Sunday, January 29, 2006

Japanese analysts comment on next-gen console war

Gamespot quotes an article in Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu which cites analysts from Credit Suisse´s Tokyo branch and the Daiwa Institute of Research, as well as an independent analyst, on the next-generation console wars.
Daiwa Institute of Research senior analyst Eiji Maeda predicts the PlayStation 3 will be released in Japan between April and June, but the console will not have much of a third-party lineup until summer or fall. Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Jay Defibaugh (who's currently working in Credit Suisse's Tokyo branch) predicts a similar release period for the PS3, sometime between May and June.

While Sony still has its PS3 launch set for spring, the analysts predict that the console will come out a bit later since the console's games are behind in development. The PS3 is reportedly difficult to develop for, and while there are 71 developers currently working on 102 games, only eight titles have been announced for release in 2006, with just two slated for spring.

Daiwa's Maeda predicts the PS3 is likely to hold the top share in the next-generation console war, but he cites the lack of launch titles as one of the factors that may affect its sales in 2006. Maeda also says the PS3's Blu-ray drive isn't as strong a sales point as the PlayStation 2's DVD drive. Back in 2000, consumers were drawn to the PS2 because it was also a DVD player, eliminating the need to buy a then-expensive stand-alone player. Another point cited by Maeda is the system's price. Maeda predicts that the PS3 will be priced in the 40,000 yen range ($343) at the lowest, while Nintendo's Revolution will be 30,000 yen ($257) at its highest. He also believes that by the time the PS3 comes out, Microsoft will likely have dropped its price on the Xbox 360.

With regard to the Revolution, Famitsu turns to IT journalist Hiroshige Gotoh. Gotoh believes the Revolution has the possibility of succeeding in the next-generation game war because of its innovation and its unique controller. He explained that the console's uniqueness could still match up against machines with higher specs, much like the way the DS has been outselling the PSP.

So when will the Revolution come out? Nintendo president Satoru Iwata recently told Sankei Journal that his company will need to release the console by Thanksgiving in America to take advantage of the busy shopping season. However, Maeda predicts that the Revolution could come out in Japan as early as June. Maeda also said that the machine would still have a larger launch lineup than the PS3, even if it's released that soon.

Credit Suisse's Defibaugh commented that the Xbox 360's sales in Japan were predicted to be low, but its actual performance was even lower. He thinks that the Japanese market will be dominated by the PS3 if the Xbox 360 continues to see sluggish sales in the country.

Daiwa's Maeda says that Microsoft isn't out of the race yet; the company had released its console half a year before its competitors, which gives it an upper hand in mass production and cost cutting.

Defibaugh and Maeda both think the PlayStation 3 will have half of the market in the worldwide next-generation console war by the end of 2006, followed by the Xbox 360 at 30 percent, and the Revolution at 20 percent.
Markets have been looking more favourably upon Nintendo in recent months. I invested a small amount in Nintendo shares just before the controller was revealed at TGS and I have made a profit of around 30% on that. Nintendo shares (at the ´Deutsche Börse´ in Frankfurt) have jumped from just below €90 to around €115 since then.

Source: Gamespot

Friday, January 27, 2006

Midway develops FPS for all next-gen systems

Midway is developing a first person shooter for all next-gen consoles, including the Nintendo Revolution. Through recruiting company Creative Heads, they are searching for a contract gameplay scripter and a level layout designer to develop a first person shooter at their Austin, Texas studio. The also specifically mention working with ´Unreal Kismet´, the Unreal 3 graphics engine´s visual scripting system.

Further, Midway are looking for a lead animator for an action-adventure game, again to be developed for all three next-gen consoles. The Midway careers page does not make any mention of platforms, though.

EDIT As Joystiq points out, this does not mean that such a game would look identical on all three consoles, not are the Revolution´s graphics necessarily on par with its competitors´ graphics.
Middleware packages, especially ones like Unreal Engine 3 that have a large PC client base, are designed to be scalable. In other words, sure it will run on the Revolution, but don't expect it to have the eye candy turned up to 11.

That being said, this is promising news for any hopes of seeing games ported to all three next-gen consoles. Developers who use software like Epic's engine will not only save themselves from reinventing the graphics wheel every game, but they'll also find it easier to scale their app across all three next-gen platforms, making us happy gamers.
So this piece of news says less about graphics capabilities but more about the availability of mature games on all three systems by means of easy to use middleware tools.

Sources: Creative Heads, Joystiq
Thanks to: Revolution Report, Luca S.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Nintendo at Sundance

On Nintendo´s press server there is an article summing up Nintendo´s presence at the Sundance film festival. It reads:

Jan. 25, 2006

Celebrities from the worlds of music, film and television lined up to check out the coolest Nintendo products on display at the Sundance Film Festival. Luminaries like Paris Hilton, Good Charlotte, Rob Lowe, Jessica Biel and the Beastie Boys visited Nintendo this week in Motorola’s Moto on Main celebrity lounge in the heart of Park City, Utah.

Visitors to the lounge got to check out all the hottest new Nintendo games for the top-selling Nintendo DS™, Game Boy® Micro and Nintendo GameCube™. Celebs like Lance Bass, Shannon Elizabeth, John Malkovich, Kristen Bell, Lucy Liu, William H. Macy and Tommy Lee received hands-on demos of the Nintendogs™ puppy training program and the hot Mario Kart® DS racing game, which features wireless online play via Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection. They also got sneak previews of the upcoming Metroid® Prime Hunters, Super Princess Peach™ and Tetris® DS games for Nintendo DS. The music-making program Electroplankton™ piqued the interest of the Beastie Boys, who will receive copies for themselves.

Other Nintendo visitors included Minnie Driver, Dennis Quaid, Chris Masterson, Joe Pantoliano, Adrian Grenier, Michael Rapaport, Nick Nolte, Daryl Hannah and Giancarlo Esposito.
Nintendo´s James Sakshaug was lucky enough to show their games and hardware to the celebrities, including Mixmaster Mike and the Beastie Boys, which suddenly combines my two main passions in life, for the first time. I just knew they´d love ´Electroplankton´.

Want to see for yourself? Head on over to WireImage, search for ´Nintendo´ within the ´Caption´ heading and you´ll see almost three pages of various celebrities playing Micro and DS. Don´t pay too much attention to the taglines, though. They believe Reggie Fils-Aime to be ´CEO Nintendo´ and list Beastie Adam Yauch´s nickname as ´MAC´. Good turnout for Nintendo, though.

Source: Nintendo press server, WireImage
Image source: Nintendo press server, WireImage

Nintendo DS redesign

Nintendo Co. Ltd. has revealed the redesigned Nintendo DS, called ´DS Lite´. Here are the specs, as translated by Babelfish and slightly interpreted:
Name: Nintendo DS Lite
Shipping date: 2nd March 2006
Retail price: 16.800 Yen, including tax (equals $145)
Dimensions (when folded): 133.0 (width) × 73.9 (height) × 21 5mm (depth)
Previous dimensions: 148.7 (width) × 84.7 (height) × 28. 9mm (depth)
Weight: 218g
Previous weight: 275g
So the new model is lighter and they managed to reduce its thickness by almost a third. Here´s the contents of the announcement as emailed to Joystiq:
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata today announced Nintendo DS Lite, a slimmer version of the best-selling Nintendo DS™. Also featuring brighter screens, Nintendo DS Lite will launch in Japan in March. Nintendo DS Lite will be less than two-thirds the size of the original Nintendo DS and more than 20 percent lighter.

