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.
Bigfoot Networks, makers of the original Killer NIC (see our review in the Holiday 2006/2007 issue, page 70) is back again with a new product and more big promises. According to Bigfoot Networks, the new Killer 2100 is the world's fastest online gaming network card, which isn't hard to believe considering the extremely niche market it's competing in.
"Killer 2100 is the fastest network card available for online games, period," said Michael Howse, CEO, Bigfoot Networks. "From its completely redesigned user interface and race-inspired outer casing to its high-performance Game Networking DNA software, everything about Killer 2100 screams speed and maximum performance."
Like the original, the Killer 2100 comes with a dedicated 400MHz network processor, but this time around Bigfoot doubled up on the onboard memory to 128MB of DDR2 RAM and the card now plugs into a PCI-E x1 slot. If you're new to Bigfoot's aftermarket NICs, the Killer cards work their mojo by using their own optimized network stack instead of the one built into Windows, and according to Bigfoot, you can expect up to 10x lower latencies versus an onboard NIC.
Reviews of the original have been mixed, with our own evaluation noting an "imperceptible ping reduction," though frame rates did go up anywhere from 3 to 10 percent when using the Killer NIC for online gaming. We've yet to test the new Killer 2100, so we'll reserve judgment until we do.
Bigfoot says the new card is "coming soon" with an MSRP set at $129.
It's no secret that game publishers and developers typically aren't very fond of GameStop and the used game business in general, but rather than sit around and complain about it, it looks like Electronic Arts has finally found a way to cash in on second-hand titles. Starting in June, EA will block players who buy used copies of sports titles out of online multiplayer.
"It's quite simple -- every game will come with a game-specific, one-time use registration code with each unit sold new at retail," EA explains. "With your Online Pass, you'll have access to multiplayer online play, group features like only dynasty and leagues, user created content, and bonus downloadable content for your game including, for example, a new driver in Tiger."
If you pick up or rent a game where the code has already been registered, you'll be given a 7-day trial, after which time you can choose to purchase a $10 pass. The Online Pass will give online access to multiple users logged into the console where the it was first activated, so on the plus side, you won't need to fork over $10 for every gamer in your household.
"This is an important inflection point in our business because it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhance premium online services to the entire robust EA SPORTS online community," EA said.
There's no doubt the used game market can be lucrative, it's tapping into it that's challenging. Just ask mega retail chain Walmart, which previously tried cashing in on used games by renting out space for E-play, a third-party automated kiosk company.
That didn't quite work out the way Walmart had hoped, so this time around the chain is partnering with a new start-up called Game Trade, which will lease space in select Walmart locations. To start off with, the new used game venture get a test run in five stores, with a national rollout to follow if all goes well.
Word on the Web is that customers will be able to buy, sell, and trade games for both store credit and cash, and that gaming might not be the only media to change hands. Moves might make their way into Game Trade's section, and so too might gaming hardware. In other words, pretty much everything you can find at your local Gamestop.
When we think of high end gaming machines, Intel's Xeon processors aren't the first chips that come to mind, but that doesn't mean we'd turn our noses up at a monster setup with not one, but two six-core Xeon 5600 chips. That's exactly what AVADirect delivers in its new custom hybrid gaming system / workstation setup built for both work and play.
If you don't need quite that level of performance, you can drop down to a mere quad-core Xeon chip, but where's the fun in that? As with most boutique system builders, you can choose from a wide variety of components, including up to 48GB of DDR3 memory, up to FOUR freaking graphics, oodles of SSD and HDD options configurable in a RAID array, and just about everything else you can imagine. For a fee, AVADirect will go the extra mile however little or much you wish, including GPU overclocking, sound dampening your setup, slapping on a custom paint job, and spiral wrapping or looming custom colored cables.
All of these hardware options come jammed into an EVGA SR2 motherboard with support for SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0, and the whole thing is shoved into a Lian Li Armorsuit PC-P80 tower chassis, which are about the only two components that can't be swapped.
So here's the deal - icing rival mobsters, rising in the ranks of the mafia, robbing your opponents, doing battle with flame throwers, and everything else portrayed in Mafia Wars is fair game. But pit bulls? Now you've crossed the line, Zynga.
Such is the stance the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have taken, and following a complaint by the organization, Zynga has decided to remove pit bulls from its virtual mafia landscape.
"Depicting 'man's best friend' as a fighting machine can encourage the wrong type of people--those with no heart and no understanding of a dog's needs--to treat these wonderful animals as inanimate objects," PETA executive Tracy Reiman said in a release from the company last month. "If Mark Pincus--who named his company after his own beloved dog, Zinga--can't portray dogs as loyal and loving members of the family, we'd rather he left them out of the game altogether."
According to CNet, the ordeal reeks of PR shenanigans, at least in part. A blog post from PETA points out that in YoVille, another of Zynga's games, proceeds from purchasing a virtual bulldog are donated to the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In addition, PETA said it is "sending vegan chocolates to Zynga founder and CEO Mark Pincus to thank him for his compassionate decision."
PETA may want to hold off on sending gifts, however. Other animals have either made their way into Mafia Wars, or soon will, including lions and tigers in "Vicious Crates" and a "bloody horse head" item.
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.
Wade McGilberry and his wife Katy can now pay off their mortgage and start a family on a positive financial foot, and it's all because Wade's a gamer. Give Take Two a bit of credit as well for offering a $1 million prize to the first person to pitch a perfect game in Major League Baseball 2K10.
Wade, a 23-year-old from Mobile, Alabama, accomplished the feat in just 90 minutes, which is probably a lot sooner than the publisher would have liked. For the McGilberrys, however, it was time well spent.
"I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do it, but I was going to try my hardest to," Wade said during a phone interview with GamePro.com. "I already told [my wife] that I was going to be taking the TV for the next couple of weeks or so until I did it."
As it turns out, Wade only needed seven tries, most of which was spent ignoring his in-game catcher's suggestions. Instead, he threw a bunch 2-seam fastballs as weak as possible, keeping them low and out of the strike zone. It would turn out to be a strategy that, after taxes, would be worth about $700,000.
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.
Despite ongoing criticism, the University of British Columbia says it will continue to offer a summer camp program in which kids are allowed up to three hours of videogame activities a day. The program, which was launched last summer, lets children play with the Wii, PlayStation, and computer games, while also maintaining traditional games like foosball, ping pong, and board games. A field trip to Electronic Arts to meet designers, preview upcoming titles, and learn about jobs in the games industry also included.
Not surprisingly, the program has been a hit with kids and faculty alike, but not everyone is keen on a videogame summer camp. There's even been some dissension at UBC, in particular the medical department, which criticized the program for not doing enough to fight childhood obesity.
But is the criticism deserved? According to GamePolitics.com, it seems people are taking issue with using "videogames" in the descriptor, ignoring that three hours of gaming leaves plenty of time both before and after to engage in other activities. On the other hand, the CEO of Active Healthy Kids Canada recently reported that only about 12 percent of Canada's youth are getting adequate exercise as part of the company's 2010 Report Card on Physical Activity in Children and Youth.
Are critics overreacting, or do they have a legitimate concern?