Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Xbox Live-New Price raise.

Ever since Microsoft made the announcement that they would start charging an extra $10 for a year subscription to Xbox Live, all I’ve been hearing people say is, “Well, I guess I’m done with my Xbox now,” and “I’m going to get a Playstation 3 and use the Playstation Network instead.” It annoys the crap out of me whenever I hear it. Is something that drastic really necessary just because it’s $60 for a year instead of $50? I’m not happy with it either, but I’m definitely not planning on just cutting off my Live account because of it—let alone switch over to the incredibly mediocre Playstation Network. I guess the question is, “Can paying for Xbox Live even be justified?”

I’m not sure. I’m in a position where I don’t like the change, but I’m not going to fight it; fighting meaning protesting it and not paying for any membership at all (it’s freaking Microsoft! Who do you think is going to win?). I will continue to pay for it, but I will do the same thing I’ve always done and wait for the oodles of online sales for 1-year subscriptions and pay half the price. I just don’t understand why others won’t do the same. Apparently, it’s absolutely abhorrent that Microsoft would charge the same price of a game (which I also never buy at full price) for their online service.
In some sense, I suppose it is. I mean, I still think that charging $60 for a video game is ridiculous (I think charging $40 for a handheld game is too), but I just don’t care that much about paying $30 or $40 for a year of Xbox Live (once again, thanks to online sales). People I’ve talked with have said that despite me paying less, I’m still paying and telling Microsoft that I’m okay with their “price hike.” I suppose that’s true, but when I’m not spending more on it, I don’t really give a crap.

Although, I suppose this could just become a vicious cycle where the price continues to raise and the sales prices follow, killing the deal for me, but maybe that’s just the risk I’ll have to take. It didn’t matter last-gen when companies started making special-edition sets of their games for $60 to test the waters for a next-gen price hike (and it was optional then).
Just think about you’re getting with Xbox Live. While you may be paying to play online, you’re also getting the easiest online console interface of all the consoles to use. It’s just so incredibly easy to set up a chat with a group of friends, hop in a game with them, or play something else entirely and still talk to them. Sure, you can do this with the PC too, and for free, even; but not all these console games are also on the PC, and the simplicity of everything just doesn’t feel as fluid as Xbox Live’s interface.

Granted, the price increase is being made because Microsoft is adding useless things I don’t care about like Hulu Plus and ESPN bullcrap–which could have easily been part of some kind of “Xbox Live Super Platinum” membership instead of becoming a part of “Gold.” But I think that if you use Xbox Live, then just suck it up and continue to pay like I do. It’s nice to have compared to the Wii or Playstation 3’s free online setups. It’s sort of a “you get what you pay for” scenario—though, once again, PC online gameplay is free.
There will always be places selling the subscriptions cheaper, though, so there’s no reason to fight the concept. If, on the other hand, you actually don’t use Live that much (which is hard to believe, but true) then sure, I suppose you shouldn’t be paying for the service at all anyway. This is Microsoft we’re talking about, folks. They love their money, so the chance of never having to pay for Xbox Live is pretty much nonexistent.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Black Ops will sell 3x as much as MOH.

25% of U.S. consumers have spoken; this holiday will be all about Call of Duty: Black Ops. That’s according to Lazard Capital Markets’ latest survey in which 17% indicated interest in picking up EA’s Medal of Honor, a small number compared to the one aforementioned, but still not that far behind. “Importantly, given the broader interest and timing with gift purchases, we expect Call of Duty will still sell at least 3x the number of units as Medal of Honor, although game reviews remain a key variable in determining core gamer interest,” said analyst Colin Sebastian, who believes the words of Activision when the publisher says Treyarch’s latest will break the current record, even though he’s not blind to Medal of Honor “gaining traction.” Whether Black Ops sales break those of Modern Warfare 2‘s and abolishes Medal of Honor sales, dedicated gamers know better; quality always trumps quantity.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Microsoft's new upcoming Dashboard Update.

A few of the upcoming Xbox 360 Dashboard update's biggest changes have been heavily touted by Microsoft over the past few months: Things like a redesigned Zune Marketplace, ESPN streaming video and the power to control things with your mind! gestures. However, a few of the update's lesser known functions were recently explained by Microsoft -- for instance, did you know that the update will improve voice chat quality, a more streamlined approach to connecting to wireless hotspots, and also, sometimes, your 360's disc tray will produce sizzling strips of hickory-smoked bacon? To find out which one of those things we said was a bold-faced lie, check out the full list of changes coming in the next Dashboard update after the jump.

  • Improved voice quality -- the audio codec is being updated to improve Xbox LIVE Party chat audio quality. So grab your friends and jump into a multiplayer game, catch a big sports event, watch a movie or do all three.

  • Improved experience for changing your Gamertag -- choosing a new Gamertag? If the Gamertag you're looking for is already taken, your Avatar will spin a wheel and we will provide five other Gamertag suggestions at a time for you to choose from.

