EGMi app available on iPad, Android soon

It’s no secret that print media is struggling. EGM disappeared for a while before Steve Harris revived the magazine and changed the focus. The reboot of the magazine has been successful, even if the circulation is more limited than what EGM has seen in the past. To bring something different to the EGM experience, EGMi was introduced that allowed subscribers to access additional and exclusive content online. There has also been lots of free content available online, including video clips, screenshots, audio interviews, and interactive features. Given the success of Apple’s iPad and iPad 2, making EGMi into an app just made perfect sense.

Right now the EGMi app is free to download, and it’s updated weekly with new content. There is still additional content available for those that subscribe to the print version or buy the current issue, but the amount of free content is quite impressive.

I emailed Steve Harris to get more info about the app and ask about Android support, and Steve responded to confirm that indeed an Android version of the application is in the works and will be announced very soon. If you have an iPad, check it out, it’s one of the nicer ways to read up on news and check out reviews with developers.

Also, to check out the desktop version, visit http://www.egmnow.com/

Edge’s top 100 games of all time…today!

Top 10, 20, 50, 100, or whatever the number might be lists are always sure to be somewhat controversial, but it never keeps anybody from putting them out. Edge has compiled their 100 best games of all time list, and I have to say it’s pretty good (even with the glaring omission of Metroid Prime and the baffling inclusion of FIFA 09). There was a strong slant toward newer games or to those that have aged well. It seems that games that were only great in their time struggled to make the list, which may or may not be fair depending on your personal criteria. So, here’s the list:

100. Ridge Racer Type 4 
99. Far Cry 
98. Star Fox 64 
97. Resident Evil 
96. Zelda: Twilight Princess 
95. Football Manager 2009 
94. Space Giraffe 
93. The Sims 2 
92. Animal Crossing Wii 
91. Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory 
90. Braid 
89. Final Fantasy VI 
88. Panel De Pon 
87. Doom 2 
86. Singstar 
85. The Secret of Monkey Island 
84. God of War 
83. Peggle 
82. Sam & Max Hit the Road 
81. Silent Hill 2 
80. Quake III 
79. Pac-man CE 
78. UFO: Enemy Unknown 
77. Zelda: Majora’s Mask 
76. Planescape: Torment 
75. F-Zero GX 
74. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords 
73. Frequency 
72. Skate 2 
71. Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast 
70. Daytona USA 
69. Super Smash Bros. Brawl 
68. Shadow of the Colossus 
67. Chrono Trigger 
66. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time 
65. Thief II: The Metal Age 
64. Puyo Pop Fever 
63. Lemmings 
62. Ninja Gaiden 
61. Robotron 2084 
60. Puzzle Bobble 
59. Viewtiful Joe 
58. Gears of War 2 
57. Deus Ex 
56. Counter Strike: Source 
55. Pokemon Yellow 
54. Ico 
53. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune 
52. Fable II 
51. R-Type Final 
50. Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes 
49. Rez HD 
48. Final Fantasy VII 
47. Eve Online 
46. Disgaea: AOD 
45. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 
44. Jet Set Radio Future 
43. Portal 
42. FIFA 09 
41. Race Driver GRID 
40. WarioWare Inc. 
39. Super Monkey Ball 
38. Starcraft 
37. Fallout 3 
36. Burnout Paradise 
35. Castlevania: SOTN 
34. Bioshock 
33. Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 
32. Team Fortress 2 
31. Bomberman 
30. Company of Heroes 
29. Advance Wars 
28. GTA: San Andreas 
27. Mario Kart DS 
26. Medieval II: Total War 
25. Final Fantasy XII 
24. Virtua Fighter 5 
23. Zelda: Wind Waker 
22. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City 
21. Metal Gear Solid 3 
20. Super Mario Bros. 3 
19. Civilization IV 
18. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 
17. World of Warcraft 
16. Super Metroid 
15. Rock Band 2 
14. Street Fighter IV 
13. Left 4 Dead 
12. Grand Theft Auto IV 
11. LittleBigPlanet 
10. Yoshi’s Island 
9. Halo 3 
8. Super Mario Galaxy 
7. Tetris 
6. Super Mario World 
5. Zelda: A Link to the Past 
4. Resident Evil 4 
3. Half-life 2 
2. Super Mario 64 
1. Zelda: Ocarina of Time
 

My personal top 100 would look very different, but I feel the vibe Edge was going with here. It’s very kind toward newer games, but that’s ok because they list it in their explanation. I would guess that this list here is probably far more relevant to today’s younger gamer. Also, it’s very clear that the game has a strong Euro slant in some places.

