No Love for WOW


This just in: employers are now factoring in the effects of sleep deprivation and 'reprioritization' of work due to World of Warcraft. In fact, they're implementing extreme measures by black listing ALL WOW players.

Since they unwittingly opened the floodgates, they’d have to consider other sources of sleep deprivation, such as but not limited to social parties, clubbing, drinking, TV, surfing through the internet pipelines -- for which most, if not ALL potential applicants would be guilty of.

news source: gamesindustry.biz

Review: Fallout 3


It’s been nearly a decade since I last traversed through the wastelands of the immersive post apocalyptic world of Fallout. However, I couldn’t stand the depressed theme and overly black humor. Perhaps I was too engrossed with the much kinder and fantastical world of Baldur’s Gate which was also released in the same year.


So there I was, faced with two RPG behemoths, I chose Baldur’s Gate (it was and still is a staple title on my list). And if I was again faced with the excruciating choice between Fallout or Baldur’s Gate, I’d still choose the latter.

But this isn’t about the strength of one franchise against the other. It’s about the sudden rebirth of interest for the global nuclear war milieu -- this random curiosity maybe attributed to my, ehem, more psychological and emotional developed state.


Seriously, the appeal of the title and its core game principles surely attract north of the male demographic. A decade ago, the whole nuclear milieu just sounded dull and ridden with ennui, but now that I’m more assimilated to world events, the undying prospect of a global nuclear showdown, and the ever-existent civil unrest – as an individual, I’m more appreciative and intrigued of the ‘what if’.

The journey through the wastelands rendered so gloriously on next-gen platforms is a direct simulation of the ‘what if’ and answers so willingly the more captivating inquest of ‘what happens next’.


The constant questions may linger and yet navigating through the Washington DC ruins answer most of the questions. Moral choices abound in the countless conversations with post nuclear survivors and inhabitants. It’s combat system (V.A.T.S) through the utilization of a
paused-based combat approach, governed by the available action points, and coupled with the visceral and morbid outcome of direct hits give gamers a realistic and satisfying combat experience.

Bethesda’s ownership of the franchise bore cringes and a myriad of recognitional nodding. The abhorring experience I had with Elder Scrolls: Morrowind were existent in some pockets of gameplay, however, the title was carried through till the end by the franchise’s rich history and well-conceived world.


The ultimate irony after completing Fallout 3? It’s a gratifying fiction but one I wish not to cross beyond its 'fictional limits'. And that’s the epiphany, wonderful and satisfying as it is, for a devastating nuclear war to occur, humanity’s optimism for a better tomorrow and its aspirations for a higher echelon of morality and sustainable peace would be recklessly lost.

Review: Fable 2


A disappointing 20-hour medieval tour of fantasy imagery, Fable 2 comes to an abrupt halt. An RPG at less than 20-hours, preposterous you say? Indeed, an outright blasphemy to the conventional 30 or more hours of quests and slaying in a fictional world.

Fable 2’s length is baffling and inconsistent to the tried and tested gaming hours games in this genre have. By and large, a Western RPG has been known and expected to render at least 27 to 30 hours of gaming.


Granted, after the main story arc reaches to an unsatisfactory conclusion, you can continue and bask at your achievements and properties you’ve acquired throughout Albion. However, the social gimmickery of having your own family, multiple wives, properties you’ll have rented and redesigned – are all a bit… dare I say, superficial?


Lionhead Studios should’ve developed the plot further, pushed the envelope, flirted with political intrigue and conspiracy -- twisted the arc a bit. Regrettably, the storyline leans to outright mediocrity – tales of retribution have been squeezed for all its worth.

Perhaps the studio could've borrowed ideas on plot pacing and writing from master RPG storytellers, Bioware (Baldur’s Gate and Mass Effect). From there, Lionhead could have possibly woven a story of Albion political malice and an epic battle between multiple inhabitants within the world they’ve so geniusly crafted.

But alas, gamers are presented with a predictable story arc and a disgusting final bout -- seriously can't stress enough this glaring disappointment.



Combat and character development are fulfilling and satisfactory. Spell attacks (in Fable they call it ‘Will’) is a sight to behold, especially when you’ve maxed em' out – they can get 'really' powerful, dealing massive damage to your opponents.


Won’t go through the graphics and audio, for both score fairly well. The major gripe for any plot driven gamer, and most console RPG gamers for that matter, would be Fable 2’s perplexing approach to its plot.

Clearly, Fable 2 is a solid title and will sell by the millions just like its predecessor. But by overlooking the most integral aspect of any RPG -- a heavy plot with the obligatory twists and turns expected from an epic journey -- Lionhead missed a clear shot yet again for its crown jewel to reach classic status.

To Sarah Palin:


Oh Sarah Palin, your stranglehold over mainstream media bemuses me. Media devours every image and interview of you as if the elections were still ongoing. But it’s over, campaigns have wrapped up, a winner has been chosen among countless low balling, libel-magnet accusations in the longest running US political campaign in history.

What keeps images of you glued to the screen and internet pipelines? Has it been your inability to eloquently channel your thoughts to media that has made you a hyped-up baby doll therefore attracting media attention the likes of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan (even greater)? Perhaps it’s the silent desire of the press to see a Palin mishap and portray you more of a national embarrassment than you already are?

