Tuesday, February 28, 2006

´Zelda: Twilight Princess´: Rev controller features confirmed, after all

In the seemingly never-ending saga of the rumours surrounding ´Zelda: Twilight Princess´ having Revolution controller compatibility, Mathieu Minel, Nintendo of France´s marketing director, seems to suggest that such compatibility is a given. He spoke to Jeux-France (my translation is based on Babelfish).

Which form will the special [controller] functionality take? Will there be two versions of the game or will it be within the source code of the [Gamecube version]? We do not yet know which solution will be chosen, nor what that functionality will be.

Though we do not yet have a release date on our schedule, I can tell you that we are already working on the marketing campaign for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. So I think the game will launch soon, though that still isn´t a precise statement. Especially because of its Nintendo Revolution compatibility, there are many factors which influence this game´s release date.

While Minel definitely seems to suggest that there will be Rev controller features, there are wrong translations of this interview circulating the net. As far as I can make out, Minel never explicitly said that he ´knows those features will be included´ (though he certainly implies it). Nor did he ever talk about ´a new and violent battle system´, as other translations suggest.

Minel made another interesting comment, when asked about whether the Revolution will be playable at E3 and, if so, what titles we can expect on the showfloor.

Yes, Nintendo Revolution should be playable at E3 2006. Concerning the games which will be presented at the American event, I can only tell you that you will probably be surprised...

Intriguing, indeed. I pretty much expect to see ´Metroid Prime 3´ and a ´Mario´ title playable on Revolution at E3. I cannot imagine a title that would truly surprise me. But I am eager to find out.

EDIT The question regarding Zelda has just been removed from the original article. Even an image showing Link disappeared. I will try and get in touch with Jeux-France and update you promptly.

Source: Jeux-France (through Babelfish), Hyrule.net
Thanks to: Revo-Europe

Sunday, February 26, 2006

PlayStation3 delay effectively confirmed, Blu-Ray to blame

Sony will launch its next-gen console PlayStation3 in fall, Kyodo News reports (through Yahoo Asia). The reason for the delay is the Blu-Ray format and the participating companies´ failure to agree on its industry standards.
Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. may delay the launch of PlayStation 3 game consoles to this fall or later from this spring, as originally scheduled, because Blu-ray DVD makers have been late in finalizing specifications for the device, a key part of the new game consoles, industry analysts said Saturday.

A group of about 80 Blu-ray DVD manufacturers, including Sony Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., failed to set specifications for the advanced DVD format by the end of last year. Mass manufacturing is finally set to begin at the end of the month, they said.

The Blu-ray DVD technology is "indispensable" for PlayStation 3 consoles featuring high-definition graphics that match the image quality of large-screen movies, a spokesperson at Sony Computer Entertainment said, admitting the launch could be delayed.

Sony Computer Entertainment has been seen to be behind schedule in taking orders for the new PlayStations from retailers.

"Sony has not begun taking orders early this month, that means that it would be difficult for the company to begin sales in May," said Hirokazu Hamamura, president of computer game-related publisher Enterbrain Inc.

Sony is now likely to shift its focus on product sales from the spring to the year-end sales period, promotion for which begins in October, industry analysts said.

The global market for home-use game consoles is estimated at more than 100 million units and Sony Computer Entertainment is the market leader.

The Sony group, recovering from a setback in fiscal 2003, has raised earnings projections for the 2005 business year through March 31. But this delay could keep it from attaining the group's consolidated sales goal of 8 trillion yen for the 2007 business year, the analysts added.

It´s been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride for Sony, as far as the PS3´s launch date is concerned. At the last E3, they announced a spring 2006 launch date. They reaffirmed that date in December. Only days ago, though, reports of a PS3 delay made Sony Corp. shares lose around 3% of its value.

It has always been my opinion that a spring launch was not a realistic option and this has basically been confirmed now. They might as well come out with the truth. Since their shares already took a tumble, Sony has no more to lose with such an announcement.

EDIT There is an excellent commentary over at GamesIndustry.biz, pointing out that the first day of spring is next Wednesday. From that day, Sony has three months to launch their console if they want to make good on their promise. The author isn´t as sure of a delay as I am. But he seems to believe that all the secrecy on Sony´s part is incompatible with a spring launch.

Source: Kyodo News (through Yahoo Asia)
Thanks to: Engadget

Saturday, February 25, 2006

EA hinting at Rev´s last secret?

PS3News.Ca claims to have interviewed EA representative Trudy Muller. Here´s an excerpt:

Last year at the E3, Nintendo gave the world a brief glimpse at their new single handed controller. Have you had the chance to see it yet?

Yes, and the beauty of the new Revolution controller is that the possibilities for new game ideas are limitless. I’m sure that Nintendo already has a number of phenomenal design concepts built around 3D Pointing or Touch Sensitivity for their 1st party games. Our developers are inspired and excited by the new controller’s features.

Now, sister site NintendoRevolution.Ca has picked up on the fact that Mrs. Muller definitely mentioned ´touch sensitivity´ with regard to the Revolution here. It is hardly conceivable that she was talking about the DS, since she had just mentioned new game ideas that were enabled by the Revolution controller. She may then be hinting at the Revolution´s last secret.

A word of warning remains. The site calls Trudy Muller a representative "of Electronic Arts Canada". Yet her contact details clearly show that she is based in the Redwood City headquarter near San Francisco. Of course, she might still work for EA Canada somehow. Yet the various .Ca sites, belonging to a company called Dice Ventures, are not the most reliable source. They have provided solid news so far, but the items are often riddled with spelling mistakes and the pages are full of server errors. Their record on quoting original sources is not the best, either. I do give them the benefit of the doubt, obviously. But please bear with me until I can verify that interview.

EDIT It seems that all gaming sites connected with NintendoRevolution.Ca have been taken off the net. Though that may be unrelated, the interview in question could also very well be fake.

EDIT Both sites are back online after almost two days of downtime. The stories, however, have vanished. Either EA requested them to be pulled, or the whole interview was fake. I will get in touch with Mrs. Muller to verify that.

EDIT I have now spoken to Trudy Muller and the interview did take place. She never meant to imply anything that had not yet been revealed by Nintendo, though. As far as I understood her, she did not even play herself. She merely relayed information from a colleague who had used the controller. It´s still possible that this slip-up reveals the last secret. But since it´s relayed information, I regard this as less likely.

Source: PS3News.Ca
Image source: EA press server
Thanks to: Revolution Lifestyle, Codename Revolution

Roundtable discussion

I have participated in a roundtable discussion recently. It has just been published over at Connect Revolution. Other participants were Fletcher Haverkamp of ConnectRevolution.com as moderator, Finn Haverkamp of ConnectRevolution.com & DSRevolution, Jon of DSRevolution, Ben Hartland of N-Central.com, Conor Smyth of Revo-Europe, Marcus Walker of Kezay.Blogspot and Jason of MesaChicken.be. Please check it out.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Kaplan interviewed by Next Generation

Next Generation has interviewed Perrin Kaplan, vice president of marketing and corporate affairs at Nintendo of America and asked her about Revolution.
What are you able to say about Revolution's E3 showing, right now?

