Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 11.13.03

Hello. You have clicked the link that brings you the best in gaming news. That’s right – it’s the Thank God It’s Thursday News Report. Welcome. I’m Bryan Berg, and I wish Art Carney got the kind of praise he’s getting now just one week ago, when he was actually alive to hear it.

Big win for the Jets this week, though it hardly felt like a win. The Jets have won more games they have no business winning than any other team in the past three years. You get the feeling that maybe, just maybe, the Jets could make a run, or at least finish .500. But then again, these ARE the Jets, so you never know.

As for the fantasy team, we lost again, even with a 100 point day. Leaving 71 points on your bench will do that to you. Still, just 1.5 games out of first with three division games to go, I’ll take it.

Oh yeah! Video games. Of course… coming right up!

Never accuse Rockstar games of laying down for the law. They have announced that they have asked the judge of their impending lawsuit (in which they are being sued for $246 million) to dismiss the case. In their proposition to the judge, Rockstar cites that Grand Theft Auto 3’s “ideas and concepts”, bizarre as they may be, are protected under the First Amendment.

Give Rockstar credit for this ballsy move. While it’s obvious that they’d never fork over $246 million in this suit under any circumstances, their decision to publicly fight this suit is a maneuver that puts them in the leadership position of all the games that have been criticized for their violent content. It would be so easy for Rockstar to lay low in regard to the suit, especially with the GTA Double Pack being released right around the time of the suit. However, they will not let the plaintiffs undermine the integrity of the game they have created. That’s the sign of a company who cares about what they produce, a refreshing change in this era of gaming where companies freely admit their games are crap before they’re even released. Every game company can learn something from the example Rockstar is setting, even those who haven’t been tested by fire yet.

X-Box Price Cut
In last week’s blurb about the PS2’s price cuts in Japan, I failed to mention the possibility of the X-Box following suit in order to stay competitive. And wouldn’t you know it, Microsoft has done just that.

X-Box price cuts were announced for Japan, slashing the price down to 16,800 yen ($155 US) from its previous price of 24,800 yen ($228). This puts the X-Box right in the middle of the PS2 (19,800 yen) and the GameCube (14,000 yen). This is a good spot for Microsoft to be, especially in relation to the PS2. As we all know, the X-Box has been performing pitifully in Japan. This should go a long way in ensuring that the X-Box survives overseas.

Microsoft also announced a very excellent bundle that will be available to Japanese gamers as of November 20. The bundle will include the system, two controllers, a DVD kit, Halo, Project Gotham Racing 2, and two free months of X-Box Live. And the best part is the cost – just 19,800 yen. That’s just 300 more yen than the base system, and it’s the same price as a base PS2. This is the perfect bundle to give Microsoft a chance at gaining some serious market share in Japan.

Think about it, and let’s go back to last week’s “holiday checks” example to illustrate this. You, a gamer living in Japan, received 20,000 yen in checks and want to purchase a gaming system. Suppose you’re the kind of gamer that doesn’t have a whole lot of interest in what Nintendo has to offer. This is because you’re an older gamer that is very intrigued by online play. You also perceive Nintendo’s product to be inferior due to its low cost. This leaves you with two options – PS2 and X-Box. You’ve been hearing stories about the PS2 and its recent struggles; you haven’t been able to ignore the X-Box’s woeful Japan numbers. But then, you hear the news about the two systems being dropped in price, and your ears perk up. Sony has the floor first, and their price cuts are something that gets you thinking Playstation 2. Then, Microsoft announces its price cuts and bundle, and you’re in awe. This is a perfect way to introduce the neophyte X-Box gamer to the system and its online capabilities. And, you get two free games to boot! How can you go wrong? Your 20,000 yen can either get you playing online now, or it can get you a system with no game. Which one are you going to choose?

Give Microsoft credit for providing gamers exactly what they want in a package they can’t ignore. This should go a long way in shoring up operations in Japan.

