need to keepmessaging pointed and simple. That doesn't mean downplaying keyelements or features that you want understood: Just presenting them ina straightforward, easily comprehensible way that speaks to a specificaudience. Implementing better virtual cameras into games would be awelcome start... For broadcasters, it's very difficult to showdifferent elements of a title in ways instantly conducive to helpingpeople understand what it's all about.
"It's also important to look beyond the 30-second spot. There's plentyof room for advertisers to tap into broadcast vehicles, whether throughtelevised competitions, interactive online program extensions orproduct integration. Placing games front and center by showing ahalf-hour of screens, video footage and people playing these titlesmakes sense. But what you really need for effective campaigns here isto build elements of user interaction into your advertising and pair itwith programming that's consistent with the demographics of the gameitself.
"It all comes back to basics. People won't skip an ad on a DVR or turnaway to get a glass of milk if it's compelling, the message is clearand it's telling you something that you want to hear. Creative doesn'tjust have to wow either: It also has to make sense for the audiencesegment. While marketing can be fun and have an edge to it, ultimately,for on-air placements, it's vital to make sure the message is verytargeted, specific and simple."
"For all the uproar surrounding the movie business lately, gamemarketers shouldn't underestimate in-cinema advertising's power. Mostmedia features a device (remote control, mouse click, radio dial, etc.)that lets audiences tune unwanted messaging out. But at the theater,you've paid to be there, are a captive audience and want to beentertained. This receptivity begets results if the creative is good:Recall scores average around 60%, with categories like gaming actuallysoaring into the 80-90% range.
"Definitely, the big screen's sexy. Via streaming media, you canliterally send ads for M-rated games to all R-rated movie screenings inany given city; appear alongside only specific types of films; ordeliver different messages to different geographic markets on-demand.But publishers need to look beyond the most obvious opportunities –lobbies can also be a marketing wonderland. Standees, banners,concession items... From 20-minute pre-shows packed with original,exclusive and entertaining content to game posters disguised to looklike cinematic counterparts, options for building brand equity areendless.
"Hollywood is far from dead. Are gamers going to see Shrek, The Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean?Of course... it's common sense. Research also shows emotions aremagnified at the theater – and the same holds for audience reactions tocommercials as well as films. It's hard to argue with a dark room, agiant screen and a group of people who've willingly paid to be thereand want to see what's in store.
"Also note – 80% of tickets are sold on weekends, a time when peoplewant to go shopping, and theaters are generally located in shoppingdistricts. Stick a retail discount on a box office handout, and youdon't just achieve grassroots interaction, or present a clear call toaction. It's also conceivably the last message a consumer sees beforehaving to drive home past a Best Buy or Wal-Mart where your game'sconveniently stocked."

"People are more distracted than ever – advertisers need to cut throughthe clutter. You have to find ways to surprise and entertainaudiences... It's important to design options that let you really spendtime with consumers in a meaningful way.
"Consider core gamers. You can look at where they're hanging out – atfraternity houses, sports bars, military bases, wherever – thendiscover ways to be there. It's even possible to reach players atschool and weave gaming properties into an educational message. Theseinstitutions appreciate it when game companies can provide them withbranded book covers, locker calendars or workshops that incorporatethese titles to teach lessons, just to name a few possible choices.
"Basically, you have to create options that make sense for the contentand target demographic, then craft a vehicle that fits. This could be abranded video game tournament, for example, or involve catching fans ata sporting event and giving them things they can wear to the game.There are alternative ways to reach virtually any shopper.
"It's crucial for publishers to connect with fans on a one-on-onelevel, because as excited as TV/film imagery can make them, people wantto go hands-on and try your games. To do so, you have to interface withthem on the street. Demos at malls, movie theaters, health clubs, etc.are essential to building buzz: There's a direct link between samplersconverting into purchasers. Experience is everything, and consumers aregoing to be the strongest ambassadors for your brand – word-of-mouth isincredibly powerful in the enthusiast gaming community.
"A holistic strategy is important, though: Alternative marketing shouldjust be one part of a diversified tactical plan. If I can see an ad foryour game during Lost or American Idol, then it happens to be at a barwhere I can try it, it'll pique my interest... Suddenly, brand andbuyer are making a meaningful connection. Remember though, that theseplacements have to be unobtrusive. You can't invade someone's space –you have to make kiosks, stands, booths, etc. – something that adds to,not takes away from, the entertainment value of any activity or event."
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:40 am
Microsoft has experimented with 3D games in Gaming
"This is a very interesting area of graphics technology. We have doneexperiments with this at Microsoft and the results are extremelyinteresting. However, the current systems that work well requirewearing active shutter glasses and I think it is hard to be mainstreamwith asking people to wear headgear to play games," he said.
                   
