Next Xbox might not allow you to play used games

I’m not a huge purchaser of used games, but depending on the how and why this could be one more reason for me not to buy the next Xbox.

One of the ways they could do this discussed in the article is by going digital download only. In the last year my purchases of games via Steam’s digital download service has increased dramatically and all of those games can’t be resold to anyone else. The only reason I don’t have a problem with that is because the games I bought typically were on sale for $15 or less (with most being $5 purchases). Many of them were $50 to $60 when they were released and I was perfectly happy to wait until they were $5 in order to give up my physical copy and ability to resell the disc. It also doesn’t hurt that Steam doesn’t have an issue with letting you re-download any titles you own after you’ve restaged your PC, but that’s less of an issue on the Xbox. For me to even consider going that route on a console would require that the cost of the games drop considerably either from the very start or within a reasonable amount of time after release.

As I said I don’t tend to buy a lot of used games nor do I tend to sell a lot of my used games, but I like having the option to do so. I have some original PlayStation titles that are considered collectors items now that sell for a decent amount on eBay. You want to take that option away then I want something in return.

Of course, this is largely a moot point because I probably won’t buy the next Xbox for the same reasons I don’t own a current Xbox or its predecessor. But if Sony is thinking of a similar scheme with the next PlayStation then the same rules would apply. #seb #videogames #Xbox #PS3

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How the next Xbox could stop you from playing used games
A recent Kotaku post cites “one reliable industry source” to suggest that the still-unannounced successor to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 will somehow prevent used games from being played on the system. The idea remains an unconfirmed rumor, of course, but it’s something that members of the game industry have floated repeatedly in the past. It’s also a move that would likely find hefty support from publishers looking for a way to stop what they see as erosion of their profits thanks to used games (th…

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One of the advantages of working afternoons….

…is the fact that you’re the only one in the Tech Lab most of the night. Which means you can finally break down and try out Rock Band on the Xbox 360 without embarrassing yourself in front of your coworkers. So far I’ve sucked marginally on the guitar. I’m about to see how badly I suck on the drums. I’m not about to find out how much I suck on the microphone.

I can see why the game, along with Guitar Hero, is popular. Not as difficult as the Dance Dance Revolution games and it does kinda, sorta, just a little, maybe, feel like you’re in a band. Kinda. But not enough to make me want to buy the game.

It’s a slow Friday night and I’ve made it all the way through my RSS feeds. So sue me.

Microsoft E3 keynote address was full of surprises.

I’m not an Xbox 360 owner myself, but if you are then the Microsoft E3 keynote address yesterday gave you a lot of things to look forward to in the coming months.

One of the biggest announcements was probably the fall update coming for Xbox Live which will radically alter how it looks—my sister-in-law’s better half called it “Vista-esque”—and adds things such as Nintendo Mii-ish like avatars, which seems like a pretty transparent ploy to try and counter the aforementioned Miis and the upcoming Playstation Home. Nintendo has certainly captured a lot of the casual gaming market and Microsoft is setting their sights on trying to claim some of that for themselves. The new avatars and a whole bunch of more causal oriented games coming soon are the result. Quite a few new features are aimed at encouraging social interactions with your friends online including being able to enter a multi-chat environment using your avatars as well as move from game to game as a group (assuming you all have the same game).

They also announced new deals for downloadable movies and videos with NBC/Universal and Netflix. Xbox Live Gold members who also have active Netflix accounts will be able to access their Netflix Watch Now queue to stream movies straight to their Xbox 360 at no extra charge. Additionally you’ll be able to share those streaming videos with your friends using the previously mentioned avatar social tools. Alas those buddies will also have to be Gold members and have Netflix accounts to participate.

Three other announcements worth noting include the fact that soon you’ll be able to copy an entire game off of DVD onto the Xbox 360 hard drive, assuming you have one, and run it from there to speed up load times. You’ll still need to have your disc in the drive to play, but if load times are a concern then this should help. Of course this means you’ll be using up lots more hard drive space so they’re dropping the 20GB version of the 360 and replacing it with a 60GB version. The last, and probably biggest, announcement was that the Xbox 360 will be getting a port of Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy XIII, which was believed to be a PS3 exclusive.

