California: “Three-Prong” Test Will Preserve Free Speech

October 18, 2010 -

The petitioner in the Schwarzenegger vs. EMA Supreme Court Case is the state of California, and as such, it receives the opportunity to furnish the Court with a reply brief, in which it can argue against statements presented in the brief of the respondent.

California has done just this, submitting its reply brief (PDF, thanks PHX Corp!) in which it begins by stating that the respondents are off base in their attacks:

Respondents and their amici paint an alarming picture of government censorship of both classic and contemporary art and literature, ignoring the level of extreme violence depicted in the narrow category of video games that is actually covered by the Act.

Analyst Pegs U.S. Used Games Business at Nearly $2B

October 15, 2010 -

The Street is running a three part series on the popularity of second-hand goods in a down economy and, in the second part of the series, which focuses on the used videogames market, Wedbush analyst Ed Woo pegged 2009’s used videogame market at “close to $2 billion.”

Woo said that figure represented 10 percent growth and added that he expects the sector to grow again in 2010. The article further claims that GameStop, which does not break out used videogame sales in its financial results, “bases nearly 80% of its bricks-and-mortar business on trade-ins.”

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Game Hardware Added to Trade-in Value Tracking App

October 14, 2010 -

If you're one of the millions of gamers that participates in the used games market, much to the chagrin of some videogame publishers, a recently released app could be a useful addition to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

Game Trading Technologies, the same company that powers the used games business of, and/or supplies used titles to, retailers like GameStop, Best Buy, 7-Eleven and Wal-Mart has announced the release of the latest version of its GameBook Mobile, which adds trade-in pricing for videogame and iPod hardware, as well as trade-in pricing for DVDs and Blu-Ray movies.

The app already lets users store a list of their entire videogame software library, tracks the trade-in price of each product and can point users to nearby stores that accept trade-ins.

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Blizzard Clarifies SC II Single-Player Bannings

October 14, 2010 -

In response to a story from earlier in the week that Blizzard was banning players from StarCraft 2 who used trainers or cheats in the game’s single-player component, the company issued a clarification.

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XBL Spreading to New Markets

October 14, 2010 -

Microsoft has announced that, as of November 10, its Xbox Live service will be available in nine new markets—Russia, Poland, South Africa, Greece, Czech Republic, Hungary, Brazil, Colombia, and Chile.

Xbox Live users in those regions most likely have an account already, just set in a different region. MS will allow migrating users to keep their profile, gamerscore, achievements, points balance and subscription time, but warns that previously purchased or downloaded content “will not be downloadable again after migration at this point in time, so remember to save your purchased content to your hard drive or a USB flash drive.”

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No Inbox Left Behind

October 14, 2010 -

Okay, we readily admit to being virtually hypnotized by Christian game publisher Left Behind Games, even more so in light of the odd press releases the company has issued in the past couple of weeks, but their latest may take the cake.

Today, Left Behind detailed an upcoming email campaign that it says will eventually hit 7.77 million inboxes. The company added a “top-tier” email delivery service that will push output to 45,000 emails per hour. The campaign will leverage an “under-utilized” list of over 500,000 “Christian consumers accumulated since the release of the Left Behind Trivia Game, 7 years ago.”

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Enterprising Minecraft Player Could Be at Risk

October 14, 2010 -

Minecraft has already become a super successful indie game, with estimates that the title’s creator Markus Persson has already banked millions off of the game. While some players have garnered attention for the incredible items built within the game, those users, unfortunately, could be putting themselves in the path of a lawsuit.

The most awe-inspiring megaobject built in Minecraft has to be the 1:1 scale replica of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek, which was created by YouTube user halnicholas (aka Halkun).

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ECA Staging SCOTUS Rally

October 13, 2010 -

The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) is inviting concerned gamers to participate in a pro-gaming rally on November 2 in Washington D.C., the same day that the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Schwarzenegger vs. EMA case.

The rally will take place on the steps of the Court, which is located at One First Street NE, at 9 AM. Oral arguments for the landmark videogame case are scheduled for 10AM ET.

The ECA noted:

A Sampling of the Controllers Headed Yee's Way

October 12, 2010 -

The Entertainment Software Association’s (ESA) Video Game Voters Network (VGVN) has posted the first batch of user submitted photos showing controllers submitted to California State Senator Leland Yee.

