XBLA Achievement change won’t affect PSN Trophies

Playstation 3 on PS3 Image / Screenshot

Playstation 3 Image

Earlier this week, it was confirmed that Microsoft will be raising the Achievement limit for Xbox LIVE Arcade games, doubling the total from 200 to 400 Gamerscore.

What started off as a rumor was soon confirmed by Microsoft's Major Nelson who stated that starting June 2012 the new Gamerscore increase will be required in all new XBLA games.

This change, of course, immediately set off questions as to how this would affect Sony with their PlayStation Network titles.

"There are plenty of downloadable games on PSN that currently offer Platinum Trophies," an SCEA spokesman told IGN when asked if Microsoft's new policy would have any effect on Sony's Trophy system.

The Sony spokesman added that Sony has "a standard and consistent system to determine the Trophies available for a particular game. The overall scope of the game determines the Trophies available, not method of distribution."

XBLA games will also be able to include a maximum of 30 Achievements, up from the current 20 limit. DLC packs are also getting an Achievement change. The new standard will be 100 Gamerscore (up from 50G) and 8 Achievements (up from 5) per quarter. The new rules will allow for a total of 800 Gamerscore and 62 Achievements, meaning XBLA developers can add DLC with Achievements packed in for a full year after release.

Tags: PS3, PSN, PlayStation 3

By Matt Liebl

Show your love for Shonen Jump and win yourself an iPad 2!

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations on PS3 and Xbox 360 Image / Screenshot

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations Image

Spend your weekends buried deep in Bleach manga? Do you watch endless amounts of Naruto: Shippuden? Or perhaps you're mastering your craft of dressing up as your favorite anime characters by constantly improving your costumes.

If you answered yes to any of these, and especially the last, Viz Media wants you to show off your love for Shonen Jump for a chance to win Apple's iPad 2, that comes preloaded with a bunch of manga goodness.

Upload a picture showing your love for SHONEN JUMP to the contest page during each submission period. Make sure to get your friends and family to vote during the voting period. Each week the top voted fan will win a $250 Grab Bag of exclusive Shonen Jump goodies from Japan!

The fan with the most overall votes will win a 16GB Wifi iPad 2 with an annual Alpha Membership and a $100 credit on VIZManga.com.

The first submission period starts 3/16 – 3/23, and the second submission period starts 4/1 – 4/8.

By Mike Splechta

PS4 to block used games? Sony patents tech to tag and track secondhand games

PlayStation 4 on PS3 Image / Screenshot

PlayStation 4 Image

PlayStation 4 Image

Remember last year's rumor that the PlayStation 4 could contain technology to block the playing of used games? There may be some more validity to that claim as it's been unearthed that Sony's PlayStation division has patented technology that can track and block the use of secondhand games on a console.

Discovered by a member of NeoGAF, the patent describes technology capable of "tagging" games played on multiple systems, with the purpose of trying to control secondhand sales. The patent reads:

According to the present embodiment, realized is the electronic content processing system that reliably restricts the use of electronic content dealt in the second-hand markets. As a result, the dealing of electronic content in the second-hand markets is suppressed, which in turn supports the redistribution of part of proceeds from sales of the electronic content to the developers. Though in the following description a game application (AP) is exemplified as the electronic content, the present embodiment is similarly applicable to various kinds of electronic content such as an office suite, images, and music content.

Basically, individual game discs would be matched to user accounts, and games which have already been associated with another user's account will be rejected. Using similar NFC technology found in modern bank cards, the discs would be branded with a contactless tag that could be recognized and read by your console.

The abstract description for the patent document filed by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan reads:

A game playing system includes a use permission tag provided for use in a game disk for a user of a game, a disk drive, and a reproduction device for reproducing the game. The disk drive reads out a disk ID from the game disk. When the game is to be played, the reproduction device conveys the disk ID and a player ID to the use permission tag. The use permission tag stores the terms of use of the game and determines whether a combination of the disk ID and the player ID conveyed from the reproduction device fulfills the terms of use or not.

The document details Sony's past efforts to curb secondhand game sales and notes that this technology is a nice alternative to a simple password or Online Pass solution.

"As a result [of the patented idea], the dealing of electronic content in second-hand markets is suppressed, which in turn supports the redistribution of part of proceeds from sales of the electronic content to the developers."

The documentation doesn't name specific devices planned for the patented technology, but later sections do describe how the technology could be expanded to gaming peripherals, accessories, and other electronic media entirely, "such as an office suite, images, and music content."

