Issue #81
May 21, 2008
Overworked and Underpaid
Front Page

Welcome to the Eighty-First edition of RPGamer's Currents column!


Heh. Pay no attention to the above paragraph. I don't really know where that all came from; it just sorta appeared on the screen. And I decided to leave it there. But in truth, I really don't feel like writing a long introduction. So I'm not going to! On to the NEWS!

Wii Remains King, GTA IV on Top

The April NPD numbers have arrived, and none of them are all that surprising. The Wii sold a bunch of units, despite the fact that April is a notorious month for dipping hardware sales, and Grand Theft Auto IV sold a bunch of copies, even though it was released rather late. (The 29th). Below is the hardware chart sales chart for the month of April.

* Nintendo Wii -- 714,200
* Nintendo DS -- 414,800
* PlayStation Portable -- 192,000
* Xbox 360 -- 188,000
* PlayStation 3 -- 187,100
* PlayStation 2 -- 124,400

For fun, below is the hardware sales chart for March.

* Nintendo Wii -- 721,000
* Nintendo DS -- 698,000
* PlayStation Portable -- 297,000
* Xbox 360 -- 262,000
* PlayStation 3 -- 257,000
* PlayStation 2 -- 216,000

My goodness, but the DS took a bit of a dive now didn't it? Of course, it still sold twice as much as the PSP, so I doubt anyone's worried. And good grief, how long before we don't have to see the PS2's old, bearded mug pop up in the NPD hardware sales? I don't want to say that it's overstayed its welcome or anything, but shoot.

Here's something to chew on: even with the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, hailed as a grand system-seller, the Wii still sold close to three times more than both the Xbox 360 and the PS3. That's... quite stunning, actually. On to the software sales:

1. Grand Theft Auto IV (360) -- 1,850,000
2. Mario Kart Wii (Wii) -- 1,120,000
3. Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3) -- 1,000,000
4. Wii Play (Wii) -- 360,000
5. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii) -- 326,000
6. Gran Turismo 5: Prologue (PS3) -- 224,000
7. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness (DS) -- 202,000
8. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time (DS) -- 202,000
9. Guitar Hero III (Wii) -- 152,000
10. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (360) -- 141,000

Warms me heart to see Mario Kart Wii wedged in nice and tight between the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of GTA IV. I don't know why, but it does. Don't ask. It's also nice to see SSBB hanging in there, although it's hardly surprising. Guitar Hero III for the Wii is lingering like a cold that keeps getting passed around. And Call of Duty 4 has some serious stamina, 'twould seem. I ALMOST want to play that game, but all I have to do is remind myself how bad I am at shooters and the urge leaves me. (Unless they have a handy lock-on system. Metroid Prime ftw.)

Source: 1UP
EA Claims ESA Displays "Lack of Leadership"

LucasArts has followed the path first taken by Activision and Vivendi, defecting from the ESA. Apparently, though, they still want to exhibit at E3. The full statement is below:

We can confirm that LucasArts is no longer a member of the ESA. As a company we are still committed to bringing consumers the best interactive experience possible and support the ESA's mission in the industry. LucasArts will be participating in E3. -- Margaret Grohne, Director, Public Relations

This ship-jumping is a bit suspicious, and it points to some underlying reason that is causing these companies to leave concurrently. The question is: what is it? Why would some of North America's largest videogame publishers leave an organization that, (in theory) is there only to protect them and gainfully represent them? Well, who better to ask about this dilemma than Electronic Arts? According to EA's vice president of corporate communications Jeff Brown, Activision and Vivendi's decision represents "an unfortunate lack of leadership" on part of the ESA.

"They're a big company and we feel that when you're a big company you've got a responsibility to consumers to work on policy issues which are very, very important to consumers. And the best way to do that is with an industry consensus. That's the way it's been done with the ESA in the US, and with ELSPA in the UK." Brown assured GamesIndustry that EA had no plans of leaving the ESA. "There's always tensions inside these organisations, but for the most part it works," he insisted. "So it was sad to see them step away from that responsibility. We hope that others don't do that, but I think that the onus is on the ESA to prove that membership in it is good for the company and good for consumers. And I think we're going to see the ESA redouble its efforts to prove that."

If E3 2008 sucks as badly as E3 2007, the ESA will lose still more ground. I suspect that last year's debacle was what first instilled these seeds of dissension among the ESA and its members, and now they're finally sprouting. The ESA needs to prove its worth to the gaming industry. The full reasoning behind these exits may be unknown, but for some reason or another, Activision, Vivendi, and LucasArts do not find the ESA worthy of their membership. But why, I ask? Hopefully, answers will come to light before still more questions are posed.