I’ve got to give Microsoft credit for managing to diminish some of the titles that were big Playstation hardware sellers in the past. Grand Theft Auto IV and now Final Fantasy XII would’ve likely sold a shitload of PS3s had they remained exclusives like the previous versions had. For some strange reason Sony hasn’t focused on spending any money to secure exclusive titles for the PS3 as it has in the past and it’s probably cost them some hardware sales as a result. It’ll be interesting to see what Sony has to say in their upcoming E3 keynote to try and put a little momentum behind their flagship product.



“Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” won’t have multiplayer on the Xbox 360 or PS3?

That’s what one LucasArts rep is telling the folks at Total Video Games during a recent Q&A. That’s not necessarily surprising as some titles will lose multiplayer before release due to time constraints on the developers, but the reasoning provided was, to put it in a single word, stupid:

TVG: As you mentioned earlier, there’s no multiplayer in the game. Was there any specific reason for this?

To be specific, there’s no multiplayer in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, because there is on the Wii, PSP, and DS. As far as specific reasons are concerned, we don’t really like to get into the reasons why we don’t do things because I don’t think there’s really a satisfactory answer that people would really be happy with. So, there isn’t multiplayer and that’s kind of how it is…

Because the Wii, PSP, and DS versions of the game will have multiplayer they’re not going to put it into the Xbox 360 or PS3? WTF? Admittedly I can see how with the advanced physics engine being utilized on the higher end hardware it might make it difficult to implement multiplayer in a balanced way considering the ridiculously powerful force powers everyone would have. If that’s the case then just say so, but the above answer makes it sound like they expect us to buy the game twice if we want to do any kind of multiplayer. To say the least this makes me a bit less enthusiastic about buying the game at all.

Xbox 360 version of GTA4 already cracked and loose on the net.

Every now and then you’ll see an article about how gaming on the PC is dieing thanks to rampant piracy. Everyone wants to make console games because they’re supposedly harder for the pirates to crack and distribute. So perhaps someone could explain to me how the Asian PAL version of GTA4 is already on the net?

At approximately 1:45AM EST the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto IV was leaked onto the internet. According to our X3F tipsters, who better plan on actually buying the game, thousands of users are leeching the 6.36 GB potential game of the year candidate. The release is a rip of the PAL version, specifically from the Asian market, and comes a mere six days before retailers place the game on store shelves.

We don’t want to get on our soapbox here but we hope our readers would shy away from downloading a full version of the game, especially considering the team at Rockstar North have garnered near-perfect review scores for the release. Why? Well, it’s illegal kids … actually come to think of it, this leak is deliciously ironic. Isn’t it?

Yeah it really is. Just goes to show that the consoles aren’t all that much more difficult to pirate games for than the PC is.

Kudos to Microsoft and Bungie for righting a wrong.

In the grand scheme of things this story isn’t an epic tragedy, but as a fellow gamer I can feel for the guy:

There’s certainly been no shortage of sad stories involving Xboxes, but when it comes to attempts to get the console repaired, this latest tale from a gamer known only as Nathaniel might have to take the cake. As you can see above, his console (one of the first to hit the market) boasted a good deal of personalization, including signatures from folks at Bungie and the Xbox 360 team, and a spiffy illustration by Rooster Teeth Comics artist Luke McKay. As with many other Xbox users, however, Nathaniel’s console eventually packed it in, and he was forced to send it to Microsoft for repairs. Needless to say, that’s when things took a turn for the worse.

This guy had been carrying his Xbox 360 around to various conventions and events and getting a whole host of developers and such to autograph it for him making it a pretty neat collectible item. When it died and he sent it into Microsoft to be repaired he took pains to call ahead and ask them to be very careful with the casing and to ensure that if they had to replace the whole thing that they put the new innards in the same case. He was assured that would be done. So, of course, the repair folks did the one thing that he didn’t ask them not to do: They washed the case squeaky clean.

