Gaming News May 2008

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Greenpeace finds hazardous chemicals in consoles
Xbox Scene :: Saturday, May 24, 2008
From gamespot.com : <BR><I> Not content with prying open just the iPhone in its hunt for toxic components, Greenpeace has dismantled the three big game consoles to see what unpleasant materials they contain. The resulting report, “Playing Dirty,” is out today. The upshot: The PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii didn’t break any laws, but–as gamers will discover–they do contain dubious and arguably unnecessary chemicals. The research reveals that the three consoles contain a mixture of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), phthalates, beryllium, and bromine. Bromine and beryllium are a health issue for workers mainly during disposal and recycling, while phthalates have the unwelcome honour of being linked to sexual reproduction problems–especially in male mammals. Not something that gaming geezers will want to hear. Xbox 360 * The only console which Greenpeace found DINP phthalates in–bad news. They were found in the AV cable. * It had the highest concentration of any phthalates–27.5 percent of a type called DEHP in a power cable coating. * It also contained more PVC than the Wii and PS3. * On the plus side, the housing materials had lower levels of brominated materials. </I><BR><BR> Full Story: gamespot.com

GameStop to Stop Zune Sales
Xbox Scene :: Saturday, May 24, 2008
From thestreet.com : <BR><I> Video-game retailer GameStop has decided to stop selling Microsoft’s Zune players at its stores due to what it sees as insufficient demand from customers. “We have decided to exit the Zune category because it just did not have the appeal we had anticipated,” said a GameStop spokesperson. “It (also) did not fit with our product mix.” GameStop made the decision about a month ago. GameStop said it will sell Zune players online until it clears out its inventory. Microsoft said Friday that the Zune continues to be carried by other big-box retailers. “We have a set of great partnerships that give Zune a strong presence at retail including Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart and others,” said Adam Sohn, director of marketing for Zune, in a statement. “We will continue to invest in retail partnerships and have seen good momentum online and at retail over the last few months.” </I><BR><BR> Full Story: thestreet.com

Release This: Wii Fit, Haze, SingStar Highlight Eventful Week in U.S.
Gamasutra Columns :: Saturday, May 24, 2008
Gamasutra’s latest “Release This!” examines a week that sees Wii Fit and the first PS3 edition of SingStar debut in North America, while The Orange Box and MotorStorm Complete premiere in Japan.

Critical Reception: Nintendo’s Wii Fit
Gamasutra Columns :: Saturday, May 24, 2008
This week’s edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Nintendo’s peripheral-bundled fitness title Wii Fit, which critics claim is “absolutely worth giving it a try if you have a Wii, $90, and some extra pounds to lose.”

Xbox Live Arcade: Games File Size Limit to be Increased
Xbox Scene :: Saturday, May 24, 2008
From teamxbox.com : <BR><I> In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Xbox Live Arcade games portfolio manager, David Edery, has revealed that Microsoft plans to increase the file size limit for future XBLA games from 150 megabytes to 350MB. The announcement was made at the recent Nordic Game event in Malmo, Sweden. </I><BR><BR> Full Story: teamxbox.com | gamesindustry.biz

Xbox Live ‘Gay’ Crackdown MIGHT Be Getting A Little Out Of Hand – MS Explains
Xbox Scene :: Saturday, May 24, 2008
From kotaku.com.au : <BR><I> Tonight, we get an email from another Xbox Live user whose gamertag has been barred because it violates XBL policies. The incriminating gamertag? RichardGaywood. The problem here? It’s the gamertag of a Mr. Richard Gaywood, a now-disgruntled 360 owner from the UK (and yes, we’ve confirmed this is his real name). </I><BR><BR> *Update* Microsoft Explains “Gaywood” Ban from kotaku.com : <BR><I> We want the Xbox LIVE community to have the freedom to express themselves, but we also have a responsibility to create an inclusive, safe environment,” said Microsoft’s Stephen Toulouse. “While it may be clear to some that Gaywood is a legitimate surname, it may not be obvious to other Xbox LIVE members. In this case, a complaint was filed by a member of the community, requiring the Xbox LIVE team to examine the gamertag within the context of the Xbox LIVE Terms of Use. Based on the these guidelines, it was necessary for the gamertag to change.” </I><BR><BR> Full Story: kotaku.com.au(1) | kotaku.com(2)

