The PSN outage is harming developers and publishers

Update: Some aspects of the PSN are back online, but not in all regions, and the PSN Store is still offline.

Imagine you owned a business where you made a nice product. Also imagine that you were incapable of selling directly to your consumers, so you partnered with a store to carry your products for you. This store promised that they’d be open 24 hours a day and that they’d be helping you promote your product to millions of  potential customers each day. Like most stores, you’d have to share your space with the competition, but whenever you released a new product, it would get a featured placement in the store for a little while. Now, imagine that you were happy enough with the arrangement that you committed your products solely to that store and never partnered with anybody else to sell your product. What if the lights suddenly went out in the store with no indication of when they’d be back on?

For many developers, they’re facing some serious problems with the PSN Store being down. As the PSN limps back online, the storefront is still closed and a few developers and publishers have begun to comment on it a bit. While it’s not good practice to come out and say how many estimated losses they’re dealing with at this time, the losses do appear to be significant for some. The PixelJunk team has publicly stated that the outage is hurting them and have encouraged fans to buy some PixelJunk swag, such as t-shirts to support the team. Ubisoft has said that their losses have been noticeable but that they have the Xbox Marketplace to buffer the effects. Really though, the larger publishers still have disc-based sales and other platforms as revenue streams, it’s the smaller developers that are in danger.

For some of these developers, it has been nearly a month with no revenue stream. Nothing has been said in public as to whether or not Sony plans on subsidizing publishers and developers for lost revenue, but they have no legal obligation to do so. No employees have broken ranks to speak out as to whether or not their pay has been affected, but if the outage continues companies are going to have to start taking measures to stay afloat.

So aside from the PSN Store coming back online, what can PSN-exclusive publishers do? Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done. It might come as a hard lesson that going exclusive these days is a risky move unless there is some subsidizing that is taking place from the hardware maker. I’m wondering if this will make publishers think twice about putting their games exclusively on a single platform. While this security breach only brought down the PSN, it could have definitely happened to other services as well.

It’s hard to say what the ultimate fallout will be for smaller developers and publishers that are locked into PSN exclusivity, but they’ve definitely taken one pretty hard on the chin in this process. Not only do they lose revenue that can’t be recovered, but their games have aged. In this industry it’s very rare for games to see a sales surge after the first month or two from launch. Sony has said that they’ll be accelerating PSN updates in the short term to make up for the outage, which means stuff that launched before the store went down are about to get buried in a deluge of new content.

If you are waiting for the new PSN Store to come back up to 100% functionality, don’t forget about the games that launched just ahead of the outage and give them a fair shot.

The Sony NGP (PSP 2) was unveiled

Late last night for us North Americans Sony unveiled the successor to the PlayStation Portable. As of right now, it’s being called the Sony NGP, rather than PSP 2. NGP stands for Next Generation Portable. While it’s odd that they’re dropping the PSP brand name, maybe it’s a good idea to start a new legacy as the PSP has had some issues in recent years. Below are some photos of the device. It certainly looks like a powerhouse with its 5″ OLED touchscreen, rear touch pads, dual analog sticks, and raw processing power. With the official product shots, I’ve included a size comparison image, courtesty of Gawker Media. It sure looks nice. Click on image thumbnails to enlarge.

I’ll have more detailed reaction on the podcast tonight, but here’s my first reaction after the unveiling. I think the handheld looks great, but I do have a few worries. Let’s start with the worries so we can end on a high note. First of all, it’s a bit big. I know it has to be big given the 5″ screen, but that’s pushing it for a handheld. I like the move to cartridges, but that kills the UMD format completely. No going forward with your library, whereas the 3DS can play all DS games. The d-pad looks really close to the edge of the handheld, and I wonder if it’s going to be like the current PSP and cause hand cramps. It just doesn’t seem like they addressed the form factor issues at all. Lastly, and most importantly, almost everything shown was a mere tech demo. At this point Sony needs to be showing actual and announced games for this thing. Just about all that was shown was ported PSP or PS3 games as a tech demo. That’s a troubling sign. Also, the GUI on that thing is horrible, hopefully lots of tweaking is left to be done there.

