Hiatus time…

After a bit of discussion Cliff and I decided we need to step back for awhile. Cliff has been carrying far more of the load than he should have, which is my fault, and since I am in the middle of moving and trying to find work, I still don’t have the time to put in. So I am going to concentrate on moving and finding work when I get there (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), and Cliff is going to work on some of the other projects he has in the works.

Does this mean we are done? I don’t know, we are going to give it a few months and see where we stand. We may not pick it up again, but it all depends on what is happening with us at the time. Cliff said that we had fun and did pretty well, and we should be happy with that. So that ain’t too bad.

So right now all I can do is thank the readers we have had, its been a real joy to chat with some of you and that you have enjoyed our work. Kathy is going to take over from Cliff in updating the game sales page, but it won’t be kept as up to date as when Cliff did it. Things will be updated in the evening instead of during the day.

Something else for you guys…

Here is a list of Open-Sourced games.

Here is a list of Freeware games.

The lists are not complete, but there are a bunch of good free games in there, so I hope you enjoy those. With the economy the way it is, free is a good thing right now.

 

Again, thank you from all of us.

Brad, Cliff and Kathy

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Battle.net to use RealID for new forums (Updated)

bnetrealid

(Update) It looks as though Blizzard has backed down from its RealID plans for the moment. After a lot of people expressed concern over the move, Blizzard has decided to listen to the fans. This is what makes Blizzard stand out from other game companies, and why Blizzard fans love the company. Mike Morhaime, CEO and Co-Founder of Blizzard had this to say:

I’d like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. We’ve been constantly monitoring the feedback you’ve given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we’ve decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums. (see the above link for more)

They are going to continue with the RealID they have been using, and bring that into Starcraft II, but keeping it optional. Which is good, there are benefits to the system so scrapping completely it would have been a bad idea. I do have to point out that Blizzard was just trying to make their forums a better place, I can’t fault them for that.

(/Update)

Read the rest of this entry »

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Time Warner required to give just 28 IP address owners to US Copyright Group per month

A few months ago, the US Copyright Group launched massive lawsuits against thousands of Internet users it alleges downloaded illegal torrents of the movies Far Cry and The Steam Experiment in two separate suits. It sent the IP addresses it had to the respective Internet Service Providers and demanded to know the real identities of the users behind those addresses.

Time Warner Cable complained loudly that it doesn’t have the time or resources to immediately return thousands of IP trace requests as it was being asked to do. In turn, the US Copyright Group lawyers accused Time Warner of being a good ISP for copyright infringers.

I guess we’ll see if the lawyers in these cases now throw the same accusations at the US court system. Judge Rosemary Collyer, who is overseeing both cases, has ruled that Time Warner Cable is obligated to supply only a minimum of 28 IP address checks per month, and that’s a total of 28 across both cases.

Considering that Time Warner received 809 lookup requests in the Far Cry case alone, we’re likely looking at a period of years before they’re all completed. And this is likely to simply continue to snowball in to a bigger problem as new cases throw thousands more requests at ISPs. Meanwhile, the continuing high rate of downloads for The Hurt Locker, despite it being the center of another of these massive lawsuits, show that the cases have thus far had zero effect on curbing movie piracy.

 

(Thanks to Ars Technica).

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Prince provides amusement with bizarre misreading of his business

Prince, counting down the life expectancy of the Internet

Normally, I’m all about simply facts and information. I put something up that I figure people can learn from, and I’m happy with that. But there’s a darker side…a side that enjoys laughing at someone. Luckily, we have people like Prince around to provide that someone.

You remember Prince, right? Used to be king of the music business? Well, it seems that it’s not just the big music labels who seem befuddled by the direction music is moving in.

From an interview with The Mirror :

He explains that he decided the album will be released in CD format only in the Mirror. There’ll be no downloads anywhere in the world because of his ongoing battles against internet abuses.

