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NPD Data Hates iTunes

Well, not really iTunes, but the point made by EA’s corporate communications’ Tiffany Steckler is an apt one when she says to CNN Money:

“Using NPD data for video game sales is like measuring music sales and ignoring something called iTunes. We see NPD’s data as a misrepresentation of the entire industry.”

I could not agree with Ms. Steckler more. Much like how we like to talk about Metacritic and how PR misuses it as a resource, NPD sales tracking is equally as silly when you want to look “big picture” and not hard sales and to use that as a true guide to total sales is disingenuous.

NPD Data fails to track anything that isn’t sold over the counter. This includes WiiWare, XBLA, PSN, subscription based games, Facebook games, downloaded PC games, etc. To say that removing those sales figures skews the stats a bit is an understatement and to see companies start to say so I think is a good thing.

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L.A. Noire PAX Preview

Nothing like a little shilling on a Monday but today we posted an informative preview of L.A. Noire over at the Mothership.

It’s a good read so give it a look. I think Justin raises a few important questions in this piece but I’m still eager to give this game a go. Here’s the point I am referring to:

While it makes sense not to have superfluous quests during a case – you do have a murder to solve – the open world segments do have one potentially upsetting flaw. Despite playing the role of a law-abiding and morally just police officer, you still have the ability to destroy property and mow down pedestrians without causing a scene.

That could rip you out of this game’s world if it’s not handled properly. Still, most of this sounds really slick, so we’ll have to wait and see.

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Transformers MMO Incoming

No High Scores

Word came down today that Hasbro has teamed up with Jagex developers of the free to play MMO RuneScape, to create a Transformers MMO. I’ll skip the PR hyperbole trimming as that’s Bill’s cup of tea, but there was a lot of the word “iconic” being bandied about. I love the Transformers, as my basement and office cubicle can attest to, but this announcement leaves me absolutely cold. I’m assuming the MMO would be very similar to something like DC Universe Online where you’ll play some Autobot or Decepticon grunt fighting for control of some remote piece of Cybertron with the occasional appearance by Optimus Prime or Starscream to make it feel “authentic”. I’m sure this is just me being cynical, but I’ll pass. Heck, with my current Transformers collection in the hundreds, and growing, I’ve got everything I need for a massive multiplayer battle already.

Here’s the official PR speak if you’re interested:

Iconic AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS Set to Battle Online in 2012

PAWTUCKET, R.I. – March 14, 2011 – Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) announced today that it has signed a strategic development agreement with Jagex Limited to jointly create a new online game based on the globally iconic TRANSFORMERS brand. Under the agreement, the two companies are slated to launch the TRANSFORMERS online game in 2012 in North America, Latin America, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.

Jagex, based in the United Kingdom, is one of the largest independent game developers and publishers in the world with a dedicated global user base of millions playing its more than 40 online games. The company’s flagship game, RuneScape, is the world’s most popular free-to-play MMOG.

“Hasbro’s decision to align with Jagex speaks to the quality of their award-winning development and publishing team that boasts an outstanding track record of delivering innovative and fun online games capable of reaching millions of gamers across the globe,” said Mark Blecher, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Digital Gaming and Media at Hasbro. “We are extremely excited to create a dream team that combines TRANSFORMERS brand stewards with Jagex development experts to deliver an epic TRANSFORMERS gaming experience to fans in 2012.”

“TRANSFORMERS is one of the most iconic brands in the world and we are delighted to team up with Hasbro in order to bring our shared vision to reality,” said Mark Gerhard, CEO at Jagex Games Studio. “There is a huge appetite for an online TRANSFORMERS game and we will utilize every bit of our development and publishing expertise to deliver a dynamic and action-packed game that TRANSFORMERS fans will find irresistible.”

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Prey 2 Officially Announced, Set for 2012

So it looks like Prey 2 is a go. Not sure how much this moves the meter with you folks but everyone seems to be talking about this so here’s the quick PR.

March 14, 2011 (London, UK) — Bethesda Softworks today announced that Prey 2, the sequel to the popular 2006 game, is scheduled for release in 2012 and will be available for Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, and Games for Windows. First details on the game will be revealed in the May issue of PSM3.

Prey 2 is being developed by Human Head Studios, the studio that created Prey, the original award-winning game. Prey 2 is being built on the cutting edge id tech engine from id Software.

