Archive for November, 2005

Family Entertainment Protection Act, Federal game regulation bill put before Congress

Source: videogamesblogger.com

Today senator Hillary Clinton’s (D-NY) office, in collaboration with Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) (both senators who have been very vocal in the video game violence debate), have announced that she has written a bill that will go before Congress when it convenes next week, and will be jointly submitted by the two. The bill, if signed into law, will introduce federal game regulation. Although the retail portion of the bill is similar to some laws passed in Illinois, Michigan and California, the Family Entertainment Protection Act goes much further.

While it would prohibit the sale of Mature, Adults Only or Rating Pending games to minors (with unspecified fines, though the bill doesn’t mention whether the clerk or retail store would be fined), it would also authorize “the FTC to conduct an annual, random audit of retailers to determine how easy it is for young people to purchase Mature and Adults Only video games and report the findings to Congress.” The findings would then be part of a larger annual analysis of ESRB ratings. “This analysis will help ensure that the ESRB ratings system accurately reflects the content in each game and that the ratings system does not change significantly over time,” read Clinton’s statement.

The bill would also allow private citizens to file complaints with the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP) “if they find content to be misleading or deceptive.” The BCP would issue an annual report on said complaints to Congress as part of the aforementioned annual review.

To justify the act, Clinton’s office made the claim that “video game content is getting more and more violent and sexually explicit.” They cited the recent 10th Annual MediaWise Video and Computer Game Report Card, issued by the National Institute on Media and the Family, which gave the industry a “D+” and said the ESRB was “beyond repair.” Also, the study’s secret shopper program found that 42 percent of the time boys under 17 were able to buy M-rated games from retailers, with underage girls succeeding 46 percent of the time.

“A majority of parents are feeling increasingly victimized by a culture of violence that makes it difficult to protect their children against influences they find to be inappropriate,” read Clinton’s statement. “This bill would help empower parents by putting them back in the driver’s seat. It would ensure that children can’t buy games the video game industry itself has determined to be inappropriate for them.”

Clinton insists however that this bill is meant to protect children, and not to impose on the rights adults have to play whatever they want, and companies have to make whatever they feel like making. “Senator Clinton acknowledges that video games are fun and entertaining and does not support any limitations on the production or sale of games to adults,” read the statement. “This is about protecting children,” she said.

At least two parts of the bill however could have major repercussions for the gaming industry. Not only will Section III of the bill give the FTC the authority to investigate misleading ratings, it will actually require the body “to conduct an investigation to determine whether what happened with GTA: San Andreas is a pervasive problem.” And an even more ominous-sounding aspect of Section III is how it will empower the FTC to “take appropriate action if [Congress] determines that there is a pervasive problem” with the ESRB’s rating system. This means new, federal game ratings that could replace the current system if sufficient fault was found by the FTC.

We will keep you up to date on this story as more news breaks in the coming weeks. For more information on the ESRB and it’s ratings, check out the official ESRB web-site here.

Published on November 30th, 2005 under

Half-Life 2 Goes Arcade! . . . In Japan

Source: videogamesblogger.com

I thought this was interesting and totally unexpected.

In a private exhibition in Tokyo today, Taito announced that it is making an arcade version of Half-Life 2 called Half-Life 2: Survivor. It runs on an arcade cabinet that looks like a typical racing game cabinet. You control the action using two joysticks on the side arm rests and by pressing the foot pedals (I presume you use the foot peddles to walk and run, one joystick to look around and the other to fire). The arcade cabinet is network ready so up to eight players can join in on the fun in a variety of different modes including deathmatch and a cooperative mission mode. The game is also playable offline in unnetworked play through a single-player story mode.

It’s amazing to see Japan getting arcade machines like this in this day and age. It’s interesting beause first-person shooters aren’t all that popular in Japan, so I assume this is one way to give the Japanese a piece of the action while wrapping it up in a unique package that they might actually accept, thanks to the still thriving Japanese arcade industry. Too bad that the likelyhood of the US seeing this crazy arcade version of Half-Life 2 is next to never.

Published on November 30th, 2005 under

PSP Firmware Update v2.6 Now Available

Source: videogamesblogger.com

For those people out there with PSP’s, another firmware update, version 2.6, is now available. It can be downloaded from Sony’s official web-site onto a memory stick and installed, or run from an updated UMD disc.

The update adds audio support for RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication v2.0) that can be streamed from the internet, which is perfect for all those podcasts popping up everywhere. It only works with streaming audio though and playback only.

The update also includes support for Windows Media Audio files. All WMA files from a memory stick can be played through the PSP’s music menu, however copyright-protected files won’t be playable.

Smaller, but still welcome additions, include: volume adjustment in the control panel of the LocationFree player, Chinese character font support for the Internet Browser, and copy-protected video content downloadable directly to the unit’s Memory Stick Duo.

Published on November 30th, 2005 under

Tuesday

Source: videogamesblogger.com

Tuesday was an even slower newday with the unveiling of no Revolution news until E3 in May 2006 :(

Published on November 29th, 2005 under

Handheld commercials

Source: videogamesblogger.com

Monday’s always a slow news day. So to kill the time, here are some really funny Nintendo DS movies from Japan. Super weird Sony PSP shorts from Europe. I don’t know if you’re on the “in crowd”, but there’s actually another new handheld system out there. Here’s a video looking at Tigers often neglected Gizmondo.

