According to a report on Kotaku Australia Mortal Kombat has been refused classification in Australia. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment issued the following statement to the media:
According to a report on Kotaku Australia Mortal Kombat has been refused classification in Australia. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment issued the following statement to the media:
Blizzard announced today that it has banned an undisclosed amount of Battle.net users for using cheats and hacks while playing StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty online. Here is the official word from Battle.net:
According to Develop, Bizarre Creations will close on Friday, February 18. The Liverpool, UK-based studio was founded in 1994, and created over 20 games including Formula 1 '97, Metropolis Street Racer for Dreamcast, several Project Gotham Racing 1 - 4, Geometry Wars, The Club, and Blur.
In 2007 the studio lost its independence when it was acquired by Activision. In a forum post on the developer’s website (no longer available) at the time Bizarre staff members described Activision’s buyout optimistically:
"Bizarre isn't a developer in financial trouble, and we're certainly not looking to be 'saved' by a bigger corporation," the post read. "We're a dev looking to take our games to the next level, and make the absolute best products we can possibly make. Likewise, Activision is not in the business of 'buying out' struggling developers either."
I am sure that Blizzard (and other MMO companies) is delighted with today's press release from World of Wacraft gold reseller outfit BYGamer. While the press release isn't particularly thrilling one could imagine that the China-based gold farmers are not well liked on this side of the world.
The company issued a press release to announce changes to its web site - BYGAMER.com - which now offers visitors a plethora of fancy colors, improved navigation and lovely new frames. Are they mocking Blizzard? It sure seems that way.
The company tops off its wonderful announcement with customer testimonials:
"It’s amazing! What a beautiful site and Buy WOW Gold here is absolutely a good choice!, said new customer Monica to one of BYGAMER’s call center operators.
The company says that this new design is already proving to help "increase traffic and sales."
Full release below:
EA has responded to a recent Fox News story that asked the question "Is Bulletstorm the Worst Video Game in the World?" and (thanks to one participant) made the amazing claim that the increase in rapes can be attributed to playing games. There were other amazing claims in the report, but the most disturbing words came from Psychologist Carol Lieberman, who insisted that there was a correlation between playing sex scenes in games and rape. She told Fox news:
"The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games." Of course, there is no research to back up her claims that we are aware of, but the truth should never get in the way of a good talking point.
The NPD Group said total video game sales for the year were $18.58 billion, compared to sales of $19.66 billion for 2009, and $21.4 billion in 2008.
Console hardware sales were down 13 percent and new video game software sales dipped 6 percent year-on-year. Sales of new and used games and downloadable content were flat (or down one percent), NPD estimates. Video game accessories jumped 13 percent above 2009's numbers, thanks to Kinect and Move.
In Niall O'Dowd's latest Periscope column he takes a crack at pinning Jared Loughner's senseless act of violence on the influence of violent films and video games. Of course, there is no evidence connecting Loughner to either, but why let the facts get in the way of commentary, right?
O'Dowd opens his column by saying that "other factors" are lost in the discussion of whether or not political rhetoric influenced or inspired the Tucson killer. What influences does he speak of? The culture of violent media that the youth of America are so immersed in, of course. The first target is movies:
Stardock CEO Brad Wardell says that the company's strategy RPG Elemental: War of Magic will end up costing the company money in the long run. This will happen, the company says, despite the fact that the game managed to break even on pre-orders.
"Elemental made its money back on day one and has continued to be profitable to this point," Wardell told Gamasutra in an email. "However, based on our projections we anticipate by the end of second quarter 2011 that Elemental will end up losing money overall as our objective is to spend what is necessary to ensure that the game meets the expectations of our customers."
Wardell did not disclose how many units the game has sold to date or how much money the company made off initial sales. While the company will lose money on the game, Wardell sees it as an investment in its PC customer base, who were very dissatisfied with the launch of Elemental.