“We are thrilled to be working with Bethesda on Prey 2,” said Chris Rhinehart, project lead. Prey 2 will provide gamers the opportunity to explore a new facet of the Prey universe, one that offers fast-paced action in an open, alien world. We’re excited to show gamers the title we have been working on and hope they will be as excited by this title as we are.”

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Good Old Games Makes The Witcher 2 DRM Free

I loved The Witcher. Such a great, great solo role-playing game. With today’s official announcement that GOG.com will release a DRM free download version of the Digital Premium Edition of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings there’s no reason to not get excited about this one. Well, unless they screw up the sequel and it ends up being terrible but other than that there’s no reason.

This remains one of my most anticipated games of 2011.

PR time…

Good Old Games: http://www.gog.com is announcing that it will be the sole DRM-free distributor of the Digital Premium Edition of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. As a sister company to CD Projekt RED, the development house behind The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, GOG has been offering preorders for the title with exclusive downloadable content, but in a change of pace today it’s what they’re not offering for download that may pique a gamer’s interest.

GOG’s copy of The Witcher 2 will not contain any DRM, unlike all other versions of the Digital Premium Edition.

“DRM is not an effective way to combat piracy,” said Managing Director Guillaume Rambourg. “Our main concern has always been the user’s experience with the titles they purchase, and DRM effects that experience in a negative way, which is why we’ve been absolutely thrilled at the opportunity to distribute CD Projekt RED’s incredible RPG. We’re also pleased that we’ve been able to stick to our guns with The Witcher 2 and release it DRM free to all of our customers around the world.”

GOG will be hosting a live Q&A with CD Projekt RED Senior Producer Tomasz Gop and GOG’s head of marketing & PR Trevor Longino. The Q&A will be on Friday, March 18th, at 19:00 GMT and during the Q&A, Tomasz will be revealing some exclusive “Making of the new Geralt” concept art and discussing the changes in the fighting mechanic from the original game. Preordering The Witcher 2 is free on GOG (http://www.gog.com/tw2) and doesn’t compel the person preordering a copy to purchase it then, and everyone who does so by Thursday the 17th will receive a password to enter the UStream channel. There, they will be able to ask questions about The Witcher 2 and GOG live, and everyone whose question is chosen to be answered will receive a free game code good for any regular GOG title.

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Writing About Talking: Jumping the Shark #60

No High Scores
Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s a busy, busy week for Jumping the Shark 60. We were missing Danielle, who had a work function, so that sucked. But Tom Chick was back with us after an extended absence and it’s always great to have Tom on. This week we had an extended discussion about Tom’s GDC encounter with Starcraft II lead designer Dustin Browder as well as a pretty detailed look at the Rift MMO. With spring training finally here, that means baseball games, and Bill got deep into The Show. I wrapped up my red ringed 360 saga and spent a fair chunk of time talking Dragon Age 2. By this point Brandon gave up any hope of having time to talk about what he’s been playing, so we dove into our topic segment: DLC.


iTunes Link
Direct Download

Since The Straw drove out from the far off land of Ohio this week for a quality weekend of boardgaming here in Indiana, I skirted my editing duties, leaving editing our group Skype recording on Brandon’s lap. Big props to Mister Binky for picking up my slack and for putting up with a week that is probably a bit less than stellar in terms of audio quality. I haven’t listened to the show yet, but Tom’s Skype connection was a little spotty in the early going and I had some background noise going on in parts as my dad was in town, visiting. Hopefully the content makes up for that. Enjoy!

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Amazon Nabs Angry Birds Rio for Android

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One of the nicest surprises when I bought my HTC Evo was not having to pay for Angry Birds. Sure, the ads could be annoying, particularly for shots that required aiming at the top of the screen, but you couldn’t beat the price. Well, the days of free bird slinging on Android may be coming to a close as Amazon is claiming that their soon to be unveiled Amazon apps store will be the exclusive retailer for Angry Birds Rio. Given Amazon’s penchant for slashing game prices it’s entirely possible they’ll keep the free bird rolling as a way of promoting the portal but being the only place to get the game should be more than enough to build buzz.

Seen at develop online.

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Calendar Man – Week of 3/14

No High Scores

Welcome to Calendar Man where I outline all of the games you can spend your hard earned cash on. It’s Asian Mayhem Week with genre fans of all types able to cause some mayhem either with or against our friends from the Pacific Rim.

New Releases
THQ throws its hat in the CoD ring with Homefront this week. THQ has been marketing this game like crazy, and according to their Spin Wizards, it is their most heavily preordered title, so it will be interesting to see how it performs.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to play a video game against Sun Tzu, Shogun 2: Total War has the answer, or at least a box bullet point to make you think they have the answer.

