Archive for the ‘Joystiq’ Category
Straight from Joystiq: “Just hours shy of Sega Dreamcast’s 10 year anniversary comes word that Sega’s iconic mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, is due to make a return to his 2D roots in a new game planned for 2010. Currently going by the codename Project Needlemouse, the game will be high-definition and is “built from the ground up,” according to a report by GameSpot.
The site spoke with Ken Ballough, associate brand manager at Sega America, who said, “Old-school Sonic fans have long asked to see Sonic return to a more 2D style of gameplay. Many liked the daytime stages in Unleashed, but wanted to see a game that plays purely similar to the early games of the Genesis. Project Needlemouse is that critical first step that brings Sonic back to his 2D roots.”
In late July, Sega America marketing VP Sean Ratcliffe admitted that core gamers have lost a fair massive amount of faith in the Sonic franchise, saying that, “The quality is something that will be fixed over time.” Here’s hoping that the Project Needlemouse announcement is a sign the repairs will be made sooner rather than later. Check out the teaser (complete with ye olde “SEGA!” chorus) after the break.”
Straight from Joystiq: “The rumors were true. Japanese news source NHK (english translation and Reuters validation) is reporting that Toshiba is planning to drop support of HD DVD, striking a final blow to the format and conceding victory to Blu-ray. The Sony-backed high-definition disc has been gaining strides for some time, most notably after Warner Bros switched to Blu-ray exclusively. Toshiba is expected to face hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.
The so-called “format wars” seems to be at an end, and now we’re left to ponder about the future, such as how big is the office party Sony is throwing in honor of its victory? More related to video games, might we see a future Blu-ray add-on (and subsequently rumors of a built-in drive) for the Xbox 360?”
It looks as though we may never see another NFL2K game…
Straight from Joystiq: “Those hoping to get their NFL gaming fix from anywhere other than EA anytime soon are apparently in for a long wait: EA revealed today that it had extended its exclusive contract with the organization until the end of the 2012 season, which falls in February of 2013. A similar deal was also made with the NFL players association.
If you had been anxiously praying for the return of NFL2K, we’d be willing to bet that’s never going to happen, as by 2013, we’re fairly sure football will be played on the moon with jet packs, and our Earth laws will no longer apply. But take heart, Peter Moore says that EA won’t be marking the 2008 20th anniversary of the game with just any Madden year. No, it’s going to be above and beyond. Wait … you mean you’re rewarding our $60 with genuine effort put into the product? Just for us? Oh, Pete, you shouldn’t have.”
Straight from Joystiq: “Having opened a new studio in Montreal earlier this year and released the Diablo-clone Loki, French developer Cyanide has what we call ‘a lot of irons in the fire.’ The studio also announced today that it has waded waist-deep into the murky waters of middleware development, creating its own “dynamic 3D animation engine,” which Cyanide interestingly describes as a tool that “integrates physical and biomechanical laws under the control of a powerful artificial intelligence system.” Skynet, can you hear us?
While the company hopes to license the engine to other “small and medium sized” game developers, Cyanide is not above eating its own dog food, and will utilize the technology in its own projects, the first of which will be a title based on Games Workshop’s fantasy tabletop game Blood Bowl. First announced briefly last year, the real news here is that the game, which is an unofficial follow up to the unlicensed PC title Chaos League, has been confirmed as in development for the Xbox 360, PSP, and Nintendo DS, as well as the PC. Few details are known at present beyond that the studio calls the project a “faithful representation” of the tabletop game, and adds that Blood Bowl should be released sometime in late 2008. In the absence of a new Mutant League Football, we will take what we can get.”
Straight from Joystiq: “It seems like having thorough, consumer-focused customer support is a huge deal in this iteration of the console war, which is why we were surprised to hear the woes of Ive, a Sony fanboy and owner of a broken PS3. According to Ive’s story, he sent in his faulty system to be repaired, only to be told that his warranty had been voided by the massive amounts of dust that had accumulated within the casing.
