From this point on, there can be no doubt....Final Fantasy XIII is truly arriving on the Xbox 360 platform.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
From this point on, there can be no doubt....Final Fantasy XIII is truly arriving on the Xbox 360 platform.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
And some other facts and figures, too.
Top 50 software to date (Based on sales/units sold):
1. Blue Dragon 203,740
2. Tales of Vesperia 161,070
3. The Last Remnant 134,611
4. Infinite Undiscovery 112,444
5. Lost Odyssey 109,517
6. Dead or Alive 4 108,618
7. Viva Pinata (Platinum) 101,552
8. Forza 2 (Platinum) 100,591
9. Ace Combat 6 95,002
10. Halo 3 83,696
11. Idolm@ster Live 4 U 75,272
12. Ridge Racer 6 73,501
13. Oblivion 72,274
14. Eternal Sonata 70,435
15. Gears of War 68,270
16. Dead Rising 68,078
17. Lost Planet 61,555
18. Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 60,544
19. Grand Theft Auto IV 59,893
20. Assassin's Creed 55,261
21. Devil May Cry 4 55,259
22. Call of Duty 4 54,742
23. Soul Calibur IV 53,403
24. Fallout 3 49,543
25. Ninja Gaiden 2 48,945
26. Dynasty Warriors 6 48,796
27. Idolm@ster 48,695
28. Idolm@ster (Platinum) 47,344
29. Fable II 43,682
30. Ace Combat 6 (Platinum) 41,880
31. Beautiful Katamari (Platinum) 41,492
32. Armored Core 4A 40,391
33. Gundam Operation Troy 38,713
34. Ninety-Nine Nights 38,019
35. Gundam Musou 2 34,988
36. Earth Defense Force 3 (Platinum) 33,675
37. Forza 2 31,255
38. Rumble Roses XX 29,187
39. Crackdown 28,588
40. Culdcept Saga 27,960
41. Battlefield Bad Company 27.604
42. Earth Defense Force 3 27,087
43. Dead Rising (Platinum) 26,504
44. Perfect Dark Zero 26,085
45. Test Drive Unlimited 25,788
46. PGR3 25,058
47. Dragonball Z Burst Limit 25,051
48. Beautiful Katamari 24,959
49. Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom 23,936
50. Virtua Fighter 5 Live Arena 23,776
Hardware vs. number of releases / year
2005: 81,770 - 10 games
2006: 208,697 - 60 games
2007: 257,841 - 60 games
2008: 317,859 - 78 games
Total: 866,167 - 208 games
Data: Famitsu 2008/12/28
Ninja Blade 8997
Midnight Club 8888
Street Fighter IV 9988
Skate 2 7887
Shooting Love 7767
Star Ocean 4 9988
Chaos Head Noah 8879
Regular Famitsu scores
Destiny Links 9889
Tantei Conan and Kaneda Shounen no Jikenhaku 7876
Midnight Club PSP 7888
Shaun White Snowboarding PSP 6777
Demon's Souls 7967
Shaun White Snowboarding PS3 6866
Midnight Club PS3 8988
Midnight Club 360 8988
- didn't expect the hardware sales to grow as much as they did
- gears 2 is in the process of being properly localized for JP, some stuff must be cut
- not considering BD version of 360. they slyly dodge the question of a slim 360, but seems something will happen
- surprised how well ToV sold. Gundam Musou 2 also did well
- Naruto Narutimate Storm (sp?) showed Japan's ability to put out a "super anime" game, or something
- plan to release 5-6 games on 360 this year. since it's HD they are all big titles
- some new IP
- i-mas DLC sales were a massive surprise. even though they don't sell overseas, the dev costs are totally covered
- bully and fallout 3 left a good impression
- the cancellation of star trek legacy was because the contract had run out, even though the dev was basically done
- fallout 3 sales were good
- will release multiple titles in 2009, including a surprising big project using another firm's IP
- will not release any games with an average review score less than 80
- RE5 will sell 5-6 million. Within Japan, expect sales of 500k on one of the platforms
- demo was very popular
- 2009 will be multi-platform year
- sequels to Dead Rising and Lost Platform will be put out. They'll be multiplatform, but the 360 versions will have something a little different
- will probably release Dirt in japan too (Grid came out this month)
- thinking about a sequel to Overlord
- Xbox users love their games
- Japan can expect Dante's Inferno
- considering selling retail games online, like they are doing with ps3
- will release close to 2008's number of games (17) this year
- developing for 360
- putting lots of effort into 360 this year
- 3D is expensive so prefer 2D dev
- shooting games future will depend on how well dodonpachi and ketsui sell
- Ninja Blade coming out simultaneously worldwide (is it!?)
- Developing a 360 only game after Ninja Blade will be very difficult, waiting to see how the Japan market goes
- gundam musou 2 sold 60k on 360, feeling some positive response from the market
- including ports, will release quite a few games this year
- planning some new IP too
- will also make full use of Tecmo's skills
- Mizuguchi not involved much in N3 II - devs are feelplus
- info will come out in spring
- planning collaboration with atari
- feel 360 is holding up well
- planning a (some?) big title besides Bayonetta. it's multi but they expect 360 owners will be happy nevertheless
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
With Street Fighter IV and Tekken 6 Bloodline Rebellion around the corner for both the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, it's surprising to me that SEGA has not yet made any announcements regarding the latest in their very own premiere fighting series, Virtua Fighter 5R. The game has been out for a long while now in Japan, yet has not received any sort of announcement for home consoles.