A report that found its way to Reuters this week reveals some interesting financial numbers from privately owned Facebook. The document, which was meant for customers of investment firm Goldman Sachs, says that Facebook made $1.2 billion USD in the first nine months in 2010. The company also raked in $355 million in net income.
The source that leaked the document to Reuters told the new organization the "the financial statements were not audited and offered little detail about how Facebook generates it revenue".
"It just shows you that these business can generate 30 percent to 40 percent, potentially, operating margins," said Ryan Jacob of the Jacob Internet Fund, speaking to Reuters. "They probably did at least $500 million in net income in 2010."
Video game retailer GameStop reported record sales of $3.02 billion for the nine-week holiday season that ended on January 1. This marked a 5.4 percent increase over the same period last year, driven by Kinect sales, and "strong sell through" of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 titles such as Call of Duty: Black Ops and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. The company also reported 32 percent growth in gift card sales during the month of December.
New hardware sales improved 7.4 percent based mostly on the successful debut of Microsoft's Kinect. New video game software sales increased 3.3 percent.
Responding to an earlier Gamasutra report related to ex-Harmonix shareholders suing parent-company Viacom, the company at the heart of the legal battle fired back with some allegations of its own.
Viacom claims that the allegations in the lawsuit are the result of the poor decisions of shareholders' representatives, and not from any wrongdoing on its part.
"Viacom fulfilled its contractual obligations and our actions were completely appropriate and consistent with the terms of our agreement with Harmonix shareholders and the interests of our shareholders," a representative for Viacom told Gamasutra.
Forget about a game based on the Madden NFL games, EA is looking to make a movie based on the curse that goes with each new edition of the game. If you are a fans of the series then you have probably heard of this curse. The folklore goes that anyone who appears on the cover of the game has seriously bad luck. Some get injured, some get fired, some go to jail, etc.
But what EA wants created is a comedy based on "the curse" of being on the cover of its Madden series. Here's some more on the story (unconfirmed as of yet):
Publishers Clearing House did something bizarre this week and it did not involve a gigantic check. The sweepstake company and magazine seller bought Funtank, an online video game company that is best known for creating advertising-based games (adver-games) for companies such as Trident, Walt Disney, and Toyota.
Financial terms related to the acquisition were not disclosed but we do know that Funtank co-founders James Baker and Scott Tannen will continue to run the company.
While the motives for this purchase are not fully understood, one could guess that Publishers Clearing House is looking for new and exciting ways to engage people on the Internet and get them to buy whatever their marketing partners are pushing to them. Since gaming is second only to social networking according to Nielsen, the deal makes a lot of sense.
While Blizzard was launching its biggest product of the year, behind the scenes it was having some serious problems with a data leak in China, according to a report on VentureBeat. According to that report, citing several news stories from MMOGameSite, Blizzard's release schedule and subscriber numbers were leaked from its China offices, and the general manager of the studio, Ye Weilun, was subsequently fired for it - allegedly.
A Goldman Sachs analyst (whose company was saved by taxpayers, for the record - you're welcome) says that Microsoft should spin off its Xbox division and downgraded Microsoft share recommendations from buy to neutral. In a new report, Goldman Sachs said that "A break-up of the consumer businesses could potentially unlock hidden value, or more discipline on cost could turn the businesses into contributors to profitability and shareholder value."
Goldman Sachs: Microsoft should split off 'unprofitable' Xbox dept. Analyst Goldman Sachs has downgraded Microsoft share recommendations from 'buy' to 'neutral', and suggested that one way to resolve the firm's apparent difficulties is to split off its consumer entertainment division.
While attending a recent Microsoft Kinect event in Australia, Atomic MPC editor David Hollingworth was offended when Microsoft regional manager David McLean cracked wise at the expense of gamers to a crowd packed with fashion and lifestyle magazine journalists.
Here's an account of the offending comments, according to Atomic MPC:
Ryan G. Van Cleave's new book about his battle with game addiction is in stores today. The book is called "Unplugged: My Journey Into The Dark World Of Video Game Addiction," and it details what the author calls a battle with "very serious addiction" to playing videogames. His level of addiction? He claims he spent 50 hours a week playing videogames which led to self-imposed alienation from friends and family, job loss, and bad health.
