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PC Games (Games)

PC Grand Theft Auto IV Features SecuROM DRM 531

arcticstoat writes "Game developer Rockstar has revealed that the forthcoming PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV will feature the controversial SecuROM 7 DRM system. Unlike some of EA's recent titles, such as Spore and Mass Effect, GTA IV won't limit the number of times that you can install the game, although SecuROM will be impossible to remove without leaving 'some traces' on your PC. Anyone hoping to avoid SecuROM by downloading the game form Steam will also be disappointed, as Rockstar says that all versions of the game will feature SecuROM, including digital versions online. On the plus side, Rockstar says that it's 'working with SecuROM to post information on our support pages regarding how to remove these inactive traces of the program for users who wish to do so.' Has Rockstar gotten a better balance between draconian DRM and fair copy protection here?"
PC Games (Games)

DRM-Free Classic Games Store Opens To Public 122

arcticstoat writes "With all the controversy surrounding DRM in games at the moment, one games store has decided to buck the trend, proudly proclaiming that all its games are DRM-free. First announced back in July, Good Old Games is now in the public beta stage, which means that anyone can now access the site's archive of classic PC games, and you can do what you want with your game when you've bought it, too. 'You won't find any intrusive copy protection in our games; we hate draconian DRM schemes just as much as you do,' says the site. 'Once you download a game, you can install it on any PC and re-download it whenever you want, as many times as you need, and you can play it without an internet connection.'" In related news, Stardock, the company responsible for the Gamer's Bill of Rights, is apparently working on a new copy-protection solution that will be friendlier to consumers than current schemes.

Blizzard and Activision Announce $18.8bn Merger 298

Ebon Praetor writes "The BBC reports that Blizzard and Activision have announced an $18.8bn merger. Activision's CEO, Bobby Kotick, will become the head of the joint company, while Vivendi, Blizzard's current parent company, will become the largest single investor in the new group. Even with the size of the merger, the combined company will still be smaller than the industry giant EA. 'As part of the merger plan, Blizzard will invest $2bn in the new company, while Activision is putting up $1bn. The merged business will be called Activision Blizzard ... Vivendi will be the biggest shareholder in the group.'"

Adverjournalism - The Role of Ad Dollars in Media 91

Gamer 2.0 writes "The Gamer 2.0 site has a look into the role of advertising in gaming journalism, with a few reflections especially topical given the Jeff Gerstmann controversy. From the article: 'It should come as no surprise that just about every gaming forum on the internet is ablaze right now following the news of GameSpot's termination of long-time editor, Jeff Gerstmann. This article, however, is not an exposé or look into what really happened at GameSpot this week. Rather, consider this a look at the direction of gaming journalism, advertising, and how this all plays a role in the content you read.'" There have been a few more developments in the situation since Thursday night, with rumours, scuttlebutt, analysis, and cynicism reigning on every message board from here to C|Net. There has even been a spontaneous act of solidarity from elsewhere in the games journalism field.

ESRB Ratings Across the Consoles Charted 73

Gamasutra has up an analysis by Matt Matthews looking at the distribution of ESRB ratings across several generations of consoles. He makes particular note of Nintendo's efforts with the GameCube and Wii: "On the GameCube over 51% of the games were rated E and 6.1% were rated E10+. This makes the GameCube appear to be more friendly for younger gamers ... From the beginning Nintendo has wanted to attract non-traditional gamers with its Wii hardware and software. Perhaps as a result of the manufacturer's strategy, many Wii games have been designed to appeal to -- and therefore are rated for -- a general audience. Over 82% of the Wii catalog is either rated E or E10+. Only 3.2% are rated M, less than half the rate on Nintendo's previous console, GameCube. Still, that 3.2% is significantly higher than the rates on either the Nintendo DS or the Game Boy Advance." Matthews makes a few offhand comments about the analysis on the Curmudgeon Gamer site, as well.

Condemned 2 Trying to Avoid Manhunt 2's Fate 108

CVG is reporting that Monolith, makers of the upcoming Condemned 2, are working with the ESRB to avoid an AO rating. As we've discussed previously, an AO ban in the states is effectively a ban on retail sales. From the article: "When asked for examples of what we might now never see in a game again, we were told, 'An example of what we cut would be putting someone's head in a vice. That was too much, you know. There are also some decapitations we've lost. But this is more Sin City than it is real world and we want people to know that this is not a real world.'"
The Almighty Buck

$60 Games Are Here To Stay 361

Next Generation explores the price jump for 'next generation' titles, looking into the success of the $60 price point for videogames. They have a copious number of graphs and charts to support their findings: "Even without Guitar Hero II, prices in 2007 are still at historically high levels. In January, fully four of the top 10 games sold for $60 or more. In February, that jumped to five $60 games, and the average rose accordingly. While there were four $60 games in March, they shared the top 10 with two Nintendo DS games which brought the average down sharply. This happened again in March -- the month of Pokemon -- and also in May."
PC Games (Games)

EU Considering Regulating Sale of Violent Games 299

Spamicles writes "European Union justice ministers met today in order to discuss the regulation of sales of violent video games to minors. Europeans were riled up last year when a German gunman shot several people before taking his life at a secondary school. A European Union Commissioner is taking advantage of the shootings last year called for stricter regulations in the video game industry. A motion introduced last month calls for legislators to "put in place all necessary measures to ban the sale of particularly violent and cruel video games.""
The Media

