Currents Top Ten I Sony Patents New Technology I ESA Gets Victory Against Violent Games Bill I PS3 Not Likely to be Region Coded I Revolution to be Cheapest Next-Gen Console I Sony Reaches Settlement in Lawsuit I Nintendo Launches Wi-Fi Website I Stock Ticker
Issue #28 The Church of Video Games November 12, 2005

Front Page

With the biggest hurricane season in recorded US history most likely behind us, this is probably a good time to reflect upon what's really important in life. Are video games actually as important as we make them out to be? I mean take me for example. I volunteer to work in my free time in order to bring you all the latest in video game news. Considering how much I value my time, I'd say you all owe me at least your first three children and/or goats.

So back to the question: are video games really worth all of this? Can we live without them? Of course not. For without video games, we'd all be forced into social lives; we'd be forced into leaving our basements; we'd be forced into making friends -- in person! Yeah, that's right; no internet. As frightening as this sounds, it doesn't even take into account the exposure to intense, never-before-seen sunlight that would surely kill us all instantly. And those that managed to survive would be plagued by the poisonous, unconditioned fresh air. I shudder to think of the fate that would befall our kind were it not for the saving grace of video games.

When you think about it, this column also helps us to stay in our basements, away from the harsh conditions of the outdoors. I think I'll take an additional goat for this service.

 Currents Top Ten

A new addition takes the top spot for the week in this issue's Top Ten. Star Wars: Battlefront II is claiming the top two spots in its debut week -- a feat usually reserved for EA titles -- so congratulations are certainly in order.

Moving down the list, Namco's Soul Calibur III, though removed from the throne this week, still sits comfortably among the top three. In fact, the only other major changes from last week are the removal of Shadow of the Colossus, SOCOM 3, and The Warriors; and the addition of Call of Duty 2: Big Red One, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, and Battlefield 2: Modern Combat.

On a side note, Sony is still dominating the list with eight out of ten titles. Microsoft did manage to get one back from last week, but it wasn't quite enough. Let's see how long this trend continues, shall we?

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Star Wars: Battlefront II LucasArts
2 Star Wars: Battlefront II LucasArts
3 Soul Calibur III Namco
4 Resident Evil 4 Capcom
5 Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi Atari
6 Blitz: The League Midway
7 Battlefield 2: Modern Combat EA Games
8 Ratchet: Deadlocked Sony Computer Entertainment America
9 Castlevania: Curse of Darkness Konami
10 Call of Duty 2: Big Red One Activision

Source: GameSpot

 Sony Patents New Technology


Sony Computer Entertainment is attempting to break new ground by securing itself a patent for a new, experimental disc technology. Apparently, Sony is also attempting to break the used games and game rental industries with this technology, as it prevents used disc media from being read. So, for example, if this technology were implemented into, say, the PS3, the system would be unable to read any game previously played on another system. The technology was created by a team of Sony employees, which includes the father of PlayStation, Ken Kutaragi. An excerpt from the registered patent description is below.

"A device and method for protection of legitimate software against used software and counterfeit software in recording media... A specific title code is read, and if this title code has been registered, the main unit shifts to a normal operation. If the code has not been registered, verification software is initiated... If matching does not occur, the disk is processed as illegitimate software... Since only titles for which legitimate software has actually been purchased and which have been initially registered in the machine table can be used, resale (so-called used software purchase) after purchase by an end-user becomes practically impossible."

Clearly, the purpose of this technology is to help fend off video game piracy, but could this just be a bit overkill? What happens if your PS3 breaks down and you have to get a new one? Will you also have to go out and buy all of your PS3 games again? And you can forget bargain-bin games and even rentals. Now, although the likelihood of this technology actually being incorporated into the PS3 is slim, Ken Kutaragi has stated that copy management is essential to the future success and profitability of the video game industry. I don't disagree with that, but at what cost is this copy management essential? We'll just have to wait and see, I suppose.