"There is some very interesting technology beingdeveloped that can overcome this obstacle and it will be interesting tosee where this leads. So, some way to go yet. I love that somedevelopers are experimenting along this path. It is a great way to moveindustry technology forward."
Satchell's comments follow an earlier announcement by Ubisoft's CEO Yves Guillemot that the publisher was working on a series of 3D titles, including the game for James Cameron's upcoming 3D movie Avatar.
Posted by Editorial Team Fri Jul 04, 2008 6:03 am
The development of tennis games 1958 to 2006 and the Wii in Gaming
"Important? Tennis games?!" I hear some of you scoff. And sure,while few of us really look forward to the next iteration of Top Spinor even Virtua Tennis, the genre has played a major role in the birthand development of the videogame industry. Even now, it's often tennisgames that are pushing the frontiers of analogue sensitivity andcomplexity against the need for intuitive user-friendliness in consolecontrols.
So, while Wimbledon hots up, here's a quick run through of the keytitles, together with nostalgic YouTube footage. Grab a bowl ofstrawberries, some clotted cream and a cheeky glass of Pinot (I don't care if you're at work - get into the spirit of things) and join me on a brief amble down tennis memory lane.
Tennis for Two (1958, Oscilloscope)
Running on the oscilloscope at the Brookhaven National Laboratory andprogrammed by physicist William Higinbotham, Tea for Two was arguablythe first computer game ever made (though some point to the evenearlier project, OXO). Check out the YouTube footage!
Pong (arcade, 1972)
Al Alcorn's take on the Magnavox Odyssey Tennis game essentiallykickstarted the games industry, both in the arcades and later, on homeconsoles. The title symbolises the odd, apologist relationship gamershave with software - many claimed to be able to produce spin on theball, although this functionality was never part of the program (thedirection of the ball was affected by the area on which it struck thebat, but that was about it).
Match Point (1984, Spectrum)
Psion Software's early effort pitched featureless stickmen against eachother in a rough approximation of the Wimbledon finals. The visualswere sparse but the simulation was pretty advanced for the time -players could control the speed and direction of the ball with defttiming and after-touch. Looking back, the ball boys bear an unfortunateresemblance to Starvin Marvin from South Park. YouTube video here.
Super Tennis (1991, SNES)
Perhaps the first modern day tennis sim, featuring an array of courtsurfaces, lots of differently-skilled players and several two-playermodes. It is, however, mostly remembered for its fast, intuitive action- a sort of Tennis equivalent of Sensible World of Soccer. Thescrolling court visuals and crisp sound samples impressed gamers at thetime, too. YouTube it up!
Pete Sampras Tennis (1994, Mega Drive)
Codemasters' sleek Mega Drive effort matched Super Tennis for sheerplayability, adding some of its own eccentric features, including aCrazy Tennis mode where you could play against portly platform hero,Dizzy. Codies also introduced its J-Cart technology allowing up tofour-players to take part in doubles matches.
Virtua Tennis (1999, arcade and Dreamcast)
The defining tennis sim of the modern era. The Dreamcast original mixedintuitive controls with lovely animation to produce a simulation ofincredible depth. The World Tour mode was an inspired addition,providing a range of surreal mini-games to test different aspects ofyour game. Subsequent iterations have tweaked the formula and improvedthe visuals, but the essence of this Sega NAOMI/Dreamcast classicremains unmolested. Here's a trailer.
Wii Sports Tennis (2006, Wii)
A popular element of the revolutionary Wii Sports compilation, drawingimpressively accurate motion-sensing performance from the Wiimote.Okay, so your lack of control over the onscreen player could getannoying at times, but the fun of acting out physically extravagantshots - often at the risk of the odd patio door or Ming dynasty vase -is what this game was all about. Here is a silly Wii Tennis 'accident' movie.
Okay, so what vital tennis titles have I missed? The first person tosuggest Anna Kournikova's Smash Court Tennis will be sent to thenaughty step.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:50 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
New router prioritises bandwidth for games - lag-free tech in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
Sitecom has unveiled a router designed to provide a low latency and lag-free service online.
The router uses StreamEngine Technologythat separates incoming data into five categories: game, VoIP, Movie,File Sharing and email.

