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Used game rack in a storeI'm a pirate. No, not the kind that sails the seven seas or posts games on the Internet. No, I buy used games. And, for that, I'm considered no better than a pirate by game publishers and industry pundits alike (1). A great many analogies are bandied about during these discussions (including the well-worn and never-fitting car analogies), but no one seems to focus on the one market that is most like games: DVDs. Like games, DVDs can be resold and retain their intrinsic value (a used DVD is no different in quality from a new DVD), yet the used DVD market is almost non-existent. Why?

Price.

The used game market is large because new games cost way too much. I can buy three new games for $60 each for a total cost of $180. Or, I can buy the same three games used for $55 each, less a 10% discount for having a Gamestop Rewards card and during a Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale and spend a total of $100 for the three games. That's a BIG difference in price.

Price, inevitably, is what drives almost every game purchase I make. I don't buy new or used based on preference, only on price. When Gamestop marked down Batman: Arkham Asylum to $20, I bought a brand new copy. During Target's after-Thanksgiving sale, I grabbed shrink-wrapped new copies of Final Fantasy XIII & Killzone 2 for less than $20 each. From Amazon.com in the week after Thanksgiving, I purchased heavily marked-down copies of NFS Hot Pursuit and Uncharted 2 GotY. The "problem" I have with buying new games is not their newness, but their price.

When I do plunk down the $50 or $60 for a new game hot off the presses, I usually finance it by trading in games I no longer play (2). This is an oft-overlooked dynamic, the used game market not only provides a method of buying games for less money, it also offers consumers the ability to decrease the cost of buying new games. The used game niche, then, is an integral part of the overall gaming market.

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So, now that I have a Playstation+ membership and am getting a lot of free games and early-release betas, etc., my 80GB hard drive in my PS3 was filling up. I was down to about 10GB and decided to do an upgrade. Here are two helpful articles that walk you through putting a new hard drive in the PS3...

With pictures and without pictures. It should be noted my 80GB model doesn't have the same drive bay as the one pictured in the CNet article, but the steps to remove it/insert the new drive are very similar.

My upgrade went smoothly, so I'll just run through the steps I took. Your mileage may vary...

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I picked up a PS Move set today. Since I already have a camera I did not buy the Sports Champions bundle. Instead, I bought two of the wands and the Sports Champions game. Here everything is just after I brought it home.

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A few weeks ago I went with my family to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg. My oldest wanted to ride a roller coaster so we picked Griffon and got on the front row.

Big mistake.

Griffon is a coaster with 90-degree drops and at the top of the first drop, they pause the train to let you contemplate your life as you stare into the pit of despair, straight down. The front row actually gets hung over the edge. As I hung there, my body suspended 205 feet in the air, gazing at the merciless concrete below, my life did not flash in front of my eyes. Rather, the only thought I had as, "This is stupid."

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OK, the Wii has been a phenomenal success story. It has outsold the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 by huge margins. It has brought gaming into houses that never knew gaming. But...

There are troubling signs. The Wii is not this generation's Playstation 2 and it probably won't have a long shelf life. We're four years into the Wii's life cycle and Nintendo's focus appears to be on handheld gaming, not console gaming. The Wii's software sales are declining and the attach rate is poor. Every time you hear Nintendo talk about "evergreen" titles, what they're really saying is, "We can't get decent third party games for our console, so we're making first party games that we can sell and sell and sell without coming up with anything new because we're doing this all ourselves." Their E3 press conference for 2010 only highlighted this problem as they spent most of the time hyping 3DS and the rest of the time was devoted to a handful of SNES and N64 remakes headed for the Wii in the coming months.

Yikes...

In drumming up a new market--new gamers--Nintendo both assured their success by opening up gaming to a vast, new audience. At the same time, they victimized themselves because this audience just does not buy games! In the process they abandoned the "core" gamers--the ones who actually buy new games on a regular basis--by pushing out a console that is technically a Gamecube with a fancy controller. In 2006, that was an OK thing. In 2010...well, it's not looking so hot.

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There are no casual games, or casual gamers. There, that's all you really need to know. You can skip the rest of this post.

Or not.

Hardcore gamers (or "core" gamers as Reggie Fils-Aime likes to call everyone who still obsesses over the 124th game to star Mario) often deride "casual" games. Games like Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Farmville, et. al. are constantly derided as being fit only for casual gamers. Casual gamers being those people who don't actually care what games are being released this month or what Roger Ebert thinks about video game or who provides the voice of Miranda in ME2. (Not that a casual gamer knows what ME2 stands for. He would think it's a typo of Einstein's Theory of Relativity. If he even cares.)

But, games in and of themselves are not hardcore or casual, rather, it is one's approach to the game. I spent a couple months playing Farmville earlier this year and I can personally attest there are hardcore Farmville players. You don't need to try this yourself, just visit one of the many Farmville help sites or wikis and see how they've broken down every resource by the amount of coins you earn per hour per square of land and it becomes obvious there are some very hardcore players harvesting ghost chili and collect eggs. If you do play Farmville, you can tell the hardcore players right away. They are the ones with their avatar penned in and every square inch of their farm occupied by golden chickens and multiple crops planted in various states of ripeness. They probably also have two or more Facebook accounts so they can run multiple farms and share stuff with themselves.