Weekend Short-Takes: 11/2/12

Microsoft’s Windows Store Will Sell Games Rated “Mature”

Simon Wu:

I installed Windows 8 as I said I would, despite the obvious failings in this marketplace policy, but now I’m glad that they’ve seen the light and reversed course. Now I think that hardcore power user/prosumer audience is just that little bit more willing to go and support it. This has restored my confidence in Windows 8 gaming by about 95%. I lost 5% because I can’t believe that someone had that terrible idea initially. Now that Steam is moving firmly towards Linux (more on that in a bit), Windows has a proper ecosystem to counter. This was truly the missing keystone that linked it to the Xbox console and that entire network.

Alex Miller:

Hurrah! is my one word and punctuation mark response to this news. I too installed Windows 8 (taking the leap of faith required of any and all release day upgrades) and so far I am well pleased with the move. The system is well designed and it all seemed to work naturally after a little bit of an adjustment period. This news makes me even happier with the switch. As we mentioned previously, the move did not seem to make much of any sense and luckily Microsoft answered my plea, quickly realizing this. As Simon says, this helps complete the link between the new operating system and the Xbox platform, as many of the games that have defined the Xbox brand (Halo, Gears of War, etc) have been rated M for Mature.

John Fenix:

This made me feel more comfortable about perhaps getting Windows 8. With this opening up, I think it will be easier for gamers to crossover and achieve the”cross-platform experience” Microsoft is hoping for. However, I will choose to wait about 6 months or a year till I think about upgrading, since I am sure there a few bugs to work out.

Photo Credit: gizmodo.com

GameStop prepares to combat toy stores with ‘GameStop Kids’ holiday shops

Simon Wu:

Good move by GameStop to try and make a dent in more traditional toy sales. More kids are definitely going to just want to play Lego: Insert Franchise and Angry Birds: Insert Franchise on a smartphone instead of getting that 3DS or an actual Lego set now. Also, considering their dad or older brother will probably be hanging around here pretty often anyways as the holiday season kicks in and they get all the games that are being released right now, and that increases the likelihood of that impulse, convenience buy.’

Alex Miller:

Definitely an interesting idea: temporary stores carrying the name and brand recognition of GameStop without the heavily mature game oriented feel of the store. As the chain continues to fight against traditional retailers and online distributors, this could be a good move to get more foot traffic through their stores, as well as an excuse to have massive cutouts of flying birds or Lego ring bearers instead of Master Chiefs and futuristic Black Op soldiers. The inclusion of traditional, albeit game related, toys is also a good idea for that extra little bit of revenue. Will be interesting to see how this does, to see if they do end up keeping them as they say they might.

John Fenix:

On the one hand, this is an interesting idea, and something that could definitely be useful in getting kids on a portable console and games these days (says the guy whose first game and console was Pokemon Blue on the Game Boy Color.) On the other though, this seems like it would have made more sense when the Wii was really big or when the Kinect was first released. I can’t really see this going any farther than being a holiday store scheme.

Photo Credit: pcmag.com

Valve opens Steam for Linux beta registration, wants pros only

Simon Wu:

The “pros only” part might be a bit redundant; I’m pretty sure they’re the only ones who have the know how to run Linux effectively. This is really Valve moving directly towards the most hardcore audience, since Gabe Newell now believes Windows 8 sold out to the consumer and locked down too much. I was very afraid of this move until I heard the news that we led with.

Alex Miller:

Well, if Steam is, as it seems, retreating into its own little fortress where it can control all the variables at play, this would certainly be the first step in such a process. While, as a Windows user, it will sadden me to see Steam shift away from being Windows-centric (if it actually does so, whether or not this is a viable option is up for debate) the new Windows store means that I will still be able to access gaming content on my PC (even M-rated content, as we pointed out above.) Since retailers will stick with whatever distribution method can get them to a majority of fans, and knowing that the confusion of using Linux will prevent all but the most diehard Valve fans from switching over, I am not particularly concerned about losing access to AAA titles if Steam does go that way (once again, doubt that would even happen, just doesn’t make financial sense, but who knows?).

Photo Credit: engadget.com

PlayStation 4 may have an AMD A10 processor, at least 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of internal storage‏

Simon Wu:

It’s still a rumor, but we finally have some actual stats to chew on. For months now insiders have been giving us opaque ideas such as “six times better” or “a huge improvement.” It also gives us some baseline to work with in terms of the Xbox v. Next. While it is true dev units are more powerful, I think that the final specs will still be quite impressive, as it’s on par with an upper-mid range PC. Moreover, if that’s an SSD, big props to Sony. The Wii U is already starting to look very dated.

Alex Miller:

Nice to finally have something concrete to work with here, even if it is just rumours of a dev kit and of the final product. However, while still taking into account that dev units are more souped up than the commercial unit will be, the numbers here look to be impressive.The biggest challenge I see, and what I consider to be Sony’s greatest goal with the PS4, is making all those numbers affordable. The PS3 has somewhat better graphics and a blu-ray player, but this generation has shown that this is not enough to convince people to chose it over the Xbox. With those bells and whistles included Sony lost market share to the Xbox because of the resulting, prohibitively high, initial cost of the PS3. So while having awesome specs is nice, if they can't compete with Microsoft on price, then they are doomed to maintain their spot in second or even third place in the next console generation.

