By Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 0 Comments
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Microsoft is the last of the three big video game…
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Microsoft is the last of the three big video game console makers to unveil its latest gaming system. Tuesday’s unveiling comes nearly eight years after the Xbox 360 went on sale. It follows last fall’s debut of Nintendo’s Wii U and a preview in February of the upcoming PlayStation 4 from Sony.
Each machine has a set of features designed to draw gamers away from rival consoles. There’s one thing all three have in common, though: They are about more than gaming and include entertainment services such as television, movies and music.
Here’s a closer look at the three systems. More details are expected at the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles next month.
By Chris Sorensen - Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 8:10 AM - 0 Comments
Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are struggling to reinvent video games as touchscreens and tablets take over the living room
Nintendo’s 2006 launch of the Wii console marked a new era for video games. With its innovative motion-sensing controllers, used to mimic the swing of a tennis racquet or golf club, the $250 Wii immediately struck a chord with gamers and non-gamers alike. Amazon sold out of its initial stock of sleek, white Wii consoles in just seven minutes.
The Wii’s unexpected success catapulted third-ranked Nintendo to the top of the video game industry, ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3—both of which are more powerful (and more expensive) machines. More importantly, it suggested a much wider potential market for game consoles beyond basement-dwelling teenagers.
But the renaissance has proved short-lived. Console sales have declined dramatically in recent years as existing systems grow long in the tooth. Nintendo posted a loss of $530 million this year, its first since 1981. And competition from tablets and smartphones, with their cheap, downloadable games, threatens to steal away millions of casual gamers. “Tablets and smartphones are the black hole of the consumer electronics industry right now, sucking the growth out of everything else,” says Kaan Yigit, the president of Toronto’s Solutions Research Group, a consumer research firm. “The growth rates we saw after Wii first came out are but a distant memory.”
By Emily Senger - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:25 AM - 0 Comments
As the first Nintendo Wii U models get into the hands of gamers in…
As the first Nintendo Wii U models get into the hands of gamers in the U.S., some users are already complaining of a systems crash when they begin to download the first required update.
The large update must be downloaded online in order to access the system’s MiiVerse social features, and BBC News reports that some Wii Us became “bricked” — or unusable — when users interrupted this update process part way through.
The update process could take an hour or more for the first update and the system should not be powered down during this time, says Nintendo.
The initial lengthy update has irked some reviewers: “Users will spend between one to three hours (depending on connection speed) downloading and installing a patch that bricks their system. Not a great way to greet consumers excited to play your games,” writes reviewer Chelsea Stark at Mashable.
The early reports of “bricked” Nintendo Wii Us don’t seem to be hindering sales of the game console, which is the first new one to come from Nintendo in six years.
The device launched in the U.S. on Sunday and, already, stores report being sold out well before the all-important Black Friday. Some sellers are inflating the prices for systems on eBay, reports Forbes.
This comes as some reports questioned whether the Wii U would be lost in “an ocean of gadgets” that includes products such as the iPad and other Apple devices that have been launched in the six years since the first Nintendo Wii.
Early reviews of the gaming system are mixed.
Some reviewers, such as Time’s Matt Peckham, say that the gaming system does feel new: “I haven’t been this impressed with a new interface since Nintendo put a joystick on a gamepad in 1996.”
Others have pointed to difficulty getting used to a new two-screen system and to questions about the quality of the system, including a console battery that only lasts three hours.
“Most tradeoffs I could live with, but not the battery, which insisted on dying after only about three hours of gameplay — Nintendo obviously sacrificed battery size to keep the GamePad light, and it overshot the balance a bit,” writes David Pierce at The Verge.
The system will launch in Europe on Nov. 30 and in Japan on Dec. 8.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 7:20 AM - 0 Comments
Those Angry Birds may be on their way toward extinction.
After releasing three Angry…
Those Angry Birds may be on their way toward extinction.
After releasing three Angry Birds games in 2011, driving Rovio Entertainment‘s total revenue over $100 million for the year according to their financial results, the mega-popular mobile puzzle game could be in need of a makeover.
“There’s a fatigue setting in for Angry Birds,” Scott Steinberg, CEO and lead analyst at TechSavvy told Newsweek. “Fans are clamoring for something new.”
And so the Finnish game developer is replacing the slingshot kamikaze fowls with pigs. Bad Piggies, a spinoff series, is set to launch Sept. 27. The once-enemy pigs now take the lead role to exact their revenge.