A press release this morning in support of the book offers a particularly hard to belive quote on what he experienced when he gave gaming up:
The talking head from the Council on Children and the Media, who claimed in an Australian TV report that videogames are to violence like cigarettes are to lung cancer, is just a sock puppet of South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson.
Dr. Wayne Warburton made the claim in a piece that aired on Australia’s Ten network earlier this week. News.com reports that the Council on Children and Media, also known as Young Media Australia, has received tens of thousands of dollars in funding from Atkinson.
A spokesperson for Atkinson verified the link, which sees the group receive a grant annually in order to fund its Know Before You Go project, which is designed to provide information to parents on what films are suitable for children.
While Atkinson’s office would not reveal the amount of money that changed hands, a Labor MP talking in parliament in 2006 put the figure at $33,000.
Council on Children and the Media CEO Barbara Biggins said that Atkinson has no influence on the group’s view on videogames, “It's the only project that's funded by him and it's been funded for years now. And I think good on him for helping parents to understand the classification system better. That doesn't mean that we owe him anything in terms of what we do with campaigns.”
Update: Wow, Jack Thompson actually made a great point in relation to this story. In between urging me to pay attention and calling Hal Halpin my puppet master, JT notes that Dr. Craig Anderson made a similar reference to cancer in a 2003 paper on violent games:
Myth 9. The effects of violent video games are trivially small.
Facts: Meta-analyses reveal that violent video game effect sizes are larger than the effect of second hand tobacco smoke on lung cancer, the effect of lead exposure to I.Q. scores in children, and calcium intake on bone mass. Furthermore, the fact that so many youths are exposed to such high levels of video game violence further increases the societal costs of this risk factor (Rosenthal, 1986).
Update 2: Texas A&M Texas A&M International University researcher, and nemesis of Dr. Anderson, Christopher Ferguson also wrote in to point us towards a research paper of his (PDF) that goes to great lengths to debunk Anderson’s claims which JT referenced above.
Thanks to everyone who sent this story in!
An Australian youth worker is blaming videogames for what he claims is a growing problem of kids carrying knives.
Following the in-school stabbing death of a 12-year old boy at the hands of a 13-year old in Brisbane, Les Twentyman, an advocate for young homeless people, was asked to speak before a government inquiry into the matter.
According to ABC, Twentyman blamed games for desensitizing children to violence, in turn making them more likely to carry, and to eventually use, knives.
Normally they'd have a fight and people might ring around them, and it would be one-on-one, and when one [child fell] to the ground it would be over.
But today that is not the case because of the amount of violent entertainment that these young people are absorbing. They lose sight of reality and become desensitized…
Twentyman sees knife-carrying children as a potential epidemic, citing a young girl who told him that carrying a knife was as common as carrying a mobile phone.
While there were 19 reported knife incidents at Victoria schools in 2009, up from 11 in 2008, Education Minister Bronwyn Pike denied Twentyman’s claims of a growing cutlery problem, saying, “Yes, there was a slight increase, but these figures do go up and down a bit, but there hasn't really been an overall trend of increase.”
This story is eerily similar to one from 2008, in which a wave of UK stabbings was also attempted to be linked with violent media.
The heartbreaking story of a nine-year old Texas boy committing suicide at school led a Clinical Psychologist to attempt to pin part of the blame for kids acting out in ways outside of the norm on violent videogames.
The fourth-grader in question was a student at Stewart Creek Elementary School. He asked a nurse to use the restroom, locked himself inside and tragically hung himself. In a CNN video report on the story, Clinical Psychologist Dr. Brenda Wade was brought in for commentary.
The doctor cited two factors for why children are acting out in ways “never imagined possible”. The first was that there is now “more instability” in families, because of external stresses and the economy.
The second factor? Violent videogames of course.
