Friday, January 29, 2010

New DLC for the New Year

downloadable contentWe are drawing close to the end of the first month of the new year and already we have tons of downloadable content available to us for some of the hottest games out right now. For those of you (if there are any) who are unfamiliar with downloadable content, or DLC, its simple. DLC is anything created by a game developer that the player can download via Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network or the internet to further expand, enhance or enrich a certain game. Sometimes DLC is content originally intended to be in the game that, unfortunately, got cut before release or just something extra the developers wanted the gamer to have. Well some of the hottest games out right now are getting the DLC piled on so you can keep tearing through level after level as long as possible.

The first game up on the list is Borderlands. The FPS for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC has a slew of DLC either out or coming out which is sure to leave you stomping around Pandora for a few more hours. The first piece of DLC came in as The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned. This addition to the game had players investigating a doctor in charge of keeping workers alive but instead turned them into zombies. The next piece of DLC for Borderlands comes to us in the form of Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot. This one wasn't so much extra missions as it was an arena fighting mode Gladiator style. Players do not earn experience by fighting in the arena but they can earn achievements and challenges. If those two aren't enough for you then you will be happy to hear that Gearbox has just confirmed its third piece of DLC entitled The Secret Armory of General Knoxx. This DLC promises to add in new enemies, like a giant mechsuit enemy as well as a giant spider thing. New weapons and items are also said to be included along with a huge new environment to explore and the promise of increasing the level cap above 50. No word about a release date has been said but I already want to sign up.

The next game toting some solid DLC comes in the form of Ubisoft's hit Assassin's Creed 2. The first piece of DLC for AC2 was released yesterday in the form of The Battle of Forli. Anybody who has beaten AC2 knows that, in the game, your memory strand jumps from memory 11 to memory 14 with strand 14 ending the game. The Battle of Forli DLC comes in as memory strand 12 and hopes to fill in some of the gaps in the story arc that may have left more than a few gamers scratching their heads. The Battle of Forli was originally supposed to be in the game but got cut as the final deadline grew closer. The DLC itself is said to add over an hour of extra gameplay and missions and even another glider mission for all of us who did not get enough time on DaVinci's flying machine. However, Ubisoft is not stopping there. The company plans to release another piece of DLC which will essentially be memory strand 13 so the plot flows and is complete. And if that isn't enough for you, another piece of DLC has been rumored that could feature a multiplayer mode for AC2 but there is no further word on either of these two just yet.

Probably the biggest game to launch since Modern Warfare 2, Mass effect 2 is toting its own slew of launch DLC. If you buy the game new, you will receive a voucher code to input that will give you access to the Cerberus Network an in-game store that allows you to purchase different things. In addition to that players will be able to download a new player to recruit to your team named Zaeed Massani. This DLC also adds new missions and items. Another piece of DLC is also planned that is said to feature new missions, weapons and a hovering tank known as the Hammerhead. Immediately available on release is the Normandy Crash Pack DLC which allows players to investigate the remains of the SSV Normandy SR-1, your characters ship from the first game. Bioware has also released word that another piece of DLC involving a human thief named Kasumi will be coming out at a later date. With the already extensive campaign along with all this extra DLC, I don't believe people will be putting down Mass Effect 2 any time soon.

This content just barely scratches the surface of all the DLC available. Games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero are continuously releasing new track packs and survival horror game Resident Evil 5 has just added some new characters and costumes to the game's Mercenaries mode. There is definitely enough DLC out there to keep your games full and your pockets light so be sure and grab some of this content, especially the free stuff, before its too late. All DLC is available through the Xbox LIVE Marketplace for the 360, the PlayStation Network for the PS3 and Steam for the PC.

Source: G4TV

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Top Selling Games of '09

Top Selling Games of 09

Even though 2009 was a bad year for the US as a whole, financially, the gaming industry has something to celebrate. Last week, tracking firm NPD announced the United States retail console game industry made about $19.66 billion in revenue in 2009, which is down 8% from 2008's $21.4 billion. So what's the good news? December 2009 beat out other month's sales from both 2008 and 2009, and any other month ever. Could that be a sign of good things to come?

