Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category
Straight from Reuters, the bastion of truth, “Japan’s Sega Corp joined the rapidly growing club of video game companies whose computer systems have been hacked by cyber criminals, the company said on Friday.
The news capped a week in which the Lulz Security group of hackers launched a cyber crime spree against other video game companies.
In an unexpected twist, Lulz responded to the news of the attack on Sega by offering to track down and punish the hackers who attacked the Japanese maker of video game software.
The drama surrounding the recent round of video game breaches paled compared to what PlayStation maker Sony Corp experienced following two high-profile attacks that surfaced in April. Those breaches led to the theft of account data for more than 100 million customers, making it the largest ever hacking of data outside the financial services industry.
They also exposed what turned out to be a large number of security holes in sites throughout the global Sony media empire. That led to a rash of attacks on Sony systems that undermined confidence in the company and made it the source of frequent jokes by security experts. Its security staff scrambled to repair vulnerabilities in its network as independent experts identified new problems via remote scans and disclosed them to Sony and the public.
Sega said that some personal information about an unspecified number of Sega Pass online network members had been compromised in the attack, according to a letter the company sent to customers on Friday that was published on the PlayStation LifeStyle.net website.
Customer email addresses and birthdates, which can be read in plain text were taken, as were passwords, which could not be read in plain text because they had been scrambled or encrypted using security software before being stored in the database.
Sega shut down the Pass network on Thursday, the day it learned of the breach, telling customers in a note on its website that it was “undergoing improvements.” It was not immediately clear when it would go back online.
The video game developer is a division of Japan’s Sega Sammy Holdings, which makes game software such as Sonic the Hedgehog as well as slot machines.
Sega was one of the biggest video game consoles makers in the 1990s, but pulled out of the market in 2001 in response to disappointing sales of its Dreamcast system, which had debuted in 1998 to widespread industry praise. Dreamcast lost ground to newer products developed by Sony and Nintendo.
It now focuses on developing video games for systems made by other companies.
LULZ GETS INVOLVED
While the FBI is likely to be called in to investigate the attack on Sega, as the bureau typically is in such cases, its agents may find themselves competing for clues with members of Lulz Security hacking group.
In its offer to assist Sega, the Tweet from Lulz hinted that its leaders might count themselves among a small but highly loyal group of gamers who still play on the aging Dreamcast console.
“Sega – contact us,” Lulz said in its Tweet to the video game developer. “We want to help you destroy the hackers that attacked you. We love the Dreamcast, these people are going down.”
Lulz offered to see that the cyber criminals are punished for attacking Sega shortly after ending its own crime spree that included attacks on several other video game companies.
The Lulz hackers, who publicize their attacks on their own website and via Twitter, said on Friday that they had stolen customer records of some 200,000 users of the online video game Brink. Officials at Xenia Media, the developer of Brink, could not be reached for comment.
Lulz last week also attacked several other industry players, saying it was working on behalf of disgruntled players who had ordered the attacks via telephone hotlines that Lulz set up in the United States and Europe to solicit such requests.
Tribalware.net and EVE from Innogames were among the victims of the Lulz campaign against video game makers. The hacking group also attacked servers that help run two other online games — “League of Legends” and “Minecraft” — and it hit the The Escapist website, which provides video game news.
Lulz had hacked into Nintendo in an attack that it disclosed on June 3, but the incident has not appeared to have serious consequences for the company. The hacking group published a data file over the Internet that it said contained details on the way Nintendo set up one of its web servers.
Such data could be valuable to other hackers planning future attacks on Nintendo because the data potentially could leave clues as to possible security weaknesses in the game maker’s network.”
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.”
Sega shook the very foundations of the newly reborn U.S. gaming industry on August 14th, 1989, when the Sega Genesis made its North American debut in New York and Los Angeles. Due to a trademark dispute, the console that was known as the Mega Drive to the rest of the known world was rechristened, the new name evoking conflicting notions of biblical import and small, balding British musicians.