Dr. Wade stated:
The other factor is that younger and younger children are exposed to very violent videogames with content that I would shudder to have an adult watch on a regular basis.
We just covered, a couple days ago, the story that children are watching as much as 52 hours a week of TV and sitting in front of a screen. A lot of that content is not uplifting and it’s not teaching our children how to handle problems and feelings.
These statements came moments after the Doctor cautioned that we “don’t want to blame and cast dispersions” at what role the boy’s family may have played in the tragedy.
Dr. Wade bills herself as a nationally syndicated talk show host and best selling author (as seen on Oprah). Visitors to her website are also offered a free love lesson.
Electronic Arts needs to be more truthful in its advertising, according to a British goverment agency.
As reported by gamesindustry.biz, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority rapped EA's knuckles for including Xbox 360 footage in a commercial for the Wii version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09
From the gi.biz story:
The ads featured the sportsman swinging a Wii remote, but showed Xbox 360 gameplay footage at the same time, giving the wrong impression of the visual quality of the Nintendo version of the game. The publisher explained to the ASA that footage of the Wii game "would not be of broadcast quality" and had included text in the ad that the game was available on multiple formats in an effort to avoid confusion.
The ASA wasn't buying EA's explanation, however:
"Although we acknowledged that the message 'available on all formats' appeared in the final scene, we considered that viewers would infer from the ad that Tiger Woods was playing the game on a Wii console and the graphics shown behind him were representative of the actual game he was playing," said the watchdog.
"Because viewers would not be able to achieve the graphical quality shown in the ad on a Wii console, we concluded that the ad was misleading."
Bottom line? EA can't show the commercial for the August release again - not that they were planning to.
From the Told Ya So Dept:
In the January issue of Game Informer there is an interview with EA's Glen Schofield, executive producer of Dead Space. Since the game shipped, Schofield has been upped to general manager of EA Redwood Shores.
The interview is worth reading for a couple of reasons. First, because Dead Space is a terrific game (although not selling especially well, unfortunately).
But what really caught our eye were Schofield's comments regarding supposed censorship of the game. GamePolitics readers may recall that we created a bit of a flap in September by calling B.S. on an EA community manager's claim that Dead Space had been banned in Germany, Japan and China (see: Dead Space Ban in Three Countries? We're Not Buying It).
That was then. This is now. Here's what Schofield told GI:
Game Informer: You had some problems with the game being banned in Germany, Japan and Korea.
Schofield: Germany finally came around, because the bottom line is that the take it into a whole context... At the end of the day, Germany said they would take the game untouched, which is fantastic. I was very surprised with Japan. In finding out exactly the reasons why, it kind of makes sense. There is a cultural difference dealing with the dead. They just had something that we could not overcome and we didn't want to compromise the game. Hell, [Takashi] Miike is the king of horror over there, and if you watch any of his films they are frickin' insane. So, for us to get banned, I was a bit surprised.
GP: So, as we speculated in September, there was never a Dead Space ban in Germany. As to the other countries, EA doesn't even sell boxed product in China due to piracy concerns. Note that the original EA claim involving China somehow morphed into a Korean ban, with no explanation. And, unfortunately, Schofield doesn't address Korea (or China) in his response to Game Informer's question.
Regarding Japan, as we reported in September, EA only sells PC titles there, not console games. There is a PC version of Dead Space, of course, so a Japanese ban is theoretically possible. But we question Schofield's sketchy explanation of "a cultural difference dealing with the dead." Lotsa dead people in the Resident Evil series, after all. Unfortunately, Game Informer did not push Schofield to elaborate.
What's most troubling in all of this is the suspicion that EA may have leaked the three-country ban rumor simply to create some pre-release buzz around Dead Space. As I have noted before, from his opening remarks at E3, Schofield hyped the game's level of violence. Sitting in the cheap seats, it seemed like the touting of the blood and gore was part of the Dead Space marketing plan. That's EA's choice, of course, and Dead Space surely wouldn't be the first game sold that way. But if the publisher - or its minions - then proceeded to put out an apocryphal story that the game had been banned, that's something entirely different. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in September, a pair of in-the-know types at EA failed to respond to my requests for clarification on the supposed Dead Space censorship.