EA to lay off another 1,000 employees and merge studios

Ouch.

EA is undergoing an additional round of layoffs that will increase their percentage of work force cuts from 6% to 10%. Black Box will be merging with the other Vancouver studio over in Burnaby, which probably means that many of the cuts will come from within those two studios. With EA being a much better publisher/developer as of late, here’s hoping that the cuts can cause for a quick rebound. The official press release is below:

EA Releases Details on Previously Announced Reduction of Facilities and Work Force

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) today announced further details on a restructuring plan which will include consolidating facilities and reducing the work force.

EA expects the restructuring plan will result in annual cost savings of approximately $120 million and restructuring charges of approximately $55-65 million over the next several quarters.

The plan is intended to reduce EA’s worldwide work force by approximately 10 percent or 1,000 people. The majority of these actions will be completed by March 31, 2009. This represents a four percent increase from the six percent reduction EA announced on October 30, 2008.

The restructuring also calls for consolidation or closure of at least nine studio and publishing locations. Among the facilities to be consolidated is the Black Box Studio facility in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Black Box development teams and associated game franchises will move to the nearby EA studio location in Burnaby, British Columbia.

EA is implementing a plan to narrow its product portfolio to focus on hit games with higher margin opportunities. The company remains committed to taking creative risks, investing in new games, leading the industry in the growing mobile and online businesses, and delivering high-quality games to consumers.

Devs getting desperate to curb secondhand game sales

Ok, this is getting ridiculous. I love Epic games as much as anybody else, but it seems that a lot of sketchy comments leak out from those guys. In a recent interview with Game Informer, head of Epic, Mike Capps discussed the need to “make strides against the secondhand market.” Now, I understand where Mike is coming from, but only to a small degree. Here are a few more of his quotes, and then I’ll give my two cents on the matter.

I think DLC will be increasing in scope just because in the US we really need to make strides against the second-hand market[...]

The secondary market is a huge issue in the United States. Our primary retailer makes the majority of its money off of secondary sales, and so you’re starting to see games taking proactive steps toward that by… if you buy the retail version you get the unlock code[...]

I’ve talked to some developers who are saying ‘If you want to fight the final boss you go online and pay USD 20, but if you bought the retail version you got it for free’. We don’t make any money when someone rents it, and we don’t make any money when someone buys it used – way more than twice as many people played Gears than bought it.

Ok, I really do get why developers dislike the secondhand market. No, they don’t get a penny when Gamestop sells you a used copy of Gears of War 2 a week from now for $55.00, but when someone traded in that game, they probably put their money toward a new game purchase anyway. The used game market is giving lots of gamers extra cash to spend on new games. I know plenty of people, myself included, that need to sell off older games on Amazon, eBay, or in a Gamestop to be able to pick up new titles. If you take away the secondhand market, you probably pull millions of dollars out of the buying pool. It’s a simple concept. What do you do when you want a new car? You sell your old one. Need a new home? Well, you better sell the old one, huh? With luxury items you can’t cut off a funding stream or else the industry will bottleneck.

Sorry Epic, you’re living in a free market and you’re doing JUST FINE. Nobody feels sorry for you, and nobody should.

A strategic alliance for the future.

Greetings everyone, I bet you’re all so used to only Jeff posting to this blog. Well that has just changed. My name is Brad Mosbacher, former Features Editor for Nintendo World Report.  I have been brought aboard to provide all of you with interesting and well written updates when Jeff himself is unable to post.

I am also here to provide posts that slightly differentiate in taste compared to the standard variety of posts that Jeff makes. However, this alone is not the cause of my appearance. Jeff and I have big things planned in the future. What these plans are I cannot say just yet, but it is the culmination of his and my combined resources. Needless to say, I hope you will enjoy what we have in store for all of you.

Barack Obama on GTA IV

Barack Obama mentioned GTA IV in a recent speech. He acknowledged that the game isn’t intended for kids, but his greatest concern isn’t with the game’s content, but rather that kids left to be raised by video games rather than spend time outside or doing more uplifting activities. Here’s a snippet of his speech:

“I was just catching the news this morning about Grand Theft Auto, this video game, which is gonna break all records and make goo-gobs of money for whoever designed it.

“Now, this isn’t intended for kids, although I promise you there are kids who are playing it, but these video games are raising our kids…

“Across the board, middle-class, upper-class, working-class kids, they’re spending a huge amount of their time not on their studies, but on entertainment.

“And so part of our job is going to have to be to inspire the entire country to say, ‘How are we giving our kids a thirst for knowledge?’

“And turning off the TV set, and getting them to be engaged and interested, like their future really does matter on how well they do in school.”