We will have enough games on show, that will keep people interested until launch. As far as the launch goes, we have so far said 'this year'. At some point soon we’ll be more specific about the date.

At this show and beyond, it’s about people getting a hands-on experience. If you play Revolution for yourself and experience the software, it's much better than me telling you about what our message is all about. It’s kinda like your own rollercoaster ride. It's always going to be different for everyone.

The idea is to get as many people as possible to try it and take that experience for themselves. See how it makes them feel.

Do you think the core games press will be convinced by Revolution?

I hope they will get it. The early reads at Tokyo Game Show were positive. Our request is, 'don’t think about Revolution just in terms of other things you have played'. This is so different - the other systems are apples, this is an orange.

You have to approach it in the spirit of innovation. Those who have played it realize that it is a whole different experience. It’s a little bit of self-discovery in learning how to handle a controller differently and how it works for you.

I think we have pointed this out enough times, so people will go into it with their eyes wide open.

Given GameCube's position in the market, is Revolution Nintendo's last chance in the console market?

GameCube’s reputation suffers much more than its game sales do. Not that it is the leader of the pack but it outsold 360 at launch and during the holiday period and it outsold Xbox.

We have a lot of bundle promotions that offer huge value. It’s far from dead. The perception of it is different from the actual sales and there is still a lot left life in it. Revolution will take a slightly different direction and we hope that it is a very competitive machine in that it offers something completely different.
GameCube’s reputation suffers much more than its game sales do.

What will be the main marketing thrust of the Revolution campaign?

The whole point about touching it and experiencing it and riding the ride is one of our biggest challenges and one of our biggest opportunities. Once it comes to retail, and the viral component of the campaign takes hold, we'll try to bring consumers in to try Revolution for themselves. The machine will be sold through traditional retail outlets, but this part of the campaign is important.

It was a key component for DS as well, and that is really starting to hit its stride.

What will be the 'killer apps' for Revolution?

We hope to have a lot of 'killer apps', rather than just one stand-out. Some of our third party partners have been really impressed with the controller and very excited about the possibilities. Companies like EA, Activision, Ubisoft and THQ are really loving getting a hold of this and creating an experience that is really new and different.

We tell them the direction we are going in, and they understand. They are excited by the chance to work outside the usual lines, they totally get it.

How much of the market will Revolution take?

We aren’t predicting percentages at this point. But I can tell you that we believe we are different and innovative enough to chart our own territory. If you look at the horserace we have high hopes of having a prominent position.

Let's talk about broadening the audience of gamers, which is a favored Nintendo theme. Who are we talking about?

Young teen females are one example. They have been pulled in by Nintendogs, which has been a great success. There are also people like myself, who I'd describe as dormant players. I used to play a lot and then it started to seem like the games all looked the same. Nothing was piquing my interest. But I loved Nintendogs and I love Brain Training. People want to be stimulated and these products are bringing them back in.

Games like Nintendogs are non-intimidating, affordable and different. It plays on the nurturing, emotional nature of the person. It's not really a game so much [as] an experience.

Not a lot, but some interesting stuff there. The mention of the "viral component of the campaign" is enough to merit a post, in my opinion. Maybe she only referred to what they have planned for the campaign. But maybe she is referring to such a campaign existing today.

Source: Next Generation

Apple to reveal gaming device?

Apple Computers will introduce "fun new products" on February 28th, News.com reports:
In an e-mail sent to journalists, the company merely said the invited scribes should come to Apple's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters next Tuesday to learn more.

"Come see some fun, new products from Apple," the company said in its invitation. Unlike past invitations, which hinted at which product Apple was targeting, the current invitation includes just a picture of a calendar with only the date Feb. 28 on it.
Apple has recently patented motion detection controllers, Macsimum News reported, which are somehow reminiscent of Nintendo´s idea of future gaming.

In fact, reading the description one cannot avoid thinking that this screen would make an ideal match for the Revolution, the most portable home console yet:
It’s (...) a wild new video game application for Apple’s accelerometer technology. It provides specific gaming examples of user as a driver and pilot and even provides a glimpse of how the accelerometer will be used in First Person Shooter games.

A user holding the tablet can turn around and see the view looking backwards from a position in a two or three dimensional image or object database as if the user walks into a virtual reality game space. According to another embodiment, a user may perform an inspection of an image panorama where the view in different directions is provided by multiple cameras pointing outward in different directions from a single location.
Of course, this is all pure speculation and there is no concrete evidence of such a collaboration. However, the rumours of Apple and Nintendo cooperating are as old as anything. Sites like Macworld are keen to point out the similarities in the two companies´ business models. This is not to mention the almost identical industrial design exhibited in their products, as shown in a fantastic comparison by Go Nintendo.

In conclusion, next week´s announcement really could relate to gaming in one way or the other (though analysts expect the introduction of two new laptop models, it should be noted). It is highly unlikely that anything Nintendo-related will be announced. Still, it´s one to watch.

EDIT Nothing gaming-related was announced. See Joystiq for details.

Source: News.com, Macsimum News, Macworld, Go Nintendo
Thanks to: Joystiq

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Rev easy to develop for and could sell for $149, say developers

Fourth generation development kits are being sent out and studios are commenting on the kits in detail for the first time. They cost only a fraction of the competitor´s systems and suggest that the Revolution is twice as powerful as the Gamecube. However, the innovative controller and the ease of development more than make up for that, developers say. The low price of the dev kits makes some studios wonder if the actual console could cost as little as $149 or even $99. IGN has now spoken to six studios about the current state of dev kits. Here´s their report:
Developers we spoke to confirm that - at least so far - three revisions of the development kits have been sent out to studios. The first development kit was, quite literally, a GameCube console with a wired Revolution controller attached. The second was the same with a few minor tweaks. And the third prototype, which was shipped to most studios about a month ago, follows the same structure, but also shows some boosts in CPU power, according to sources.

Insiders allege that some big-name publishers have recently received a more complete Revolution development kit - we call it revision three and a half -- complete with internal hardware more reflective of the 'new generation' system and a wireless Revolution controller. However, most uncommitted third parties will not gain access to this unit for several weeks, if not longer.

Developers making Revolution software that will show up at E3 2006 in playable form - high profile companies like EA and Ubisoft, to name a few - will soon be sent the official fourth SDK prototype, which promises to deliver between 90% and 95% of the final system's performance.

Software houses tell IGN that any studio familiar with GameCube's architecture will find that they can get their Revolution projects up and running in no time. The make-up of the systems is very similar, although Revolution will be roughly twice as powerful.

Asked whether or not Revolution's horsepower was insufficient, one development source said no. "At first, we were discouraged that it would be less powerful than Xbox 360, but once we got everything working with the controller, our concerns faded," he explained.