You stubbornly stick to your campaign lines as if you were still campaigning in one of your declared Pro-American states. Perhaps you’re not to be blamed for this preposterous sensationalism that has gripped the US. Maybe the media's to blame? It has been feeding you this insane volume of attention for the past few months, but how can anyone ignore your obvious and explicit thirst for coverage?



Is it your political maneuvering for 2012 that has you obsessed and indirectly (or directly) defined a new meaning to narcissism and self-absorbed commentaries? You are a walking contradiction, pledging your support for the President-Elect in the morning, and addressing statements to the media in the afternoon that are irrefutably an anti-thesis to the concept of ‘support’ and ‘pro-active stance on mending partisan politics’.

Sarah, can I call you Sarah? Your ambitions are too high, let it go for now. Get back into the limelight once you’ve fixed your most glaring shortcomings. Indeed, you are a master in the showbiz aspect of politics. However, basic knowledge in myriad political hot button issues should also be familiarized and mastered.

Ultimately, it’ll go down to 2012, either you’re running for a seat in the US Senate or the highest office in the land, the political landscape is, without a doubt, you’re personal playground.

Comeback Kid

image source: teamxbox.com

Pure ecstatic 360 gaming has been consistently tingling my gaming cortex for the past few days. For a mere two grand of my motherland’s battered currency, my senses have been orgasmically treated with high levels of audio-visual stimulation. And to top it off, my girlfriend chose to play along this trance-like gaming state. Gears of War 2 has become the root of unforgettable bonding moments.

What amazes me though is the rage that explodes from my partner when Locusts storm her with virtual ammo. She stomps away from the screen, declares to the world she had enough, and yet after a few agonizing seconds, she timidly returns to her seat, picks up the controller and again wages a desperate war against the endless hordes of mankind’s threat to its existence (well, as far as the game’s premises go).

image source: teamxbox.com

Gears 2 is a joy to play, especially in co-op -- as attested by a 3-day action-packed gaming session. The 360’s been reborn, and have brought great joy and entertainment in the confines of our humble place. Welcome back home my 360, we’ve been apart for far too long. May your stay be pleasant and your functional life be extended and pray that the red lights of death not lay upon you (till a new version of 360 comes out).

President Obama


After a draining 2 year campaign for the White House, at long last, Barack Obama’s been declared President-Elect – making him the 44th US President and the first African American commander in chief. He not only brings in a whole new ball game in American politics but also a symbolic rise of an individual of social minority descent.

His win would set a precedent for social reform and a slew of foreign policy shifts. The Bush doctrine is over. I strongly hope that the change Obama promised and preached throughout his campaign does happen. Great leaders rise from crisis and desperate times, let Obama be that symbolic and inspiring leader that millions of Americans and the world aspire him to be.


A better future for all? We’ll see. The Obama administration will officially begin next year on the 20th of January, from there, how his administration will handle the worsening global economy and strategic foreign relation disasters the Bush administration carried out would be left to American and international scrutiny.


It’s an exciting time to witness history. To live and actively observe this momentous event in mankind's social evolution's indeed an emotional and gratifying experience.

A Fancy Purchase


Finally, I say it again, finally, got a Samsung T220. Thanks in large to my sweet and generous partner. In all its 22-inch glory, the contrast ratio has immensely improved – compared to my Dell 22-incher the colors are more vibrant, sharper, and crisper. Although a few bumps on the road, had to return it due to massive red artifacts filling up the screen which was a straight throwback to my Xbox 360 nightmare.

Guys from the store were kind enough (warranty breeds kindness from store folks) to replace the monitor with a shinier and fresh monitor. It was a painless and effortless transaction, kudos to you guys from Silicon Valley (yes, we do have a store named after the SanFo tech zone, we Asians are right brain geniuses).

The screen is just visually stunning to see in action, Samsung really is one of the best, if not the best LCD monitor manufacturer in the market. Too bad they’re caught up in a dwindling South Korean economy.

Now, if only my 360 gets repaired soon (hopefully this week). I’ll demonstrate a short vid of this baby in action, post-haste.

Demo Democracy


Following the US elections has been a roller coaster ride through the ups and downs of the greatest democracy in the world. Sad to see election issues in the battleground state of Florida, they seem to have run out of ballots for eager voters. They unwittingly unable to predict such a high turnout of voters. Instead of finding solutions to the issue, they had no choice but to reject these voters, well, uuhh, from voting – so much for the ‘greatest democracy’ label.

Absurd! This issue shouldn’t have been an issue. The number of ballots or whatever you call the paper/material used for voting should be in the same volume as registered eligible voters in every town/state. To assume that the registered voters won’t vote and turn them away in the end is to undermine Western democracy as we know it.


As a model of democracy for which democratic nations look up to, the US ain’t much of a model.

Stability for Insanity


It baffles me on how ineffably greedy these Middle Eastern Oilmen are. Sure, the world’s financial system’s crumbling, reductions in workforce, and little Jennifer can’t get a damn safe milk from China. Yes, the world as we know it is on the verge of a financial collapse. And people said The End would be triggered by WMDs.

Greed has become the sole cause of this financial crisis, and it seems the overabundance of it is apparent all too well with the grandfather of oil manipulating bastards, OPEC.

They impulsively decided to lower current production volumes on oil that their much hated and yet needed organization churns out. One morning they suddenly realized that world demand has decreased and prices of their precious produce have simultaneously slid. The only way to curtail such a downward spiral of price, according to their chief, is to abruptly reduce production.


