Playstation 3 dropping $100 and adding 20gb

Well it was only a matter of time. From the start Sony knew it was costing them too much money to release at a competitive price with the Xbox360 but they did say eventually the price would drop. Yesterday, Monday July 9, Sony announced they would be dropping the price of the Playstation 3(Ps3) by $100(17%). This now places them only $20 above the Xbox360 at $500.

In addition to their price drop Sony also announced a new model for the PS3 will include a larger hard drive, boosting the already large drive from 60gb to 80gb. Basically they’re selling the new model at the original price ($600) with more hard drive space.

This is great news for those of you wanting to give the PS3 a try. Right now I enjoy playing both Xbox360 and PS3 and hope the lower price will drive both consoles to new heights.

Why are they called niche games?

There was a time when a game was a game. What happened? When Everquest first achieved it’s success and launched the gaming industry into the “next generation” people were skeptical. I remember reading that many people thought it would be a fluke that any game could ever reach 250-500k subscribers let alone do it again. As time went on we know that several MMORPG’s such as City of Heroes obtained the 100-250k mark and a few like Star Wars Galaxies reached an astonishing 350k in their prime. Then came World of Warcraft where we saw record breaking all time high subscription numbers. If you count the Asian market there are millions upon millions playing WoW and Lineage2.

So what makes a game a niche? Do we classify games as niche because they are not WoW clones? Or do we do so because they are EQ clones? Are we saying the game is too hard or too easy? Subscription numbers have also been used as an excuse to classify games as niche or to justify their failure and even sometimes their success. Why can’t a game just be a game anymore? There was a time when many game studios would look at 250,000 subscribers and dream of such success. Now you have some that still do, but the majority are saying “how can we get the WoW numbers?”. That’s not what MMORPG’s are about folks.

In my opinion, as someone who has made it an obsession to learn all I can about this genre, there will not be another game that reaches “WoW” numbers for a very long time. It could be that no game ever again reaches those numbers simply because it was indeed a true fluke. My advice to any developers out there working with an idea or starting up for the first time is simple. Developers, please keep giving us the games you love to make because as long as you do there will be plenty of us out there to play them. Do not get discouraged.

Slow weekend update

Well the weekend has been a slow one for my gaming.

In LOTRO I’ve been playing my Captain when I get a chance and he is now up to level 31 (few bars from 32). My group that I exp with is headed to the Evendim content so this should be a really exciting week. I have yet to explore much of Evendim at all except for the first few areas. So far the Captain is without a doubt the most fun class in LOTRO. They have so many abilities usable in combat and out of combat along with reactionaries and buffs – good stuff.

In other news I have been playing Resistance Fall of Man on the PS3 with Graev. We are almost done with the game sadly. So far the gameplay is fantastic. The controls are great and some of the weapons are really unique. The storyline is the weak point of the game for sure. In more console news Graev just beat Darkness for Xbox360 and he enjoyed it.

That’s all for now! Hope you all have a great rest of the weekend.

Xbox360 repairs will cost Microsoft $1 Billion

“Microsoft Corp. said Thursday it expects to spend more than $1 billion to repair widespread hardware problems in its Xbox 360 video game console after a large number of them broke down… Microsoft will pay for shipping and repairs for three years, worldwide, for consoles that experience hardware failure, which is usually indicated by three flashing red lights on the front of the console, something gamers sometimes refer to as “the red ring of death”.”

Well there you have it. The rings of death are quite popular amongst avid Xbox360 gamers. Graev had a nightmare about them once I think…Anyway, it’s fairly common for many gamers to actually replace their system entirely. According to various message boards some gamers have had to replace their console 3-4 times. I call bs on some of these claims but I don’t doubt it’s possible.

Since the Xbox360’s release (which we camped outside of Bestbuy for in 2005) we have only had a few lockups. This is rare for what’s called a “Launch” system. This whole console discussion does confuse me I admit. Graev tells me there are several different “generations” of Xbox360’s and some are worse than others. It has to do with when and where it was made which can be determined by looking at the numbers on the bottom.

It is also important to note that some games cause lockups more than others. Some gamers report their consoles were “fried” by playing Saint’s Row or Ghost Recon, or whatever game might have been in when their system died. Right now it’s completely unknown if the games are responsible or if Microsoft is to blame.

So there you have it! A bit of info for those of you out there debating if it’s worth picking up an Xbox360. I’ve had loads of fun with some of the Xbox360 games so it’s well worth the chance that you might get the dreaded “rings of death”. Now that the warranty is extended you can’t lose.


LOTRO End-game becoming more casual

I found some interesting information about the Lord of the Rings Online end-game today.  According to Amlug, a content designer from Turbine, they have been listening to player feedback and are working on the following:

In terms of Helegrod, we are doing a lot to address the issues that players are seeing. Besides fixing the obvious bugs, we are doing some balance tweaks to make some of the bosses a bit more difficult and on par with the mighty Thorog himself. We also have done some big changes to the loot and the way that the set pieces drop. I’ll say this once and you guys can point people to this post if you see others asking about loot:

All set pieces will soon drop in Helegrod! No more boots and gloves only! We listened, we heard, we agreed, and we tweaked pretty heavily. Now that is not to say that you only have to go to Helegrod to get the epic set pieces. Also… All set pieces will soon drop outside of Helegrod! We know that there are a lot of players who feel that raiding is not for them so on a much lower percentage, we have high level monsters possibly dropping set pieces. Enjoy! This will be coming in a patch or update very soon.

Now, before I get flamed to death, remember my original statement. We have much much much more to come. Helegrod sets are the first class based sets we released. They will not be the last. Nor will Helegrod be the last raid.

To address your questions about what’s coming next? Lots! We are adding more end game content, we are adding more high level content, we are adding more loot, more sets, more new harder fun. Hopefully this just all keeps getting better and better and better. We want every type of player to have fun and have something to do! I wish I could tell you all the things we have coming up very soon, but all I can say is I think you guys will like it a lot! Keep having fun, keep letting us know how you feel in a constructive friendly manner and we will keep adding more to what already is a really fun great game!

Personally, this is great news.  As my Captain progresses closer towards the end-game the idea of having to be anywhere near hardcore in order to get my gear was bothering me.  If you haven’t been reading my blog for long there was a time I used to raid many hours a night.  I was sucked into the illusion that raiding and time spent was justified to get the gear.  Having seen the light I now have a greater understanding of end-game mechanics and the need for gear to be available to anyone dedicated and deserving enough.  Remember though, dedication does not equal time!

With top end gear dropping outside of Helegrod (currently the only major raid instance) this means that players who can’t commit to 24 player raids for a few hours a night will still be able to obtain the gear in a less rigorous process.  I tip my hat to Turbine for choosing this path and hopefully they continue on strong.  It’s one thing to say “we want every type of player to have fun” and another to actually be able to give what you promise.