Welcome to the hundred and eighteenth edition of RPGamer's Currents Column.
Here we are, smack dab in the middle of convention season. Behind us we have E3, Anime Expo, and San Diego Comic-Con. Ahead of us we have Gamescom, BlizzCon, and Tokyo Game Show. What a great time to be a gamer. It seems like there is an earth-shattering announcement around every corner. Gamescom has already been fairly eventful, and I can't wait to see what BlizzCon and TGS has in store.
With that said, let's get to the News!
Some Cool New Gamer Centric Features on Microsoft's Latest Phone
It's almost enough to make me say Apple who?
When Windows Phone 7 launches this holiday season, Microsoft will be releasing over 60 games with its service. Some of the more notable titles are: Castlevania, Halo: Waypoint, Assassin's Creed, Crackdown, Guitar Hero, and Puzzle Quest 2. What's perhaps more interesting than the line-up itself is how tightly integrated Xbox Live will be with the service and these games. In large part, Xbox Live integration is very similar to what users are accustomed to right now on the Xbox 360 and Windows Live. On Windows Phone 7 devices, Xbox Live allows full avatar integration and customization, avatar-centric phone utilities, messaging, friends lists, achievements, game demos, and leaderboards.
Engadget got a chance to preview Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7 devices and had some very positive things to say about the experience. Updating your avatar, finding friends, and checking achievements or messages was very easy for them. The touch screen controls also seemed very responsive, and in general, the games were fun to play. However, Engadget noted that game load times seemed pretty long, but Microsoft is still tweaking its service. I recommend checking out Engadget's preview first-hand since they go pretty in-depth and provide a lot of videos.
My impressions are that this is the kind of unified experience that I have always wanted from the iPhone. I love how strongly avatars are tied into the system, and I can really get behind the idea of earning achievements on the go. I can think of quite a few gamers who don't like Apple products yet still want a quality gaming experience on their phones. This could be the ticket for achievement junkies, Windows aficionados, and iPhone or AT&T haters. Of course, I'd be interested to see what Android and Sony can bring to the table.
Sony and Google Teaming Up For a PlayStation Phone?
Let's see how much of this comes true.
There have been rumors flying about a PlayStation phone for what now seems like years, but it's possible something close to it will finally happen. Sony Ericsson is developing a hybrid PlayStation Android device that is sure to change people's view of Android as a gaming platform. This phone will have a landscape slider, and instead of the usual QWERTY keyboard, it will have game controls, similar to a PSP Go. These controls include a D-pad, shoulder buttons, standard PSP buttons, and a "long touch pad" for analog controls. It will be powered by a 1 GHz Snapdragon CPU and will be running Gingerbread or Android 3.0. It might also have a 5 megapixel camera. The display is going to be between 3.7 and 4.1 inches with WVGA or better resolution.
The phone itself is black and has some silver highlights. Apparently, it will be an Xperia and PlayStation branded device, and games will look similar to PS1 or PSP games. Android will create a new market just for games, and this market might expand to other Android phones depending on their specs and button layouts. A few games that will be on the Android are God of War, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and maybe LittleBigPlanet. In general, expect to see a lot of PS1 and older PSP titles on the device. Interestingly enough, we might see this as early October 2010.
Engadget has quite the exclusive here. They are extremely confident in their information and strongly believe that this product will become a reality, sooner rather than later. I hope this all pans out because this partnership between Google and Sony can mean only good things for us. It would also put some pressure on Windows Phone 7 and the iPhone. Don't tell Nintendo this, but it looks like the next big handheld war is happening on our phones.
3D Gaming Won't Scar Your Eyes for Life.
Now if only I could figure out a way to stop getting nauseous.
3D gaming is the next big thing in the industry, as evident by the 3DS and Sony's big 3D push on the PS3. Now that 3D gaming is about to become so mainstream, people are asking how it will affect their eyes after hours, months, or years of playing these games. After all, 3D can cause some people to experience headaches, nausea, or eyestrain, but according to Dr. Mark Borchert, an ophthalmologist with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and The Vision Center at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, 3D is "not likely to cause any permanent harm to vision." However, Dr. Borchert is not sure about the effects of 3D on young children because "children are not born with the ability to use both eyes together, they do not have any true binocularity at birth, and they certainly do not have stereoscopic vision." Even Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, recommends that children under the age of 7 should avoid using 3D functionality on the 3DS. However, Dr. Borchert said that it's only children under the age of 3 that should avoid viewing 3D images since binocularity and stereoscopic vision is learned mainly in the first three years of life. Dr. Borchert also mentioned that there is no long-term damage for crossing your eyes.
So, if you are lucky enough to be able to see 3D without suffering from headaches, nausea, or anything similar, rest assured that your eyes won't "stick that way" or eventually go blind.
Quick Hits: Some Small, But Inherently Cool News Stories
Bite Sized Tidbits of Knowledge
Jeff Green Working on a Book Celebrating Blizzard's 20th Anniversary
Here is a bit of news for all of you old GFW fans. Jeff Green has left EA. Now at this point you might be asking who is Jeff Green and why should I care that he left EA. Well, for one, Jeff Green was a highly respected games writer at Ziff Davis. Green is a consistently insightful and funny writer, so I was happy to hear that he has been contracted by Blizzard to write a book celebrating Blizzard's 20th anniversary. The book looks back at Blizzard's long history and should arrive on store shelves in time for Blizzard's birthday party. I can't wait to see what Green has to say about one of my favorite game companies.
This week's column turned out to be a lot more interesting and fun to write than I first thought. I'm excited to finally see some strong competitors come in to challenge Apple in the gaming space and I'm glad to see Microsoft and Sony doing something to become part of this ever growing market. It won't be long until everyone has a powerful gaming platform in their pockets and on them at all times. The future sure is exciting.
See you all soon!
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