OPEC has publicly declared their desired stable price range for their money making black gold, at a ‘steady’ $70 to $90 barrel -- fair enough (well, not really).

However, the unstable price range of $145 per barrel was never perceived by OPEC as a price concern. Guess on their end, it was still pretty ‘stable’.

As such, as defined by our oil producing brothers, ‘stable’ oil prices means $70 and above while ‘unstable’ prices lands at $69 and below. Genius.

Apple Notebooks Refreshed!

So the next phase of Apple’s notebook has begun with the introduction of the significantly redesigned Macbook Pro and Macbook Aluminum with updates for both their 17” Macbook Pro line and Macbook Air -- the former having a stock 4G RAM and the latter having a 50% increase in HD capacity and a dedicated graphics card.

The new Macbook has an exceptional design but the MBP seems a bit forced. It would’ve been great if they redesigned the Air with the black bezel – I know, I know, Apple notebooks have an obligatory design lifespan of bout 24 months, but please, for the sake of aesthetic consistency!

When the new MBP, Macbook and Air are lined up in a row, the difference of '"The Thin One" is all too glaring for any aesthetic whore in the market.

Granted, the Air remains incredibly stunning. As a writer, I don’t see myself lunging around a 4.5 pound Macbook. I don’t need the extra weight, the extra ports and the optical drive.

The Air’s for me, as I am for the Air.


It gives me a lengthy period to save for January 2010 when the expected refresh comes along. Perhaps, it’d be lighter? Surely more powerful and possibly equipped with OSX 10.7 – who knows?

For now, the HP Mini would have to do. VISTA’s so far been stable from my vantage point and all the irate feedback have so far been baseless (benchmarked that is to my experience).

And I find it quite amusing how comfy the HP Mini is when lined up with the new Apple notebooks.
It's rather at home with the new design path Apple's implementing.

The Republican Base



Currently have no plans on significantly updating the blog, however, I just couldn’t resist the overwhelming temptation to post this. Being way north of liberal in my political and social views, I have associated myself to the principles of the Blue Party – democrats.

The rhetoric may be strong from both parties but its crystal to which character assassination is done religiously and the source of such rhetoric.

If this is the Republican voter base the McCain-Palin tandem is oh so proud of, then I have nothing but sympathy for democrats and other sane and thinking individuals in the US.

Obama/Biden ‘08

Tech Feature: Samsung T220


OH Yes, once I get the mullah, this 22inch baby's mine. The new Samsung T220 with its reddish outline sparks the aesthetic whore within me. Retailing for about P14,500 or $316 this is one affordable luxury item.

Can't wait to connect to my yet to be repaired 360 and start rocking with EA's Rock Band. My girlfriend sure digs the thought.

CNN Poll: Obama Wins Debate!


A recent poll conducted by the trusty old name in news concluded that majority of viewers strongly believe that Obama won the first bout against his aging rival. Apparently, CNN quickly interjects a disclaimer:


The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey is not a measurement of the views of all Americans, since only people who watched the debate were questioned and the audience included more Democrats than Republicans.

Yes, thanks CNN for conducting a useless Poll. It reminds me of a professor in Harvard who did a brilliant study on the percentage of vegetarian women ages 20 to 24 who'll choose to eat meat over veg. Amazingly out of a hundred veg women surveyed, all chose to eat, you guessed it, veg. -- by all accounts a self-fabricated story to drive my point.

You can read the entire CNN piece right here.

Hot Gaming News


Knowledge is power... empower yourselves kids.

Sonic Chronicles Reviewed!
Yes it's news. Sonic games have been saturated with damning criticisms. To see a Sonic game rated with such a high score, reminds of me of those Genesis-days. Bioware has done it. Read here

Activision Boss: "Pay Up!"
Acti CEO defends the role Guitar Hero plays within the industry. Read here

Kojima on Metal Gear Solid 5
This guy just won't let his baby be cannibalized by anybody. Read here

Lionhead and Rare Safe
After Microsoft's studio closing frenzy, they reassure the future of current first party developers. Read here

Tech Feature: New DELL LCD


Been a fan of Dell's LCD screens since I bought their 22" incher a year back. They're at it a again by releasing this beautiful 23" monitor at 1080p. Although I still prefer the previous trendy stand.

Source

Gaming Clip of the Week: Too Human



After all the rage and debate over Too Human's potential to be Microsoft's next big thing... the tallies are in -- it failed to spark interest from gamers and critiques alike. Dennis Dyack can argue all he wants, the market has spoken.

A failed dream on Silicon Knight's end, a failed franchise on Microsoft's.


To honor the game killed by disastrous PR management, posted a gameplay vid of the game that could've been
.

Please Humor Me, It's a Monday (errr, Tuesday)

Not really the LOL type of sketch but witty and humorous nonetheless. Its the US elections, get familiar with it. The outcome would affect you in some cosmic way. A tortured vet or a black skinny dude, either of the two would drastically change the course of history and how global politics play out.

Been following the US elections since the DNC (Democratic National Convention) started. All the rhetorics seemed toned down compared to the mafia approach our local officials so confidently exude to signify power, status, and control. Totally. Not cool.

