Some big name titles are hitting this week, including the much anticipated The Darkness for both Xbox 360 and PS3. Transformers is bound to be a big seller by virtue of its name and the number of platforms that it’s coming out on. And Pokemon Battle Revolution for Wii is going to sell a scientifically accurate 1,432,345^100, or in other words, a metric crapton.
Read More | Gamasutra
Hideo Kojima talked about the Metal Gear franchise through the years at the GO3 Expo in Australia. Gamasutra covered his speech, an interesting walk through game development starting from the 80s through to his work on Metal Gear Solid 4. From the MSX to the PlayStation 2, it seems Kojima has been bumping against the technological limitations of each platform while trying to refine and evolve his “hide and seek” gameplay concept from the original game. While he offered no real new footage from Metal Gear Solid 4, he did discuss where he wanted to take the conflict in the next iteration of the franchise.
Read More | Gamasutra
February’s NPD data has been released, and things look good for Nintendo. 1up has the details on video game sales for last month, and the Nintendo DS sold 485,000 units, the Wii 335,000. For the rest of the next-generation hardware, Microsoft maintained its sales pace by moving around 228,000 consoles, while the Playstation 3 saw a significant drop to 127,000. The PSP didn’t do much better against the DS, moving 176,000 handhelds.
The only bright spot for Sony would be that in the non-handheld category, the PS2 took second behind the Wii, selling 295,000 units, showing that their now last-generation technology still has plenty of legs at retail. Still, having their PS3 sales drop by nearly half over last month’s sales is a significant change; if new software from Sony can’t change course, the company may have to do something drastic to turn things around.
Microsoft should be pretty happy; while they didn’t lead the pack, the company will surely trumpet their increase in year-over-year sales. That, and having the number one game at retail for the month of February, Crackdown will also help. 1up’s article also further details the rest of the software charts for the month.
Read More | 1up
Some enterprising gamer has figured out how to boot PS2 backups on the Playstation 3, assuming that one is willing to dismantle the PS3 and cut a hole in the top cover. Basically, the swap trick is an implementation of an existing hack used on the older Playstation 2 machines. The mod is interesting mainly because it shows off how deep the hardware compatibility for PS2 games goes, but if one really wanted to play back up Playstation 2 software, it probably makes a little more sense to pick up a cheap slimline PS2 and a Swap Magic disc rather than voiding the warrantee and risking the health of a $500 to $600 game console.
Read More | PS2 Scene
It looks like enforced bundles of the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii, along with strong holiday sales have boosted GameStops financials, as the company raised guidance for their fourth quarter and full year results. GameStop reports that total sales for the holiday season reached $1.73 billion. The top five video game releases for the holiday season were:
- Gears of War
- Final Fantasy XII
- Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
- Guitar Hero II
- WWE Smackdown vs RAW 2007
Interestingly, no Playstation 3 title made the list, but two Playstation 2 titles did, along with one Xbox 360 release, one combination Wii/Gamecube release, and one multi-platform title in Smackdown. Console shortages might have limited the revenue that the company received from next generation releases, but this would seem to be one more data point indicating that the Playstation 2 will still be a sales monster into the coming year.
Read More | Reuters
NPD today released its official game sales numbers for November, and the numbers are showing amazing growth. Next Generation reports on the figures; year-over-year sales increased 34% to $1.7 billion. For this generation’s consoles, the Xbox 360 lead the pack with 551K sales. Nintendo’s Wii followed with 476K units, and the Playstation 3 trailed with 197K units. Supply issues hampered sales for the Playstation 3 and the Wii, and slightly under 200,000 consoles sold, Sony’s inability to provide consoles for their launch became apparent. Overall, though, last generation’s Playstation 2 continues to rack up huge sales, moving 664K consoles for November.
In the handheld arena, the Nintendo DS continues to absolutely dominate, selling 918,000 units in November. The Game Boy followed with 641,000 sold, and the PSP brought up the rear with 412,000 units sold.
On the software side of things, Gears of War took the number one spot, moving 1 million copies during the month. Final Fantasy XII sold 896,000 units, continuing that series’ success, and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess sold 412,000 copies, perhaps constrained a bit by Wii hardware supplies.