Here’s our favorite part of the story: When asked what part of the warranty says that a dusty system cannot be replaced, his helpful customer service representative told him that dust collection could either be considered customer abuse, or an act of God. We’d like to think that if the Lord did destroy Ive’s PS3, he would do so with a plague of locusts, or perhaps a well-placed bolt of lightning. Dust collection just lacks that celestial panache, you know?”
Straight from Joystiq: “Kiss your loved ones, hug your friends, because if this keeps up we’ve reached the end of days — the Xbox 360 outsold the PlayStation 3 last week in Japan. We’ll break down all the numbers in our weekly Japanese hardware sales post later today. For now (while we pack our towels), the Xbox 360 sold 17,673 fueled by (raise an eyebrow) Namco Bandai’s Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation, which debuted at the #2 spot behind Super Mario Galaxy.
The PS3 sold 17,434 units compared to Xbox 360′s 17,673, a slight 200 unit separation. But to just give an idea how dramatic the increase in sales was, the previous week Xbox 360 only sold 3,718 units, increasing its sales almost five fold. Repent while you still can.”
Straight from Joystiq: “Though that PS3 price may still require a little more wallet thickness that you feel comfortable with, it’s apparently been low enough to heavily impact Sony’s games division pocketbook. The company has just reported that in the second fiscal quarter of the year, operating losses in the division rose to $841 million, more than double the $381 million in losses for the same period last year.
Sony said losses came from selling PS3s lower than production costs and “the increase in PS3-related inventory write-downs,” which means that the value of the PS3 has dropped, perhaps due to recent price cuts. On the upside, the company as a whole pulled in $787 million, compared to a $182 million loss last year, so it doesn’t seem that Maw and Paw Sony will have to dip into their coffee can full of nickels just yet.”
Straight from Joystiq: “In his writeup of yesterday’s NPD numbers, reporter for The San Jose Mercury News (and man of a thousand sources) Dean Takahashi wrote, “One piece of news that came out this week was that Sony pleaded with third-party developers not to abandon its struggling platform. That change in attitude is a marked difference compared to the arrogance of past years.”
Though Sony hasn’t always fessed up to that perceived arrogance, we’ve all noticed a marked change in tone coming out of Sony following Jack Tretton’s E3 keynote speech. With only one PS3 game (barely) cracking the NPD’s top 10 software chart last month, convincing developers to build games for a complicated console that some even call “a waste of everyone’s time” is no easy task. If Takahashi’s info is accurate, it sounds like Sony’s looking to preempt any developer exodus, hoping this season’s delays aren’t next year’s cancellations.”
Straight from Joystiq: “Valve’s Gabe Newell has been pretty open about his displeasure with the PS3 in the past, and it’s clear from a recent interview that time has not softened him, calling the system “a waste of everyone’s time” in Edge magazine last week. Newell continued, saying, “Investing in the Cell, investing in the SPE gives you no long-term benefits. There’s nothing there that you’re going to apply to anything else. You’re not going to gain anything except a hatred of the architecture they’ve created. I don’t think they’re going to make money off their box. I don’t think it’s a good solution.”"
Straight from Joystiq: “Licenses? Who needs licenses? Not 2K Sports, who today announced a massive lineup of classic football stars would grace All-Pro Football 2K8. While EA holds the exclusive rights to use NFL trademarks and current player likenesses, 2K has lined up practically every retired player you’ve ever heard of, and probably a few you haven’t, for the roster of their re-entry into the football simulation market.”
Straight from Joystiq: “Maybe it has something to do with Phil’s adorable accent, or their slightly upsetting European This is Living ads, but Sony did a number on the UK. Not only did the PS3 manage to break the record for best-selling home console launch in its weekend debut (take that, PS2!), but PS3 titles like Resistance and Motorstorm are sitting pretty at the top of UK entertainment software sales charts. Toss some free TVs into the PR mix, and things may just be looking up, but what’s this?
According to BrandRepublic, “as many as 20,000 pre-orders of the £425 console [were] canceled in the run-up to its delayed launch last Friday,” totaling over £10m in lost sales! The same article quotes Nick Parker, an analyst at Screen Digest, who said, “This time next week we could be saying that the PlayStation 3 has been the most successful console launch ever.” Uh, already true in the UK, Nick. So, widespread cancellations and the console still broke sales records? Then why are there still units on the shelves?