Entertainment Software Association president Michael D. Gallagher is looking at it as a positive. "Clearly, 2009 was a tough year for consumers and the national economy. However, the bigger picture is one that underscores the industry’s strength; 2009 and 2008 were the highest grossing years in our industry’s history. Our industry's structure is solid, and I anticipate a strong 2010 with a pipeline full of highly-anticipated titles," he said in a statement released with the study.

Portable hardware is the only aspect of the industry that saw an increase in sales last year (6%). Console hardware saw a drop of 13% with console software down 10% and portable software also down 10%. But NPD analyst Anita Frazier believes the new games on slate for 2010 will help turn things around, "Hopefully, the big increase in the overall install base of hardware systems will bring good things for software sales in 2010."

Speaking of software, NPD also released a top ten list of console games sold in the United States. Nintendo dominated the list with seven of the game (six were for Wii). But Wii didn't make the top spot. Xbox 360 received that honor. The entire list is as follows:

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360)

  2. Wii Sports Resort (Wii)

  3. New Super Mario Brothers (Wii)

  4. Wii Fit (Wii)

  5. Wii Fit Plus (Wii)

  6. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)

  7. Wii Play (Wii)

  8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PlayStation 3)

  9. Halo 3: ODST (Xbox 360)

  10. Pokemon Platinum Version (NDS)

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Friday, January 22, 2010

New PS3 Updates Prompt More Console Failures

PlayStation 3When many people think of system failures the PS3 doesn't typically come to mind. Most of us think system or hardware failures and we immediately think of the Xbox 360 and its dreaded red ring of death that plagued thousands of gamers (including myself...... twice) for quite some time. Well now it seems that the PlayStation 3 is experiencing "technical difficulties" with some of the firmware updates being pushed onto consoles.

The most common problem people are experiencing involves the machine's Blu-ray drive. Ever since Sony let loose the 3.0 and 3.1 firmware updates for the PS3, many people's Blu-ray drives have been failing completely. However, the problems don't stop there, Sony has just rolled out the 3.10 and 3.15 firmware updates and it seems even more people are experiencing problems with these new updates.

Whether or not the problem is widespread or not is still unclear but, like everything these days, the problem is blowing up on forums all across the internet with a lot of people having problems mainly with the 3.15 firmware update, which came out last month, but still quite a few people having issues after the 3.10 update. Between the two versions out now for the PS3, the 40GB and the 60GB, it seems that the 60GB is the most affected.

A post off of the forums reports that the user's game froze and that after rebooting, the Blu-ray drive would not read any discs at all. This failure came after the poster updated his console with Sony's 3.15 firmware update on his original 40GB console. A poll by one user on the official PlayStation forums found that 35 users either had some bad issues or a complete system failure while 27 users experienced no problems whatsoever. It is unclear how reliable this poll is because, let's face it, how many of us that are not experiencing system failures or firmware update problems are actually going to search the internet for news on them? I rest my case.

I'm sure if the problem gets worse, we will definitely hear about, just remember how fast news of the red ring of death circulated. And you can bet that if the problem gets that bad for Sony that the Microsoft boys will be blasting it all over the internet to make sure you PS3 owners and potential buyers know about it. But we will have to wait until more reports surface before an "official" word can be sent out.

Source: G4TV

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NBA Jams Coming to Wii

NBA Jams Coming to Wii

Ever since the rumors of a Wii-exclusive NBA Jam game started circulating, gamers have been on the edge of their seats. Turns out, EA Sports has been hard at work on the tile but the first official press release didn't really give us much to go on. Fortunately, the website Nintendo Power has received an inside scoop and has posted some info along with a screen grab (see the picture above).

If you're afraid the new version of the game will stray too far from the arcade classic, think again. The original creator of the game, Mark Turmell, has been brought in as the "senior creative director." But the game will have some modern touches.

The graphics will be both 2D and 3D. 3D for the character models and 2D for the player's heads. You can get a better of idea of this by looking at the picture above. Each player's face will have "good play" and "bad play" expressions and was clipped from high resolution NBA photos. But enough about the graphics.

How will the game play on the Wii? Players will use the Wii Remote/Nunchuk sort of like the game "Punch-Out!" But if you don't like that, the game will also feature a classic Wii Remote-exclusive control for fans who want a more old-school style. There are two modes of play: "Classic Campaign" and "Remix Tour." According to Craveonline: "Classic Campaign plays just like previous NBA JAM titles; 3v3, no rules other than shot clock and goaltending, while Remix Tour changes the core mechanics, tweaks the rules, and switches up the camera."