Three months later we find out that there was no German ban, Schofield doesn't address China/Korea at all, and the explanation for the alleged Japanese ban doesn't make a great deal of sense. What's a newsie to think?
Hey, don't get me wrong. Dead Space is a good game. It's the media manipulation expansion pack that we could do without.
UPDATE: In comments to this story, GP reader fug4z1 writes that Dead Space is not banned in Japan, either:
Just want to say that from personal experience, there was no Dead Space ban whatsoever in Japan, either official or "indirect" due to refusal to rate the game or whatever; both console and PC versions could be found in shops [in Akihabara, Tokyo] on the release day. There were even displays where you could play the game, both in-store and also just outside the store on the street (so potentially children could get their hands on this murder simulator -- the horror the horror, won't someone think of them etc). My PC version is labeled as "Asia-Pacific Edition" and there is no rating label or icons anywhere on the box. Last week in one of the imported game shops [again in Akiba] I noticed a printed [in English] label that was added on the display copy on the shelf, warning about the violence and blood in the game etc -- the game is still on sale as before. (Yawn.) By the way, on the weekend of the release, the game was even sold out in one of the shops. Now you can find it all over.
Fat, angry and stupid is no way to go through life, son...
At least, that's what an education consultant seems to be saying as he cautions parents against buying video games as holiday gifts for their teenage sons.
In a guest column for EdNews, Bill Costello writes:
Boys are spending more than thirteen hours a week playing video games. As a result, they're spending less time outdoors playing and exercising. Perhaps this is partially why they are four times more likely to be obese than they were thirty years ago.
Research consistently confirms that the more time boys spend playing video games, the more likely they are to do poorly in school—regardless of age. At a time when boys are already underperforming in school, video games only make the situation worse.
Many recent studies suggest that playing video games saps the motivation of boys and disconnects them from the real world... Violent video games are especially harmful. A definite link has been established between violent video games and antisocial behavior. Games like Grand Theft Auto and Halo can make your son more aggressive.
So if you're thinking of buying video games for your son this holiday season, you might want to reconsider.
Critics have blamed violent video games for a number of egregious behaviors over the years, from school shootings to attacks on homeless people to garden variety aggressiveness.
But an article on the American Spectator posits a new - and baffling - theory of game blame. Writing for the conservative website, author Bill Croke blames violent game fans for the illegal slaughtering of animals.
By way of makinghis case, Croke mentions a couple of research studies linking violent games to negative behavior and, in an impressive leap of faith, draws a link between games and the wanton killing of wildlife:
It's a sickeningly familiar story. Two moose shot and left to rot... Two yearling grizzly bears killed... An increasing wasted antelope body count... Senselessly murdered mule deer left on the ground... All this has nothing to do with the legal autumn hunting seasons... it's "thrill killing," as wildlife managers call it... It's actually a national problem.
According to studies extant, these wildlife atrocities are committed mostly by young men aged 15 to 22, the video game generation. Much has been written about the nihilistic violence that kids are exposed to when they play some of these games...
I think it might be an easy jump to get up from a computer game, go out and pull the trigger on an elk or a deer, and then walk away with a laugh. After all, it's only a game... Yet, I think our four-legged friends will get a break soon, as the video game-thrill killing trend graduates to a higher plane: human beings.
Video games are mindless, as are the parents who let their kids play them.
UPDATE: Following up on GP's coverage, What They Play made a call to the Salmon, Idaho Public Library (Croke mentions watching teens play shoot-em-up games there in a portion of his column not cited by GP):
Interestingly, a call to the Salmon, Idaho Public Library revealed that they do not, in fact, carry video games which obviously casts some doubt over how thorough Croke has really been in his "research" for this piece. "We do not carry games, just books, DVDs, CDs, and books on tape," said the nice lady who answered the phone.