Seems Palin has stolen the spotlight from the other three candidates. People just can't get enough of the Alaskan conservative, her family, life story, religion, principles and values have drowned the online publications and news networks. (especially you, you republican cock sucking Fox News team)

She's been cannon fodder for toilet humor and no holds barred criticism by the left and center. One thing the dems can't downplay: Palin's incontestable impact on the election. It's a total media circus. And it's just getting started.

The Irony of It All


Anino Entertainment offices in Alabang Philippines was recently raided by authorities due to reports by Autodesk that they housed pirated copies of software in their workstations.

What should anyone make of this? It’s no secret that countless small and medium size enterprises utilize backup copies of software to drive down company expenses. Great for companies who are struggling to churn out profit from its operations. But is this right?

Legally, the answer is crystal. And from a business ethical standpoint (for what’s its worth), the answer echoes through. Any company who ventures into a business that requires tools or software to directly or indirectly deliver their finished products must abide by the laws that govern their industry.

Ironically, Anino Entertainment is a software company. When they released Anito (the first ever video game by a Philippine company) a few years ago, they were battling a similar issue – Piracy.

Surely if Anino Entertainment found out a certain company distributing pirated Anito copies for recreational activities for their respective employees, would'nt they have a similar if not greater reaction to what Autodesk did?

Releasing a product with much hype and media coverage, making a name in the Philippine gaming industry and not abiding by the basic fundamental laws governing and protecting businesses like theirs was ineffably fatuous.

A case of intellectual property insensitivity and improper business practices drove Anino Entertainment to this predicament. To say that they merited a ‘warning’ from the offended parties, would be an act of impassiveness and outright rejection of ideals that make the software development industry work.

Hot Gaming News


It’s been weeks since 3rdWorldJargon's last update on the latest in the industry that gamers so passionately love. To satiate that urge to be informed, collated the hottest and headline breaking news this week.

Dead Space Banned in 3 Countries
EA’s new IP has been the cannon fodder of market banishment for violent-phobia countries coming from the west. Read here

FarCry 2 Release
Ubisoft’s acquired IP from Crytek finally gets a firm release date next month. Read here

GTA4 at 10M
As predicted, GTA4 has reached the 10M milestone and joins the elite club of titles such as Halo, Gran Turismo, and other previous GTA releases. Read here

Tecmo Goes Cold Feet
SquareE’s bid for Tecmo fizzles. Read here

Gaming Clip of the Week: FarCry 2

Ubisoft’s LP Pharand gives a tour on their sequel to their joint venture with Crytek back in ’04. The vid showcases great visuals for both platforms, hardly any difference in performance and graphics.

The sequel is set to trump its predecessor -- a lofty goal, considering the critical and commercial success of the first iteration. However, Ubisoft's one of those rare publishers that recognize the importance of quality and growth of IP’s.

FarCry 2 is scheduled for an October 21 release date. Check out the video and feel the hype.

Please Humor Me, It's a Monday

This vid’s just hilarious, viewed it thrice and still laughed out loud. It’s a Monday night, you need it.

Gaming Clip of the Week: Tales of Vesperia

After a solid release in Japan, Tales of Vesperia recently propelled a system that’s been long considered dead in the Japanese market. To see the game in motion with the title’s signature battle system is quite astonishing. Anyone who has played a “Tales of” game can’t help but get excited to see this series gets its next-gen treatment.

Hot Gaming News


Barely any noteworthy occurrence through the week (specifically in a period right before the money magnet 4th quarter) but it’s quite pleasing to see headlines of NPD figures for July showing the industry growing substantially.

So here you go, the headliners for the week:

Viva Pinata DS
Yes, Rare’s piƱata sim will see the light of day on a Nintendo platform. Read here

Epic and EA Make Love

Epic signs up with EA to publish a new IP being developed by their Polish brethren. Read here

X360 crushes PS3 in Japan

The unthinkable became thinkable. Read here

Booming Industry

Exploding sales equates to geeky millionaires. Read here

Gaming Clip of the Week: LittleBigPlanet

Since Sony has happily been throwing in bullets for this title’s hype-machine gun, it’d only be proper for 3rdWorldJargon to feature such a title. The vid presents the game’s eye-orgasmic visuals, fluid character animation, and excellent soundtrack.

LittleBigPlanet's slated for a Q4 release, only on Sony’s PS3.

Hot Gaming News


Another week, another set of news that broke headlines, news that echoed through the web and game pubs that’ll empower you to strike conversations within your very own geeky, nerd stricken circles.

Diablo 3 Art Director Axed?

Controversy over the much criticized art direction for Blizzard’s demonic dungeon crawler led to an online petition to overhaul its approach to the game’s aesthetic feel. Read

Xbox 360 Rises in the Land of the Rising Sun
Impossible you say? Well, with the latest figures, 360 could be next comeback kid. Read

Xbox Euro Boss Interview
Chris Lewis discusses 360's ochallenges, strategies and opportunities within Europe and the rest of Asia and Middle East. Read

Fable II Dated
Molyneux and Lionhead studio’s baby, Fable II, slated for a late October release window. Read

Sony’s Next LittleBigKiller App
LittleBigPlanet has garnered praises and adulations rare for a game not even out in the market. Sony touts the impact of the title for its overall gaming business. Read

Valve, Microsoft Bound?



A potential good purchase -- The House that Half-Life Built is open to an outright acquisition.