The VGVN, for those who missed it, is urging the gaming populace to show its distaste for the Yee-authored law, which, under the guise of Schwarzenegger vs. EMA, will appear in front of the Supreme Court on November 2, by sending in controllers with the words “I Believe in the First Amendment” written on them.

Activision Blizzard Policy Maker Rails Against California Law

October 11, 2010 -

George Rose, Activision Blizzard’s Chief Public Policy Officer penned a column for the Orange County Register in which he called the California law at the heart of Schwarzenegger vs. EMA “onerous,” and "unnecessary.”

Rose claimed that a SCOTUS approval of the law would “hijack” the First Amendment rights of young people “by unjustifiably creating a special exception to unprotected free speech not only for video games, but any other form of expression.”

He also worried that the law would put “innocent store clerks at serious legal and financial risk,” all for a law that is “already moot.”

Rose explained:

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Stars and Stripes: Plenty of Violent Games in AAFES Stores

October 8, 2010 -

While Electronic Arts made the adjustment to rename the Taliban to “Opposing Force” in the multiplayer part of Medal of Honor, a ban on the game appearing in GameStop stores located in Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) locations is still in place.

The decision by AAFES officials puzzled a Stars & Striped columnist, who inventoried other violent games available in AAFES locations, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Grand Theft Auto IV.

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You’ll Be Able to Hear Schwarzenegger SCOTUS Oral Arguments

October 7, 2010 -

While we’ll be trying to gain entrance into the Supreme Court to hear Schwarzenegger vs EMA oral arguments on November 2, even if questionable credentials or a nefarious past preclude us from gaining access, a recording of the arguments will be made available on the SCOTUS website.

The new recording release initiative, as detailed on the SCOTUS website, begins with the current October term and will see audio files posted to the SCOTUS website on Fridays, under the Oral Arguements section of the site's menu.

Gamers, Watch Out for “Toasted Skin Syndrome”

October 7, 2010 -

Yet another new ailment threatens gamers, this one specifically targeting those who might use laptops to play games for hours a day.

“Toasted skin syndrome” is the layman’s term for erythema ab igne, described as a “reticular, pigmented, sometimes telangiectatic dermatosis” and it originates from prolonged exposure to a heat or an infrared source.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and reported on by AP, Swiss researchers discussed the condition appearing in a 12-year old boy who played computer games for a “few hours every day for several months.”

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Left Behind Games Packing Christian Stores with Games

October 6, 2010 -

In a weirdly specific press release, religious game developer and publisher Left Behind Games stated that it’s received initial holiday orders for 37,174 copies of its PC games.

The orders were from the U.S.’s “top four leading Christian store chains,” covering 503 locations. Titles ordered included Praise Champion, Charlie Church Mouse: Superpack, Keys of the Kingdom and Left Behind 2: Tribulation Forces, but the real stalwart of the bunch was Left Behind 3: Rise of the Antichrist, which averaged 24.8 copies ordered per store.

CEO Troy Lyndon added, “The depth of these new orders increases our projected fiscal year revenue by $401,095.”

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Anti-Terror Games Allow Indians to Express Patriotism

October 5, 2010 -

An interesting article on the Times of India website details a series of games based on the 2008 Mumbai, India terrorist attack and goes into why, perhaps, people are drawn to play them.

The columnist writes that, “In India, the Mumbai terror attack has caught game developers' fancy in a big way,” before referencing a pair of games based on the tragedy.

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1378 Developer Defends Games, Details Delay

October 5, 2010 -

1378 (km), the game based on the “death strip” separating East and West Berlin during the Cold War has seen its release delayed until December.

The game’s developer, a student at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design named Jens Stober, took to his blog to announce the postponement, which he said was partly due to criticism of the game. Comments about the title, such as the Director of the Berlin War Memorial stating “The seriousness of what once went on at the border can’t be portrayed in this way,” led Stober to claim that “an objective discussion of the game is presently impossible.”

Stober also offered a rather impassioned defense of games, specifically computer games, writing:

A large part of the criticism is a consequence of my chosen medium, the computer game. Computer games as a medium are often quick to be judged without being more closely examined, as was also the case with my art project. It was designed to enable a younger generation to access information on recent German history using a medium familiar to them.

