Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More HDTV NFL next season

NFL football fans will be able to get more games in high definition next season. CBS announced this week that it will fair five or six games per week in HDTV. That's up from three last season.

Fox airs up to six games weekly, though both networks can carry as many as eight games per week, so a handful of games still will not be seen in high-definition.

This is a great boon to NFL fans and sports fans and even big box audio/video stores which use HDTV sports feeds to help sell those shiny new LCD and plasma big screen televisions.

It'll be interesting to see how DirecTV will handle the extra hi-def games. It's NFL Sunday Ticket Superfan package last year offered out-of-market games in hi-def, but DirecTV had to shut down some HDTV channels to do it because of bandwidth limitations. The satellite company plans to have new satellites in the air before year's end when it plans to up its current HDTV offerings by more than ten-fold, ultimately arriving at more than 100 stations.

But if they are not ready in time for the start of football season, other channels might not be shown in HDTV on Sundays to allow for the extra HDTV NFL feeds.

Super, super fast internet speeds on deck

Mad about how slow your internet connection can be?

Mad, mad speed is in the future.

A group of researchers out of the University of Tokyo broke Internet speed records twice in two days in December.

The researchers got up to 7.67 gigabits per second using standard communication protocols.

The next day, with modified protocols, they got up to 9.08 gigabits per second.

What does all that mumbo-jumbo mean?

You could theoritically one day download a high-def version of "The Matrix" in a few seconds instead of hours.

And get this: the Internet2 consortium, which includes more than 200 U.S. universities, is planning to build a new network with a capacity of 100 gigabits per second.

What it really means is that you might not ever go to Blockbuster to rent a movie again. By the time, you went and got back, i could've downloaded -- itunes style -- a month's worth of high-def films.

Monday, April 16, 2007


If you don't want to go to the club to get your groove on anymore, Acclaim Games will let you Dance! Online, a free-to-play multiplayer game that could have legs -- as well as bring a non-traditional audience to videogaming.

The game will feature master recordings from Warner Music Group Corp.

Atlantic Records recording artist Cupid, with his hit single "Cupid Shuffle," will make a personal virtual appearance in the game. Other artist-related announcements will follow where the artists will create their own avatar and play the game live online and chat with fans.

Players can create their own avatar and use either the keyboard or most PC compatible dance pads to match the beat of the song and to make their character perform choreographed dance steps.

The game features up to six players dancing together and includes a variety of game modes and options. Players will be able to purchase optional items from the game shop to customize their virtual characters with clothing and various accessories.

The game is in Beta testing beginning this week, which means that anyone who registers for an account can immediately play for free. For more information, visit

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 will allow gamers to save their best shots, holes or rounds, and post the content online for other users to compete against. In addition, players can now use Photo Game Face to generate photo-realistic game characters with no artistic skill required, by uploading photos.

The new Tiger game is being produced by EA Tiburon in Orlando, FL, which is best known for the award winning Madden NFL Football series. The new golf game will be available on Xbox 360, PS2 and PS3, Wii, PSP and PC later this year.
News n Notes
-- PLAYSTATION Store is now offering Mortal Kombat II for the PS3. Cost is $4.99. Trailers for the much-anticipated community-based game, LittleBigPlanet, and the hottest movie of the summer, Spider-Man3, are also available.

-- Capcom is working on four new mobile titles: Mega Man II, Street Fighter II, an all music version of their Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Shade IITM, a new massively multiplayer mobile game that allows players to play online across mobile networks. Look for the games starting next month.
-- There's a new interactive channel on Nintendo Wii. The full version of the Internet Channel powered by Opera is now available for free download across North America.

The full version of the Internet Channel is available as a free download through June 30, after which it will cost 500 Wii Points. Once downloaded, the Internet Channel is free for the lifetime of the system.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Big gaming competition in Charlotte-area this weekend

The Embassy Suites in Concord is hosting a big videogame competition this weekend where gamers playing Halo2 will help kick off the $1 million 2007 Boost Mobile Major League Gamers Pro Circuit.