Unlike most other rock stars, he has banned YouTube and iTunes from using any of his music and has even closed down his own official website.

Yes indeed, while most other artists are fighting their labels for the right to be able to use their own music and videos, Prince is going the other way and restricting access to his stuff all by himself. And why?

He says: "The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.

"The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good.

"They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you."

Yes ladies and gentlemen, we might as well all log off this Internet thing and move on because apparently it’s headed in the same direction that the dinosaurs went.

I mean, there WAS that poll that showed the majority of Brits polled enjoy music digitally…but hey, what do they possibly know about how they should be listening to music? Prince will set them straight. And Youtube is immensely popular, among the most visited websites online…but hey, it’s on that Internet thing that’s choking and dying as I type this, right?

Ah, Prince.

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Account hacking a problem on iTunes

It appears that iTunes accounts are being hacked in to by app developers to and use them to purchase apps. That in turn shoots the apps in question up the bestseller charts, gaining them attention from other customers through hacked account sales.

Some details from The Next Web :

-A number of iTunes accounts have been hacked from across the globe, not just the US, and used to purchase apps.

-iTunes users have reported anywhere between $100-$1400 spent using their accounts.

-The trend: buy a couple of low cost apps ($1-$3) and then one app at an extortionate price ($90+).

-Currently all the app purchased have been owned by Asia based developers with little information known about them. Clearly they feel being based in Asia will give them immunity to any US laws.

-This seems to have been happening over the course of the last 4 weeks, although MacRumors shows hacking on some level dating back to 2009.

This all came to light when one of the developers who was using this method to popularize his software was busted, and had his apps removed from the store last week.

So, if you have an iTunes account, keep an eye on your purchases and watch for anything you didn’t buy.

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Activision unhappy with lack of multiplayer revenue

Bobby is counting the loose change in your pockets RIGHT NOW

In an interview with the Financial Times (account may be needed to read), Activision CEO Bobby Kotick talked about being unhappy with the fact that Activision doesn’t make any money from Xbox Live subscriptions, despite it’s Call of Duty series being some of the most popular games on the service.

“We’ve heard that 60 per cent of [Microsoft’s] subscribers are principally on Live because of Call of Duty,” says Mr Kotick. “We don’t really participate financially in that income stream. We would really like to be able to provide much more value to those millions of players playing on Live, but it’s not our network.”

Since there isn’t much he (or the company) can do about that, he mused a bit about perhaps making the PC market a bigger piece of the company’s focus.

Mr Kotick sees an opportunity to break the consoles’ “walled gardens with new gamer-friendly PCs, designed to be plugged into the television. PCs have long been used for online play, but PC gaming remains niche when the games industry needs to widen its appeal.

“We have always been platform agnostic,” says Mr Kotick. “[Consoles] do a very good job of supporting the gamer. If we are going to broaden our audiences, we are going to need to have other devices.”

Activision will “very aggressively” support efforts by Dell and HP to connect PCs to TVs.

Now, on the surface this sounds great for PC gamers. Here we have the top guy at one of the biggest publishers speaking out in support of the platform. And yet, considering that it all started with an expression of frustration that Activision can’t monetize multiplayer on the console, one has to wonder what exactly is providing the motivation to looking back at the PC. Could it perhaps be to ‘provide much more value’ to PC gamers via some sort of subscription service for Activision titles, something that has been mused at before with stated desires to sell a subscription model Call of Duty?

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More people still prefer discs to digital downloads

In a new report by Ipsos MediaCT they found that 64% of gamers still prefer a physical disc than a digital download. MCV quoted:

“I believe the preference for physical discs amongst next gen gamers reflects the potential value they derive from the pre-owned market, which is holding up the preference for physical – this is unlike the music and film markets,” said Ipsos MediaCT director Ian Bramley.

“Physical games discs have a long and well-established history, which is a deep mindset to change – particularly when gamers build a physical collection as they fear losing digital versions. And in-store browsing is also important to buyers.”