Calling All Community Games REDUX!
Xbox Scene :: Saturday, May 24, 2008
From the Team XNA Blog : <BR><I> With the launch of our Community Games on Xbox LIVE (beta), I’d like to issue a renewed call for our entire Creator community to submit their games written using XNA Game Studio 2.0 for distribution over Xbox LIVE. The newly launched site is in beta and we’re still looking at the official release later this holiday. There is no better time than now to take the system for a test drive. We have several different roles for all of our XNA Creators Club Premium members: – Create & Submit: Create your dream games or something wacky just for fun using XNA Game Studio 2.0 – Peer Review: Check out and review games submitted by your peers and help the community overall to create and share the best games possible – Play: XNA Creators Club Premium members in the USA can also download and play the games directly from Xbox LIVE Marketplace after games successfully pass Peer Review So whether you have a game and want to share it, simply enjoy reviewing games that others are creating and submitting or just want to play all the amazing games created by your peers – there’s more than enough for all our Creators to do! Over 20 games have already made their way to Xbox LIVE Marketplace and more are on their way! </I><BR><BR>

Analyst: Price Drops to Come for Christmas
Xbox Scene :: Saturday, May 24, 2008
From next-gen.biz : <BR><I> Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter expects both the Xbox 360 and PS3 to shed $50 for the holiday shopping season, according to reports on his speech at the Electronic Gaming Summit. While Pachter is reported as expecting 19% industry growth in the US and 20% in Europe this year, that number will dip to 16% and 18% respectively in the following year unless each console drops another $100 off its price tag. Further price reductions would have to occur in 2010 to stop growth from declining to 10% and 7% in each respective market. </I><BR><BR> Full Story: next-gen.biz

Shane Kim: ‘Our Competitors Don’t Recognize The Importance Of Relationships’
Xbox Scene :: Saturday, May 24, 2008
From gamasutra.com : <BR><I> At the Vancouver Game Summit, Microsoft executive Shane Kim delivered the keynote – in interview form. The Microsoft Game Studios boss was quizzed by The Electric Playground co-creator Victor Lucas. On Microsoft Game Studios’ role, Kim explained, “Our job, for the last four or five years, has been to become a first party that drives a successful platform. It’s very expensive to develop the high-end multiplayer HD content. It’s very difficult to rely on third party for these reasons – GTA is an exception. It’s not a matter of quantity, but a matter of quality. We really try to do things we believe in.” Kim indicated that acquiring external developers is not something “to look at lightly,” but it is on the table. “That’s always an option for us,” he said. Victor then brought up Bungie, which undertook a high-profile move to independence after being a subsidiary of Microsoft for several years. Said Kim, “We still have a strong working relationship with Bungie – you could even say stronger than it was before. In this industry, independence is a strong motivating factor. The good news for us and for Halo fans is that we’re still working with them. They love Xbox 360, they love Xbox Live, so it’s really not about publishing on other platforms. There are trade-offs on the creative and development side when you go multi-platform.” The exec was unwilling, however, to address when that system [Xbox Live Arcade – downloadable games] would scale up to offering larger, retail-sized games. “That’s a really complicated issue,” he admitted. “It’s a little more complicated to download full content. We are developing resources to manage storage, bandwidth, and all that, so it is inevitable, but I’m not sure of when that will be.” On dealing with third parties in general, Kim said simply, “Microsoft people are just nice people. There are some important constituencies out there. When we began, we were the new kids on the block, and we needed to work hard to earn trust. We’re fortunate in that some of our competitors don’t recognize the importance of relationships. Our communication becomes a huge advantage during launch and marketing with retailers.” </I><BR><BR> Full Story: gamasutra.com


Microsoft Explains XBLA ‘Delisting’
Xbox Scene :: Saturday, May 24, 2008
From gamerscoreblog.com (Microsoft PR Blog): <BR><I> You may have seen the Next-Gen.biz article with Marc Whitten, and it may have left you confused. Don’t panic – we’ve seen your questions, and we have some answers for you. We’ve upped the XBLA size limit from 150mb to 350mb. We’ve stated that underperforming games on XBLA may be delisted. To be delisted, a game has to meet all three of the following criteria: * Been on the service for at least 6 months * Have less than a 65 Metacritic rating * Have a conversion rate of less than 6% Now, let’s get into your delisting questions: * Q: What’s “conversion rate”? * A: When people download a trial XBLA game, and then purchase that game, that’s called a conversion. So if less than 6% of all trials downloaded lead to full game purchases – that’s one of the 3 criteria we look at when deciding to delist a game. * Q: Why are you delisting games? * A: We have a LOT of XBLA titles onto the service. By filtering out the lower performing games, it will actually make it easier to find the games you really want. * Q: If I bought a game, and deleted it, can I redownload it even if it’s been delisted? * A: Yes, you can. Go to Download History under the Account Management section of marketplace (far left blade). * Q: Can I still play a game after it’s been delisted? What about playing online? What about leaderboards? * A: Yes, yes, and yes. The game will function normally even after being delisted. You can continue to play the game single and multiplayer, as well as use the leaderboards as you normally would. Hopefully this helps clear up some of the confusion. </I><BR><BR>