Now, for what I did like about the Sony NGP. The screen is gorgeous! OLED technology is amazing and anybody who has seen a cell phone using an OLED screen will agree. I also like how thin the device is and how cool the idea of the touch pads on the back are. There has to be tons of great ways to use the three touch inputs on this. The dual analogs are nice, and some have said that they feel more like true sticks than a slider nub. I think everybody can be happy about that.

Nothing has been said of price, but this thing is probably not going to be cheap. For Sony’s sake, this thing better not go over $300 or we’re probably going to see a repeat of the PSP/DS war. Handhelds need to be priced noticeably lower than consoles.

We’ll have more details and reactions on the upcoming podcast, so check that out.

A SHMUP brush up

With the release of Sin & Punishment: Star Successor for the Wii and Deathsmiles (impressions for both coming soon) for the Xbox 360, I figured I’d give a brief overview of the shoot ‘em up (shmup) genre and point out some of my favorites. The genre itself is about as old as gaming, and it’s one that has managed to survive despite their very distinct and niche attributes. I think the genre survives because it really boils down gaming into its most basic elements: shoot, dodge, advance, repeat to perfection.

As a subgenre of the shooter genre, the shoot ‘em up name applies to many types of experiences. There are fixed shooters, scrolling shooters, multi-directional shooters, on-rails shooters, manic shooters, run and gun, and a few oddball types. Let’s take a look at each one and point out some notable games.

Fixed Shooters

Fixed shooters are one  of the earliest variations on the shmup genre. Games like Space Invaders, Galaxian, or Galaga have the player at a fixed point on the Y-axis at the bottom of the screen and the player must move along the X-axis to attack enemies that move across both axes. The screen doesn’t scroll, but there might be multiple levels where variations of enemy types or objects on the screen appear. There aren’t a lot of these shooters being released today, but they do still make appearances from time to time, such as Space Invaders Extreme.

Some fixed shooters allow the player to move along the X-axis or even on both axes, but the screen doesn’t scroll nor does the player shoot in more than one direction (always shoots up or across the screen). Games like Yars’ Revenge allow for both Y and X axis movement, but the player is only able to shoot horizontally.

A Few Notable Fixed Shooter Franchises: Space Invaders, Galaxian, Galaga, Pleaids, Phoenix, Centipede, Demon Attack, Pooyan, Atlantis

Scrolling Shooters

Scrolling shooters are the type of shoot ‘em ups that are most familiar to the average gamer. They come in a few variations, including vertical, horizontal, and isometric. The scrolling shooter is nearly 3o years old, and Defender is credited with ushering in this style back in 1981. In this type of shooter, the screen will scroll either automatically (forced) or by advancing forward or backward through the level. Some of the biggest franchises in the shmup genre fall within this type of shooter. Many shooter fans consider the scrolling shooters to be the most “pure” style of shooters.

This and multi-directional shooters are the most popular forms of the genre left a live today. There is some overlap between the styles, but for the most part they’re easily differentiated.

A Few Notable Scrolling Shooter Franchises: Defender, Gradius, R-Type, 1942, Blazing Star, Mars Matrix, Legendary Wings, Scramble, DoDonPachi, Star Soldier, Espgaluda, Ikaruga, Radiant Silvergun, Guwange, Gunbird 2, Spy Hunter, and many, many, many more.

Multi-Directional Shooters

Multi-directional shooters are still quite popular today, and they are actually the oldest sub-genre in the shoot ‘em up family and as old as video games themselves. Spacewar! kicked off the genre back in 1962. It featured two ships that flew around a fixed screen and attempted to shoot at each other. This style is called multi-directional because you can travel and shoot in any direction rather than on fixed angles. Games like Asteroids and Smash TV really propelled the multi-directional shooter genre forward and they were a massive hit in arcades. This style of shooter really took off again recently with the re-emergence of twin stick and touch screen controls. Both the PS3 and Xbox 360 have several games available that fit into this sub-genre.