“We see Bad Piggies as a long-term brand-building exercise,” Petri Jarvilehto, head of gaming at Rovio, told Reuters. ” In three years from now we want to see Angry Birds and Bad Piggies as strong vibrant brands out there.”
By Jesse Brown - Friday, February 24, 2012 at 11:31 AM - 0 Comments
Jennifer Hepler, a writer of video game plot and dialogue for the Canadian studio BioWare, has broken the rules of her industry. Sorting out the specific transgressions involved in this controversy has become needlessly complicated: did Hepler break the rules by forcing players to endure gay role-playing in a dragon game? Did she break the rules by suggesting that players should be allowed to skip through gameplay to the next narrative sequence? Did she break the rules by not facing her critics, or by firing back at them?
The gaming community is hard at work sorting this out, but their inquisition is unlikely to face up to her true offenses: Hepler broke the rules of the gaming community by being a woman who is not a sexy virtual elf warrior, and by being a woman who does not just shut up. Continue…
By Peter Nowak - Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 2:27 PM - 0 Comments
The PlayStation Vita, which launches on Feb. 22, has been getting a lot of press over the past few weeks, for a number of reasons. On the one hand, with gaming hardware continually getting more powerful, manufacturers are slowing down the rate at which they release next-generation machines. Home consoles such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are now into their seventh and sixth years, respectively, which is considerably longer than the previous generation (the original Xbox, for example, had a four-year run before the Xbox 360 arrived).
Sony’s next-generation handheld is also getting a lot of attention because it is being released into a vastly different world than its predecessors. Over the past few years, smartphones and tablets have arisen to become mobile gaming powerhouses, leading observers to speculate on whether the death of portable systems such as the Vita is nigh. I spoke with Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, on the topic last week and he, of course, doesn’t see it that way. Continue…
By Jesse Brown - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 2:40 PM - 28 Comments
Most geeks have a sense of humor about being geeks. They wear the term with pride, knowing that these days it connotes expertise and passion as much as it does obsessiveness and poor seduction skills. Geeks are the biggest creators and consumers of geek humor, and as a tech journalist with a geek-heavy audience, I rarely think twice about tweaking the nerds a little. They usually giggle and tease me back. It’s a cute thing we do, and everyone seems to have a good time.
Then there are the gamers. Continue…
By Alex Ballingall - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 9:44 AM - 0 Comments
North Korean hackers are raking in cash to fund their government’s nuclear ambitions
Cash-strapped North Korea has found a unique way to stock its dwindling foreign reserves. The famously isolated Communist country is allegedly training an army of hackers in Pyongyang’s IT institutes, with some taking to South Korean gaming websites to rake in millions of dollars, according to U.S. and South Korean officials.
Police in South Korea revealed last week that they arrested five people in connection with one such operation. North Korean hackers, working for Chinese programmers, were reportedly creating automated software that allowed unmanned computers to amass points in online games like Lineage and Dungeon and Fighter, investigators said. The hackers then traded the points for cash with human players who wanted to use them to upgrade their in-game personas. Over the past year and a half, they made about US$6 million, say police, much of it funnelled to a multi-purpose slush fund in Pyongyang believed to be worth billions.
Despite widespread reports of starvation and malnutrition in the country, money from the fund, managed by an obscure agency called Office 39, is allegedly used to fund North Korea’s nuclear program, buy the support of high-ranking officials, and to smuggle in luxury goods for Pyongyang’s elite, who favour Hennessy cognac, Armani accessories and Rolex watches. Last year, the regime tried to purchase two luxury yachts that were built at Italy’s famed Azimut-Benetti shipyard, but at the last minute, Rome blocked the sale, according to Reuters. Thanks to the hacking scheme, Kim Jong Il might have another go at procuring a luxury boat.
By Chris Sorensen - Friday, June 17, 2011 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
Nintendo new product is causing some skepticism
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata unveiled the hotly anticipated successor to the Wii gaming console last week at the E3 games show in Los Angeles. The Wii U, which won’t go on sale until next year, features a tablet-style controller that lets gamers take the game “off the TV,” and play using both screens or surf the Internet. But while the device got a warm reception from the assembled masses, it didn’t fare so well among investors. Nintendo’s shares fell nearly 10 per cent over the following two days. Analysts said it wasn’t immediately clear how the device worked. Was it just another tablet, or a whole new outlook on gaming, as Iwata promised? It didn’t help that no full-fledged games are yet available to demo the hardware. Of course, the original Wii was met with a similar puzzled response following its initial debut five years ago. Nintendo’s shares later tripled as the console went on to become a bestseller.