Doug Lombardi, Valve’s outspoken and respected VP, recently had an interview with Gamasutra stating the developer’s openness to an acquisition.

Microsoft should consider the prospect of a purchase to complement their lacking and somewhat empty first party line up of development houses. Unlike Take2 wherein the bulk of their sales have always been a multi platform affair, Valve's portfolio shows a strong leaning to the PC, a platform which Microsoft largely owns through their venerable Windows OS platform.

They’ll have the rights to franchises and IPs that would benefit their overall first party offering for both PC and Xbox platforms. Exclusively timed releases would massively benefit the 360 brand and still cater to Valve's PC following -- releasing titles in a ‘timely fashion’ on two platforms essentially on two different competitive spaces.

Microsoft has to step up in strengthening their first party exclusives -- Sony’s leaning to that strategy, it’d be in Microsoft’s best interest that they strengthen theirs since their embarrassing loss of superstar development houses the likes of Bizarre, Bioware and Bungie last year.



Please Humor Me, It's a Monday

Another first for 3rdWorldJargon, every Monday, to brush off those gloomy ‘I wish it was Sunday’ whinings, clips of hilarious and ‘laugh out loud’ vids should help you get through the most dreaded day of the week.

The clip for this week hails from the land of the rising sun, Asias ‘numero uno’ tech innovator and Philippines’ revered neighbor, Japan.

For a nation so disciplined and horny, they churn out the funniest pranks in recent history. And here’s one of them, a social experiment of sort. Check this vid and hope it tickles your fancy.

Hot Gaming News


3rdWorldJargon's first foray into focused gaming news, instead of plagiarising and mirroring content of industry headliners, links should suffice. Give everyone a favor and keep yourself up to date...

“360 a better platform for contemporary games” – Carmack
The lifeblood of id Software’s business – John Carmack, argues his thoughts on developing for both the 360 and PS3. read

“We want more exclusives” – Don Mattrick
360 boss declares intent on fast forwarding creation of new IPs for first party releases. read

Quake Con 2008
Tech, women, and odor-ridden geeky men... read

Too Human Goes Gold
Dennis Dyack’s brainchild, slated to be released later this month. read


Gaming Clip of the Week: Fallout 3 Gameplay

For this week’s gaming clip, hands down one of the most anticipated RPGs this year, Fallout 3 - to be released Q4 for the PC, 360 and PS3.

The vid gives a high level walkthrough on controls, menu interfaces, and actual gameplay, besides the high pitched voice of Bethesda's executive producer Todd Howard, the vid's pure visual satisfaction.

Microsoft's Take on Take Two


Rumours are swirling through web pipelines that Microsoft’s in talks with Grand Theft Auto publisher Take Two Interactive for an outright takeover right smack in the middle of a takeover bid by third party giant, Electronic Arts (EA). Although this news may wet any fanboy’s bacon gartered underwear, it’s highly unlikely. As Microsoft’s top honcho Shane Kim mentioned in an interview last year regarding such an acquisition, “Take-Two is platform agnostic”.

If they’ll be buying T2 for $2.5B, it makes business sense since margins from large volumes of sales from different IPs would translate to a fast ROI for Microsoft. Wrong. Take note that Take 2 (yes , that was intentional), gets their ballooned sales from having a multi plat approach. Most of their titles are released on 3 platforms. If Microsoft purchases T2, the sales figures would massively decrease since T2 releases would be exclusive to a single platform.

This purchase just doesn’t make sense for Microsoft. What does make sense is an acquisition of Epic Games with its so far exclusive high octane franchise, Gears of War. Plus the caveat of owning the Unreal Engine which most current gen games utilizes.

EA may have T2, let Microsoft have Epic.


Sony: "360 irrelevant."

A brand spanking fresh interview of Sony’s Peter Dille from the oh-so-lately exclusive laden online gaming pub, MTV Multiplayer. Mr Dille mentioned the viability and advantage of developing for the PS3.

"... if you look at the global footprint, PlayStation 3 dominates in Japan where the 360 is really irrelevant. In Europe, the PlayStation 3 is already past the 360. And in the United States you have a dogfight. You've got PlayStation 3 and 360 going at it and we've swung the momentum our way outselling the 360 during the first half of the year," said Dille. "So back to the third-party community, they're looking at what's going on, they're realigning their development resources to exploit PS3 and I think they understand that if they want to have a global return on their investment, PlayStation 3 is the only place they're going to get it."

360 irrelevant in Japan? MS must've felt a pinch. The PS3, arguably, is catching up with 360’s hardware figures in the US since the better half of the year due to Live issues late last year, bad PR, and hardware unreliability issues plagued the system and adding insult to injury, mediocre and pockets of below average game releases. However, post-E3 that’s just not the case. Microsoft seems to be ready for a fight for consumer dollar this busy holiday season with big changes, big games, and big marketing.

Having a revamped dashboard, games for the core and casual, peripherals targeting the novices and veterans, the 360 has become a jack of all trades, covering as much consumer ground as it can. No, it doesn’t translate to an identity crisis but merely an evolved system marketed to the masses and an ambitious move on Microsoft’s end to massively expand its consumer base.