Overall, the industry is showing excellent year-over-year growth, and all three console manufacturers have something to smile about in November.
Read More | Next Generation
When Xploder’s HDTV Player for the Playstation 2 was announced, it was greeted with a bit of skepticism. The HDTV Player promised to offer PS2 owners the ability to upscale their 480i games to HDTV resolutions, including 480p, 576p, 720p, and 1080i. IGN reviewed Xploder’s software to find out if it really works. The results were definitely mixed: 480p mode seemed to work the best, giving HDTV owners the option for progressive scan video output in games that normally don’t support it. Other modes like 720p and 1080i were judged unacceptable by IGN, and they were unable to test the 576p mode, which Xploder claimed to be the best mode for the player. If gamers have displays that support 576p, or are desperate to get 480p, then the software may fit those needs. However, according to the review, it appears that higher resolution display modes just do not seem to work well enough for recommendation.
Read More | IGN
Saturday was a school work day, with two group meetings early in the day. Once I got home, however, I found a copy of Rockstar’s latest, Bully, waiting for me.
I stayed up until 2AM playing it.
The game is very accessible, but they way they’ve structured the game in several places serves to keep the tension up. You’re basically in perpetual trouble, late to class, out past curfew, etc. When you’re trouble meter is on the rise, you have to avoid the prefects or you’ll be busted on the spot (though you learn ways out of that). The more trouble you’re in, the more likely you are to get a one-way ticket to “The Head’s” office.
The latest NPD data showed strong September sales growth; 38% over 2005. Nintendo and the DS showed strong growth, and the “next generation” transition doesn’t seem to have hurt the industry as much as expected. But hidden in the NPD data are some interesting points that various analysts have started to dissect. GameDaily reports on analysis from Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities, and Deutsche Bank analyst Jeetil Patel. Pachter sees the PS2 growth as a good sign, with software sales up 12 percent compared to last year. But the original Xbox has been fading fast. As one looks at the numbers, it appears that the Xbox 360 is completely cannibalizing the original Xbox user base. The Xbox 360 seems to be pushing better than expected software sales, a good thing for Microsoft.
Still, things don’t appear to be completely rosy in the Xbox 360 camp. Jeetil Patel feels like the Xbox 360 is underperforming. Tracking the Xbox 360 versus the original Xbox’s sales path seems to indicate that the Xbox 360 has moved fewer net units than the original Xbox at this point in the console life cycle; the lack of units during Microsoft’s holiday launch last year really set the company back. In addition, NPD data has the total Xbox 360 sell through at approximately 2.7 million units. Japan adds only a fraction to that number, with well under 200,000 units sold through in that territory. An optimistic projection for the Xbox 360 in the rest of the world might match the US total. At this point, it is starting to look like Microsoft’s projections of a 10 million unit head start by the time the Playstation 3 launches was extremely aggressive. With probably just over six million Xbox 360 consoles moved worldwide to date, Microsoft would have to nearly double their worldwide sales in October and November to match their goals before Sony’s November launch of the Playstation 3.
Read More | GameDaily BIZ
Xbox 360 users with an Xbox Live Gold account will be able to participate in Sega’s upcoming open beta test for Phantasy Star Universe on October 11. Sega’s official Phantasy Star Universe site has the details of the open beta. The test itself will run from October 11th through October 18th, and will let users experience some of the online multiplayer functionality of the game. According to the site, the beta will be available on the Xbox Live Marketplace sometime between October 11th and October 12th.
The Xbox 360 version of Phantasy Star Universe should hit stores on the same date as the PC and Playstation 2 versions, October 24th. Xbox 360 users will have their own servers; while PC and Playstation 2 users will be able to interact with each other online, Xbox 360 users will only be able to see other players with the Xbox 360 version of the game. For the final version of Phantasy Star Universe, Xbox 360 owners with either a Silver or Gold account will be able to play online. Phantasy Star Universe will cost $9.99 per month to play. Hopefully the online beta will help Sega avoid the server meltdowns that plagued the Japanese launch of the Playstation 2 and PC versions.
Read More | Phantasy Star Universe
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