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October 2005

September 2005

Best Buy Tests Preowned Game Sales

Used game salesEBGames isn't the only store experimenting with a new sales policyBest Buy is currently testing a program in which used games are offered for sale.  Customers can bring in their games and swap them for Best Buy store credit.  Currently four stores in Illinois and California are trying this out and the game industry is none too happy about it, raising the old "first sale" issue yet again.

Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games, creators of the "Unreal" franchise as well as the upcoming Xbox 360 game "Gears of War," has vociferously argued against retail sales of used games in the past. The expansion of a major retailer into the field, he said, is disheartening.  "We pay to be in Best Buy's flyers," he said. "We pay market development funds. Publishers drive gaming traffic to these stores. To have them resell the games, with developers having no participation, that's just wrong. That's just fleecing us."

Here's my take on used games: I rarely buy them.  I'm a collector of sorts in that I never give up any of my old games.  I keep the packaging, I keep the manuals, and I keep the promotional materials that come inside the box.  If I buy a used game I expect to get at least the box and manual along with the game.  I know that sort of thing is rare which is why I don't buy many used games.

Continue reading "Best Buy Tests Preowned Game Sales" »

Dixie Kong Tempts DKC Veterans With New Levels

Dixie and Kiddy KongI don't typically buy into remakes of classic Super NES games on the Game Boy Advance.  I figure that if I want to play the old game, I'll fire up the old console and play all I want without spending another $30.  However, the best way for a company to entice me into buying a game again for a new console is to add new levels to the old challenge.  I passed on the first few Super Mario Advance titles, but the Game Boy Advance version of Yoshi's Island snagged my attention (and my money) with its six new levels.  Now the company is about to do it again with the remake of Donkey Kong Country 3.

A ninth world, Pacifica, has been added to the original eight worlds. It includes six all-new levels—set from the deepest drain pipes to the tallest treetops—and adds two to three hours of brand-new game play.

There are days when I feel I should just sign over a portion of my paycheck to Nintendo and cut out the middleman.  All the company has to do is add a few new levels to an old favorite and I'll hand over my money all over again.  I'm the kind of person who devours platformer games until I know I've seen every last secret that the game has to show me.  Knowing that there are unexplored areas of a stellar game like Donkey Kong Country 3 is just unacceptable.

Renter Beware

GreedichuEBGames is testing a new program in which customers can rent new games for $10 per month.  Well, technically, it's a program in which customers can buy a new game for full price and then bring it back within thirty days and receive the price of the game in store credit minus ten dollars.  At face value it doesn't seem like such a bad idea, but I can't help think that there's some hidden catch that makes the whole deal bad for customers.  Granted that years spent dealing with game stores have turned me cynical, but my red flag still goes up when I read of offers like this one.

What does EBGames get out of the deal? Weak willed gamers like myself who are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest will be even more likely to buy more games knowing they are guaranteed an excellent trade-in value, regardless of how good/bad/popular a given game ends up becoming. EBGames turns around and gets more used games to put on the shelf and to eek out even more profit.

I gave up renting games a while back because I felt that after my week with the game was up I was right back where I started before I rented the game, but $8 lighter.  I feel like I get more for my money if I just spend the $50 and buy the game. There's no time limit to how long I can play the game, no worries that the disc will be scratched or damaged, and I get a nice intact manual to read.  I never trade my games back to the store and I can go back to my old favorites all the time.  Customers that cannot afford ongoing game purchases may love this program, but I think I'll just keep buying the games I want and skip rentals altogether.

(via FFWD)

How Soon Is Too Soon For The Walk Of Game?

Walk Of GameWay out in San Francisco, CA there's a little place called the Metreon that houses the relatively new Walk Of Game, video gaming's answer to the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.  Last year the Walk inducted the first developers and game characters, honoring such people as Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario, Sonic, Master Chief, and Link.  Now the nominations for the 2006 honors have been revealed and I have to wonder just how many of these nominated characters truly deserve the honor.

Game and character nominations include Castlevania, Civilization, Donkey Kong, Doom, EverQuest, Final Fantasy, Fox McCloud (Star Fox), Frogger, Grand Theft Auto, Half-Life, Lara Croft (Tomb Raider), Madden NFL, Mortal Kombat, Myst, Pac-Man, Pitfall Harry (Pitfall), Pong, Quake, Resident Evil, Samus Aran (Metroid), Space Invaders, StarCraft, Street Fighter II, Tetris, and The Sims.

I feel that it is important for the Walk to maintain some level of integrity and not honor games and characters that are merely flashes in the pan or have just not been around long enough to prove timeless.  Mario and Sonic have been with us for what seems like forever, plus they've appeared in more games than their peers.  I question Master Chief's place on the Walk just because he's too new of a character.  I don't care how many copies of Halo and Halo 2 that he's sold.  Will people still care about him in five years?  Ten?

Continue reading "How Soon Is Too Soon For The Walk Of Game?" »

G4 Buys Man Show Reruns For Some Reason

The Man ShowYou know G4, right?  The first television network dedicated to video games?  G4 seems to be heading down an aimless path away from video games and into general stereotypical mens' entertainment.  Recall, if you will, that the video game channel bought the rerun rights to the canceled FOX series about fast cars and beautiful people, Fastlane.  What does Fastlane have to do with video games?  Apparently as much as The Man Show, as the Comedy Central reruns are the network's newest acquisition.

The problem with all the original series tied to vidgames on G4 is that average viewership doesn't reach even 50,000 homes in primetime. But the preponderance of young males in the audience means G4 will increase its advertising revenues by 18% in 2006 to $85.1 million, according to projections from Kagan Research.