Community Games on Xbox Live beta now live
Xbox Scene :: Saturday, May 24, 2008
From the XNA Team Blog : <BR><I> Today, we delivered on the promise we made at GDC to democratize game development with the launch of the newly designed XNA Creators Club Online Web site and the highly anticipated beta of Community Games on Xbox LIVE . When we announced this new service at GDC 2008, it was met with great excitement around the world. Now we’re pleased to offer you an opportunity to interact with this new site and test out the distribution pipeline to Xbox LIVE! If you’re a already a premium member , you will be able to join us in the Community Games on Xbox LIVE Beta immediately, where you can submit your games and review others games, and enjoy playing them on Xbox LIVE! If you are not a member, sign up today and get involved in making game development history. We’re extremely excited about what we have to offer – this effort represents, quite literally, several developer-years of work, and we’re proud to show it off! Here are a few cool things we encourage you to check out: 1) The Quick Start Guide will take you on a tour of all the features of the new site plus a guided tour of how the community games distribution pipeline works. 2) The new Education Content Catalog lets you find content quickly by type or development area 3) The new Role Playing Game Starter Kit – sure to stimulate your need for creating your own “old school” RPG-style game 4) The new Community Spotlight area, featuring interviews and articles from amazing community contributors (and sometimes a “celebrity interview”) We encourage you, no matter what your game development expertise, to visit the new XNA Creators Club Online Web site, at , to see the new changes for yourself! For premium members , we strongly encourage you to submit and review games of all types during the Beta. Our goal is to give the community the ability to fully test the functionality of these new features so that we can give you the best experience possible at the time of our final release. P.S. – Don’t forget to read the welcome note from our Community Team leader, Dave Mitchell! </I><BR><BR>

Microsoft Still Working on Live Anywhere
Xbox Scene :: Saturday, May 24, 2008
From kotaku.com : <BR><I> During his talk at the Electronic Gaming Summit today, Microsoft’s Jeff Bell briefly, very briefly, touched on the long-lost, quickly becoming mythical Live Anywhere pipedream that Microsoft first mentioned at E3 in 2006. Bell said not to give up hope. “Live anywhere is not abandoned, it’s just not easy to do.” </I><BR><BR> Full Story: kotaku.com

MS: Delist old XBLA Titles, No Spring Update, Fixing DRM Issues
Xbox Scene :: Saturday, May 24, 2008
From next-gen.biz : <BR><I> In this exclusive interview with general manager of Xbox Live Marc Whitten, Next-Gen gets all the first details on big changes to the service–including that there will be no spring dashboard update, and that underperforming XBLA titles will be removed. According to Whitten, XBLA titles that have been out for more than six months, have a Metacritic score of less than 65%, and have a conversion rate of less than 6% will be eligible for desliting. Microsoft will give three months of notice before these titles are removed. Whitten also told us that there would be no spring dashboard update for Xbox 360 owners this year, saying that resources were instead focused on “building the proper infrastructure and scale for the service.” There will however be a change to DRM policy and a tool released next month that will allow 360 owners to re-license content to a single console–finally fixing the issue that forced gamers playing XBLA games to be connected to Xbox LIVE if their 360 broke down and was replaced. </I><BR><BR> Full Story: next-gen.biz (3 pages)

Saling The World: Wii Fit Sells Out in U.S.; Age of Conan Makes Strong PC Debut
Gamasutra Columns :: Saturday, May 24, 2008
Gamasutra’s latest “Saling The World” charts see Wii Fit exhaust its initial shipment completely in its first week of U.S. release, while Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures tops worldwide PC sales.

It Looks Like Microsoft?s ‘Lips’ are Still Sealed
Xbox Scene :: Tuesday, May 20, 2008
From 8bitjoystick.com (): <BR><I> Microsoft’s Gamerday 2008 event is wrapping up and it looks like they are not going to show off either the “Newton” or “Lips” accessories at this event. They are still coming. They are real hardware projects that the engineering team at Xbox is working on. I don’t know when they are going to officially announce them. It looks like they are going to save all new hardware announcements for their media event before this years E3 media expo. </I><BR><BR> Full Story: 8bitjoystick.com ()