Gaming

YouTube Gaming Aims Sights At Twitch

Last year Amazon raised more than a few eyebrows in beating Google to purchase Twitch for a cool $1 billion. As the gaming community continues its phenomenal growth, we shouldn’t be too surprised at the recent announcement of the unimaginatively titled ‘YouTube Gaming.’

A post on YouTube’s blog yesterday revealed that YouTube Gaming is built to be all about your favorite games and gamers, with more videos than anywhere else. From “Asteroids” to “Zelda,” more than 25,000 games will each have their page, a single place for all the best videos and live streams about that title. You’ll also find channels from a wide array of game publishers and YouTube creators.

And when you want something specific, you can search with confidence, knowing that typing “call” will show you “Call of Duty” and not “Call Me Maybe.”

More details will be revealed at E3 next week in Los Angeles where the world’s press will be soaking up a plethora of announcements. We can be sure that there will be a wealth of information that will dominate our newsfeeds along with tales of million dollar game releases and virtual reality with Oculus Rift.   (more…)

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Facebook Buys Oculus Rift For $2 Billion and The Internet is Not Happy

Facebook has just announced that it’s buying Oculus Rift for $2 billion, no you are not reading some clever political satire here, the Zuckerberg behemoth has struck again!

Initial thoughts of a nightmarish future that feature the worlds population plugged into games like Farmville and Candy Crush Saga as targeted adverts are sent directly to your brain in rapid succession spring to mind but Facebook isn’t that creepy is it? I cannot help but feel a little suspicious of their motives, when they say that they want to promote a device for social purposes, anyone who has ever seen a photo of it Oculus Rift in action can see that you cannot get much more anti social than strapping a computer to your face.

The full statement from Mark Zuckerberg states the following.

“I’m excited to announce that we’ve agreed to acquire Oculus VR, the leader in virtual reality technology.

Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. For the past few years, this has mostly meant building mobile apps that help you share with the people you care about. We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we’re in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences.

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Why FIFA Ultimate Team’s Legends aren’t quite legendary

As a kid, I was suckered into collecting Panini football stickers, and it fuelled my passion for the beautiful game. As soon as I received my pocket money, off I went to the local newsagents to pick up 10 packets of stickers only to rip them open vigorously, hoping that this would be the moment that I finally get that much-needed rare sticker. The reality actually consisted of going home with a handful of swaps. Fast-forward 25 years and it seems that the clever people at EA have found a way of tapping into my youth and memories of nostalgia that I look back on through rose-tinted glasses.

I am referring, of course, to the incredibly addictive Ultimate Team in FIFA 14.

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Xbox One: After The Honeymoon…

As an early adopter of a next-generation console, I am sure there are more than a few other gamers out there who have also completed a four-hour single-player campaign of BattlefieldCall of Duty and Ryse and were left thinking, ‘did I really pay £60 per game for this?’. The funny thing is that once shine of the new features have worn off, even the most optimistic of people are left learning a few lessons from the fable The Emperor’s New Clothes.

The old Xbox 360 days are now a distant memory, but I often reminisce through rose-tinted shades about a time where I could be in a party chat with friends without ruining anyone else’s gaming experience with our childish banter. These were simple times where the push of one button gave access to your own friend’s list, achievements and chat party feature without having to think about the obsession of the 21st century known as “the app”.

Next-gen gaming replaces all this with fools who forget to turn off Kinect in-game chat, and seem blissfully unaware that they are seriously pissing off their fellow gamers with the the most annoying of sounds, including -but not limited to – babies crying, friends talking nonsense and awful music playing at the same time.

Sometimes it feels like these people are in your living room.

Sometimes it feels like these people are in your living room.Karma seems to bitten me firmly on the ass after years of mocking my PS3 friends for waiting for lengthy game updates while my humble Xbox 360 never made me wait longer than a few minutes. In quarter four of 2013, Xbox games now take thirty minutes to an hour to install, leaving me shaking my fist like a Moto GP rider and cursing under my breath.

Any Xbox One early adopter will happily tell you of their frustration of a controller running out of juice mid-way through a game and I’m no different, which makes it baffling that the simple battery indicator that was always a button-press away was removed.

In the old days it might have annoyed me that some of my friends seemed to sign-in every 30 seconds according to the notifications, but now it feels like tumble-weed is blowing on Xbox One as I have no idea when any of my friends come online any more.

To be honest, saying “Xbox on” to impress friends and family is starting to wear off, and saying “Xbox record that” at 1am gave me an epiphany which resulted in me thinking “have a word with yourself mate”. I have since resulted in operating the console from my controller, which rapidly makes you realise that the forced Metro user interface must have been designed by a small child.

As physical media begins to fade into obscurity it’s slightly annoying to see that last week Microsoft increased its UK digital pricing for the Xbox One launch games Ryse: Son of Rome, Forza Motorsport 5, and Dead Rising 3 by £5 to £49.99. The cynical gamer inside of me thinks this has simply been put into place to allow a price cut in a January sale, but the fact remains that a downloadable file costs significantly more than a disc that has to be produced and shipped into stores, yet is widely available to buy for £39.99.

£49.99 for 5 hours?

Even if you are happy paying the inflated digital download price, the ability to see the remaining hard drive space has disappeared from the Xbox One, making it cumbersome to effectively manage your disk space.

I am quite conscious that my words may come across like a grumpy old man, but rest assured I still love my new console and am happy that I upgraded. I just feel somewhat baffled that Microsoft neglected to include so many basic and regularly used features on release, which suggests a complete lack of understanding of their consumer base. Sure, these and many other features will be restored in future updates, but how much was much missing on launch leaves me wanting to ask a whole heap of questions.