A Unique Perspective on a 'Game-Related' Tragedy 378

Megnatron writes "Penny Arcade has a letter from the stepmother of one of the kids who was recently charged with killing a homeless man. Her article is an extremely sobering tale of the problems dealing with troubled teen. She explains how, in this situation, the parents did everything they possibly could. And, in a refreshing twist, she absolves the games industry of any blame for the tragedy these kids perpetrated. From her missive: 'Video games DID NOT make this kid who he was, and it's unfortunate that the correlation is there. The thing that really gets me with this whole thing is that the kid knows full well that by equating what he's done to a video game, that he will generate controversy and media coverage. It makes me sick that the media is jumping all over this, because that is exactly the result that he wants. The only good thing (if there is such a thing) that has come out of this whole ordeal is that the kid is behind bars. That is exactly where he needs to be.'" Her letter is a passionate, troubling story, but well worth reading.

Vista Not Playing Nice With FPS Games 437

PetManimal writes "Computerworld is reporting that gamers who have installed Vista are reporting problems with first person-shooter titles such as CounterStrike, Half-Life 2, Doom 3. and F.E.A.R. (Users have compiled lists of games with Vista issues.) The complaints, which have turned up on gamers' forums, cite crashes and low frame rates. Not surprisingly, the problems relate to graphics hardware and software: 'Experts blame still-flaky software drivers, Vista's complexity, and a dearth of new video cards optimized for Vista's new rendering technology, DirectX 10. That's despite promises from Microsoft that Vista is backwards-compatible with XP's graphic engine, DirectX 9, and that it will support existing games. Meanwhile, games written to take advantage of DirectX 10 have been slow to emerge. And one Nvidia executive predicts that gamers may not routinely see games optimized for DirectX 10 until mid-2008.'"

Vista Casts A Pall On PC Gaming? 425

simoniker writes "In an opinion piece, casual game publisher WildTangent's CEO Alex St. John (himself a Microsoft veteran and one of the DirectX creators) has sharply criticized some of Windows Vista's features as they related to video game creation, noting: 'We have found many of the security changes planned for Vista alarming and likely to present sweeping challenges for PC gaming, especially for online distributed games. The central change that impacts all downloadable applications in Vista is the introduction of Limited User Accounts. LUA's can already be found in Windows XP, but nobody uses them because of the onerous restrictions they place on usability. In Vista, LUA's are mandatory and inescapable.'" Meanwhile, the word has also come down that games will be on the Zune by Summer of next year.

Wii Owners Looking at a Nintendo Drought? 230

The site Computer and Videogames has up an (unverifiable article) stating that several anticipated Wii titles are going to be delayed until late 2007. Specifically, they mention Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption as being out of our hands until the Christmas season next year. They report this information via 'reliable sources', and Nintendo is unwilling to confirm or deny the claims as of yet. N'Gai at Newsweek reminds us that Reggie Fils-Aime denied the possibility of a 'Nintendo drought' in an interview they conducted back in October. Here's hoping he doesn't live to regret these words: "... The third example I would give you is Mario Galaxy, another from-the-ground-up Wii game that we are strategically timing the launch to make sure that we continue driving momentum through 2007. So N'Gai, how do I answer the question, 'Will there be no drought,' and 'How will we make sure that there are fantastic titles for Wii?' The answer is Zelda, Metroid and Mario. Which is a pretty darn good lineup."
The Courts

Lawsuits That Changed the Games Industry 54

Gamasutra has up a piece looking at litigation that changed the way the games industry works. Deep, interesting questions like "Is modding legal?", "Are games covered by the 1st amendment?", and "Are games protected by copyright laws?" have all been decided in legal cases within the last 20 years. The site explores these issues, and ponders issues that are likely to affect the business of the games hobby in the future. From the article: "A variety of laws have been put forth by state legislature to act toward censoring game content or controlling the sale of games. As a rule, be immediately suspicious of any legislation proposed in the name of 'security' or 'protecting our children.' The result is often a jumbo size bite taken out of artistic expression and individual liberty. To date, the ESA has fought and won nine out of nine cases on these issues, having the state laws declared unconstitutional. Furthermore, the ESA has sought and won more than $1.5 million dollars in attorneys fees."

Jon Stewart to Save the Gamers? 133

Joystiq's political column, courtesy of GamePolitics, talks this week about the bad rep games and gamers get in the popular press. They ask the question: 'Who will save the gamers?' Their answer: Daily Show host Jon Stewart. From the article: "Pennsylvania's Joe Pitts, mocked by Stewart for saying that violent games might affect ghetto children differently from affluent kids, actually protested -- after his opponent in a tough election campaign exploited The Daily Show fiasco for political gain. And that's precisely why Jon Stewart could be the savior of games. People tune in. For many younger viewers, it's the only news program they watch. Stewart, and colleague Stephen Colbert are seen as smart, funny, credible and relentlessly sticking it to the man. Elected officials, on the other hand, can't afford to come off as bumbling, low-tech and clueless. Naturally, Stewart helps them do so on a nightly basis."

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