(Hawk Eye, The (Burlington, IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 08--Never before have I lived in terror of next generation video game machines. But thanks to the rumors that have been cropping up around Sony and Microsoft's next generation systems, I'm hoping this current cycle of consoles never ends.
I thought it high time to take a look at the latest gaming headlines, but none fill me with as much dread as this week's lead story.
Rumors abound that the next generation of video game consoles will not play used games
It was bound to happen. Video game publishers have been green with envy over the success of casual gaming on the iPhone, and they just can't stand watching their brethren rake in billions of dollars through digital distribution that makes buying a used copy of "Angry Birds" impossible.
If the rumors are true, the days of loaning a good game to your best buddy will soon come to an end.
According to the video game news site Kotaku, Sony's next generation console will be called "Orbis" and will have a system in place that restricts used games. Kotaku's source also claims the system will not be able to play Playstation 3 games, but will be ready for launch in time for the 2013 holiday shopping season.
Games on the new system would be downloadable or on Blu-Ray discs and would be tied to a single account. Someone buying a used game would get a limited game experience (like a demo version of the game) that would require a fee to unlock it fully.
The rumors swirling around Microsoft's next console are just as scary. According to VG247, the next Xbox console system will use always-on DRM (Digital Rights Management) and Blu-Ray discs. Since the system always must be online, the odds of it playing used games are slim. It too is rumored for a holiday 2013 release.
If this kind of control is suffocating enough to make you consider throwing in the towel on video games, I sympathize. I've ranted far too often about how video game companies are looking to stick it to consumers by eliminating the used games market.
But don't give up just yet. These are just rumors, after all, even though you may have seen the same stories reported on yahoo.com as pure fact. Microsoft and Sony do not address rumors and have released nothing about the plans for their future consoles.
If you need some hope, look to Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Patcher, who believes there would have to be some sort of collusion between Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to make all the next generation consoles resistant to used games. If one company decided to let their console play used games, they would gain the majority of the market share. What corporation could resist such tempting fruit?
Oddly enough, the survival of used games depends on the Cold War theory of mutually assured destruction. No one is going to make a move toward eliminating used games for fear they would destroy themselves.
At least, I hope that's how the big wigs at Sony and Microsoft feel.
Game developers say Nintendo's upcoming Wii U console is less powerful than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
No one expected Nintendo's next generation console to be a powerhouse. Given how the Wii managed to bring in a casual audience with a low price point and motion controls, I expected Nintendo to continue that tradition with another underpowered console at a reasonable price.
But I at least thought it would be more powerful than what I'm playing now.
Nintendo has kept the system specs of the Wii U (which will likely be released at the end of November) extremely close to its vest, so there's no way to know how powerful it is at this point. But GamesIndustry.biz quoted an anonymous game developer as saying the following.
"It's not up to the same level as the PS3 or the 360. The graphics are just not as powerful."
Another anonymous developer agreed.
"Some things are better, mostly as a result of it being a more modern design. But overall, the Wii U just can't quite keep up," they said.
Graphics certainly aren't the most important component in a video game, but my heart dropped more than a little when I read that. I still plan on buying a Wii U when it comes out, because that's just what I do.
I just hope it doesn't end up being an overpriced doorstop. I have plenty of those in storage, though I like to refer to them as collectables.
Sega canceling upcoming games due to major operating losses
I've been a huge Sega fan since my parents bought me a Sega Genesis way back in 1991. And though it could be argued that Sega lost the console war to the Super Nintendo and sullied their reputation with the little- loved (or purchased) Sega Saturn, I was still one of the early adopters of the Sega Dreamcast when it was released at the end of the previous century.
Unfortunately, that bubble burst as well, forcing Sega to leave the console business and focus exclusively on software. Though it never attained the heights it once did, Sega stuck around as one of the few publishers willing to release quirky (some might say crazy) Japanese games in the U.S.
It just wasn't enough. Blaming a challenging economic climate, Sega said it will see a 7.1 billion yen loss, forcing them to streamline organizations and cancel upcoming games. The company is going to focus on selling its stronger franchise like "Sonic the Hedgehog," "Football Manager," "Total War" and "Aliens."
I have to admit, I've never heard of "Football Manager." It's just another example of how irrelevant the company has become in the West, if you don't count "Sonic the Hedgehog."
Hopefully, Sega can survive this. Otherwise, their trademark name will be stripped of the meaning it once had and sold to another company. I saw the exact same thing happen to Atari.
Hardcore gamers have enlarged reward centers in their brain
Every time I accomplish something in a video game, I feel a little bitter about myself and a little better about life in general. Turns out there's a reason for that.
According to a new study from Charite University Medicine in Berlin, there is a connection between the time a person spends playing a game with enlarged reward centers in the brain. Researchers also noted that even when players fail in a game, they still experience stimulation.
It's kind of a "No, Duh" conclusion for hardcore gamers who have been doing this as long as I have, but it's still interesting to see the connection proven. The study also states that the act of gaming doesn't necessarily enlarge your rewards centers, but those with larger reward centers are drawn to gaming -- a common problem for those with gambling issues as well.
If only I could have explained to my high school teachers that my homework remained unfinished because I have a genetic predisposition toward video games.
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