Sunday, May 20, 2007

In The News (5/13-5/19)

Common Sense Media Rating System
      Common Sense Media has teamed up with Best Buy (and Cox Communications according to the commercial I just saw) to try to popularize their in-depth rating system which competes with the ESRB. It works by giving each game, movie, TV show, etc an on/pause/off rating (on meaning appropriate for all ages, off meaning mature, and pause meaning parents should decide whether or not their kid can handle it), as well as the ESRB rating, an age rating (10+, 17+, etc), a review score (out of 5 stars), and even a review of each game. Many in the game industry seem to be coming to the quick defense of the ESRB, calling the Common Sense ratings "confusing," (especially at 1UP Yours, who obviously don't know what they're talking about [last 8 minutes]), but the Common Sense ratings are actually pretty clear and give more information than the ESRB ratings.
      Let's say you're a parent. Let's say you're looking for games for your kid. Let's say you look at Sonic the Hedgehog for PS3; it's a name you recognize. The ESRB rating tells you it's appropriate for your 10 year old, so you buy it. When you put in the game, you find out it's appropriate, yeah, but it's also complete shit. Now let's say that you found the Common Sense rating instead. It tells you the ESRB says it's appropriate and that the Common Sense people agree, but it also says that the game has a one star rating. You read their review to confirm this one star. They just saved you $59.95 and a headache.
      So am I saying that the Common Sense rating should take over? Not really. I think they still need a little work getting up to standard by reviewing more games, but since they review everything from games to movies to websites to music, their staff is spread pretty thin. Therefore, I think it'd be a lot smarter for the ESRB to just learn from the Common Sense folks and innovate. Include a review score at least.

Confirmed: Sony's Big Quarterly Loss Comes True
      So it's no big surprise that Sony is losing money on the PlayStation 3. Sony's games division has pulled down the overall finances to a $563 million net loss. That's not really newsworthy, but the implications of this may be. Sony has two options here: Try to just ride it out and hope that their killer software (seriously, check out Sony's Gamers' Day stuff) can pull the PS3 out of oblivion until the tech gets cheaper. That's option one.
      Option two is just doing a dramatic price drop now to help spur sales of the PS3, which will further their debt in the short-term, but may help them in the long-term since there will be more PS3-owners out there buying more games and Blu-ray movies that Sony makes licensing money off of. As to which option Sony will take, I really couldn't say. Both seem like pretty poor routes for them to go down.

Why There's No Folding On 360, Sony Displeased
      Folding@Home on PlayStation 3 is a feature that allows idle PS3s to help contribute to fighting disease for the Stanford University research group. People have been wondering why Microsoft hasn't released a similar feature for the XBOX 360. Well, apparently it's because the XBOX 360 isn't designed to handle that kind of processing and will cause the console to overheat and even warp, causing a fatal flaw. This is already happening through normal use, so obviously Microsoft can't have people using a feature that is designed specifically to use all available processing power for extended periods of time. The amount of "red rings of doom" would be staggering.
      But it seems that Sony already feels threatened by any whiff of a 360 version of Folding@Home, which doesn't really make sense. Rather than acting like a child pointing a finger and screeching "copycat!," Sony should be acting like suave adults and telling everyone "Microsoft learns from the best." It's not about the company's image; it's about letting normal people contribute in a big way to stop diseases. Sony needs to put their petty suspicions aside and act like trend setters. If they want to counteract any PR undertones Microsoft may have, then all they need to do is wish that 360 Folders would have as much impact as PS3 Folders using superior machines.

WEEKLY SAMPLER: Gamers' Day / Motorstorm Update / Starcraft 2 / Hard Boiled

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