Nintendo DS has enjoyed extremely strong sales in Japan and around the world, selling more than 14.4 million units worldwide. The Japanese sell-through of the existing Nintendo DS hardware exceeded 5 million within 13 months, which made Nintendo DS the fastest-selling video game system there.

Nintendo will announce more information about the availability of Nintendo DS Lite in North America and other territories in the future.
To be honest, I expected a more radical redesign. The ´DS lite´ seems to be only smaller and its surface smoothed. However, that already makes the design more ´Apple-esque´ and will make the handheld match the Revolution better.

Source: Joystiq, Nintendo Co. Ltd., Babelfish
Thanks to: Luca S., Pi

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Who is Falafelkid?

I promised proof of my identity and this is it. Here are three snapshots of me playing DS with Shigeru Miyamoto at the last E3, right after our interview.

And only to eradicate any further doubts that that person really is me, here´s a little video clip of myself that I uploaded to Rapidshare:
Who is Falafelkid
Size: 8MB
Length: 00:30 min
Codec: DivX 5.2.1.

Instructions: Scroll all the way down, then click on the ´Free´ button. Wait for the given number of seconds and enter the three-digit code.
It may seem silly to go this far and provide this much evidence but it seemed necessary after some people I debunked started to question my identity.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

´3D Realms´ gloomy about Nintendo´s future

While a growing number of third party developers from across all genres and territories have pledged support to the Nintendo Revolution, or at least expressed some enthusiasm and respect, the console seems to get the thumbs down from the classic shooter studios in the US. First, Epic Games´ Mark Rein seemed uninterested in the console, to say the least. Now the other big FPS studio follows suit, albeit far more polite (and less drunk).

On his blog, Scott Miller, CEO of 3D Realms (and founder of ´Apogee´, who financed ´id Software´), writes:
Many people have asked me to comment about the next-gen consoles, and frankly I have nothing enlightened to say. I've yet to touch the controller of any of them. I can't find a X360 to buy in stores, and we have yet to get a development machine sent from Microsoft even though Prey (3D Realm´s new game, developed by Human Head Studios) is being developed for their system.

My prediction for this new round of consoles is that the X360 and PS3 will wind up about equal in terms of sales, with Nintendo's Revolution coming in a distant third--perhaps this will be the last console from this company. The X360 gains ground on the PS3 this cycle by virtue of two points: [1] Xbox Live! rocks (from what I've heard -- again, no first-hand experience). [2] The X360 has a big head start over the PS3. Finally, I cannot comment on the Revolution's controller until I try one.
There are a number of comments left already that seek to clarify why Miller´s outlook is so gloomy. He answers:
I think that Nintendo shot their own foot off with the Gamecube, which was positioned too much as a children's system. (...) I have little faith in Nintendo's management to right their ship. They need to establish a compelling image for the Revolution, and rise above the kiddie image they currently have. Mario is cool and all, but it doesn't win the older audience like GTA and Halo.
It seems ironic that Nintendo has hinted at putting a far stronger emphasis on FPS games for the Revolution´s portfolio than they have done for previous systems. Yet both classic FPS development studios seem to be unimpressed with the controller idea.

At least John Romero (co-founder of ´id Software´) made optimistic statements regarding Nintendo´s future already a year ago:
Expect a ton of graphics of high quality. I don't see any revolutions in game design on the XBOX2 and PS3, but we'll see something interesting on the Nintendo Revolution and the Nintendo DS is already doing some cool stuff with the dual screens. I truly respect Nintendo's forward thinking.
In another post he also admitted being a huge ´Wario Ware´ fan. He has also founded a new company. But don´t get your hopes up. While both the company´s name and current project are kept secret, he has announced in job listings that it is a "unique multiplayer PC title".

Source: Scott Miller´s blog, John Romero´s website, 3D Realms history page
Image source: Codefish
Thanks to: Next Generation

A little note concerning ´No End Soon´

On his blog, Mr. Inc claims to be a developer of a Revolution title and he´s quite generous with information. Here´s what they have recently disclosed:

* Working title: No End Soon
* Estimate Release Date: TBA
* Graphics are still to be decided
* Nintendo WiFi Connection enabled (...)
* Nintendo DS WiFi Link
* We would like to use the Virtual Console (...) for unlockable content (...)
* Free to explore gigantic world
* Able to chose female/male character
* Innovative combat mode. You can fight with your character by simply doing weird fighting moves with the controller to knock down your opponent. Expect it to be very easy, even your grandmother will be able to do this as you basicly use no buttons for the combat mode. (...)
* Atleast 64 players online
* Headset support
* You will be able to create your own server
* Friend list
* Match making service
* Online ranking system throught our website.

We’re currently still working with the pre-final Development Kits (final Development Kits are expected to come in mid-February now) we’ve received more than a month ago. (...) No End Soon currently is currently in pre-alpha stage, with pretty much running already. (...)

I’d like to end this post with a schedule I’ve created of when you should expect what. (...)

February 10 – 17: Exclusive interview with with exclusive details about No End Soon. (...)

March 21: Nintendo conference, second Revolutionary aspect will be fully revealed, including list of games which can be downloaded from day one.
In contrast to this wealth of information (along with the promise of more info coming exclusively to a non-commercial website), here are extracts from a standard non-disclosure agreement (NDA), the kind of contract that would exist between Nintendo as a manufacturer and a publisher like Ubi Soft, as well as between the publisher and the studio. The sample NDA is courtesy of attorney Tom Buscaglia who has been working in this industry for years (formatting is mine).
The Receiving Party will not disclose any Confidential Information of the Disclosing Party to third parties or to employees of the Receiving Party except those employees who are required to have information in order to carry out the discussion of the contemplated business. All employees of the Receiving Party to whom Confidential Information of the Disclosing Party have or will have prior to disclosure, sign a Non-Disclosure and Non-Use Agreement in content substantially similar to this Agreement, and the Receiving Party will promptly notify the Disclosing Party in writing of the names of each such employee upon the written request of the Disclosing Party at any time.

Each of the Parties agrees that it will take all reasonable measures to protect the secrecy of and avoid disclosure or use of Confidential Information of the other party in order to prevent it from falling into public domain or the possession of persons other than those persons authorized hereunder to have any such information, which measures shall include the highest degree of care that each of the parties uses to protect its own Confidential Information of a similar nature. The Receiving Party agrees to notify the Disclosing Party in writing of any misuse or misappropriation of Confidential Information of the Disclosing Party which may come to the Receiving Party's attention. (...)

The parties agree that the obligations of the Receiving Party provided herein are necessary and reasonable in order to protect the Disclosing Party and its business, and expressly agree that monetary damages would be inadequate to compensate the Disclosing Party for any breach by the Receding Party of it covenants and agreements set forth herein. Accordingly, the parties agree and acknowledge that any such violation or threatened violation will cause irreparable injury to the Disclosing Party and that, in addition to any other remedies that may be available in law, equity or otherwise, the Disclosing Party shall be entitled to obtain injunctive relief against the threatened breach of the Agreement or the continuation of any such breach by the Receiving Party, without the necessity of proving actual damages.
I think this contrast speaks for itself. Their claim that Nintendo allowed them to leak information, including a shot of the controller taken with a mobile phone camera, makes me fall off my chair laughing. Here´s what happens to publishers who violate contracts.