Bandwidth is rationed accordingly, so the services that need massive amounts - i.e. gaming - get the priority treatment.

To top it all off, the box contains preconfigured application levelgateways for the most recent games and supports up to 300Mbps.



The Gaming Adapter goes on sale in August 2008 and its recommend retail price is £109.99

Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:27 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
Nintendo Sued Over Use of Music from 1993 'True Romance' in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
A Los Angeles film production company sued Nintendo on June12th, alleging that the console manufacturer used a tune from the movieTrue Romance in a commercial for the GameCube.
Thesuit, filed by Morgan Creek Productions in U.S. District Court for theCentral District of California, was voluntarily dismissed by theplaintiff on June 18th.
The 1993 film was directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino.
The song in question is You're So Cool, composed by Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer. The suit claims:

Sometimewithin the past three years, [Nintendo] used the sound recording of"You're So Cool" without authorization in a television advertisementfor the Nintendo "GameCube."

Plaintiff is informed andbelieves and thereon alleges that [Nintendo] also used the soundrecording at issue herein in other forum in order to generate sales fortheir product.


                              

It is unknown why the suit was dismissed less than a week after being filed. GamePolitics is seeking comment from the plaintiff's attorney as well as Nintendo.
The complaint does not make reference to a specific use of the song by Nintendo. However, this 2004 post from the Toon Zone forums makes reference to You're So Cool being used in an ad for Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door.
UPDATE: Also, courtesy of comments left by GP readers Orange Soda and Anonymous, we've added the video of the commercial which apparently sparked the copyright claim.
Read the lawsuit here.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:17 am
Die Hard 4 director does Gears of War in Entertainment, Film and Music, Mobile devices and media
Len Wiseman, the chap behind vampire flick Underworld and Die Hard 4, is preparing to direct a movie based on Gears of War.
The director will be teaming up with writer Chris Morgan to develop the story and rewrite a new screenplay, according to Variety.

A previous script by Stuart Beattie, the original writer of the first Pirates of the Caribbean, will be discarded.

Fortunately, Epic will have some involvement. In fact, Cliffy B himselfis the executive producer on the movie and will consult on itsdevelopment for the company.

Distributor New Line hadoriginally aimed to get the picture out in cinema's for summer 2009,but these recent developments mean a further delay is likely.


Quote:
"It's like with our games, you can have it right or have it right now,"said Epic Games topper Mark Rein. "We want to get it right. There's notimetable for us.



"We just want to make as good a movie as we can, and we think (Wiseman's) the guy who will do it."
Posted by Editorial Team Thu Jun 19, 2008 4:04 pm
BioShock movie to coincide with BioShock 3 in Gaming
No, it's not a mistake. Take-Two head honcho Strauss Zelnick has actually said that the Gore Verbinski-helmed BioShock movie will be released alongside number three in the series, not the currently-in-development sequel.

Zelnick mentioned the third game in an investor call related to the newly released Q2 financials (via Kotaku). "It's more likely that it would be released coincident with BioShock 3," he said.

We knew that Take-Two had plans for the series, but talking about athird one already comes as quite a surprise. Especially when news onBioShock 2 is light on the ground at the moment.

Of course, there was a report in March that Take-Two was considering a BioShock MMO, clearly hinting at big plans for the franchise. Big things ahead for fans then...
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:38 am
Top 10 Video Games that Should Be Made into Movies in Gaming
Wow this would make a cool movie’, a thought that, at somepoint in time must have flitted across many a gamers’ mind. The worldsand characters of our beloved video games are an assortment of thecrazy, mysterious, fantastical, obscure and unforgettable. They havebeen rendered with such adulation and conscientiousness by theircreators that they sometimes transcend interactive entertainment andevolve into pieces of art.
A movie like a video game is a form of art. Wanting a movie based onone’s favourite video game is just the inherent desire to see thatpiece of art in a different form, from a different perspective. A videogame with a good concept is always ripe for cinematic treatment. Whythen has that great videogame movie eluded us so many years? We maynever know the answer to that, but we can hope and imagine that some ofour gems are some day given the directorial treatment they deserve.

