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    November 22, 2013
    Xbox One Sells A Million Units In 24 Hours

    It took a day, but the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 are now officially neck and neck in sales, at least here in North America.  In its first 24 hours on sale, the Xbox One sold a million units, matching the PS4 debut that seemed like only yesterday.  Indeed, both units sold their allotment on opening day, and now the race to saturate the market begins in earnest.

    “We are humbled and grateful for the excitement of Xbox fans around the world.  Seeing thousands of excited fans lined up to get their Xbox One and their love for gaming was truly a special moment for everyone on the Xbox team.  We are working hard to create more Xbox One consoles and look forward to fulfilling holiday gift wishes this season,” said Yusef Mehdi, Xbox’s Vice President of Marketing and Strategy.

    Selling fast out of the gate is awesome, and it looks great to see that huge sales number in print, especially on the first time out of the gate.  However, it remains to be seen if the Xbox One and PS4 can continue selling at such a torrid pace.  There’s still no clear winner in the console war yet, and there may not be a winner for the next ten years, depending on the life of this generation of consoles.  Still, it’s better to start fast and fade away than to not start at all.

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    November 20, 2013
    Wordless Wednesday: Essential Facts For Next-Gen Gamers

    Image:  KestrelPi

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    November 17, 2013
    The PS4 Scores A Million Sales In 24 Hours

    Well, that escalated quickly.  I did not… actually, I did see that one coming.  The Xbox One has a lot of pre-release drama surrounding it, but the PlayStation 4 has none of the drama and the good fortune of bowing first.  All that combines to make one epic launch for Sony’s latest and greatest video game system.  The PS4 sold a million units in its first 24 hours on the market.  Not a bad start for a $400 video game system; indeed, it’s the best launch by a Sony video game system in the company’s history.

    Of course, the launch wasn’t without problems.  There were some robberies reported and some of the newly-sold PS4s were lemons, but Sony expected that and is already working hard to get them replaced.  The dud units would not output video and had some flashing lights.

    Said a company representative, ”A handful of people have reported issues with their PlayStation 4 systems.  This is within our expectations for a new product introduction, and the vast majority of PS4 feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.  We are closely monitoring for additional reports, but we think these are isolated incidents and are on track for a great launch.”

    A million units in 24 hours is a pretty great launch, even if there were some damaged units.

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    November 16, 2013
    Dallas Cowboy Dez Bryant Buys Fans PS4s

    In the wee small hours on Friday, thousands of people lined up in front of stores around the country to get their hands on the vaunted PlayStation 4 from Sony.  That’s all well and good, paying hundreds of dollars for a video game system, but for five lucky people in Dallas, Texas, they both got their PS4s for free and they got to meet a celebrity.  Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant bought PS4s for five people at a Best Buy.

    Well, Twitter user BRedLove, who first posted the picture, says it’s a Best Buy, but that’s definitely a Walmart location they’re taking pictures inside.  Still, to come in and buy PS4s for people is a really cool thing to do, even if Dez Bryant does make millions of dollars a year as a professional athlete.  I can’t think of many folks who’d do that for a person, much less five people.

    All because they were in line at the same time he was.  Good guy Dez Bryant, just buying PS4s for random strangers.

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    September 9, 2013
    Sony Delays PS4 Release In Its Home Country

    Japan is the land of Sony, the company behind the PlayStation.  In turn, Japan has fully supported the PlayStation since its inception, with the PlayStation 3 selling nearly 9 million consoles in Japan alone.  The Xbox has never quite managed to take off in Japan for a variety of reasons, so it’s firmly PS country.  That might explain why the Japanese will have to wait until after the holiday season for their new game fix.  Sony is releasing the PS4 in Japan on February 22; that’s three months after the US release date of November 15 and the European release date of November 29.

    Of course, Sony says the delay in release dates is designed to create some extra time for the Japanese market to localize Western games while developing their own in-country special releases, but I think we all know that’s a little corporate spin.  The real importance is to get the console into the US and European markets before the holiday season is fully upon us; it doesn’t matter when the PS4 is released in Japan, because it will sell huge numbers no matter when it’s dropped.

    In markets where the PS4 is competing with the Xbox One and Nintendo Wii U, that little holiday nudge will prove to be pretty important.  Japan is pretty solidly not up for grabs.

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    June 25, 2013
    Will You OUYA?

    There have always been two or three big video game consoles in any generation.  From the Atari 2600, Amiga, and Colecovision to the WiiU, XBox One, and Playstation 4, the video game world is kind of a rarefied place to be, with companies spending millions of dollars to develop, market, and maintain consoles.  That’s not counting the millions of dollars needed to run online gaming networks, develop games, market games, and all the other expenses associated with developing the modern video game industry.  However, there’s always room at the bottom of the margin.  Usually, it’s handheld games that dominate the cheap seats, but now a new company is trying to sneak in at the bottom of the video game market.  The OUYA is a $99 video game console designed for both the poor developer and the poor player.