Other studios IGN Revolution has been in contact with have echoed this enthusiasm, always admitting that Nintendo's new console will be less powerful, but stressing that with the emphasis on the innovative controller it simply won't matter.

Final, completely finished development kits are expected to be made widely available this June, according to sources we contacted.

Every studio insider we queried said that they believed Revolution could launch for under $200, and possibly as low as $150 - a figure that would amazingly put Nintendo's new console at a price point hundreds of dollars cheaper than any competitor.

Nintendo itself has not yet commented on a Revolution price point, except to confirm that it would sell for less than $299. However, if the price of Revolution development hardware is any indication, the system could be very cheap indeed. Studios tell IGN that Revolution SDKs sell for about $2,000, which is thousands of dollars cheaper than a PSP SDK, let alone an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 one.

The rumour of a launch price lower than $199 is nothing new. Avid readers of this blog will remember that it started right here on this blog as an exclusive, before big sites like Joystiq picked up my story. This seems to verify those rumours. I would be surprised now if Nintendo opted for a price tag higher than $149.

Source: IGN
Thanks to: Joystiq, Joystiq

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Why 3D projection makes sense

There has been some more discussion about the Revolution´s last secret and, reading the comments in my last post, I feel it is time to remind the community that there are some very good reasons for believing in some kind of 3D projection method, be it Augmented Reality or stereoscopically projected 3D. Just as a reminder, here is a run-down of the circumstantial evidence.

* The console stand:
It´s slanted, which must be more than a mere design feature, because it makes the console more likely to be knocked over. In my mind, this would suggest that the console is ´pointing up´ at the player. As this is most likely not required by the controller interaction, there could be another type of data exchange between console and player. Additionally, the stand is rumoured to double as a battery pack, according to the UK´s official Nintendo magazine.

* The size:
The console will be tiny. Stack three DVDs and see what you end up with. It´s ridiculously small. This confines the hardware to not being much more powerful than the GameCube. But Nintendo would never castrate their hardware if it wasn´t for a good reason. So, the method of viewing and, thus, portability could be the revolutionary ingredients instead. In fact, there has been a reliable source stating some months ago that a portable GameCube was at least considered by Nintendo a few years back. The Revolution could be that. With a size of three DVD cases stacked, it will be a fairly portable device anyway. And given some kind of 3D projection, even a portable Revolution would still compete with the other home consoles.

* Nintendo´s refusal to show graphics:
This is the best indicator yet that there is a new way the graphics will be displayed. Marketingwise, not showing any gameplay footage is the worst move any console manufacturer can make. Most people don´t even know Nintendo is coming out with a new console. Understandably, since the mass medium, television, is visually oriented and has had no reason whatsoever to report about the Revolution. Nintendo never even supplied tv stations with that controller demo reel shown at TGS. So, Nintendo is actively discouraging media coverage. The only reason behind that can be something so big that, once revealed, will attract mass media automatically.

* The controller:
Imagine using the Rev controller with a television. The tv set´s size and your distance from it will mean that your movement on screen is very limited, especially compared to the movement your arm can make. If that is all to be accounted for, your arm´s on-screen representation would have to be scaled down to a tiny size. Alternatively, controller movement would have a limited range (before you hit the screen´s side, like a mouse does). As an alternative, imagine using the controller in a full 3D environment, enabled by some kind of VR or AR technology. The difference is immense. The controller is a neat idea on a standard television, but it is a full-blown revolution in a 3D environment.

* Price:
Even the price of 3D projection (both peripheral and integrated solutions) has been confirmed to be mass-market friendly, at under $100 (read The Price of the Future and The Price of the Future, part II).

* The technical drawing
This image, taken from the EU trademark and design site, shows that there is an extra fan and two receptacles on the Revolution´s underside that would normally rest inside the stand. One of the receptacles could be proof of the stand indeed powering the Revolution or the stand being some kind of battery pack. The fan has no use inside the stand, so the Revolution will also be used outside of it. Both aspects prove that the Revolution will have some portable aspect to it.

* Quotes:
Miyamoto: "It's convenient to make games that are played on TVs. But I always wanted to have a custom-sized screen that wasn't the typical four-cornered cathode-ray-tube TV. I've always thought that games would eventually break free of the confines of a TV screen to fill an entire room. But I would rather not say anything more about that."
Business Week

Miyamoto: "I think maybe if I could do anything, I would make it so you don´t have to sit in front of a TV and play. If you could have a machine that you just plugged in and played inside a virtual world that - would be just great."

Miyamoto: "Sitting in front of your monitor with a controller, there's really nowhere to go from that paradigm, all you can do is make it prettier and faster."

Iwata: "We invented the current way a console is played - in front of a television and holding a controller - but maybe that image will change."

Iwata: "When you turn on Revolution and see the graphics, you will say 'wow!'"

Iwata: "The keyword for the DS was 'innovative product,' but it will be 'paradigm shift in [game] play' with the Revolution."

Iwata: "Our next home system (...) won't simply be new or include new technologies. Better technology is good, but not enough. Today's consoles already offer fairly realistic expressions so simply beefing up the graphics will not let most of us see a difference. So what should a new machine do? Much more. An unprecedented gameplay experience. Something no other machine has delivered before."

Fils-Aime: "The concept of a home system today is defined as hardware that you tether to a box, and you are tethered to it via a controller; we think that's an old paradigm."

Fils-Aime: "With our next home console we will address the area of gamer community. You said ´online´. I used ´online´ as a description of a flawed business model. We are passionate about enabling our gamers to play with their friends [and] to play with others across long distances. There are a number of different ways to execute that."

Wada (Square-Enix): "Not just a portable, not just a console - it's exactly what we wanted in that it's the birth of a completely new platform."

Note: Due to time contraints I was unable to verify all these quotes by tracing them back to their original source. I apologize for that. Most of these are well known, though. And I hope to be able to add sources later.

* Conclusion:
This all shows that stereoscopic 3D and Augmented Reality are possibilities to be considered. There is one (and only one) argument against some kind of projection and it is the user-friendliness. Nintendo do not want to put non-gamers off. This need not be the case, however, if you consider a stereoscopic plate of glass (as in the NASA patent), which allows images to appear in mid-air. Also, AR is far less threatening, allowing the player to see through such a visor. These specific options may still sound unlikely, but the above points definitely show that the Revolution will not just work with tv sets and monitors, but will be playable ´on the go´. That, for me, is a given. And, in my mind, some kind of 3D peripheral is a possibility.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Reggie spills more beans

Nintendo may already be working on yet another DS incarnation, the Revolution´s final name may not be announced at E3 and Reggie claims he has never seen the ´Nintendo ON´ clip. That is a brief summary of Reginald Fils-Aime´s most recent interview, courtesy of the good people at Engadget. Nintendo of America´s executive vice president of sales and marketing started by talking about the DS Lite.
We will continue to make ongoing adjustments and tweaks to our product design, always with the eye of the consumer in mind.

Does that mean we could probably expect a third iteration of the DS about 18 months from now?