The harsh reality is, the core market’s saturated. That’s what Sony’s currently after, due to its price, and Sony knows this, the 360 has covered that ground. Microsoft’s challenge is to expand its demographic and consumer profile through an aggressive diversification of their product offerings. They’ve executed quite well on numerous fronts although one consistent thorn is the 360’s price. The temporary price cut just won’t do and a $349 SRP for a 360 with a 60GB seems overvalued in contrast to the features a $399 PS3 offers out of the box.

For Mr. Dille to claim PS3’s viability in significantly improving returns of respective third party investments, is short of saying “Develop for PS3, you win, develop for 360, you lose.” One can’t ignore the fact that the core consumers 360 has is a generous bunch –repeat purchasers translating to record attach rates for a console. Plus the fact that it’s still less costly to develop for compared to Sony’s system. Publishers and developers are aware of this, and if there was so much value as Mr. Dille claims then why did a long time third party exclusive developer go multi? (Yes, SquareEnix, you and you’re money making FF franchise)

It’s a tight race, for either side to proclaim victory is an outright reckless and irresponsible message to its investors, partners, and most of all gamers.


The Price to Pay


Metal Gear fans are in a rut these past few days. Unable to log in, access reward shops, and the most painful of all, online payments were ‘wrongly processed’ by Konami's servers.

Ludicrous as it is, Konami issued an official press release stating that there’s no permanent solution to the current conundrum their servers are experiencing.

Baffling as it may seem, and this writer ain’t a ‘high-level -triple-A techie’, could it be possible that they simply lack servers to accommodate multiple users? The question is, is Konami willing to shell out on more servers? As this online disaster develops, they’ll figure out a workaround for this issue, perhaps wait out the storm of users logging in and hope that a massive decrease of users occur?

This incident gives everyone a preview on how unreliable and unsustainable the online model Sony’s implementing. A centralized infrastructure (Xbox Live, rejoice) translates to a much more reliable and controlled model that finds workarounds for the sole reason that you're paying for it, and they’re obligated as a service profit oriented entity to fulfill that role.

PS3 owners would be subject to the whims of developers and publishers on what they view as a priority. Why on earth would publishers inject more money on servers when they can hardly recoup their investments for a single next-gen game? Unless there’s this unique and innovative model that could rake in millions of revenue, free online gaming, regrettably, isn’t one of their priorities.


Profit > Loyalty


E3 is done and everyone knows FF13 is on its way to Xbox 360. A complete surprise, though there have been signs in the past that SquareEnix was leaning to a multiplatform approach since its announcement of its much hyped Crystal Engine, designed to run on multiple platforms from the get-go. Rumors abound that titles from this Japanese giant were expected to be released for 360, but few could have predicted the recent twist of FF13's exclusivity.

It is, as they say, just business.


3rdworld Mini Review


Went through a voluntary MIA for the past month and a half for reasons known to any writer, the tool and medium for which this writer oh so often used was liquidated and squeezed for all its worth – yes the Macbook Air, sold to the highest bidder. In exchange, a new, smaller and a slightly lighter entity emerged from this writer’s desk of awesomeness (to remedy what is inherently boring, exaggerate).

A petite HP 2133 Mini Note was what brushed off the tears on a sour break up. Less than half the price of the Air. Its screen size dwarfed in comparison to the real estate provided by the Air. Everything the online tech gurus highlighted and emphasized whether it be the notebook’s pros or cons seems to be quite accurate.

Although the common rant regarding the performance of the VIA chip's a significant complaint amongst reviewers, the processor handles a writer’s task quite well and running VISTA with Aero on, with its fancy animations, is quite intuitive and hassle free for such a small and minimalist tech. Coming from Windows XP then OS X (from 10.3 to 10.5) then to Windows VISTA – transition has been seamless and experience, satisfying.

Overall, the HP Mini’s a winner, well, except for the charger, it’s a brick. It weighs down on your shoulder after walking a good 10mins or so. Ala X360’s power brick, the size ratio is similar – yes, gigantic.

The Mini Note's a certified road warrior, just get used to its colossal charger that adds nearly a pound to the whole package.



The Magic Number



Gears of War sold a considerable amount of copies a couple of years ago, for it’s sequel to reach the elite club of 10 million selling titles it would have to double its sales, at an even faster rate to be even considered a blockbuster by market watchers and eager gamers.

People won’t notice the milestone of a 10 million selling title if that figure is reached within a dragged out 6 month timeline. Predictions abound that Gears of War 2 would reach that milestone in a matter of 2 to 3 months. Staggering as it may seem, it is highly possible.

Considering the marketing Microsoft Game Studios would inject to this title and the media frenzy that’s expected to match and surpass Halo 3’s and GTA IV’s, Gears of War has the potential to reach that mark as the holiday season opens as it’s slated for a November 16 release date.

Mid November has been sort of a historic and monumental date for Microsoft since they launched the first Xbox a good 8 years ago. Most of their games and console releases occurred during this time period.

It’s at a sweet spot where consumers are getting ready for christmas shopping and gift giving. Based on the consumer uptake for Gears of War back in 2006, most of MS console owners snatched up the first Gears title and that would be no different to the second iteration of this coveted franchise. Xbox 360 consumer base has grown to over 19 million console owners and by November, a near 21 to 23 million Xbox 360 owners -- a solid consumer base that would surely purchase the sequel to one of the Xbox 360’s best franchises.

As November 16 draws near, there would be significant increase of press releases and game demos plus the inevitable media hype. MS and Epic are expecting to rake in hundred of millions of dollars with this title alone besides their other big bets: Fable 2 and Banjo Nuts and Bolts.