I am not even going to bother examining every single one of the outrageous spelling mistakes in detail or the laughable phrases ("Graphics are still to be decided") which undoubtedly show them up as non-professionals. I am just going to say that noone with any kind of experience in this industry could be in any doubt that these guys are totally fake. I will not discuss this blog in any more detail. This post should suffice.

Sources: Mr. Inc´s blog, Game Dev Kit, Gamasutra

Konami denies ´Silent Hill 5´ rumours

Brazilian gaming site Player Zone has posted an exclusive story, claiming that ´Silent Hill 5´ will be a Nintendo Revolution exclusive title. Translated via Babelfish and slightly corrected, their article reads:
Konami Computer Entertainment Japan and Nintendo yesterday announced the development of ´Silent Hill 5´ for the Japanese company´s new console, the Revolution. Although everyone believed that the horror series´ new instalment would be PS3 exclusive, it seems that the Konami team was seduced by the Revolution´s innovative control. According to the series´ producer Akira Yamaoka: "We are excited about the great possibilities of the new control. We believe that the Silent Hill series will make a leap forward and the Revolution is the solution to enable our innovative plans ". Silent Hill 5 will be launched exclusively for Nintendo Revolution. The first images will be published, according to Yamaoka, during the Eletronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which will take place in May of 2006.
However, Konami of Europe know nothing about this. Further, they clarified that a producer will never annunce new products. Only the publisher does. The producer may be quoted in the press release. But that release will be issued by the publisher. Nintendo of Europe was unavailable at the moment.

Further, the article is dated 29th of December 2005. If they really had broken the news, the story would certainly be official by now, almost a month later. It seems to me that this story is based on a wrong translation from a Japanese original. Yamaoka may have expressed interest in the Revolution. But it appears unlikely that ´Silent Hill 5´ will be a Revolution exclusive.

Sources: Player Zone, Babelfish
Thanks to:Nintendo Central, Cubed3, Revogaming, Nintendo-Centrum

Sunday, January 22, 2006

´Sunder - Land of Divide´ fake

Gaming news site Kotaku have surprisingly posted a number of images sent to them anonymously, which they think show "a yet to be announced Revolution title" called ´Sunder - Land of Divide´. This is surprising because any professional would find images like the following to be completely worthless for game development, even as concept art.

The entire image is flat and doesn´t help an artist trying to visualize the object in three dimensions at all. Nor do many of the other images. But I believe I can prove who is behind those fakes. It´s none other that our good friend Kenton Bailey, aka Thought_Epiphany, who was behind the BMW helmet hoax.

Consider the apparent game logo above. Then compare the planet in the center with the planet in Kenton´s ´Xenias´ mock-up from last year.

They are very similar. To show you just how similar they are, I have cut out and flipped the planet from the ´Xenias´ cartridge to match the planet in the ´Sunder - Land of Divide´ logo. Especially around the Nintendo logo you will notice that the planets match perfectly in structure and even colour.

I didn´t even have to resize the images. Both parts are directly pasted together and they join up perfectly. Also, both planets have the same blue glow around them.

If that isn´t enough for you, then consider the following image, which can be found on Kenton´s site Playbomb, which shows a homepage layout for a development studio called ´Chronicle Studios´ Kenton may have planned to found.

You will notice that the ´Chronicle Studios´ logo could be an earlier version of the one pixellated out in the ´Sunder - Land of Divide´ logo. Also, his love of serifed fonts (which is highly unusual in documents like these) betrays him further. I am sure you will agree that the evidence shows, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Kenton is trying to fool us once again.

Lastly, I´d hate to quash Kenton´s ambitions, but a good design document (the basis for any game) starts with a solid background story and a thorough description of gameplay mechanics. He is obviously more of a visual person and, if anything, should try to become an artist rather than a game designer. And he should stop making those silly fakes.

EDIT I was right all along. Kenton admitted to the scheme right here in the comments section. He then mailed the following statement to Kotaku:
We have come to the point that we understand the gaming world is starting to become stale idea wise. So we have developed a new genre, the IBG or “Integral Battle Game” in order to provide the gaming community with something entirely new and immersive. We promise that we will try to present the most unique and new experience possible.

We were wanting Sunder to gain viral popularity via leaks over a few weeks time before we launched our site. LifeSpark Studios is a development company I and Derek Sarbou have founded and Sunder is a project we have been working on for months now. However, we felt it would get very little attention needed to get it seen by publishers if we launched the site without some form of viral release before the site launch. It is indeed a pitch package rather than a game in full development, but much time has been dedicated to it and so far we have accrued over 60 pages of information solely on the game itself.

The reason I am telling you this now is because a small blog has managed to successfully connect Sunder to me. The problem being that I have a known history for fakes/hoaxes concerning the Revolution. Of course, due to that fact people are now starting to label it as fake. That is just not true. We have no publisher or funding but the project is indeed a legitimate project. This is a legitimate project and we are looking for support.
Incidentally, this "small blog" gets more hits than his Playbomb site. Dear Kenton, let´s not start to get personal. I, for one, have been very careful not to hurt your feelings speaking my mind about your art and the general state of your project. Instead, I have tried to offer you some advice. Let´s keep it civil, shall we? And you may need to think about apologizing to the community.

Source: Kotaku, Playbomb
Image source: Kotaku, Playbomb

Friday, January 20, 2006

IGN is messing with us

IGN Revolution is messing with us - again. Under the ´big developments´ heading, there is this story:
Revolution in Practice
One click and it's yours.
When you click it, you are redirected to this site. This one reads:
Revolution in Practice
One click and it's yours.
by Skizzle Riffleblop

January 19, 2005 - Click here for the story.
Clicking on this link takes you here where you read:
Revolution in Practice
Nearly there. Don't give up.
by Monkbottom Slurpinstein

January 19, 2005 - You're just one click away now...
But that click takes you right back to page one. On it, there is a link to a related story, here, reading:
Megaton Revealed
Praise the gods. Could this news be any bigger?
by Donkface Dripplenips

January 19, 2005 - The wait is finally over...
The term ´megaton´ dates back to late 2002 when rumours of some huge announcement by Nintendo circulated the community. Some believed Nintendo had bought some huge third party developer like Capcom, Sega or both. Others thought Nintendo were to sue Sony for copyright infringement over the PlayStation brand. There were all sorts of rumours. Here is a TVG article from back then.

Product_Number_18 noticed that the dates for all three articles read 2005 instead of 2006. And here´s the weirdest thing: At work, I saw IGN´s standard Revolution masthead (the title bar that is shaped like each respective console). But at home I only ever got the DS masthead. I had to open the graphic´s URL to change it to the Rev´s masthead. This episode was probably some browser error to do with cookies or what have you. But seeing that the whole thing is very weird already, I thought I´d mention it anyway.

Sources: IGN, IGN, IGN, TVG
Thanks to: Gloomy, RawMeatCowboy, Product_Number_18

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Reggie interviewed by

CNET´s has interviewed Reginald Fils-Aime, executive vice president of sales and marketing at NoA. It´s a long read, but heartening stuff.

Q: We understand you have some New Year's resolutions for Nintendo. Let's start there.

RFA: Sure. From my perspective, I have five resolutions for the industry heading into 2006. The first is keeping our eyes on the prize. This industry is about entertainment, and in the end, he with the best games wins. So at Nintendo, we're focused on putting the most-entertaining products into the marketplace.

The second resolution is keeping the "mass" in the mass audience. The world is fragmenting all around us, and many companies are making their products too exclusive and expensive for the general consumer.