The game is said to feature several classic NBA Jam moves along with new dunks and moves. You'll also experience fire, shattering backboards, cheats, flashing shoes, flashing balls, big head mode, legends, playable mascots, and secret characters.

There's no word on when the game will be released or even a general idea but there is definitely more to come about what should end up being one of the most anticipated games of the year!

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Watch Netflix DVDs From Your Wii

Watch Netflix DVDs From Your Wii

If you're a Netflix member, you already know you can watch a large array of new and old movies instantly on your computer without getting that little red envelope with the DVD in the mail. You can also stream the movies on your PS3, Xbox 360, LG and Samsung Blue-ray players, a set-top box from Roku, Tivo, and even some newer TVs. But this spring, Netflix will be adding the Wii to the mix.

Like the PS3, Wii-owning Netflix members can send away for a special disc that will alow you to stream content. By 2010, you should be able to watch movies instantly via your Wii's broadband connection.

Given that the PS3 and Xbox 360 already work in this capacity, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal. As a matter of fact, the Wii only displays video at standard definition unlike its competitors that can display video in HD. This has some people complaining, but seeing as how the Wii's main purpose isn't to stream video, people will probably be happy with the convenience vs. having exceptional definition.

"The fact of the matter is the vast majority of the instant streaming content that Netflix has available is non-HD and the fact is that... many consumers who have an HD television still aren't watching HD content through that television," said Nintendo of America's CEO, Reggis Fils-Aime.

The partnership was announced last week on the official blog of Netflix. The good news for the movie rental company is that 26 million United States households have a Wii - more than any other console - and they new use for the console may make for quite a few new Netflix members or influence current members to upgrade their memberships. The Wii is also considered the non-gamer's game console, meaning Wii-owners would be more likely use it to watch movies.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wii Balance Board to help patients after stroke and traumatic brain injury

The Wii balance board has many uses to many people, some use it to play games, others integrate it into their daily workout routine. Now doctors are starting to wonder about it's uses outside of the living room. Recently Ross Clark, of the University of Melbourne Australia, read an article about the military using Wii technology that is sensitive enough to control robots, so he wondered if it was possible to use the Wii balance board to rehabilitate stroke victims.

He and his colleagues took apart the balance board to get a better look at what makes it work. They noticed that the technology inside the $99 balance board was on par with that of the $18,000 force platforms physiologists currently used to measure the center of pressure of a person's foot. "We found the data to be excellent. I was shocked given the price: it was an extremely impressive strain gauge set-up," said Clark.

They have since published a paper with their findings and hope that the new data and the low price of the Wii balance board will be able to help more people. "The low price of the Wii kit is now seeing it used to assess rehabilitation after stroke, traumatic brain injuries and to examine standing balance in children who were born pre-term," he says. The low price of the board is making it possible for clinics all over the world to be able to afford technology they would otherwise miss out on.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Xbox LIVE and Windows Mobile Coming Together

Xbox LIVE GamesIn the gaming community, gamers know that any bit of news they hear about something really exciting or popular is only as good as the confirmation that comes with it and even then what is confirmed still has to be taken with a grain of salt. Well one of the newest and most anticipated confirmations in the gaming community comes out of the offices of Microsoft. It is now official that Xbox Live will be joining up with windows Mobile.

Microsoft has spoken highly of the potential synergy between its two brands but has done nothing with it by keeping its mobile and gaming operations apart from each other. However, a slide from an internal Microsoft marketing material has been spotted which gives us some interesting details on what Microsoft may be doing with Xbox Live and their mobile platforms.

The marketing material seen states "Xbox LIVE extends from first-generation consoles to the Xbox 360 Console, Windows phones and Windows PCs." The service is going to be conveniently called "Xbox LIVE Games" and it appears that the service will only be available on phones that operate a mobile version of Windows. "Xbox LIVE Games is the mobile version of the Xbox LIVE service available on Windows phones." This was what the second part of the source material stated. A recent posting from Microsoft looking for specific job applicants has also been seen floating around the web which just adds more confirmation to the service.

