29th November 2009 - Welcome to week 20 in All Age Gaming’s “The Week That Was”. Let’s hop straight into it. After quite a number of weeks chock-full of blockbuster releases, this week presents some relief to your hip-pocket with quite a subdued week in game releases.... unless you enjoy your music games that is. This week sees the release of Band Hero and LEGO Rock Band for all the major consoles, as well as Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles and Pro Evo 2010 on the Wii.
In Wii news this week, the Japanese Wii channel “Wii no Ma” has expanded. The channel is a video channel that previously only played various advertisements, but now includes user-paid movies, TV shows and anime. Studios signed up for the service include Warner, Pokemon, Disney, J League Soccer, THK and TV Asahi. It has yet to be confirmed whether a similar service will be available worldwide.
Meanwhile in the UK, the release of the black Nintendo Wii has seen Wii hardware sales jump 60% in the region. Nintendo aren’t attributing the jump in sales completely on the black Wii as the holiday season is starting to pick up, but their sales have doubled week-on-week since release. Maybe it’s time to bring this to Australia as well?
In what should come as a surprise to no one, Nintendo is dominating the female gaming market. At a BMO Capital Markets event for game companies and investors, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime presented figures relating to the female “primary players” of home consoles, i.e. primary players being the main users of consoles in their homes. Females made up roughly a third of the primary players, with 80% of those players being Nintendo console-owners. Reggie said, “this didn’t happen by accident, it’s the result of a deliberate attempt to expand the market.”
And it looks like EA’s Montreal Studio might be shying away from future development of Wii games. The company has worked on quite a few Wii games such as Skate It, Boogie, Need for Speed Nitro and Spore Hero, but will focus on bigger budget titles for the 360, PS3 and PC. This comes as a bit of a blow for the console considering the current lack of success of third-party titles for the system.
In 360 news this week, Microsoft are getting sued again! This time Datel are filing an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft, after they locked out unauthorized 360 memory units. Datel produce a popular third-party memory unit that presents greater value than the official Microsoft unit. They are alleging that Microsoft violated federal antitrust laws when they restricted the use of Datel memory units in a recent firmware update. Microsoft originally made the crackdown to prevent cheating, as many of the units contained SD card slots that made it easier for gamers to hack their gamer profiles and alter their achievements.
After being available for one week now, 2 million Xbox Live users have already logged onto Facebook. Despite the scaled back nature of the social-networking application, this is an encouraging number of users as it presents 10% of the 20 million total Xbox Live users. Have you logged onto Facebook yet? I don’t see Facebook on the Xbox (and PS3 for that matter) becoming too popular when there are games to be played!
And Microsoft might be introducing some sort of gaming database for games played through Xbox Live. A new patent filed by Microsoft reveals that the company has been developing a new, in-game guide system. Players would be able to access a database full of user and developer-created guides that will provide tips and tricks for the games they are playing. Gamers can edit their guides and add screenshots, video clips and even audio commentary. Think of it as sort of like a Wikipedia for games.
PS3 owners may have noticed over last weekend, that the ABC iView service went live on the system. Presented in the form of its own channel on the XMB, it is more of a bookmark to ABC’s iView page found at http://www.abc.net.au/tv/iview/. Video quality is equivalent to YouTube quality as it is essentially watching the videos on a web browser on your TV. You might be better off hitting the above link if you want to access iView.
This week also saw Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Kaz Hirai confirm the paid PSN premium subscriptions. Hirai has said “we will be building upon our current free (PSN) service offering with premium content and services to start the subscription model,” at a recent presentation. He also reassured PS3 owners that Sony will not be charging gamers to play online, as this service will remain free of charge.
Meanwhile the US Sony Computer Entertainment boss, Andrew House, took a few verbal swings at Nintendo this week. House talked about a major competitor losing a “sense of momentum” and that “it’s gratifying to see a platform that’s always had a very significant share of sales go to third party publishers capture that momentum again.” He would elaborate and point out that the Wii was the platform losing momentum, and that it would be beneficial for third-party publishers to support a platform in which they make up 75 per cent of sales on that platform (i.e. the PS3, and not the first party heavy Wii).
And there were rumours this week that IBM are going to stop producing their Cell processors. This is significant for the PS3 as the Cell processors are an integral part of the PS3’s hardware. However, any speculation regarding a death of the PS3 was quickly quashed, with IBM spokesperson Ron Favali telling Kotaku that “as long as we have a contract with Sony we will continue to manufacture Cell Processors for use in the Sony PlayStation.”
And now for this week’s other news in brief:
Michael Atkinson is at it again. This time he wants to appeal Modern Warfare 2’s MA15+ classification, and has even taken swipes at the Classification Board saying that they do “everything to try to get games in under the radar,” and that he has “no trust in the Classification Board to apply the guidelines sincerely and correctly.”
Other points Atkinson brought up:
He referred to MW2 as a game that allows gamers to be virtual terrorists and gain points by massacring civilians – at no point in this scene he refers to (No Russian) can you earn points. In fact you don’t have to kill a single civilian if you choose not to.
Atkinson continues to mention the Japanese game Rape Lay where you “score points for raping a mother and daughter.” This game is not available anywhere outside Japan, and wouldn’t be welcome on our shores, yet Atkinson “wouldn’t put it past the Classification Board to make that an R rated game, frankly, on their previous form.”
Atkinson denies any knowledge as to why the Commonwealth discussion paper on video game classification has yet to be released.