Let’s not mistake a healthy supply of consoles to mean there’s no consumer interest; the two may be related but, like everything, we imagine there’s a great deal more going on than simple numbers on store shelves. Sure, there’s no Wiis sharing the shelves, but that’s because Nintendo (for some reason known only to them) can’t seem to make enough of them (insert duct-tape wise crack here).”
*Update (10-25-2007)* Losses in Sony’s games division double
Straight from Joystiq: “MCV confirms the news that will send many a fanboy into a sequence of uncontrollable convulsions: The Playstation 3 has officially become the fastest-selling home console in the UK over its launch weekend. A reported 165,000 PS3 units were snatched from shelves, besting the Wii’s 105,000 launch units and the Xbox 360′s 70,000. The PSP still holds the top speed record (185,000 units) as a handheld, but we doubt that’s the sort of caveat that will bother the folks at Sony.
With plenty of consoles left in the 220,000 strong initial shipment, it would appear that a strong supply is the key to launch victory. Will sales remain brisk in the foreseeable future? We’ll find out soon enough, but until then, expect some elaborately spun responses from Sony’s competitors. Perhaps UK journalists ought to return those stacks of beer to Microsoft — then again, alcohol already seems a likely explanation for steering the Xboat to the wrong continent.”
Straight from Joystiq: “When we learned that the PS3 version of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion would not feature the majority of downloadable content found on the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game, it was a blow to fans of horse armor everywhere. An episode of The 1UP Show (02/02) provides the follow-up hook as 1UP relays a juicy bit of info from Bethesda. As it turns out, it may be due to a memory limitation with the Playstation 3 itself.
1UP says that Bethesda simply could not find a way to load every piece of downloadable content without affecting the performance of the game. Considering that the Xbox 360 can pull off this feat without a hitch, that seems quite odd. Bethesda will still be looking into getting that content available for PS3 users, as addressed by their VP of Marketing, Peter Hines, who also comments on the “rumors” regarding the memory issue in an IGN interview.“
Straight from Joystiq: “First, let’s state the obvious: in-stock product is, for the most part, a good thing. If you’re a manufacturer, it means people can buy your goods in exchange for monies that go in your pocket. But if your product is launching in short supply to a seemingly high demand, early in-stock units may indicate poor long-term viability for a product. That’s the current white elephant in the room for Sony’s PS3; widely reported to be sitting on store shelves throughout the nation.
Analyst PJ McNealy — who originally believed the PS3 would see shortages well into June of 2007 — said, “It is our position that while the PS3 launch is seven+ weeks old, we find it a little troubling to find the console in stock.” He credits the current and unexpected availability of PS3s to the following scenarios:
- People aren’t buying due to lack of new games at this point
- $600 for a game console appears too pricey for most people
- The “cheap Blu-ray player” argument isn’t converting into sales
- Slow release of exclusive titles isn’t helping”
Straight from Joystiq: “How did Microsoft dodge the scaling issue that has plagued Sony since its launch? Maybe it was the timing — an HD console in a Standard Def world — or perhaps it was Ana, the affectionate title for Xbox 360′s hardware scaler.
Whereas the PlayStation 3 downscales to meet resolution, Ana upscales Xbox 360 titles to 1080p to impressive results, according to Ars Technica’s Ben Kuchera. Speaking with Microsoft’s Scott Henson, Kuchera learns that Ana was designed at the same time as Xenos, the console’s GPU. Though the addition of a PS3 hardware scaler is possible in the future, Xbox Group Product Marketing Manager Aaron Greenberg opines that it would be difficult for Sony to fix the issue with software, leaving first-generation PS3 owners in the cold.
However, the truth is, as Kuchera notes, differences between the two console’s graphics are minimal to nonexistent. “By [the time PS3 has second-generation titles] we’ll have Halo 3,” Henson said. “We’ll be on the third–generation games. We hope to always be a little bit ahead.” When will Sony pull ahead of the Xbox 360, graphically, and to what extent is Ana Microsoft’s secret weapon in keeping up?”