A Few Notable Multi-Directional Shooter Franchises: Asteroids, Computer Space, Smash TV, Geometry Wars, Bangai-O, Berzerk, Super Stardust, Star Control, Time Pilot, Sinistar, Robotron: 2084

On-Rails Shooters

On-rail shooters are similar to scrolling shooters, but the player movement is limited to a pre-defined path through the environment, and in many cases so is the camera viewing angle. Many on-rails shooters give the illusion of a larger world, but the player is guided down a fairly specific tunnel. Space Harrier and After Burner are a couple of on-rails shooters that really gave the genre its start. Enemies in this style of shooter tend to be larger, take more damage to defeat, and will often remain on screen for longer amounts of time.

A Few Notable On-Rails Shooter Franchises: Space Harrier, After Burner, Panzer Dragoon, Star Fox, Rez, Sin & Punishment, and several Star Wars titles.

Manic Shooters

Manic shooters, or bullet hell shooters, really are just scrolling shooters, but they have a distinct look and feel to them that many people classify them differently. Above I mentioned several manic shooters in the notable scrolling shooter list, as I tend to prefer to conflate the types under one umbrella. But in all fairness, manic shooters do offer a different experience. The biggest difference between a manic shooter and a more traditional scrolling shooter is the sheer number of projectiles that are thrown at the player. Rather than reasonable levels of enemies coming at you, manic shooters flood the screen with both enemies and bullets. The player’s ship (or character) usually has a fairly small hit box, allowing the player to dodge and weave through the non-stop onslaught of bullets. Memorizing attack patterns is essential to surviving bullet hell games.

This style of shmup is definitely the most challenging, and as a result, it’s also the most niche. Gamers that prefer this style of shooter thrive on the constant edge of your seat gameplay and the extreme concentration it takes to survive. Many of these games will offer alternate endings, bonus levels, or other hidden gems for completing the game under certain circumstances, such as no deaths or not using any special weapons. Cave is the current king and by most accounts the pioneer of manic shooter developers; but many will argue that Treasure has a better touch for the genre.

A Few Notable Manic Shooter Franchises: Ikaruga, DonPachi, Radiant Silvergun, Ikaruga, Guwange, Mars Matrix, Strikers 1945, Castle of Shikigami, Espgaluda, Touhou

Run and Gun Shooters

Run and Gun shooters can also fit within some of the other categories, depending on their execution, but the one characteristic that sets these apart from the rest is that they’re typically games where the player controls a character or vehicle that is on the ground. These shooters can incorporate on-rails gameplay, vertical or horizontal scrolling, multi-directional controls, and even elements of bullet hell gameplay. The run and gun style of shooter is also one that’s been around for a long time. The games may have small bits of platforming mixed in with the shooting, but it’s the shooting that is the main focus in these games, by far. Arcades and home consoles in the 8-bit and 16-bit era saw practically endless releases of run and gun shooters. Today there are still releases in this style of shooter, but they’re nowhere near as common as they used to be.

A Few Notable Run and Gun Shooter Franchises: Contra, Gunstar Heroes, Metal Slug, PN.03, Alien Soldier, Rush’n Attack, Gun.Smoke

Oddball Shooters – The rest of the genre

There are so many sub-genres within the shooter genre that it would take many pages of text to cover them all, so I’ll just lump what’s left under “oddball shooters”. It’s not that these are particularly weird, it’s just that they’re not as prominent as the other types. In addition to the types mentioned above, you also have Tube Shooters, such as Tempest. Tube shooters are rarely seen, but they offer some nice action. Cute ‘em Up shooters are even more niche, and are typically a style of manic shooters; with the main difference being in the style and aesthetic. Cute ‘em Ups are generally extremely colorful, incorporate a heavy amount of cutesy art and sound, and will often times be full of innuendo. It’s rare to see a game of this nature come to the West, but they’re widely available on PC for imports for those interested. There are even more types than these, but they’re quite niche or outright experimental.