Milking a Brand


Activision is well on its way to becoming the top publisher in the industry with its impending merger with Blizzard. As profits soar, so does the demand for high growth. To achieve this growth their shareholders and management desire, current profitable titles and the opportunities attached with high profile franchises must be aggressively capitalized on, but at what price?

Activision has declared a couple of months back their planned yearly product cycle for Guitar Hero and Call of Duty franchises. Both titles significantly adding to share values and profitability of the business for the past couple of years.

Regrettably, minor and even major updates can only last so long. Innovation can get stagnant after years of innovation on gameplay design and as well as people's susceptibility in purchasing an annual copy of the game.

Check the NBA Live brand... (source: Metacritic)

So from 2003, it was known and critiqued as an above average game -- it sustained those scores for the next 2 years, sadly for the franchise, it's been publicly known as a consistent mediocre game since ‘06 till ‘08. And sales obviously went down from there.

Although this could be a case of it being just a ‘basketball game’ -- innovative freedom would be limited, however, possibilities to enhance gameplay and features are achievable although minor.

Releasing a game with the same Title then a different subtitle is a bit of an overkill and inherently redundant. Take for example, Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell franchise, in the end, they had to revamp its whole approach on game design - they saturated the brand during the last gen, numerous ‘updates’ on mostly a year or two intervals. The fifth iteration is a perfect example of studios realizing brand saturation -- a complete overhaul on game mechanics and design.

The value of the brand diminishes overtime. Call of Duty so far has done a great job reinventing itself, if COD4 came out with another WW2 setting? Predicted market reaction: Not another WW2 shooter...

Infinity Ward was pushed to innovate, they were developing the game (COD4) since late 2005. This proves, that they knew the overused and overdone WW2 FPS setting. And a game design overhaul was due.

Which gives reason to Infinity Wards’ demand for exclusive development rights from their umbrella company. They see the profit based approach their owners are implementing to the franchise. And directly and indirectly slowly diminishes the brand’s value and marketability.

Guitar Hero and COD are great franchises, and so far Activision has been able to deliver each version with bigger and better gameplay, but 3 to 5 years from now there's a high possibility that it'd reach its grand creative limit and the way consumers will view those franchises would be of familiarity and fatigue.


WiiMad

Oh yes the Wii, WiiFit’s upcoming release to the masses of casual gamers to which Nintendo has so successfully seduced -- all this casual and non-traditional trends in videogames as of late have been quite a harbinger of the how the publishers and developers might shift to a new set of consumers entirely brushing off the core market which practically and statistically speaking is the source of all those billions and billions of revenues.

Uhh, Not quite.


Nintendo has been smart enough to develop the casual market for the first two years and still partially support the hardcore audience, although a rarity in their consistency -- they’re betting on third party developers to fill in the gaps of those first party releases. Now that they’ve proven to be the number one in terms of volume of videogame systems sold, publishers would start to see the immense opportunity to capture these over 20 million Wii owners.

The Wii has acquired a ballooning consumer base in a matter of less than 2 years -- less than what Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and PS3 have achieved over their current shelf lifetimes.

And the filler of the gap for the core? MadWorld - being developed by Platinum, the same talents and creative geniuses of Resident Evil, Okami, and Viewtiful Joe. Slated for a release round Jan to March of 2009 and to be published by the legendary money loosing hardware turned software company, SEGA.

So far, based on the screenshots, it’s creative and fresh in terms of aesthetics and violence. Not only is the method of rendering images on screen using a black and white unique, the system for which SEGA is targeting to exclusively develop for is quite surprising. The Wii consumers have proven to be reluctant to be repeat buyers, content with WiiSports and whatever Nintendo bundled their system with...

SEGA is betting on a hungry core audience who purchased their Wiis to snatch up this game to satiate their desire for testosterone and blood thirsty gameplay. And inject no holds barred humor - you’ve got a title that can captivate the demographic that as gamers cry out, Nintendo betrayed.

SEGA hopes that that would be the case. Although there could be a possible risk that Wii’s consumers, as Microsoft predicts, would have ‘matured’ and moved on to either an Xbox 360 or PS3 - as defined by MS, a deeper and more compelling gaming experience.

As the launch of this game draws near for each passing week/month, how the casual market would react to this type of hardcore focused title remains to be seen.


Drop Ethics, Money is King.

Journalism as it is known, generally anyway, is essentially an unbiased approach on topics and matters featured, discussed, and scrutinized under the media microscope.

When readers in this case, I would argue to call them the ‘market’ - since publications either offline or online earn through advertising deals and mostly likely 90% or more of their revenue source stems from these ads. Thus, calling the readers as a market would be logical and most of all, true.

Their internal clients largely consists of companies that churns out products or services that caters to the demographic and purchasing taste of the readers. A straightforward approach on how these publications do business and turn a profit: the more readers, the larger the market, the larger the market, the higher the possibility of ‘internal’ clients on buying an ad space within their sites or pages.

So, to put it in a nutshell, the silent but imperative objective of journalists as a content provider is to increase and expand the market through content.

GTA 4s official release was April 29th, a couple of days prior to the release, IGN.com published an EXCLUSIVE review of the game, thousands read the review within the first few hours. And in a matter of a day or two, hundreds of thousands had visited IGN for the sole reason of reading the review for the biggest game release of the year. The million dollar question is, what was IGN's edge to Rockstar that they became the de-facto gaming site to cover such a high profile game?


