Friday, October 31, 2008

No Longer A Fluke, But A Reality: Playstation 3 BOMBS IN JAPAN FOR 7TH STRAIGHT WEEK

The Playstation 3 continues its steady decline into irrelevance in Japan, continuing its epic fail in the Land of the Rising Sun for the SEVENTH CONSECUTIVE WEEK. There's no doubting that Japanese gamers are starting to look for the games on the Playstation 3, and they just aren't there.

PSP Tops Hardware Sales Again, PS3 Sinks To New Low

Sales of the PSP-3000 model in Japan have cooled considerably since it launched in the region, but Sony's portable sells far more than enough to retain the top spot on the Media Create hardware charts. The PSP's hardware peers all took a hit this week; the Nintendo DS drops to third, with the Xbox 360 holding steady with the week's lowest decline.

The bad news continues for Sony's PlayStation 3, which suffers its worst week ever, selling just half of what its HD competition did, shedding nearly 17% of its sales week-to-week. Those LittleBigPlanet bundles can't come soon enough.

PSP - 60,467
Wii - 24,292
Nintendo DS - 22,965
Xbox 360 - 7,844
PlayStation 2 - 6,962
PlayStation 3 - 3,931

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gears of War 2 on November 7, 2008 ^_^

I didn't realize that only so little time is left before the official release date of this game!

Looking forward to it :D

Sunday, October 26, 2008

That Poem in the Gears of War 2 Commercial....

Have you seen the Gears of War 2 commercial (the older one), the one where there's a voice that utters this poem that begins with "I have a rendezvous with death...."

I happened to find what could be the poem that they [most likely] based it upon. Just an interesting read; apologies if this seems an academic post and not exactly video-game related....


Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern American Poetry. 1919.

Alan Seeger. 1888–1916

121. "I Have a Rendezvous with Death"

I HAVE a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear...
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

Fable 2 : Believe The Hype

If you've been reading a lot of game review sites and forums online, Fable 2 has been getting an immense amount of buzz this week.

After having played the game since yesterday up to this afternoon...I say that the game really does deserve it.

I haven't completed the game yet, to be honest, but I am getting that feeling that this is one of those games that will set a new bar for Western RPGs (or, perhaps RPGs in general). A quick list of things I liked:

1. Interactions with villagers, while limited and lacking dialogue, really come into their own after you spend a good deal of time with it.

2. Interesting design decision in Fable II - it seems monster encounters/bandit encounters do not drop any gold; just fighting experience (which can improve your physique and magic capabilities). Over time this makes you actually spend time in the towns, do the jobs, and change the way you understand the definition of a 'role playing game'.

3. It's really cool that you can buy stalls, shops and houses, and even decorate them! This game puts together elements from Oblivion, the Sims, and even action RPGs like Diablo II through a nice leveling system/combat system. You just have to experience it to understand what that means....

4. The overall feeling of 'freedom' is well established and despite having so much freedom, there is a story in the game even if it arguably simple and straightforward. It does move things along and makes the experience entirely worthwhile.

This is the type of game that will make you lose track of time; it just feels so full of stuff to do. It's well worth it; I believe this is a good contender for Role-Playing Game of the Year this 2008 because it just feels like the type of game that redefines gamers' expectations out of role-playing games.

Friday, October 24, 2008

RPG Incoming: Fable 2

That's just a sampling of the incredible, INCREDIBLE levels of hype Fable II is getting all over the Web. Can a game be THAT good?


The definition of RPG between Western developers and Eastern developers clearly differs in some way. Western devs mostly think that when a game is a 'role-playing game', they take it quite literally---you, the player, play a role in a fantasy setting, and as such, you should be given full ownership of that role. There's a lot of emphasis on freedom and the ability to do what you want to do in that world; the more expansive the choices you can make, the 'better' the game is. By this logic, even a game like Grand Theft Auto IV is technically a 'role-playing game', even if its setting is not a fantasy world (though at times, what happens is totally fantastic).

