The news sites are abuzz, after the kids over at NeoGAF posted a recent patent application from Sony, entitled "Electronic Content Processing System, Electronic Content Processing Method, Package Of Electronic Content, And Use Permission Apparatus." In layman's terms, this would allow consoles to determine whether a disc had been previously used on another system, by using an ID that would be present on every unit shipped. The disc would then be prevented from working on any console other than that on which it was first used. From the patent application:
"According to the present embodiment, realized is the electronic content processing system that reliably restricts the use of electronic content dealt in the second-hand markets. As a result, the dealing of electronic content in the second-hand markets is suppressed, which in turn supports the redistribution of part of proceeds from sales of the electronic content to the developers. Though in the following description a game application (AP) is exemplified as the electronic content, the present embodiment is similarly applicable to various kinds of electronic content such as an office suite, images, and music content."
Now granted, being cynicism's unofficial mascot, I have no doubt that console manufacturers would love to see this sort of thing become a standard feature: those of us who have spent time anywhere in the general vicinity of the corporate world know that "we're just falling in line with the competition" is the preferred method of absolving otherwise-displeasing policy. On the other hand, individual companies aren't typically eager to be the first to
pull the d**chebag trigger alienate a segment of consumers - yours truly, being the adorably working-class creature that he is, tends to favor used games - thus risking a scenario in which said consumers find themselves flocking to the competition. Also worth noting is the sad reality of consumer electronics: consoles break, and unless you want your games to be but so many circular paperweights, chances are you will purchase a replacement - one with a different ID that would, in the nightmare scenario, force you to re-purchase every game in your library. Granted Sony might remedy this through some kind of workaround (such as tying a console to your PSN account which seems to be plausible, according to the NeoGAF post), but that leaves those without internet access - yes, they exist - without recourse. Personally, i'm not terribly worried about Sony suddenly declaring all used games utterly verboten any time soon. It's a rather unattractive prospect, particularly given that Sony could see all their R&D and marketing cash they will be throwing at the PS4 evaporate in the fires of collective rage, and as Game Informer notes, "Sony owns many other anti-piracy patents, like USPTO #6,782,477, which have never been used." Those who wish to read the patent, fancy lawyer-speak and all, can do so at this link.
What do you think, gamers? Is the news of Sony's patent call for alarm, or is this all so much overblown nonsense? Sound off in the comments section below!
Over the years, I've poked fun at Japan. Partly it's because of the of the destroying of our collective innocence with its twisted brainwrongs; partly it's because of the theory the only nation on Earth that treats its water with the "brown acid," and is generally a 150,000 mi2 factory for the world's night terrors. Yet I kid because I love, and aside from adoring its weird creations, our friends across the pond have given us some mighty fine game systems: among the being the NES, Sega Genesis, and of course, the PlayStation line - the most notable of which, arguably, being the PlayStation 2.
Have rolled in the digital hay for over twelve years, the PS2 and Japan have decided to part ways. Indeed, after selling over 150 million units (according to Joystiq) and being the best-selling console of all time, production has ceased . With its final shipment on the way to retailers, gamers will have to suffice with used version of the popular system.
So alas, we bid adieu to the PS2: its rectangular, black profile standing tall above its peers, like the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. As our dear friend - one which served me with admirable reliability
until the optical drive failed after 14 months god f*cking d*mmit - is being put out to pasture, I cradle it in my arms and say, "Leave this world with pride, brother. You gave us MGS3, Silent Hill 2, and Shadow of the Colossus. Now rest, my old comrade; you've earned it."
This sort of imagery is beginning to scare investors.
There has been much consternation in recent weeks about the effects of violent video games - much more than usual. While some of it has been level-headed (seriously, read that link; it's excellent, and should be required reading for anyone interested in the topic), much of the response has been shrill and reactionary. This is no surprise, given the 24-hour news cycle's propensity towards simple narratives and fear-based marketing.
However, rich people who can afford to gamble on the stock markets these days (and, depending on how they're managed and if you can afford them, your bank investments) are feeling the consternation financially in the form of up-to double-digit stock price losses for major video game manufacturers. Activision and EA each saw an eight percent drop in their stock prices last week, while Take-Two saw a fifteen percent drop. These losses are being blamed directly on the cultural aftermath of the Newtown massacre in the United States as analysts fear for these companies' 2013 sales outlooks and the potential for a sustained backlash against violent video games.
Whatever your opinion on the supposed link between violent video games and real-world violence (full disclosure: I have written ad nauseum about my take on the matter), a conversation about the issue is being pushed forcefully, and from many directions.
