What's Next for Online Gameshows?

 With the news this past week that 1 vs. 100 on Xbox is no more, many people cried foul and seemed upset about this sudden cancellation. Two main points came to my mind when this happened. One was, where were you people when 1 vs. 100 was actually, y'know, on. I recall numerous games journalists, pundits, developers, and industry folks saying 1 vs. 100 was weak and contrived (which it often was...though I played it often). Today these same people are saying something akin to "there should be more things like these...not less." 

But, as Chris Cashman (the former host) has noted as has the Microsoft team, this was a good experiment and the various developers are going to apply this knowledge to future projects. Thus, the question I pose. What is next, if anything? I can imagine some pretty vivid, realistic game shows once Kinect comes out...the nervous body language and taunts and dances come to mind instantly. But what other ‘projects’ could be in development that utilize this technology? Are they going to start having an ‘Xbox Poll’ on a weekly basis much like Wii does? Or is there going to be a new type of game show element on a weekly basis? Maybe there will be nothing, and all of this postulating is for naught.

I was genuinely saddened about the cancellation of 1 vs. 100 (I enjoyed the live shows somewhat), but now that it is gone the future has me interested. What do you all think? Is there going to be a new product, something small or big, or maybe nothing at all? What would you like to see the tech used in 1 vs. 100 applied to? I’m interested to hear what people have to say about this.


What if Apple Made A Game Console?

First off, I am not an Apple person (except for my iPod), I respect them as a company that makes good products, but I tend to favor PC's and Microsoft goods. But last night, I had a strange dream that Apple released a videogame console...it looked quite a bit like a Wii, but with more processing power and graphical abilities. And then I began to wonder, is this even a possibility? I think it could happen sometime down the line, here is my reasoning for this:
Apple attracts a major market of middle-upper class folks (everyone of all demographics uses Apple products, I know, just work with me here), much the same market the Wii targets. Furthermore, Apple is considered very 'hip', even with people that may not necessarily be tech-savvy or avid tech followers. Also, Apple caters to people in a (usually) very tech friendly way. I can see an Apple console being a direct competitor to the Wii for market-share and accessibility, as well being a competitior to the more advanced systems on the market. How? Two words, Apps, and iTunes. The rise of the App has become extraordinary, and while there are plenty of crappy ones on the market, there are also some gems (games or otherwise). Also, creating an iTunes based media service with music, movies, T.V. and more, directly on the T.V. could put major pressure on Microsoft and Sony to meet these entertainment standards as well as the (likely) smooth and slick interface details. 
Apple could be a major force. They have swept the music player world by storm, as well as cell phones, now they are tackling  tablets...what might be next? Would you buy an Apple console if it came out? What do you imagine it looking like, playing like, costing? I probably wouldn't buy it, but I would welcome the new wrench thrown into the now stagnant machine of innovation. 
Let me know what you all think!


Fighting Piracy by Shipping Unfinished Games?

Recently, the CEO of Codemasters (publishers and developers of such titles as Dirt, Grid, and others) recently stated a unique and somewhat strange approach to fighting piracy in games...don't finish them. The idea may seem convoluted, but it works in a pretty simple (if drawn out) sort of way.
Let's say Developer A ships a game out to stores. You, the savvy consumer, picks up the game from the store and takes it home. At that point you would have to download many of the core assets of the game to play it. The game would be sold for less at retail, because the 'full' cost would be made up with the many micro-transactions to actually 'finish' the game to make it playable and enjoyable. The reasoning for this way of doing things is because, to quote CEO Rod Cousens, "...DRM is not the answer to piracy." 
I know many gamers hate DRM, but what about this idea? Does it seem worse to you as the consumer? For me, it sounds like this would be a method used on the PC more than anything, of course game piracy is rising on all platforms...so it could happen across the board. It reminds me a bit of what EA is doing with their online access codes, of course that is for slowing used game sales and this is against piracy. I think the idea is an interesting one, but it may end up causing too much confusion for the consumer and turn people off from buying certain games.  I personally support it, as long as I am only paying for what I need to play the game and not miscellaneous junk.
I'm interested to hear what people think about this...here is the link to  the article.


"What is this Dishwasher Doing With My Game?"