1. Mafia
There has been a real draught of good mafia movies of late. AmericanGangster is the only decent mafia movie I remember having seenrecently. A movie based on the Mafia game would really help fill thisvoid. Mafia is one of those action games’ that is quite popular among alot of Indian gamers. Besides its superlative game play, one of thethings that really stood out about the game was its sharp script andincredibly well presented story element.
In fact I would go as far to say that the depth in itscharacterization was better than most movies of our time. The game alsohad some truly memorable action pieces set including one unforgettablesequence set in a church and one set in a pizza parlour. Seeing thesesequences translated to the big screen would truly be a Mafia fan’sgreatest desire except of course a second Mafia game. This one ideallywould be helmed by someone like Martin Scorsese.

2. Half-Life
The creators at Valve have over the span of the original Half Life,its sequel and the recent episodes created a rich sci-fi universe.What’s unique about this sci-fi world is that it’s not all-timetravelling and laser guns. All the games in the Half-Life series havesomething of a spiritual side to them. Also we have some trulymemorable characters in Alyx, Eli, Barney and naturally the main manGordan Freeman himself.
Of course the movie rendition might pose some serious problems butwith a lead protagonist who has thus far failed to utter a single wordin the series. Any attempts to give Gordon a voice in order to satisfythe traditional movie audience would severely rile Half-Life purists.Whichever way the movie turns out, any director who manages to pull offa voiceless Gordon will win my veneration.

3. Crysis
Crysis while not a game with the most innovative story still has agreat setting and the nanosuit would lend itself to a pretty coolaction movie. At its heart is the conflict between man and alien setamidst lush tropical forests. In a sense a movie based in the world ofCrysis would be a spiritual successor to the first Predator movie.
Most importantly perhaps, gamers with humbler PC’s might finally getto see what Crysis’ infamous supposedly photorealistic graphics wouldlook like in all its high definition glory without the painful memoriesof Crysis bringing their once high and mighty computers down to a crawl.

4. Devil May Cry
Extremely stylish, over the top action is what best describes theDevil May Cry series of video games. Fighting waves after waves ofenemies with some adrenaline pumping rock music in the background nevergets old. Dante, Nero, Vergil and some of the other characters in theseries also on the occasion get to mouth some pretty entertaining,witty and sarcastic dialogs.
In addition some of the fight choreography in its numerous cutscenes is some of the best I have come across in both movies and games.The ideal Devil May Cry movie would be something in the vein of themovie Shoot Em Up, nonstop pistol wielding, sword swinging action withlittle pretence of an emotional thread governing the charactersactions. I’m not saying Dante is someone you should feel nothing for.
It’s just that Dante is the perfect anti- hero. What we would lovemost is to give each other high fives, maybe let out some whoops whenwe get to see the big screen Dante reign hell on his enemies with hisusual brutalistic style and customary battle end remarks.

5. Assassin’s Creed
Assassin’s Creed for all the ambivalent views of the criticsundeniably features an incredible world and a great concept. Altair -the main character’s name means “The Flying One” in Arabic and in asense you truly are. While the main objectives were the assassinationsthemselves, what the game truly excelled at was giving you the freedomto literally fly across the rooftops.
Think the initial sequence of the movie Casino Royale or the entirecentral theme of the movie District B13 except here you’re doing allthat and more in the medieval lands of Jerusalem, Damascus and Acre.While we’ve seen plenty of attempts at movies about assassins, inmodern times a movie about a medieval cult of assassins who rely not onguns but their physical agility and a blade or two to execute theirtargets would be a refreshing change.
Plus there are the sci-fi and historical ideas involved around whythe assassins cult do what they do, what is the agenda of the Templarsand the whole concept of being able to unlock the memories of one’sancestors through DNA.

6. Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto, well, it’s all about living out your dream.Murder, revenge, cops and robbers, the staple fare of films it’s allpresent in copious amounts in Grand Theft Auto. We generally tended toperform these tasks in the world of Grand Theft Auto with littlethought to any of your deeds having moral implications.
Though the series always did have a decent storyline to back up youractions, Grand Theft Auto has always been about the freedom to go dowhat you wanted to do whenever you wanted to do it. Sandbox gamesrarely got better than Grand Theft Auto. Bringing such a sense offreedom to the screen is never going to be easy and the game might notseem to be the best candidate for cinematic treatment.
What the series has always had though are great leading characters,physically and vocally perfectly acted and with very interestingpersonalities and some really witty dialogs to go with thosepersonalities. There is a lot that Hollywood can learn from Rockstarabout presenting characters.