For example, for American consumers to get into the Xbox 360 franchise, with games and extra controllers, they had to spend more than $700, not including an HDTV, which is really the only way to positively experience 360. We resolve at Nintendo to remain within reach for the vast majority of our consumers.

Q: How?

RFA: By first creating gaming-centric systems and consoles, whether it's handhelds or home consoles. That will ensure that for gamers, our products are totally focused on their needs, versus products that try to integrate music or other things that, frankly, aren't what great gaming experiences are all about.

Q: Since you mentioned pricing, I assume the Revolution will be accessible to gamers for substantially less than $700?

RFA: That's correct. Our third resolution is to stop turning away new players.

This industry has become more and more focused on the niche, and at Nintendo, we've opened our systems to a wide range of consumers. Whether it's consumers older than 35 or female gamers, we've attracted them with Nintendogs and Animal Crossing, so we've resolved to bring as many new consumers into this industry as possible.

Q: And the fourth resolution?

RFA: It is to turn game development into a democracy of great ideas. Just as the cost of systems seems to be getting out of reach for everyday consumers, the cost of game development is getting out of reach for game publishers. The Revolution will be more affordable for game developers to create for, and that will result in fantastically innovative content.

Q: Let's talk handhelds. Obviously, the Nintendo DS is doing well, with 13 million sold so far. But Sony's PSP seems to have more buzz.

RFA: I disagree. The DS is outselling [the] PSP across the world. The DS is also generating huge buzz in the blogosphere. The fact is, we have a number of not only worldwide but even US-centric million-unit-selling games, and Sony doesn't.

We have games that are successfully expanding the audience for gaming for [the] DS, and that's not true for Sony. The buzz for the DS is huge and growing, and the most anticipated handheld titles are on our platform, not on Sony's.

Q: OK, so what about the fifth resolution?

RFA: The mythical performance vector for this industry is more processing power and prettier pictures, but what's really driven growth is actually improving the way consumers play and get into the game. It's what we've successfully done with the Nintendo DS and what we're committed to doing with the Revolution and the controller we've unveiled for [the] Revolution.

Q: Tell me about the controller. What makes it noteworthy?

RFA: It allows you to essentially manipulate the game by pointing at it. The activity that happens in the game is quite responsive with the controller, and we've shown that sports games can be brought to a new level of immersion with the controller.

Q: How so?

RFA: It allows you to manipulate not only a puck or a football, but also to manipulate the player in a way that's never been done before. So if I'm developing a football game, I can move across the field, focus against a particular receiver with pinpoint accuracy and throw the ball right to that receiver much as a real-life quarterback does.

That level of immersion really has never been done before. We know it's exciting because we have partners like EA and Ubisoft and Activision and THQ excited about developing for the Revolution.

Q: How many launch titles will there be for the Revolution?

RFA: That question's a bit premature. We'll be showing a lot of titles at this year's E3, and we think that's where consumers will get a flavor for the full range of titles and the full range of activity that we will have for our launch window.

Q: And what is the launch date?

RFA: We've said 2006. [NOTE: Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has since said the game will arrive in the US by Thanksgiving.]

Q: What else will set the Revolution apart from the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3?

RFA: A number of things. First, our titles. We have the huge luxury of a stable of franchises that's unparalleled in this industry. Also, we're working on new franchises and our first-party lineup will be better than our competition. We're also getting strong third-party support.

Secondly, our virtual console concept, which lets you play your favorite games from the Nintendo 64, Super NES and NES systems, will also be a differentiator. Plus, Revolution will be backwardly compatible with GameCube games.

Q: How do you think the Revolution will sell?

RFA: We will sell more units than [the] Xbox 360 did here in the United States in our launch window. I mean, in December, we sold more GameCubes in the United States than Microsoft sold 360s, and Revolution will do better than that.

Q: How will the DS do head-to-head against the PSP, going forward?

RFA: We expect a gangbuster year for DS in 2006. I think that's because we've successfully launched the Wi-Fi Connection for Nintendo DS. We've had more than 10 million connections to the servers on a worldwide basis and over half a million unique users in a short seven-week time frame.

Just for perspective, it took Xbox Live over six months to get to that level, so we're very proud of the way we've grown that business. We're also very confident with [the] DS, given a number of impending launches we've announced, including Metroid Prime: Hunters.

We've also announced Tetris DS, which has a total of six different modes of play, including classic Tetris play as well as a number of mechanisms that are playable both in local-area networks and via Wi-Fi. There will also be a new Super Mario Bros. title in 2006. So just in looking at the tools and packages we have, we're very confident in our success for [the] Nintendo DS this year.

Q: Terrific. Finally, can you tell me how Nintendo will reverse the perception that the console market is Sony and Microsoft and then Nintendo?

RFA: The fact is this: On a worldwide basis in the home console area, we are the number two player. Here in the United States, if you look at today, we are the number three player, so I understand where the perception comes from that we are not doing as well in the home console market as we are in the handheld business, where we dominate worldwide.

Our focus for [the] Nintendo Revolution is to provide real, meaningful differentiators versus our competition, and we believe that is what will drive our success. First, focusing on a single-minded gaming device. Second, bringing real innovation to the controller in the way consumers play the game. Third, a value orientation that certainly is not present with our competitors. Fourth, leveraging the power of our library with the virtual consoles.

So that's how we believe our success formula will play out in home consoles, and our focus is on executing that four-point program.
Did I promise too much? Heartening stuff there, regarding both the Revolution and DS. My favourite quote is ´We'll be showing a lot of titles at this year's E3´, because it hints at a sufficient number of launch titles. And I will be there to play them.

Image source: Nintendo press server
Thanks to: GameSpot, MegaMegaMan

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sony to ship 4 - 7 million PS3 consoles in first year

Technology review site The Digital Bits have interviewed Andy Parsons, senior vice president of Pioneer Electronics, USA. Speaking about their cooperation with Sony regarding ´Blu Ray´ technology, Parsons seems to have let slip SCEI´s shipping target for the first year of the PlayStation3.
We've been hearing between 4 and 7 million units could ship. And if you look at PlayStation Portable, with UMD discs, everyone is shocked at how many titles have shipped for that platform. And they're selling as well or better than the game software. So I think Sony has proven that they can drive a new video format like this with their gaming platforms.
An interesting figure, but an even more interesting point. Can Sony be trusted to successfully introduce a new format? That is the big question and I believe we should briefly turn to the PSP in order to examine this point.

As far as the PSP is concerned, there really is a vast movie catalogue available on UMD now. However, the movie tie ratio seems high because the game tie ration is actually lower than expected. The Hollywood Reporter (via azcentral) quoted Arcadia Research video game analyst John Taylor:
It wouldn't surprise me if PSP movies end up with a 3-to-1 tie ratio on PSP. To date, the game tie ratio is around 2.5 games to every one PSP hardware unit sold, which is somewhat lower than expected - in part because of the availability of movies.
So the above should read: movies are only selling slightly worse than games. I myself have never believed that movies would sell all too well on the PSP, since there is no double value in a UMD. The console cannot connect to your TV. So, if you want to watch the same movie on your TV set, you need to buy the DVD as well.

There are other factors that make the format attractive, though. Taylor elaborates that Sony waived royalty charges in order to rally the studios´ support for the console and was wondering "whether the high price of games ($40 to $50) and low price of movies ($20 to $30) is cannibalizing Sony's game sales." A good point. The disappointing game tie ration is further related to a lack of killer apps.