Source: Joystiq

 ESA Gets Victory Against Violent Games Bill

The Entertainment Software Association announced this week that a US district court has filed preliminary injunction to prevent the passage of Michigan's upcoming mature games bill. Judge Steeh said that "it is unlikely that the State can demonstrate a compelling interest in preventing a perceived 'harm.'" The judge went on, "The Act will likely have a chilling effect on adults’ expression, as well as expression that is fully protected as to minors. The response to the Act’s threat of criminal penalties will likely be responded to by self-censoring by game creators, distributors and retailers, including ultimately pulling 'T' and 'M'-rated games off stores shelves altogether."

Judge Steeh said that the evidence presented by supporters of the bill was "unpersuasive and insufficient to sustain the argument that violent video games cause aggressive behaviour." Similar evidence was used to pass similar laws in other states.

Doug Lowenstein, the president of the ESA, remarked, "We are gratified that Judge Steeh has issued this preliminary injunction and in so doing has suggested that the arguments and research relied on by Governor Granholm and the Legislature are weak and unpersuasive.

"Rather than continuing to play politics and pursuing this case to its inevitable defeat, further wasting Michigan taxpayers’ dollars along the way, we hope the state will start to join us in a common effort to take steps that actually help parents raise their kids in a healthy and safe way."

This seems to be just a small victory for the video game industry. But after the successful passage of mature games bills in states such as Illinois and California, this injunction provides a small beacon of hope amidst a dark shroud of defeats. No, I'm not usually this poetic. Yes, I'll be signing autographs later.


 PS3 Not Likely to be Region Coded

PlayStation 3

The head of Sony's South Pacific offices mentioned this week that the PS3 is not likely to be region coded. The original PlayStation and the PS2 have a built-in technology that prevents the play of games and movies from other regions in the world. Part of the reason for this is due to differing television standards in each region. The region coding also helps to prevent pirated copies of games from being played.

Michael Ephraim, the SCE Australia managing director, has said that due to the future globalization of television standards, upcoming products from Sony are unlikely to contain region-coding technology. "If you look at the fact that [the PlayStation 3] will support high-definition TV, which will be a global standard, there's a good likelihood that it will be global region, as for example we've done with the PSP (PlayStation Portable)," commented Ephraim.

Source: Australian IT

 Revolution to be Cheapest Next-Gen Console


This week, Nintendo executive vice president of sales and marketing Reggie Fils-Aime listed price among the factors that will set the Revolution apart from its rivals. The Nintendo executive predicted that Nintendo's Revolution will be less expensive than both Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3.

"Value has been a key card for us this generation, and we'll continue to play it," said Fils-Aime. "Do I expect us to be at a lower price point than our competition? Yes, I do. Have we determined a price yet? No, we haven't."

Fils-Aime also went on to mention that the Revolution has no plans for high-definition television support. "What we'll offer in terms of gameplay and approachability will more than make up for the lack of HD," he said. Sony and Microsoft have both promised HD support from their respective next-gen consoles.

Lastly, the Nintendo executive had some things to say about the future of the Nintendo DS, implying the possibility of future redesigns of the handheld. "As soon as [the DS] was launched, we started looking at ways to tweak it visually," he said.

Source: GameSpot

 Sony Reaches Settlement in Lawsuit


SCE America, SCE Canada, and Toys "R" Us Canada all agreed on an out-of-court settlement to resolve a lawsuit recently filed against Sony. The lawsuit was filed after Edward Kaen, Robert Hinojosa, and Christopher Hirst all claimed that their PlayStation 2 systems regularly displayed a 'disc read error' message when games were attempted to be played. The plaintiffs also argued that some PS2 consoles actually caused damage to CDs and DVDs during playback.