With Eastern developers, it's different: a role-playing game for Japanese developers is putting the player in the middle of a story. The story is already written; you just have to get your pre-assigned character through that story. A lot of emphasis is given on making your character (or party of adventurers) interesting personalities on their own. The player doesn't define the personality of the characters in the game, but instead, moves them along the story, so that the player can find out what happens next. A Japanese RPG is probably more like a movie wherein the player is given the ability to control that movie's main character. While there is a clear, set limitation set in by the developers for the players' party of characters, this does give the developers the ability to create a much richer, more memorable storyline since they have a preset vision, idea, or sets of ideas that they are able to convey. A linear approach may seem limited from a 'gameplay' standpoint, but it can serve to make a game less of a simple distraction and more of a work of art---in the sense that it expresses something, an idea or a point of view, of the game's creators.

The Western RPG shuns this completely and lets you have your own view; in that sense, it says nothing but it lets you carve your own path through the world.

RPGs from East and West are so different, but I'd like to think that neither are better. I personally don't prefer one or the other. I've grown to accept that they just really have different approaches to game design, and one is not superior to the other. Western RPGs can get boring if they provide no guidance at all to the player; they just give you the world and let you do whatever you wish, and there's no level of challenge or real purpose to you being there. Eastern RPGs can be a chore if they require too much 'grinding' (essentially, powering up your character through repeated battles with the same set of monsters), and poorly imagined characters or storylines in some Japanese RPGs easily spoil that sense of disbelief that's so important in these kinds of games.

I wouldn't want one kind of RPG to emerge victorious over another, quite frankly. I think there's room in the world for different points of view on how RPGs should be designed. I think both kinds of games should still be made. If Western RPGs win, I'm going to miss going through a game as an interactive story in the truest sense. If Japanese RPGs win, I'm going to miss the ability to have all that freedom in a game. I only remember one game in my entire lifetime that managed to merge both kinds of games into a cohesive whole, and that was a PC game: Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, and its expansion, Throne of Bhall. If you've got the time to invest in a rich RPG experience that successfully merges East and West, you have just got to buy that game. It's open-ended enough to let you define the moral character of your party of heroes; at the same time, it manages to tell stories---lots and lots of good stories with great characters in them---about the fantasy world that it's set in, and in that sense, it feels like a Japanese RPG, too.

Fable 2 is getting some incredibly good press. 1UP just recently reviewed it and said 'it had more ideas than the last ten years of Final Fantasy'. A bold claim that is sparking a lot of debate among the crazed fanboys of the NEOGAF forums. I'm about to get the game; personally the best way to enjoy any game is to keep an open mind. I didn't completely read the reviews for this game (I usually just go straight for knowing the final scores...); I have seen the previews and what I've seen is quite compelling. I do feel optimistic for it.

I'll be totally honest, though. I did NOT like the first Fable game for the original Xbox. What kept me back from enjoying the first game was that it did not do a good job of guiding the player through the first few moments. It felt very slow and dull and just didn't have that 'first-five-minutes' draw that a good game should have. Despite that opinion I have of the first game, I'm willing to give the second game a shot. If the game does a good job of letting me know 'why should I care' and encourages me to play on and on for hours on end, then maybe it deserves all those nearly-perfect scores it has been getting.

Ironically enough, I recall hating the first Baldur's Gate RPG, for entirely the same reason. The first Baldur's Gate felt like a chore, particularly when it forces you to traverse screen upon screen of dense forest (with nothing interesting in between). In Baldur's Gate II they solved that problem completely, and made every moment (from beginning to end) interesting and compelling.

Hopefully I'll have the same experience with Fable II. We shall see ^_^

Playstation 3 Sales Continue To Plummet In Japan

If you've been following the news lately, the Playstation 3 has been suffering huge losses WEEK AFTER WEEK against the Xbox 360 in Japan. Surprisingly the Xbox 360 has been holding up well, despite being unable to defeat the Nintendo Wii and its strong sales run.

Hardcore gamers are most likely staying tuned to the battle between the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 since both consoles are home to the kind of games that they want to play. The casual gamers continue to support the Wii and thus, it remains on top for this generation of consoles.

