The gaming industry will be watching with keen interest when OnLive launches its cloud-gaming service to the public on Thursday, June 17. The Palo Alto-based startup will want to lure as many gamers as it can at the very outset of its service. Now that it has considerably reduced the monthly subscription fee, it should tug at the heartstrings of more gamers than previously anticipated.
It will now be charging $4.95 per month, as opposed to the $14.95 per month it had originally planned on extracting from its customesrs. And thanks to AT&T (one of its leading investors), a one year subscription to OnLive’s service will be offered free of cost between June 15 and July 15 to anyone willing to register. As for the 25,000 beta testers who put the cloud-gaming service through its paces, they will receive a free game to go with a one year free membership.
The monthly subscription does not include any games, which will have to be either bought or rented by the user. Their prices will range from $5 to $59. The company has announced the launch lineup, which includes Assassins Creed II, Mass Effect 2, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, NBA 2K10 and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction.
Speaking of waving things around in your hand (see previous news post), Microsoft has made official the rebadging of Project Natal to Kinect.
Details are still pouring in as E3 gets set to kick off, but a little more was revealed during a Kinect-themed 45-minute theatrical performance by Cirque du Soleil. Most of the new info involved upcoming game titles which, according to USA Today, will include:
Kinectimals: train and play with 20 different types of virtual cats, includng a lion, cheetah, and tiger
Joyride: a racing game where users will position their hands around an imaginary steering wheel
Kinect Sports: six sports games to choose from, including boxing, bowling, volleyball, track and field, soccer, and table tennis
Kinect Adventures: river rafting game
Dance Central: an MTV Games project involving full-body dancing without the need for a controller
Star Wars: probably will involve light saber duels
"For lots of people, that controller is a barrier," says creative director Kudo Tsunoda. "We set out to make a new control paradigm where anybody can get in and play, without having to read the instructions or learn a complicated set of controls."
Kinect's built-in camera will employ facial and voice recognition. You'll be able to control Netflix menus with hand gestures, as well as fast forward though a recorded TV program just by waving your arm about.
Pricing, release date, and other details have yet to be disclosed, though we suspect to know a lot more as the day goes on.
Vegas odds has this one as most likely a pricing error, but what I stumbled upon yesterday -- and apparently I wasn't the only one -- was a PlayStation 3 console listed as "starting at $199.99" on Sony's 3D portal. Could it really be so?
Not likely, though not completely out of the question either. Clicking through revealed no such console priced for just two Benjamins, and when I woke up this morning, I found that Sony had gone back and changed the price to $299.99, seemingly closing the case on this one.
It's worth noting, however, that E3 kicks off next week, and if Sony were to introduce a 'budget' PS3 console, that would be the time to do it. Admittedly unlikely, it's at least conceivable that someone on Sony's Web team inadvertently jumped the gun, much like Microsoft recently did with the Zune HD 64GB.
As it stands, Sony's PS3 is available in only two main storage flavors, 120GB for $300 and 250GB for $350. Sony also just recently pushed out a 3D firmware update applicable to all PS3 consoles, so while it has a feature advantage over both the Wii and Xbox 360, both units can be had for as low as $200.
"Very sad. As an XBMP user from back in the day, and still using XBMC on the original Xbox, thank you XMBC team," an XBMC user wrote in response to the XBMC team's latest announcement.
What he's referring to is the dissolution of the original Xbox branch from the team's subversion repository. What that means is no more releases or updates to the XBMC platform for the original Xbox, and instead 100 percent of the focus will be on other, more modern platforms.
"The last official release for the XBOX by the XBMC team was Atlantis, over 18 months ago," the XBMC team announced in a blog post. "Since then, one brave soul (Arnova) has been merging code from the main codebase into the XBOX branch in our repository. Because there were many users out there that took advantage of these updates, we had no problem with this.
"But times have changed. The XBOX has hard limits for what it can handle. Some users are satisfied with these limits, and we encourage them to use XBMC there if they are happy. But it is a popular misconception that official XBOX development is still taking place by the team, so we have decided to set it free. We have enough on our plates already, and worrying about a deprecated platform just increases our workload."
On a positive note for XBMC for original Xbox users, Arnova does still plan to continue development on the Xbox, just not at XBMC. You can find his new project homepage at SourceForge.
"We're leaving it in his hands to decide how to handle the project's administration. How he manages the forum, bug tracker, scm, developers, etcs. is up to him. In other worlds, don't complain to us," the XBMC team wrote.
Listen up kids, if you want to convince your parents that buying a Nintendo Wii is essential to your well being, be sure to point out that even the Navy is looking towards videogames to help whip recruits into shape. That's no joke - the Navy's Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Adam Robinson, said that the Navy was looking at using the equivalents of Nintendo's Wii Fit and Konami's Dance Dance Revolution as training tools in boot camp.
"There are lots of programs that people can [use to] become very physically active while they're using interactive computer games," Robinson said. "So, in other words, this isn't about [starting] with computers and stopping [everything else] -- because we're not going to do that. This is about incorporating those types of activities into something that people can use to become more physically active."
According to Robinson, today's recruits enter the force in need of much more work to get into fighting shape than has been the case in the past, and he said it's because so many young people now prefer computers and videogames to sports and activities.