Sony immediately denied the charges, saying that there was nothing wrong with its consoles. The company also strongly insisted that it isn't accepting wrongdoing by agreeing to the settlement, saying, "While we are convinced that there is no problem with these models and that we would win if we defended this case through trial, we have agreed to settle these lawsuits to avoid the extraordinary high cost of cumbersome class action litigation."

The terms of the settlement are as follows. Anyone who has purchased, repaired, or lost a PS2 console of a certain model number is entitled to either a $25 check, a free PS2 game (chosen from a pre-established list of options), or a free or price-reduced repair or replacement of their PS2 - at the discretion of SCE America.

The settlement must now be approved by courts in both the US, with hearings dated for April 28, and in Canada, on May 11. More information can be found at the settlement's official website.


 Nintendo Launches Wi-Fi Website


With the worldwide launch of Nintendo's Wi-Fi connection just around the corner, the company has finally launched the service's official website to help get things off the ground. The service is set to launch officially in the US next week, on the same day Nintendo's first Wi-Fi enabled DS title, Mario Kart DS, is scheduled to ship.

The website itself contains information regarding the Wi-Fi service, including exactly how to set it up in your own home and how to find a hotspot in your local area. It also contains information regarding some upcoming Wi-Fi enabled DS titles and an extensive FAQ section for beginners. Another interesting feature on the site is a record-keeping database similar to Microsoft's Xbox Live service. Players who link their DSes to their accounts can have their statistical playing data saved into a database on the Nintendo Wi-Fi website. There are even charts that rank the best and worst players, and the most and least active players, of a particular game for the entire world to see.

Skeptics who cite Murphy's Law to predict another delay for the Wi-Fi service need not worry. The service is actually up and running at this moment with around 20 players, presumably beta testers, online at any given time. Players who are logged into the service also have their player nicknames listed on the Wi-Fi website to help meeting up with buddies go smoother. Currently only Mario Kart DS and Tony Hawk's American Sk8Land are up and running with Animal Crossing: Wild World and Metroid Prime: Hunters to follow when they near their releases.

 Stock Ticker

Half of the companies are down for the day. From the other half, two broke even and only three actually became worth more on Friday than they were on Thursday. As far as changes from last week, most companies have gone down. Sony, Microsoft, and Midway are the only ones to see an overall increase from the week before, and the increase isn't even terribly substantial. Perhaps with the coming holiday season, we'll start seeing some better numbers, but if retailers are correct in their predictions of the slump, we may just be better off investing our money in another industry altogether.

For the day, Electronic Arts has the biggest slump with a $1.05 loss. On the opposite, more positive end of the spectrum, Square Enix has the biggest jump with a $0.95 increase.

Parentheses denote negative numbers. Prices as of market closing 11.11.2005

Symbol Company Market Standing Change
SNE Sony NYSE 33.90 (0.18)
MSFT Microsoft Nasdaq 27.28 0.19
NTDOY Nintendo PNK 13.55 (0.05)
ERTS Electronic Arts Nasdaq 59.41 (1.05)
SQNXF Square Enix PNK 28.20 0.95
KNM Konami NYSE 19.50 0.00
ATVI Activision Nasdaq 16.69 (0.22)
MWY Midway NYSE 19.80 0.51
SGAMY Sega PNK 16.50 0.00
UBSFF Ubi Soft PNK 47.27 (0.48)

Source: CNN Money

 Back Page

Three weeks to go until my glorious Thanksgiving break from school. I'm so anxious to get away mostly because I have no school for five days, but also because I haven't seen my new home yet. My family moved to Bristow, Virginia since I've been away, so I'm doubly excited to go home now.

Also, I've been playing some serious Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. That game is incredibly fun and addictive. I'm near the very end, but Jordan from Japandemonium has advised me to do some serious character leveling before confronting the final boss. So as far as gaming, that's what I'll be up to between now and the next issue. Until then, don't forget to shower; I don't want smelly people reading this column.

Elliot "Absorbing souls for kicks and giggles" Guisinger

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