These are the latest figures for Media Create for the week of October 13 to October 19, 2008:

• PSP - 159,816
• Nintendo DS - 29,839
• Wii - 26,024
• Xbox 360 - 7,856
• PlayStation 2 - 7,261
• PlayStation 3 - 4,725


Alternative numbers from Famitsu/Enterbrain paint the same story for the battle between the two hardcore gaming systems:

Hardware - This Week Last Week LTD
1. PSP - 156,000 20,000 10,358,000
2. NDS - 34,000 34,000 23,598,000
3. WII - 25,000 22,000 6,874,000
4. PS2 - 7,800 7,500 21,471,000
5. 360 - 6,000 6,700 762,000
6. PS3 - 4,800 5,900 2,381,000

It will be interesting to see how the upcoming release of 'The Last Remnant' for the Xbox 360 will affect the hardware sales numbers in Japan.

The XBOX 360 has beaten the Playstation 3 for SIX STRAIGHT WEEKS now in Japan!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Dream Gaming Convention

For the past few weeks we've been to a couple of gaming events and we are very, very grateful to have been a part of them. We're happy to have been part of Anicon, Playground's booth at Level Up Live, and the WCG's League event this past Sunday. All these have been great experiences for us and we're also glad that our involvement was also a lot of fun for other gamers, too.

Now, let's just imagine for just a second....a dream scenario. Now, let's be clear about a few things. NOTHING about what I'm going to post next, is real. The following is just an imaginary scenario that I dreamed up in my mind, after all these great experiences I've had in these gaming events. Let's be clear first that this post is not meant in any way to criticize or demean the game conventions and events that I've been to. The following is a scenario that is practically impossible, it's imaginary and it will probably never happen.


One day, a multi-billionaire walks to my doorstep and offers to help fund a kick-ass gaming convention to be held in the Philippines. The convention's goals/objectives are made clear from the very beginning:

- To introduce console and PC gaming to the mainstream as a worthwhile hobby for the whole family
- To depict the console and PC gaming industries as thriving businesses that people can make a worthwhile living out of
- To provide people with more information about games currently available, as well as games that will be released in the future.
- To bring together gamers from all walks of life and let them enjoy a unique experience that normally can't be had anywhere else

There would be no business or sponsorship politics that would become a hindrance for this convention. Yes, sponsors will be invited in and they can be a part of the event but no sponsor can push away the other sponsors simply because they have more money or more of a foothold in a particular business area. Every kind of sponsor, large and small, who is directly and clearly a part of the gaming industry in some way would be allowed to participate.

The event would be held for three days, most likely Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The convention would be at the SMX and it would be properly marketed two months before the time of the event itself. There would be advertising about the event on TV, print ads, posters, billboards, online name it. Everyone both online and offline would know about this event, and they'd know far earlier and where and when it will be held. They'd see consistently more marketing about the event as it draws nearer. The days for it should be sometime like Christmas where everyone's on their break and it's easy to ask them to take time off from their usual busy schedule to visit [or, maybe it can be at some other time like Summer, when school's out]. In either case, the dates for the event would be a well-researched decision that factors in the weather and the holidays of the year. The decision on the dates would not be some off-hand arbitrarily chosen date when it would be convenient for the organizers or one or two people. It would be a well-chosen date which would be ideal for most other people outside of the organizing committee.

The dream gaming event would be focused squarely on gaming. Gaming on consoles and PC platforms in particular. Every type of game platform and format would be given an equal opportunity on the show floor to draw people's attention, and not one of them would be the theme of the whole event. Perhaps the floor space (if it's large enough) would be divided into several areas, some for consoles, some for PC games; and these divisions have their own subdivisions that are clearly understandable for visitors. For instance, for console games, you'd have the Xbox 360 area clearly marked off and separate from the Playstation 3 area or the Nintendo Wii area; the point being that a convention visitor can easily find their way on the floor to wherever they want to go. There would be ample amounts of signage around the convention area and there would be people on the floor who are knowledgeable about the convention floor layout, to help people who are getting lost or need to get somewhere quickly.

The console areas would highlight key games, some of which are already out and others which haven't been released yet but are being previewed for the public. Now, normally in other game conventions, most of the games shown are newer games and preview builds; but I thought that for the Philippines, there should still be a few older titles on the convention floor because some people here aren't aware that certain games are available for certain platforms. Part of the goals of this dream convention is to inform people about games, not just to entertain, and this is clearly in line with those goals.

Since the dream convention is extremely well funded, it would be able to afford all the consoles, hardware and peripherals needed to properly showcase all the available game titles. All the online communities involved with gaming in some way are invited to participate in the convention, but their participation is voluntary and not completely required; the convention organizers are well prepared for the scenario wherein an online community is unable to participate for some reason or another. In a way, online communities are treated like sponsors; they're provided with space to let them mingle with new gamers or with existing members, and they can use this space to have their own mini-events or tournaments within the convention area.

