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Videogame or Ad? Hard to TellJanuary 26 @ 6 AM source

Business Week Online looks at the increasing appeal of videogames to advertisers. Specifically, as has been noted in the past, the ease with which product placement can slip into a game. From the article: "The Sims 2 Open for Business, the expansion pack in the popular Sims franchise that hits stores in March, allows players to launch virtual restaurants, stores, and other entrepreneurial ventures. But, oddly enough, they won't be able to interact with true-to-life financial services companies, or see any on-screen versions of objects, food, or clothing representing recognizable brands. Although the game's publisher, Electronic Arts, considered product placements and even wrote some into early storylines, the game's ad and design staffs decided against it."

The Hero That Was Left BehindJanuary 26 @ 5 AM source

Cryptic Studios' City of Heroes is a success in the world of Massively Multiplayer titles. Not everyone involved with its creation has enjoyed that success, though. Gamasutra has an interview with Rick Dakan, one of the founders of Cryptic Studios. From the article: "It was a fairly complicated situation. We had grown from our original handful to about seventeen at that point, which seems tiny now, but it was overwhelming at the time. I certainly didn't have a lot of management experience, and no one else did either. So we were making good progress, but we were off track in a lot of ways too, just kind of stuck in the mud. So Mike [Lewis] stepped in at that point and started looking at things. There were problems with the CEO position, and with my position. In programming there were three big people who left right in that same week. There was me, who got basically asked to leave, but I asked to become a consultant in the same breath. So I stepped down as a designer, from the sort of working in the office aspect of my job. Our producer got flat-out fired."

Gaming TV In South KoreaJanuary 24 @ 9 PM source

Yesterday we discussed how maybe, someday, competitive gaming will have a place in the states. Today GameSetWatch points out a Gamespot article from last week showing us that (as with many things game-related) the South Koreans have already beaten us to the punch when it comes to gaming TV. From the article: "Two cable TV networks, known as Ongamenet and MBCgame, compete for viewers with their own 24-hour programming dedicated to PC and console gaming. Fierce gaming competitions are held, backed by major corporate sponsors, and studios overflow with live audiences trying to catch a glimpse at players who are practically given celebrity status. The programming is an odd mix of competition coverage, game news, and school-girl-cute window dressing. Curious to know what's on tonight in Seoul? GameSpot News takes you on a trip East, clicker in hand. "

Planetside For FreeJanuary 24 @ 1 AM source

Eurogamer reports that Sony Online is moving Planetside to a free play for a year deal, somewhat similar to the Anarchy Online pricing scheme. From the article: "Access to the massively multiplayer FPS will be limited in terms of BattleRank and CommandRank. 'Essentially, new players will be able to have access to any part of the game but they will be limited on the diversity of their arsenal,' said developer Enrico Pallazzo in a recent forum post outlining various new additions to the game." Limited free play in an environment with ads. I guess I'm glad they're trying new options.

What to Make of Keita Takahashi?January 23 @ 11 PM source

Edge Online has a piece looking at the rise of Keita Takahashi, the creator of Katamari Damacy. From the article: "But just how do you accelerate from unknown newcomer, through cult hero, to toast of the establishment in the time it takes most developers to produce a single game? Back in 2003 Katamari Damacy was unknown, a demo disc given away at the Tokyo Game Show which was dismissed by many as a one-note wonder - a novelty game which no one would play for more than ten minutes. Then, some neat timing: just a fortnight after the game's release in Japan, and the early flurry of word-of-mouth from those whose interest had been piqued at TGS, Takahashi presented the game at GDC's experimental game workshop."

More On The MGS SuicideJanuary 23 @ 11 PM source

Last Thursday we mentioned the misreporting of a gamer's suicide, the death of a young man who frequented a Metal Gear Solid forum. This week, GamePolitics tries to clear things up by talking with one of the forum admins and giving gamers a place to air their reactions to related events, such as Jack Thompson's callous disregard for the young man's life. The Guardian Gamesblog comments on the unreality of the situation: "According to Gaminghorizon, AFP, the international newswire service that picked up on the Bulgarian story, has corrected its take on the events, although news sites that picked up on AFP's original version, including CNN and Yahoo have apparently yet to make alterations to their reports. Ultimately, the lack of major international media coverage has lent this sequence of events an air of unreality, of illegitimacy. A tragedy quietly perpetrated and pulled apart online."

World of Warcraft AQ Gates Open!January 23 @ 8 PM source

Tayman writes "Wow...who didn't see this one coming? The players on the World of Warcraft Medivh server opened the gates to AQ. What happened next? The server crashed repeatedly. Why create content the servers can't handle? The very first time I read about this patch, I knew the servers would crash. The more people who open the gates, the more angry customers Blizzard will have in my opinion. With 5million+ subscribers, you would think Blizzard would have the best servers/connection money can buy. Although, I'm sure it's more complicated than simply plugging in a few ram chips and faster processors though. Most of the people involved in the raid are having a great time though. Could this be the most epic battle ever introduced to the mmorpg market? All signs point to yes. Let's see how long the mobs will respawn. Hopefully, the people of the Medivh server haven't seen anything yet. Either way, I would hate to be a network admin for Blizzard atm. ^_^ Here are some pics of the event. Thanks go out to all of those who took these pics. World of Warcraft AQ Pics Check out MMORPG Veteran to keep up with the events as they unfold."

XFire, Xbox Live, 1 Million EU DS HandheldsJanuary 22 @ 8 AM source

There have been a number of statistic-related announcements in the gaming industry of late. The beginning of the year sees companies trying to start off on the right foot through upbeat marketing. So, with that in mind comes the news that XFire now has 3 Million subscribers, the 1 Millionth DS handheld has sold in Europe, and Microsoft has listed the top 10 Xbox Live Arcade titles. From the Xbox Live article: "Although no exact figures for sales were revealed, the publishing giant has detailed its most popular games on the Arcade service, with Bizarre Creations' Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved leading the pack. The game is an adapted version of the retro styled arcade game that first appeared on the original Xbox, as part of Project Gotham Racing 2. Since the launch of the service in November, Geometry Wars has achieved some 200,000 trial downloads and 45,000 paid downloads, proving exceptionally popular with the online community."

UK to hold global talks on online gaming (Reuters)January 22 @ 8 AM source

Competitors practice before a gaming tournament in Singapore, November 17, 2005. Britain plans to hold global online gaming talks this year to seek support for its move to regulate the fast growing industry and help protect children from gaining access to the businesses' Web sites. REUTERS/Vivek PrakashReuters - Britain plans to hold global online
gaming talks this year to seek support for its move to regulate
the fast growing industry and help protect children from
gaining access to the businesses' Web sites.

American commits suicide in Bulgarian internet forum (AFP)January 22 @ 8 AM source

A 21-year-old American online gaming fan broadcast his suicide on a Bulgarian Internet forum.(AFP Illustration)AFP - A 21-year-old American online gaming fan broadcast his suicide on a Bulgarian Internet forum.