AAG Feature: The Week That Was #13

This week is week 13 in All Age Gaming’s “The Week That Was.” Unlucky for some, depending on how superstitious you are! Anyway, let’s get into it.

In game releases this week, the Wii saw three exclusives in Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter, MySims Agents and Spore Hero Wii. PS3 gamers got a chance to pick up Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, worth a look if you want a challenging action game. Meanwhile, both NBA games were released this week for most consoles (I personally recommend NBA 2K10 over NBA Live 10) and Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes also hit all consoles.

Playstation 3

In PS3 news this week, TDK have announced a prototype 10-layer Blu-Ray disc with a 320GB capacity. If these discs take off (I’m sure we’ll need 320GB worth of disc storage some day!) they should work on current technology as the laser used to read and write data to the discs is the same as that currently used for Blu-Ray discs. A firmware update may be required, but can you just imagine the quality of games that could be produced with that much space?

SCEA president and CEO Jack Tretton is back in the news this week, stating that the “environment where the PlayStation wins is best for the industry.” He believes that this is the case as Sony targets a broader audience than either the 360 or Wii, which tend to be “relegated to either select regions or to select consumer audiences.” Tretton also stated that Sony are “willing to take a little bit more risk than Nintendo is.” Those are fighting words Jack.

There was some more PlayStation Motion Controller news this week, with rumours that the new technology has been codenamed “Sphere”. Sphere obviously relates to the glowing orb on-top of the motion controller, and this is the title by which Sega producer Yasuhito Baba referred to the controller at TGS. So far only a couple of developers appear to be aware of the name, with other Sony representatives unfamiliar with the name.

And Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter is again giving his analysis of the console war. Pachter has predicted that the PS3 has grabbed top spot in the North American September hardware sales, with a 76% improvement year-over-year. Software sales are also predicted to be up by 21% on last year, but the hardware results are extremely important for Sony as they hope to catch up to the 360 and Wii in the console race.

Nintendo Wii

In Wii news this week, sales of the Wii have doubled in the US thanks to the recent price cut. Preliminary VGChartz data shows that 150,000 Wiis were sold in the week ending October 3, double that of the average August-September rates. And in Japan, sales of the Wii have tripled with 32,000 units sold compared to 10,500 the week before. Perhaps this news will spur Nintendo Australia to consider a price-cut here as well?

The increase in sales isn’t the only good news for Nintendo this week, with business publication “Business Week” rating Nintendo as the number one company in the world. The top 40 list was compiled using 2008 sales and international sales percentage. The best of the best were then chosen from 2500 companies worldwide, with Nintendo edging out Google for top spot with Apple coming in at third. Microsoft and Sony did not crack the top 40, and for those interested, the number one Australian company was BHP Billiton at number ten. For the complete list, click here.

Nintendo’s success comes despite the fact that over a third of their games are not reviewed. The director of analyst services at Electronic Entertainment Design and Research, Jesse Divnich, has said that 37% of Wii games are not reviewed, up from 25% the previous year. This is likely a result of the high number of casual and low-budget titles being made for the console. The percentage of unreviewed games on the 360 and PS3 were much lower, but both also saw a jump from last year. Divnich attributes this to the increasing install bases for each of the consoles, which draws “in more developers who release casual and low-budget titles.”

And for those in Sydney, Myer will be fitting out their Sydney City store with a game arena dedicated to Nintendo. Similar to The Nintendo Experience at EB Games’ Swanston Street store in Melbourne, the arena will showcase the latest Wii and DS releases. It opens this coming Thursday October 15 at midday, will be on the 6th floor, and the first 50 people entering the arena will take home a free copy of Wii Fit Plus (game only).

Xbox 360

The recently announced Xbox 360 802.11n wireless network adaptor has been given a price and release date (for the US at least). A listing on the GameStop website has the dongle set for a November 3 release, and will set you back US$99.99. In a somewhat curious move though, GameStop will not be selling the current 802.11b/g adaptor at a lower price point as previously expected. I’m sure that once the sales dry up for the old adaptor, GameStop will be forced to sell the old adaptor at a reduced price. Keep a look out for confirmation on this sometime soon.

There will be a public beta later this month for the upcoming 360 dashboard update. Just to refresh your memory, this new update will be bringing Facebook and Twitter to the dashboard among other things. The beta is open to certain invited members of the Xbox community and will be released “middle-towards-end of October”. A nice feature will be the ability to see which of your Facebook friends is on Xbox Live and to add them if you wish. For some early first impressions, click here.

You better start saving for Project Natal if you want it on release. Microsoft has detailed their pricing plan, stating that it will “go through the usual price curve”. This means it will mostly start at a higher price point, and then reduce in price, similar to the pricing scheme for consoles. There may be some financial relief for new adopters to the 360 though, with Epic Games’ Mark Rein believing that Microsoft is likely to bundle Natal with each new console upon release.

And is Xbox Live getting its own version of PlayStation Home? Details and images have emerged for something titled ‘Xbox Avatar RetroCade’ which has a similar concept to the PlayStation Home arcade. It was previously mentioned in a consumer survey sent to Joystiq, and may not be free as one of the survey questions asked, “Which of the following names would most compel you to purchase the product.”

And now for this week’s other news in brief:

- The folks at 2K Marin are taking game promotion to a new level with their recent Bioshock 2 campaign. Click here, and then here for their most recent activities.

- Venezuela has taken more steps towards banning violent videogames and toys.

- Here’s your full DJHero set list.

- Activision originally didn’t want Infinity Ward to make a “Modern Warfare” game, and wanted another WWII game. That could have been a huge blunder.

- This managing director thinks Sony’s PSPgo will fail miserably. It’s almost hard to disagree considering the price, but hopefully the software outlook won’t be so bleak.

- Sony’s EyePet has been delayed to 2010 in North America, but still looks likely to be released in Europe and Australia later this year.

- Epic Mickey details have been revealed and it will be a Wii-exclusive.

- EA’s Visceral Studios is working on a Jack the Ripper game. That’s going to please Michael Atkinson!

- Speaking of which, FYI, Australia has banned over 32 videogames…. America none.

- Easy achievements drive sales… damn you achievement whores.

- Left 4 Dead 2 will be released in Australia, albeit with some editing.

- FIFA 10 is the fastest selling sports game of all time, even managing to top the Australian charts.

- The complete car and track listing for Forza 3 has been announced.

- With the success of The Beatles: Rock Band, will we see a U2 version of the game? They wouldn’t mind it, and neither would I!

- Sick of Halo yet? Well there’s still 6 more years of it to go.

Thanks for reading folks.

Article written by Phong Nguyen

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