Shoot ‘em ups are not nearly as prominent as they were back in the ’80s and ’90s, but they’re still all part of a relevant genre in gaming. It’s not very likely that a shmup is going to be topping the NPD charts or sweeping the game of the year awards any time soon, but many of the games that do owe their existence to many of the roots laid down by the shoot ‘em up genre. Early first person perspective games like Atari’s Star Wars were the first logical step that eventually lead to games such as Wolfenstein 3D, a pioneer in first person shooters. Games like Robotron: 2084 were inspiration for not only modern day twin stick shooters, but also other frantic experiences such as Dead Rising.

If you’re interested in getting your feet we with shoot ‘em ups, it’s usually best to start with the old classics and work your way up to the more current offerings. Games like 1942, R-Type, Gradius, Robotron:2084, and Contra are all amazing games to see how likely you are to enjoy the genre.

Best Game Ever: Star Control II

Star Control II.
Originally on the PC but also ported to the 3DO with enhanced sound and added speech, this game was easily the best open world game of its time. It’s really rare, even today, to find a game that offers the same level of freedom, non-linear progression, and sense of scale. Here’s the lowdown.
Game is set way in the future after a big galactic war in which the Earth and its alliance lost. Earth is trapped under a slave shield and a race called the Ur-Quan rules the galaxy along with anybody else that chose to join up with them and avoid being annihilated or enslaved.
You’re a descendant from science team that left earth way in the past that had colonized a new planet where you’ve found alien tech. You go out to find out what happened with earth. After finding out that the alliance basically got curb stomped you decide to take it upon yourself to fly around the galaxy recruiting races to start the fight back up again against the Ur-Quan. Depending on the alliances you make the game changes and the storyline can get altered quite a bit.
Game is split into three main styles of gameplay. First there’s exploration where you’re looking for resources (money), new races to ally with, and alien technology to augment your ship. Secondly there’s the political aspect where you need to convince races to join your fight and keep them at peace with one another. Finally, there’s combat that plays out as a 2D top down battle. It’s all great stuff.
Here’s the intro video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4GB3FeqQVk
[youtube]J4GB3FeqQVk[/youtube]
Here’s a battle sequence:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRg6MfG7UUY
[youtube]cRg6MfG7UUY[/youtube]
A conversation with the Spathi, a coward race that you still want to recruit as allies because they make awesome starships.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afuWQonf4D8
[youtube]afuWQonf4D8[/youtube]
You can get the game for free here: http://sc2.sourceforge.net/downloads.php
Versions of the game are available on Windows, OS X, Linux, and a few other devices (including PSP).
I know it’s a busy time for gaming, but honestly, I doubt any game coming out in the next few months will be as good.

Note: Best Game Ever is a series of posts I’ll be doing dedicated to the best games ever made. Each game I profile will be a game I’d accept as someone’s answer to the question, “what do you think the best game ever is?” So please, do not email me and tell me I’m stupid for posting about game X when game Y is clearly superior. And you never know, game Y might be the next game profiled. For more in the series, check out the “best game ever” category in the side bar.

Star Control II.

Originally on the PC but also ported to the 3DO with enhanced sound and added speech, this game was easily the best open world game of its time. You can now download it FOR FREE (link at the bottom of the post) as it’s been made open source. It’s really rare, even today, to find a game that offers the same level of freedom, non-linear progression, and sense of scale. Here’s the lowdown.

Game is set way in the future after a big galactic war in which the Earth and its alliance lost. Earth is trapped under a slave shield and a race called the Ur-Quan rules the galaxy along with anybody else that chose to join up with them and avoid being annihilated or enslaved.

You’re a descendant from science team that left earth way in the past that had colonized a new planet where you’ve found alien tech. You go out to find out what happened with earth. After finding out that the alliance basically got curb stomped you decide to take it upon yourself to fly around the galaxy recruiting races to start the fight back up again against the Ur-Quan. Depending on the alliances you make the game changes and the storyline can get altered quite a bit.