As a player who has enjoyed Virtua Fighter 5 for the Xbox 360, I think that the game initially didn't do well because it was made exclusive by Sega for the Playstation 3 first. Had they went with a simultaneous multiplatform release, they may have gotten more hype and more sales for their game. Also, it would have actually helped the game if the improvements for the Xbox 360 version, such as online play and more intelligent Expert A.I., were also given to the Playstation 3 version. Lastly, SEGA could have gotten more sales for the game if it had a few other elements to make it more popular; in particular:
- It needs a far, far better 'training mode' so that more players can learn the game properly. As it stands, VF is a very hard game to learn for beginners. A training mode which points players to the best character(s) to start with, and explains basic and advanced techniques at length, will have probably contributed to increasing its fanbase outside of Japan....because outside Japan the game is really hard to find in arcades.
- They must add some type of story component, like Tekken's, so that people would actually find the characters interesting to play and invest time in.
- The online play needs some kind of spectator mode, so that players can watch and learn from other players. This was implemented in Namco-Bandai's Soulcalibur 4, where you could have up to four players in a lobby and the other two would watch the ongoing match. This is a useful feature because it allows players to learn from others, and it can help build up the community for the game (since active discussions about gameplay mechanics can take place while watching matches in spectator mode)
Right now http://www.virtuafighter.com/ is having a campaign to get VF5R released for home consoles such as the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360. The instructions on how you can contact SEGA and request for the game are posted there. I'll also post them here in the hopes that it can reach more Virtua Fighter fans:
From VFDC Myke:
Want VF5R on Console?
Then let SEGA know!
You can provide feedback online by filling out a simple form on their Japanese website. Follow these easy steps:
1. Visit http://sega.jp/opinion/
2. The first field is your email address
3. The second field is the subject of your message
4. The final text area is the body of your message
5. Click the yellow button to preview, then the second yellow button to finally submit.
Here's a sample you can copy and paste:
Subject: Foreigners want VF5R for PS3 and XBOX360
A recent post on VFDC from L_A gives us some hope that e-mails to SEGA Japan are actually getting through to them. Here's what he had to say:
I went to karaoke tonight with my friend from sega japan who has some serious clout and pretty much told him everything I wanted to tell him about how we all want VF5r. I talked all about the VFDC community, how hardcore the members are, travelling thousands of miles from europe and australia for gatherings, etc and he was really surprised. He also told me that the opinion box that we've been sending emails to DOES work and every employee at sega including marketing and management gets those mails. So..... If you want VF5r, KEEP SENDING THE E-MAILS but... make sure they are different names and different IPs as there is an IP filter. He also told me that there is a development conference which will include sega japan, sega europe and sega USA and all the head honchos will be there to discuss what games will be made in the next 2 years. My opinion, if you guys really want R is to keep going with the emails but make sure you arent just sending 10 or 20 emails from the same IP with the same name. Also, you dont need to paste any japanese. Just 'virtua fighter 5r PS3 or xbox' is good enough. Lets try to get as many countries involved as possible. Thanks in advance, guys and gals.
It's good to know that e-mails to SEGA Japan are actually reaching the people there. Perhaps with enough effort, it would be possible to convince SEGA to announce Virtua Fighter 5R for home systems. For players who enjoyed VF5, or are generally fans of the Virtua Fighter series, I hope that you can help in convincing SEGA to release their latest revision of Virtua Fighter for home systems. The platform where it gets released on does not matter (whether it's Xbox 360 or Playstation 3); the important thing is that this game becomes available to more players worldwide via home consoles.
As it stands, it's quite hard to find a VF machine in arcades in the Philippines, and a lot of people are more familiar with the Tekken series. Home consoles are the best chance for VF5R to reach more gamers in our shores. And personally, I think VF stands a good chance of competing with Tekken because it's a lot more well balanced, and more rewarding for players who actually invest more time and effort in learning the game.
So again, if you want Virtua Fighter 5R to come out for home consoles....LET SEGA KNOW!
Monday, January 26, 2009
Thanks Namco-Bandai for knowing where the Philippines is on the world map :) Unlike some other game companies.........
Computer game players 'more likely to drink, ignore family and have low self-esteem'
Regular players of computer games are more likely to drink alcohol, stop talking to their family and have lower self-esteem, a new study has found
I wholeheartedly disagree with this article, though I can imagine how easily a non-gaming person can come to these conclusions. I mean, when you look at a person playing a game, it's easy to think that that someone gets 'zombified' by the whole activity of playing a game (imagine being able to step outside of yourself, and watch yourself as you play a game. Or, even easier....ask someone to film or take a picture of you when you're really intent on your game). When you look at the photo, you'll see a person so engrossed on gaming that a person who doesn't 'get it' will come to a conclusion that it's somehow a self destructive activity of some kind.
I mean, think about it. You're just literally sitting there, for more than an hour or two, pushing buttons and flicking thumbsticks.
That's how gamers probably look to non-gamers....hence conclusions like what this study says, are probably drawn easily.
IMHO it isn't fair, and you could make the same conclusion about a couch potato (someone who watches movies / TV all day). It's funny how reading a book doesn't get the same criticism....perhaps because it's argued that you supposedly 'learn something' when you read.
So what about the ones who read Mills and Boone all day, or 'The Amazing Spider Man', or FHM magazines all day?
See how this isn't working out in favor of the study at all? Practically any human activity which involves you just 'sitting there, being engrossed' is supposedly anti-social behavior.