G4 is trying so hard to become the next Spike TV, a misguided goal if there ever was one because Spike TV isn't all that great either.  What's the point in having a channel dedicated to one topic if the programmers won't stay fixed on that topic?  Why not just run softcore porn on G4 since stereotypical men love porn, too?  Or maybe a show where naked women drive fast cars in an exciting and titillating manner?

I have never respected G4's programming and this latest addition to the network puts me another step away from wanting to watch.  If G4 is going to go in another direction than so be it, but they should change the network's mission statement away from 100% video games and jump into this new mixed programming goal with both feet.  Both naked feet, of course, with those feet planted firmly on the accelerator.

@$#%! Sony Filters Offensive Language

Speak no evil Sony has stepped up the plate to protect all the little children with sensitive ears out there from encountering naughty words while exchanging messages online.  Users of PlayStation Online are now protected by the forbidden words in chats and instant messages thanks to a vulgarity filter.  GamePolitics has the press release.

Players who subscribe to PlayStation Online must enroll and log-in when playing. These players then have a forum to chat and instant message one another. At these critical stages of open communication, offensive language and slang could be used. To prevent this Sony runs Teragram's vulgarity software on each of its thousands of servers around the world. Teragram's technology can monitor and filter out offensive content in microseconds, enforcing a clean yet extremely fast user experience.

As much as I hate censorship, filtering software such as this does have a place in the world just as long as those of us who can handle some profanity can disable the filter.  On the other hand, why do I believe that if I leave the filter turned on, all I'll hear from the other players is blessed silence?  Maybe this isn't such a bad thing after all...

Miyamoto Unlocks Secret Nintendogs Breed

Shigeru Miyamoto meets his fans in New YorkVideo games have come so far in the past twenty years.  Back in the old days players sought cheat codes that unlocked extra lives, invincibility, level selects, or maybe mighty power-up.  Today's gamers want to unlock new dogs.  What an age in which we live.  While visiting the Nintendo World Store last weekend Shigeru Miyamoto gave the gift of the Jack Russell terrier to his fans, unlocking the secret breed in Nintendogs for the Nintendo DS and allowing the new dog to trickle down to the masses via the DS's wireless abilities.

Miyamoto signed T-shirts, current and classic video games and consoles ranging from the original Nintendo Entertainment System® to Nintendo GameCube™. While only the first 200 people were guaranteed a meeting with Miyamoto, hundreds of others received a special gift from him as he unlocked the secret Jack Russell terrier breed in Nintendogs and shared his trainer information. The special feature moved from person to person through the line via the wireless abilities of the Nintendo DS™.

Anyone who wasn't within range of Miyamoto's DS last weekend will be able to pick up the new breed at the Nintendogs website sometime soon.  As for me, I'm still waiting for someone to unlock the rarest breed of all: the Yoshi.  I simply cannot believe that Nintendo would not include a secret Yoshi in Nintendogs.  Players could raise Yoshis, teach them tricks, and then have them eat the canine competition at the puppy park.  I know I'd sign on for that.

Manly Men Love Super Princess Peach

Super Princess PeachMario's longtime would-be girlfriend, Princess Peach, is finally getting her own starring role in a video game.  The upcoming Super Princess Peach for the Nintendo DS features the princess in her own 2D adventure in which she embarks on a quest to rescue the imprisoned Mario and Luigi.  Peach's gimmick involves emotions; her abilities are tied to her current mood.  To simplify that, her powers are based on crying and anger.  That seems a little, well, stereotypically sexist to me.  Let's turn to the gang over at the rllmukforum for a little perspective:

Am I the only one who thinks this looks incredibly (and fantastically - it's so totally brazen it's amazing) sexist? I mean Princess Peach finally gets a game and her two powers are being in a mood and crying? It's like the designers just thought "What do women do?" and made a game out of it!

The available screenshots and video footage reveal a bright, happy, colorful 2D adventure featuring traditional Mushroom Kingdom objects and enemies mixed in with a few new things, such as Peach's parasol that functions as a weapon and transportation.  Fans of Super Mario games would most likely jump for a new adventure, but how can a man hope to walk into a game store and purchase a copy of Super Princess Peach without losing all manly respect?  I suggest purchasing at least three copies of Grand Theft Auto during the same transaction.  That should balance things out.

A Brief Introduction To Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection

Nintendo Wi-Fi ConnectionAs part of my final undergraduate semester at the university, I'm working on a research paper about Nintendo's upcoming Wi-Fi network.  Today marked the initial presentation on the topic in which I introduced my classmates to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and outlined my research plans for the remainder of the semester.

In an obvious combination of synergy and syndication I've decided to reprint the presentation slides here on Press The Buttons in Adobe Acrobat format.  You don't get to hear my accompanying speech on the topic, but the slides outline the basic ideas.  I plan to share more project material as the time goes on, including the final paper due in December.  Take a look at this morning's presentation and feel free to suggest informational resources that may come in handy as I continue my research on the network. 

Mario Kart Arcade Comes To America In "Limited Quantities"

Mario Kart Arcade Grand PrixThe elusive Mario Kart Arcade GP is finally coming to North America, albeit in what Nintendo and Namco are calling "limited quantities".  In other words, nobody will be able to find one of these machines without going on a three hundred mile road trip.  Hmm... having to drive long distances in order to play a video game about driving long distances... there's a message in there somewhere.

Word about this acclaimed title has been on the streets for over 8 months.  Namco is happy to announce that MARIO KART® ARCADE GP™ will be shipping in October.  Due to limited production, this soon to be chart-topping game is available in limited quantities so act fast.

This kind of announcement feels like such a tease.  "Well, here it is.  You can't play it.  Have fun!".  Some of us are still working over the grief of being unable to find F-Zero AX in a local arcade.