Microsoft sends Xbox 360s to long-time users

Early last week, Microsoft confirmed that they are giving away special edition Xbox 360 consoles to people who’ve used their Xbox Live service the longest.  The bundle also included a free year of Xbox Live.  The service originally came out in 2002 for the Xbox.

Whenever I hear about some sort of crazy deal going on in the game industry, I tend to question the motives behind such charity.  In this case, I think it might be just that.  I guess you could say marketing and PR, but who is going to argue with the people mailing out Xbox 360s to people just for brand loyalty?


A (belated) Happy Birthday

On Nov. 16, legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto celebrated his 60th birthday.  Miyamoto is responsible for various classic game franchises, including Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong.

For my seventh birthday, I recall my favorite gift being a copy of Super Mario Bros. Deluxe for the Game Boy Color.  I spent countless hours with the game, giving it more attention than anything else.  This was long before I knew who Miyamoto was, let alone that I shared a birthday with the video game icon.  Here’s to us, and our forty-year difference.

“DmC” caps at 30 fps

DmC director Hideaki Itsuno justified the video game’s lower frame rate in a recent statement.  Currently, the game caps at 30 frames per second, half that of its predecessor, Devil May Cry 4.  According to Itsuno, the game’s design fills in the blanks where you would perceive the lowered frame rate, making it appear smoother than it is.

This game has caused drama since its announcement, splitting the fanbase in half over issues ranging from character design to gameplay.  This setback is nothing more than icing on the disappointment cake.  If there is anyone still excited for DmC, they won’t be turned off now if they haven’t been already.

Official Playstation Magazine closes

According to Game Informer, Playstation: The Official Magazine will be ending production with their Holiday 2012 issue.  The magazine’s publisher, Future US, also announced the closing of Nintendo Power in August, with the last issue coming out this December.

As an avid fan of print journalism, it pains me to see so many video game publications biting the dust.  There’s not much to say on the subject, but this post goes out to all the print journalists, gaming or otherwise.

Ubisoft offers discounts to storm victims

On Monday,  the Assassin’s Creed Facebook page posted two discount codes directed specifically toward customers being affected by Tropical Storm Sandy.  The deals entitled fans to both 50% off any game except Assassin’s Creed 3 and 15% off anything from the Ubi Workshop website.

The people at Ubisoft really know how to turn lemons into lemonade.  They take one of the worst natural disasters to hit the east cost in a long time, and they turn it into good PR and profits.  I find this kind of thing tasteless and underhanded, but can I really criticize a well-timed discount?

“Curiosity” set to launch Friday

Peter Molyneux’s first of 22 experimental projects, titled Curiosity: What’s Inside The Cube?, will be released Nov. 7 on iOS and Android devices.  The app features a box which players can chip away at to get to the core.  The box is universal to everyone who gets the app, so if someone else chips part of the box off, it will count towards your progress.  However, the core of the box holds a secret Molyneux describes as life-changing, and the only person who can see this secret is the last person to chip away at the box.  The app also allows you to buy upgraded pickaxes that more efficiently chip away at the box, with the most expensive costing $50,000.  22Cans, the indie game developer headed by Molyneux, will create 21 experiments similar to Curiosity: What’s Inside The Cube, as well as one full game.

Anyone who is remotely familiar with Molyneux is aware of his tendency to over-hype his own products.  It could be argued that his own fame is a result of this hype.  For all I know, he could have found the cure to cancer and put it in the app, but I just don’t see the contents being worth the price of admission, let alone the upgraded pickaxes.  Personally, if I wanted to waste money, I’d buy a lottery ticket.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 censored for us of “Allah”

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will be receiving a patch due to a controversy regarding their “Saudi Arabia” stage, which features the Arabic word for “Allah” written on the floor tiles.  The game’s producer, Katsuhiro Harada, tweeted about it, stating that it was unintentional, and that it will be removed from the game.

I really don’t want to open a can of worms about this, but I do feel that the censorship any sort of religious term is an outdated practice.  My very first blog post features a picture using the term “God,” and no one bats an eyelash at it.  I know it’s not the same, but I find the controversy not so controversial.

GameStop launches experimental “GameStop Kids”

GameStop opened its first branch of stores titled “GameStop Kids” on Friday.  The store is specifically for young children, featuring only E-rated games, the equivalent of G-rated films.  The stores will also feature a variety of toys related to the games on sale.  There will be eighty stores opened by November 15.

While these stores are a shameless attempt at the pockets of parents everywhere, I welcome their presence.  The number of parents who buy M-rated (17+) games for their children is obscenely high.  If parents can’t read a ratings label on the game itself, why not slap it on the store?

100k view presidential election via Xbox 360

According to Microsoft, more than 100,000 people watched the second presidential debate through the Xbox Live service for the Xbox 360.  The service provided live coverage of the debate, and asked around seventy questions on various topics, such as the winner of the debate and the truthfulness of the candidates.

Xbox Live has a variety of non-gaming features, but this one is very interesting.  Services such as Netflix make sense on the Xbox 360, considering its main purpose is entertainment.  I am not sure how necessary the live stream was on Xbox Live, but regardless it was a fun little feature.

College course links Scandinavia and Skyrim

Bethesda, developers of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, posted on their blog about a college course titled “Scandanavian Fantasy World: Old Norse Sagas and Skyrim.”  The course, offered at Rice University in Houston, Tex., explores the concept of fantasy and the use of Scandinavian settings in modern fantasy.  Students enrolled in the course will be reading Norse and Icelandic sagas as well as playing parts of Skyrim.

The class, similar to Ryan Vaughan’s “Gaming as Literature” at Binghamton University, is exploring the medium of video games in an academic setting.  What I like about the class at Rice University is that it doesn’t focus solely on video games.  Rather, it uses a single game to explore certain concepts.  It’s easy to just make a class about video games, because it’s completely separate from ‘real’ courses.  By putting Skyrim at the same level as the other readings in the course, the professor is creating a unique hybrid and supporting video games as a legitimate medium that can stand next to literature and film.