Granted, there are probably some who game far too much for their own good....but that's the way it is with everything else in this world. In moderation, gaming is fine, so long as you've got your priorities set straight.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Gears of War 2 may win accolades for its single player campaign, and Horde Mode is one of the best innovations introduced to the series....but a lot of players moved on after that, instead of investing a lot of time in the Multiplayer Mode. I recall with Gears of War 1, I spent a whole lot of time with that game (lag issues and all) because the gameplay felt quite good. The bullets would lag but you could predict the timing and at some point you could get good at the game even with the problems online.
With Gears of War 2, there seemed to be many problems plaguing it. I'm not the first to complain about the decreased power of the Gnasher shotgun at close quarters. Another observation by some players is that running with the chainsaw seemed too effective a tactic, and it seemed to have cheapened the game and reduced it to a mere chainsaw fest.
After two updates, Epic Games seems to have figured out what's wrong with the game, and fixed it.
So when I played the game this evening, I felt like I was playing Gears 2 Multiplayer for the first time....this experience was how it SHOULD have been, that day I first bought the game and tried the online multiplayer mode. Now, it really works great.....here are some impressions:
1. The Gnasher shotgun now works well in close quarters....actually, the way it works is somewhere between the way it worked in Gears 1 and the way it used to work in Gears 2 before the patch. With Gears 2 originally, it seemed to be an unwieldy weapon at close quarters. I'm not sure if it's latency but definitely the behavior seemed different. The weapon felt weaker and not so useful when you're one on one with another player.
With the patch, it's different. It won't grant you an instant kill when you blindfire, but it seems more effective when you do blindfire. I noticed I was downing more players with the shotgun than before. In one instance I was able to kill instantly but it was a well aimed shot. Considering how laggy a connection based in the Philippines can get, it is a real improvement. Before the patch I would find myself using the shotgun point blank at someone and it really wouldn't hit (no blood splatter, no stagger on your opponent).....but this time, it really does work. So the shotgun is a useful weapon once more :)
2. Rushing with the chainsaw can now be easily countered by the Lancer. Before the patch, when you're shooting someone rushing in /roadie running at you, they could still easily reach you and chainsaw you up close. With this new patch, it's much easier to stop someone who is roadie running towards you with any weapon. I noticed I made many opponents stagger when they tried rushing at me to go for an easy chainsaw kill.
It seems many of the players didnt realize this new behavior yet, so I noticed a lot of online players will still try for the easy rush and chainsaw attack. It does not work anymore....so if you see someone try it on you, counterattack with whichever weapon you have. You should survive unscathed.
Another thing I noticed is the chainsaw battle registers better (triggering a chainsaw duel feels smoother) despite any latency that may exist between you and other players.
3. Finding a match is much, MUCH faster---even if you're with a party of friends! Later tonight I joined up with some other players from Pinoyxbox and we were all able to find matches easily. It seems closer to the speed of finding a match when you're playing Halo 3, which is definitely a good thing.
When I was playing alone it was also a bit faster to find another party of players to join with. Overall, matchmaking is definitely faster and a smoother experience.
For comparative purposes, my connection is PLDT MyDSL Plan 999 and I didn't encounter too many lag issues with Gears of War 2 with this new patch. In many ways I think it feels a lot better than my online experience with Gears 1, where the bullets would have a noticeable delay. Here, there is still a bit of delay but it's far, far reduced, and overall the experience is really better compared to when the game was originally released.
So if you're one of the people who've given up on Gears of War 2 and moved on to other games....I think this update will convince you to give the game another try. Now Gears of War 2 Multiplayer is exactly the way it should have been when the game was released November last year.
Title Update 2 fixes these possible exploits, where under certain circumstances:
* A player could melee or grenade tag through certain walls.
* A player could equip a shield and a two-handed weapon simultaneously.
* A player could make their shield invisible.
* A player could become invisible.
* A player could do a "super" mantle or "kung fu flip," flying high into the air.
* A player could gain unlimited ammo with the Lancer Assault Rifle.
* A player could fire while roadie running (also known as "crabwalking").
* A player could pick up a weapon while sliding into cover.
* A player could walk forward while firing a deployed mortar.
* A player could force an opponent to be stuck in the down but not out (DBNO) position.
* A player could prevent other players from picking up a heavy weapon.
* A player could pick up a dropped meatflag without having to knock him down.
* A ragdolled player could be killed without ever going DBNO.
* A player could roadie run while firing the Scorcher Flamethrower.
* A player could get stuck while evading, though they could continue shooting in any direction.
* A player could concuss themselves under the stairs on the River map.
Title Update 2 fixes these other issues as well:
* An issue with client-side hit detection of the Gnasher Shotgun. The fix makes the shotgun more reliable in high-latency situations.
* An issue where players could have shotgun or Boomshot rounds fire into the ground when shooting from the hip.
* A split-screen issue where one player transitioning to the death battle camera disrupted input from the other player.
* An issue that could cause players' Look sensitivity to be changed to their Zoom sensitivity while zooming in, zooming out, and firing.
* An issue that could cause players to get stuck if they tried to pick up a heavy weapon while firing the shotgun at the same time.
* An issue where players could become stuck if they kicked over a shield while ragdolled from a smoke grenade.
* An issue where bots were unable to kick over a shield that was planted backward.
* An issue where players who quit during voting didn't show up in the end game stats, which meant other players couldn't easily provide negative feedback on them.