I wouldn’t say that that’s an unreasonable assumption. Look at how many times we’ve improved on the Game Boy Advance in terms of the look, the feel, screen changes, and everything else. We believe that type of constant innovation is critical to driving this industry, and certainly if you look at the world wide sales of Game Boy Advance, I don’t think anyone would disagree. (...)

Where is Nintendo right now with the development of the Revolution?

We have been sharing the controller mechanics with developers across the world. We have shipped over a thousand controller dev kits to developers so that they can begin getting experience with the controller mechanics. The response to the controller has been fantastic. Developers are truly embracing the innovation. They’re embracing the approach and quite frankly, they’re embracing our vision; our vision of creating games that are as sophisticated as the core gamer wants it to be but could also be as straightforward and as accessible as brand new gamers. (...)

You mean in terms of the competition and what they’re doing?

Exactly. They have gone down a path that is very expensive for consumers, very expensive for developers to create content against, and they're providing a level of horsepower technology that not many consumers want. We [believe] in providing to consumers and to developers an approach that is certainly high-tech and certainly powerful enough to create the most sophisticated games, but also has an approach that is open for developers to create whatever type of content they want. (...)

Has the release of Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess been pushed back once again?

No, it has not. We have gone on record that we are launching it in 2006 on GameCube and that is still the plan.

I ask because some retailers are showing June 1, while others are showing May 15. Is that about when we should expect it?

No, we have not told retailers a specific launch date and we’ll be working with all of our key retailers and sharing that information shortly, getting pre-sales set up, and really driving the buzz and the interest in this title in the way our fans want it to be. We know -- and our fans know -- that Zelda certainly will be the biggest and best title ever for GameCube. And we will market it as such and we know the consumers won’t be disappointed.

Speaking of GameCube, if you play a GameCube game on the new Revolution console, will you be able to use the Revolution controller or will you have to use the older style of controller?

Well, all of the GameCube games will be compatible only with GameCube accessories, so whether it’s a WaveBird or whether it’s a wired controller, you’ll only be able to play those titles with those accessories. Essentially what we’re saying is that Revolution titles are the only ones that will leverage the new controller. (...)

Will we see some brand new franchises for the Revolution?

Yes we will.

Something that will be as big as a Nintendogs or a Zelda?

That is certainly the goal, but you’ll have to tell me when you see it at E3. We will be showing a lot of information about Revolution at E3. You know we’ve said publicly that this year’s E3 will be Revolution’s coming out party. Now, we’ve also been quite clear that there are innovations inherent in Revolution that we will be sharing ongoing. That it is simply not a one time event for us to share information about Revolution and all of its innovation. I have seen blog entries on your site and other sites that criticize us for that, but quite frankly, it’s just good business. In terms of letting the consumer know what’s involved and sharing that information all the way up until launch.

Is Revolution going to be the final name or is it still a code name?

It is still a code name.

Will you unveil the new name at E3?

Maybe. (...)

If you'll indulge me, I wanted to ask you something that I also asked Miyamoto when I sat down with him a few months ago, and that's about that Nintendo ON video that was circulating around E3 last year. It's the one where all the game play is done wearing a sort of virtual reality helmet. Have you seen it?

I have not seen that one.

You haven’t seen, but are you aware of it?

I am aware that it was done, but I have not seen it.

It sparked a lot of speculation and enthusiasm from the Nintendo community. Why do you [think] that something like this resonated so powerfully with your fan base? (...)

In terms of an innovation like a virtual reality helmet, I think that the industry, our fans – and even our competitors -- expect that type of innovation from us. They expect that we will be the ones pushing the industry and pushing the envelope with brand new ideas. And I think that’s another reason why that video resonated out in the marketplace. That’s my reaction.

So it wasn't passed around the office there?

I didn’t get a chance to see it but who’s to say if either Perrin [Kaplan] or some of my other executives didn’t get a chance to see it.
On a number of forums, Reggie claiming not to have seen the Nintendo ON clip caused some level of disbelief. There were rumours that he had offered its creator a job in an interview with Gamespot. I have not been able to find that interview, so it may turn out to have been only a rumour after all. But it still is weird for Reggie not to have seen that clip, especially since, in closing, he claimed to read Engadget and Joystiq on a regular basis.

Source: Engadget
Thanks to: FHussain

Sony to partner with Microsoft?

It seems impossible, yet there is no mistaking: A senior Sony Computer Entertainment official has hinted at the possibility of cooperating with Microsoft in the field of game development, TVG reports.
Sony Computer Entertainment Asia's Managing Director, Tetsuhiko Yasuda, made the suggestion that the Playstation3 will not see a worldwide release and that Sony doesn't see Microsoft as a rival.

Speaking to reporters, Yasuda said "Sony has not finalized the specific time frame for the PS3 launch, as well as pricing," adding "the Company aims to launch the PS3 at the same time throughout Asia. However, not all the regions in the global market will see the same launch day, as the Internet infrastructures differ in each individual market."

"Sony does not regard Xbox as a competitor. Rather, the company may even consider working with Microsoft to develop games together," Yasuda is also reported to have noted.
There is some level of cooperation between the otherwise fierce competitors already, yet not regarding the console market. There were reports of them joining forces in the field of digital music. Also, the Xbox360 famously connects to the PSP as well as the iPod.

A cooperation between their console businesses is, of course, still highly unlikely. It is no longer unthinkable, though, as Sony has proven.

Source: TVG
Thanks to: Oniganon

Sony shares plummet amidst PS3 delay talk

Sony Computer Entertainment is openly discussing a delay for their upcoming PlayStation3 console, the BBC has learned:
Sony said if industry specifications on some of the PS3 were not decided soon "the launch could be pushed back".

"We're aiming for spring, but we haven't announced specific regions," a spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment said.

They said Sony was waiting for final specifications - which are decided by industry consortiums - on some of the technology in the PS3, including that connected to the Blu-ray drive and to input and output video and sound.

"We're waiting for them until the last possible minute, but the launch could be pushed back if they're not decided soon," the spokesman said.

Sony Corporation shares fell by more than 3,5% in Tokyo. Meanwhile, Nintendo shares continue to rise and have hit a three-year high today.

Source: BBC
Thanks to: Consolewars, de.Internet.com

´No End Soon´: The final straw

I have said a number of times that I will not spend the same amount of energy on debunking the ´No End Soon´ blog that I used on other fakers. Nor do I need to. Since there is the strongest evidence yet that suggests these guys are clueless, I do want to make this public, though.