Now this poor guy had put a lot of time in on getting his console autographed and having it come back with just a few residual marker smudges on the case just had to be soul crushing in a way that only true fanboys, such as myself, can understand. Again, not the end of the world, but still a pretty major disappointment. His story got onto the gadget and gamer websites and the folks at Bungie (makers of Halo) heard about it and decided they would try to right the wrong:

After the console returned to him wiped clean of the aforementioned “value,” it seemed like all hope was lost. Luckily, the kind souls at Bungie have taken it upon themselves to try and right the wrongs perpetrated in this case, and have mailed Nathaniel a super-ultra-mega awesome package, featuring a Legendary Edition helmet signed by most of the Bungie studio staff, the soundtrack disc signed by Martin O’Donnel, a jacket, t-shirt, limited edition wireless controllers, and much, much, much more.

That was pretty cool of Bungie to do that and it seemed like a happy ending had finally come to pass. Then today Engadget is reporting that Microsoft is also making amends:

Remember that dude Nathaniel whose highly sentimental autographed Xbox 360 console was sent in for repairs and returned maddeningly clean? Turns out he didn’t just get a signed Halo 3 care package. Even more swag arrived this week, including (among other things) an Xbox 360 with signatures from the 360 team and Bungie, and even Bill G himself. Yeah, that Bill G. And we can tell you exactly how damned hard it is to get the man to autograph stuff, the last few times we saw him we asked him sign our chests—no dice.

Now that’s what I call quality customer service. The coolest part about the story? Nathaniel had never asked for any kind of compensation. All he had asked was that Microsoft take a look at their support practices and perhaps put some policy in place to keep something like that from happening again. Still you’ve gotta appreciate the fact that they tried to make amends for the mistake.

“Grand Theft Auto IV” hits shelves on April 29, 2008.

One of the games I specifically bought the PS3 for is finally going to see the light of day. The folks at Rockstar have put out a press release announcing the release date as being this April 29th:

Next-generation Console Debut of the Grand Theft Auto Franchise Set for April 29, 2008

New York, NY – January 24, 2008 – Rockstar Games, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), is proud to announce the release date for Grand Theft Auto IV, the new title in the genre-defining Grand Theft Auto franchise. Developed by Rockstar North, Grand Theft Auto IV will be simultaneously available for Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system and PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system and will be in stores worldwide on April 29, 2008.

“We are so excited to be releasing Grand Theft Auto IV,” said Sam Houser, Founder and Executive Producer of Rockstar Games. “We’ve pushed ourselves very hard to make something incredible and hope the game sets a new benchmark for interactive entertainment.”

Not coincidentally there was a flood of update previews of the game on various gamer sites that offered tons of screen shots as well as new info on game mechanics:

Read – Grand Theft Auto IV Details Unloaded … [MTV News]
Read – GTA IV: A New Look [CVG]
Read – Grand Theft Auto IV UK Update [IGN]
Read – Grand Theft Auto IV – updated impressions [GamesRadar]
Read – Grand Theft Auto IV: Kikizo Preview 3 [Kikizo]
Read – GTA4 First Look []
Read – Grand Theft Auto IV Preview [Team Xbox]

I’m looking forward to this latest installment as I’ve enjoyed the previous versions of the games immensely. Gonna have to start saving up my pennies now.

Links found via Joystiq.

Amazon offers one of the three current consoles on the cheap!

It’s that time of year again and Amazon is once more offering their Amazon Customers Vote offer where they offer up amazing deals on items that garner the most votes. Of interest to gamers everyone is the possibility of getting one of the three next gen consoles at ridiculously cheap prices. How cheap? Well how about a shiny new Nintendo Wii for $79? Or perhaps an Xbox 360 Arcade for $99? Better still score a 40GB PS3 for only $139!

But only the one that gets the most votes will be offered at the special price and only 1,000 units will be made available. So go vote for the one you’d most like to buy and then be prepared to click quickly should it win.

By the way, as of this writing the Nintendo Wii is leading the pack with 55% of the vote, the PS3 is second with 31% and the Xbox 360 is taking up the rear with 14%.

It’s E3 week and Microsoft gets an early start.

It’s that time of year again so expect more than the usual video game entries around here. E3 is about to kick off and Microsoft is holding their keynote address tonight at 8:30PM. You can watch it live from the official Xbox website or at Gamespot as well as a couple of other places around the net.

Even though I don’t have an Xbox I’ll be tuning in just the same to see if there’s going to be a good reason to plan on getting one sometime in the future. And because I’m a video game geek who has to know what’s going on regardless of whether I actually on the system in question.