However, the console has started to sell well, recently outselling the DS in Japan. wrote:
All eyes (...) are on the battle between Sony's PSP and Nintendo's DS, which saw the PlayStation Portable pulling ahead of its rival in weekly hardware sales for the first time, taking just under 31 per cent market share as opposed to just over 25 per cent for the DS.

The DS, of course, still has a huge lead in terms of overall installed base, but its sales are slowing slightly after the initial rush - while demand for the PSP remains high, with Sony's limited shipments being snapped up as soon as they arrive at retail.
This is related to DS production not meeting demands. But the reason is secondary. It´s important to note that the PSP has started to outsell the DS and it´s important to watch this development closely.

Because, and this is how we are finally getting back to the PS3, if the PSP can be perceived as a success, then developers and movie studios alike will further trust Sony with the PS3 and allocate further resources and investments. If not, they may become hesitant instead and may look into switching allegiances (movie studios may switch to the HD-DVD format, while game developers may switch to Nintendo or Microsoft).

The PSP must be a complete success before Sony can start to think about selling a shipment of 4 to 7 million units in the first year. The figure itself is hard to interpret. Shipping 4 million consoles would be too little in my opinion. 7 million sounds good. We´ll still have to wait and see, I guess.

Sources: The Digital Bits, The Hollywood Reporter (via azcentral)
Thanks to: SPOnG

Iwata interviewed by Japanese newspaper

The Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun has apparently interviewed Satoru Iwata, according to German newssite Gamefront. The direct translation of their post reads:
Concerning the release date of the Revolution, Iwata said that he didn´t want to miss the end-of-year business, which promises a high turnover. Hence, the console should be released in the US by Thanksgiving (end of November 2006), to guarantee retail support. He did not mention a specific date. At E3, Iwata wants to present a near-final console.
Instead of ´release date´, they have actually written ´shipping date´. But I guess that´s a mistake on their part. Their German is not too accurate.

Also, it should be noted that this story cannot be verified on the newspaper´s website. Searching for ´任天堂´ (Nintendo Co. in Japanese) returns only one recent article on a new Kyoto poetry temple, which features special downloads for DS users. However, there is this scan of the article:

Maybe someone can read the article and post its contents more accurately.

Source: Gamefront (German)
Thanks to: Hyliantom, Yoshio Tanaka

´V-Pocket´ patent discovered?

Nintendo seems to have plans for a controller or handheld console to connect to cellphones. Product_Number_18 has come across a most interesting patent on the Japanese National Center for Industrial Property Information (NCIPI) homepage. Go there, enter ´Nintendo´ in the top field and click on search. Then click on ´Index Indication´. Choose the third entry entitled ´2005 - 253709 PORTABLE GAME SYSTEM´. Now click on ´detail´. It should be noted that the text is an automated translation from the Japanese original. In fact, there is a disclaimer in the beginning that proves the quality of the translation:
JPO and NCIPI are not responsible for any damages caused by the use of this translation.
So buckle up, put on your crash helmets and let´s try to get into the details of what is being claimed here. The abstract reads:
PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED: To provide a technique useful for improving the operability of a game and preventing sudden battery exhaustion at the time of carrying out a game in a portable terminal, especially in the case of carrying out the game of large power consumption.

SOLUTION: An auxiliary operation device suitable for the operation of the game to be mounted on the portable terminal is provided. In the auxiliary operation device, a rechargeable battery for supplying power to the portable terminal or charging the rechargeable battery of the portable terminal and a control circuit for controlling power supply or charging are incorporated. Power supply or charging is appropriately performed corresponding to the using conditions of the portable terminal and the state of the rechargeable battery.
This would suggest that one device hooks up to another device in order to supply it with extra battery power when its own batteries are drained. However, there are some intriguing pictures shown in the drawings section.

This shows a cellphone connected to a custom controller, featuring an SNES controller shape and a Gamecube controller button layout. However, I believe this is just meant to be a generic device. After all, the patent is entitled ´Portable Game System´, so it could very well deal with the DS, its new incarnation or a brand new handheld console. It could even concern the Revolution. I don´t think this is to do with the GBA, which can already connect to mobile phones for online play (albeit in Japan only), since this patent was filed March 2004 and doesn´t seem to be a mere renewal.

The claims seem to go beyond the abstract.
It is a pocket game system using the personal digital assistant which can perform a game program and has a message function with a remote place, (...) equipped with an operational control unit by the user at the time of the game program execution concerned (...). The game processing section for performing processing (...) advances a game based on the actuation data according to the actuation given by the control unit of said auxiliary operation equipment (...).

The 1st connection terminal (is used) for receiving transmission and reception of said auxiliary operation equipment and data, and supply of power (...). A wearing detection means (is used) to detect that the 1st connection terminal was equipped with said auxiliary operation equipment -- and when said wearing detection means detects, the power from said main power supply section is supplied only to said message processing section, and it has the power-source change control section changed to an electric power supply from the auxiliary operation equipment concerned to said game processing section (...).

The 2nd connection terminal (is used) for connecting with said 1st connection terminal and supplying transmission and reception and power of said personal digital assistant and data (...).
This is a brief simplification of the first claim, which seems to focus on battery supply, but is also concerned with some kind of data exchange. Naturally, this could only refer to the exchange of data relating to whether the second device is connected or not, but it could be more than that. After all, this patent is obviously showing a cellphone connected to a controller or portable gaming console. In the description under the ´Technical Field´ tab, this is specifically mentioned:
This invention relates to the pocket game system which combined the battery charger and the auxiliary operation equipment for games which were excellent in the operability of a game and are useful to performing the big game of power consumption, when playing a game about a pocket game system, for example using a personal digital assistant like a cellular phone especially.
This is obviously where the translation fails and without being able to read the Japanese original, we can only speculate about what this patent really concerns. However, the whole talk of ´personal digital assistants´ made me remember the ´V-Pocket´ trademark Nintendo registered some time ago. It was picked up upon by various websites, along with ´PCGP´, another rumoured trademark and logo.

If you want to verify the ´V-Pocket´ trademark, visit the Japanese Industrial Property Digital Library (IPDL) and click on ´Japanese Trademark Database´. In the field reading ´Trademark (for retrieval)´ enter ´V-Pocket´, click on ´Search´, then ´Index´. The ´Nintendo V-Pocket´ will be the only entry. It´s important to note that the ´PCGP´ cannot be verified this way, so I´ll disregard this for now.

SPOnG claimed to have found out what the ´V-Pocket´ could be about:
SPOnG learned from official Nintendo sources yesterday that the V-Pocket trademark concerns Nintendo’s licensing of the Palm OS based PDA software.

Nintendo will soon unveil a complete suit of personal organiser tools for its Nintendo DS platform, expected to be shown before E3. Nintendo believes that the functionality of the DS, combined with high-end PDA software, will give it an edge over Sony’s PSP, which is, and will remain a media-driven value-added console.

It’s worth noting that the logo offered for V-Pocket reflects the aesthetic employed in Nintendo’s DS branding.
So, in conclusion, the above patent could relate to the DS connecting to cellphones, using both their power supply as well as going online. This would fit with the rumours about the ´V-Pocket´ PDA software. Obviously, this could relate specifically to the DS´s new incarnation, which will be unveiled shortly, I have been told by Nintendo. Or, perhaps, this patent relates to some kind of new controller or handheld console we haven´t seen yet. It could even somehow concern the Revolution. Either way, it´s interesting stuff.

Thanks to: Product_Number_18

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Zoonami interview fake

The supposed Gamespy interview with Martin Hollis of ´Zoonami´ fame is fake. I have recently received the following mail by them.