In the dream convention, gaming for consoles and PCs is truly the focus. While anime cosplayers will be allowed to visit and be part of a competition, there should be an emphasis on cosplayers who decide to dress up as game characters. One of the biggest sub-events of this gaming-focused convention is for cosplayers who dress up specifically as game characters. And they have to be game characters in the strictest sense. For example, just because there is a Naruto video game, does not mean that everyone who dresses up as Naruto automatically qualifies for the gaming character cosplay competition. The same goes for other anime characters who have licensed video games. The rule for the dream convention's big gaming cosplay contest is very clear and strictly enforced---gaming characters only. For instance, a guy dressed up as Cloud Strife could join. Or a guy dressed up as Marcus Fenix or Master Chief. Or Sackboy...Mario and Luigi...Kaim Argonar from Lost Odyssey...Yuri from Tales of Vesperia, Kratos from God of War, or Hilde, Talim or Sigfried from Soulcalibur. There are tons of characters in gaming that cosplayers can draw inspiration from. The idea here is to promote the gaming culture more strongly as something that is really separate from Anime and can exist on its own. The dream convention organizers will be extremely strict about this one. Of course they'll still invite the Anime cosplayers and they'll have their own separate competition, but a big part of the convention is the cosplay for the game characters, and the biggest prizes will be offered for it.

Since the dream convention is a three day event, it will have several sub events in line for convention visitors. Already mentioned is the game character cosplay competition. In addition to this, there will also be a running series of several gaming tournaments that will be held for the next three days. And we're not just talking about one or two games emphasized or focused on for the next three days. The convention could have five or more game tournaments ongoing all at the same time for the next three days.

Let's say that on Friday, there's a Soulcalibur IV tourney, a Gears of War 2 tourney, an NBA 2K9 tourney, a Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 tourney, and a Racedriver: Grid tourney. For the next three days, tournaments for these titles will be held at a large, separate area at the convention hall. There will be several game consoles and several very large high definition displays available for use by the players during the ongoing tournament. Some matches will be shown on stage at various times of the day, while others will be held separately at a cordoned-off 'tournament area' properly managed by convention officials. The selected stage matches will be shown on a stage area decked out with three giant screens, using three high definition projectors. There will be LCDTVs strewn throughout the convention area, so that visitors can either watch the players themselves on stage, or watch the match on the three giant screens, or simply look to the side and watch the match on the LCDTVs nearest to them. Basically it gives convention attendees a choice on how exactly they're going to comfortably watch the tournament match being held on stage. Also, occasionally a crew will switch the views being displayed on the giant screens or LCDTVs to highlight key things like the expression on the players faces, match stats and highlights, or anything else which might be of interest to convention attendees. Seats will be provided for attendees who decide to watch ongoing tournament matches. Also, tournament matches are scheduled properly so that players can have time to leave the tournament area to explore other places in the convention hall, or simply so that players can schedule their day accordingly (if they have other activities on that day, the tournament won't be a hindrance or a hassle for them; at some point they'll be allowed to leave and won't be forced to sit through watching other players' matches if they don't feel like watching). The dream convention organizers have properly timed each game and have meticulously computed and calculated how long it would probably take to hold each tournament match. That way, they can block off the time and create a schedule for players, and then tell each player what time of the day their matches will start. Tournament players will be very comfortable in playing their tournament matches; they can focus more on their actual game instead of worrying about things like a tournament match encroaching on some other essential task that they have to do on that day. The dream convention organizing committee understands these concerns of players and have made every kind of preparation and backup plan to provide a unique and comfortable experience for their tournament participants.

But wait....there's more. The selected tournament matches being highlighted during parts of the day....since they're scheduled, attendees will be given enough information on what time those matches start and they'll be encouraged to watch if they want to. During the matches themselves, there'll be running commentary from a commentator well-versed in games and gaming culture; someone who actually understands how certain game mechanics work, and can explain to an audience what exactly is going on. The game commentator for the dream game convention is quite capable of calling a match in such a way that it adds to the atmosphere and excitement of actually watching it; he delivers his commentary with a unique flair and strong emotions that can cause the entire audience to cheer on the players battling it out on stage. The goal with the tournaments being held during the dream gaming convention is that they should highlight how exciting video games can be, when treated like spectator sports. When there's no match going on, some LCD displays around the convention floor will highlight the best matches of the day for people who might have missed them.

