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.
Around this time last month, Valve officially opened up its Steam platform to the Mac community, and in doing so helped chip away at the argument that Macs suck for gaming. What they also did was reveal some interesting statistics about the machines their users are running.
As Steampowered forum member and Mac user "90rmbrown" points out, "facts are facts," and according to the latest Steam Hardware Survey, the average Steam gamer running an Apple computer has a beefier system than those running a Windows-based PC, at least in some areas. Mac users, for example, have more RAM (4GB vs 2GB) on average, while half of those running a Mac have an Internet connection of 2Mbps or higher, compared to 28 percent of PC users. Mac users are also more likely to have a dual-core processor running at 2.3GHz to 2.69GHz, or higher.
Before you whip out the pitchforks and light the torches, there are some things to note here. The sample size of Mac users is significantly smaller than that of PC users, so the hardware breakdown is dubious at best. And where it really counts for gaming -- in the graphics department -- PC gamers have more video RAM, and probably beefier videocards as well.
So what can we take from all this? As Sean Portnoy at ZDNet writes, PC gamers are still getting by with older hardware, while the early influx of Mac users with refreshed hardware could benefit from better graphics. Other than that, there isn't a whole lot to say -- we'll still take a PC over a Mac any day, especially when it comes to gaming.
What hardware are you running? Hit the jump and post your specs.
A videogame that's fully funded by a Department of Defense grant is helping kids in Albuquerque, New Mexico learn about everything from basic properties to algebra two, but not everyone is on board with the idea.
"We are feeding the addiction of these children to videogames," Marlene Perrotte, a parent of one of the students, told her local news station. "What the recall is not the prime number they were talking about, but rather getting through to the enemy."
Some parents are taking exception both to using videogames as a learning tool, and because of the violent content. But according to Gary Bodman, this is just a modern take on flash cards, and none of the targets are human.
"This is something that is just like a 21st century flash card really," Bodman said. "They can use jetpacks and at the same time they have to know what the associative property is. Anything we can do to meet the kids on their own grounds and educate them is to our advantage."
View the video here, and then hit the jump and tell us if the concerned parents have a point or are overreacting.
Whether or not playing computer games should be classified as a sport remains a point of debate. Sure, you're not going to get anywhere near the same workout as you would by tossing a football or riding a bike, but is playing computer games really all that bad for you? Well, yes, says Dr. Dominic Micklewright from the University of Essex.
According to Micklewright, who is also the head of the Sport, Performance, and Fatigue Research Unit, computer gamers react to visual stimuli almost as fast as fighter jet pilots, but have the lung function and aerobic fitness of a heavy smoker in his sixties.
"Someone of this age should be much fitter, but perhaps this is the occupational hazard of the professional gamer who can spend around 10 hours a day in front of a screen," Micklewright said. "It is always difficult to say how these things will develop, but it could have long term health implications such as an increased risk of heart disease."
Micklewright was referring to a leading gamer in his twenties who appeared to be in good shape, at least physically. But tests proved otherwise, and according to Micklewright, this is why computer gaming shouldn't be considered a sport.
"Gaming shares some characteristics with sport because both are competitive, skill-based and governed by structured rules," he said. "But the main distinction which precludes gaming from being a sport is the lack of physical exertion."
Ever have one of those dreams where you knew you were sleeping and you were able to control your virtual landscape? They're called lucid dreams, and according to an new study, gamers are more likely to have them.
"If you're spending hours a day in a virtual reality, if nothing else it's practice," said Jayn e Gackenback, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University in Canada. "Gamers are used to controlling their game environments, so that can translate into dreams."
Gackenbach says she first became interested in videogames back in the 1990s when she used to witness her son kiss a Nintendo gaming console on the way home from a Toys R Us. More recently, Gackenbach has been interested in whether gamers dream differently than non-gamers, beginning with two studies published in 2006.
The first of those studies suggested that those who play videogames frequently had a higher tendency to experience lucid dreams. Gackenbach also found that gamers flipped between first person and third person views.
Much more here, including what effect violent videogames have on dreams.
There are sore losers, like those who don't shake hands and congratulate the winning team after losing a hotly contested basketball game, and then there's Julien Barreaux, a Frenchman who doesn't like to lose at Counter Strike. And considering what he reportedly did, it isn't much fun to win against him either.
According to a NYDailyNews.com report, Barreaux simmered for 6 months as he tried to track down the gamer who had the gall to kill his online Counter Strike character in a virtual knife fight. He eventually found the skilled, albeit incredibly unlucky gamer and allegedly proceeded to stab him in the chest with a real knife. Repeatedly. In the man's own home.
"Barreaux was arrested wthin the hour and told us he had wanted to see his rival wiped out for killing off his character," a police officer testified at the trial.
The victim ultimately survived, though not for lack of trying to murder him. Barreaux missed the victim's heart by less than an inch. Had his aim been better, Barreaux likely would be looking at more jail time, but as it stands, he'll serve just two years behind bars and receive anger management therapy.
Think the sentence is too light? So do we, but if it makes you feel any better, Judge Alexiane Potel had some strong words for Barreaux, calling him a "menace to society" (on an unrelated note, that's a great movie if you're into that sort of thing).
"I am frankly terrified of the disproportionate reaction you could have if someone looked at you the wrong way in the street," the judge continued.
And thanks to the light sentence, he'll be on the streets in no more than 24 months from now.
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.
In case you missed it, Pac-Man turned 30-years-old last Friday, and to celebrate the occasion, Google brought the 8-bit character back to life through the Web titan's first-ever playable Google doodle. All you had to do was hit the "Insert Coin" button and you could relive those childhood memories of chomping on pellets and dodging ghosts on a customized level.
It's hard to believe we were once so amused by this that we fed actual quarters into an actual machine so that we could navigate Pac-Man up, down, left, and right, but not only was the game hugely popular, apparently so was the doodle.
"Thanks to NAMCO for helping to make this wonderful collaboration happen. Enjoy!"
Could this mean the end of Minesweeper and Solitaire as mid-afternoon time wasters? Probably not, but it's at least worthy of a bookmark. And here's a protip: Press the "Insert Coin" button twice to play a two-player game with Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man simultaneously (use WASD to control Ms. Pac-Man).
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?
Arxan Technologies, Corsair, and Logitech have all joined on as new members with the PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA), the non-profit consortium whose goal is to promote PC gaming and to give the industry a public voice.
"These members bring a wealth of experience and a rich diversity of products and services to the PCGA that will significantly enhance our existing membership base", said Randy Stude, PCGA president. "By joining our rapidly growing organization, they are demonstrating their support for expanding the PC Gaming industry and their commitment to improving the PC gaming experience."
It was a busy day all around for the PCGA, which also named Min-Liang Tan, the CEO of Razer, as the organization's Board director.
"We’re honored to be elected to the PC Gaming Alliance Board of Directors," said Min-Liang Tan, CEO, Razer. "There is so much synergy between Razer’s core DNA - an essence of pure commitment to improving the PC gaming experience with state-of-the-art peripherals - and this organization’s drive to establish high standards and quality guidelines for the evolving industry at large. Both Razer and the PC Gaming Alliance are dedicated to addressing the needs of a maturing category and its largely sophisticated audience."
Perhaps the most interesting addition out of the above companies is Arxan, which is in the business of DRM. That might seem like an odd coupling, but according to company CTO Kevin Morgan, as part of the PCGA, Arxan looks to "ensure that due consideration is given to the protection of intellectual property, preservation of game integrity, and unobtrusive DRM models." Here's hoping they make good on the "unobtrusive" part.