Oh legal issues, you scamp...
Indeed, as eagle-eyed readers might have guessed, the name "GaymerCon" has become a thing of the past. In the interest of avoiding trademark issues, the fine folks at this most festive of geeky get-togethers have, for the sake of avoiding any litigative unpleasantness, have decided to rename the coming fabulocalypse "Gaymer X," while its social media counterpart shall be called "GaymerConnect."
According to the above video, posted by
the con formerly known as GaymerCon founder Matt Conn, the specter of such issues came to light early in the Kickstarter. No names were provided; rather, he simply stated that they had "chatted with the owner of the trademark" about the matter, and that it was believed that the two parties could come to an agreement on a shared-use arrangement. That fell through, and Conn stated that the subsequent issues with licensing would have siphoned money from the con - and thus, from those that helped to fund it.
The change also comes after GaymerConnect was released out of beta. Profile registration is free (as one would expect); those who wish to visit the GaymerConnect Fortress can peruse the forums, find LGBT guilds, or network with other gamers by "following" them - in addition to the rudimentary sending and receiving of private messages. For those feeling competitive (or wish to ascend to the heights of digital godhood), each profile features a leveling system. Those who are awaiting their badge codes will be happy to know that they will be sent out in the next week or so.
So unless further issues arise, necessitating that Conn & Co. change the name to something along the lines of "GaymerCon: Revelations," you can check out GaymerConnect!
A few character types from Final Fantasy XIV
You may have heard that, following a disappointing launch, Square-Enix is going to re-debut Final Fantasy XIV. According to the company itself, the staff listened to all of the complaints about FF XIV, and have, quite nobly, entirely overhauled the game:
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is not an expansion, it's not an update to the original. We at Square-Enix consider it a completely new game that we've built from the ground up that will give players a completely new experience compared to the original.
A Realm Reborn will have all kinds of new features that fans were clamouring for, including the option to get married. Just not if you want to marry someone of the same gender:
As for same-sex marriage, this is an extremely controversial topic that has been under discussion in the MMO world for the past few years. First we would like to start out with opposite-sex marriage, and then consider the feedback from our players in order to make a careful decision.I can't say whether or not it will be possible at this point in time. I'd like to keep dialog open with our players as we deliberate the matter.
As it is impossible to read minds (...I'm pretty sure...), we can only speculate as to what the producers are looking for in that dialogue with their players, and what the resultant response would be. Will they cave if the homophobes come out in droves? Will they cave if the queer players grovel at their feet for long enough, or get angrier than the homophobes? Are they hoping
to drum up press controversy will encourage a greater dialogue about their relaunch?
Having originally planned a most-likely-too-lengthy opinion piece about the matter, this former Final Fantasy XI fiend took a moment to breathe and chilled out a little. This is an MMORPG, I thought, not a real place. And where I live, and am married to a person of the same gender, equal marriage has been law for almost ten years - it is not at all controversial any more. But the rest of the world is different, and straight people get all wound up in knots about this; at least these guys, with all their heterosexual privilege, want to talk about it rather than stay silent and hope no one notices.
But one can't help wondering why this is actually an issue, and even the insinuation that the company might not want to do something gay because it might hurt sales is odious.
One way or the other, in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn thinly-veiled elves will be able to marry cat women - as long as they're not gay about it. If this, or the sort of casual homophobia that considers people of the same gender loving each other "controversial," upsets you, do tell the folks at Square-Enix what you think. You can do it here, or here, or through the Twitter, or whatever else the kids are up to these days.
[pre-text image via: joystiq]
Little girls don't have a lot by way of female heroes they can look up to in video games. In fact, they're about as rare as Ponycorns. Thank goodness there are dads (and moms, of course) willing to go to just about any length to make the world more open for their kids.
Take, for example, Mike Hoye, a self-professed "inveterate Legend of Zelda fan" who has been playing through the Wind Waker with his little girl, dutifully reading out the text for her as she's not old enough for that yet. (Full disclosure: This whole story makes my biological clock bang away harder than a taiko drummer, and completely melts my heart; I can't even try to be objective on this account.) According to his blog entry on the matter:
It's annoying and awkward, to put it mildly, having to do gender-translation on the fly when Maya asks me to read what it says on the screen. You can pick your character's name, of course - I always stick with Link, being a traditionalist - but all of the dialog insists that Link is a boy, and there's apparently nothing to be done about it.
Well, there wasn't anything to be done about it, certainly not anything easy, but as you might imagine I'm not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don't get to be the hero and rescue their little brothers.