To counteract the good vibes going with the X-Box price cuts overseas, Sony announced that sales for its PS2 have increased by 40 percent in America for the last two weeks. Not only that, but sales for the PS One have increased by 31 percent over the past month. Sony cites its impressive slate of recent releases are rationale for these increases.

It’s good to see Sony doing well in the ultra-competitive holiday season, but the sustainability of these gains remain in question. Sony hasn’t done a whole lot to differentiate itself from its competition so far during the holiday season, and odds are good that it won’t do so between now and Christmas. Can Sony compete with a low-cost GameCube that’s receiving Mario Party 5 and Mario Kart: Double Dash this week? Can the PS2 still sell when gamers can get two free months of X-Box Live for the same price as a PS2?

We’re looking at a holiday season where the buzz word is “price”. It’s a price war, folks, and it isn’t pretty. And with the economy being the way it is, parents are going to be looking for the best deal, regardless of reputation, name quality or any other such intangible factor. Perhaps it’s time for Sony to follow its Japanese lead and slash prices in America as well.

More bad news for Nokia. But this time, you almost have to feel bad for them.

Claims have been made by hackers that they have figured out Nokia’s N-Gage security system. They claim that they are able to play N-Gage games on other Nokia phones. This comes just one month after the N-Gage’s launch and, while it’s inevitable that hackers will figure out any security/operation system, one month is a pretty quick timeframe to hack a system.

What does this say about Nokia’s product? First, and most obvious, it could have been a LOT more careful about security. This is just another rookie mistake Nokia has made while trying to enter the video game market. Secondly, there may actually be some demand for Nokia’s product! While it’s truly a long shot, maybe people will play these hacked versions of N-Gage games and like what they see. How many artists have received their first exposure on Napster and Kazaa? Although it’s highly unlikely, maybe a similar occurrence could take place for Nokia, which may result in a few sales, or at least some decent word of mouth in regard to the quality of the N-Gage games.

Is there anything left for Nokia to bungle with the N-Gage? Seriously. They’ve just about written the textbook for how NOT to launch a system. It’s become laughable at this point, even though hacking has emerged as a serious problem in gaming. Again, Nokia should have taken further precaution to prevent this situation from ever happening.

I Goofed
A few weeks back, I posted a newsbit regarding Major League Gaming, GameTime, and DVD Strategy guides (dvG’s). It has been brought to my attention that the newspost may have been unclear.

The real story is this – GameTime is the group responsible for the creation of the DVD strategy guides. MLG is simply providing game players to “star” in these DVD’s. The players will be playing the games in the DVD’s, which will be otherwise controlled by GameTime.

Most of my original post dealt with the opportunity for exposure this provided MLG, which I stand by, as it certainly still applies. However, I apologize for getting it wrong, or at least not being very clear in regard to the news content.

(Thanks to Derek Musso of cho Highwater Group for informing me of the error)

I’m going to be completely straightforward here. It’s been one hell of a busy week. I haven’t been able to give each of these columns the thorough read that is required to talk about the column or provide funny quotes from said column. So what I’ll do in the stead of the customary format is this. I’ll provide one Fun Fact about each of these clowns that write for this site. Maybe you knew the fact, maybe you didn’t. Maybe the fact is true, maybe it’s made up. But these guys rule and they deserve SOMETHING.

Liquidcross – The Angry Gamer. LC is an avid e-Bay seller who tried to sell us a bunch of stuff once. I think it worked, too.

Misha – We Want Our Tea Back!. He actually wrote a second column this week. But that’s not the Fun Fact. Misha believes, correctly, I might add, that Monty Python wouldn’t be nearly as funny if they weren’t British.

Alex Williams – Encore Extra Stage News Report. Alex also writes the consistently excellent 411MAX: News News Revolution news report. Again, that’s not the fun fact. Here it is: Alex has written three epic poems, all in haiku form. They’re quite excellent, actually.

Cory Laflin – Gamer’s Hangover. Cory is beginning to reach Bergian levels of insecurity. Except in his case, it’s totally unwarranted. A bonus Fun Fact: Cory will soon be a Master!