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Rather than blaming the content of games, Obama is blaming parents for allowing their kids to live unbalanced lives. If you ask me, this is the correct stance to take. As I grew up, games were less violent, but violence still existed in gaming. As I grew up, however, I was also very involved in sports, was expected to do well in school, and my parents were good to keep an eye on the games I played. As long as they could see that the things I was playing weren’t having an effect on me in a negative way (be it school, physical fitness, or emotional health), they never had a problem with the gaming I did.

The problem isn’t with the games themselves, but rather with the parent that would rather let their 7 yr. old kid spend an extra two or three hours in front of the TV playing games rather than taking them out to the park and teaching them to hit a baseball or throw a football. Kids aren’t going to self-regulate, so parents have to learn to be a bit more proactive and, well, you know, be a parent.

Note: I’m not endorsing Obama for anything nor any other candidate.

Ziff Davis files for bankruptcy

As a result of debt and the severe need for restructuring, the Ziff Davis group is filing for bankruptcy. Ziff Davis is home to the 1up network, Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine, Games for Windows magazine, and other popular online destinations and print publications. In addition to filing for bankruptcy, the Ziff Davis group is set to undergo a reorganization, but the specific details haven’t been announced.

egm.jpg

Electronic Gaming Monthly is the gaming magazine I still bother reading (outside of GameRoom Magazine), and I’d hate to see this have a negative impact on the publication. The magazine has already been thinning a lot lately, but the content that is in there is still good and well worth reading. The 1up Network also hosts the best gaming podcasts, and their editors are the most brutally honest in the online realm.

Good luck Ziff Davis, here’s hoping for a quick bounce back!

Warner paid big for Blu-ray exclusivity?

Last week Warner Warner Bros. studios made the decision to drop HD-DVD support (starting this May) and support Blu-ray exclusively. The announcement, which was made just days ahead of CES, came as a major shock to the HD-DVD promotional group and HD-DVD fans and supporters. During CES, Toshiba let on to the media that they were blindsided by the agreement and didn’t expect Warner to pick a side at this point in the format war. An official release issued by Toshiba said,

TOKYO, Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/ — Toshiba is quite surprised by Warner Bros.’ decision to abandon HD DVD in favor of Blu-ray, despite the fact that there are various contracts in place between our companies concerning the support of HD DVD. As central members of the DVD Forum, we have long maintained a close partnership with Warner Bros. We worked closely together to help standardize the first-generation DVD format as well as to define and shape HD DVD as its next-generation successor.

We were particularly disappointed that this decision was made in spite of the significant momentum HD DVD has gained in the US market as well as other regions in 2007. HD DVD players and PCs have outsold Blu-ray in the US market in 2007. We will assess the potential impact of this announcement with the other HD DVD partner companies and evaluate potential next steps. We remain firm in our belief that HD DVD is the format best suited to the wants and needs of the consumer.

Also, according to insider reports, it seems that Sony dished out upwards of $450 million to secure Warner’s loyalty, a much higher figure that was offered to Paramount ($180 million) to side with HD-DVD. So what does all this mean? Well, it basically means that this war is being decided by the studios and CE producers, not by consumers. Yes, Blu-ray was pulling ahead in sales, but one has to wonder how things would have played out if exclusivity had never been a factor from the get go. It seems that exclusivity is what saved Blu-ray from HD-DVDs lower prices, more fully realized specs, and slightly early launch.

Nice Carvings expands its lineup

Jason and Melissa Jones have continued to expand their offerings for custom carvings through their website Nice Carvings. In our first look at the custom carving work being done, Jason and Melissa were focusing mostly on characters from the video game world. While the colorful characters are still the top draw for Jason and Melissa, they are now offering custom signs and full canvas art as well. Take a look at some of the newest examples of Melissa’s handiwork below.

PinewoodPrincess3.jpg

This is canvas art populated with painted castings of Melissa’s carvings.

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PinewoodPrincess2.jpg

Above are two examples of custom signs. These are perfect for businesses or home decoration.

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Jason and Melissa use castings to do production runs. Multiples are quite easy for Nice Carvings.

PinewoodPrincess6.jpg

Yep, the characters are still around. Find a pic you like, and Melissa will make it into a painted carving.

PinewoodPrincess.jpg

The canvas art pieces are pretty big!

If you want to check out pricing, examples of work, or you want to contact Jason and Melissa, visit them over at Nice Carvings. Both Jason and Melissa are extremely friendly and will usually respond to any questions you have that very same day. Pretty soon I plan on having a full Donkey Kong casting set adorning the walls of the Stupid Gamer arcade room.