* An issue where players couldn't chainsaw enemy meatshields if the meatshields were already damaged.
* An issue where some players would not see the animation of a meatshield being chainsawed.
* An issue where players could not chainsaw an opposing team meatshield in a game type that doesn't allow respawns (for example, Warzone and Execution).
* An issue where a player partway through the act of raising or lowering the chainsaw did not transition into a duel when attacked from the front with a chainsaw.
* An issue where occasionally a player waiting to respawn could not respawn when repeatedly hitting the left trigger to switch cameras.
* An issue where some teammates couldn't communicate between rounds in games type that don't allow respawns, because dead team members were left in the dead radio channel until the next round started.
* An issue where a DBNO player could be seen as standing if knocked DBNO while reloading the mortar.
* An issue where a player joining a Private Xbox LIVE game in progress from another specific type of game could potentially lose HUD functionality.
* An issue on the Flood map where a player's dying from Imulsion did not trigger a death message or penalize the player as other environmental deaths did.
* An issue with Guardian games where if the leader is the last player killed on a team, the round may not end, due to the respawn timer.
* A campaign issue where the gamer picture would not be awarded when the game is completed on Insane.
* An issue where a player would continue to fire the flamethrower and damage other players if that player was knocked DBNO while firing it.
* An issue that could cause a player to get stuck while moving and quickly attempting to aim the mortar at the same time.
* An issue with Horde games where clients didn't receive the "waiting for host" message after they failed a wave.
* A Horde split-screen issue that could cause a team to get –2 billion in score, which when posted to the leaderboards looked like +2 billion.
* An issue where dead players may not show up in the metadata for multiplayer photos.
* A system link issue where if a multiplayer match and a co-op game were hosted at the same time on the same LAN, neither could be joined.
* Additional miscellaneous bug fixes.
Title Update 2 makes these balancing changes:
* Made planted proximity grenade mines much easier to shoot off the surface they're planted on, by giving them 50 percent less health.
* Set grenades to respawn less frequently. When a player picks up grenades from a spawned location, a new set of grenades does not respawn until the previous grenades have been used.
* Increased the penalty to rank for players who quit Public Xbox LIVE matches early.
* Buffed the flamethrower to have stopping power (to slow a charging enemy) and to cause a chainsaw interrupt (to force the opponent to lower a revved chainsaw).
* Removed the ability to instantly shoot coming out of a roadie run.
* Added additional spawn protection to prevent proximity grenade mines and chainsaws from killing a player within 5 seconds after spawning.
* Balanced grenade spawn cycling on the Hail map so that both teams have equal access to both types of grenades.
We continue to test internally and monitor online gameplay to determine what else may need adjusting.
Title Update 2 makes these new improvements:
* Changed Annex games to use execution rules, to prevent players from leaving DBNO opponents on the ground to bleed out.
* Made Horde waves count toward the "Party Like It's 1999" achievement. Each wave is counted as one round.
* Added the ability, during Submission games, to see the flag's final destination by using Tac/Com.
* Increased the frequency of most of the toasts for in-game achievement progression.
* Added achievement progression numbers to the War Journal.
* Added 7 new DLC-based achievements worth 175 points (progress toward them starts after Title Update 2 is applied):
o "Skeletons in Your Closet" (20 points): Complete waves 1 through 10 on all Flashback Map Pack maps in Horde (any difficulty).
o "Trial by, and on, Fire" (20 points): Complete waves 1 through 10 on all Combustible Map Pack maps in Horde (any difficulty).
o "More Mystery, Less History" (15 points): Win a multiplayer match on each of the 5 Flashback Map Pack maps (any mode except Wingman).
o "The Roof! The Roof! The Roof…" (15 points): Win a multiplayer match on each of the 3 Combustible Map Pack maps (any mode except Wingman).
o "Bound by a Shared Past" (15 points): Win a Wingman match on each of the 5 Flashback Map Pack maps.
o "Forged in the Fire" (15 points): Win a Wingman match on each of the 3 Combustible Map Pack maps.
o "Annex: Now with Execution Rules" (75 points): Win an Annex match on each of the Flashback and Combustible Map Pack maps (Public only).
Yes, that's his logic.
And I quote...
He also took on frequent accusations that the challenges developers often find in programming for the PS3 represent an obstacle for the console.
"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?"
Hirai suggested the PS3 would see the same kind of software evolution curve that the PlayStation 2 did, as represented by the fact that God of War 2 was noticeably more sophisticated than its predecessor on the same console.
"So it's a kind of - I wouldn't say a double-edged sword - but it's hard to program for, and a lot of people see the negatives of it, but if you flip that around, it means the hardware has a lot more to offer," he said.
I still can't believe that they're PROUD of this. I had to take a screenshot of it from Gamasutra just to be sure I wasn't losing my mind:
So, waitaminute....for Sony today, it's better to have a console that's hard to make games for? So, they're assuming that gamers are eager to wait years and years for games [that take advantage of the PS3's capabilities] to get released in the market?
Have they LOST their MINDS???
Isn't it better to have a console that's easy to make games for, so that you can make more games for it? The more games that get released for a platform, the better it is for gamers. Because there's a lot more games to choose from, and developers are enabled to focus more on their creativity instead of wrestling with intricacies of game hardware.