The convention floor is spacious enough so that several activities can be held all at once. But the dream convention organizers know that some activities shouldn't be held at the same time. For example, a game tournament shouldn't be taking place while a famous band is playing game music in another area. It would make the whole endeavor feel so disorganized and would confuse convention goers. As much as possible, each time of the day there is a central event where many attendees can focus on, while at the same time, smaller events are being held around the convention hall that attendees can be a part of. The dream convention organizers will not always have a live band blaring music throughout the day. Some times of day, there will be loud music playing, while at other times, there won't be. The dream convention organizers will properly manage and direct the events occuring throughout the hall so that they don't end up competing with one another for everyone's attention.

Also, the music to be played by the rock bands in attendance are required to be gaming music. Again, to depict gaming as a unique culture of its own, the bands will be asked NOT TO PLAY introduction or ending music from anime series or other things unrelated to games. They also can't simply pick from the playlist of Rockband or Guitar Hero when it comes to choosing music. They have to play game music specifically or else, they won't be allowed to be part of the convention.

Another kind of event that the dream game convention organizers will include is the invitation of a key gaming luminary like Shigeru Miyamoto from Nintendo or Cliff Blezinski from Epic Games, or a team of game developers like Bungie who are about to preview a key gaming title. This will introduce Filipino gamers to the personalities behind the gaming business, and will help them appreciate the amount of time, effort and creativity it takes to create games. Of course, the dream game convention organizers have so much funding at their disposal; they'll give the developers the superstar treatment---hotel and accommodations, first class flight and everything else to make them never forget their visit to our beautiful country.

Developers from around the world will be given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a major announcement at the dream gaming it the next generation of hardware, or the next game in a famous series or franchise, or the next exclusive that will go multi-platform, the dream convention will have it. Because of this, gaming press from all over the world will visit the convention; this event will rival E3 in scale and it will go down in gaming history as one of the most memorable events ever held.


So there you have it, the dream gaming convention. If there were a larger gaming industry in the Philippines there'd probably be a very, very small chance of that actually happening. Gaming in the Philippines does have to overcome so many hurdles, both culturally and from a business standpoint, for it to truly grow as a real industry that Filipinos can be part of.

For now, we've got our parallel imports and grey market imports for our console games, a little bit of support for PC gaming, and a lot of MMORPGs which promise interactive entertainment at a cheap price. From the perspective of a gamer, those aren't much, especially if you read online of how it's like in first-world countries.

But I do realize that it's a could take so many years before we'll actually see a game industry rise in the Philippines. Problems such as game piracy, lack of government regulations (to combat things like piracy), and general apathy from some Filipino gamers towards understanding gaming as a business will hinder the growth of interactive entertainment locally. Things could be the way they are now for a very, very long time. I could be dead and long gone and things would still be the same.

It's very difficult to change the general local mindset, but I don't believe it's not worth the effort.

Maybe I'm just crazy.

After all, only a crazy person would write all that.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pictures from the Guitar Hero III / Soulcalibur IV Tournament Last Sunday

This tournament was not organized or managed by the Pinoyxbox community; however, we played a role in informing console players and arcade players about this major tournament. Pinoyxbox voluntarily lent 2 Hori EX2 Arcade Fighting Sticks for FREE, for use by Soulcalibur IV tournament participants. We did this to encourage arcade gamers, Playstation 3 gamers and Xbox 360 gamers to all participate in the tournament, so that the level of competition would be very high.

Given that the Xbox 360 and Soulcalibur IV is not officially marketed or supported in the Philippines, a lot of game players here only know about the Soulcalibur series because of the availability of the game in local arcades. Players also know about it because of the locally successful Playstation 2 version; a lot of Filipino players still aren't aware that the game's latest sequel is also available on the Xbox 360.

