Week in Review – 12/08/03

December 15, 2003

Hello everyone, I trust you had a wonderfully productive weekend as we near the end of the holiday shopping frenzy. Dots and I managed to get almost all of our shopping done. That is no small feat I might add. That is enough about us, on with the news.

Gamers worldwide were saddened by the news from Interplay that they were closing Black Isle studios. Black Isle brought us titles like Baldur’s Gate, Fallout, and Icewind Dale. I know they will be missed by many RPG fans. Thank you Black Isle for all the great games.

In a swift move, the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association has announced that they will begin carding purchasers of M-Rated video games by the 2004 holidays. Why exactly do they need a new system for this? Shouldn’t it be as simple as requiring employees that work in the video game section to see an ID for anyone requesting an M-Rated title? It isn’t like the “M” is hidden. While I think people should be carded for Mature games, it doesn’t solve the problem of parents purchasing Mature games for their 8 year old children. Unfortunately, I think we still have a long way to go before the video game rating system is fully effective.

For you PC gamers that are running about a week behind, Bioware released the v1.01 patch for Knights of the Old Republic. Head on over and get it here.

Take Two Interactive is in the news again stemming from a racism charge by various Hatian-American groups. The groups cite a phrase of “Kill all the Haitians” in the 2 year old game as the basis for their argument. To avoid a political fiasco, Take Two has offered to change the phrase in all future shipments of the game. In what I can only describe as a “surprise” move, this is apparently not enough and some feel they should pull every game off store shelves until the replacement is ready. Jean-Robert Lafortune, of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition had this to say “The presence of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on the shelves of national distributors and retailers … continues to constitute a clear and present danger for Haitian nationals in the United States. Residents of Little Haiti (in Miami) have become like a sitting duck.” I sure didn’t see that one coming… Wal Mart has come out and said they will not be pressured into removing the game and they will continue to sell Vice City on the grounds that it is a product their customers want.

In more Take Two news, New Zealand has banned the new title, Manhunt. What a surprise. The NZ Office of Film and Literature Classification called the game gruesome and had this to say “You have to at least acquiesce in these murders and possibly tolerate, or even move towards enjoying them, which is injurious to the public good.” Really, I am surprised at that too, I didn’t see it coming. Manhunt is one of the most gruesome games to date and Rockstar seems intent on having a reputation as the game company that likes to push the envelope.

This past week, Sammy purchased a large amount of stock in Sega making them the majority stock holder. Sammy then made it clear to Sega they wanted the game company to focus on arcade games where the profitability was higher. Sammy’s pressure comes from a hefty loss, 2.5 billion yen, in the console market for the last 6 months versus a whopping 5.6 billion yen in profit in the arcade market. Sammy executives have announced they will be taking a more active role in Sega and expect the company to select its console release more carefully.

The much touted PSX hit the Japanese market last week to a less than stellar welcome. The $925 and $740 price tags for the units may seem a bit steep after Sony cut some of the features they had raised much hype about. The device was slated to support all 3 DVD formats (-R, -RW, and +RW), have a 24x DVD burner, and play MP3s, but the features were eliminated to make the mid December release date in Japan. The unit is scheduled to be available worldwide by 2004’s holiday season, but due to the lackluster enthusiasm is it even a good idea?

In Xbox 2 news, sources seem to think that Microsoft may be leaning towards a proprietary disc for the next gen console. How that would affect backwards compatibility is unknown at this time. Currently this is all speculation based on a job posting on a Microsoft site. The job details mention “…the design and development of the Xbox Game Disc for the next generation Xbox console…” Why would they need to develop a new game disc if they were sticking with the DVD format? Hopefully we will have more details in the near future.

That wraps up this Week in Review and I am off to finish some reviews for you guys.