The job posting on the site asks specifically for a Principle Program Manager and also asks the applicants to "drive the platform and bring Xbox LIVE enabled games to Windows Mobile." The posting also states that "This person will focus specifically on what makes gaming experiences 'LIVE Enabled' through aspects such as avatar integration, social interactions and multi-screen experiences."

But this confirmation is not without its fair share of questions and potential problems. The material never mentions the words "only" or "exclusively" in it. However, the only devices mentioned are those running Windows Mobile. Other phones are not mentioned and, surprisingly, neither is Microsoft's own Zune MP3 player. Should Xbox LIVE Games run on Windows phones exclusively then this will be a huge disappointment for everybody considering how small a section of the smartphone market Windows Mobile occupies.

But at least we finally have confirmation, something we have been anticipating for a long time. This could prove to be a huge step for Microsoft, especially with Windows Mobile 7 coming closer and closer everyday.

Source: PCWorld

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Razer Breaks Out Two Xbox 360 Peripherals

RazerAnybody who seriously games in the PC community has undoubtedly heard of a little company called Razer. Razer has been one of the leading manufacturers in gaming peripherals for PC gamers for a while and it seems that now they want to throw their hat into the console gaming ring as they have just announced two new gaming peripherals designed solely for the Xbox 360.

Razer OnzaRazer has received approval from the big wigs over at Microsoft to create the Razer Onza Professional Gaming Controller. Razer's signature style consists of creating peripherals aimed at improving the gamers experience overall by incorporating a series of special features into their devices. The Onza is unique because of it's features. The tension on the two analog sticks can be adjusted allowing for an exact comfort level specific to the gamer. The Onza also has a MFB, or Multi-function button. The MFB can be mapped to act any of the action buttons, the analog stick buttons or even an auto-fire button by simply sliding the selector switch on the bottom of the controller. But despite its features Razer also likes style. The Onza is solid black with the Razer logo on the left side of the controller. The 360 dashboard/power button lights up green as does the d-pad buttons. But probably the coolest part is that the seems of the controller also illuminate the traditional Xbox green for a truly unique look. The only problems some gamers may have with the Onza is that the controller is wired which has its pros and cons. The pros are that it drastically saves you in batteries and provides lag-free gaming. The cons are that it is 2010 and nobody really wants a wired controller anymore. No word on when this device will hit store shelves but we do have a price. The Razer Onza Professional Gaming Controller will run you $44.99.

Razer ChimaeraThe other peripheral coming out of Razer is the Razer Chimaera Professional Gaming Headset. Razer designed this headset to deliver sharp sound quality that can optimize any gaming experience. The headset offers a 5.1 channel Virtual Surround Sound system that offers spectacular sound quality. Most all games out there are created with 5.1 surround sound yet most gaming headsets are only equipped to offer stereo-grade sound. The Chimaera also includes a Daisy-Chain cable system. This allows multiple base stations to connect to create a direct, private communication channel. The Chimaera was also created with a circumaural design that gives the gamer optimum noise isolation allowing for extended hours of gameplay comfortably without any outside distractions. The only problems I could see with this product is that it is also wired and from the picture it only appears that the microphone is restricted to the left side of the headset which could annoy some gamers, like myself, who are more comfortable with the mic on the right side. Razer is still working for approval from Microsoft on this product and no release date has been set. If it is able to be released however, you can pick it up for a price of $129.99.

Razer is always looking at ways to improve your gaming experience and many people are excited that the company is branching out into console gaming. With their first two console products looking pretty good already, we can only expect great things from Razer in the future. Let's just hope that they realize us gamers desire and demand WIRELESS peripherals.

Source: Razer

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Wii Could Become the New Home Lie Detector

wii lie detectorWhen Nintendo first introduced the Wii in 2006, everyone was very skeptical. No one thought that the system would be able to come close to competing with Sony’s Playstation 3. Everyone laughed at Nintendo’s system’s old fashioned graphics and completely different type of controller. The name that Nintendo chose also caused more ridicule. A Wii? What on earth was a Wii? Everyone said that there was no possible way that the seemingly low-tech game system could stand up against Sony’s HD-capable PS3, but…we were all wrong.

We quickly discovered after the overwhelming sales of Nintendo’s Wii that a lot of people were not concerned about HD graphics, they just wanted to have fun. Honestly, the Wii can’t compete against the Xbox 360 and PS3 because its completely different. Its in a whole new category of gaming.