In their latest post, they write about what Nintendo apparently planned for the D.I.C.E. keynote speech:
Together with showing this controller, Mr.Reggie would have showcased some tech-demo’s previously showed to some selected members of the press, including some new ones to demonstrate the “secret feature” of the controller.
This got me interested, so I asked them to clarify which demos would have been shown. They answered in the comments:
Yes I do know how many they wanted to show them falafelkid. I can even tell you which ones. Note: Mr.Reggie would not haven shown all tech-demos previously showed to selected press. The Metroid Prime 2 tech-demo would not have been showed for example. Reason is easy, because while the controls are optimized for the unique revolution controller, the graphics aren’t. This would have confused people. Nintendo selected the Point and Shoot demo, the Fishing demo (slightly edited and downgraded when talking about its graphics, tech-demo would have remained 3D), Toy Plane demo (modified compared to what the press played previously as the “secret” function has been added to work in this tech-demo) and two complete new tech-demos of which one featured an existing IP brand of Nintendo and one pretty weird tech-demo designed only to show the “secret” function of the controller.
Now, there are various types of tech demos, depending on what kind of technology they are meant to be illustrating. Nintendo´s tech demos shown at TGS 2005, however, were meant to show the gameplay enabled by the Revolution controller. They were not meant to be representative of the final graphics. They were not even meant to be pretty. In fact, they weren´t. And they were never meant to be shown publically. IGN was one of the select media to see them and this is how they described them:
To show off its features, Nintendo designed a series of crude gameplay demos. (...) None of them ran on the Revolution graphics hardware. They were strictly to demonstrate certain features.

Demo #1: Point and Shoot (...) was simple, merely colored lines in 2D, but effective. (...)

Demo #2: Fishing (...) was very crude, (...) like a coloring book with flat fish in the water. (...)

Not all of the demonstrations were completely crude graphics. For the final demo, the one that most represented how a game might feel with the Revolution controller, Nintendo displayed what was apparently a test by the team at Retro Studios for what they could do with Metroid Prime 3. (...)
Yet, according to these guys, the Metroid Prime demo would have been ditched in favour of Point and Shoot, because of the graphics:
The Metroid Prime 2 tech-demo would not have been showed for example. Reason is easy, because while the controls are optimized for the unique revolution controller, the graphics aren’t. This would have confused people. Nintendo selected the Point and Shoot demo, the Fishing demo (slightly edited and downgraded when talking about its graphics, tech-demo would have remained 3D)
Colored lines in 2D instead of a dedicated Metroid Prime level? And how could the Fishing demo remain in 3D when it, too, was 2D all along?

This is the final straw for them. To suggest that Nintendo painstakingly held back gameplay footage at E3 and TGS last year, only to reveal simple lines to the gaming world and its over-hyped community is just ridiculous. They obviously have never seen the demos in question, believing them to be complex 3D levels. This should convince even the last believers that these guys are a bunch of liars. Bad ones at that.

Source: Mr. Inc´s blog, IGN

Sunday, February 19, 2006

´Zelda: Twilight Princess´ to launch alongside Revolution

´Zelda: Twilight Princess´ is now confirmed for a fall 2006 release, Gamecloud writes. Apparently, Nintendo of America´s Reginald Fils-Aime told a television magazine that the game was due this fall as a Gamecube title and that there were no plans to port it to the Revolution. However, the latter is almost certain to be untrue, since the delay itself suggests a synchronous launch of both the game and the next-generation console.

In their latest issue, NGC magazine reaffirmed their view that the game will offer extra features for the Revolution, calling their story "fact" and "100% accurate". Additionally, this would only make economic sense.

EDIT There is a transcript of the interview available over at Revo-Europe now. Here´s the story (formatting is mine):
Reggie: It's coming out this fall, it's coming out on GameCube. There's been a lot of speculation, people think we're holding it back or that it's gonna be launched just on Revolution. I'm telling you people, it's not true.

SpikeTV: Is it gonna be on GameCube AND Revolution?

Reggie: It's gonna be on GameCube. The thing about Revolution is that it will take a Gamecube standard disc. So while it is going to be a title for GameCube, Twilight Princess, you will be able to play it on Revolution.

SpikeTV: So what will there be, will there be an add-on. Will we have a sword fight on Revolution or anything?

Reggie: You know, it's a great idea. We should talk to Miyamoto about it but, you know, right now the focus is really getting it out on GameCube.
That would strongly suggest that the game will either have special revolution features or even see a dual format launch. As stated above, nothing else would make sense.

EDIT You can watch the clip over at You Tube.

Source: Gamecloud, NGC magazine, Revo-Europe
Thanks to: Revolution Report, NintendoRevolution.Ca

PlayStation3 will cost more than $800, says analyst

Manufacturing the PlayStation3 will cost Sony $900 a piece, according to analyst Joe Osha from the financial management and advisory giant Merrill Lynch. In a recent report, Osha estimates the console´s so-called ´bill of material´ (BOM) to add up to a staggering $800. As a result, a delay may be likely. Osha writes:
Our updated analysis indicates that the initial bill of materials for PS3 could approach $900, falling to $320 three years from launch. (...)

Sony’s decision to implement an ambitious new processor architecture – the Cell – not only took a great deal of design effort, but also has resulted in a processor that we think will cost Sony at least $230 per unit initially. (...)

There are additional reports that delays have surfaced on the NVIDIA-designed RSX graphics processor, although that part does not look to be as much of a long-term challenge as Cell. (...)

The Blu-Ray drive also looks expensive at an estimated $350, and Sony will not be able to leverage off additional Blu-Ray shipments in DVD players because the standard is still so new. The specialty XDR memory is unique to PS3 and likely to be expensive initially. Overall, (...) we think that PS3 will cost about $900 initially to manufacture.

We note that shifting Cell to 65nm manufacturing should help, as will scaling Blu-Ray drive volume in other device – both of those changes should hit in 2007, and we think that the BOM could be down to $320 three years after launch. (...) Sony may be backing away from those losses until the company can move to reduce the system’s costs in 2007. The result could be 2006 unit volumes for PS3 in the 2 – 3 million unit range.
A delay for the PS3 would benefit both ATI and Microsoft, Joe Osha writes. It is interesting to note that Nintendo is not mentioned in the report at all.

EDIT News.com has now picked up on the story and gone into more detail. Check it out.

Source: Merrill Lynch, News.com
Thanks to: Joystiq, Joystiq

Thursday, February 16, 2006

News round-up

I was away for a few days and unable to post updates. I have been checking news sites, though, and here is just a brief round-up of some important news.

Taipei Game Show brings no news about the PlayStation3. The console was not playable, old trailers were shown and I was totally wrong predicting that would be so.

Source: TVG

PlayStation3 will launch in the US by September 2006.

Source: Next Generation
Thanks to: TVG

PlayStation3 will launch in Europe no earlier than March 2007.

Source: SPOnG

PlayStation3 will have an optional hard drive.

Source: TVG

Concerning the PSP, a number of movie studios have downsized their UMD disc output, including Sony Pictures.

Source: Variety
Thanks to: Slashdot Games

Sony Computer Entertainment´s Phil Harrison is penciled in as the last keynote speaker at the Game Developers Conference.

Source: Gamasutra

The DS (and possibly the Revolution) will run a dedicated version of the popular Opera browser.

Source: N-Sider

The DS will feature a digital TV tuner and antenna that will turn the DS into a mobile television.

Source: Ars Technica

A patent revealed a mysterious slot at the back of the Revolution console.