7. Metal Gear Solid
Well what is Metal Gear if not a movie itself with it’s incrediblylong cut scenes taking up a sizable period of time in every game thusfar? The soon to be released Metal Gear Solid 4 is in fact rumoured tofeature 90 minutes worth of cut scenes. That’s as much as your regularfeature length film. Cut scenes here though have never been the regularpassable fare. The ones in Metal Gear Solid have always had incredibleproduction values.
It is incredibly choreographed and acted with a stirring backgroundscore by Harry Gregson Williams. The title sequences in Metal Gear 1and 2 have been done by Kyle Cooper a title designer with almost 150films to his credit. So in a sense there is a lot of Hollywood talentthat is already part of Metal Gear Solid. The games also cover a lot ofterritory running the gamut from cold war, to spies to military tacticsand the negative effects of warfare.
A movie based on Metal Gear Solid would benefit from having suchwide range of themes to dip into, a compelling and much adoredcharacter in Solid Snake and someone unfamiliar with the storylines ofMetal Gear might enjoy its convoluted and constantly twisting storyline.

8. Syberia
Adventure games are in this day and age a forgotten genre. Syberiais one of adventure gaming’s finest gems. Released in the year 2002, aproduct of the imagination of Frenchman Benoit Sokal Syberia told thestory of a young woman lawyer named Kate Walker and her journey thatbegins when she visits a small village in France to negotiate thetakeover of a toy factory.
The game featured some charmingly surreal locales along with a hostof great personalities with quirky yet entertaining mannerisms. Thestrongest character of course was Kate Walker herself. Over the courseof the game Kate metamorphosed from a young woman leading aconventional life to a woman with a strong sense of individualism.
The decision that she makes towards the end of the game is one thatchanges the course of her life. The game had a slowly developing butultimately richly rewarding story with a sense of mystery presentthroughout. Seeing the world and much loved characters of Syberiabrought to life on screen would be a dream come true for any adventuregame lover.

9. Beyond Good and Evil
Beyond Good and Evil is without doubt one the greatest videogames Ihave ever played. It was a game that slipped off most people’s radar atthe time of its release. Still those who did play it know howunforgettable a game, designer Michel Ancel created in Beyond Good& Evil.
Jade, the game’s main protagonist is one of gaming’s strongestfemale characters. She wasn’t the usual big bosomed sexed up heroine,the likes of which we have seen in countless videogames. She plays anintrepid photographer who also happens to take care of the children inan orphanage and has an uncle who is a pig. Well it had a crazy yetbeautiful world full of colorful and multifarious species which seem tocoexist in harmony.
Jade’s journey took us through a world of alien and governmentconspiracies, and most importantly a journey of self discovery. Theplanet of Hillys was a bizarre yet gorgeous blend of the futuristic andoutlandish. The supporting cast of characters was also brilliant andunforgettable. A movie based on this game set against its gorgeousmusic would perhaps let a lot of gamers know what they were missingwhen they ignored poor Jade the first time around.

10. Indigo Prophecy
Indigo Prophecy was a very unique game both in its setting and itscontrols. It was a psychological thriller in which you played severaldifferent characters. It was also the closest a game came to aninteractive movie. Your character was endowed with great physicalagility and some nifty psychic powers too.
All the complex animations of the characters were motion capturedand every action sequence looked incredible. Every major action thatyour character performed in the game was via rhythmic button tappingguitar hero style with visual cues provided onscreen. Only here yourcoordination determines if you will be able to make it through thevarious action sequences. It had a dark disturbing, disturbing yetcaptivating story and characters you felt deeply attached to by the endof the game.
What Indigo Prophecy succeeded at brilliantly was its atmosphere andthe ability to ratchet up the tension and establish a feeling of dreadat regular intervals. In a sense Indigo Prophecy is already ninetypercent movie. A little cinematic polish and we’ll have our next greatpsychological thriller movie.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:27 am
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