New York-based MLG Major League Gaming (MLG) is the largest organized league and international sanctioning body for professional video gaming. MLG's ongoing professional video gaming tournaments have attracted competitors from over 28 countries.

Organizers are expecting thousands of competitors to compete to win a piece of the nearly $80,000 purse for the Charlotte-area rounds. There will be $1 million awarded during the season. Charlotte winners will get a chance to go against professional Major League Gamers, or even become one.

Last year pro circuit tour produced the first ever Major League Gamers who were signed to exclusive six-figure contracts, and started a TV series broadcast to 90 million homes nationwide.

This weekend's competition begins Friday at 5, Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Embassy Suites in Concord,5400 John Q. Hammons Drive NW, (704) 455-8200

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

No more twin versions of Sony PS3

If you want the new PlayStation 3, there's only one flavor to buy it in.

Sony has discontinued sales of the 20 gigabyte version of the PS3, which sold for $499. Sony officials say demand for that version was too low. That leaves the 60 gig version which sells for $599 and is now showing up in a lot of stores, including the Best Buy near Carolina Place, where I saw a dozen sitting on the floor today.

Sony claims that U.S. consumers were buying the more expensive PS3 at a 9-to-1 rate. The cheaper model didn't have built in Wi-Fi, multiple flash card memory readers and some other features.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Get ready: Halo 3 Beta Debuts May 16

The multiplayer beta for the hotly anticipated Halo 3 debuts on Xbox Live May 16 at 8 a.m. eastern. It'll run through June 6 at 2:59 a.m.

Halo is one of the best-selling videogame series of all time and Halo 3 will let gamers try to save the world using the hero, Master Chief, as he tries to stop a flooding threat and stop the evil invaders from taking over our planet.

Starting May 16, gamers who secured their admission to the multiplayer beta through previous promotions or by purchasing a specially marked copy of Crackdown for Xbox 360 will be able to play online via an Xbox live Gold account.

The beta will include three maps: Snowbound, High Ground and Valhalla, which represent a mixture of large- and medium-scale combat environments and are brand-new to “Halo 3.”

Gamers will have access to new vehicles and new weapons, like the Spike Grenades.

Halo 3 goes on sale this fall.

News N Notes

-- Midway has released a new Mortal Kombat: Armageddon Wii tutorial video, komplete with commentary from Mortal Kombat Kreator, Ed Boon. All of Mortal Kombat's supernatural super moves and infamous fatalities are performed via the Wii Remote, making it easier than ever to pull off the deadliest of fighting kombinations (Warning: video on website is graphic and intended for older audiences).

-- A new Gears of War title update hit Xbox Live Monday night that includes a new multiplayer mode called Annex. In Annex, gamers seize victory by keeping control over key map locations, or objectives, long enough to collect a winning number of points.

-- Gottaplay Interactive, Inc., a leading provider of online video game rental subscription services, will open its newest distribution center in Pittsburgh, PA on April 20th.

Gottaplay recently launched a new site with vastly expanded capabilities including trading and social networking. This has resulted in a remarkable increase in traffic among those gamers who want to rent, buy, trade, and connect with other gamers who share the same interests.

Gottaplay Interactive, Inc. currently operates distribution centers in Southern California, Washington, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois, and Colorado. In addition to the Pittsburgh center, Gottaplay will be opening a center in Miami this month.

-- Technosource has releases several Spider Man handheld games to tie with the upcoming Spider Man 3 movie:
  • Spider-Man 3: 3-D Color V.I.E.W. System – Simply hold these LCD goggles up and see the world through Spider-Man’s eyes while he takes on The Sandman and attempts to save the city.
  • Spider-Man 3: LCD Penny Arcade: Bell Tower Brawl – Shaped like a mini arcade game, players just drop a penny into the coin slot, grab the joystick and duel with Venom in the bell tower.
  • Spider-Man 3: Battletronics -- Fight as Spider-Man or The Sandman, The Goblin or Venom.
  • Spider-Man 3: Vigilante Vengeance -- Players get to experience the ride on The Goblin’s Sky Stick, which features Tilt Sensor Technology bringing all the action right into your hands.