  • Streamlined in-dashboard virtual keyboard -- we've taken the existing QWERTY keyboard in-dash and made it easier to use for scenarios that involve repeated text entry, for example when signing up for LIVE within the dashboard.

  • Improved Xbox LIVE Marketplace UI and browse experience -- the Games Marketplace has been re-organized to provide streamlined access to the games and content you want, reducing the number of steps it takes to get to a download.

  • Avatar changes -- we've made your Avatars slightly more proportional so you can better play Kinect games

  • Easier to get on a wireless network -- trying to connect to a wireless network? With the next update, you'll see a list of all the wireless networks within range when you go into network settings. From there, you'll be able to select a new network or further configure the network you're connected to.

  • Ability to sign-out other controllers in the sign-in UI -- we're adding the ability to sign-out profiles on other controllers in the sign-in UI within the Guide. This is especially useful when playing games like Rock Band.

  • New browse experience for 100% completed games -- you spent a lot of time and effort earning those Achievements, so instead of only being able to view your first dozen completed games, we're giving you a new and better way to browse all of them.

  • Saturday, October 9, 2010

    Halo Reach-Legendary is hard!

    Bungie’s Halo installments are notoriously difficult on high difficulty levels. And the same is proving true for Halo: Reach. Its Legendary difficulty, the highest difficulty setting players can choose, is a downright beast. Difficult to beat cooperatively, and nearly impossible to tackle flying solo. So it makes sense that in this week’s Bungie Weekly Update, the developer revealed a startling statistic. According to Bungie, barely more than 5% of the Halo: Reach userbase have earned the “A Monument to All Your Sins” achievement. That chieve is unlocked when players, as you would guess, beat the campaign on Legendary, all alone. I beat the campaign on Heroic by myself and at times I felt like throwing my controller at the wall (goddamn Hunters!). Currently I’m slogging through on Legendary with my brother across Xbox Live and, yeah, it’s a b*tch. What about you? Have you beaten Halo: Reach‘s campaign on Legendary (alone, or not?).

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Sony looking towards to bring down "hack" websites.

    I'm not the one to post about PS3 gaming news, but I found this pretty interesting. People are bringing their Trade Mark down by having their logo on their site, therefore making them lose money. To the court!

    New and allegedly leaked court documents reveal that SCEA is showing courts that they own a whole host of trademarks including Playstation, PSP, PS and PS3. The purpose of this is to add weight to their case to bring down any websites that go over the top when talking about things like backup managers for the PS3 and serving ISOs. A few 'PS3' hack websites are mentioned in the document unsurprisingly. Here is what is being reported by PSX-SCENE, "In this round of court documents filed by SCEA, they are showing the courts they own the rights to the names "Playstation, PSP, PS, PS3" so they are pushing the courts for speedy discovery for any website that uses this trademarked "letters / names" in their domain names.One website that is mentioned a few times is "PS3HAX" for their in-depth reviews and tutorials on using the "backup manager" and of course "PS3ISO" for their daily updates for grabbing various games directly from the 'net!"

    Black Ops preorders outreach Modern Warfare's.

    GameStop has announced pre-order sales for Call of Duty: Black Ops are outperforming those of Modern Warfare 2.According to the chain’s SVP of merchandising, Bob McKenzie, the title has seen “all-time, record reservations” and are ahead of where Modern Warfare 2 was this time last year, a title which “previously set the industry standard”.Back in July, Pacific Crest analyst Evan Wilson said his retail contacts claimed Black Ops pre-orders were accumulating faster than Modern Warfare 2, and he predicated the game could sell 12 million units during the holiday season alone.Wilson also said CoD titles always set a sales record upon release, with each respective game doing better than the previous one in the series.Black Ops is due for release on November 9 for PC, PS3, Wii, and Xbox 360.

    If you have heard-Halo Reach has announced that they are the #1 most played game online to this date, for the past few weeks. This may be true, but don't worry Bungie-Treyarch is going to take everybody by the hand and run!

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Black Ops-Treyarch adds Interactive Maps.

    Something that has really gone under the radar is the interactivity that Treyarch has implemented into Black Ops’ Multiplayer Maps. On the map Launch, there is a colossal rocket that lifts off during gameplay. This was first seen in the Teaser Trailer but, as time went on, we learned that players beneath the rocket would be incinerated. The catch? There is a bomb site on Search and Destroy directly beneath the rocket. Players will have to play a little more strategically than they may have played in previous Call of Duty games. On the map Radiation, there is a set of blast doors that can be opened/closed via a control panel which may prove to be a tactical advantage in many game modes. It may be in your best interest to have the doors opened, or you may be struggling to get them closed again: it all depends on your tactics for the game mode in play. These are only two examples of the interaction in Black Ops’ MP maps, and it makes us wonder: what other surprises have Treyarch included?

    I did not make this, it was posted on