If this is the thinking that's running Sony Computer Entertainment today, I wouldn't be surprised if they disappear from the hardware business entirely in the next five years, much like SEGA did a few years ago. In the past, SEGA released the SEGA SATURN which was known for its notoriously difficult learning curve [in terms of programmability]. The Saturn suffered from a very weak library of games because of this, and in turn, this served to taint Sega's reputation with gamers for a very long time. This is also the reason why the Dreamcast was ill received in most markets worldwide [thus causing SEGA to exit the hardware market completely].
And now, with Sony we're witnessing history repeat itself. Maybe there will be a game that will come along that will change the PS3's fortunes. Who knows. But after reading that interview, I'm inclined to think that the Playstation 3 has no future.
Time for some constructive criticism.
Yes, I own a Playstation 3. I'm hoping it will prove its worth someday. Well, Ridge Racer 7 is proving to be a bit of fun; I also enjoyed Ratchet and Clank and Little Big Planet, for whatever that's worth. It's just that Sony's statements about themselves is worrying about the platform. In the end, developers support the platform with the most installed base; it's a simple and hard fact. Installed base grows because of game library; and you CAN'T have a big game library if developers can't figure out your hardware.
So Kaz and the rest of the management team at Sony have to start figuring that out. They have to HELP developers make games for the Playstation 3. If they want to catch up (and it will be really, really hard to do that), they have to make the development path easier for developers, get a more diverse set of EXCLUSIVE titles for their platform, and make their console worth having.
If they don't get to work soon, we may never see a Playstation 4.
Friday, January 16, 2009
What is Songsmith?
Songsmith generates musical accompaniment to match a singer’s voice. Just choose a musical style, sing into your PC’s microphone, and Songsmith will create backing music for you. Then share your songs with your friends and family, post your songs online, or create your own music videos.
It's easier to understand how fantastic this program is by watching these videos:
Now here's a guy who tried the program....and the results he got were pretty amazing. At the very least, it seems to me that you could use the results of the program to get musical ideas to start with, if you were seriously writing music. (Even if the results were too simplistic or silly sounding for real music, it's still fascinating to me how a program like this could even be created....how is this possible???)
From a technical standpoint....HOW DID MICROSOFT DO THAT? That's just fantastic....Wow....!!!
I can already see a potential game idea with this technology. They can make something like Parappa the Rapper with it....why not, Microsoft? That sounds like a great new game idea just waiting to be made ^_^
Care of NPD Group
WII PLAY W/ REMOTE 1.46M
360 CALL OF DUTY: WORLD AT WAR 1.33M*
WII FIT W/ BALANCE BOARD 999K
WII MARIO KART W/ WHEEL 878K
WII GUITAR HERO WORLD TOUR 859K*
360 GEARS OF WAR 2 745K*
360 LEFT 4 DEAD 629K
NDS MARIO KART 540K
PS3 CALL OF DUTY: WORLD AT WAR 533K
WII ANIMAL CROSSING: CITY FOLK 497K*
*Includes Collector's, Limited, Legendary, and Bundled Editions
Top selling games of 2008
WII PLAY W/ REMOTE 5.28M
WII MARIO KART W/ WHEEL 5.00M
WII FIT W/ BALANCE BOARD 4.53M
WII SUPER SMASH BROS: BRAWL 4.17M
360 GRAND THEFT AUTO IV 3.29M*
360 CALL OF DUTY: WORLD AT WAR 2.75M*
360 GEARS OF WAR 2 2.31M*
PS3 GRAND THEFT AUTO IV 1.89M*
360 MADDEN NFL 09 1.87M*
NDS MARIO KART 1.65M
*Includes Collector's, Limited, Legendary, and Bundled Editions
"While industry growth has not continued at the blistering pace we saw during the second and third quarters, December's 9% increase over last December brings the year in 19% ahead of last year, and sets a new record for total industry sales."
"This month marks the first time that industry revenue has topped $5B in any single month. In 1997, annual revenues were $5.1B, and now a single month has realized that level of sales."
"We get asked a lot why there are so many layoffs and studio closings occuring in the industry when it has just realized another record-breaking year. This is not a case of the rising tide lifting all boats. The increasees are not being enjoyed equally by all manufacturers and publishers."
"The NDS captures the top-spot for hardware sales this month, marking the first time that any hardware system has sold in excess of 3 million units in any single month."
"The record for single-month console system sales still belongs to the PS2 which sold 2.7 million units in December 2002."
"38 months into this generation of hardware, the three new systems have sold a combined 38.2 million units, whereas at the same point last generation, in December 2003, the three systems had sold 36.9 million units. Factoring in the continued strong sales of the PS2 even after the new systems were released, 52 million systems have sold at retail since November '05."
"Software sales reached nearly $11B, which is more than total industry revenues were in 2005."
"While some have wondered if the popularity of Guitar Hero and Rock Band is waning, both properties realized their best month yet in dollar sales, and combined represent 16% of total software dollar sales this month."
"The variety of content on the top 10 list shows just how viable non-traditional content has become. Not only can these games succeed, they can end up on the top 10 list for the year."
The NPD Group releases detailed statistics on game hardware/software sales every month in the United States. Supposedly these numbers are based on sold hardware/games, not shipping figures (which are usually indicated in the game companies' press releases). Note that while these facts and figures are respected by almost everyone in the game industry, they are not absolute, considering that there are some retail outlets (like Wal-mart, etc) who do not post their sales figures for games hardware/software with the NPD Group.
Nonetheless, it's an interesting set of statistics to follow to truly understand the current trend with the gaming industry in the United States---it answers the basic questions:
Which game console is successful financially, in comparison with the rest?