While the Mega Drive trailed behind the Super Famicon and NEC’s PC Engine in Japan, it gave the Super Nintendo a run for its money in the states, with titles starring big-name sports celebrities like Pat Riley, Joe Montana, and James “Buster” Douglas. Even the late Michael Jackson put in an appearance, saving the children of the world with his dance moves.
In 1991, the Genesis birthed Sonic the Hedgehog, one of the most recognizable and beloved video game characters in the world, despite a run of rather dismal games as of late.
The Genesis eventually gave under the weight of its own add-ons, with the Sega CD and 32X selling far worse than expected. Sega moved on to the Saturn and finally the Dreamcast, but they never quite recaptured the level of support they saw with the Genesis, eventually giving up the console business altogether.
A testament to cartridge-based console reliability, my original Sega Genesis sits on a shelf behind me, ready to be hooked up and played at a moment’s notice. They just don’t build them like that anymore.
Happy 20th, Sega Genesis! Long may your lovely red LED shine.”
Straight from Jalopnik: “Outrun, Sega’s original arcade racer, is back, but not in its old pixelated, quarter-poppin’ form. Instead, it’s back with a vengeance featuring stylish, new game play and killer HD visuals.
Sega has polished up an old arcade favorite and is re-releasing it for the XBOX Live Arcade and the Euro-only Playstation Network in June.”
Sega’s new HD Outrun
Sega’s best Outrun version ever released
Straight from the ‘Sony’s a genius’ department, by way of Slashdot: “CNet reports on a bizarre comment from Sony’s Computer Entertainment CEO in response to complaints from developers on how hard it is to develop games for the Playstation 3. ‘We don’t provide the “easy to program for” console that (developers) want, because “easy to program for” means that anybody will be able to take advantage of pretty much what the hardware can do, so then the question is, what do you do for the rest of the nine-and-a-half years?’ Given that games heavily drive console sales, and the fact that the PS3 is already 8 million units behind the Xbox 360, I think making a developer’s job harder is the last thing Sony needs.”
Straight from Ars Technica: “…That “seriousness gap” provided yet another opening for Sega to exploit. Tom Kalinske, President and CEO of Sega of America, charged headfirst into Nintendo’s blind spot, doing everything possible to position Sega as the cultural polar opposite of Nintendo. When Nintendo would be kid friendly, Sega would provide bloody, violent games. When Nintendo would specialize in whimsical fantasy RPGs, Sega would focus on realistic American sports simulations endorsed by professional athletes. Even the company color schemes stood at opposites: contrast Sega’s black and red versus Nintendo’s light gray and purple—you get the idea.
Then came the “Sega scream,” a key part of Sega’s smart, witty advertising campaign that cast the Super NES as the dorky kid on the playground. It worked, and the Genesis attracted a large 18-and-older user base. Before long, even Nintendo couldn’t ignore this growing segment of the market; it shot back with its own “Play it Loud” advertising campaign. The top end of the market had grown up, and it has continued growing ever since.”
Ubisoft, publishers of Rainbow Six Vegas 2, didn’t have a ‘no-dvd’ patch for the new direct2drive 1.03 version of the game; so what’s a game company to do? They steal the ‘no-dvd’ game crack from the RELOADED pirate group, and supply that to those that ask for the 1.03 patch.
Keep in mind that Ubisoft doesn’t allow anyone to discuss cracks, warez or link to torrents, etc. on their forums. This is also the same Ubisoft that was banning users from their forums for threatening to boycott the draconian Starforce protection scheme Ubisoft insisted on using, while at the same time gushing over the necessity of protection schemes. Now they are stealing a pirate ‘no-dvd’ patch that defeats their copy protection and distributing it to the users themselves.
Straight from East Bay Business Times: “Gamers in California and Washington, D.C., have sued Electronic Arts Inc. over what they call “blatantly anticompetitive conduct” in its football gaming niche.
The suit against Redwood City-based EA (NASDAQ:ERTS) says after early competition in football games between EA and Take-Two Interactive Inc., EA cut the price of its Madden 2005 game from $49.95 to $29.95.
