31st October 2009 - Sweet 16 for All Age Gaming’s “The Week That Was”. Let’s celebrate by talking about what was in the news this week. As usual, we start with the game releases for this week, and two big releases this week with Activision’s DJ Hero on 360, PS3/2 and the Wii, and EyePet on the PS3. DJ Hero is the latest in the music-genre requiring a new peripheral, and EyePet is Sony’s virtual pet “game”. The 360 also saw the release of Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City, which includes downloadable episodes the Lost and Damned, and the Ballad of Gay Tony on one disc (note you don’t need GTA4 to play this). A couple of other notable releases were Magna Carta II and Guilty Gear 2: Overture on the 360, and Fairytale Fights and Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 on the 360 and PS3.
In PS3 news this week, it was announced that movie streaming service Netflix will be making its way to the system in the US. The service is already available on the 360 but will be available later this year for PS3 owners, and will require a special Blu-Ray disc to use the service. Besides the monthly fee for Netflix, the service will otherwise be free to use on the PS3 (it is only available for Gold members on the 360).
If you haven’t heard yet, Bayonetta received a much better port on the 360 than the PS3. Poorer ports on the PS3 have been a problem for the PS3 since its release, and Insomniac senior community manager James Stevenson believes it may be another two or three years before developers really max out the system. Stevenson said, "There's always ways we can become more efficient... I still think you're not going to see the PS3 really maxed out for another two to three years. We're using all of the PS3 right now, but you can always be more efficient in the way you use it."
Despite the constant updates and the amount of advertising that went into PlayStation Home, the director of Home, Pete Edwards has said that it is not a high priority for Sony. Edwards said “We've proved there is a market out there and we’ve got a lot of people that spend a lot of time in [Home]. It’s not a priority right now but there is a business model there." However, almost immediately following this news, Home’s community manager has stated that Edwards was misquoted. Edwards was in fact referring to the monetizing of Home not being a priority.
And despite the healthy PS3 sales of late, Sony’s Networked Product and Services Division has reported a loss of US$656 million. The division includes Sony Computer Entertainment, which includes Sony’s gaming platforms. Part of the problem is the slowing PS2 sales as it enters its ninth year, as well as poor PSP sales. PS3 sales are up, but Sony’s VAIO laptops, Bravia HDTVs and Sony Ericsson mobile phones are also experiencing poor sales.
Although already revealed by various retailers, Nintendo have officially announced the release date for New Super Mario Bros. Wii (NSMBW) in Australia. The game will be released on November 12, and The Nintendo Experience at EB Games Swanston Street will be hosting a launch party on the night of Wednesday November 11. The night will start at 9pm, and the game will be available from 11pm. If you get home by 12, and play it non-stop, you could probably finish it by 6am as the game is said to only be 6 hours long!
Another Nintendo classic that may get a makeover is Goldeneye. Take this as rumour only, but an animator named Craig Peck has listed work on “GoldenEye 2010 (Wii)” on his resume. The work involved work as an “animator on Activision’s James Bond series for the Nintendo Wii.” Little other information is known so far but hopefully Activision reveal something soon.
More good publicity for the Wii again, with the British government’s Department of Health approving of Wii Fit Plus. Their Change4Life campaign aims to get the British to eat healthily and exercise more, and it is backing Wii Fit Plus, with the Change4Life branding and logo playing a part in the game’s advertisements. The campaign had been condemned earlier in the year for implying videogames were a part of the problem by promoting a sedentary lifestyle, so this is a nice turnaround.
And finally, we mentioned Nintendo’s first profit loss in the last 6 years last week. We can now tell you that their first half net-profit fell a whopping 52%. Various reasons were given for the drop, including the previously mentioned lack of big-name titles in the first half of the year, as well as a strong Japanese Yen. The recent price cut also hasn’t had as large an impact as expected, with the PS3 price-drop presenting strong competition, and also the growing popularity of iPod Touch/iPhone games.
With Sony’s recent Netflix announcement, Microsoft has responded to it, noting that having an Xbox Live Gold account will still be necessary. A Microsoft representative has told IGN that the Gold membership still provides excellent value for money, especially with its “exclusive access (to) multi-player gaming and early demos as well as Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Last.fm, 1 vs. 100 and more.” Someone should remind Microsoft that Facebook and Twitter also happen to be free to use on computers...
Some of you may have noticed that there was a new 360 update this week. This minor update is not for the new features such as Facebook and Twitter support, but allows for the Wireless Network Adapter to support the WPA2 wireless security protocol. And this may or may not be related to the update, but Microsoft has been rolling out a large number of bans to people with modded 360s this week. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed when the bans took place, but they have occurred after system updates in the past.
In other 360 news, the Europe Xbox Live boss Jerry Johnson has ruled out what’s known as “cloud gaming” for the near future. Cloud gaming is a phrase relating to the live streaming of games. Microsoft is still considering such a service, but for now it is not something that could be delivered with current technology. Johnson said, “Streaming technology is something that the industry is betting on longer term... Right now I don’t believe that technology can scale out against the experience we can offer on a local machine.”
And finally, Sky Player was released on the 360 last Tuesday in the UK... and was promptly pulled off it soon after. Sky Player is a service that allows UK and Ireland Xbox Live Gold members to access a range of live or on-demand TV content on their 360’s. Unfortunately, it had to be pulled off Live as the demand for the service was too great. It will now be rolled out in phases to ensure the sign-up process is smooth.