Tournament results:

Guitar Hero III

1st Place - P10,000.00 - Luis Benesa - Pinoyxbox member "ScaR/Finalcut"
2nd Place - P5,000.00 - Miguel Castriciones

Soulcalibur IV

1st Place - P8,000.00 - Paeng Pabalan (Yoshimitsu)
2nd Place - P4,000.00 - Krischan Ramos (Nightmare)

The venue for the tournament: One E-Com Building, Cyberzone near SM Mall of Asia

Tournament Host Jaime Paraso

Guitar Hero III Tournament.

Soulcalibur IV tournament

The audience definitely enjoyed watching SCIV. It's just an enjoyable game to have for a tournament setting since the people watching can easily make sense of what's going on.

The audience here for SCIV was a lot more festive than the audience during the VF5 tournament that I played in at SM Megamall. Yes there was some cheering there but it wasn't as crazy as the cheering during the SCIV matches here. It was quite festive and this is definitely the kind of atmosphere that game tournaments for consoles should have.

After three rounds of intense competition at some point it boils down to two players: Krischan (in the green shirt, controlling Nightmare) and Paeng (the one with the hat, controlling Yoshimitsu).

Paeng emerges victorious! Here they are shaking hands after a well-fought battle.

Here's the Pinoy Soulcalibur community members. From left: Valium_01, Raishiro, Rey delos Reyes, Raysoul, Paeng, with two other guys there in the back (what's their names again? I forgot....I'm horrible with remembering names sometimes!)

Soulcalibur IV - 2nd Place - P4,000.00 - Krischan Ramos (Nightmare)

Soulcalibur IV - 1st Place - P8,000.00 - Paeng Pabalan (Yoshimitsu)

Guitar Hero III - 2nd Place - P5,000.00 - Miguel Castriciones

Guitar Hero III - 1st Place - P10,000.00 - Luis Benesa - Pinoyxbox member ScaR

It's the gamers that make events like this successful. Once again, thanks for coming over and making the atmosphere festive and enjoyable for everyone.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yes, the Filipino Gamer Can!

It’s been around 4-5 years since I played Philippine Ragnarok Online (PRO). I still remember our (mine and my brother’s) primary character, a priest name Leafar. We operated as a lone wolf providing only the cheapest healing services in the dungeons of Prontera. When we played PRO we only had one goal in make our priest look like some kind of jester. We had everything...swirly glasses, clown nose, etc...ect...EXCEPT...the jester hat. And for around 3-6 months we toiled around the world of Ragnarok trying to find the monster that would drop that specific hat with no such luck. After that frustration, we decided to move on to other games but PRO will always have nice memories for us. We had the PRO Hall of Shame site (with screenshots of the lame tactics people do), we participated in the ‘Happy New Year’ festival where the GMs unleashed all the boss characters in the towns and everyone died, my brother’s friend had some hilarious ‘chiksilog’ moments! To clarify, a chiksilog moment has something to do with a guy using a female avatar and have male avatar stalkers.

So imagine my surprise when I went to Level-Up Live 2008 thinking that perhaps this whole MMORPG thing has passed. I was shocked that there were so many people in that place! And they aren’t just some random cosplayer...the people there actually GET IT. They GET the game! When its time for the country representatives to fight in Ragnarok Online, everyone tunes to one of the huge projector screens in the venue hall. They hoot when something amazing happens on screen when to the untrained eye you wouldn’t figure out anything but some white flash.


This is the lucrative gaming market in the Philippines that extend beyond PC and Console gaming. Every year, there is at least one Massively Multiplayer Online company that pops out of nowhere with a new game. The biggest in the country right now is Level-Up Games and E-Games but there are tons of smaller companies trying to be the next big thing for local gamers offering everything from a chatroom to a dance game.

Some people keep on saying that there is no market in the Philippines...well looking at the turn-out for Level-Up Live 2008 as well as the RAN Online Philippine Event, I say they are NOT entirely correct. But these MMO games offer something different compared to the default PC and Console gaming experience. First the game is actually given out for FREE (complete with CDs distributed across certain publications and internet cafes). Second, is the relatively cheap way of playing the game with the cheapest game time costing around Php 10.00 (roughly USD 0.25). Third, MMOs are a social game and Filipinos love to socialize. Fourth, someone had enough guts to start a gaming business in this country.

