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    August 13, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Groot Is Cute

    Via Imgur.

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    August 7, 2014
    Mario Kart Upgrades To Mercedes-Benzes

    These days, video games are all about the downloadable content.  Games typically ship in a pretty finished format, just perhaps not finished enough for some customers.  So to encourage gamers to download extra content, you can’t just… say, slap a new costume on a character, you need to do something big.  Perhaps teaming with a major car manufacturer to enhance your gokart-driving game?  Mercedes is teaming with Nintendo to bring Benzes to Mario Kart.

    The cars come in three different flavors, from modern to antique, spanning Mercedes’ long history of awesome-looking rides.  There’s the modern GLA, the 50′s era 300 Sl Roadster, and the awesome 1930′s Silver Arrow.  The extra karts come free of charge starting August 27th to users of the eStore.  There are other new features coming to celebrate the game’s 22nd anniversary and, as a fun addition, the original version of the game is available on the  WiiU as a digital download.

    That’s the kind of fun stuff digital downloads should be used for; not fixing broken games, just adding to existing, awesome games.  And this, gang, is awesome.

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    May 13, 2014
    Microsoft To Dis-Kinect

    One of the biggest problems with the Xbox One is the sheer price of the machine.  Yes, it’s got a lot of features packed into it, but that skill set has a lot to do with the price of the device, raised by the increased cost of the built-in Microsoft Kinect.  It’s got a lot of cool features, but not everyone is interested in making use of the Kinect to play games or dance or power the Xbox with gestures and words.  Some folks just want to play video games, and Microsoft is going to make that happen.  Microsoft is readying a version of the Xbox One without Kinect.

    “Your feedback matters to us and it shapes the products and services we build,” said Xbox boss Phil Spencer.

    The price will also drop on the Xbox, lowering the price to $399.  The premier system with the Kinect will still retail for $499.  For some folks, that $100 difference will make the decision between the PS4 and Xbox One that much easier.  And if you want to add the Kinect at a later date, I’m sure you still can.

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    April 26, 2014
    Legendary “ET” Game Dump Discovered

    For the last 30 years, there’s been an apocryphal story floating around the video game community concerning a game so bad it nearly killed the nascent home video game industry.  Back in 1982, Atari was the only game in town, quite literally, and if you wanted to play video games, you got yourself an Atari, hooked it up to your television, and plugged in a cartridge like Asteroids, Galaga, or Missile Command.  You’d think combining the biggest video game system around with the biggest movie that year, Stephen Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, would be a great idea, right?  Wrong.  Not only was E.T. the worst video game of all time, it was also a financial disaster and nearly ruined Atari.

    In response, Atari is rumored to have buried millions of video game cartridges in the desert town of Alamagordo, New Mexico, in a landfill there.  The scope and location of the dig have never been truly known until now.  Searchers have uncovered a treasure trove of abandoned Atari games in a landfill, confirming a 30-year-old rumor as truth.  Both the search and the dig were recorded as part of an upcoming documentary to debut on Xbox Live, so soon you’ll be able to watch the story for yourself.

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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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