The change of Xbox Live Community games to Xbox Live Indie Games has had a lot of people concerned. Anytime Microsoft makes a change like that, it is never just a name change. When Passport became Live, everything changed. And that seems to be the case here as well.
There is a whole new pricing structure, and it is not going to make developers happy. The current prices are 800, 400 and 200 Microsoft points, working out to $10, $5 and $2.50. The new prices are 400, 240 and 80 MSP, or $5, $3 and $1. If you are currently offering a game for 200, it will automatically drop to 80 at the launch. Also, your game must be sized under 50MB to qualify for this price point. If you currently offer a game for 800, you will be allowed to keep that price point, as long as you don't make any changes. If you release a new version with bug fixes, sad story, you must choose a price from the new list.
Sony has decided to join the modern world with its VAIO laptops in the coming year. Mike Abary, a Senior VP for Sony, said that they plan on introducing a touch-screen laptop to its current VAIO offerings. I hope that this attempt will be a lot better than the HP sister product, the TouchSmart, which is annoying on its best day, and a paperweight on its worst.
The more interesting announcement, however, involved the PlayStation Network coming to the Windows platform. Abary said,
This is a story that will hurt
Adam greatly. Sweden wants to tax your MMO avatar sales. That's right, if you sell a game character for, say, WoW, you will be required to pay an income tax on that money. Their reasoning is,
The agency has investigated the trading in avatars during a 14 month period and found the advertised sum of avatars for sale by Swedes to be 662 million SEK. But no one has ever declared any income for trading in avatars to the Tax Agency.
Last week President Obama said some pretty hurtful stuff about gaming. He said:
To parents, we can't tell our kids to do well in school and fail to support them when they get home. For our kids to excel, we must accept our own responsibilities. That means putting away the Xbox and putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour. It means attending those parent-teacher conferences, reading to our kids, and helping them with their homework.
Now, Obama's gaming hatred has been legendary. This time, however, he took on the beast itself, Microsoft. Microsoft responded to the Associated Press by saying:
You know how the economy sucks and everything is failing? Well, that does not include Blu-Ray. Apparently, Blu-Ray sales are up 91 percent in the first half of the year. In addition to Sony's successes, digital distribution was also up 21 percent.
The rest of the industry didn't do quite as well. Packaged media was down a total of 13.5 percent. What I find most interesting about these numbers is that Blu-Ray is packaged media, so is that included in the 13.5 percent loss? If it does, did anyone sell any DVDs in the first half of the year at all?
Either way, this is definitely good news for Sony, who currently has the only Blu-Ray enabled gaming system, and will be enhancing their digital distribution system for the PS3 (possibly with this "Cloud" service?).
Last weekend Electronic Arts and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation got together with Microsoft, GayGamer.net and others to hold a panel on "how to provide safe spaces for LGBT people online, how to ensure the best policies are in place to prevent virtual attacks against LGBT people and how to educate the users of online communities about the effects of homophobia."
Anyone who has spent any time on Xbox Live knows that gay bashing in the virtual world is epidemic. Microsoft has tried to limit the exposure to the problem, but in a seemingly stupid way: by banning people from telling people on the profile that they are gay. While the goal is noble, the means are stupid. That being said, the stats are pretty staggering on how big of a problem this really is.
Hit the break for stats from the survey.