The game is split into three main styles of gameplay. First there’s exploration where you’re looking for resources (money), new races to ally with, and alien technology to augment your ship. Secondly there’s the political aspect where you need to convince races to join your fight and keep them at peace with one another. Finally, there’s combat that plays out as a 2D top down battle. It’s all great stuff.

Here’s the intro video:

Here’s a battle sequence:

A conversation with the Spathi, a coward race that you still want to recruit as allies because they make awesome starships.

You can get the game for free here: http://sc2.sourceforge.net/downloads.php

Versions of the game are available on Windows, OS X, Linux, and a few other devices (including PSP).

I know it’s a busy time for gaming, but honestly, I doubt any game coming out in the next few months will be as good.

PSPgo price cuts point to large retail markup

It didn’t take long after launch before retail outlets, both online and offline, began offering the PSPgo at reduced pricing. The earliest price cuts we saw were in the UK where several stores cut the price by about $10 (after currency translation). This week Fry’s Electronics was cutting the price of the Go by $50. Obviously there’s no competitive advantage to getting people to buy a Go from you, because they sure aren’t going to be picking up any software to go along with it. So why are retailers already willing to cut prices? They can’t already be impatient to move the things, can they?

My best guess is to appease retailers Sony allowed for a ton of markup to be had on the Go. Typically retailers don’t make more than a few bucks per console sold. The retailers hope that if you buy your console at that store that you’re also going to walk out with a few accessories and a couple of games. In the case of the Go, all the sales are done online (except for a handful of redemption cards, but it’s negligible), so retailers have no real reason to push the hardware unless they get a good cut of the sale price. With Fry’s offering the system at $50 off, it probably means that Sony set aside about that much for retailer markup. Since you’re not going to be buying games in the store, it’s highly doubtful that Fry’s is taking a loss on the system, so they’re probably selling it at near cost in hopes that you’ll put that “saved” $50 into other items in the store before leaving or that you’ll grow to like the place a bit more when you visit.

This is all just speculation on my part, but if retailers are getting a $50 cut of that price, then Sony must be counting on retailers to dig into that cut themselves to create de facto price drops on the system. $50 markup is incredibly high, and retailers know that if these things don’t move very quickly that they can have lots of freedom with sales or clearance prices. What will be interesting to see, however, is after the holiday season what sort of demand retailers show for stocking the systems.

The Go is great from a theoretical standpoint, but the fact that you can’t buy used games or play your current library of UMDs is still keeping me from jumping in. My guess is that ultimately the Go is a bit of a test to see how ready gamers are to accept the move to 100% digitally delivered content. Should gamers show a high tolerance for digital delivery, it will probably allow Sony to launch the real PSP successor (PSP 2, if you will) sooner than later. If people resist this transition, Sony will probably sit on this dual market philosophy for the PSP until it’s clear that people are more ready.

PSPgo faces uncertain launch, uphill battle

Back at E3, after some early leaks, Sony officially unveiled the PSPgo to the public and announced all the details about the machine. At first glance, the handheld looks amazing with its pretty screen, compact design, and slider capability. It’s even been reported recently that the Go has a faster guts, though the validity on that remains fuzzy. On paper, this handheld looks like it could be a solid competitor in the handheld space and further muscle in on Nintendo’s share of the pie. Well, there are a few things that are starting to stack up against the PSPgo that range from complaints of form factor, to pricing, to software distribution. Let’s break down the major complaints consumers and retailers have with the PSPgo and see just how big of a deal they could be.

Hardware Price Point
With the removal of the UMD drive and a smaller screen, most everybody figured that the PSPgo would be pretty close to the same price as the current PSP model; with some people even expecting it to be a little cheaper. While I didn’t think the machine would necessarily cost less than the current PSP, I didn’t think that Sony would be essentially resetting the price point back to where the PSP launched at. Yeah, all new products carry a premium price tag, but it’s a pretty big jump over the PSP’s current going rate. While there might be a lot people interested in the PSPgo right now, I feel that many will wait until the price comes down on these things.

So why is the price so high? One word: Retail. This brings us to the next issue facing the PSPgo.