In reply to your telephone enquiry of 2006-01-11, if you are referring to
the interview from the GameSpy message boards (belowmentioned for your
reference), I can confirm that it is fake.

Best regards,

Anna Zukowska
I won´t paste the interview here, but it regards the rumoured action game ´Guts ´n Glory´ and a lot of general Revolution info. All fake, though, as it turns out.

EDIT I sent Anna another mail, clarifying if a game called ´Guts ´n Glory´ had at all been announced. This is what she wrote:
Hi Andreas,

Thank you for your enquiry but we are not making any announcements at this
time. We will add your contact information to our press database so that
you will receive our future press releases.


So, nothing has been announced yet. If I get an update, I´ll post it as soon as possible.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Revolution Patent found

In the comments to my one before last post, Amar alerted my attention to a new patent entitled Game information storage medium and game system using the same. The abstract reads:
A game information storage medium is removably connected to a first game machine having a first architecture, and includes a game program for a second game machine having a second architecture, an emulator program for converting the second architecture into an architecture compatible with the first architecture, and a game selection program.

When the game information storage medium is started-up on the first game machine, by executing the game selection program, the first game machine displays a game title to be selected by a player, and executes a game program of the selected game title by using the emulator program.
So the patent is talking about two systems and their compatibility. In fact, it talks about storing data for the second system on the first system´s discs (or cartridges). This must concern either:

* Revolution data stored on Gamecube discs (or vice versa)
* Revolution data stored on DS cartridges

Or, less likely, it could concern:

* Revolution data stored on PC CD-ROMs (or vice versa)
* GBA cartridges used in the DS

Next, the two game systems are mentioned in detail. The second one must be the Revolution, because that is the system that will be emulating, rather than being emulated. It is described as:
A home video game system comprising: a data storage memory comprising a work RAM data storage portion and a VRAM data storage portion; a processor; a special purpose graphics subsystem for providing a video game display on a home-use television receiver
What in the world is ´a special purpose graphics subsystem´? And if providing graphics on a television is so special, where would it normally be provided?

Let´s turn to the description to find out what is going on in detail:
The game information storage medium stores in a first game machine, a game program for a second game machine having an architecture different from the first game machine architecture and an emulator program for converting the second-game-machine game program to be executed on the first game machine. By executing the second-game-machine game program on the first game machine, a game can be enjoyed on the first game machine which would not otherwise have been possible.
Reading this, I thought of Revolution and DS connectivity. What if you could download vintage games with your Revolution and download them onto DS cartridges? You could either have a DS cartridge reader in the console or use some kind of cable connection between the consoles. You would need some kind of blank cartridge and could then play any old Nintendo game on the DS. However, in order to control the game with your stylus it would have to have been rewritten, I guess. So unless they are planning that, this method would just utilize the buttons.

Whatever the deal is, the secret obviously lies within the ´novel game information storage medium and game system´. The most surprising claim is this one though:
In addition, by replacing the graphics data included in the game program with the graphics data of the character that the player desires, it is possible to apply a variation on the game, and therefore, the single game program can be played by the player for a long time.
This would suggest that we can somehow change the content of vintage games, at least some of the characters.

Source: US Patent & Trademark Office
Thanks to: Amar

Thursday, January 12, 2006

++EXCLUSIVE++ ´Seriousgamer007´ revealed++EXCLUSIVE++

Who is ´Seriousgamer007´? Have you ever wondered? Well, I am sure I know now and I´ll try to prove it to you.

1. The history

The guy began to gain notoriety on the Nintendo forums, writing mysterious comments, lies and contradictions.

He posted detailed tech specs (Google cache) only two weeks after posting:
Listen not one of us truly has an idea of what Nintendo is going to release. Everything is speculation until it comes out. No one knows what the Revolution is going to be whether it a visor,gyroscopic controller, make your own breakfast wafflemaker, or a UFO.
He even simply pasted a fake release date into Nintendo´s financial report right here. Then the first coming out in this thread:
Hi Everyone I feel that it is time to reveal myself and who I am. (...) I do not work for Nintendo. I am sorry. (...) I am currently in Marketing. Internet Marketing. (...) I manage Sales and Customer Service at my brothers Marketing Firm.
On his blog, he continued with his lies, though. Some months ago, he famously started to plug a company called eTraffic Jams here and here.

EDIT The above links are now defunct, along with the entire blog. You can find them mirrored on the Wayback Archive here and here (scroll down halfway). Here are some excerpts from those pages:
I have received credible news that Nintendo is now looking for leading search engine optimization companies to work for Nintendo to increase its online marketing campaign. (...)

Rumors abound have linked the Big N to and Furthermore even search engine marketing company SEOinc supposedly has been involved. eTrafficJams is arguably the number one seo company in the world. However it comes to no suprise that Nintendo is in talks with multiple seo companies.

Curious as to why certain gamesites and companies become successful on the web and other's do not? Want to know how became so powerful? Through good marketing of course. But ever wonder what separates the top gamesites from others? It is through good search engine optimization. (...)

The problem is finding a good seo company. Some are awesome while others are not so hot. There are several seo companies that are very good. is one. This is the company that used to optimize their site. The service will typically run you somewhere upwards of $20,000 or more every six months.

A little bit too expensive for most people. However another very prominent seo company that is known all around the web is They are offering performance based seo. A first in the industry. (...) performance based program is sure to bring new players to the game industry as well as other industries.

If you are interested in learning who the best seo companies in the world are look no further. I have compiled a list for all you website owners that frequent this blog. It is from an SEO Consultant's directory that rated top seo companies and I can not recommend or endorse any of them though they should all be good. This is how the pro's like IGN do it. In fact Microsoft did it with their Xbox 360 on their own search engine.

Top SEO Companies


Just thought you guys might like to know what drives the big players in the industry.


2. The proof

There was always speculation that SG007´s blog was in reality just an advertisement platform for eTraffic Jams. Now, I believe I can prove this is true. The eTraffic Jams website lists a Michael Pedone as President and CEO. When I called the company some time ago and dialled for the Sales department, guess who I was redirected to? Evan Pedone, Michael´s brother. Remember SG007´s confession from above?
I manage Sales and Customer Service at my brothers Marketing Firm.
Last night I called him up and wanted to ask some questions concerning the blog. He denied all involvement but made one fundamental slipup. In the conversation, he claimed to have no knowledge of the blog or the person. Yet he knew right from the start that it dealt with Nintendo and its next-gen console. I had never mentioned either. Here are some of the more memorable quotes from the conversation:
´We are not commenting on rumours or speculation´

´They could be false, they could be real.´

´We´re not claiming it (the blog) and we´re not disputing it.´

´We don´t work for Nintendo and to my knowledge we don´t have any part in this blog.´

´We do not comment on if we are with Nintendo or not with Nintendo.´

´We´re a top marketing company ourselves.´

´I know we do viral marketing and things like that and we do have non-disclosure agreements and I know what I´ve been told to say.´

´We have been in contact with videogame or console manufacturers. But other than that I am not really at will to disclose anything beyond that.´

´I wouldn´t necessarily say one person is Seriousgamer007. I would probably say Seriousgamer007, if I was to make an educated guess, being in marketing myself, I would probably say Seriousgamer007 is more of an entity, kind of embodies an image of somebody. I would say Seriousgamer007 (...) is more of an embodiment of a marketing idea.´
Some pretty contradictory stuff, eh? I didn´t confront Evan with those inconsistencies. Yet he still came across as rather surprised, especially when I mentioned the quote from the Nintendo forums.