Sony isn't the only one who has been rumored to be exploring this type of technology. Last year, it was also rumored that Microsoft's next console would also aim to combat used game sales, as well. There's been an ongoing feud between platform holders and secondhand game retailers for the past few years and it seems this next generation will really determine the direction and future of the gaming industry.

Needless to say, if this sort of technology is implemented in the PS4 or Xbox 720, it will be a huge mistake; I could see it costing Sony and Microsoft billions in console sales if they prevent users from purchasing used games.

Tags: PS4, PlayStation 4, PS3

By Matt Liebl

CliffyB suggests ‘lite’ versions of games to undercut used game sales

Gears of War 3 on Xbox 360 Image / Screenshot

Gears of War 3 Image

For years, publishers have been looking for ways to offset the losses caused by used game sales. While no statistics have "officially" been revealed, publishers claim "millions" of dollars are lost each year when consumers purchase used games instead of new. To help make up for these losses, publishers have turned to online passes.

These passes are good for a one-time use only and usually unlock the multiplayer portion, or online portion, of a game. In some cases, as with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, a portion of the singleplayer game was barred with an online pass. Once the player enters the code it is unlocked for their account only, granting them access to the online component. If someone purchases the same game used, they will not be able to access the online component unless they purchase a separate online pass from the publisher.

Though this practice has been argued by consumers, it seems to be the most widely adopted strategy from publishers. Still, publishers complain this isn't enough to make up for the losses. But it's really the only accepted practice that we have in the industry. Until someone comes up with a better idea it looks like we are stuck with online passes.

Recently, developers have begun speaking out about online passes and possible new ideas to combat used game sales. The latest suggestion comes from Epic Games' outspoken design director, Cliff Bleszinski. In a short, but effective series of tweets, CliffyB suggested what he thinks publishers should do to help undercut used game sales. He suggests a "lite" version of games.

"I wonder publishers don't try a "lite" version of a game without an online pass that one could buy brand new for less, undercutting used," Bleszinski suggested.

"Publishers are always eager to make limited and collector's editions, why not a budget, stripped down version to get the lower end customer?"

He explained, "A "lite" version of the game could be just the SP…or just the MP. If you dig what you bought let you expand to full later via digital DL."

Bleszinski's words actually echo what Saber Interactive CEO Matthew Karch suggested to CVG in response to the possibility that Microsoft's next-gen Xbox might not play used games. Similarly, Karch suggested a digital distribution game for an overall lower price, say $30, with the singleplayer and multiplayer components broken into two separate purchases of $15 each.

The big similarity between both Karch's and Bleszinski's theories is an overall lower price for games. The truth is, $60 for a game is a lot of money for consumers to risk on something they aren't 100% sure of. With all of the overhyped duds released, $60 is a lot to gamble on a game that may not be as great as it's marketed.

While I'll never say "never", this idea seems highly unlikely. As much as I love the idea, I just don't see publishers dropping the price of games anytime soon. Then again, I don't actually know the statistics. If publishers are being hurt by used game sales as much as they say they are, then they might do something as drastic as offering the components separately. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Many consumers purchase games strictly for online play. For instance, a lot of people play Battlefield 3 for its online modes. That doesn't make it less of a game, it just makes the focus something else. In fact, I'd bet those who play BF3 get more gameplay time out of it then those who purchase a strict 8-10 hour singleplayer game with no multiplayer component. Most recently, Twisted Metal co-director David Jaffe said most users will spend the majority of gameplay time with online multiplayer, and suggested those looking for story would be better off renting it. How can you expect consumers to pay $60 when even you admit certain areas in the game are lacking?

The bottom line is that the price of games is just too damn high. And until publishers figure out a way to lower them to a more reasonable price, consumers will continue to look towards the used game market.

Tags: Epic Games, Used Games

By Matt Liebl

Conan O’Brien shows off the new Call of Duty game

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 Image / Screenshot

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Image

Conan O'Brien is a funny f**kin' guy. If you think Leno is better then get the hell out of here. Conan loves doing stuff with video games, like his sidekick Andy doing all the voices in Skyrim, or Gary Oldman showing how he did his voice acting in Call of Duty. Now, Conan shows off some upcoming video games from some of the industry's biggest franchises. Only the creative minds behind his late night show could come up with a Call of Duty game where you dispose of teenage girls with insults. I kid you not.

And with the NBA playoffs to start soon, why wouldn't EA Sports capitalize on the hype and release a new NBA game just in time. So what if it only has white NBA players in it. So what if they just sit on the bench and you control their body language.

Anyways, the point is that Conan is awesome and you should watch this video. Got any other game parody ideas? Maybe a new entry in the Total War series? Like Kony Total War? Too soon?