What I would like to know is how many of the 1,000 gamers were Console only, PC only, or both. I think this is where a huge difference comes in. A larger portion of PC gamers are more into digital downloads than console gamers. Console gamers have been able to take more advantage of trade-ins and pre-owned than PC gamers, specially with DRM and registry requirements on PC games. So while I don’t doubt the numbers they are using, I just don’t think it means as much if they don’t categorize Console gamers and PC gamers separately.

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Broadband as a legal right.

300baud-01_thm

From July 1st, Finland has guaranteed that every Finn has access to a 1Mbps line (megabit per second) with a goal of a 100Mbps by 2015.

Speaking to the BBC, Finland’s communication minister Suvi Linden explained the thinking behind the legislation: "We considered the role of the internet in Finns everyday life. Internet services are no longer just for entertainment.

Where I live I don’t even have the option to get a 100Mbps line, I’m currently on a 3Mbps line and while I am not happy with it, I’m not sad about it either. Looking at that 100Mbps goal makes me feel inadequate though, like my ISP just doesn’t measure up and I am less of a man because of it. Yes, I have premature download speed envy.

The UK is also looking at going down the same road, but not offering any guarantees to its citizens. This makes sense because the UK takes a tougher stand on presumed file-sharers with potential of cutting off their internet. Finland is not going down that road.

"We will have a policy where operators will send letters to illegal file-sharers but we are not planning on cutting off access," said Ms Linden.

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US Colleges & Universities required to help combat illegal media swapping

As of this month, a provision of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 kicks in to being. That provision states that colleges and universities have to (from Skunkpost) :

effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by users of the institution’s network" without hampering legitimate educational and research use

Any school that doesn’t can face the risk of losing some or all of their federal funding.

Many schools have already put steps in place to help combat the problem, simply since students were using university systems and bandwidth to share music, movies and games. For those that don’t have any programs in place, they’ve been stuck in scramble mode to institute something since the whole provision became required on Thursday.

Many colleges worried they would be asked to monitor or block content. But the provision says schools can get a great deal of flexibility, as long as they use at least one "technology-based deterrent."

Their options include taking steps to limit how much bandwidth can be consumed by peer-to-peer networking, monitoring traffic, using a commercial product to reduce or block illegal file sharing or "vigorously" responding to copyright infringement notices from copyright holders.

My issue with this provision is that it’s the colleges and universities that have to foot the bill to deal with users that the RIAA or MPAA, not any actual legal authority, says are a problem. And since they don’t want to possibly affect their own future funding, there could be often a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ kind of mentality when it comes to enforcement.

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Ipsos Reid polls show many buyers still prefer physical goods to digital

A report based on several polls run in the UK by Ipsos MediaCT shows that many buyers still prefer purchasing a physical product to a digital version, with the percentages varying depending on the market.

The survey of 1,000 people found that 64 percent of game buyers still prefer physical discs, while 63 percent of newspaper purchasers prefer an actual paper to a digital version.

Finishing far lower were music and movies, with 45 percent and 51 percent respectively preferring physical versions.

From MCV :

“I believe the preference for physical discs amongst next gen gamers reflects the potential value they derive from the pre-owned market, which is holding up the preference for physical – this is unlike the music and film markets,” said Ipsos MediaCT director Ian Bramley.

“Physical games discs have a long and well-established history, which is a deep mindset to change – particularly when gamers build a physical collection as they fear losing digital versions. And in-store browsing is also important to buyers.”

Interesting numbers. Of course, precisely who was polled has a lot to do with the numbers, but it certainly shows that people have already accepted the music market in its digital form. And while the games industry is shifting towards the digital marketplace, they have a ways to go before that becomes something closer to ‘the norm’ among the current generation of buyers.

Also worth noting for the games results is that, according to to Thinq, PC gamers were NOT polled…it was console gamers only.

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