For the Japanese gangster fans in the house, Yakuza 4 is here with its signature style of mayhem and wait, harbor fishing?

Koei fans, rejoice! Warriors: Legends of Troy is out. Unfortunately its not Asian themed, which totally screws up my post. Thanks for nothing, Koei.

Okamiden, the DS sequel to Okami was supposed to come out on Tuesday but it’s out right now. Yay! Get your brush going with the most adorable god ever made. Amazon still is holding on to the preorder date, but GameStop is selling it in stores.

Monster Hunter fans may find their monster-killing itch scratched with D3’s Gods Eater Burst for the PSP. Oddly enough, Amazon has the title as “God Eater Burst” while everyone else has “Gods Eater Burst”. I guess Amazon only gives you one god to eat. Silly Amazon!

Top Spin 4 returns to the court bringing with it other tennis analogies I’m not aware of as I haven’t played tennis since the 9th grade when I spent all of tennis camp mooning over a girl. Money well spent.

From Aksys comes Jikandia: The Timeless Land, an RPG about a people that have no concept of time. It’s like being the parent of an 8 year old, but with dungeons. The game allows you to set a timer before entering a dungeon which then alters what you find while in the dungeon. It’s an interesting concept. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one.

As if there aren’t already enough dancing games out there, Dance on Broadway for the PS3 is coming. Finally, you can release your inner Bob Fosse.

In case the dozens of fitness games out there aren’t enough for you, or if you want a camera for your Wii, Fit in Six is here. Woo. It also come out for the PS3 but oddly enough, not the 360. Apparently the Kinect’s camera isn’t good enough for these people.

Deals
Target – Save $10 when buying Homefront and the strategy guide together, buy one, get one at 50% off for the following games: Just Dance 2, Zumba Fitness Party, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Sonic Colors, Dance Central, Dead Space 2, Bulletstorm, MLB ’11 The Show. In addition, both Kirby and Sonic Colors are on sale for $39.99

Best Buy – The following Wii games are on sale for $19.99: You Don’t Know Jack (PS3/360 as well). The $1,000,000 Pyramid, Jeopardy, Family Feud, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Wheel of Fortune, Toy Story 3 (PS3/360 as well), Toy Story Mania, Guilty Party. All Kinect titles are on sale with Dance Central, Kinect Sports, Zumba Fitness Party, Dance Paradise, Kinectimals and Joy ride for $39.99 while MotionSports, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, The Biggest Loser and Body and Brain Collection for $34.99. Buy Homefront at Best Buy and get three unlockable weapon camouflage skins.

Toys R Us – No physical ad this week (at least not for me) but here are the deals. Either Pokemon White Bundle + Pokemon Black is $194.98. The same goes for the other bundle. Buy either Pokemon Black or White and get one of the following games for $10: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time, Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, Phineas and Ferb: Ride Again, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, Shrek Forever After, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Sonic Colors, Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation. Buy one of the following games and get a $15 TRU gift card: Homefront + strategy guide, MLB 2K11, Dragon Age 2.

Kmart – Get a 4GB Xbox 360, Kinect and Dance Central for $299.99. Save ten bucks each on an Xbox 360 black wireless controller, wireless headset or wireless N adapter. Save $10 on the following Kinect titles: Dance Central, Dance Paradise, Kinectimals, Game Party in Motion, The Biggest Loser and Body and Brain Collection.

Steam – Steam has a Total War Collection pack up for purchase that includes Empire: Total War, Medieval II: Total War, Napoleon: Total War Imperial Edition, Rome: Total War Gold Edition and Shogun 2 for $64.99. Buy it now and you can play everything but Shogun. Shogun unlocks on March 15. Buy rift between now and 3/18 and get an additional 7 days of playing time.

Impulse – Impulse has a bunch of things listed on their sale page but some highlights are Gray Matter for $19.99 and Lost Planet 2 for $19.99.

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Over Six Billion Achievement Points Served

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While doing some reporting for an unrelated story, Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett dug up the dirt on how many achievement points have been slung to Xbox 360’s since the machine started keeping track. Since the console launched in 2005, over six billion achievements have been, well, achieved with over 176 billion Gamerscore points going along with them. The average Gamerscore stands at 11,286 which makes my score of 68,923 look positively astounding. Finally, I’m better than the average gamer at something.

Seen at Kotaku.

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