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Researchers on Videogame Injuries

October 4, 2010 -

Using data provided by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, researchers recently presented an overview of videogame-related injuries at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco.

Between January 1, 2004 and January 1, 2009, there were a total of 696 game-related injuries in the U.S., of which 604 were suffered from “traditional games,” while 92 were attributed to “newer interactive games” that require a greater investment of interactivity, like Nintendo’s Wii. Of the 92 injuries caused by “newer” technology, 49 injured parties were male and 43 female.

The mean age of the injured was 16.5 years old. Those injured were more likely to hurt their shoulder, ankle or foot. Bystander injuries were also “significantly” more likely to occur when playing games using the “newer” interactive technology.

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EA Caves, Renames Taliban in MOH

October 1, 2010 -

Did not see this one coming, but via Kotaku (thanks Cheater87!), Electronic Arts has folded like a cheap suit and announced that it is renaming the Taliban forces in its upcoming Medal of Honor game to the more benign “Opposing Force.”

To be fair, Medal of Honor Greg Goodrich, in a statement on the game’s website, indicated that the renaming was done in response to “reverence for American and Allied soldiers.”

More from Goodrich:

New York Law School Moot Court Features EMA Case

October 1, 2010 -

Earlier this week, we reported on the results of a moot court hosted by the Institute of Bill of Rights Law at William & Mary Law School, in which several noted journalists, legal scholars, and even a federal judge sat down to hash out a mock version of the Schwarzenegger v. EMA case pending before the Supreme Court. The IBRL moot court found 6-3 in favor of the State of California, causing some concern as to whether the result was an outlier or a hint towards how the Supreme Court may rule.

Apparently, William & Mary is not the only law school considering the question. New York Law School, famous for their annual State of Play conference, held a moot court competition of their own featuring a fact pattern very similar to that of the Schwarzenegger v. EMA case.  We obtained a copy of the bench brief from the case, which was written by NYLS third year law students Andrew Blancato and John Hague for the Charles W. Froessel Intramural Moot Court Competition. 

Wal-Mart Backs Rise of the Antichrist Across U.S.

September 30, 2010 -

Looks like an experimental pilot program that had around 100 Texas Wal-Mart stores carry the Christian-themed titles of Left Behind Games went well, as the publisher announced that two of its newer offerings will be sold at locations of the world’s largest retailer throughout the U.S.

Left Behind 3: Rise of the Antichrist and Charlie Church Mouse: Superpack will show up in Wal-Mart stores before the end of October.

LBG CEO Troy Lyndon stated, "We are delighted to offer healthy alternatives into the PC game marketplace and pleased to see these games get the exposure they deserve by becoming available in Walmart nationally.

Left Behind 3: Rise of the Antichrist is a real-time strategy game based on the book series of the same name.

13 comments

New Platform Lets Kids Learn by Building Games

September 29, 2010 -

A new game-based learning platform, which utilizes “the principles of game design as a form of 21st Century skill building,” officially launched today.

Gamestar Mechanic is browser-based and runs on both PC and Mac platforms. Published by E-Line Media, with support from the Institute of Play, initial funding of the game’s development was provided by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to the Institute of Play.

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Game Based on “Death Strip” that Separated East and West Germany

September 29, 2010 -

A student-developed videogame centered on the “death strip” that separated East and West Berlin during the heart of the Cold War has run afoul of the Director of the Berlin Wall Memorial.

The game, entitled 1378 (km) and named for the length of the border between East and West Germany that was patrolled and policed for some 28 years, was created by Jens Stober, a student at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design.

According to The Local, 1378 (km) allows players to take on the role of border guards or escapees, while having them choose whether to “shoot, arrest, run, give up, kill, or be killed.”

The game is set in 1976, though “border guards who shoot to kill more than three times are magically transported to the year 2000, where they face trial for their crimes.”

A statement from Stober’s school on the game read:

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Vindicia CEO: CA SCOTUS Win Could Kill Freemium Market

September 28, 2010 -

Earlier this month we mentioned the amicus brief filed by online billing solution provider Vindicia, which backed the videogame industry in the looming Schwarzenegger vs. EMA Supreme Court showdown.