Source: IGN
Thanks to: Connect Revolution

That´s right. Plenty of Sony news, less on Nintendo. Mainly good news for Nintendo, though.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Xbox360 core system redundant?

We all knew that the Xbox360 core system was more of a marketing trick than a real console, allowing Microsoft to advertise the price as ´starting at $299´. Now, games will apparently show with a tag of ´hard disk required´.
Planet Xbox360 reports that Sega´s ´Football Manager 2006´ will require a hard drive.

Microsoft has been unclear on this issue, seemingly maintaining that the hard drive would not be necessary for any games. Execs have never explicitly stated that all games would be playable on the core system, instead trying to reassure gamers that third parties and their own studios would be allowed to make full use of the optional hard drive. And already in August, rumours spread that some games may even require one.

However, the Xbox360 website clearly lists ´Play Xbox 360™ Games´ as a feature for both versions. So there seems to have been a change in policy regarding this issue. And that suggests other games will follow suit. If that is true, this really makes the core system redundant.

As for the installed base, it splits the market into two or, rather, forces core owners to buy a separate hard drive for $99 - having them pay almost $400 for the console after all. Yet they would still be without the Xbox Live headset ($19,99) and have no wireless controller ($49,99), component HD AV cable ($39,99) or ethernet cable that would all have been included in the premium package. This will not do Microsoft any favours.

Source: Planet Xbox360, The Inquirer, The Inquirer, Xbox360 website
Thanks to: SPOnG, Joystiq

PlayStation3 playable next week

The PlayStation3 will be playable next week, according to media reports. In a surprise move, Sony announced their presence at the Taipei Games Show in Taiwan, the DigiTimes writes citing the Commercial Times.

The trade show will be held from the 16th to the 20th of February. Sony has booked a total of 80 booths with 20 set aside exclusively for the PS3, the newspaper has learned. The article goes on to say that this move is seen as countering the Xbox360´s launch in the region.

But it´s not all good news for the current market leader in home consoles. Business Week paints a slightly gloomy picture for Sony´s new console.
Six years in the making, the PS3 is a crucial component of Sony's strategy to dominate the digital home with a full lineup of super-sharp TVs and other gear. To attract teens and parents alike, the console plays high-definition games and movies from Blu-ray DVDs. It boasts a huge hard disk to store photos, music, and TV shows. And it can connect to the Net for play against far-flung rivals, while a new multimedia chip called "the Cell" (...) juggles the workload. (...)

If that seems like a lot to pack in, it is. But there's a lot at stake. Sony is banking on the console to lift its consumer-electronics division out of trouble, and the Blu-ray drive is expected to give a boost to that Sony-backed format, one of two competing to become the next-generation standard for videos. "PS3 is very important for us," says Sony Chief Financial Officer Nobuyuki Oneda. "There are so many key devices from the electronics group that will go into it."

Some question whether Sony is trying to cram too much into the new box. The PS3 is expected to cost $350 to $400. While it has the potential to be a megahit, Sony's message might get muddled in the process of going after too broad a market, says Deutsche Securities analyst Takashi Oya. "It would be difficult to sell PS3 initially as anything other than a game machine," Oya says. Sony declined to comment on such concerns. (...)

Kutaragi's Midas touch has let him down before, especially when it comes to creating multipurpose machines. Exhibit A: the PSX. Released in Japan in 2003, it was designed to appeal to a broader audience than the hard-core gamers attracted to the PS2. It comes with a 250-gigabyte hard drive and a simple Web browser and plays games, movies, and music. But the PSX bombed as consumers were confused by the hybrid and put off by its $800-plus price tag.

"If Sony wants PS3 to be a hit, it has to avoid the marketing mistakes it made on PSX," says Reiji Asakura, author of Revolutionaries at Sony, a book about the development of the PlayStation.

Another risk is that Sony could undermine software sales by positioning the PS3 as something other than a game machine. The company makes the bulk of its game profits not from consoles but from games, which can cost $50 or more. Even when Sony doesn't design the games, it picks up royalties from each sale. (...)

If consumers buy the PS3 as a multimedia machine, they might not purchase as many video games. Sony ought to know: The handheld PlayStation Portable (PSP) has been a success since its debut in December, 2004. But since the PSP also plays music and movies, fewer people are buying games designed for it. In the PS2's initial year on the market, players bought more than three games for each machine that was shipped. For the PSP, that ratio slipped to 2 to 1.

Sony hasn't set a launch date, but analysts expect the PS3 to be released in Japan by June and hit U.S. stores in time for Christmas. With all its features, the PS3 might indeed help Sony in its battle for the living room as rivals roll out their own digital-entertainment hubs. Unless, of course, all consumers really want is a simple game machine.
The PSX´s failure and the PSP´s disappointing software tie ratio are valid concerns. But, while the article undoubtedly underestimates the PS3´s price tag, it now appears that a Japanese launch in June could be realistic.

Source: DigiTimes, Business Week
Thanks to: Gamasutra, Reg Hardware, Kotaku

Thursday, February 09, 2006

No Revolution news at D.I.C.E.

Matt Slagle, Technology Writer with the Associated Press has just filed this report through Yahoo:
Nintendo Co. announced new wireless features for its DS portable video game player Thursday, including a free service that will let consumers beam game demos and other content directly to the device.

Beginning in late March, the company plans to deploy electronic kiosks at thousands of U.S. retailers including Best Buy Co. Inc. and GameStop Corp.

Owners of the dual-screen DS who go near the kiosks will automatically receive a notice on their devices offering game demos, movie trailers and other content for temporary download. The information will be erased from the DS once it's turned off.

The service uses the DS's local-area wireless networking capabilities, which until now had been used just to facilitate head-to-head play by gamers near each other.

Nintendo also said it was adding voice chat to the sci-fi action game "Metroid Prime: Hunters," available March 20. Players who join up for multiplayer battles over Nintendo's wireless Internet service will be able to talk to each other through the system's built-in microphone before and after games, but not during, said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America Inc.'s executive vice president of sales and marketing.

At least one game for rival Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE - news).'s PlayStation Portable offers a more robust feature. Teammates in "SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo" can talk to each other wirelessly during battles.

Fils-Aime added that a slimmed down, all-white Nintendo DS Lite would go on sale in Japan next month.

Handheld video games and hardware helped buoy the industry to record sales of $10.5 billion in 2005, according to the NPD Group research firm.

Nintendo said it has sold about 4 million DS systems in North America since it was launched in late 2004. Another 4 million PlayStation Portables have been sold in North America since the unit went on sale last March, according to Sony.
No Revolution news at all, it seems. This should reveal a whole number of fakers, I guess.

EDIT Next Generation was the next news site to post. They quote Fils-Aime in more detail:
He said that Nintendo would be using new marketing channels, such as daytime television shows, Oprah and Ellen. Fils-Aime talked about a "blue ocean of opportunity through new types of gameplay.

In what has become something of a Nintendo mantra, he said Nintendo was seeking to attract female gamers and older gamers. He also warned that the number of teenage males is declining in North America, and high school students are saying their interest in games is declining.

