Weekend Short-Takes: 8/25/12

Coming Soon: Xbox 360 Essentials Pack

Microsoft drops price of Kinect to $109.99 in the US

Simon:

More strategies by Microsoft to plaster concrete onto the very leaky walls that are recent console sales and to counter Sony’s offensive. Considering hardcore gamers are waiting it out for the next console, this is more targeted towards the new audience that’s in it for services and casual gaming. Kinect is going to be cheaper still, the next Dashboard update is coming with more services, and this pack throws in HDMI, the remote, Gold so you can use those services, and another controller for that random time you actually decide to play games. However, after spending 10 minutes on Amazon, with shipping, I got everything in this, new, for a total of $70.44. And you’d probably knock another $10 off if you sprung for used versions!

John Fenix:

Not much use of the Kinect personally, but it seems Microsoft are aiming these more at those who would use it as a home entertainment center. Still, some may be turned off since we’re so near the end of the console cycle. However, I follow the way of NASA: if it isn’t broke, don’t replace it.

Alex:

Microsoft has, for a long time with the Xbox 360, had an almost Apple like attitude in relation to its peripherals. They made their own and, as there was no real competition from third parties, they were able to set the price however they pleased. An HDMI cable that would cost you pennies or a few dollars at the most on Amazon, once branded with the Xbox logo, became 40 dollars new. That’s an 800% increase in price if you take an average price of 5 dollars, a high value for many HDMI cables on Amazon. I use an HDMI cord for my Xbox (not an Xbox branded one) and I have not noticed any problems or conditions because of it. This massive markup is what makes this particular pack a relatively good deal, but only when compared with buying all of these things from traditional retail stores. In such a setting the individual components would normally cost $135 total. Now they are a “steal” at 79.99 (They have been a steal for Microsoft since they made them.) As for the Kinect, it is nice to see them drop it from the 150 price point to a more manageable 100ish. If the goal is to increase the motion control market share of the Kinect and continue to make it a central part of the Xbox UI (if not its game library) than this is a good move in that direction.

Photo Credit: winsupersite.com

Ubisoft CEO claims 93-95 percent piracy rate on its PC games

Simon:

This is a tragic figure, and we’ve seen similar figures in the past from Cevat Yerli at Crytek, among others. This is definitely a reason for publishers and developers to try and push the next generation of consoles more quickly, which Guillemot said are long overdue in no uncertain terms. It may very well be that free-to-play is the only viable way to effectively make PC games pay off. It seems to me that the promise of Steam overriding piracy because of convenience either has been overblown, or just isn’t compelling enough.

John Fenix:

It’s hard to answer this one, since I never was a major PC gamer. Yet I understand why people are pushing towards unique codes and passes to use the games. Yet it is hard to know whether that encourages people to buy the game, or pushes people away to get the games through other means. For developers’ sake, I hope it’s the former.

Alex: 

In several chats on the Com-cast Simon and I have tried to figure out why there was such a massive shift away from PCs towards Consoles, and why the PC gaming industry has shrunken quite significantly in relation to the Console one. The reason, in a word, is Piracy. If a merchant is offered two routes to take, one surrounded by bloodthirsty (or perhaps Mountain Dew-thirsty) pirates looking to steal their very livelihood and blame them for it in the process, while the other has maybe a solitary pirate off in a corner who doesn’t look particularly strong (they could probably take him in a fight) but does have throngs of paying customers, the choice is rather simple. The question of DRM, how to make it successful enough to stop pirates but not clunky and unwieldy enough to frustrate paying customers, has never been solved and this is a huge problem for PC gaming. Until the solution is discovered, I fear an increasingly rapid fall of the PC gaming industry to a shell of its former self, unless of course some other model can be devised. As Simon says, this may be free-to-play. Let’s hope so.

FCC wants to know if it's too modest about broadband

Simon:

First and foremost, call me cynical, but any definition that the FCC comes up with is going to be criticized by the relevant industries until it fits more in line with their own ideas. I’m absolutely positive that they’ll whine about unfairness and threaten that if caps are raised or broadband’s definition is upped, they’ll hint that it will cause customers’ speeds to drop as they try to ‘meet demand’ or some such nonsense, or they’ll just raise prices.

Alex:

To answer the FCC’s question in three letters: YES! Yes you are. When I am able to get a faster signal over the air on my phone than the baseline speed of the current definition of Broadband, we need to redefine it. Hopefully this redefinition will help bring “true” broadband to more people. As for bandwidth caps, I sincerely hope we see this raised as well. The current model put in place by ISPs of throttling down or even stopping your internet based of your useof more than an average amount does not take streaming services like Hulu or Netflix into account (or perhaps it does…) and therefore is not enough. The US needs to take big steps to improve its Internet infrastructure, and improving speeds, if in theory before practice, is a good step in that direction. If you are American, let the FCC know, you have until the 20th of September.

Photo Credit: engadget.com

Perlman stays CEO at new OnLive

OnLive had $30m in debts

OnLive lives, but employees laid off

HTC takes $40 million hit from OnLive issues

Simon:

Well !#%(^)&%*@#%(@%*^#()@ with a rusty nail. A company releases a product that’s forward looking and probably ahead of its time. It fails to gain widespread traction, and the company runs on fumes for about 6 months before declaring bankruptcy. I’m talking, of course, about Commodore. The same thing happened to the famed C64 maker. And an ominous sign for OnLive: though the brand lived on, it never was the same. When I first heard about a buyout, I immediately thought either Microsoft or Sony bought it. Maybe even Nintendo decided to get bold. But no, it was just sold to some guy. Now what for the Ouya? OnLive was going to be its gaming platform. Perhaps that’ll take the steam out of what I though was an overhyped Kickstarter.

Alex:

In a world of sequels, reboots, and recycling the same product over and over again, it is always a wonderfully refreshing thing to see a truly unique idea. Onlive was such an idea. They were trying to make gaming easy and accessible to anyone with a broadband internet connection by reducing the importance of the console; if they had succeeded in developing their product and getting it out to market they quite possibly could have caused a major shift in the gaming world. And perhaps they still might, just with a mostly new staff as the old Onlive laid off about half of their previous employee (luckily not the 100% as originally reported). Just in time for back to school and the beginning of the holiday season. Yet Onlive’s CEO, Steve Perlman, remains at the helm and perhaps this time around can avoid incurring $30 million dollars in debt as he tries to turn the idea into reality. I know software development and servers for such a massive project cost quite a bit, but seeing as HTC invested $40 million dollars (and there had to be more than one investor despite HTC’s claims that Onlive had trouble raising capital) that is a swing of $70 million dollars minimum. That is quite a bit and new investor and solitary owner of Onlive, Gary Lauder, may want to keep a close eye on his new company.

Photo Credit 123rf.com


 

RAM's picture

Sorry for the late post everyone, some internet access problems between Simon and I but we hope you enjoy and let us know what you think

Scumbagb3n's picture

Always interesting. The popularity of games on torrent sites is astounding, luckily my PC can't run most modern games... ;)

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