Coincidentally, as if the stars suddenly aligned and the big bang reoccurred, IGN gave it a whopping 10 - a perfect mark. Not since the days of yore have they given a game a perfect score - as attested by IGN staff.

What clearly disturbs those fascinated with journalistic back alleys is the exclusivity and the surprisingly coincidental perfect mark given by the site -- its irrefutably tainted with an X deal, a quid pro quo, a scratch my back scratch your back milieu. You can’t blame independent journalists from crying foul and arguing this unethical practice. However, even how unfortunate it may be, its the status quo -- and this is not only in the realms of videogame journalism but other industries as well. Thats right, believe it or not, its an accepted industry practice.

Disappointing for those who faithfully read reviews and features thinking that their beloved journalists put the readers' welfare first -- that they would, beyond any doubt, conduct a no bullshit, no spin take on product reviews and other journalistic content whatever it may be.

Indeed, its disheartening that ethical journalism, as is anything ethical in this world’s simply too few and far between. Accept it and eventually apathy sets in and it’d ‘be another day in paradise’ for all of us. Such is the case of our country, our state, our people -- apparently, we excel too well on our execution.


Pirate Kingdom


Statement:


“We are suffering currently from the huge piracy that is encompassing Crysis. We seem to lead the charts in piracy by a large margin, a chart leading that is not desirable. I believe that’s the core problem of PC Gaming, piracy, to the degree [that PC gamers who] pirate games inherently destroy the platform. Similar games on consoles sell factors of 4-5 more. It was a big lesson for us and I believe we won't have PC exclusives as we did with Crysis in future. We are going to support PC, but not exclusive anymore."

- Cevat Yerly, co-founder and CEO of Crytek

Related News:

Unreal Tournament 3 servers received over 40 million attempts at illegitimate access using pirate keys. That number is huge, and the real magnitude comes when you calculate the retail price of $49.99 (59.99 for Collector's Edition).

If those 40 million players actually paid the full price, it would have been nearly $2 billion more in Epic’s pocket book. That is more than the quarterly sales results from Nvidia or AMD.



Reaction:

Piracy, the bane of multiple entertainment industries, be it music, movie or videogames. Face it, it’s here to stay and can never be alleviated, it can only be minimized and reduced.

Although, the chances of curtailing piracy, bleak as it may seem, have improved slightly on the software front for videogame consoles especially for the PS3. However, eventually the system’s firmware would be successfully hacked as more and more consumers own the platform -- translating to a bigger market for copied games but as the videogames industry has proven through the years, its consumers are incredibly loyal and gratuitous with their disposable incomes.

On Crytek’s issue, for some reason, they saw no business in developing for the console platforms. These platforms have established markets and have proven to be good business for publishers. The FPS genre nowadays rarely make a splash with PC gamers, and if they do, they are relentlessly copied and shared through P2P networks. Why bother on exerting all your development effort for a platform that assures a higher possibility of piracy? Console piracy exists, yes, nonetheless developers significantly have better chances on realizing sales from a market which has proven to be generous with their gaming purchases.

It only makes business sense that Crytek chose to release console versions of the game this packed holiday season. And it doesn't hurt going for a multiplatform approach.


As for Epic’s Unreal Tournament 3, as to prove my notion, they gained more sales from the PS3 version than the PC.

Although I disagree regarding the figure of lost revenue, in this case, about 2 billion dollars - the 40 million attempts are mainly consumers who are leaning on purchasing copied/illegally downloaded games - the desire and behavior of these consumers ultimately imply that they have no plans on purchasing an original copy of the title. And even if a selective few did have concrete plans on grabbing one, only a minor fraction of the actual figure would have gotten a copy worth 50 dollars.

Crytek, learn from Epic. They saw opportunities and the oh-so apparent risks of the PC and console markets, perhaps invest more on your market research efforts. And next time you wouldn’t have to issue press statements publicizing your dismay of consumers who couldn’t care less.


Craftmanship from the Stars

Has it been over a decade since Starcraft was released for the PC back in March of ’98? How could a game this deep into its shelf life still be so relevant and religiously played by millions? - Addictive gameplay, great balance for each race, compelling storyline, extreme replayability are the ingredients that made Starcraft what it is today - one of the best games ever created. Its longetivity unquestioned, its mass appeal immensely staggering, its influence unequivocal.

Its sequel is upon us, and it will sell by the millions solely in South Korea and millions more from other markets. The franchise has crossed through different segments and demographics, and gamers are expecting nothing short of a fantastic experience in terms of gameplay and the overall entertainment value the final product will offer.

How I long again to frantically click on my mouse to regain my mastery of that cheap shot “10mins Zerg rush” tactic and to feel that exhilarating urge to topple my opponents. It seems so fresh to me the matches I had through a 56kbp modem, incredibly smooth gameplay and drool inducing graphics (at that time indeed it was).

Starcraft is one of the reasons I am into gaming, it could very well be the possible savior of an ailing PC industry which has been ruled by online games such as World of Warcraft (note: Blizzard developed as well). I simply can’t wait for this title. It’d be reliving my memories a decade ago and the years in between. Indeed, a trip to memory lane and a peek of what it is to come for the RTS genre.