Retailers Don’t Like It
Right now if you want a PSP game you’re most likely heading over to Gamestop, Target, Best Buy, or hitting an online store like Amazon.com. Yes, there are a few games only available online, but they’re few and far between. What happens is that retailers are urged by Sony to sell the PSPgo, but once the handheld is sold, that customer is never coming back in to buy software for that device. All PSPgo games will be available online, so the retailer gets cut out. Basically there’s no incentive for retailers to push the PSPgo, because they lose out on future revenue from software sales while the original PSP and the DS keep bringing people back in the door. To offset this a little, Sony is keeping the price of the PSPgo at a premium so that retailers can take a bigger cut of the sale price. Without that inflated cost, retailers would probably just flat out refuse to carry the handheld.

One posed solution to this issue is to allow retailers to sell download codes for the games. This might work to some degree, but the retailer is still losing out compared to the markup that they get for disc-based games. On top of that, there’s not going to be any such thing as a used game market for the PSPgo. How is that going to be received by Gamestop?! In the end, Sony has the muscle to basically force retailers to carry the handheld (either they carry it or they lose out on deals for PS3 games, for instance), but I can’t see many retailers too happy about being cut out of the majority of the software sales market.

Only 50% of Americans Have Broadband
Many of the games offered for the PSPgo are going to be over a gig in size. For people with high-speed connections it’s not going to be an issue, but effectively half of the population in Sony’s most important market is still connecting through dial-up. Downloading games, which is the only way to get them, is just not feasible for dial-up users yet. Broadband penetration is going to be a big obstacle for Sony.

pspgo

The iPhone Effect
Everybody is probably tired of hearing about how the iPhone is going to be such a big deal in handheld gaming. Well yeah, people should stop talking about how big it’s going to be, because it’s a big deal right now. The iPhone is selling tons of software, and there’s actually quite a few solid gaming experiences to be had on the device. Sure, you don’t have the ability for complex control schemes on the iPhone, but when games are available for $.99 to $9.99, the iPhone is going to steal a lot of gaming time away from the PSPgo (and from the DS as well). That $.99 impulse buy from the iTunes app store might keep you occupied just long enough to pass up on the middle of the road release on the PSPgo store.

Sony isn’t going to want to drop the pricing of their games all the way down to the iPhone levels of pricing; and that’s actually understandable given the development budgets. The problem is that Sony is going to have to prove to buyers that their games are worth the premium. Many people keep their iPhone on them at all times; can the PSPgo become a staple in a gamer’s pocket as well? If it comes down to packing around a cell phone or a handheld, the vast majority of people are going to take the phone with them.

Backwards Compatibility Issues With it’s Own Library
The UMD slot is gone. Any games you currently have for your PSP are essentially coasters if you sell your current handheld to upgrade to the Go. Sony is saying that they’ll be supporting the entire–er, most of the–library via downloads, but does that mean that you’ll have to re-purchase your entire library in digital form? If Sony is offering some way to get them discounted if you’ve already purchased the game, how do they prevent people from scamming that service? The only way I could see this working is if Sony will allow you to mail your discs in for a free download code. That solution is unrealistic, however, as Sony doesn’t want to be handing used discs by the millions only to dish out codes that will net them nothing in regards to profit. That sort of program would be disastrous financially. However, for those of us with sizable collections, I think we’re going to be very reluctant to upgrade to the PSPgo and leave our collections behind. Also, will smaller run games, like Gradius Collection, be available from the get go?

It’s Not All Doom and Gloom
One thing that needs to be said is that Sony is pushing the market forward. Maybe the PSPgo is a little ahead of its time, but it’s pretty awesome to see a way for gamers to bypass the retail market and get their games without the hassles of preorders or worrying whether or not an item will be in stock when they show up. Ship dates and release dates will never be confused again, and no longer will you need to pack around a carrying case for extra games. The whole idea of the PSPgo is awesome, but really it’s quite the uphill fight for Sony. I hope the machine does well. I really want one, but ultimately getting one will depend on how soon the price drops, how easy it is to replace my library with digital versions, and just how simple buying and installing games can be.