However, he pointed out the the success of Nintendogs in North America with its 1 million unit sales and Brain Training in Japan with 2.5 million sales show that new demographics are willing to embrace games.

Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day will be launched in NA on April 17.

"We have been able to drive the appeal of games to a whole new segment who typically would not pick up a game," Fils-Aime said during his speech. "Imagine a games company targeting 50 and 60 year olds. Imagine games as a treadmill for the mind instead of a playground for violence."

Fils-aime once again referenced proven business book strategies which focus on expanding markets. He said, "It's not about what is, but what can be." He pointed out to the audience that hardcore gamers make up only 20 percent of the entire gaming market, saying "You and your teams can capitalize on that 80 percent."

During his speech, Fils-Aime focused on the success of the handheld games market over the last year compared to the decline of consoles. He drew broad comparison with "disrutptive technologies" such as Apple iPod, which took Sony and its music business by surprise.

At the end of the speech, he finally turned to Revolution, and offered little new details. However, he said that the machine would "create a democracy of ideas. It's not going to be about those with the biggest production budget."

He also indicated that publishers and developers could create "simple games" so that they could sell them at "more affordable prices if you want."
So there was a little Revolution info, but nothing substantial.

EDIT I have not yet seen a full transcript of the speech. But I recommend Gamasutra and IGN for in-depth coverage.

Source: Associated Press (through Yahoo), Next Generation
Thanks to: Product_Number_18

D.I.C.E. speech reminder

This is just to remind you all of what will be happening today and when. 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´ at the D.I.C.E. summit in Nevada. Here´s an overview of when the speech will take place in the relevant timezones:
9:30 am Nevada, California, British Columbia (PST)

10:30 am Arizona, New Mexico, Alberta (MST)

11:30 am Louisiana, Arkansas, Manitoba (CST)

12:30 pm New York, Virginia, Quebec, Ontario (EST)

5:30 pm UK, Portugal (GMT)

6:30 pm Germany, France, Spain, Italy (CET)
According to a number of sources, ´Nintendo Power´ magazine has been urging its readers to keep an eye on the Nintendo homepage around the time of the speech.

EDIT I am sorry, I forgot the good people of Australia and New Zealand, another important console market. The following times are all given for Friday, 10th of February 2006.
01:30 am Western Australia (AWST)

03:00 am Northern Territory, South Australia (ACST)

03:30 am Queensland, New South Wales (AEST)

05:30 am New Zealand (NZST)
EDIT I recommend Next Generation for the latest up-to-date information on the D.I.C.E. keynote.

Source: Wikipedia, GoNintendo
Image source: Nintendo press server
Thanks to: Daniel Vuckovic

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Revolution production underway?

A Nintendo promotional book seems to reveal that production of the Revolution console is well underway. One picture shows a number of console cases in crates or boxes. This would suggest that the production process has started.

Links to a number of scans from the book were posted on the Gaming Age forums and originate from a Japanese Geocities page by someone called J-Stamp. In total, there are 38 scans. One image shows what seem to be early concepts of the Revolution controller and analogue stick attachment. Another shows a Japanese shelf with a number of Nintendo consoles in it with obviously wrong sizes. Both the Gameboy Micro and the Revolution are far too big compared to the Gamecube. Whatever the reason for that, the scans must still be authentic. To fake all 38 of them would have been a daunting task for anyone. Also, the Mario logo shown on the back (and pictured above) is the most recent one used by Nintendo. It appeared on their Christmas cards in 2005.

Here are links to all of the scans:
Picture 1, Picture 2, Picture 3, Picture 4, Picture 5, Picture 6, Picture 7, Picture 8, Picture 9, Picture 10, Picture 11, Picture 12, Picture 13, Picture 14, Picture 15, Picture 16, Picture 17, Picture 18, Picture 19, Picture 20, Picture 21, Picture 22, Picture 23, Picture 24, Picture 25, Picture 26, Picture 27, Picture 28, Picture 29, Picture 30, Picture 31, Picture 32, Picture 33, Picture 34, Picture 35, Picture 36, Picture 37, Picture 38
The last scan shows a CD-ROM or DVD included with the book, entitled ´Tokyo Gameshow 2005 TGS Forum Keynote Speech´. This may suggest that the book is older. In that case, the console cases could have been from a preliminary shipment. However, if the book is old, then why have the scans only surfaced now? I believe the book could still be recent and the cases may be a real indicator of the console´s production process.

Source: Gaming Age forums, J-Stamp
Thanks to: Product_Number_18

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Jeux-France: "Iwata to speak for one hour at GDC"

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata will be holding a one-hour keynote speech at the upcoming Game Developers Conference, Jeux-France reports. The Babelfish translation of the article is only partly discernable. This is what I can make out: The speech is to take place on the 23rd of March, from 10:30 - 11:30. It will focus on the Nintendo DS, but Revolution news is also expected.

There is also mention of a link on the GDC´s keynote page having been removed. The current page still has no complete list of keynote speakers. I have been keeping an eye on that page daily, though. I never saw any relevant information disappear. Perhaps a proper translation of the article can bring a little light into this.

EDIT No need of any translations anymore. It´s official: Satoru Iwata will headline the list of keynote speakers. The Game Developers Conference page confirms:
Platform Keynote: Disrupting Development

Satoru Iwata
President, Nintendo Co., Ltd.
Thursday, March 23
10:30 – 11:30am

This year will see the arrival of more new portable and home game systems, and outside attention remains predictably focused on technical specifications and processing muscle. This is not trivial; but also not newsworthy. After all, every new system is more powerful than its predecessor.

Developers know what drives the video game business. It is our work. We are the creators, the innovators, the entertainers. We understand that people who imagine things, even more than the people who engineer them, are the key to reaching players.

Unfortunately, the application of imagination is getting more and more difficult. Larger games require more hours, more manpower, and a lot more money. And as budgets rise, the appetite for risk falls.

As Nintendo has demonstrated with Nintendo DS, our goal is to expand the industry to new players—and to surprise existing players.

In a speech entitled, ”Disrupting Development,” Nintendo President Satoru Iwata will reveal the backstory of how a string of recent disruptive products from Nintendo—the Nintendo DS, the ‘brain-training’ games, and Nintendo WiFi Connection—surprised the market. He will share his thoughts on the role Nintendo’s video game systems will play in expanding the market and widening the possibilities for developers.
What Iwata may reveal is another thing, though. The UK´s premier industry magazine MCV has been told that Iwata will unveil key details. While I trust MCV´s judgement, they wouldn´t tell me anything about their source. It need not even have been a Nintendo employee. So their information could be wrong. I myself think that the name of the system will be revealed. I do not expect to see any screenshots or footage, though.

Source: Jeux-France
Image source: SPOnG
Thanks to: Vaati´s Legacy, HereticPB, Colin

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Slight redesign

Just finished my slight redesign of the page. I also thought that ´Nintendo-Revolution´ was a better title. The old one was a bit long. Since I know virtually nothing about HTML, please let me know if you have any trouble viewing this. The recommended browser for this page remains Firefox.