While the circumstances are certainly different from 1st and 2nd world countries, the passion for gaming is burning strong in the hearts of my countrymen and NO ONE CAN DENY THAT. No one can say that there isn’t any market when you have legions of Filipinos wanting to play. The problem is very few people have actually tried to find a good business model that actually fits the default gamer demographic in my country.

Now what does that have to do with console gaming? Right now there are some Internet Cafes / LAN Shops setting up game consoles. This is looking to be a future trend in the local gaming market which is positive news for all the gamers here. Console gaming is not really considering as ‘cheap’ gaming in the Philippines but if these internet shops are able to bring console gaming to the mass market, complete with the online experience present in the next-gen consoles, it should definitely expand the view of the casual Filipino gamer.

I was in college when Ragnarok Online was first introduced in the market. It isn't even 10 years and the business has spawned so many others like it and is still going strong. All it takes is a little patience and a good enough understanding of the Filipino gamer.

Photos from Pinoyxbox @ Level Up Live 2008

Here are some photos from PINOYXBOX @ Level Up Live 2008

More photos to be added as they are uploaded....

Official Site for Level-Up Live:

This is the venue hall before they let the people in. One thing for certain, the scale of Level-Up Live 2008 is arguably MUCH bigger than the World Cyber Games: Asian Championships in Singapore. Looking at this thing, I have no doubt that the Philippines can throw a kickass gaming convention!

This is the PXB area within the Playground Magazine booth. We just have one TV so we had a very simple set-up. Initially we were just going to bring Soulcalibur 4 but then we figured out we need some variety in our line-up so we brought Rockband 2 as well. Once again THANK YOU SO MUCH TO GAMEHOPPER AND BRICO FOR HELPING US WITH THE LCDTV DISPLAYS! THANKS TO WAKKA FROM GAMECORE FOR PROVIDING US WITH A POSTER OF SOULCALIBUR 4!

Here's Pinoyxbox members Whyme and Teejay testing Soulcalibur 4.

Our very first guests! Dexter, the guy singing is from the PC booth beside Playground. The other guys were requesting to play Parokya ni Edgar songs in Rock Band :D

Here are the Soulcalibur 4 Players. By the see those kids? They're pretty good. They picked up on the game very quickly.

Trivia for Pinoyxbox members: the guy hidden in the picture is actually a PXB member...he was featured on the cover in the latest issue of Playground magazine! Can you guess who he is?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the gamers of the Philippines....apparently, we are LEGION....that was an incredible crowd, and this photo was taken at the start of the day (Some time around 9:00 AM, when the venue just opened). The crowd became larger and larger as time passed by; in the afternoon, the place was just packed! But Level-Up did a great job in keeping the venue very orderly, despite the massive crowd.

Booth babes!

One thing about Level-Up is that they really know how to throw a party! The whole place is filled with TONS of LUG MMO themed activities! I wish I could have tried the trampoline but the lines were really long in ALL the booths.

Now this is a very lucky shot... From my vantage point, I couldn't see the inside of the tub so I had to raise the camera over my head to take a shot. And lo and behold...there's the poring!

At the event there were several booths reminiscent of stores in the world of Raganarok and other LUG MMOs. Good to know that the real world economy is not as bloated at it is online!

A new MTV for Level-Up's games...? Hehe AMP!

The very first match of the day...Philippines vs Germany!

Now time for some Rock Band action! To start things off, here's TeeJay rocking it out with Vic Viper on the drums...

PXB Members making up the whole band

Playground Mag ladies Mitch, Charm and Denice together with Reli Carpio.

Here's PPS CelShaded joining the PXB peeps for a Rock Band session

The crowd at the Level Up Live 2008 was pretty thick but surprisingly everything went well! Great crowd with lots of happy smiling people! Pinoy na pinoy talaga!

And here are the Pinoyxbox members myself (Scytherage), Teejay, Whyme and Wuffy, who stayed from 7 AM - 5PM, getting ready to call it a day...

Now, the following are shots of the audience for the Ragnarok World Championship tournament itself....this was around afternoon time, when the crowd was reaching its peak...

This is one of the last few shots we took before our camera was about to run out of battery. Notice I took the shot from the side...the front part with the seats was absolutely loaded with people and I didn't want to block their view of the match. They are watching a very interesting match between France vs. China.

And last but not the you now know who this Pinoyxbox member is? Absolutely great cover! Dapat ipa-frame na yan!