The Best Buy Geek squad is no doubt made up of many talented and well intentioned souls, but the marketing department has fallen off the deep end. Based on this picture taken by the folks over at dualshockers.com the Geek Squad is now planning to offer customers the option to receive Sony’s free firmware update in-store before taking the console home. That sounds reasonable enough, until you do the math and discover that they are charging a whopping $30 for the service.
Just in case you have never used a PS3 I’ll detail the procedure below.
1.)Connect Ethernet Wire or Configure Wi-Fi
2.)Press X on “Check for Firmware Update”
3.)Return in 5 minutes time.
It sounds to us like Best Buy is trying to turn the Geek Squad into a gang of certified wallet inspectors, but I guess everyone has to make money somehow.
Sony has a history of en-forcing policy changes with harsh firmware updates, but the recently released 3.41 patch for the Playstation 3 appears to be having the unintended side effect of preventing users from upgrading their hard drives. We have applauded Sony in the past for allowing users to easily upgrade their storage by swapping out the stock 2.5” SATA disk, but hundreds of angry forum posters claim the “no applicable data” error has essentially bricked consoles that ran the update on a new drive.
Computer and Video Games claims the issue might have something to do with a new feature that allow for incremental patches, and would also explain why the problem only arises on PS3’s where the firmware is stored on the hard drive rather than the system memory. Sony has not offered any explanation or fixes yet, so we recommend not updating the drive on your PS3 until we know more.
These days, it seems like consoles are the talk of the town. You can’t walk two feet without stubbing your toe on a new game that’s taking “full advantage” of either the Xbox 360 or PS3. But that’s now. And the upcoming revolution, according to BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk, won’t be televised.
"The future isn't necessarily on console," Zeschuk said. "That's the past. It's going to be a strong thing going forward, but the future is in all of these new businesses that are starting up.”
"We want to expand because, you look at what kids are playing on. Kids are playing on iPhones and iPads. The 3DS looks pretty amazing. All these platform options, we want to be touching on all those.”
BioWare doesn’t intend to be left in the dust, either. Already, the Mass Effect developer has expanded its horizons, though Zeschuk made sure to emphasize that BioWare “is still going to do the giant stuff.”
"We explored lots of different kinds of games. We did some Facebook stuff. We did an iPhone game for Mass Effect. It wasn’t the best one – people point that out to us… Large scale MMOs. Small scale MMOs. We're going to continue to do triple-A console, but we're also going to be exploring pretty aggressively."
So basically, if it has a screen and isn’t in some way attached to a car or airplane (and therefore, attached to a horrible car and/or airplane accident), you’ll soon be playing games on it. And while we’re all for a quick game of Pong on the ATM while we’re waiting for it to spit out our money, here’s hoping BioWare stays true to its word about continuing to make games for those of us who don’t currently spend a large portion of our day clicking back-and-forth between Farmville and Frontierville tabs.
“Why consoles?” It’s a question that plenty of formerly PC-exclusive developers have been asked, but few have tackled head-on. Instead, they’ve preferred to sidestep it in fear of stumbling right into a PR minefield. Epic President Mike Capps, however, has decided that honesty is the best policy – no matter how brutal that honesty might be.
“If you walked into [Epic's Offices] six years ago,” said Capps, “Epic was a PC company. We did one PS2 launch title, and everything else was PC. And now, people are saying ‘Why do you hate the PC? You’re a console-only company.’”
“And guess what? It’s because the money’s on console.”
“We still do PC, we still love the PC, but we already saw the impact of piracy: it killed a lot of great independent developers and completely changed our business model.”
There is a silver lining, however. Or maybe it’s the darkest part of all, depending on how you look at things. The Unreal Tournament and Gears of War developer concluded, after discussing – what else? -- FarmVille:
“So, maybe Facebook will save PC gaming, but it’s not going to look like Gears of War.”
Darn. And we were looking so forward to chainsawing our friends’ pigs in half after they asked us to fertilize their crops for the 346723th time.
Netflix has been adding subscribers at a nice clip, seeing an amazing 1.7 million new subscribers in jus the first quarter. As such, it's no surprise that the company is reporting that they've met aggressive earning expectations with total revenue of $493 million. But a lot of those subscribers are signing on and staying largely because of the Netflix Instant Streaming service.
The Netflix streaming service suffered from scant selection at launch, but is now getting more expansive all the time. Those hoping for physical disks are a little displeased about the recent series of quid pro quos. These deals have Netflix delaying DVD releases in favor of increase streaming licenses. Netflix is claiming that in the last quarter 55% of users streamed at least one item from the catalog. That's up from 36% at this time last year.