Published on November 28th, 2005 under ,

Holiday Gift Giving and Recieving

Source: videogamesblogger.com

According to the ESA’s (Entertainment Software Association) annual survey of the gift-giving plans of consumers (released this week) , 31% of American’s plan to engage in some form of video game gift-giving for the holidays.

Roughly 49% of homes with children aged 12-17 will either give or get a game this season, but that number declines to 43% of households with kids under 12 and 22% of homes without any children.

Interestingly enough, 35% of adult men expect to receive a gaming gift (which is up from 26% last year) while over a third of gaming adults giving gifts will be giving them to women.

The ESA phone poll was conducted by KRC Research in October and included more than 1,000 adults.

Published on November 26th, 2005 under

Nintendo’s first office

Source: videogamesblogger.com

This is a nice blast from the past. Nintendo was founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi back in 1889. The company originally produced handmade hanafuda playing cards before getting into the video game market in 1980.
The building where Fusajiro Yamauchi started Nintendo in 1889

Nowadays the building Nintendo of Japan is housed in is too large to take a complete photo of ;)
Nintendo of Japan\'s headquarters in 2005

Published on November 25th, 2005 under

Xbox 360 do’s and donts

Source: videogamesblogger.com

Every hardware launch has it’s ups and downs, what did Microsoft do right and what didn’t it do.

Do make it into a party, they did, everyone’s talking in 360 degrees about the new Xbox. Just look at you, you’re reading this.

Do make it backwards compatible, they went the extra mile here. Getting licenses from Nvidia despite their broken agreement with them after the original Xbox. It’s an impressive long list, which is a nice bonus if you didn’t own the original one, but wanted to try Halo 1 or 2 before 3 and 4 come out ;)

Do remember the 0,1% faulty hardware margin is usually right. So Microsoft outlined its returns policy for defective 360 hardware, explaining that US consumers, and no doubt those worldwide, need only to call 1-800-4myXbox or go to Xbox.com If the problem can’t be resolved via telephone right away, Microsoft will pay to ship the console overnight to a repair centre and ship it overnight back to the consumer once it’s fixed, or ship a replacement. Nice.

Don’t sell in bundles. Now this may not be Microsofts fault, but when you have your hardware in short supply you can allocate depending on if a store will actually sell your hardware without ripping off happy-go-lucky gamers. As one employee put it

“Maybe it had something to do with the $730 price tag!!! We have so many XBOX’s we don’t know what to do with them, and we can’t get rid of them… a person would come in looking for an XBOX, and we would get them to the counter… say the price, and then it was as if no one was there they ran that fast…”

Don’t compare the size to other consoles, you’ll soon find out it’s the exact same size as the original Xbox, what did they call that again?

Don’t forget to have impressive launch games. When you have an entire generation of Goldeneye: 007 & Perfect Dark Nintendo 64 gamers looking forward to it’s prequel, don’t shut them out and show them bland images and a short MTV movie. Especially don’t send online resources preview copies more than a few days before launch, so no one knows what to expect… well you catch my drift. Since the console isn’t released in Europe yet I can’t comment on quality myself, so I’ll let Gamerankings.com do the talking, check out their Recent Top Games list. If you happen to disagree, hit the “Say it!” button under comments.

Published on November 24th, 2005 under

Mario Kart DS sales and online success

Source: videogamesblogger.com

After being on sale for one week in the America, Mario Kart DS has sold over 112,000 copies. While the successful sales of one of Nintendo’s flagship titles isn’t surprising consider it’s long history, the sheer number of people taking it online through WiFi connection is, 45% have already come online after seven days. Compare this to Halo 2’s 18% online after three weeks and you can paint a pretty picture. There won’t be a lack of players as Europe & Asia go online at the start of December, that’s for sure.

According to Beth Lewellyn of Nintendo, it’s a guaranteed million seller worldwide. Launching online gaming on the DS alongside Mario Kart is Tony Hawk’s American Sk8land. Pre-orders are flying off the shelves in Japan for Animal Crossing Wild World with an expected half a million day-one sales, but let’s not forget about those looking forward to next years Metroid Prime Hunters, which was delayed just to add the much needed online component for deathmatches. With many more online videogames from third parties to come, to be continued…

Published on November 23rd, 2005 under

Playstation 3 to cost between 300-400 dollars

Source: videogamesblogger.com

In an interview with Forbes magazine, one of Sony’s head honchos Howard Stringer unveiled according to him the Playstation 3 will cost in between 300 to 400 US Dollars. A price very near that of the Xbox 360, which is no surprise as that launched in the USA today.

Spring 2006 will see the launch of the PS3 in Japan, America follows in the autumn, and sadly as always no one knows when it’ll launch in Europe. However, reason for joy is that while the first Blu-ray players will cost $1000, they will be included in the PS3, so that’s quite the Trojan horse Sony have there. Of course this is similar to the PS2’s DVD player, but this time HD-DVD might spoil that party come 2006, but really, no one’s complaining as it’s a nice extra in addition to the games. More on those when we get closer to launch time.

Published on November 22nd, 2005 under

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