So what did he do? He hacked the Wind Waker. More than that, he's provided others with details of how to do it. Unfortunately it requires emulators and actual computer skills, but for one little girl, at least, the gaming world is a more inclusive place.
The ironically-named Pious Augustus, from Silicon Knights' heyday.
It does this Canadian gamer no good to see Silicon Knights fall so far.
Once lauded as the studio behind the masterful GameCube title Eternal Darkness, a game that deliciously and purposely screws with the person holding the controller, the company has produced only three major games since: GameCube's well-received Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (dig the oh-so-subtle homoerotic innuendo), and then this generation's Too Human (generally considered okay) and finally X-Men: Destiny (generally considered not okay). Each GameCube title was made in collaboration with Nintendo, while the latter two were made in an abortive relationship with Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3. That relationship went sour, with Silicon Knights suing Epic Games, alleging that they pulled support of the Unreal Engine and put the money into developing Gears of War, thus damaging both Too Human and X-Men: Destiny. Epic counter-sued, and ultimately prevailed, and a recent investigation by Andrew McMillen at Kotaku contains allegations of all sorts of unsavoury practices from Silicon Knights' management.
Now comes news from keen-eyed NeoGAF poster Xenon that Silicon Knights was not only ordered to pay 4.5 million USD in damages to Epic Games, but the court also ordered that:
"Not later than December 10, 2012, Silicon Knights shall destroy all versions of the Licensed Technology in its possession, including (but not limited to) the video game code and game engine code for Too Human, The Box/Ritualys, The Sandman, X-Men: Destiny, and Siren in the Maelstrom, all versions of the Unreal Engine 3, and all copies of any information obtained from the licensee restricted portions of the Unreal Developer Network."
Sources in the Kotaku exposé claim that staff were pulled from X-Men: Destiny to work on Eternal Darkness 2, but Silicon Knights' staff is reportedly decimated from layoffs, and one wonders if the company has the resources to create a game of that scope at this point.
I won't lie; I loved Eternal Darkness. I would equally love to see Silicon Knights pull itself out of the ditch and get on with a great sequel to that game, but the signs are not auspicious.
Love how 8-bit era cover art this looks.
Sony Online Entertainment and Twitch are teaming up to bring live broadcasting of players' gaming sessions to SOE's upcoming PlanetSide 2, with plans to expand the service afterward. The game, which releases November 20, is seen by Sony and Twitch as an ideal testing bed for the integration of broadcasting into SOE's games, with John Smedley, president of SOE, attributing that to PlanetSide 2 being a MMOFPS (and then jumping into some corporatespeak jargon about "emergent experiences" and one-click interfaces and whatnot). Regardless, players should be able to broadcast their exploits to each other and to other Twitch users with ease. This is no small thing, as Twitch had over 23 million viewers and 300 000 broadcasters in October, and PlanetSide 2, currently in beta, will have a patch delivered soon to integrate broadcasting for early adopters. The game's creative director, Matt Higby, calls it a "next-generation experience", and though live broadcasting of games isn't exactly new, this sort of experience does seem to be part of the direction the big players are taking steps toward in the next generation; Sony teaming with Twitch neatly coincides with Nintendo's delivery of the Miiverse on its new home console, which will also encourage players to share their gaming experiences.
As ever, we'll have more for you as it develops.
(This post was updated within an hour of publication as, for some crazy reason, an old, grammatically ridiculous, edit was published in place of what you see above. The content remains the same.)
Television, you cruel mistress. Having shown the world of video games love (in limited format) for what seems like an eternity, the digital ghosts of past, present and future now find themselves exorcised by your cruel whims.
Indeed, G4 has decided to cancel both Attack of the Show and X-Play. While a "best of" recap will be in order, both series will meet their bitter end by the end of 2012. After the departure of two of their most visible figures -- Attack of the Show's Kevin Pereira and X-Play's Adam Sessler -- there were whisperings that such a demise might occur. Moreover, according to inside info obtained by Joystiq, the editorial staff of "The Feed" (featured on G4TV.com,) is facing layoffs. G4 would not comment regarding the news -- according to Geeks of Doom, the move is part of G4's plan to attract a more "upscale" male audience -- though as per the information divulged by Joystiq's source, "at least five editors have been laid off and a skeleton crew may remain on staff past the pre-Thanksgiving layoffs."
So good luck to those affected, and for our readers, you can check out the full press release after the jump.