The reason is clear. While it has always been available on PCs, all the major consoles now have a Netflix streaming option, and there are inexpensive options like the Roku box. There is also a plug-in for Windows Media Center that accomplishes the same function. Users of the Xbox 360 need to maintain a Xbox Gold account to take advantage of Netflix streaming, but the numbers show that isn't much of an impediment. If you use Netflix instant Streaming, let us know how you like it and what platform you use.
After almost a year of straight declines, video game hardware and software sales are finally on the way up according to market research group NPD. Total game sales climbed by 6 percent from the same month a year earlier to $1.52 billion helped in large part by big console releases such as God of War 3, Final Fantasy XIII, and Battlefield Bad Company 2.
The industry overall was predicting a slight pickup in March, but estimates pegged it at a slightly more conservative 3 percent said Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich. Overall the industry is still down considerably since the start of the recession having shed almost 7 percent during that period, but any improvement is a positive signal.
Activision Blizzard who didn't have any major releases in the first quarter are also predicting a bump in revenues based on continuing strong demand for World of Warcraft and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
In retrospect, 2009 was really the year of the PS3. Sales of the oft maligned console finally began picking up after price drops and the introduction of the PS3 Slim. The continued ascendancy of Blu-Ray certainly didn’t hurt either. Even with all the focus on Sony’s console, they thought they could sneak some new versions through the FCC without anyone knowing. Not so much.
Being a PC enthusiast and a gadget nerd go pretty much hand in hand, but have you ever wondered what it actually cost the manufacturers to assemble your army of iPod's and book reader's? Well wonder no longer because marketing research group iSuppli and Business Week have teamed up to tear down over 25 popular gadgets and have come up with what they consider a pretty accurate ball park picture of the manufacturing costs. Some of the results appear to be a bit out of date, particularly when it comes to the consoles, but it still gives a pretty good overview of how much money each product is raking in.
As you would expect most gaming consoles continue to sell at a loss, but many of the popular new smart phones actually make a fair bit of money when you factor in the kickbacks they probably get from the carriers. You can check out the full article to read about all 25 of the gadgets from the tear down, or review our sampling below for some of the more interesting snippets to save you time.
Jailbreak your game console and no one is likely to take notice. But make a home business out of jailbreaking consoles for others and you may draw the attention of Homeland Security.
At least that's the case for Matthew Crippen, a 27-year-old Cal State Fullerton liberal arts student who was arrested by Homeland Security authorities on Monday. Crippen was picked up for allegedly violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
"Defendant Matthew Crippen willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage and private financial gain, circumvented a technological measure that effectively controlled access to a copyrighted work, more particularly, used software to modify a Xbox machine's Optical Disc Drive so it would circumvent the anti-piracy measures contained on the original unmodified Optical Disc Drive," U.S. attorney Thomas P. O'Brien wrote in the indictment (PDF).
In a telephone interview with Wired.com's Threat Level, Crippen maintains the purpose of his jailbreaking business was to allow patrons to make "legally made backups," not for piracy.
The indictment charges Crippen with two counts, and if convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
That John Carmack! What a gossip, huh? He goes on a beer run with PC gamers and he’s all like, “I just wanted to… I just… I love you guys!” But then, after totally crashing a console-only party, he’s singing a different tune (possibly while wearing a dog costume). And now, once again Carmack’s shacking up with PC game—oh no! He’s here! Please, please, please don’t tell him what we said. That’d be soooo awkward.
"A lot of [Quake Live] was about doing something that the PC was going to be better at than the consoles," he told Gamasutra.
"Our modern triple-A stuff has to be somewhat more console-centric, with the PC as a peer, while this is an opportunity to do something where the PC will really stand alone,” he noted.
Carmack hopes to see Quake Live blossom into a sort of social-networking service – the one toy at show-and-tell that even Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo only wish they could get their grubby mitts on or toss in the sandbox or put in their mouths or whatever makes sense with this flimsy analogy.
"For years, I've often thought about the fact that a lot of people spend vastly more time on websites and forums about the games that they're playing than they actually spend playing the games themselves," he adds. "We hope to have some aspect of that here."
Well, that’s good enough for us, John. We’re yours forever now… wait a minute! Did you just steal this gift from our shelves – our shelves marked “1999” – and rewrap it? Is this all we are to you?