3. The motive

So why is he doing it? Evan seemed to suggest that eTraffic Jams may be secretly working for Nintendo. However, if they really did have such big clients, they wouldn´t need a testimonial from a close relative, would they?

Here they quote ´Prime Time Limousine, Inc.´ and name the company´s president: John Pedone. How stupid do they think we are? How desperate is that?

Further testimonials are almost all by local companies, incuding a now defunct food supplement supplier. And in the past (Wayback Machine´s cache) they even seem to have given a testimonial directly to themselves: Fixed Asset Software Sales was on their list in 2002. The domain is registered to the same address as eTraffic Jams. Admin is Michael Pedone.

And, finally, there are accounts on the net, like this one by Gracie Bowers or on this forum, that don´t exactly commend their work.

I don´t mean to say that eTraffic Jams is not a good company. They very well could be. There are also a number of positive testimonials on the net (that seem to be from independent clients). And the negative ones above could be totally unfounded. According to Evan, the company has 15 employees. If true, they must be doing something right.

Yet I strongly believe that a company like Nintendo of America would not be one of their clients, given the above facts. So, in my mind, Evan is most likely just blowing his own trumpet, or rather his brother´s (no pun intended).

4. Conclusion

So, in my mind, Seriousgamer007 is:

Evan Pedone
Sales & Customer Service
eTraffic Jams
26133 US Highway 19 North Suite 314
Clearwater, Florida 33763

Toll Free: 877-785-9977
Local: 727-791-8449
Fax: 727-797-6181

Please note that I am not encouraging anyone to use the above contact information. Remember that noone likes to be spammed. I could also just be plain wrong. However, the above information is freely available on the company´s website.

EDIT Today (July 1st, 2007) I have been contacted by Evan Pedone who kindly asked me to remove his name from this article. I do not see any grounds for doing so. However, I will allow him to present his case as a counterpoint. Here are some excerpts from a conversation between us, which took place via an instant messenger service.

I would like my name removed from your website

I am in dispute with the article on several basis.

One I am falsely accused.

It is primary on principle

You see I am no longer with

Therefore it has nothing to do with the company

I have not been a part of etrafficjams for over a year

My issue with the article is primarily my name

I can definitely understand your assumption. You are an investigative reporter. However I honestly have no connection with the blog nor ever did. When you contacted me I thought it may be good publicity but had no idea you would connect me with the blog. That was my error.

I was never involved. You put me on your blog. Apparently you have a very busy blog with a lot of users. That to my knowledge is really it.

There is particularly one quote I find interesting. He wrote: "When you contacted me I thought it may be good publicity but had no idea you would connect me with the blog. That was my error." Here, Evan Pedone clearly admits to wanting publicity (which he now appears to have changed his mind on). Further, he admitted to an error on his part when it comes to being connected to the blog in question.

He also refused to answer why the posts in question mention his brother´s company and describe both his and his brother´s position in detail (far beyond the information that was freely available on the company´s website). He also could not explain how he came to assume that, in our telephone conversation, we were talking about videogames and Nintendo in particular. That was a detail I had never mentioned.

I am happy to present Evan Pedone´s side of the story here. I see no reason whatsoever, though, to remove his name from this article. He admitted to soliciting publicity and further admitted to an error on his part. I cannot be made responsible for his errors.

I also strongly disagree with his claims that this article defames his name in any way. I am simply putting forward an opinion rather than making any factual claims, which is not considered defamation according to US law. This was made clear by the Supreme Court of the United States in the landmark case Gertz versus Robert Welch Inc.:

Under the First Amendment there is no such thing as a false idea. However pernicious an opinion may seem, we depend for its correction not on the conscience of judges and juries but on the competition of other ideas.

And, again, I am actively encouraging Evan Pedone to submit his opinion to this article, so our two conflicting views may compete for the reader´s attention. Finally, I am posting no data that is not freely available on the internet.

EDIT I took this post off the internet for a few months as an act of goodwill towards Evan Pedone. This was always meant to be a temporary measure, as I was in no way required to do so.

NG Kids magazine article clarification

Regarding the article in National Geographic Kids magazine, there was speculation about whether it suggested Revolution controller playability for at least some of the back catalogue (notably ´Donkey Konga´, ´Super Smash Bros.´ and ´Zelda´). It did not. The article was written by Electronic Gaming Monthly´s Mark MacDonald and he told me that it was misinterpreted. However, Nintendo suggested possible uses for the Revolution controller by referring to their current and past licenses. I hope that clears up any misunderstandings.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The road to E3

Are you wondering when and where Nintendo might reveal new Revolution info leading up to the E3? Here´s a rundown of all important videogame related events until then.

25th - 27th of January 2006
Description: 4th International Conference on Virtual Reality, Computer Graphics, Visualization and Interaction in Africa

Venue: Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa

Notes: Co-located with CHI-SA 2006, the 5th Conference on Human Computer Interaction in Southern Africa.

Likelihood of Nintendo related news very low.


WSCG 2006
30th of January - 3rd of February 2006
Description: 14th International Conference in Central Europe on
Computer Graphics, Visualization and Computer Vision

Venue: University of West Bohemia, Campus-Bory
Plzen, Czech Republic


Likelihood of Nintendo related news very low.


1st - 3rd of February 2006
Description: 24th European Digital Content Creation Festival

Venue: Grimaldi Forum, Monaco

Notes: IBM is scheduled for a special event presentation on first day of show.

Likelihood of Nintendo related news low.


D.I.C.E. Summit
8th - 10th of February 2006
Description: Summit held by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences

Venue: Green Valley Ranch Resort, Henderson, Nevada, USA

Notes: Reginald Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, will hold a 45-minute keynote speech entitled ´Expanding the Market for Interactive Entertainment´, scheduled 9th of February, 9:30 am, Pacific Standard Time.

Nintendo is one of the main sponsors, alongside Microsoft Game Studios and Sony Computer Entertainment. Other speakers include Richard Garriott, Gabe Newell, Will Wright, Peter Molyneaux and Peter Moore. Co-located with Ninth Annual Interactive Achievement Awards.

Likelihood of Nintendo related news very high.


GRAPP 2006
25th - 28th of February 2006
Description: International Conference on Computer Graphics Theory and Applications

Venue: Setúbal Polytechnic Institute, Setúbal, Portugal

Notes: Co-located with VISAPP 2006, the International Conference on Computer Vision Theory and Applications.

Likelihood of Nintendo related news very low.


i3D 2006
14th - 17th of March 2006
Description: Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics and Games

Venue: Electronic Arts Campus, Redwood City, California, USA

Notes: Will Wright will hold the keynote speech.

Likelihood of Nintendo related news medium.


GDC 2006
20th - 24th of March 2006
Description: Game Developers Conference

Venue: San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, California, USA

Notes: Keynote speakers are not announced yet. The list will be published within the next two weeks. Session speakers and panelists include Dave Perry and Louis Castle. At the GDC Expo, Nintendo of America, has booked two large booths again, like last year. The floorplan lists their standard booth as measuring 40 by 30 feet and the ´Nintendo Interactive Lounge´ as measuring 40 by 50 feet. The latter will again feature wireless internet access, as the GDC FAQ specifies:
If you are unfamiliar with configuring wireless access or for any reason cannot connect using these settings, you can instead use the computers already configured to access the Internet in the Nintendo Interactive Lounge.
Likelihood of Nintendo related news very high.