EDIT Again, I sincerely apologize for the technical problems the redesign caused. For some reason, comments were automatically deleted and my updates vanished too. That is why the logos still looked half-baked and the font was wrong. I hope to have fixed the problems. Please stick with this page. Updates will be coming very soon.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Key Revolution details by March?

Industry magazine MCV UK has been tipped off by insiders that Nintendo president Satoru Iwata will divulge ´key details´ about the Revolution in less than seven weeks. Here´s their story:
MCV understands that Nintendo president Satoru Iwata is set to unveil some key details regarding the enigmatic next-gen Revolution console at the Games Developers Conference in March.

Though many have presumed that all new information would be kept under wraps until E3 in May, senior sources suggest Iwata will choose to make key announcements, possibly including pricing and release details, earlier.

With a Nintendo Europe press release this week reaffirming that Revolution is still on track for a European launch this year, this news puts more pressure on Sony, whose continued silence is reducing the likelihood of a 2006 European release for PS3.
The Game Developers Conference will take place from the 20th to the 24th of March in San Jose. Whether Iwata will be present or not is not yet confirmed. The list of keynote speakers will be posted here, most likely within the next few days. It was promised by January and is thus long overdue.

On the phone, the MCV editors felt very confident that their source was reliable but, obviously, declined to give any more details. It is important to bear in mind here that MCV is the leading industry magazine in many important markets, including Germany and the UK. In the past, their inside sources proved extremely reliable.

Source: MCV UK
Thanks to: Grandmaster B

Sony developer slams PS3, part II

Ever wonder how easy it is to break an NDA? 3D artist Josh Robinson, who wrote a gloomy review of the PS3 has been sacked by Sony Online Entertainment and speaks about his experience in an interview with PS3 Week.
Let me first just say, all I really did was write a few paragraphs that gave my opinion on publicly released information. I never actually released any information. After reading my small article the reader is not any more informed about the PS3 than he was before the article. I didn’t reveal any tech info and I didn’t reveal different shipping plans. I’m still in awe at the whole uproar over what amounts to NO information. My life has changed a lot since the article. I was let go at Sony after the article was plopped on the desk of Sony corporate. (...)

I didn’t want to cause any problems at all by writing the article. I had at least two Sony employees read the article before it was even posted. Even a producer at the company read it. We were all in agreement that I was not breaking NDA with what I was saying. We all thought that I may rub a few people the wrong way, but nothing as severe as getting fired. I thought I was pretty fair about the comments I made. Most of the things I said were pretty standard industry facts that everyone is aware of. None of it is new information. (...)

I’ve been doing this for 9 years and I’ve never once even come close to breaking NDA. In my own error, I assumed that it would be OK to give my opinion on what I believed to be public information. Sony has said very publicly that they are shipping in spring. All I said was, "hey I’d not want to miss the next E3 show." I didn’t leak any shipping information or reveal any other intentions. I also talked about some technology that has been released publicly for almost a year. You can go to Gamespot right now and view tech demos showing sub surface scattering, HDR, very high dynamic object counts and so on. It is all available. I didn’t reveal anything. Before the article was posted I passed it to a couple others that also work at Sony who write for Down In Front. No one seemed to worry that I was breaking NDA. The bigger concern seemed to be my awful grammar. After it had been posted one of the producers read it and was also OK with it. He thought I could push a button or two with a few comments but nothing even close to what ultimately happened.

Did I knowingly break NDA? I absolutely did not. I would never do that and I would never want to hurt Sony Online. Did I dance in the grey area by even opening my mouth? Yes I did and I was fired for it. So I guess the new rule for me is, don’t ever say anything at all about anything. Ever...ever.
Obviously, you all know what I posted this in regard to. Admittedly, Josh was fired mainly because his comments were hardly complimentary. But while fakers like Inc and Rebus seem to generate more positive hype, they also divulge much more sensitive information regarding other company´s corporate affairs: when the second revolutionary aspect will be revealed, their current project´s tentative name, as well as plenty of storyline and gameplay details. They even hint at the publisher they claim to have a deal with.

Of course, their claim is that they were authorised to post some of the information. I have spent enough time commenting on how ridiculous that claim is. Also, they admitted that they were speculating on when new info on the console would be revealed. That is just what Josh did, albeit in a more negative context. But the context doesnt matter here, at all. Legally, you cannot fire someone on the grounds of badmouthing his employer´s products. At least, that was not the case here. Josh was fired solely on the grounds of breaking his NDA. So, legally, these cases are directly comparable. Consider that before believing anyone who claims to post insider information.

Source: Down in Front, PS3 Week
Thanks to: Anonym

Patent suggests voice recognition for Revolution

A new patent has been dug up, entitled ´Voice-to-text chat conversion for remote video game play´. The abstract reads:
A multi-player networked video game playing system including for example video game consoles analyzes speech to vary the font size and/or color of associated text displayed to other users. If the amplitude of the voice is high, the text displayed to other users is displayed in a larger than normal font. If the voice sounds stressed or is aggressive words are used, the text displayed to other users is displayed using a special font such as red color. Other analysis may be performed on the speech in context to vary the font size, color, font type and/or other display attributes.
This would require flawless speech recognition, if implemented properly. On top of that, there would be some kind of emotion recognition, registering when the words are said in an angry, timid or kind tone of voice and displaying them accordingly. Of course, the question is whether this technology will be used in the Revolution or the handhelds. The detailed description leaves this question unanswered.
In the example shown, video game playing equipment 16 may comprise for example a home video game platform such as a NINTENDO GAMECUBE system connected to a handheld game controller 18 and a display device 20 such as a home color television set. In other examples, game playing equipment 16 could comprise a handheld networked video game platform such as a NINTENDO DS or GAMEBOY ADVANCE, a personal computer including a monitor and appropriate input device(s), a cellular telephone, a personal digital assistant, or any other electronic or other appliance.
I think there are hints in the text that this system could be used for both the Revolution and DS consoles. The use of a server is mentioned as optional, depending on whether the console is able to convert the speech itself.
A game server 28 may optionally be provided to coordinate game play. For example, in the case of a complex multiplayer role playing game having tens or even hundreds of players 12 who can play simultaneously, a game server 28 may be used to keep track of the master game playing database and to provide updates to each instance of game playing equipment 16. In other game playing contexts, a game server 28 may not be necessary with all coordination being provided directly between the various instances of game playing equipment 16. (...) FIG. 2 shows an example illustrative non-limiting implementation of a speech-to-text converter 50 that may be used by example system 10--either in or with game playing equipment 16, within game server 28 or both.
In my opinion, a server may be needed for the DS, while the Revolution could most likely handle the conversion itself. It certainly seems as if this technology could be used on both systems and may even be hinting at the connectivity features between the two.

Source: US Patent and Trademark Office
Thanks to: BadNor, Heber