Vindicia CEO Gene Hoffman, Jr. has since penned an article for Xconomy on the case and how a ruling for California could kill the freemium model (a la Electronic Arts' Battlefield Heroes or id Software's Quake Live) of distributing videogames to the masses:

Obama Seeks Greater Access to Online Communication

September 28, 2010 -

In order to combat the decreasing use of archaic telephones, the Obama administration is preparing a bill that would allow law enforcement and national security officials greater access to online communications.

As reported by the New York Times, such a bill would require online services such as Blackberry’s encrypted email system, or social sites like Facebook, to be “technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order.”

Some, like Columbia University’s Steven Bellovin, a Computer Science Professor, see a problem with the mandate, because hackers could figure out how to gain access through the new backdoors. Bellovin called it, “… a disaster waiting to happen.”

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Another Eagle Forum Member Makes Case Against Violent Games

September 27, 2010 -

Over the past month, the “pro-family” Eagle Forum attempted (and failed) to lobby Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff into supporting the California side of Schwarzenegger v. EMA, while its founder, Phyllis Schlafly, scribbled out a withering column on the “evil products” and “highly disturbing”  content emerging from the videogame industry. Now another Eagle Forum member is attempting to pin the group’s anti-videogame stance on protecting children.

Moot Court Renders Schwarzenegger v. EMA Opinion

September 27, 2010 -

Last month we told you that the Institute of Bill of Rights Law (IBRL) at William & Mary Law School would offer a mock trial of the Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association case, which is scheduled to go before the Supreme Court on November 2.  Well, the Moot Court held its version of the event over the weekend, and gamers will have to hope that the result does not foreshadow the verdict that SCOTUS eventually returns.

The mock trial included participants such as USA Today’s Joan Biskupic, The Wall Street Journal’s Jess Bravin, the New York Times’ Adam Liptak, University of California, Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemrinsky, Jeffrey Sutton from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and U.S. Department of Justice Deputy Assistant Attorney General Beth Brinkman.

Jersey Shore Star May Face Situation Over App

September 24, 2010 -

While Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s iPhone app has been making the news this week due to its appearance in Apple’s top 10-grossing application list, the Jersey Shore star may soon be facing a lawsuit over a game included in the app.

The app features a game called “Grenade Dodger,” in which users attempt to dodge unattractive women, or “grenades” in Jersey Shore-speak. The problem, according to Radar Online, is that photographers were dispatched by the game’s developer to clubs in order to snatch pictures of women in the “3 or 4” category for inclusion in the Situation’s application. One of the girls featured in “Grenade Dodger” is reportedly horrified over her insertion in the game and is considering taking legal action.

28 comments | Read more

THQ’s Farrell Sees Game Prices Dropping

September 24, 2010 -

While THQ CEO Brian Farrell believes that the future could bring lower costs for console games, that seemingly bright prospect contains a bit of a catch for consumers.

Speaking at a recent Goldman Sachs conference, Farrell, as reported by CVG, sees console games eventually selling for between $29 to $39 at retail, but those would be basic or stripped down versions of games, with—of course—extra content available from paid downloadable content.

THQ will experiment with just this kind of concept on its upcoming MX vs ATV title. As Farrell noted, “In the past, we've seen that we bring the game out at $59.99 and it does reasonably well - around one million, or one million-and-a-half units.”

He continued, “When we lower the price to a mass market price the thing really jumps... So what we're doing this time is we're coming out initially with a smaller game at a lower price point - the $29 to $39 range.”

19 comments | Read more

Op-Ed Urges Consumer, Retailers to Avoid Medal of Honor

September 23, 2010 -

An opinion piece in a Fort Meyers, Florida newspaper describes the ability to take on the role of insurgents in the upcoming Electronic Arts game Medal of Honor as games reaching  an “all-time low level.”

Taking a page (or bait?) from UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox, who urged retailers not to sell the title, the author of the News-Press editorial posed a similar challenge to readers:

…we do suggest that Americans at the very least refuse to buy 'Medal of Honor.' We suggest that retailers refuse to stock it. And we especially suggest that parents not allow their children to own or play it.