Frederick Badlissi – The Gamer’s Consicence. Fred is a huge Bad Religion fan. In fact, our first conversation ever was about BR. He often plays their music on his radio show.

Chuck Platt – A Thumb to the Eye. Chuck works really late hours at a casino. But seems to enjoy it.

Lee Baxley – Hump Day Otaku News Report. Lee’s descriptions of his drinking habits don’t quite match up with reality. The truth is, he drinks even MORE than the real Bad Guy. He once downed a gallon of rubbing alcohol before realizing he shouldn’t be drinking it. He also reviewed True Crime while completely hammered.

Commentary of the Week
Anyone looking for a quick state of affairs in America need only look back at this past week’s events. This look will provide ample ammunition to lose any faith in humanity.

Sunday night, we had two TV movies at our disposal. One was about Elizabeth Smart, the girl who was kidnapped in Utah. The other told the story of Private Jessica Lynch, who was kidnapped in Iraq. Not so coincidentally, the two movies were placed on opposing networks and were aired at the same time. Pick one sob story and stick with it was the message television sent on Sunday, but the saddest part of all was the war of the media.

Essentially, what CBS and NBC have done is take two tragedies and attempt to turn them into dollar signs. Of course, this is nothing new. But there’s something wrong when you’re pitting one torture story against another torture story. It completely devalues the impact of the movie, which is SUPPOSED to be the heroicness of overcoming the odds and surviving. And if you were watching one of these movies Sunday night, could you really be inspired by it knowing that you could see someone else overcome the same odds just two channels over?

The issue in these two cases transformed from stories of tragedy and the human will into a sickening ratings war. Are you surprised? And incase you’re wondering, Elizabeth Smart won.

I’m just getting started here. There are a lot more targets than just the media, who is always wearing the bulls-eye.

What about the parents of these two girls, who have blatantly sold out the horrific events their daughters have endured for a quick payout? If you’re any kind of parent, your goal is to get your children through any pain they’re suffering in the way that is most suitable FOR THE CHILD. And no, going on Dateline and talking about this in front of the entire nation is NOT the best way to get over being kidnapped for 8 months. Taking a check to allow the making of a movie detailing your daughter’s struggles to ensure she NEVER forgets ANY of it is not the best way to heal your child’s wounds. Now, the victims not only have to deal with what they’ve already been through, but they now must face the very daunting task of being media darlings and being talked about everywhere.

What about the non-movie-making media, who won’t let the issue die? Their constant pressure on the parents to come on their TV shows would cause just about anybody to give in and take the money. Is it too much to ask for people to respect the privacy of others? Of course, if there wasn’t such a demand on the part of the public for this kind of media sensationalism, this wouldn’t be an issue.

By the way, Larry Flynt should be shot for even SUGGESTING, even THINKING about printing nude pictures of Jessica Lynch. Sickening.

What about the nit-picking public who will no doubt find reasons to criticize these two girls? Who have already expressed doubt as to whether Lynch was really raped? Does it even matter? This is why most rape victims never come forward, and I hope the general public is happy with creating this kind of society. Read some of the message boards and see what some people are saying. If you click the link and don’t come away completely disgusted, there’s a problem.

What about the parents of Jessica Lynch’s comrades, who are petty enough to go on TV and whine about the lack of coverage THEIR kids are getting? Come on! That’s just jealousy. Nobody is denying that EVERY person who fought in Iraq this year is a hero. So what’s the problem? Knowing your son or daughter gave his or her life for the greater good isn’t enough? Knowing that they went out the way they wanted to isn’t enough? Sounds like some people just want to find ways to benefit from their loss, which is just about as sickening as any kidnapping (or movie about said kidnapping).

So what’s the moral to the story? Essentially, we’ve all worked together to create this society in which we live. Where two movies detailing two tragic kidnappings can be aired on the same night to create a ratings war, and a nation’s first thought is when these two girls are going to have lesbian sex together.

I guess you could say that America is fully recovered from the war now.

I hope you got something out of this admittedly rushed TGIT. Definitely check out the other writers in the Games section, as they’re not to be missed – ever. Thanks for reading. See you next week!