As you may have heard, Zynga is not doing so well. The company, famous for Facebook games such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars, has been suffering as its perhaps fickle user base has moved from harvesting peas and broadcasting
annoying wall posts about it to flinging angry birds, slicing up fruit, and playing any number of other games their phones. It's reputation has also suffered from accusations of atrocious labour practices, allegations that it repackages existing games, and an unsavoury benefits claw-back scandal prior to its initial public stock offering. And since that offering, its stock prices have shed 75% of their value. This past week the embattled company fired 100 employees, with plans to shut down as many as three offices in Japan, the US, and the UK. It also plans to terminate thirteen of its existing games and strictly rein in its budget. All this has grown consternation that the Zyngapocalypse could herald another dot-com bubble bursting. After all, it was less than a year ago that the company was worth over 7 billion USD, and Facebook, where Zynga found its greatest success, has seen its own very public stock meltdown this year.
Others, like EA's Peter Moore, lament the job losses but see this as contraction of an overheated market:
"I think it just got a little overhyped. And now the demise is being overhyped the opposite way. I still think there's a strong place for social gaming. I think a lot of social gaming is moving mobile. We feel well positioned to take advantage of that. And people shouldn't read too much into whatever is going on with Zynga."
Of course, this comes from the same EA that is suing Zynga for copyright infringement, alleging it stole core elements of The Sims Social when it put together The Ville. Zynga will no doubt have more bad press over the coming months as it fights the charges.
A less-hyped part of this story is that Zynga is turning to online gambling in the search for more stable future revenues. While this isn't legal in all parts, reports also have it that Zynga has been actively lobbying for changes to online gambling laws in the US. But Zynga will enter its first foray into the market by partnering with UK company bwin.party, meaning that subjects of the Realm can look forward to Zynga poker and FarmVille-branded slots (I sh-t you not; it says so in the Fast Company article: FarmVille-branded slots) as Zynga attempts to staunch the bleeding it has been experiencing over the past months.
While earlier this year Alien fans had the rather divisive Prometheus to look forward to (but that was one hell of a trailer, wasn't it?), the folks at Gearbox and Sega have been cooking them up what is apparently a canonical sequel to James Cameron's tour de force Aliens. While most fans would like to pretend that Alien 3 (and every Alien movie thereafter) never happened, the events of the upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines take place shortly after the events of the unfortunate threequel, and seventeen weeks - a sly homage to one of the series' great lines - after the destruction of Hadley's Hope, the human colony on LV-426, as told in Aliens.
In response to the thermonuclear explosion and loss of the Sulaco, the ship that carried Ripley and company, crews of Colonial Marines and of evil corporation Weyland-Yutani's private army are sent to the abandoned ship, the ravaged ruins of Hadley's Hope (which somehow weren't immolated in the nuclear "cloud of vapour the size of Nebraska" which destroyed the air processing station at the end of Aliens), all of which are re-created with care to ensure that they closely resemble the events of the film. Lance Henriksen, who played the android Bishop, and Michael Biehn (Corporal Hicks) are both lending their voices to the game, which is curious considering that both were
criminally written off in Alien 3. The game also includes designs by Syd Mead, who did the original interior designs for Aliens, and the creators collaborated with Ridley Scott early in the game's development to ensure that the story aligned with the events of Prometheus - a rather unsubtle hint that the events of Colonial Marines return to the derelict engineer ship from Alien, and Aliens' deleted intro scenes.
Read on, after the jump.
I would say it's starting to sound like a broken record, but this has been going on since 2010.
Acccording to NPD, US video game sales were down year-over-year yet again in September, from $1.11 billion US to $848.3 million, and console sales fell by over $100 million. While the industry is hardly falling apart at the seams (September's sales were better than August's), it's continued evidence that something's got to give, and soon. NPD points to hope that the WiiU will "reinvigorate retail sales of hardware in coming months." Since there's really nothing else to point to, many may well be pinning a lot of hope on Nintendo this Winter. Given recent news from Famitsu, Japanese gamers - the ones who read Famitsu's website, anyway - are foaming at the mouth for the system, so retailers there, at least, may have reason to pin those hopes on the Kyoto-based console giant.
It's not all bad news for September, though. NPD - which has historically only counted physical video game sales - estimates that their figures only account for 50% of overall sales, with microtransactions and downloads figured in. And Nintendo, whose recently-released New Super Mario Bros 2 is their first (legally) downloadable AAA title, announced that the 3DS' game sales were up 89% year-over-year in September. While that bodes well for Nintendo's newest handheld, DS game sales were down by more than the 3DS' gains, meaning that Nintendo's handheld system game sales are still in the hole.
With worries rampant among the hyperventilating pundit set that smartphone and tablet games are going to relegate the console industry to a niche market, expect a lot more scrutiny of these matters as the new generation of consoles blossoms.
And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!
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