Which types of games do people in the United States (the largest market for video games) prefer to play?
Are any of the consoles experiencing any type of sales growth or decline (meaning, are the sales tactics they've employed prior to that month actually working in capturing their intended market?)
I'm sure that people who work in the game industry pay attention to these numbers, if only to know where the US game industry is headed, and which platforms are the most (and least) risky to support with their development efforts.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
In summary, ‘Bob’s Game’ is a classic old school RPG that has a mix of the old sprites and textures in a more western setting (as compared to the default fantasy realm settings of similar JRPGs). This game has been a pet project of Robert Pelloni since 2003, a one man army wrestling with programming code, art assets and everything else that go into a game. Any person who has tried to make a game would sympathize with his plight. Making a game is no easy task. Making a game by yourself is near impossible without putting the rest of your life on hold.
This man apparently intended the game to be released on a Nintendo platform and perhaps that became the biggest stumbling block to his dream. When an independent developer pitches a game to a publisher (i.e. Ubisoft, Activision, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony...), most of the time these publishers want something concrete to play. Even before you ink a deal with any of these guys, you would have already put in a sizable investment of time, hard work and money. And it’s very rare that big publishers will snatch your game in a heartbeat. There is no magical la-la land like those portrayed in Nintendo games when it comes to real world business practices. Most publishers will scoff at indie developers in favour of big budget well known development teams...even if their games scored a spectacular score of 6 on Metacritic. You may have the talent, you may have the passion, you may have the dream but those things are secondary, if not tertiary, once you’re talking to a suit more concerned with brand and the bottom-line than making dreams come true.
Hence that is the problem of Bob. Having already coded a chunk of his dream game, and perhaps saved up actually enough money to buy the development kit for a Nintendo DS, he goes to the suits at Nintendo and presents his game and gets denied. Nintendo may have their business reasons for denying this man the tools he need to finish his game, but for someone who has dedicated a significant portion of their lives to actually making it, those reasons do not provide enough justification for the last X years he set aside.
Let me make this clear, I am in no means judging Nintendo on the validity of their business decision. The point I am trying to make is how difficult it is to actually pitch a game with little to no credentials.
Being a developer (not a game developer mind you), I applaud this man’s efforts. And like him, I have always toyed around with an idea for a game in my head ever since my mother bought me a Nintendo Family Computer for Christmas when I was 7 years old. The reality is, business people think differently from independent developers and if we are looking at it from a business standpoint, Bob has made a lot of wrong moves and his most recent, 100 day live-webcam challenge isn’t really going to win him the favour of Nintendo.
Personally, Bob’s biggest mistake was to put everything in the hands of Nintendo. Regardless of what marketing spiel Nintendo has, at the end of the day they want money and want to keep their name untarnished. This is the reason why we do not see similar efforts such as Bob’s Game appearing on the Nintendo DS or Wii even if this game has a lot more heart put into it compared to the default Nintendo ‘cash-ins’ like Wii Sports or Wii Fit. Since Nintendo is in the casual market trend, Bob’s Game, isn’t going to make any money. While that in itself is big enough for Nintendo to write-off supporting this man, the other is why should they allow something unknown to invade their space when they literally are crawling with tons of old school JRPG remakes from known companies such as Square Enix and Atlus? And last but not the least, I have no idea regarding the level of Bob’s business skills. You may see Reggie Fils Aime or Shigeru Miyamoto act like passionate gamers and talk about ass kicking...but note these guys are not your friends, they are business people more concerned with the bottom line rather than taking you out for lunch as you discuss the latest developments in the plot of Legend of Zelda.
In the next E3, Reggie should wear a shirt that says 'I'm not your friend'.
So given all that, if you want to be a game developer your options are limited. Some of the more common ways of getting in the game industry means making a flash game or two, a freeware/home brew game, or tweaking a level editor to make a map. Hardly do we hear about independent efforts who have transcended these business barriers and went from indie to commercial developer in small strides. Gone are the days of John Carmack, when games are peddled in convenience stores and sealed with a sandwich bag. The industry is now too big to care for such home grown efforts.
And that’s where I believe XNA comes in.
XNA isn’t all about dreams. It is also a business venture wherein Microsoft wishes to promote the use of its Visual Studio development tools, and consequently Windows, in order to make a video game. Is that evil? Of course not...so many companies do the same thing, case in point, Nokia and Apple with their iPhones. But one of the things that make these guys different from Nintendo, is that they are trying to tap into the passion of the ordinary user in order to add more value to their products. Microsoft, has always been a software company and their earliest battle cry is allowing users to build their own stuff while they provide the tools to do so.
The XNA initiative started a long time ago with J Allard, hinting in 2005 on how “Velocity Girl” can sell her work on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Of course back then, everyone laughed at Microsoft and brushed all their ideas aside. These days, the tables have turned and the same suits who laughed at the whole notion of achievements are rushing to implement it in their platform. But XNA has only started with the most recent Fall Update where the XNA Community games are made available for commercial retail to the millions who have signed up for Microsoft’s XBOX Live Service (both Silver and Gold users can buy items from the XBOX Live Marketplace).
I’m not going to pretend like I’m an XNA guru because I’m not. But the underlying idea behind XNA is one of the key reasons why I continue to support the XBOX 360 despite the numerous hardware failures that have plagued me and my husband for 3 years.
