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Call of Duty Black Ops: Can Treyarch out-due Infinity Ward?

When the founders of game studio Infinity Ward were fired in March, fans wondered if they would ever see another installment of the successful and increasingly popular combat game franchise.  Luckily, parent company Activision is demonstrating that it has a pretty good backup plan with Treyarch.  Call of Duty: Black Ops is that game, and Treyarch is trying to step out of the dark and into the light that use to shine on Infinity Ward.  Treyarch has designed a genuine Call of Duty experience, with intense combat scenes and realistic animations, but it all seems too familiar.  Can Treyarch differentiate itself from Infinity Ward?  Can they out-due Infinity Ward?  Only time will tell.  Let us know what you think in the comments.

Call of Duty: Black Ops will arrive on consoles November 9th this year.

ACE in the Hole: Recent Gaming Industry Mistakes Part I

Doesn’t it feel like the gaming industry is moving too fast now-n-days?  It seems like it was just yesterday when the PS3 and XBox360 launched, and now everyone is talking about and anticipating the rumored PS4 and XBox720 ‘next-gen’ consoles.  I know its in gamer’s nature to always look for the next thing to come out, but sometimes you have to take it a little slower and not rush into things.  In fact, rushing into things have created some of the biggest gaming industry mistakes thus far.

Price Point Confusion. When this ‘next-gen’ era began, developers and producers were extremely excited to see what they could do with all the new technology out there.  The problem is in all their excitement, they forgot how much it was going to cost consumers.  Sony is one of the biggest culprits.  They packed the PS3 with tons of impressive hardware, but forgot how expensive it was going to be for us, gamers.  The PS3 launched on the market with a $600 price point.  Now was a blu-ray player, SATA hard drive, graphics card, 7 CPU and a cell processor worth the price at the time? Yes!  But was it something that gamers can typically afford? No.  Microsoft was also a culprit, but not as much as Sony.  Sony pushed the limits of what gamers would pay for hardware.  Fortunately, these price points have began to normalize and are now more affordable for gamers.

A quick release = quick profit + problems. A lot of companies have been an offender to this issue, but the biggest and seemingly most detrimental one was Microsoft.  Why?  One phrase that I don’t even have to spell out for you to understand… RROD.  The Red Ring of Death was apparently due to Microsoft rushing their console to market.  Microsoft wanted to be the first to market, but this backfired.  They were sued for more than a billion dollars and had to extend all Xbox360 warranties to 3 years.  Now there are rumors that Sony wants to be the first to market for the next next-gen cycle.  Let’s hope they learn from Microsoft’s mistakes.

Downloadable content for everyone. This issue targets most developers in the gaming industry.  Am I the only one tired of buying a $60 game and then seeing downloadable content 2 weeks later?  Some of the biggest culprits are Microsoft, Activision and Capcom.  Microsoft is only guilty of buying downloadable content.  They made multiple deals to secure the DLC’s exclusivity, even it was just timed.  The problem is that Microsoft has showed the gaming world that DLC is not only ok, but possibly necessary and expected.  Activision also has a problem releasing DLC for Guitar Hero and Call of Duty weeks after a game’s release.  But none is bigger than Capcom.  Capcom has been abusing DLC. Resident Evil Versus is a great example.  They released Resident Evil for PS3 and XBox360 for $60 (the normal price for games this semester).  They later released Resident Evil Versus much later than the release date, which is fine.  But did you know that RE Versus DLC was already on the disk?!?  Yea, that’s right… you were tricked into paying $75 for the whole thing.  It’s alright for DLC to be made after a game has finished development.  But selling a game with DLC on the disk and asking gamers to pay for it is outrageous.  Selling Street Fighter costumes that are usually unlocked is also a DLC corruption.

The point I’m trying to make is that developers and producers need to stop rushing and take their time to produce a great product that will please games.  Polyphony Digital and Rockstar are great companies that do just that.  And as always, support your console(s) and the developers you value so we can keep seeing innovative games that blow our socks off.  Until next time guys enjoy gaming and make sure you “Pick up your Sticks!”  Also look for part 2 in the near future.

Is Playstation Plus Worth it? Continued Point by Point Breakdown!

I see that many people are still curious about this service and would like to learn more about it so here is my point by point breakdown.

Features available at launch:

  1. Exclusive offers
  2. PS Store Discounts
  3. Early access to beta’s and select demos
  4. Full game trials
  5. Automatic Downloads

Exclusive Offers:
First of all, I haven’t seen any exclusive offers even worth noting, and as far as the some of the free content is concerned, that’s just nonsense, because nothing in the subscription is free, that’s why you’re paying for it. Also, both the games & DLC you acquire “for free” become inactive (meaning “can’t be used”) after your subscription period ends, should you choose not to renew. This means you don’t actually get to keep any of your “free” content except for avatars & themes. Not being able to choose my games was a real disappointment because the games you get “for free” are mainly one or two PSP Minis a week  and one monthly full-fledged PSN game which are dated.