Source: GamesIndustry
Judge Dava Tunis Finally Speaks, Full Report Due September 2nd
He's so going down

Do you recall Jack Thompson's Florida Bar Trial that occurred in the later months of 2007? It actually wrapped up right around the time I became the resident Currents columnist, so I was unable to report on it. In any case, Thompson's right to practice law hangs in the balance here. Judge Dava Tunis presided over the case, and we've been eagerly awaiting her report for quite a while now. (In fact, she filed an extension so she could have more time to consider the case.) Finally, she has spoken. And as you've likely guessed, the verdict is not a pleasant one for Mr. Thompson. From Judge Tunis's report:

After considering the arguments presented by the Florida Bar and the Respondent (Thompson), observing the Respondent's demeanor during the nine-day trial proceedings, and carefully reviewing the record consisting of four volumes of exhibits totaling 1700 pages and approximately 2400 pages of transcribed testimony, the Court finds that the facts, circumstances and evidence presented regarding the Respondent's conduct, supports a finding of guilt as to certain Florida Bar rules...

Thompson was found guilty of 21 instances of misconduct during the well-known Strickland vs. Sony case, a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Take-Two, Sony, GameStop, and Wal-Mart, seeking a collective $600 million in damages. He was also found guilty of four examples of misconduct during his attempt back in 2006 to have Bully declared a public nuisance. Finally, he was found guilty on two charges of misconduct in a non-videogame related case. Below are some of the charges for which Judge Tunis found him guilty:

* Knowingly making a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal
* Knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal
* Communicating the merits of the case with a judge before whom the proceeding is pending
* Using means that have no purpose other than to embarrass, delay or burden a third person
* Engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation
* Engaging in conduct in connection with the practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, including to knowingly or through callous indifference disparage or humiliate litigants or other lawyers
* Making statements that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge

Harsh. But oh, so well-deserved. All of us saw Thompson laid bare before us during his show-cause trial that took place a few months ago. If you haven't read about it, click here for my summary of it. Jack Thompson isn't merely misguided; he has genuinely malicious qualities about him. To label it as "professional misconduct" is to put it VERY lightly indeed. There's little doubt in my mind that 'ol Jack won't be practicing the law by this time next year. Of course, part of me laments this fact, because Currents, and indeed the gaming industry as a whole, won't be the same without him. Judge Tunis is scheduled to deliver her full report to the Florida Supreme Court on September 2nd. Stay tuned!

(I'm so hoping to get another e-mail in response to this.)

Source: GamePolitics
QUICKIES: In Which I Make Passing Mention of Some Relatively Small, But Inherently Awesome News Stories!
Psssh, who actually cares about HD. Surely not someone who purchased an HDTV
  • PS3 to Feature YouTube Functionality
    Oh, what won't they think of next? Sony has announced that developers can now integrate a special YouTube function in their software that allows players to capture video from the game and upload it to YouTube's website. Reportedly, even previously released games can add this function as long as they can receive network updates. "Gamers will now be able to upload their in-game video captures to YouTube. We're excited at the opportunity this presents and look forward to more and more games to be enhanced with YouTube," an official YouTube statement read. This actually sounds kinda AWESOME to me, and if Soul Calibur IV has this feature, I'll totally upload a video for every battle I engage in. Well okay, I might not go THAT crazy, but still... think of the possibilities!

  • Haze Won't Run in HD
    I TOLD YOU this was becoming a trend, and a STUPID one at that. Apparently, Ubisoft's hotly-anticipated (and ill-received) shooter, Haze, will run at 576P and let the PS3 upscale it to 720. The game's creative lead, Derek Littlewood, had this to say: "We prioritize a nice, smooth framerate over a different res. Personally, I don't really buy the whole thing. People did the same with Call of Duty, they did the same with Halo, and they say with those games, 'It's not running at true HD!' And it's like, I don't care. If the game looks good and it runs smoothly, those are the important things to me." I CARE you bloody fool, why do you think I spent over $1000 on a 1080P HDTV? Sheesh.

  • Yoichi Wada Hints at Mergers
    Square Enix's president has hinted at mergers in the past, and while speaking to Reuters at the Media and Telecoms Summit in Tokyo, he spoke of them yet again. "Economies of scale and breadth of scope are getting important," he said. "It may be a business alliance or it may be us taking a stake in others, but we need to go beyond traditional Square Enix." Hm. He's spoken of it twice, which makes it approximately twice as interesting. Obviously this is something that they are seriously considering. Let us wait and see what will come of these words...

Sources: 1UP | Kotaku | GamesIndustry |

Well, the column itself was almost as short as the intro. How about that? Not a terrible amount of solid stuff in this last week. I could have filled it up with fluff but I was a little pressed for time, to be frank.

Oh, and just to clarify: I wasn't referring to my job at RPGamer when I said I was overworked and underpaid. I was referring to my real job, which takes up sixty hours of my week. Looking at the clock and realizing that I have to be at work in less than twelve hours is such a comforting thing, especially since I just got home from work less than TWO HOURS AGO. Ah well. Such is life. Slowly but surely, I work towards my goal of playing games for a living. Then I won't have to juggle between work and gametime, because they'll overlap! Can't get much better than that. Can it?

Later folks, and I'll see you in Q&A. That is, given that somebody is kind enough to send me a bloody LETTER. There's a link just below, and there's no reason at all for you not to CLICK ON IT and begin typing. If you think you have a good reason, then click the link anyways and let me know what it is. I'm curious.

Oliver Motok
Send me a letter, and be featured in Q&A!


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