John Fenix:

While all the parts sound incredible, does not mean it will be easy to use. I admit that I am an Xbox fan and had limited experience on the PS3, but one of the main issues that I kept seeing was that the interface was not very streamline compared to the 360. On THE 360, for example, when you needed to do a game update, it was very streamlined, and only took a few miutes before one was playing the game, even if you hadn’t touch the game in awhile. I heard stories on the PS3,where if one didn’t play frequently, or even if they did, they would still have to spend an half an hour, or even an hour just to install and update before they could play. Less a gaming console, and more a very specialized PC, which I guess is true of alot of consoles. when it came to what was under the hood, PS3 trumped the Xbox hands down, but not having an easy interface definitely cost it more than few handfuls of gamers. So, while this is interesting to see, I rather wait and see what the actual interface will look like.

Disney Acquires Lucasfilm

Disney Buyout Could Be Death Blow for Lucas Videogames

Lucasarts to focus on mobile and social gaming rather than console

‘Star Wars: 1313′ Development Unaffected (For Now) By Disney’s LucasArts Acquisition

Simon Wu:

Not a purely gaming topic, but one with gaming ramifications. The entire universe has exploded like the Death Star several times over about the future of that galaxy far, far away. I hope that Disney is able to build on Star Wars with the success that they’ve had with Pixar and Marvel, both of which continue to make excellent movies. However, Disney’s track record with hardcore video games is virtually nonexistent and we generally know how movie video games are in terms of quality. Lucasarts is part of this deal, and unfortunately, Disney plans to focus on the social and casual markets. So expect 1313 to be one of the last games of its type. Don’t forget, they can kill it at any time.

Alex Miller:

Well, this story has certainly swept the internet in a rush of OMG, WTF, and other acronyms as people attempt to express their shock and confusion with this move. While it is true that Disney has certainly been doing what they can to acquire promising IPs and studios in the last decade, the thought of Mr. Lucas releasing control of his baby (and the attached merchandising rights) would have seemed impossible to many before it actually happened. Focusing on the gaming aspects of this massive story I must first say that I have a bit more hope that Simon does (no, you aren’t going to get A New Hope joke here, try literally a ton of other places for such an easy target). While it is true that Disney doesn’t have the best of track records with sequels, I don’t think that they will destroy the IP (and therefore its games.) Looking at the success of Marvel lately, Disney poured the time and money into making several good movies from the Marvel universe, something that Marvel had been unable to do before (Spider-man’s movie rights were and are owned by Sony, so those films don't count). Hopefully this same spirit is carried over into the gaming world, and they give games like 1313 the time and money they need/deserve. As for the comments by Disney’s CEO in regards to a focus on mobile and social gaming, it will be sad to see a studio with the history of Lucasarts end up like that, but the willingness to license out the IP to other studios means that not all hope of a good Star Wars game is lost, we might still see a Return of the Jedi[s] (sorry, I couldn’t resist...)

John Fenix:

Honestly, I was more impacted by this story than some big storm that was happening up north. Still, while people are screaming bloody murder, people should look at how Disney has handled another of their purchases: Marvel, besides a few little changes and doing things like moving Marvel’s TV shows to Disney’s channels, they haven’t made any huge changes in shows, comics, or the movies. I mean who go see the Avengers at least twice in theaters. So, I don’t think we should worry too much, even for games. Then again, the Marvel movies had already started before the purchase. It also decided to annouce a new Star Wars film at the same time as the deal may not have been the best choice. Maybe the new trilogy will be like The Wrath of Kahn was for Star Trek. If not, I’ve heard that the new Star Trek was pretty good.

Photo Credit: usatoday.com

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Solifluktion's picture

@Steam for Linux

I have to disagree with Simons statement that only pros can use Linux. Sure there are tons of things the ordinary  user won't ever be able to do but as far as "normal usage" goes people who are smart enough to use windows should be perfectly capable of using one of the more userfriendly distributions e.g. Ubuntu.

I think it's great that Vave is finally taking this step. After all they also released Steam for Mac and I dare say, that there are more people interested in gaming (on a computer)  that use Linux than Macusers that are interested in gaming (at least here in Europe). One of the first things I always did when I  installed Linux was installing Steam via Wine so I could play my games.


@Disneys Star Wars

If now the villains will sing cool songs as is the norm with Disneymovies  I'm cool with the whole thing.

After all it's not like George Lucas could ruin the franchise even more.

disgruntledavians's picture

So in terms of Star Wars, video games are through I suppose. Are the perpetual hopes of Battlefront III and Republic Commando 2 dashed forever?

darthskeletor's picture

I installed Windows 8, and I guess I support it, mostly because of the Xbox hub and SmartGlass. I mostly don't get why people say it's worse. It didn't take anything away, and only added all of Metro.

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