VFX Asia 2006
22nd - 25th of March 2006
Description: International Visual Effects, Animatronics Animation Exhibition and Conference

Venue: Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Notes: No program or exhibitor list are available yet. Expected are 240 exhibitors and 14.000 visitors from various backgrounds, including Special Effects Visual Effects and Animation, Animatronics Robotics, Motion Pictures Television, Video Production Post-Production, Games Theme Parks and Pyrotechnics.

Likelihood of Nintendo related news very low.

- No program available yet-

ETRA 2006
27th - 29th of March 2006
Description: Eye Tracking Research & Applications Symposium

Venue: San Diego, California, USA


Likelihood of Nintendo related news very low.


Laval Virtual 2006
26nd - 30th of April 2006
Description: 8th International Conference on Virtual Reality

Venue: Place de Hercé, Laval, France

Notes: No program or exhibitor list are available yet.

Likelihood of Nintendo related news low.

- No program available yet-

E3 2006
9th - 12th of May 2006
Description: Electronic Entertainment Expo

Venue: Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, California, USA

Notes: No program or exhibitor list are available yet. The lists will be published within the next two weeks. Nintendo of America have booked two booths in West Hall. No floorplans are available yet. For their regular pre-show press conference, Nintendo have booked the Kodak Theate, where they will reveal the Revolution in full.

100% likelihood of Nintendo related news.

- No program available yet-

There should be announcements at both the D.I.C.E. Summit and the GDC regarding the Nintendo Revolution. But it may be worth to also keep an eye on the smaller shows. It will help pass the time, anyway.

Sources: Gamasutra, Siggraph
Image source: E3

NGC magazine fights back

Remember the story by NGC magazine that ´Zelda: Twilight Princess´ would feature Rev controller functionality? Remember Nintendo´s disclaimer? Well, welcome to round three.

Now, NGC magazine (in the form of deputy editor Martin Kitts) has made their rebuttal to the rebuttal, speaking to Press Start Online:
"Twilight Princess will be playable on the forthcoming Revolution using the upcoming console's unique controller. When you insert the disc into your Revolution, you'll be given the option to use the Revolution's controller, with all the advantages this will bring." (...)

Martin Kitts claimed: "The news came from somebody senior at Nintendo who, admittedly, probably shouldn't have let it slip before E3. But they did, and we would have been crazy not to print it. Next thing you know, instead of a brilliant news exclusive, we've got somebody else at Nintendo issuing a carefully worded non-denial, and various sites that specialise in rumours are telling the world that NGC is not to be trusted. So to clear things up, that news piece wasn't a load of bull - it's direct from the people who are making the game."
So there you have it. NGC mag is as confident as anything that they have got their story right. Are we perhaps even onto one of the big secrets with this story?

Source: Press Start Online
Thanks to: ssj2119

Monday, January 09, 2006

Sony developer slams PS3

Here are some very sobering, if not shocking comments about the PlayStation3, made by Sony developer Josh Robinson (formatting is mine):
Well my immediate impression of the PS3 is... where is it? Seriously, where is it? They have a case, a controller and a dev kit. But the system still doesn’t even exist. So what is there to say? We received one of 5 PS3 dev kits in the United States some time ago. Several companies in the US as well as companies over seas were given the daunting task of creating a demo in less than 9 weeks on a first generation dev kit.

Now I’ll be honest with you. What most companies do is fake the entire demo. I mean they come up with some great visuals and neat tricks and scripted events. In the end however, its not a real time demo and its not running ON the actual box. We were the only company to my knowledge that showed something that ran it live on the box. Even then it was a scripted event. You could not pause the camera and fly around the scene.
So much for the ´Killzone 2´ demo, I guess. This must be regarded as proof that all the demos shown at E3 2005 were fake (with the possible exception of ´Unreal´). This could be a huge blow to Sony´s reputation. Ever since May, there has been speculation about the authenticity of those demos. It now emerges that the console may not even have the power to output graphics of this quality.
Now I’ve spoken with people who are on the technical side of the PS3. I’ve also talked with people on the technical side of the XBOX 360. The consistent comment I am hearing from people on my end is, “The XBOX 360 is better”. They are saying that it is capable of just doing more.
I see Microsoft execs grinning from one ear to another. Sony´s claims that the PS3 boasts two teraflops computational power (apparently twice that of the Xbox360), if true, doesn´t seem to translate into a more powerful gaming machine. At the same time, development costs are truly staggering:
The game that we are creating for a launch title is a “just get it out” title in my opinion. It doesn’t look next generation. I don’t see how anyone could debate otherwise. (...) To be fair, this is a business. Sometimes you have to treat it as a business and not make the best title you can. The best title you can make usually costs 20-40million dollars/3 start overs and 4 years of your life. You just cant do that every time out. Its impossible.
This should end the speculation about just how much the development of a ´AAA´ title (i.e. a blockbuster) will cost on the PS3. At the same time, Josh is highly sceptical that even those games will really look next-gen in the near future. As a result, his closing comments sound quite gloomy.
Where is the box? Where is the final system? When is it coming out? No one knows and in the mean time people in the industry are starting to get just a little salty. I mean I was at e3 2005 and PS3 was almost no where to be seen.

In closing, I started of VERY excited about the PS3. I was very confident that it was going to just destroy the XBOX 360 just on the name SONY alone. The more time that goes by the more I am becoming doubtful. Everything I’ve developed or seen developed has yet to be “next gen”. The poly counts are not really any higher, im not seeing sub surface scattering, im not seeing much HDR lighting. (or they are faking it and not really doing it), I’m not seeing next gen fluid dynamics or object dynamics. I suspect that you’ll be able to have more dynamic objects in a scene than before. But im not seeing games doing this yet. We dont have a controller, there is no network code and there is no box. Its still the size of a normal PC.

I’m confident that the PS3 will have a few “crazy” games that show it off to its potential. But I would expect the full capabilities of the box to not show up until the system has been released PUBLICALLY for over a year. This is the extra time the developers will need with a FINAL system to truly make next gen games.
These comments are truly shocking in my opinion. Especially so, since this developer is employed by Sony. And he really is who he claims to be. His profile can be viewed on Sony Online Entertainment´s I have been sceptical of the PlayStation3 becoming another Sony success story all along. But Sony seems to be in even bigger trouble than I thought.

EDIT There have been a number of people who have questioned the validity of the article. I just spoke to Carlos, the owner of the review site. He told me that Josh Robinson is still with SOE and still working on a PS3 project (which, obviously, cannot be named). He is a 3D designer and, as part of a development team, works alongside programmers. They are still working on PS3 development kits and, though the article really was written in late November, the article´s contents are all still valid. Josh himself posted some further comments only a week ago:
I was having a conversation with a programmer here at sony over the holiday for a bit. We were discussig the PS3 a little and how non existant it is.

We are still getting the ps3 in a huge silver cpu case. No controller yet. absolutely NO netowork code has been written. In fact I'm pretty sure that the company i work for is gonna be the one responsible to port our network code for it.

Not sure how this thing is gonna make it out any time soon. It may be closer to 2007 or christmas of 06 before this thing sees the light of day. We'll see.
Asked why Josh was prepared to speak so bluntly about the PS3 while being a Sony employee, Carlos said that that´s just the way he is. Carlos confirmed that Josh was an industry veteran who had worked on numerous consoles, including the original PlayStation, and was about to publish a book on 3D design.

Source: Down in Front
Thanks to: Joystiq