    The complete line retails between $5.99 and $24.99 at most toy outlets.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Mario/Sonic together?; DISH add sports hi-def

Mario and Sonic are two of the most popular videogame characters of all time, the Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino of the videogame universe.

The two giants, however, are owned by two different companies. They have never been together in a videogame.

Until now.

SEGA and Nintendo have both lent licenses to Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. Developed for the Wii and Nintendo DS, the game will drop for the Christmas rush.

Players will compete in events that take place in environments based on the official venues of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Other favorite characters scheduled to compete: Luigi, Knuckles, Yoshi and Tails.

“Mario and Sonic have been respectful rivals since the early days of video games,” said Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo. “In fact, for a long time they have been discussing the possibility of one day competing against each other. Now that they have been given the perfect opportunity to meet at the Olympic Games, we may finally learn who is actually faster, Mario or Sonic?”

I don't know who's faster, but I do know one holiday titles that will be leaving store shelves very, very fast.

DISH Launches Regional Sports Networks in HD

DISH satellite TV subscribers are getting seven regional sports networks in high definition.

The seven HD RSNs launched this week include Fox Sports Network Florida (DISH Network Ch. 373), Fox Sports Network Midwest (Ch. 368), Fox Sports Network West (Ch. 367), Fox Sports Network Prime Ticket (Ch. 361), Fox Sports Network Rocky Mountain (Ch. 364), Fox Sports Network South (Ch. 370) and Fox Sports Network Southwest (Ch. 366).

DISH Network will continue to explore carriage of additional HD RSNs throughout the year to enhance local HD programming line-ups. In addition to the seven RSNs announced today, DISH Network will begin offering Sun Sports and SportSouth this spring as well as Altitude this fall.


What is Derek Jeter using to hit the ball better these days? the new ProBatter PX2 pitching simulator from ProBatter Sports. It's another sign of how videogame tech is impacting society in more ways than online gaming.

The Yankees bought three simulators, sending two to their minor league teams.

The ProBatter pitching simulator projects a DVD-quality image of a real pitcher onto an 8x10 foot screen. The hitter watches as the pitcher winds up (or throws from a stretch) -- at the moment of release, an actual ball is fired through a small hole in the screen, delivering virtually any pitch a human being can.

News N Notes

-- Charlotte-based LikeTelevision announced today that its library of on-line video content has reached 10,000 videos.

Movies like "To Kill a Mockingbird," and shows like "The Beverly Hillbillies" are all on-line in a well-organized library ready to watch or download.

-- Tor Books has released Halo: Ghosts of Onyx. The book, the publisher says, " takes readers deep into crucial events that unfold during the Halo and Halo 2 timelines, expanding the characters and story of the Halo Universe as fans eagerly await the arrival of Halo 3 later this year."

-- Siber Systems' new RoboForm 6.6 is the most comprehensive protection yet for passwords, log-in information, credit card numbers and other highly private personal information. This new version conveniently and automatically fills out online forms for users & offers a number of new security features including the ability to isolate and protect personal IDs and passwords currently left exposed in the AutoComplete directory of Microsoft Internet Explorer.

-- Congoo's News Circles lets users pick from about 480 predetermined news categories or create their own using keyword searches on a given topic. Building a News Circle literally takes 2 minutes offering the intersection of social media and news sharing. If you want to reach new customers, tell people about your expertise, comment about news in your industry, or do some social networking about a specific topic, News Circles lets you do that without spending lots of time writing and updating a blog.

-- Direct2Drive ( has launched the Web’s first independent, download-to-own comic book store and will begin selling comic book titles from Top Cow Productions.

The downloadable comic books will be delivered in high-resolution, full-color documents via Adobe Systems Incorporated’s Portable Document Format (PDF), enabling users to download, view and print the comic books on any standard Windows PC.

-- Microsoft's Xbox 360 Elite ($479) will include a 120GB hard drive, a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) port, a high-definition cable, and a premium black finish for the console, wireless controller and Xbox LIVE headset.