In the United States, we generally relate our violence issues to easy access of firearms. In the UK, where guns are harder to come by, knives are the main source of concern.
Perhaps surprisingly, a panel of Merseyside teenagers blamed a wave of British stabbings on violent media, including video games. As reported by the Liverpool Daily Post, the teens suggested that age limits on some games be raised:
Ex-offender Bob Croxton, who’s now an outreach worker with Liverpool’s Criminal Information Bureaux, said his nephew had been stabbed to death at the age of 17.
He asked the panel the best way to tackle knife crime and was told raising the age on films and computer games would stop young people committing crime. It said parents should take care of their children and stop them hanging around the streets all day and night.
The panel responded to questions from officers from Merseyside Police, city councils and other youth and crime agencies. Action for Children, which supports and speaks on behalf of the vulnerable, organised the event as part of a government consultation.
Is piracy ruining the video game market in Saudi Arabia?
That's the spin coming from the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance at this week's Dubai World Game Expo. But, as GP sister-site GameCulture explains, it is actually game censorship by the Saudi government which pushes gamers into pirating the titles they want.
AAA official Scott Butler claims that Saudi officials aren't doing enough to combat piracy:
In the UAE they are sending pirates to prison a lot, whereas in Saudi Arabia there has never been a judgment like that for any kind of pirate. When they mete out the judgement of imprisonment, that's when the market will finally crack.
But, as GC editor Aaron Ruby points out:
That might be the first time the Saudi legal system was chastised for being too lenient. And therein lies the absurdity of Butler's proposal... Censorship in that country has effectively driven the videogame industry underground. The kingdom's fear of media that challenges its cultural values has created a thriving entertainment black market, of which games are a key segment...
Iran, whose entertainment is also heavily regulated by the state, is also a hotbed of piracy. According to Mehrdad Agah, chariman of Puya Arts Software, 99% of all games sold in Iran are pirated...
It's no coincidence that the countries with the highest piracy rates (Saudi, Iran, China) have some of the most draconian censorship policies on the planet. The true counter to piracy is more freedom, not less.
Bonus: In this fascinating article, a Saudi gamer pens a history of game piracy in the kingdom.
It must be awfully difficult to be a disbarred attorney. I mean, what do you do with all of that free time?
If you're Jack Thompson you file court motions. And Thompson filed one of his more bizarre ones today. It's another of those picture books filings that the disgraced attorney has taken to submitting in recent months. Apparently capitalizing upon his free time, Thompson has taken the trouble to paste in snaps of:
His purpose seems to be an attempt to make the case - yet again - that the video game industry is responsible for his disbarment. That's an odd approach as most of the people he names in today's filing aren't part of the video game industry.
Thompson seems particularly upset over the amusing Disbarment Countdown Timer created by EZK. On that score Thompson writes:
If there were any doubt as to the core purpose of this disbarment, instigated by the video game industry, note... The Jack Thompson Disbarment Countdown Clock is at the center of a commerce-driven lynch mob... This court should grant the emergency stay to at least freeze the Countdown Clock pending an evidentiary hearing on this nonsense.
It's so clear now! The multi-billion dollar video game industry reached down from its perch on Wall Street and demanded the creation of a free Disbarment Timer add-on for Firefox. Makes perfect sense...
As to my involvement, he writes:
GamePolitics.com’s operator is Dennis McCauley, who filed his own Florida Bar complaint against Thompson for being mean to videogamers. GamePolitcs ran a multi-part series about Thompson’s Bar trial, court transcripts and all. Mr. McCauley, pictured below, worked with Referee Dava Tunis to place court documents at his site before Thompson got them...
It's true that I filed a Bar complaint about him in 2006. I've written about that in the past. The Bar complaint certainly wasn't about "being mean to videogamers."
UPDATE: Thompson also mentioned that GamesLaw.net has been tracking his court filings. All part of the conspiracy, eh, Miami Jack?
FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.
Read the court filing here.