Merry Christmas to all of you.
Not a whole lot happening this week; just enough to tide you over until after Christmas. Now that it's holidays, I hope you all take it easy and save the world once or twice.
This week brings some innovation(?) from Sony, some bad PSP marketing, and info on the Wiimote Wii-Calls. A tamer NUMB3R CRUNCHING this week, but after last week's behemoth, I don't feel bad at all.
The Wii hit the streets of London like a big, Zelda-saturated fog last week. Unlike fog, however, Marshall's scissors hung vigorously towards the left.
Altogether told, 50,000 citizens of the United Kingdom had their hands on their Wiis within 12 hours of launch, which Nintendo pegs as a sale per minute. While Nintendo execs were doing some sort of jig in their corporate offices worldwide, the real party was at the HMV on Oxford Street. Hundreds of people lined up to get their hands on the Wii, and those that didn't were still treated to a demo of the console by local celebrities. Smashing good times, wot? You can view photos of the hullabaloo on Eurogamer.
On the other side of the Atlantic, gamers were treated to some bad news: Nintendo is retracting November claims that there will be one million Wii's in your greasy palms by year's end. No reasons were given for the change of heart, but considering the voracity of European consumers, Nintendo could be redistributing consoles to feed demand elsewhere. Apparently, North America is not the centre of the universe.
Conversely, Sony reassured the public this week by reiterating their promise to get one million PS3's onto the North American market before January. Sony's President, Ryoji Chubachi, confirmed that Sony was still shooting for two million units worldwide by the new year, and six million by the European release. With the European launch still months away, perhaps they aren't spread as thin as Nintendo is.
If Sony manufactures and ships more PS3's to North America than Nintendo does Wiis, it will be because Sony's clandestinely added Santa Clause and his elves to their payroll.
In a statement to 1UP, Sony had this to say about November's sales numbers:
We will continue to utilize airfreight delivery for the PLAYSTATION 3 to assure a steady stream of systems for North American consumers through the end of the year. And while initial day-one launch shipment goals weren't achievable due to early manufacturing issues, those problems have been resolved and we do remain focused on having one million PS3's in the pipeline by December 31, 2006
The fall firmware update for the Xbox 360 has left some console owners a little hot-headed. No, it's not because the power cords have set their hats on fire; the November 1 update has allegedly turned s handful of Xbox 360's nation-wide into very expensive doorstops. Bad things happen to good consoles, sometimes, but Microsoft has allegedly been charging a hefty $140 fee to get your console up and running.
A California gamer was so upset about the incident that he's launched a class-action lawsuit against Microsoft, seeking damages of $5 million USD in addition to the repair costs. I don't know how one can claim $5 million in losses for an incident like this, but apparently Kevin Ray thinks he's entitled to it. No other plaintiffs have been named.
If there were only a lawsuit for every crashed Microsoft product.
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion won its second bevvy of hardware with the presentation of the Spike TV Video Game Awards this week. The first batch of praise came nearly a month ago, at the Golden Joystick Awards in London. Oblivion walked away with Ultimate Game of the Year, as well as the subcategories of PC and Xbox Game of the Year. The Spike TV Video Game Awards were even more generous, garnering iy with with five awards and numerous nominations, including Game of the Year and Best Graphics. But Oblivion wasn't the only game to be showered with praise; and while only a few RPGs took home hardware, there were several in contention.
Game of the Year: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Nominated: Okami)
Critic's Choice: Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Wii
Best Action Game: Dead Rising (Nominated: Okami)
Studio of the Year: Cliff Bleszinski/Epic Games for Gears of War (Nominated: Clover Studio for Okami and Todd Howard/Bethesda Studios for Oblivion)
Best Original Score: Oblivion (Nominated: Okami, Final Fantasy XII
Best Graphics: Oblivion (Nominated: Okami)
Best PC Game: Company of Heroes (Nominated: Oblivion)
Best RPG: Oblibion (Nominated: Okami, Final Fantasy XII, Kingdom Hearts II, Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria)
Best Performance by a Human - Male: Patrick Stewart in Oblivion
Best Female - Supporting: Rachael Leigh Cook in Kingdom Hearts II (Nominated: Lynda Carter in Oblivion)
Best Cast: Family Guy (Nominated: Oblivion)
Most Addictive Game: Oblivion
Take Two Interactive did a sweep for skeletons and found their closets were brimming with the nasty fellows. The result of a recent investigation by a Board of Director's subcommittee is that Take-Two will need to redo every financial filing since the year 1997. The investigation has also meant that Take-Two faces expulsion from the Nasdaq, pending a meeting of the qualifications panel regarding their filings.
The final report and its recommendations are still in the works, but the committee has not implicated anybody as having acted unethically or illegally. Specifically, the committee found that Take Two had inconsistencies in regards stock options and certain dates involved in the granting process, and stated that the company would have to "restate historical financial statements to record non-cash charges for compensation expense relating to past stock option grants." Earlier this year, Take-Two founder Ryan Brandt stepped down after the company was fined $7.5 million USD for improperly stating revenues, so they've had issues with their books before.
I wouldn't want to be a Take-Two investor right now.