PGA’s Els Backs Golf Game for Special Needs Users

September 22, 2010 -

The PGA Tour’s Ernie Els has teamed up with VTree LLC in order to produce a golf videogame that can be enjoyed by all users, even those with disabilities or special needs.

Powered by EA Sports technology, My Golf Game Featuring Ernie Els will be released for the PC the week of October 11 and supports the use of a variety of input devices, including a touch screen, foot pedals or voice recognition for disabled users, in addition to typical devices like a mouse, keyboard or Xbox 360 controller.

A percentage of proceeds from the game’s sales will go to the golfer’s The Els for Autism Foundation. Els stated, “I am proud to be associated with 'My Golf Game.' As a parent of a child with autism it is great to see such a high quality game available to a wider group of gamers that will help develop key coordination skills."

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PHX Corphttps://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iga/bloodstained-ritual-of-the-night/description apparently Bloodstained: ritual of the night will have a Wii U version(through Armature Games)05/26/2015 - 9:02pm
WonderkarpSo I found out I'm Invincible Today. I drove through a Tornado and didnt even know it. was windy and torrential downpour but I drove through like a boss. 05/26/2015 - 7:35pm
ZenEnded up giving the code to Andrew so he gets to be the other guinea pig lol.05/26/2015 - 6:53pm
ZenSo...who wants to help with an experiment and get a free game for 3DS and possibly Wii U lol? Gave a friend the Wii u OlliOlli code from the Humble Bundle and it gave him the 3DS one too. Still have a 3DS code which may give a Wii U version too.05/26/2015 - 4:35pm
Zenjust wish they had been as open about development as they were with X1 and PS4. All we got were interviews saying everything was great and then this lol.05/26/2015 - 4:14pm
ZenYeah, he brought it up again as time went on and stated it was not to be taken seriously. And I am in NO way defending people who are acting like...well....the not so nice way to say "butts". And I don't personally think they haven't worked on the game, I05/26/2015 - 4:12pm
Andrew EisenSo I can see why Bell would be ultra defensive and snippety. But, again, still not an advisable thing to say.05/26/2015 - 3:57pm
Andrew Eisennot to mention horrifically insulting.05/26/2015 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenAgreed, even out of frustration, not an advisable thing to post. As for the rest, sounds like it thought its tweeks and optimizations would work. The idea that it was stringing everyone along and not actually working on it is nearly nonsensical...05/26/2015 - 3:55pm
Zenand looking great...yet refused to even show a single screen shot while touting their open development on X1 and PS4. People are now asking if they even worked on the game or if it was dropped in the beginning & they were keeping up appearances instead.05/26/2015 - 3:53pm
ZenI understand that, but making a blanket statement to cover an entire market like that will do nothing more than push consumers away or alienate a group. Other issues stem from the interviews and public announcements they made stating the game is running05/26/2015 - 3:52pm
Andrew EisenNot an advisable thing to post, I'll grant you.05/26/2015 - 3:47pm
Andrew EisenReading the thread, it looks like he's just getting frustrated with the obnoxious and unreasonable members of the board (most of whom signed up that day).05/26/2015 - 3:47pm
ZenNintendo users in general by stating "Yup, and if you need to pass this on, we really dislike Nintendo users." on their forum. Sincere or not, it's annoyed some fans & put doubt on the company even trying.05/26/2015 - 3:35pm
ZenThey pushed that even just a few months ago it was running great, with effects, but they just needed a few tweeks before release. I posted about this last night, but it has since cycled thru. Ian Bell also had some fairly disparaging things to say about05/26/2015 - 3:34pm
Matthew Wilson@AE @iamc they admired they cant do wiiu, and they have a valid reason for it. the wiiu is too weak.05/26/2015 - 3:24pm
Andrew EisenLied about what?05/26/2015 - 3:11pm
IanCThey outright lied, they kept pushing that it was coming out on Wii U right to they got a publisher, then went quiet. Funny that...05/26/2015 - 3:09pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.vg247.com/2015/05/26/project-cars-struggling-to-hit-720p30fps-on-wii-u/ I love that he is honest. they admited that they are at their wits end with the wiius hardware.05/26/2015 - 1:48pm
E. Zachary KnightHumbleSupport has said the codes don't expire. So That is pretty tempting.05/26/2015 - 1:38pm
 

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