    The OUYA started life as a Kickstarter project from video game industry lifer Julie Uhrman, who has been seeking to bring democracy to the gaming world.  Democracy, in this case, takes the form of a small gray Android-powered box and a controller.  Inside the box is 1GB of RAM and 8GB of Flash memory.  It’s not going to blow the doors off the living room, but at $99, the hope is that the OUYA’s focus on substance and inexpensive fun will win a place at the table with the flash and gimmicks provided by the AAA providers.

    “The idea of an open game console where any creator could develop games for the television, where you remove all of the barriers, where you have a business model that is free to play for all gamers, I thought would really resonate,” said Uhrman, whose console has one really unique selling point.  ”It’s not right that you have to pay $60 for a game before you know if you even like it.  As a result of that, and the huge budgets for the triple-A publishers, you’re seeing fewer and fewer titles every single year — and mostly just sequels to games you’ve already played.  You’re not getting the opportunity to play games from new developers that are incredibly creative and may offer a different story and different kind of play.”

    The OUYA is available today, June 25, and is already sold out on Amazon.com, though you can still place your order here.

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    June 20, 2013
    Xbox One Drops DRM, Used Game Ban, Everything Everyone Hates.

    There are a lot of things gamers hate about Microsoft’s newest console.  Lots of cool features to be sure, but also some controversial choices.  Namely, the requirement to check in online every 24 hours, game trading restrictions, used game restrictions, and so on and so forth.  The issues have been discussed to death, complained about, and mentioned both on this website and every other website slightly related to technology.  Good news, everyone!  Microsoft is reversing pretty much all their console restrictions to be less hated!

    “You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world,” said Don Mattrick, president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business.

    However, the freedom to buy cheap used games comes at a cost.  Microsoft has pulled the ability to play one’s own personal library of online games, and some other features may be pulled as well.  Still, if it makes the playing of used games easier and means I don’t have to devote precious resources from my Internet connection to check in with the MotherShip, so be it.

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    June 14, 2013
    Xbox One Games Will Cost A Familiar Number

    Right now, when you buy a full price video game for your Xbox, you’re paying $59.99.  That’s high, but it’s not extremely high.  It’s reasonable, it’s what we’re pretty much used to, and it’s not much different from paying $50 for games for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System.  With the price increases with every video game console’s next generation, surely the price of games will go up, right?  Wrong.  Microsoft Xbox One games will retail for $59.99.

    Said a Microsoft spokesman, “I can confirm that Microsoft Studios games on Xbox One will be $59.99 (MSRP).”

    For all the problems surrounding Xbox One and Microsoft’s policies concerning used games, game sharing, console sharing, and Internet connectivity, it’s nice to see that some things aren’t going to change for the worse.  That’s a pretty good sign, if only for people like me who may still jump into the next generation of gaming consoles without waiting for the price drops 6 months to a year down the line.

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    March 24, 2013
    RetroN 5: The Perfect Console For Retro Gamers

    If you’re like me (and we’ll say you are), you have a lot of great old games that you can’t play.  I’ve got dozens of old Nintendo Entertainment System games, but my NES hasn’t done anything other than gather dust in years because the console gave up the ghost during my college years.  My SNES still works like a charm, as does my ancient Game Boy… or at least it did the last time I knew where it was circa 2004.  Long story short, I have a lot of awesome retro games and no way to play the bulk of them.  That’s why I’ve been trying to find some sort of retro video game player, either an original NES or a modern emulator.  Fortunately, Hyperkin has announced the RetroN 5 console.

    Not only does the RetroN play NES games, it also plays SNES games, Game Boy/Game Boy Color/Game Boy Advanced games, Sega Genesis and Sega Megadrive Games, and Famicom games just in case you’ve got some cool Japanese imports!  It supports saving to memory cards like emulators do, and it works with a special video processor to push the games out in something decent-looking on an HD screen via HDMI.

    Sadly, there’s no definitive release date or price yet, but Hyperkin hopes to have the system on the market by July at a price around $100.  So feel free to hit the flea market and second-hand store and stock up on old-school games to prepare for the return of the consoles of your childhood!

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    March 8, 2013
    Amazon Takes Sim City Sales Offline

    When a game is a hit, it’s good news all around.  But when a game is too much of hit, there’s a different set of problems that come about.  In the case of EA’s relaunched version of Sim City, the problem is the always-on system that forces players to log in to play.  In the old Sim City games, your city ran locally on your computer with no interaction, but in the new version of the game, the cities are part of a wider Sim World, and that means you’ll get the standard MMO game problems.  Sim City’s server problems were so bad that Amazon actually took the game off the market for a few hours.

    “What we saw was that players were having such a good time they didn’t want to leave the game, which kept our servers packed and made it difficult for new players to join,” said SimCity producer Kip Katsarelis.

    In order to change things on the back end and make it easier for players to log in and play the game, EA disabled the fastest settings of the game, turned off leader boards and achievements, and increased their server capacity.  The Amazon blockade lasted only a few short hours, though the game’s downloadable version comes with a warning label telling players about the difficulties in navigating the game at launch.

    Some games just shouldn’t be MMOs.

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