The new 120GB hard drive also will be sold as a stand-alone accessory to give current Xbox 360 owners greater choice and flexibility in their games and entertainment experience. Additional Xbox 360 Elite accessories, such as the black Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, Xbox 360 Play & Charge kit and the Xbox 360 rechargeable battery, will be available separately. The Xbox 360 Elite and its accessories are expected to begin arriving in U.S. stores on April 29.

-- Microsoft announced that TV series and movies from A&E Network, ADV Films, National Geographic and will add to the more than 1,500 hours of downloadable entertainment content already available on Xbox LIVE in the U.S.

Paramount Pictures will offer its feature films for download in high definition. Available titles will include "Braveheart," "Team America: World Police," "World Trade Center" and "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut."
-- You’re most likely making projections for the 2007 MLB season. Sony PlayStation has done the same by running a complete 2007 MLB simulation using the best selling, longest running and most realistic baseball video game on the market, MLB 07 The Show. To see how we came up with the predictions, we've included a brief paragraph after the predictions.

-- NASCAR NEXTEL CUP Series champion Tony Stewart will appear on the cover of NASCAR 08, scheduled for release this summer. NASCAR 08 is the first title in the NASCAR franchise to be made available on the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Virtual Rock Bands and new "Halo" maps

Videogaming is getting so cool and sophisticated these days. If you're old enough to remember Pong or playing hand-held football games where "players" were represented by a half-inch "line" on the screen, this new wave of technology is amazing.

Now, thanks to Harmonix, who created the Guitar Hero franchise, gamers can play Rock Band, a kind of American Idol for your Xbox. Electronic Arts will handle distribution.

With the new title, you can perform music from the world's biggest rock bands along with friends. You form a virtual group using drum, bass/lead guitar and microphone peripherals. You can play online as well.

Music publishers like EMI and Warner/Chappell are allowing access to their catalogs of incredible songs for use in Rock Band.

The record labels -- EMI Music, Hollywood Records, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Enterprises and Rhino Entertainment -- have agreed to supply master recordings by their artists.

“Our vision for Rock Band is to completely change the way people interact with and enjoy the music they love,” said Jeff Yapp, EVP, MTV Program Enterprises. “We are striving to create a groundbreaking new platform that allows people to connect with their favorite music and artists in ways they never have before.”

Look for Rock Band this holiday season on Xbox 360 and PS3.

Microsoft Drops New Halo2 Maps

Microsoft Game Studios and Bungie Studios have released two new downloadable maps for Halo 2. The maps will be available as premium downloadable content for Xbox and Xbox 360 on April 17.

The two maps will bring new life to ancient battlefields and legendary skirmishes, as both are new, improved and redesigned remakes of fan favorites from the original Halo: Combat Evolved.

The maps are $4.

News N Notes:

-- Ubisoft and Gearbox Software are working on Nintendo DS and Wii versions of their critically acclaimed Brothers In Arms franchise. The games will release later this year.

-- A company called Video Games Live has a touring show that presents an evening of video game music performed by an orchestra.

-- Microsoft has announced plans for a new Xbox 360 (Elite) but also has distribution deals with five video Marketplace partners for its Xbox Live service that will have more than 300 games before the end of the year. The service, Microsoft says, has more than six million members.

Look for titles from Warner Bros. (Sublime, Babylon 5: The Lost Tales), A&E Network (Japanese animation) and National Geographic, among others.

-- Microsoft is sponsoring a Gears Of War contest where the winners get a free trip to Praque. Visit for details

-- WILL Interactive, in conjunction with the Washington Hospital Center has created a new serious game called Anatomy of Care to train its staff. The simulation game is designed to tackle the human dimension of healthcare, addressing soft issues such as compassion and understanding, and the human connection during a patient’s hospital stay.

Players choose one of five characters to role-play (doctor, nurse, clerical worker, patient transporter and environmental service worker) at a fictional metropolitan hospital. Learners are presented with stressful slice-of-life scenarios in which they must make tough decisions and live out the consequences of their actions.

Successful navigation of the interactive movie requires honest compassion, sensitive interpersonal dealings, and clarity of values. The goal of the simulation training is to improve the behavior of hospital employees. 'Anatomy of Care' allows users to play out difficult situations in the safety of cyberspace before they live them out in real life with real people.