XNA is not a programming language; it is more like an interface between Visual Studio and the hardware which can allow you to port your games with a little more ease. Contrary to popular belief, Microsoft has given away these tools for free. The core development language, Visual Studio C# is available for free with enough libraries to help you get things done. XNA, itself is also free. And making a game for the PC and publishing it for the PC is also free of charge.
The charges will only come if you wish to make the game for the XBOX 360 wherein Microsoft will actually make the game available in their XBOX Live Marketplace. The first charge is the cost of premium membership to the XNA Creators Club, if and ONLY IF you wish to make your game playable on the XBOX 360. The charge for premium membership is a small price compared to the thousands of dollars one would need to actually get their hands on a Nintendo SDK or any other development kit.
Once you have subscribed to the XNA creators club, you can now interface your game with the XBOX 360 and actually see it running on the XBOX. If you’re confident enough to show your game, you can easily share this with the rest of the premium club members. Consequently, you can also download their games to the XBOX 360 and see what other people are doing. If you want to take it one step further, you submit your game to a peer review and thus the road to commercial sales will begin. If you’ve made it through, the royalty fees between you and Microsoft isn’t as heartbreaking as one may think. The fees are fair and in favour of the developer rather than Microsoft. In fact, unlike other companies, you get to retain the full rights to your intellectual property even if the game is sold in the marketplace. While you may not hit the sales of Call of Duty 4 in your first try, it is nonetheless, a good way to actually see if you have the talent for game development and get noticed.
XBOX 360 and XNA is breaking the boundaries on how games are made and is being more inclusive to developers who are fuelled with passion for a dream that they may have been harbouring since their childhood. If Bob had a mistake, it was because of his ‘loyalty’ to Nintendo. But any developer who wants to see their dream come true should be open to other options. And for many of us, who aspire to eventually enter the game industry in one form or the other, the whole idea behind the XNA platform can be seen as a beacon of hope that the corporate and business driven game industry may have room for those who start out with dreams.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Itabashi (Japan) vs Danny13 (Singapore)
Japan won the tournament; here's footage of the last two rounds.
For third place, AdamYuki from the USA won against stprock from Germany. Here's footage from Round 2:
Saturday, January 10, 2009
And if the demand is too crazy for the PS3 version, there's always the Xbox 360 version as an alternative. I don't think the PS3 version and the Xbox 360 version will be that different from one another. As we've seen with most releases this console generation, the two machines are practically equal in power and capability. And now that we actually own a Playstation 3, we know that that is the truth. It's just that the Xbox 360 has more games than the Playstation 3, and that's probably the only thing that sets the consoles apart.
Friday, January 09, 2009
A fighting game like VF5 is a great way to pass the time, and for some reason it just doesn't get old. The AI set to Expert offers a great enough challenge even if it does not match real human opposition. Well, with internet lag and all, playing against the AI fills the need for fighting action quite nicely. No need to wait in the lobby to get an opponent....no hassles with lag and disconnects, too.
Despite my enjoyment of this fighting game, I don't have any plans to personally join any more gaming competitions/tournaments. After WCG 2008 last year, that was my first and last stint into participating (seriously) in these things. Granted, if someone holds a tourney again for some other game, and they need numbers, I'll gladly show my support just to fill the number of players but I don't plan on playing as seriously as I did with VF5 last year. Why? Maybe I'm getting too old for it (my reflexes are no longer as fast as they used to be)---and besides, I just want to play games for fun, and not for the pressure of winning.
Virtua Fighter 5 is one of those games I'll probably never sell; this will stay on my shelf for a very long time :)
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
So busy these days, hardly have the time to write on the blog....anyway, just got Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction for the PS3 the other day. [It was either that or Resistance 2. Well, Ratchet was on sale at I-Tech for 1,900 bucks, so why not?]
Super fast impressions:
- Graphics are beautiful, in spite of all the detail, the game manages to stay locked at 60 FPS! Wow!
- Gameplay feels fun and varied. Thank goodness I could turn off the Sixaxis controls...One part of the game required it, and it's really frustrating to use. I prefer to just use the sticks for the gliding portions.
- There was one cutscene at the start of the game that really made me LOL because the joke was really good....the one where Ratchet and Clank ride the spaceship and then the system engages cryo-sleep....hehehe! One of those rare occasions where a video game really made me bawl out laughing. :)
I was supposed to write a review for Little Big Planet. I finished that game a few days ago. It's just that I have too much to do these days.
Shortest LBP review ever: It's a great game, innovative level designs particularly towards the middle and end of the game. LBP's definitely worth buying for the PS3. Score: 9/10. I'll write a longer review for LBP if ever I find the time....I've got a slight headache from all the computer programming I've been doing lately.
Our Xbox 360 hasn't been seeing much action lately. It's hard to play on multiple consoles in the sense that you can't devote your time to both of them. I do think I'll get to play a bit more with the Xbox 360 soon once Street Fighter 4 and Star Ocean 4 roll around. But then....I'm a bit undecided about something.
What version of Street Fighter 4 should I buy? While I do have a fighting stick already for the Xbox 360, I'm just pondering on whether to build up my library of PS3 games, or just buy SF4 for the 360.
Hmm. Decisions, decisions.....