PlayStation Store Discounts:

The averaged out savings in the PS + section of the store came out to be about $2.93. Keep in mind these aren’t discounts on everything, only select items. To be fair, a lot of the discounted games and DLC are fun to experience but a few are quite old; having released either early this year or years’ past. If you are a super shopper inside the playstation store and are buying everything from arcade titles to PS Minis to themes and avatars, then it might be a worthy investment because you’ll save a ton of money. But is it really worth it for the average gamer like myself, who doesn’t spend much money in the PS store? At $50 per year with an average savings of $2.93 I would have to purchase roughly 17 pieces of downloadable content to break-even.

Early access to beta’s and select demos:

So far, I haven’t seen to many people who are plus subscribers getting much priority over the free users. When I got the Medal of Honor Closed Beta invite, I may have received it a day or two ahead of one of the free users on my friends list. It really bothers me when I’m paying $50 for a service that only gets me a day or two ahead of everyone else in terms of priority status, I mean, what’s up with that Sony!? This is not how it should be at all. But again, I understand that this is a new service and I am trying to be patient.

As far as the early select demos are concerned, there’s been only one early Plus member demo available so far, which is “Kane & Lynch 2,” and I am totally excited about that game. So I’m thinking this section may end up getting better as time progresses.  PSN Store discounts? Might be worth enough in the long-run, but that’s only if I manage to get that $50 back through discounts over the course of a year, which is very possible. If you view the PlayStation Store and the savings you receive as a Plus Member, they’re not huge savings but they can add up. Here are a few ideas I’ve cooked up that I feel would warrant an investment in Plus:

Full Game Trials:

In my opinion, Full Game Trials are inferior to Game Demos for two reasons.

  • Full Game Trials cost as a part of your subscription while game demos are FREE.
  • Full Game Trials last for only one hour. I need to expand upon this second point.
    • First, lets address the issue of Re-playability. Say you’re considering a purchase of a cool new game. You try out the Full Game Trial for the hour offered but still aren’t sure if you want to buy the game. If you haven’t made your mind up within that hour, you either have to take a chance with a purchase or go the rental route. On the other hand, with a demo you usually have unlimited play-time. The demo itself may be an hour or even only half an hour, but once you’ve finished you can go back and replay the demo over and over again to your heart’s content.
    • In the demo version of inFamous, you get to play through three distinct missions that can easily take you no more than an hour to finish, but because of  the variety it, it provides you with enough content to really wet your taste and help you decide better on whether you want to buy the game or not. Now wouldn’t you say the latter varied gameplay experience is worth more than the tutorial & a taste?

Automatic Downloads:

This feature “Downloads content such as game patches, system software update data, and video items we recommend to you, automatically. This system will start automatically at the scheduled time, and will begin the download.” I do think that this is a cool feature, however, I believe this service should be free to everyone not just subscribers.

Now that Sony is turning a profit on their systems, I believe as time goes by Sony will continue to sweeten their offers. As of now, it has none of those options and so I believe it’s just not worth my purchase. That’s my take.

What do you think?”

Medal of Honor’s Gunfighter Mission

Medal of Honor Executive Producer Greg Goodrich was at Sony’s press conference during the 2010 German Games Convention. While he was on stage, he unveiled a new mission from the single player campaign from Medal of Honor, but he wasn’t the one playing the game for the on-stage demo — he brought a special guest with him. What do you think of it?

Sony Takes On iOS Gaming!

Sony has now gone on the offensive by bashing, quite hilariously in fact, the iPhone’s gaming platform. Sure Apple’s iOS gaming platform might have tens of thousands of titles a finger tap away but Sony as possibly found a major weak spot in its competition: quantity versus quality.

I’ll be honest and admit that even though I’ve owned the original generation of the Sony PSP, I never had many games and never used it as much simply because I’ve never had a good reason to carry it around with me. However, I can see more reasons to use iPhone gaming if your just trying to kill time while waiting in line.  In the three years of owning an iPhone, I’ll admit there isn’t nearly as much depth to the iOS titles as Sony’s PSP titles.  Its games like: Super Monkey Ball, Fieldrunners, Doom, Tap Tap Revenge, Plants vs. Zombies, and Band of Brothers that I can completely say are worthy of competing against the titles that are available on a dedicated gaming platform like the PSP.  If you’re looking for a closer to console gaming experience, then you should totally go with the PSP.

However, the main concern you should have when deciding whether to get a PSP or an iPhone is that most PSP titles cost much more than the average app on the app store. One PSP game can easily run you double that of an iPhone game.

In the end it really just comes down to a matter of preference.  You’d be crazy to recommend the iPhone over the PSP to any hardcore gamer and just as nuts to recommend a PSP for the average guy looking to kill a few minutes in line at Starbucks.  I believe that there is much room for both platforms in the mobile gaming world. It’s all about who can innovate and connect more with gamers.

Do you think the PSP has what it takes to beat an app based platform? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Gaming News Update August 16, 2010