As discussed earlier this month, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has been dealing with the issue of M-rated advertisements on the subway for some time. The MBTA came under heavy fire from police unions, prostitutes, politicians, and parent groups for the decision to allow the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories billboards to be put up.
The MBTA refused to take down the advertisements before the predetermined removal time, citing legal concerns and monetary loss for breach of contract, but given the public outcry, they promised to scrutinize their policy on the matter. The results of the discussion are in, and the MBTA has banned all "M"- and "AO"-rated games from appearing on billboard advertisements in the future.
How did they do that? Well, lawyers for the MBTA figured that if X-rated movies aren't appropriate subjects for advertisement on the metro, then neither are Mature and Adults-Only games. While this may be true in legalese, I seriously question the comparison between an "M"-rated game and a pornographic movie. Since movies rated "18A" or "R" don't seem to be under fire here, it seems patently obvious that the MBTA's lawyers are fishing for reasons to kill the potential for future controversy. Which is what they're paid to do, I suppose.
Susan Linn, of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which sparked dialogue on the issue last month, commented:
The children of Boston can now ride the MBTA without being targets for advertising that glorifies violence.
[The decision] sends a strong message to the videogame industry that public property cannot be used to promote violence to children. We hope that other cities will follow suit.
Sony got caught with their hand in the cookie jar with regards to their new PSP marketing strategy. The marketing scheme revolved around the supposed quest that two friends were on to get their parents to buy one of them a PSP for Christmas. The scheme took the form of a blog (since deleted), YouTube rap videos (also removed), and various printable media available through their web site, encouraging other kids to get involved and try to petition their mommies and daddies for a PSP.
A post appeared this week on charlie and jeremy's now-defunct blog:
Busted. Nailed. Snagged. As many of you have figured out (maybe our speech was a little too funky fresh???), Peter isn't a real hip-hop maven and this site was actually developed by Sony. Guess we were trying to be just a little too clever. From this point forward, we will just stick to making cool products, and use this site to give you nothing but the facts on the PSP.
Sony Computer Entertainment America
The folks at SomethingAwful.com called foul on Sony when they discovered that the domain (alliwantforxmasisapsp.com) was registered to Zipatoni, a marketing firm. Basically, consumers were misled into believing that a paid advertisement was not what it seemed. Not cool.
This is a message-board worthy topic, if there ever was one. Obviously, Sony's hurt their reputation more than they've helped it with this little stunt, but the very fact that they tried to lie to us, the fans that keep their business afloat, is enough to boil some people's blood.
Taking a page straight out of last week, it seems that Sony's patented a completely innovative motion-sensing controller. A derivative of the SIXAXIS, the new controller differs from the current line by the placement of LED's on its front. When coupled with an external sensor (like a camera), the user would be able to move the controller and send feedback to the system.
The camera would record the movement of the LED's to determine movement in space. The patent is intentionally vague on how many LED's, what configuration they would be in, and just what sort of sensor would be use. It gives the example of a camera, tracking the movement of the LED's frame-by-frame, and using them as reference points for the controller's movement. The patent goes on to describe the potential for different wavelenghts of LED's to give a frame of reference that won't change if the controller is inverted, ultra-high framerates for more accurate detection, and recording previous movements so future telemetry can be more accurate.
The patent goes on to describe how the use of LED's and an external sensor could be applied to fields outside of gaming, such as remote controls, children's toys, or any number of devices. The LED's could, in fact, be any number of "photonically detectable" devices. The example given, and specifically protected, is of a controller with a linear array of LED's.
Considering the comments by Sony on the PS4 and the potential for motion-sensing on the PS3, I honestly hope we see this technology sooner rather than later. Without vibration, I think I need another reason to get my hands on a SIXAXIS.
Wii gamers who are worried about the safety of pets, people, and property in relation to flying Wiimotes can rest assured that their cries have not gone unheard. Nintendo is offering slightly meatier replacement straps for free on their web site. Any controllers purchased after this Monday will have the thicker strap standard. Nintendo estimates that they will exchange 3.2 million straps, but they are confident the switch won't have an overly adverse effect on earnings.
That's not all Nintendo recalled this week, proving that not even the big N is immune to glitches and goof-ups. About 200,000 Japanese DC adapters for the Nintendo DS are being recalled for fear of Xbox-style overheating, though no injuries have been reported. Replacing the adapters comes at a slightly more tangible cost; between $848,000 and $1.7 million USD, which has yet to be divided between Nintendo and the manufacturers of the adapter, Nagano Japan Radio Co. Ltd.
Not a whole lot of CRUNCH1NG this week, I'm afraid. So here's some quick snippets for the make glorious benefit the nation of readers.
Question: How much does the Nintendo Wii cost to produce?
Answer: About $158 to $195 USD, according to one study. This number does not include the cost of Wiimotes or other external components. [Reuters]
Question: What's the retail price of the PS3 in Mexico? Hint: Profit!
Answer: $934 USD, or 10,495 pesos. And that's for the 20GB model. [Reuters]
Question: Square Enix announced Dragon Quest IX for the DS this week. How did their stock price react?
Answer: The share price rose 6.4 percent by market close this Wednesday; their biggest gain in 21 months. [Bloomberg]
Smaller column this week, but that's how the business works, I suppose.
I won't be here next week. Christmas and all.
I hope you all have a great holiday season.
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