On a positive note, there are a growing number of interesting games on the horizon and this console will continue to evolve into something special, so I will refrain from speaking too harshly of the Xbox One. Despite a few niggles, this early adopter has no regrets.

Interview: Getting our geek on with Insert Coin Clothing…

The humble T-shirt has come a long way in the fashion stakes over the last few years. Walking into a pub with something off the shelf from what the high street determines is cool this year is all very well, but can be classed as a little soulless as it shows nothing about you and who you are.

A wise man once told me that the bible says “blessed are the geeks, for they shall internet the earth”. Which might explain why people now like to get their geek on by displaying artistic designs from companies like Threadless or Last Exit To Nowhere.

However at last a company called Insert Coin Clothing who have put together a collection of unique designs, inspired by the world of video-games. They proudly state that “No ridiculously massive prints of Mario or Space Invaders here; just cool references to cool games, that let other fans know what you like and that you’ve got great taste when it comes to gaming and clothes.”

With geek chic being all the rage, and us loving the chance to wear a unique t-shirt that only those in the know will understand, we tracked down Dan from Insert Coin for an interview. Keep an eye out later for our upcoming competition, with one reader winning the tee of their choice.

Q. Where did the inspiration for the Insert Coin’s concept originate?

“Well, we always wanted to get cool video-game tees, but everything was so obvious. When we did find some tees that had slightly better designs, they were terrible quality. So we thought ‘we can do better’ and so we set ourselves a set of standards; in quality of design, quality of tee and customer service. All our designs are from our favourite games, all our tees and hoodies are made to our own specifications from scratch (we don’t use cheap off the shelf items) and we will do everything we can to make sure our customers have the best experience when they buy stuff from us.” (more…)

South Korea and gaming addiction

The world is full of people addicted to games if the media is be believed, yet even the recent Panorama witch-hunt could only find three people addicted to games in the UK. So, off they went to South Korea to show what apparently heading our way in the near future. This made me want to search for more facts rather than opinion.

Whilst the people of North Korea struggle behind closed doors, their neighbours in South Korea continue to lead the world with the fastest broadband speeds in the world and even hope to be getting speeds of 1 Gbps service by 2012. To put it into perspective, that is 200 times as fast as your typical 5 Mbps DSL connection that you may find here in the UK. With super-fast speeds like this I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised that an estimated 17 million people in the country of 48 million play video-games as they lead the way in the MMO and online gaming industries.

Reports suggest that a typical high school student, meanwhile, spends 23 hours a week playing games online and the world’s media has been quick to blame much of the country’s problems on their favourite pastime. In fact, as you read this your perception of South Korea will probably be something along the lines of “I hear the nation is addicted to games and they play for 20 hours at a time and it has even driven many people to suicide or even murder!” In truth it was this growing theory in the media that made me want to find out more. (more…)

Kinect is for Christmas, not for life…

Gamers, as a rule, have a reputation of not being the most active of people but make no mistake Kinect is not aimed at your hardcore gamers, but at the all important family market over the Christmas period.

Whilst the PS3 and Xbox 360 sales hover around the 45 million mark, The Nintendo Wii has so far sold a whopping 75 million units because they managed to tap into the “Christmas Family Market”. Of course there are now many Nintendo Wii’s that are left unloved and untouched and sales are dropping like a stone because the fickle occasional gamers  are looking for something more sophisticated to impress at their Christmas Party.

In my head there will be many snob like scenarios, where people find themselves gathered in a living room of people whom they see once a year and when the Wii is turned on, someone will say “Darling, the Wii is so last year haven’t you seen Microsoft Kinect? We have it and it’s so much better”. At this point the hostess runs upstairs in tears saying “Why do they always have to be better than us and ruin our Christmas”. Christmas ruined! For me, this is the market Microsoft is aiming for.

As news breaks that worldwide sales of Microsoft Kinect smashes the one million mark in ten days, I thought it was about time I should test the latest must have from Microsoft in a home environment. The biggest drawback seems to be that you need to be at least six feet away from your TV with no obstructions in the way. This may be fine for your typical American living room, but I think it’s fair to say that the average UK living room is a little more intimate, or should I say cosy.

Is your living room this big? (more…)

Gaming, the fastest selling product in the entertainment industry

Gaming has always been considered a geeky pastime for nerds and adolescent young boys who don’t fit in. The types that will never get a girlfriend so instead spend hours in their bedrooms living out another life via the medium of video games where they can become leaders of an alternative world.

How the world scoffed and looked down on this lowly form of entertainment that they could never understand. The cool kids were great at football and were always out getting laid, and maybe even picked on those geeky game loving outcasts.

That’s the way people have seen gamers for a long time, many years before American movies would flood the world with tales about struggles between Jocks vs. Nerds which is basically the same film made a thousand times.

It seems, however, the world has changed and this was proven recently when Call of Duty: Black Ops became the ‘biggest entertainment launch in history’ generating revenues of $360 million in its first twenty-four hours on sale in the US and UK. Put aside any feelings you have about the COD Franchise for a few moments (Never! – Andy) and try to digest this piece of news. In a twenty-four hour period, one video game has generated more money than any movie release, album or any entertainment ever! The thought that video games can now sell more than movie and music releases combined is simply staggering.

Considering James Cameron’s epic blockbuster Avatar made $232 million in its opening weekend, it puts things largely into perspective, especially considering that Call of Duty Black Ops even looks like it will beat last year’s five day global sales record of $550 million.

Other research suggests that the average age of a gamer in 2010 is now 32 which is a far cry from the adolescent boy locked in his bedroom. This Christmas families will no longer be huddled around a table playing Trivial Pursuit until the early hours but will probably be playing Microsoft Kinect, Playstation Move or the Nintendo Wii.

A family game of Manhunt 2 anyone?