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AAG Feature: The Week That Was #5

Welcome gamers to this fifth edition of All Age Gaming’s “The Week That Was”. This week saw three new games on the market. Ashes Cricket 2009 bowls its way onto the PS3 and 360 this week. For those that are wondering, it does in fact have other teams to play with. Xbox 360 owners can also pick up Ninja Blade, while Wii owners can pick up Ferrari Challenge.

Playstation 3

Speculation around a new “Slim” model and price-cuts continued to dominate PlayStation 3 news last week. In Australia, 80GB PS3 stock levels are at an all time low making many believe that they are being phased out for a new model or SKU. JB Hi-fi in Adelaide had a notice to customers to inform them of a lack of stock, and that they could register to get a console from their next shipment in September. Meanwhile in Japan, a notice from 7-Eleven has stated that pre-orders for their 80GB models will cease as of Sunday August 9. This is under orders from the “manufacturer”, and if this is true, then Japan would be left with only a 160GB model. Over in the U.S., Amazon has already discounted their PS3’s. They are currently selling an Uncharted Drake’s Fortune bundle for US$449.99, $50 under the usual retail. And in the UK, The Telegraph is rumouring that Sony will announce the Slim model at the Cologne show later this month. They also report that the Slim will come in 40GB and 80GB models, with a starting price point around £260, £40 less than the existing model.

A few weeks ago we mentioned the fact that the new Xbox dashboard update would allow for advertisements on the dashboard. The PS3 looked to be joining suit as advertisements were set to infiltrate WipEout HD. The advertisements were to be featured during loading screens only, and not during gameplay. However, only one day after the advertisements were implemented, they were immediately binned due to increased load times. Loading times were up to ten seconds longer, and it will be interesting to see if Double Fusion, the company responsible for the advertisements, will try to re-implement the advertisements in WipEout or any future titles.

It looks like Sony may start rewarding their customers. Sony Computer Entertainment has filed a trademark named “P.S. Thanks”, which may be short for “PlayStation Thanks”. Under the description for the patent, it states that it is an “incentive rewards program geared towards quantifying, identifying and motivating top consumer base with the goal of promotion and sale of video game hardware and software.” There are no other details at this point, such as which consumer base it refers to, or what the rewards may be?

And finally, a couple more games have made the PS3’s greatest hits line. THQ games Saints Row 2 and WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 are the two games to make it into the range, but have only been listed in GameStop’s computers so far. Box art for the titles has been made available, so expect it to be available worldwide (hopefully).

Nintendo Wii

In Wii news this week, Shigeru Miyamoto talked with Mercury News and discussed in length a variety of topics, including the new digital distribution revolution and also the often mocked Wii Vitality Sensor. Miyamoto does not believe digital distribution will be the way of the future, believing that many people feel more reassured with physical media. Miyamoto would go on to say, “Entertainment is something that will not just become digital. If I look at Wii MotionPlus, this is something that you’re not doing via digital distribution.” When pressed about the Vitality Sensor, Miyamoto did not have any indication of any software implementation in the works. Not a good sign, but Miyamoto is urging gamers to be patient as he is confident that Nintendo will do something interesting with the peripheral.

Despite all the talks of PS3 price-cuts, it does not look like Nintendo will be following suit. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has told investors at a recent Q&A session that they are “not thinking of doing anything with the price”. Iwata believes that Nintendo’s drop in sales so far this year is more due to a lack of blockbuster titles, rather than being due to price. With the successful Wii Sports Resort just recently released and the upcoming Wii Fit Plus and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Iwata has reason to be optimistic. He believes that these titles may even sell 10 million units each this fiscal year alone.

This last week Nintendo released lifetime sales data for their biggest titles. Top of the list is Wii Sports with a whopping 47.62 million units sold worldwide. This of course includes copies bundled with the console such as in Australia and the US, and those sold separately such as in Japan. Wii Fit also has strong lifetime sales with 21.82 million units sold, and Mario Kart Wii having sold 17.39 million units.

And finally, this last week saw the release of the black Nintendo Wii in Japan. Its release, as well as a Monster Hunter 3 hardware bundle saw Nintendo move 95,000 units as opposed to 24,000 the week before. Something else that may further boost sales is the announcement of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare for the Wii. The release of the game will coincide with Modern Warfare 2’s release on the PS3 and Xbox 360, and World at War developer Treyarch will be responsible for the port.

Xbox 360

More details regarding the new NXE update have surfaced. Some people with the beta version of the update have noticed that game install sizes have decreased. This is good news for those with smaller hard drives. Of note is the decrease in install size for Rock Band 2 which went from 6.3GB to 4.6GB. If you’re anything like me, and like to install all your games onto your hard drive to prevent the 360 scratching your discs, this is great news!

In other Xbox Live update news, Microsoft released an official list of the games that will appear on the Games on Demand service. The Australian list of titles is much smaller and misses out on a couple of big games in Assassin’s Creed and Burnout Paradise. Microsoft plan to release new titles each week, and the user’s download history will be saved which would allow for a title to be re-downloaded at a later date for free should you choose to delete your download.

It appears that the Xbox 360 Pro may be a thing of the past. The packaging of the Arcade bundle usually lists the Arcade, Pro and Elite models on the spine of the box. Retailers receiving new shipments of the Arcade model have noted that the new packaging no longer lists the Pro model on the box, just the Arcade and Elite. Does this mean that the Pro model is being phased out? And if so, will the Elite model receive a price-cut in time to compete with the PS3 slim?

In other Live news, PayPal has been introduced into the Live marketplace… at least if you live in the US that is. On a post on Major Nelson, the addition of PayPal as a method of payment for Microsoft Points was announced. Setting up your PayPal account to your Live profile is a simple procedure, and will allow for people to purchase points without having to buy points cards, or to have their credit card details associated with their account. Hopefully this will become available for Australian users as well.

And finally, Microsoft is giving everyone the chance to get some early hands-on time with Natal. A competition whereby users have to take pictures of themself “letting go” as they’d imagine they would while playing with Natal was announced. The winner would be able to head over to Games-com in Cologne to get some time with Natal. Follow the link for further details.

And now for this weeks other news in brief:

· Love your Wii bowling but it’s not realistic enough for you? Well you may need the Wii Bowling Ball accessory

· The Batman: Arkham Asylum demo hit Xbox Live and the PSN this week.

· Call of Duty: World at War Map Pack 3 released this week, going for 800 MS points, or $15.95 on the PSN.

· Sexy Poker released on Wii Ware, but not coming to Australia as it has been banned. Will this be the mature game destined for success on the Wii?

· Last week Activision announced Avatar support for Guitar Hero 5, this week they announce Mii support on the Wii version. And they also released the Guitar Hero: Van Halen song list.

· What would go well with the Modern Warfare 2 night-vision goggles? How about an Operation Flashpoint 2 army helmet?

· Starcraft II joins the list of games delayed until 2010.

· Activision have revealed that Modern Warfare 2 has the more pre-orders than any other title in their history, and its Prestige Edition will be quite limited.

· You’ve got LittleBigPlanet in my 360 advertisement.

· Despite the so-so sales of the Conduit, High Voltage are keen to make a sequel.

· The Brutal Legend lawsuit has been settled.

· New scans have surfaced of the various job classes in the next Final Fantasy MMO, FFXIV.

· 50 Cent to make a cameo in Modern Warfare 2.

And that’s the news for the week. Stay Classy Australia.

Article written by Phong Nguyen

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