Tony Soprano, Bill Henrickson, Ali G, and other HBO personalities are now available in the U.S. on the PlayStation 3, as Sony has gone and inked a deal to offer HBO programming through the PlayStation Network (PSN), Sony announced this week.
"The HBO library of premium original content is a perfect example of how PS3 has become the most content rich entertainment platform in the living room," said Peter Dille, senior vice president, marketing and PlayStation Network, SCEA. "When you combine the iconic programming from HBO with the existing TV, film, live sports and original programming available on PlayStation Network, our customers have access to the content they want, when they want it, at home or on the go with the PSP."
Several titles are available on the HBO section of PSN, including True Blood (season one and two), Big Love (seasons one through three), Entourage (seasons one and two), Eastbound and Down (season one), and multiple seasons from HBO signature shows such as The Sorpranos, Sex and the City, The Wire, Rome, Da Ali G Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Flight of the Conchords.
Sony says it plans to add more seasons and shows on a weekly basis.
We don't remember there ever being a healthy heart logo plastered on the side of our Atari 2600 consoles growing up, but had there been, perhaps we logged a lot more time playing Adventure, Pitfall, and Pac-Man. Maybe we can make up for lost time because hey, there's something to be said about playing videogames in order to live a healthy lifestyle.
Don't believe us? Just ask the American Heart Association, which has teamed up with Nintendo to promote healthy living through active-play videogames, as the organization explains it. No need to twist our arms, we're all in.
"Our two organizations come from different worlds, but we share a common goal," said Clyde Yancy, M.D., president of the American Heart Association. "Showing people accessible ways to stay active has been a part of our mission for decades, but our research tells us nearly 70 percent of Americans are getting no regular physical activity. As an organization we are looking for ways to change this. Nintendo has demonstrated clear leadership in active-play video games with the popularity of the Wii system, and I’m confident that together we can encourage Americans to become more physically active."
As part of this totally awesome campaign, consumers will see the American Heart Association brand on boxes for the Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports Resort titles for the Wii starting this summer. And what better way to stay healthy during summer break than to toss a virtual Frisbee or wakeboarding from your recliner?
While nobody in Nintendo's ranks is freaking out just yet, the company did post an annual profit decline for the first time in six years, the Wall Street Journal reports. What's more, Nintendo said it expects the backwards trend to continue again this fiscal year while the company focuses on new products to spur growth.
Sales of Nintendo's Wii and DS handheld consoles have finally started to slow down. For the fiscal year ended March 31, Nintendo said it sold 20.53 million Wii consoles world-wide, down 21 percent from the previous year. And for this fiscal year, Nintendo expects sales to drop yet again, this time to 18 million units.
"There's a lot of expectation that Nintendo will continue to dominate. And that's a tall order in this industry, which is characterized by changes in leadership in every generation," said Jay Defibaugh, equities research director at MF Global FXA Securities.
Going forward, Nintendo will face increased competition from Microsoft and Sony, both of which are planning to introduce motion-sensing controllers for their own respective consoles. Combined with the Wii's inability to play back high-definition content, Nintendo has reason to be concerned.
On the handheld front, Nintendo will release the 3DS next year, which won't require any goofy looking glasses. If it works as well as Nintendo anticipates, the company will be better prepared to fend off increasing competition from mobile phones, which have started to make a harder push into the casual gaming segment.
You can't check out of a Best Buy or other retail electronics chain without a sales associate pushing for an extended warranty. Even Toys R Us will try to up sell you on additional coverage, but if Sony has its way, you'll go through them for longer warranties when shopping a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation Portable (PSP) console.
It appears Sony suddenly wants to cash in on all the the third-party extended warranties being sold at the retail level, and perhaps cut into those offered by services like SquareTrade. Helping to do that, Sony will offer additional accidental damage coverage, so should you fall down a flight of stairs and land on your PS3 to soften your blow, you're covered.
Of course it's all going to come down to pricing, and Sony's is fairly competitive. For a barebones extension, Sony will charge $50 to bump up warranty service on its PS3 console from one year to two years, or $60 for three years of coverage. The PSP console will run $30 for two years or $40 for three years. And the accidental damage insurance? That's another $40.
What do you think about Sony's pricing? Do you usually buy an extended warranty when purchasing electronics? Hit the jump and sound off.
As many expected would happen, Sony has been handed a class action lawsuit for removing the 'Install Other OS' option from its PlayStation 3 console starting with the v3.21 firmware released in March.
In the lawsuit, plaintiff Anthony Ventura argues that "Sony's decision to force users to disable the Other OS function was based on its own interest and was made at the expense of its customers." Ventura also alleges deceptive business practices "perpetrated on millions of unsuspecting customers."
"On information and belief, contrary to Sony's statement, the 'security concerns' did not involve a threat to PS3 users, but rather reflected Sony's concerns that the Other feature might be used 'hackers' copy and/or steal gaming and other content," the lawsuit reads.
At the time of its release, Sony said the firmware update was optional, but any users who refused to install it would lose key features, like the ability to sign into the PlayStation network. Making matters worse, Sony soon followed up with yet another firmware update -- version 3.30 -- which was described as mandatory.
Anyone who purchased a PS3 between November 17, 2006 and March 27, 2010 and did not sell their console is eligible to participate in the suit.