I have to respect Sony for pushing the digital download services. This really is a step forward for game distribution. I’m just hoping it’s not a case of being a little too early to the party.

E3 link dump, photo slideshow, and general awesomeness

Below you’ll find a slideshow of some of the pics I took at E3. I might be adding more as time goes on, so if you care, check back and watch the slide show again to see anything new. After that, I have links to some of my hands-on articles that I wrote for Kombo.com. I’m still going to do that E3 wrapup podcast and will also reveal my top picks for the show soon. I imagine your hype for said things must be through the roof. You can view a full screen version of the photo slideshow by hitting that little button with the four arrows on the bottom of the image window.

Links to hands-on articles (I will be adding to this as more stories go live):

E3 2009: Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Multiplayer
E3 2009: Mafia II Impressions
E3 2009: A Boy and His Blob
E3 2009: New Super Mario Bros.
E3 2009: The Beatles: Rock Band
E3 2009: Sin and Punishment 2
E3 2009: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
E3 2009: Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time
E3 2009: Real Heroes: Firefighter

Rock Band Unplugged track list revealed, plus DLC tracks

Rock Band Unplugged for the PSP is getting a bit of attention lately in the press, and today Harmonix chose to announce the full track listing for the game as well as the first 10 DLC tracks that will be made available. Straight from the Harmonix PR, here’s the track listing.

2000s
  •   AFI – “Miss Murder” *
  • All-American Rejects – “Move Along”
  • Audioslave – “Gasoline” * 
  • Black Tide -“Show Me the Way” *
  • Freezepop – “Less Talk More Rokk” *
  • Jimmy Eat World – “The Middle” The
  • Killers – “Mr. Brightside”  
  •   Lacuna Coil – “Our Truth” 
  • Lamb of God – “Laid to Rest” 
  • Modest Mouse – “Float On” 
  • Queens of the Stone Age – “3’s and 7’s”
  • System of a Down – “Chop Suey!”
  • Tenacious D – “Rock Your Socks” *  
1990s
  •   3 Doors Down – “Kryptonite” * 
  • Alice in Chains – “Would?” * 
  • Blink 182 – “What’s My Age Again” *
  • Foo Fighters – “Everlong” 
  • Judas Priest – “Painkiller” 
  • Lit – “My Own Worst Enemy” 
  • Lush – “De-Luxe” 
  • Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “Where’d You Go?” 
  • Nine Inch Nails – “The Perfect Drug”  
  •   Nirvana – “Drain You” 
  • The Offspring – “Come Out and Play (Keep ‘em Separated)” 
  • Pearl Jam – “Alive” 
  • Smashing Pumpkins – “Today” 
  • Social Distortion – “I Was Wrong”
  • Soundgarden – “Spoonman” 
  • Weezer – “Buddy Holly”  
1980s
  •   Billy Idol – “White Wedding Part 1″ 
  • Bon Jovi – “Livin’ on a Prayer” 
  • Dead Kennedys – “Holiday in Cambodia”  
  •   Motörhead – “Ace of Spades” 
  • The Police – “Message in a Bottle”
  • Siouxsie & the Banshees – “The Killing Jar”
1970s
  •   Boston – “More Than a Feeling” 
  • Jackson 5 – “ABC” * 
  • Jethro Tull – “Aqualung”  
  •   Kansas – “Carry on Wayward Son”
  • Rush – “The Trees”  
1960s
  •   The Who – “Pinball Wizard”

And, here are the first 10 tracks that will be made available for DLC on the Rock Band Store:

  • 30 Seconds to Mars      “The Kill” 
  • Belly                              “Feed the Tree” 
  • Disturbed                       “Inside the Fire” 
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd             “Gimme Three Steps” 
  • Muse                             “Hysteria” 
  • Mute Math                     “Typical” 
  • No Doubt                       “Just a Girl” 
  • Oasis                              “Wonderwall” 
  • Paramore                        “Crushcrushcrush” 
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers    “Under the Bridge”  

While these are pretty much re-hashes from the console games, it is still  a pretty strong track listing all the same. I’m just not sure that I am really interested in playing Rock Band or Guitar Hero without a guitar peripheral. Even the DS has the little attachment that fakes it pretty well, but you never know, this game could turn out quite well.

