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Archive for December, 2005

James Bond waits to make the leap to PS3

Sunday, December 25th, 2005

The 007 fanatics at report that Electronic Arts has cancelled production of the video game version of the new Bond film, “Casino Royale,” for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The company will instead release the game — the first to feature Daniel Craig as the new Bond — on current-generation consoles.

Related: Earlier in the week, EA lowered its profit projections, citing the shortage of Xbox 360s as a big problem for game developers who expected many more consoles to be on the market by this time. Maybe they’re scaling back their PS3 and 360 development to avoid that problem down the road.

• ‘Casino Royale’ aims for current-gen systems [MI6 via PSP Advanced]

Metal Gear Solid’s online future

Sunday, December 25th, 2005

Metal Gear Solid mastermind Hideo Kojima talks to Famitsu Magazine this month about the potential for an MGS release that focuses more on online play. He doesn’t make any promises, of course, but does say that the best developers at Kojima Productions are hard at work on online play, some of which has been including in MGS3 Subsistence, recently released in Japan.

“We would like to make a more meaningful Metal Gear Online after hearing the opinions of people who’ve played the Online battles in Subsistence.” Kojima comments. “Years from now, we’d like to realize this on the PlayStation 3, on the Xbox 360, or maybe on the PC.”

Sounds good to us. For more on Metal Gear, check out the MGS4 for PS3 preview.

• Kojima Planning True Online Metal Gear [IGN]

360 getting rocked in Japan

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

In Xbox 360’s second week on the market in Japan, it was outsold by the Nintendo Gamecube. Wow. “The Xbox 360 sold only 8,623 units compared to 17,849 for GameCube - putting them at 1.39% and 2.88% market share respectively.” Maybe they can send some home to ease the production problems Microsoft is having here in the states. [IGNIQ]

Meanwhile, hacker groups are already getting excited about their Xbox mod chip projects, which they say should have a chip on the market “within weeks.” Microsoft, needless to say, is not pleased, but they’re also confident in their defenses. [CDRinfo]

Unreal Tournament 2007 will be a PS3 launch title

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

UT PC Screen Epic and Sony have revealed that the first-person shooter Unreal Tournament 2007 will be a launch title for PlayStation 3, according to the latest PSM Magazine. The game has been on display at trade shows, and the developer has announced it was developing PS3 games, but this is the first time it’s been confirmed that the game will be released on PS3.

For more, check out our UT 2007 game preview.

• Unreal Tournament 2007 to be PS3 launch title [Gamespot]

EA’s Downloader — Like iTunes, but for games

Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

Gamespot has an interview with Chip Lange, who heads the division of EA that quietly launched Downloader, a service that allows iTunes-like distribution of expansion packs for PC games. The concept is simple: you buy The Sims 2 in the store, and you download the expansions digitally, saving you another trip (and presumably saving you some money too).

So, will this kind of thing spread to consoles? Maybe. And will retailers freak out about the new digital distribution. They already have. EA says that it is sticking with expansion packs and has no major plans to distribute full games over the web — but really, how long can that last if the consumer demand is out there? It sounds like an awesome mix if iTunes and Sega Channel to us, especially if it hooks up with the next-gen consoles. We can only hope.

• Q&A: EA Downloader boss Chip Lange

THQ predicts sunnier sales

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

In more industry news, game developer THQ followed its competitors’ bad news with an announcement that its sales are on par with predictions. The company says its strategy of waiting until next year to launch games for next-gen consoles is working — that means they’re not suffering from the current Xbox 360 shortage.

• Video game maker THQ backs holiday outlook [Reuters]

Earlier: Console shortage causes sales slide for EA [PS3week]

Console shortage causes sales slide for EA

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Blaming slow Xbox 360 sales and anticipation of a spring PS3 release, Electronic Arts announced today that its earnings will be well below projections for this financial quarter.

Of the two reasons, the console shortage is the biggest problem — and one analyst tells Reuters that it may take years to recover, especially if PS3 isn’t out in large quantities by next holiday season.

“There are 5 million people who really believe they are getting an Xbox 360 relatively soon, by February. Microsoft has shipped 500,000 units, so 4.5 million people are doing nothing. That’s enough to just kill Christmas,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities.

Meanwhile, EA’s CEO says that some gamers are holding off on purchasing current-generation games in anticipation of the PS3’s release.

“There are rumors that the PlayStation 3 may launch as early as spring, and that’s causing some people to evaluate whether to make a purchase now or wait,” CEO Larry Probst told a conference call.

So, the bottom line? Production failures are really hurting game developers, and anticipation of the new PS3 — or finally getting a 360 — is keeping people from spending money now. If Sony wants to bail out its developers, it needs to do to two things:

  • Decide on a release date, so gamers know how long they’ll have to wait.
  • Figure out how to produce enough PS3s to at least avoid a massive shortage — and give developers and store owners realistic estimates of how many systems will be there at launch.

• EA warns on Xbox shortages [Reuters, CNN/Money]

More on Xbox launch economics

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Slate’s Xbox 360 economics lesson continues today with an update on last week’s question — if 360s are so scarce, why not raise prices? After mulling over many possibilities in this excellent article, the economist finally settles on this response:

Imagine that the typical Xbox customer is willing to pay around $325 for a basic console but is extremely price sensitive. At $300, twice as many people want the console. At $350, hardly anybody wants it. Microsoft isn’t sure exactly what the average gamer will pay and can’t change the price quickly. If they priced just a little too high, all the customers would wait for Sony’s next console.

Sounds about right. But here’s another question that a colleague of ours likes to kick around: Why don’t they release consoles in the summer? Rather than squeeze it in just before Christmas, wouldn’t it make more sense to start selling in June, ramp up production for a few months, and then have tons of supply for the Christmas rush? We’ll see what Sony decides for PS3.

Here’s today’s article, Xbox Economics, Part 2. And the earlier stories are in our Xbox roundup.

Launch Projections: The date, the games, the losses

Monday, December 19th, 2005

• Sony says PS3’s launch is still on for Spring ‘06, despite doubts from the critics. [Reuters]

• Some kind soul has transcribed a PSM interview with two Sony bigshots. Not sure if that’s fair use, but we’ll allow it. The highlights:

  • The PS3 will launch in Spring ‘06, but they’re not sure if it will be exclusive to Japan or if it will launch in North America and Europe too.
  • They drop the name of two Sony games planned for launch — “Lair” and “Warhawk.”

• PS3 will have parental controls, according to the Entertainment Software Association. [IGN]

• Merril Lynch Japan says Sony could lose as much as $1 billion in the first year after PS3’s launch — a result of selling the product for a price well below manufacturing costs. They estimate it will cost $500 to make a PS3, and that they’ll sell for $399. Sony’s Ken Kutaragi disputes the claim, of course, and defends entering the market against lower-priced competitors. [SPOnG]

• Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima says Xbox 360 might see a version of MGS4, particularly for its online play capabilities. [SPOnG]

• Things aren’t going well for Xbox 360 sales in Japan. [GameSHOUT]

Xbox 360 Roundup

Monday, December 19th, 2005

OK, we know this is a PS3 site, and we know Xbox 360 came out a month ago, but we figure it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the competition. With that in mind, here are a few choice links about the Xbox, gaming trends, and reasons to wait for PS3.

  • Economists on the Great Xbox Shortage [Slate]
  • When gaming gets too real [Slate]
  • Find an Xbox 360 with Google Maps [Google Maps Mania]
  • Patience 360: Why to wait [IGN]

Enough for now? On to the PS3 action…