One day, this may very well be a question you ask yourself after buying a product that seemingly has no relation whatsoever to videogames. Why? Well, recent trends from various companies show that many retailers and producers of non-game items want to pack-in games as a marketing and enticement tool. A good example of this? Remember those (pretty horrible) Burger King games from a few years ago...apparently that was just the beginning. 
The 'joke' quote from the article this blog originated from was, "Games will be in microwaves next...". Unfortunately, that may be true. The logic of some manufacturers go like this (this is from the article and some further research): games are now bigger than  ever, even Grandma plays them sometimes, as such there is a profit to be made by producing cheap, usually lackluster, and quick games. Most gamer gamers (whatever that really means) will probably not feed into this (unless a cheap browser-based like game knockoff sounds appealing to you), but that doesn't mean the folks who buy Wii Carnival Games 4 won't. 
From a marketing standpoint I really get it, though the logic seems a bit too cut and dry for my taste. But will it actually work. Would it appeal to you, the reader, as something worth looking into? Does that Maytag or GE appliance or box of cereal seem better because it has a 'game' in it? Of course, I could be wrong...maybe there could be future Halo's, COD's, Gears' or Uncharted's in the midst of all of this...stuff. But I don't really think so. What do you guys think? Is it worth it, will it work? Will it even happen at all, or is this just some marketer's pipedream? I'm interested to hear what folks say about this. Let me know, and thanks!


"Want some Call of Duty? Go to the back..."

It looks like the California legislature is debating violent games...again. This time though it could be serious. Apparently, the Supreme Court of the Unites States is paying close attention to this legisaltion to possible dictate how the U.S., on a national level, will dictate games sales. In a nutshell, without getting too deep into the legal talk, it is banning the sales of violent games for minors. 
In some states (like my own Colorado), they check your I.D. as a matter of corporate policy, not state/national law. But within California, the possible ramifications are fairly dramatic. While the legislature could simply tell business that "if you sell an M rated game to a minor you will be fined", it looks like they may do the movie rental store-esque "back-room". Where to even look at the games one would have to show I.D. Hopefully, this is just speculation (I imagine it is just hyped up OMG's from the gaming community), but the law is very real. 
Personally, I understand why they are trying to stop minors from buying violent games, I get that. But it still doesn't stop Mom & Dad from buying little Timmy Gears of War 3 or Medal of Honor. To me, it seems more like a parenting issue than something laws and statutes can address. I'm well over 18, thus the law (if it goes nationally) won't affect me too much. 
What do other people think? Is the law necessary, ridiculous, good but needing alteration? Is there a better way to do stop minors from getting violent games (does it matter if minors, or those below 18 years of age, play violent games?) I'm interested to hear what people think....


Google Games...Getting Serious

I was scanning the news this morning, as I am want to do, and noticed something buried within the web pages that could be a marker of major changes to come in the 'casual' gaming market. Honestly, I'm tired of the whole casual versus hardcore mindsets, but it makes sense in this case, as the developers being approached for a new venture with Google are the minds behind Farmville of Facebook fame, Zynga. 
Why does this matter (or I think it matters)? Because Google reaches millions of people everyday, even more than the now ever present Facebook does. The fact that Google dropped an estimated $200 million for Zynga to develop for Google's new "Google Games" service shows me that Google is taking the Farmville fad seriously. While I personally despise Farmville and games like it (not because of it being casual or anything of that nature, I just think it is boring), many others out there in the interwebs do not. 
Will Google become a new power-house in the online pick-up-and-play gaming sphere? I would bet my money on it. Hopefully this will breed some better competition from would-be rivals Facebook and MSN Games. I'm interested to see what comes of this personally, what about anybody else? Do people care about this? Would you play "Google Games" if there was free time available? Please respond, I'm interested to hear of people even really care about this or not.