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 5:05 PM - 14 Comments
The war over violent video games, raging for decades now, can get as loud and dumb as the games themselves. Media watchdogs, parents’ groups and religious organizations are quick to blame gaming for everything from falling literacy rates to school shootings. Meanwhile the massive gaming industry dodges these accusations with its self-imposed ratings system as its army of hot-headed gamers stubbornly deny any connection whatsoever between gaming and behaviour.
Mention in an online forum that you don’t like your kid slitting the throat of drug kingpins all night when he sleeps over at his friends’ house, and a hundred goons will chastise you for allowing your kid to play what is laughably classified as “Mature” content. One side demonizes the other for corrupting millions of innocents, the other blames its opponents for raising their children poorly. Things can get tense. Continue…
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Microsoft’s new optical gaming system is all a part of its strategy to take over the living room
Microsoft has sometimes been called a one-trick pony, albeit a very successful one. Its Windows operating system is used on 90 per cent of the world’s computers. But nothing lasts forever, which is why the Redmond, Wash.-based company has been desperately trying to come up with a repeat hit.
Yet despite rolling out an avalanche of new products over the years—Zune media players, Windows Mobile and its Bing search engine, among others—only Microsoft’s Xbox video game console has been an unqualified success. And now, just in time for the holiday shopping season, Microsoft has upped the ante with an optical motion control system called Kinect that leapfrogs the motion sensing controllers of rivals Nintendo and Sony. That’s because it doesn’t require a controller at all. Instead, it’s an optical sensor that is placed atop your TV set to follow your physical movements. Microsoft says it sold one million of the devices in the first 10 days and is on track to sell five million by year’s end.
While Kinect is certain to give the Xbox a sales boost, Microsoft has its eyes on a much bigger prize: the entire living room. Both Microsoft and Sony in particular are keen to make their consoles all-in-one entertainment systems, playing movies and offering content from the Web, including streaming video. Dennis Durkin, the chief operating and ﬁnancial ofﬁcer of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, recently said that 40 per cent of Xbox Live members in the U.S. use their consoles for activities other than gaming, including streaming movies on Netflix, listening to music or following friends on Facebook.
Kinect promises to help further this trend by shedding the Xbox’s image as a platform solely for hard-core gamers, while also solving the problem of comfortably using your television set to access the Web. Suddenly, the need for a cumbersome keyboard or remote controls festooned with buttons—needed for Google TV and other rival products—is a thing of the past.
By Tom Henheffer - Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 1:40 PM - 0 Comments
In Seoul, StarCraft is a sport with pro athletes, and big salaries. And now the rules of play are about to change.
Heavy metal music booms and strobe lights flash on a sleek, multi-level black stage as the standing-room-only audience cheers. They’re captivated by two stone-faced players sitting apart in logo-covered black booths, their fingers filling the air with the machine-gun sounds of rapid-fire keyboard clicking. It’s the first round of the GomTV StarCraft II Open, the largest StarCraft II competition in the world. Taking place in Seoul, South Korea, from Oct. 18 to Nov. 13, it’s a holy sacrament in what has become all but a national religion.
StarCraft is a fairly successful, if outdated, sci-fi military simulator where players build bases and armies and attack one another. But it has the status of a sport in South Korea, with half of the 11 million copies sold worldwide spinning in the country’s PCs—meaning almost one in 10 Koreans owns a copy. Two cable channels are dedicated solely to streaming StarCraft matches, and career players, known by nicknames like SlayerS_`BoxeR`, Flash and [ReD]NaDa, practise up to a dozen hours a day to hone nearly superhuman reflexes.
There are 12 professional teams and 300 licensed pro gamers in the country. Many earn six-figure salaries thanks to lucrative sponsorship deals, and the biggest championships draw live audiences of well over 100,000 people. Thousands of teens dream of the day when they can go to live in a dorm with other gamers and do nothing but sleep, eat and play StarCraft at a professional training boot camp, and the air force even has a StarCraft team, started as a PR move to accommodate top gamers during their compulsory time in the military.