   

New Madden 10 details have me unsure

Joystiq has some new details on Madden 10, straight from EA Tiburon themselves. Below is a quote from their article, and there’s a video you can view over at the site as well (link at the end of the post):

One of the biggest improvements to the game is the Pro-Tak feature, which provides more dynamic tackling on the defense, better evasion maneuvers for the Quarterback, and allows players to fight for fumbles at the bottom of the pile. Defenders can even gang up on an offensive player, allowing up to 9-man gang tackles. 

There will also be a new way for you to decrease the length of a game through the Madden NFL Your Way feature. This is a customizable version of the game that will support a new, revamped play calling system, along with faster clocks, and streamlined presentation.

New features are good and all, but upping the cheese factor of quarterbacks sounds dangerous to me. If anything, quarterbacks need to go down easier in NFL games, because too many people abuse the rollout plays with mobile quarterbacks. Besides, it’s not like I’m going to running anywhere with Pennington no matter how many jukes they give him. I hope that fumble fighting deal is super transparent as well. I don’t want to see issues where like six players from one team jump on a fumble only to have the opposing team’s kicker hop on top of the pile only to emerge with the ball. I never realized that there were issues with the fumble recovery system, but whatever.

I really hope that EA Sports isn’t going to sweat out the stuff that nobody really ever has cared about. I’d be very happy if we just got a fun to play game that isn’t plagued by glaring issues in the  passing or running games. But wait, if our fumble scrums are accurate I guess it would be all dandy, right?!

Source: http://www.joystiq.com/2009/04/29/madden-nfl-10-to-feature-new-pro-tak-mode-faster-ways-to-play/

Hey Sony, your insecurity is showing…

In response to the release of the DSi, Sony’s PR wonder (or is that blunder?) team sent out releases to a variety of gaming outlets that attempted to sway journalists to see the DSi in a particular light. Here is how the release reads:

If Nintendo is really committed to reaching a broader, more diverse audience of gamers beyond the “kids” market that they’ve always engaged, there isn’t much new with the DSi to support that. Significant gamer demographic groups are being ignored, and there continues to be limited opportunities for games from external publishers to do well on the DSi. Compare that with the PSP platform, where we have many blockbuster franchises from our publishing partners launching this year, representing a wide variety of genres and targeting diverse demographics. Games such as Rock Band Unplugged from MTV Games, Assassin’s Creed from Ubisoft, Dissidia Final Fantasy from Square Enix, and Hannah Montana from Disney demonstrate the commitment that publishers have to the PSP. From our own first-party studios, we’re launching unique versions of LittleBigPlanet and MotorStorm, and we’re also planning a steady stream of downloadable games — both new titles and PSone classics — to add to the content that PSP owners can already purchase wirelessly through PlayStation Store.

There’s a lot of things wrong with what Sony has said there, but the act itself is more concerning than the actual message. Why send this out to journalists? Is it going to be received in any other manner than just outright mockery? Is anybody actually going to create their own stories supporting this sort of nonsense? Well, if you’re not a Sony dedicated fan site, then the answer is no. The DS is by far recognized as much more of a hardcore platform than the PSP, and that’s not something that Sony can change with a silly little press release. To their dismay, it’s also known as a far better platform for mainstream releases. It’s a shame, because I really try and like my PSP, but honestly I pull it out and play it once every 6 months for maybe an hour or two. There are good games on the PSP, but they are buried under generic and watered down console ports or remakes. The PSP has no unique flavor to its library, and until it gets one, software sales are going to continue to be terrible.

I think it’s time that Sony makes an appointment with a shrink or two, they’ve clearly got a severe inferiority complex that they’re dealing with right now. I guess this can happen when for the first time ever you find yourself behind in all aspects of the gaming hardware and software wars.