The various sensors that the Wii console utilizes are what make it the most unique. There’s the motion sensor based controller, the Wii Fit board, and so many more sensor based tools that will be coming out soon. One of these new tools is the Wii Vitality Sensor. This device attaches to your finger and monitors your pulse. This gives the Wii the ability to monitor your stress level while you play different games. Some say this could possibly keep you from playing if you get too nervous or maybe while doing meditation exercises. There are endless possibilities with this latest development.

With the Vitality Sensor, Wii could easily come up with a complete lie detector set. That could be an interesting new twist. So say that something gets broken at your house and nobody wants to own up to it, all you have to do is whip out the old Wii lie detector set and you’ll figure out exactly who did it.

Honestly, I kind of think this would just be too weird. Hooking your kids up to the Wii to see if they’re lying just kind of seems a little out there to me. Now this isn’t all that this new technology could produce, there’s plenty of other things that could come out of the Vitality Sensor. Whatever it is that Wii develops, its almost guaranteed to grab the gaming world’s attention.

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Video Game Sales Higher Than Movies Sales in the U.K.

uk video game salesIn the U.K. video game sales have been much higher than movie sales. Now when they say movie sales this includes both trips to the movie theater and DVD sales. I think its pretty incredible that game sales could outweigh the profits from both theaters and DVDs.

According to the data-monitoring company GFK Chart-Track, 1.73 billion British pounds (about $2.8 billion) were spent on video games. The U.K. Film Council stated that 1 billion British pounds ($1.6 billion) were spent at the British box office, while 198 million British pounds ($320 million) was spent on new films released on DVD and Blu-ray. This comes to a total of 1.198 billion pounds ($1.93 billion) on movie sales. All of this means that approximately 532 million more pounds ($860 million) were spent on video games than on film in 2009.

Now these numbers are nothing compared to the 2009 U.S. games sales. It is estimated that sales should come in around $20 million for the year. I mean in November alone over $2.7 billion were spent on games in the U.S.

The price cuts in video game consoles most definitely added to the U.K. video game sales. These cuts expanded the number of potential buyers who had previously been unwilling to put out the money for a game system. The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 game that came out this fall also added greatly to the sales. reported that Modern Warfare 2 was their No. 1 seller for 2009. They even beat out the DVD sales for “Twilight” and “Harry Potter.”

The GFK Chart-Track company also found that the number of game consoles in Britain almost doubled in 2009. It went up to 25 million, which means that there are enough to have one console in every nine out of ten households.

So video game sales show that gaming seems to be the dominant form of entertainment in 2009. We’ll have to see if this pattern carries on into the new year.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Looking at the Video Game World This Past Year

video game salesThe video game industry has been a constant up and down rollercoaster this year. 2009 sales for Nintendo’s Wii, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and Sony’s Playstation 3 and all their accessories and games have soared and plummeted during this year of recession.

The NPD Group industry analysis reported that last January sales were up 13 percent over the previous year. That boost continued into February when sales were up 10 percent over 2008. It was questioned why video game sales were up so much while jobs were disappearing rapidly. The conclusion that many came to was that the entertainment of a family game such as Madden 10 allows some great value for the dozens of hours of fun that your family can enjoy for around $50.

By March, the video game high was gone. Sales crashed as they went 17 percent below the previous year. This remained pretty constant month after month. The revenue figures proved that the video game industry was not recession-proof.

Now not everything was bad from there. Some individual games and companies did quite well. 2009 showed some great promise with the release of such games as Beatles: Rock Band, Assassins Creed II, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. With Beatles: Rock Band, more than 700,000 games were sold worldwide in the first week. Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 racked up sales of over $310 million on the very first day alone. It quickly became the fastest-selling piece of entertainment in history in November.

In September, PS3 won the monthly sales award, beating out Xbox and Wii for the first time in three years. This was because of the August release of the PS3 Slim. This offered a smaller version of the console that could be purchased for a very reasonable price of $299. Nintendo began to cut their prices in 2009 though. The Wii went from the original price of $249 to $199, and by mid-fall, Nintendo retook their top sales spot.

Although sales have been up and down quite a bit, the video game industry will never have to worry about plummeting permanently. They might have a few bumps along the way as we saw this year, but they will always spring back. It will be interesting to see were the industry will go in this coming new year.

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