Sunday, January 04, 2009
At first, I thought that the installation of a new hard drive to the PS3 might be complicated, but I found out that it wasn't. I watched this video on Youtube and was surprised (actually, AMAZED) at how easy it is to put in a new hard drive for the PS3:
I was even more amazed at the fact that I could just use *any* laptop SATA drive available in most computer stores locally, to upgrade this PS3's hard drive; it was just so convenient, and inexpensive :)
So I eagerly opened the PS3's HDD Drive bay. Our PS3 is a newer model than the one in the video, so the insides of the HDD bay was a little different from what is shown in the video. I was initially daunted but when I actually got around to getting the drive out, it was really, really simple, and I think the newer PS3 that we have provides an even easier (note: more idiot-proof!) method for replacing the HDD. It doesn't have that metal tab that you have to pull up and slide to the right. Instead, you remove the blue screw, raise the thing held down by the screw, and there you have it....the HDD is easily removed.
Don't forget to back up all your game saves! We had a game save of Little Big Planet already in progress in the HDD. For some reason, when I used the backup utility in the PS3, it was saying I needed 2 GB of space in my flash drive to back up my data. I simply selected every single game in the GAME - Saved Data menu and selected the option to copy each save to my flash drive. That way, I'm able to individually select the files that I really needed (my LBP saves). The other stuff must have been game patches, or installation files from the other games on the system.
Anyway, going back to this whole HDD upgrade experience, we encountered a problem after installing the hard drive where the PS3 would look for the system update on the drive. If you're changing hard drives AFTER downloading update 2.53, don't forget to download the PS3's latest patch on the Playstation website. Since our PS3 is Asian, I got the update from here:
I remember reading a long time ago that you have to be careful with PS3 updates; if you've got a US PS3, get the US update. If you've got an Asian PS3, get the Asian update.
Now, after getting the update, I followed the onscreen instructions on the PS3, while the PS3 2.53 update was on a 1GB flash drive that I had. I was able to format the 80GB drive (although there was a slight glitch where the system didn't see my flash drive. I simply pulled out the flash drive, put it back in, and then the PS3 detected it again). A few minutes later, I had the new 80 GB drive working again! I was surprised at how relatively simple (and painless) the whole process was.
Now I had a spare laptop drive (40GB) which I got from the PS3 itself. I bought an enclosure from CDR-King in SM Megamall (220 pesos only) and put the drive in there. At first, I formatted the drive in Windows Vista, so I ended up getting a drive with NTFS. The PS3 couldn't find my new portable drive, and after doing a bit of research (Google is really useful) I found out that the file format for your portable drive had to be Fat32. After even more research I found a way to force-format the portable hard drive to Fat32. Simply use this program named Fat32Format, which I found here:
Follow the instructions on the page to format your drive. This should give you a drive that's compatible with both your PS3 and your Windows-based PC (and other platforms).
To test the connectivity of the PS3 with my new portable drive, I copied a video, which was in DivX format, to the HDD. I was able to play the video by choosing the portable device in 'Videos' on the PS3, and then pressing Triangle to show all the files on the drive. I chose the DivX file, and then, it played successfully.
Not only do I get an upgraded hard drive on my PS3; I also get a spare one for storing other files and streaming them (via the PS3) to my HDTV. Nice, nifty, and useful :)
Friday, January 02, 2009
Initially, Little Big Planet rubbed off the wrong way with me. For starters, the first 'level' is an area where the developers stuck their real-life faces on a bunch of wall textures to give themselves some credit for the game. I didn't like that first area; granted, it's a tutorial and an introduction rolled into one. I can imagine some people will probably think that that first level was well done (because of the developer's faces plastered everywhere), but it just didn't work with me.
A few levels in, the thing that bothered me the most early on was the soundtrack, which was just horrid (now, before you overreact and think I hate the game let me just say that....give this review a chance and keep on reading. Just let me get this bit about the game soundtrack out of the way.)
Some of the first few levels have the worst pieces of in-game music soundtrack I've ever heard in any game, EVER. Why? Because, for some reason or another, the music at the first few levels of the game can really, really put you to sleep. It's even worse if you're not the one playing the game. Sometimes me and my wife take turns playing the levels and when I'm the one watching her play the game, I could feel my eyelids getting heavy because the soundtrack was so slow and droning. I hope someone out there from Media Molecule is reading....please fire your musicians and get someone better.....
....Because, as it is, Little Big Planet is a pretty fine game if you manage to tune out the soundtrack somehow. Later levels in the game exhibit a lot more creativity with the platforming and level design, and there's a lot of memorable little moments all throughout each level. You can see each level getting progressively better, and by the time I'm writing this, I'm already in that area that looks like a tribute to elements of Japanese culture. It has some really cool puzzles which every gamer should get to experience. They're just so well crafted and creative, and Media Molecule definitely deserves some kudos for their efforts.
Sackboy's movement physics can get very floaty and it makes some of the platforming bits more challenging; but the game never becomes frustrating. In fact, every time you reach a checkpoint, the game gives you a full set of lives again, and in some instances it gives you more lives than usual, when you're in tough situation. The whole point of the game seems to be getting the highest possible score (which is then posted and compared via an online leaderboard) and collecting in-game items like stickers and objects for creating levels.
I haven't played with the in-game level editor yet but it seems like an interesting diversion I should get to try eventually. Overall, thus far, both me and my wife have been very pleased with Little Big Planet. Sony has a real hit on their hands with this game, which clearly appeals to gamers of all ages, of every persuasion (whether you're hardcore or casual, there is definitely something you'll enjoy in LBP).
If you're a hardcore gamer, and the first few levels seem simplistic (and the music becomes grating to you)....give it a chance. There is a point when the game just nails a good balance between just being fun and at the same time providing a decent level of challenge, enough to distract you for five minutes or even for two hours.
Great game :)