“Electronic Arts could have continued to compete by offering a lower price and/or a higher quality product,” the suit said. “Instead, Electronic Arts quickly entered into a series of exclusive agreements with the only viable sports football associations in the United States: the National Football League, the Arena Football League, and NCAA Football.”
The suit says EA raised the price of Madden 2006 by 70 percent.
The plaintiffs have requested a class action and want restitution and damages for buyers of EA football game since August of 2005.”
Check out the demo video of the new Backbreaker Football game.
Straight from Ars Technica: “The most powerful gaming platform: The Amiga started out its life as a dedicated games machine, and even though it grew into a full computer very quickly, it never lost its gaming side. The machine’s 4096-color palette, stereo sampled sound, and graphics acceleration chips made it a perfect gaming platform, and it didn’t take long for game companies to start taking advantage of this power.
While the slow sales of the Amiga 1000 limited the number of games that developers were willing to make for the platform, when Commodore released the low-cost Amiga 500 in 1987, everything changed. Now the most powerful gaming computer was also one of the cheapest, and game companies jumped at the chance to showcase their talents on the Amiga.”
You can find the other parts to this story here:
Are you glad they have exclusive rights to the NFL properties now?
Straight from Ars Technica: “The announcement of Madden 2009 noted every major platform—both console and handheld—except for the PC, which EA has since confirmed was a conscious omission. This is the first Madden title not to hit the PC alongside current consoles since Madden NFL ’96 in 1995.
EA’s Peter Moore commented about the lack of a PC version on his official EA blog. “We knew that our decision to not develop this year’s Madden for the PC would be an unpopular decision in some circles,” Moore admitted. “But I’ll reiterate what I said a couple of weeks ago in this space… the PC presents some very serious business challenges to us in the sports category, particularly because so many of you all are playing your favorite sports games on the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii. We are committed to shipping a limited number of our games on the PC this year, but we’ve also had to cut a few of our games from the platform.”"
Straight from Engadget: “Just when you think all of your nostalgic fantasies have all been fulfilled, along comes Nintendo with a little extra joy for your retro heart. That “little extra” in this case happens to be Commodore 64 games for your Wii. You read that correctly, people — C64 games are headed to the system’s Virtual Console, starting with International Karate and Uridium, which will run you 500 Wii points apiece. Right now, the rollout appears to be taking place in Europe only, though we suspect it’ll head over to our shores sooner rather than later. While you’re waiting for that to happen, maybe now is a good time to exercise your digits and polish up on your IK trash talk.”
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 Technology Guardian: “Operating loss at its game unit, which offers loss-making PlayStation 3 game gear, is estimated to exceed 100 billion yen ($876 million) for the current business year, compared with its original projection of 50 billion yen, a Sony spokeswoman said.”
Straight from Slashdot: “In an article that will probably tick off a lot of PS3 owners, Will Wright calls the PS3 and 360 ‘incremental improvement(s)’. ‘The Wii feels like a major jump – not that the graphics are more powerful, but that it hits a completely different demographic. In some sense I see the Wii as the most significant thing that’s happened, at least on the console side, in quite a while … I still, for the most part, prefer playing games on the computer – to me the mouse is the best input device ever. Every generation it’s like ‘the PC’s dead! The PC’s dead!’. But it carries on growing when consoles are flat for five years. At the moment I can get better graphics on my PC than I can on the PS3.’”
Straight from Gizmodo: “No surprises here, really. Profits for Nintendo’s first fiscal half were ¥132.42 billion ($1.16 billion) on sales of ¥694.80 billion ($6.09 billion), destroying the same half last year’s profit of ¥54.35 billion on ¥298.82 billion in sales. Nintendo’s feeling pretty good, obviously, raising forecasted sales of the Wii this fiscal year by one million to 17.5 million consoles, with the DS’s sales target bumped 8 percent to 28 million units. Software-wise, it’s expecting 165 million DS titles and 97 million Wii games to roll for the year, up 8 and 35 percent, respectively. Consequently, they’re expecting to rake in ¥275 billion ($2.4 billion) in profits for the year on sales of ¥1.55 trillion ($13.59 billion). Bottom line: shitloads of systems, shitloads of games, shitloads of money.”