Sunset over Panau

Alright, before I dive too far into this I just want to preface this post by saying that some of you out there are going to laugh at this and possibly post some insensitive, downright hurtful remarks...and that's OK...here goes anyway.
I like sunsets in games...seriously. And the question I have here is this, how many people play games with a day-night cycle and when sunset/sunrise hit they watch to see it flood the game world in pastel colored hues. The title of this post comes from Just Cause 2, a game with some stunning visuals whose sunsets make the exploding bits of corrupt military personnel all that more beautiful...but there are other games. 
Maybe WoW, while standing on the parapets of Ogrimmar. Or Grand Theft Auto IV, watching the sun set across the water and glint off the steel buildings of Liberty City as you run-over pedestrians while singing along to Russin hip-hop. Oblivion as well, with the verdant valleys and lush greenery of the Elder Scrolls universe as the backdrop. Maybe Crackdown 2,  leaping from building to building. And of course Red Dead Redemption, galloping across a dusty plateau until you are suddenly, violently, mobbed by cougars...ahhh...so peaceful. 
This may seem like a 'joke' post, but it is for real. Sunsets in games are, to me, sometimes some of the most technically impressive graphical moments, with all the shadows and the like playing against each other. Let me know what you guys think, do you even notice? Also, what other games have these types of affects, I know I purposefully left some off of my short list above. Let me know!

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A Thought on Independent Games

I was recently reading about this new group known as 'Indie Fund' (co-founded by Braid creator Johnathon Blow) that helps provide funding and publishing assistance for independent developers, and it made me think a bit about indie games, mostly in two main ways.
1.) Do indie games turn a sizable enough profit for publishers to invest in them? They usually have a small staff and thus less overheard for basic personnel expenses, but is it worth the time and effort to promote indie games at all? I know some are popular, but the vast majority seemingly (at least to me) disappear into the pixelated ether never to be seen again.
2.) Are indie games consistently good? Obviously, there are major games that are released that lack in quality, but this endearment towards indie games by the videogame media (Giant Bomb tends to not be too enamored with indie developers) is a bit confusing to me. There have been startling successes, the aforementioned Braid comes to mind (and Limbo also looks to be quite good), but I would wager that the vast majority of indie games are not that good or worth promoting. Of course, now one gets into the awkward 'art for art's sake' argument over whether or not games need to actually turn a profit/reach a large audience to be considered successful, to me these are the requirements for a game to claim any sort of success...though there are many that would probably disagree with me on this.
What about all of you out there in Giantbomb land? Am I totally wrong, am I too centered on the $'s? Let me know, and also let me know what you all think...I'm interested to hear your thoughts!


Publishers Efforts to Stop Used Games Sales Are Not Working

Perhaps this is simply something that I have noticed, but many of the security measures put into place by various game companies have been lackluster in preventing the sale of ‘used’ games at locations such as Gamestop here in the U.S.

What do I mean? Many major publishers have been putting in one-time use codes to try and discourage used game sales, “if you buy this game new, you get a free download of this or that.” In theory, people would buy the game, use the code, finish the game and give it to Gamestop; a new customer would be more tempted to buy the game new to get full access to all the features, otherwise they may have to pay something extra on Xbox Live or PSN.

This seems to have some flaws in it. As an example, I recently went to Gamestop to purchase Rock Band 2 on 360, they had a copy, and when we got home, all of the codes for things like downloading new tracks and such were in good shape and ready to go. Thus the whole idea of buying it new to get the whole package was thwarted.

I would guess the majority of people would not utilize these extras if their goal is to beat the game and then trade it in. so trade in buyers are not getting punished.

Do you all think it is good to try and circumvent used game purchases? Do you think it is fair? Or, do you think there could be better ways of circumventing it if you don’t agree with the practice at all?


Ubi Going Green, Does Anyone Care

I saw an artcile yesterday detailing Ubisoft's decision to 'go green' by ceasing to print game manuals in any of their future releases. They estimate they could save a few million trees alone by doing this, so from an environmental standpoint it sounds good. But, there are other questions. 
One is, isd the manual now going to be in digital format on a disc, which seems good until you realize that; if it is only accessible from the menu, one would have to quit their game if they need to figure something out from the manual. Also, what about game collectors. For years I have always bought games new in order to have the manual with the case and disk, as it then becomes a nicer 'package' overall. But what now? Thirdly, does anyone read the manual anymore? I just like having them from a collection perspective, but I rarely read them unless I am really confused about something. I admire Ubi's effort, but was the idea of a paper (now usually four page) manual outdated anyway? What are other folks thought's on this?

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