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Tags: Team Coco, Call of Duty, Conan O’Brien

By Lance Liebl

Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City coming to PlayStation 3?

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on PS2, PC, Mac, and Android Image / Screenshot

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Image

Some good bit of detective work from Examiner has revealed both Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City could be coming to PlayStation 3.

According to the findings, the latest Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) shows both titles available on the PS3 platform, published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Both GTA 3 and GTA Vice City were both previously released for PlayStation 2, so it's very possible that these games could be re-released as PS2 classics on the PS3 via the PlayStation Network – though I'm sure we're all hoping for an HD port of the games.

Grand Theft Auto 3 was first released in North America on October 22, 2001, followed by Vice City on October 27, 202. There is no update as to when the games will be made available on PS3, if the ESRB is correct.

Currently, Rockstar Games is working on Grand Theft Auto 5, and while there have been plenty of rumors regarding release, no official date has been announced. Furthermore, not much else is known about the game aside from speculation from the trailer.

Tags: Grand Theft Auto, GTA, Rockstar Games

By Matt Liebl

The Humble Music Bundle brings joy to your ears, as well as charity

Valkyria Chronicles on PS3 Image / Screenshot

Valkyria Chronicles Image

I'm a huge fan of these bundles! I love that I not only get a bunch of games for cheap, but that the amount I donate also goes to help charity. But I don't have to tell you that, the Humble Bundle has been around for some time now.

This time around, it's not games you'll be humbly paying for, but rather albums.

The lineup of artists include: They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Coulton, MC Frontalot, Christopher Tin, and Hitoshi Sakimoto! And if you pay more than the average, you'll also get an album from OK Go.

Not too shabby at all considering you can get six great albums. Of course being a fan of each artist does help. While I can't say that I'm super pumped for this lineup, I might get it just to get Hitoshi Sakimoto's brilliantly scored Valkyria Chronicles album. I love me some grand orchestral tunes while I'm driving down the highway with my window down. Yeah I get stares, so what? You wanna fight about it?!

You can find the Humble Bundle here, and remember, if you want OK Go, you have to pay more than the current average, which at the moment is $7.89

Tags: Humble Bundle, Music, Charity

By Mike Splechta

If Video Games Were Real proves that game concepts don’t hold up so well in real life

Super Smash Bros. Brawl on Wii Image / Screenshot

Super Smash Bros. Brawl Image

The comedic duo, Smosh, have made their second entry in the 'If Video Games Were Real' series. This time, they tackle concepts like saving your game, falling off of a level in Super Smash Bros. and the ridiculousness of skinny Cloud Strife being able to successfully wield his Buster Sword.

This video clearly shows how no matter what realism you're looking for in a game (though let's face it, there are no realistic games shown off here) there is always going to be some sort of convention or system in the game that's clearly unrealistic. I think the guys at Smosh truly did an awesome job at capturing the ridiculousness of those games.


Tags: Smosh, Humor

By Mike Splechta

Help rename Abe’s Oddysee HD

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee on PC Image / Screenshot

Abe's Oddysee

Remastered games are often easy to name: just tack "HD" to the end of the title. Oddworld Inhabitants isn't interested in doing that with its new 2.5D remake of the PlayStation-era platformer Abe's Oddysee, however.

"We’ve considered Abe’s Oddysee HD, but that makes it sound like we’ve injected bigger pictures into the original engine," the blog post reads. "This is a grounds-up remake with glorious 3D graphics but retaining the classic 2D gameplay! We need a name that stands out and does it justice!"

Suggest a name on the team's blog, and if yours is chosen, your name will appear in the credits, and you'll receive a signed poster of the game's cover art by veteran Raymond Swanland.

August 10 is the last day to enter.

Follow @wita on Twitter for tales of superheroes, plumbers in overalls, and literary adventures.

Tags: Oddworld Inhabitants, Abe’s Oddysee HD

By Stephanie Carmichael

Max Payne Mobile now on Android

Max Payne on PS2, iPhone, Xbox, and PC Image / Screenshot

Max Payne Mobile

Now fans can play the original Max Payne on their Android device.

Max Payne Mobile, which released today, is a port of the classic third-person shooter. It costs $2.99, the same price as the iOS version that came out in April.

Android users have endured a number of delays while waiting for the version, so hopefully the final product is worth it.

Follow @wita on Twitter for tales of superheroes, plumbers in overalls, and literary adventures.


Tags: Rockstar, Max Payne Mobile, Android

By Stephanie Carmichael