Straight from Joystiq: “Yesterday, Microsoft’s Chris Satchell and Peter Moore offered up an old-fashioned bitch slap at Sony’s burgeoning online service, saying the PlayStation Network was “pretty much a disaster,” in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz. The war of words has now been joined by SCEA’s Dave Karraker, who told GamePro, basically, “Um, hey, we’ve sold a lot of systems.”Karraker said the over 200 million PlayStation branded products sold to date were proof that consumers worldwide support Sony’s ability to “deliver hardware, software and services to suit this industry.” Um, sure, but what do historic sales have to do exactly with a brand new online network? Karakker then trotted out Gran Turismo HD as an example of “the potential of the PlayStation Network and the kind of ground breaking content we plan to offer.” Really? Your big defense of your online service is a game demo? Xbox Live has been offering those for over a year now. What else you got?
Apparently not much, at least not much that made it into the “in-depth rebuttal” GamePro printed. If Sony is counting on brand recognition and past sales to carry it through this generation, they’ve got a long, disappointing fight ahead of them.”
Straight from Joystiq: “Remember way back in January 2001 when Sega quit the hardware race and put their last system, the Dreamcast, out to pasture? Apparently no one told Japan, because now, six years later, they’re still coming out with new games for the system over in the land of the rising sun.Sega Nerds has some details on three shooters being released for the Dreamcast in the next few months: Last Hope, Trigger Heart Excelica and Karous. Casual importers should be particularly interested in the region-free Last Hope, which can be played on any Dreamcast without modification. Retro importers can pre-order all three games from Play-asia.
Between these official releases for the Dreamcast, recent homebrew releases for the Genesis and Atari 2600 and the increasing prevalence of top-loading Famiclones, we may be entering a new era of support for classic consoles. As long as someone out there is willing to play, the market will find them. I know I’m personally clamoring for some new 3DO games.”
Straight from Joystiq: “In yet another side-by-side comparison fight — this time broadcast on television — the Xbox 360 was once again crowned the winner over the PS3. The comparison loss adds yet another black mark on the PS3′s, and Sony’s, faltering image. A comparison like this is not something the PS3 needs right now.H3 Enterprises, a major player in the hip-hop culture world (a large market segment Sony likes to target), displayed the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Fight Night on 1080p screens at the famed Apollo theater. Played by what H3 billed as Harlem’s top rappers, the Xbox 360 was claimed to be superior in every way. CNBC and BET both had cameras trained on the in-action comparison and the reaction of those there.”
Straight from Joystiq: “It’s said that the rats are the first to abandon a sinking ship. While not rats, publishers are beginning to abandon the PS3 after its less-than-impressive launch and news of production woes. Three titles have pulled up stakes and moved to the Xbox 360 (as cross-platform).Koei, long time PlayStation supporter (and company frequently billed as key support to win the generation) has pulled Fatal Inertia and Blade Storm: The Hundred Years’ War from the PS3 exclusive list and plopped them squarely into the Xbox 360 camp. Another PlayStation staple, the Armored Core series, is also coming to the white box in the form of Armored Core 4.
Sony is going to be in for a difficult battle if key players keep moving over party lines; Microsoft is doing far better coaxing exclusive content over to the 360. If Sony continues to lose its differentiation, why should gamers continue to shell out up to $200 more just to play the same games? Enjoy this machine translation for those who can’t read Japanese.”
Straight from Joystiq: “Nintendo’s numbers are finally in and business is looking good. Nintendo has reported they sold 600,000 units at launch and are on track to hit the full million goal in the US by the end of the year.The Wii wasn’t flying off the shelves alone. Twilight Princess accompanied 454,000 of them. That number is actually quite surprising given how large a franchise it is; we’d have expected every Wii to be paired up with its very own Zelda game, a 1:1 attach rate. In any case, Twilight Princess is looking to be the first million seller on the Wii if Nintendo can (presumably) reach those 2 million in the US by the end of January.
Nintendo’s positive news is nice for those who still want a Wii but can’t yet find it; you may have a relatively easy time finding one before the next big holiday hits. This is, of course, a far cry better than the other guy. Can Nintendo capitalize on their production capabilities and storm the market?”