Upcoming 360 Shortage?[xbox]
Microsoft has been very vocal about its plan to supply plenty of Xbox 360 units when the machine is released in November, ensuring a lack of widespread shortages. However, the always-informative Chris Morris over at CNN/Money is reporting that the company may be running into problems generating enough supply. Multiple analyst firms have lowered their estimates of how many units the manufacturer will ship. The hope has been that Microsoft will get over two million consoles out worldwide in 2005, but American Technology Research's P. J. McNealy believes Microsoft will hit between 1.8 million and 2 million, while Banc of America's Gary Cooper expects only 1.4 million to 1.6 million. With Microsoft planning on a global launch, a shortage of supply would be even more detrimental, since the initial batch of consoles must be divided among the various territories. Many retailers are already taking advantage of the situation by requiring customers to purchase the 360 as part of a larger bundle.
When questioned about manufacturing numbers in an X05 roundtable interview, Microsoft Chief XNA Architect J Allard responded, "We have a term for this. It's a very technical term. It's called a very hard problem. It's just hard. I can't comment on numbers at all. You can try all you want. I'm not going to give you any numbers partly because we're only in the beginnings of manufacturing and the rate that we're aiming for is very, very steep."
Allard Invents Revolution Controller, is "Wise"[xbox] [nintendo]
Microsoft's ever-outspoken Chief XNA Architect J Allard has spoken his mind regarding Nintendo's Revolution controller, indicating that he himself thought of a similar concept four years ago, and determined that "there wasn't that much enthusiasm around it" from gamers and developers. He does not seem concerned with whether the actual execution of the idea has anything to do with its reception. Though he does think Nintendo will find uses for the controller in its first party games, he notes, "I don't think most Electronic Arts games are going to be played with that thing." Allard went on to incisively question "How am I going to watch a movie on Revolution [using its controller]?" Engineers at Nintendo were heard to exclaim, "Shit! That's the type of thing we didn't take into consideration!"
He then claimed that customers want choice, which is why the dual pricing scheme for Xbox is a sound decision, though he asks, "Are there developers who are disappointed?" and answers, "Yeah, sure." He contrasts Microsoft's approach with Apple's non-upgradable iPod strategy. Allard explained that iPod Shuffle owners are "screwed" if they want an iPod Photo. The architect also reassured customers that "There isn't a game on 360 that you can't play without a hard drive," apparently forgetting about Final Fantasy XI and, presumably, any other upcoming MMOs. However, it seems he is technically correct in that the Xbox 360 version of Final Fantasy XI does not actually exist yet.
In another interview, Allard admitted that "What we learned with Halo  is you don't ship a game before it's ready." He then hastily added, "Not that we shipped a game before it's ready, but because we were very wise to wait until November. I put in the capabilities that we wanted." Good save there, Allard, putting in those capabilities. I've always said he's a wise guy. Also, thanks to Bungie for actually making the game.
360 Backwards Compatibility List Soon[xbox]
Though there's not much news about it yet, Microsoft's Peter Moore revealed that gamers can expect a list of Xbox 360-compatible Xbox games in about two weeks. As previously stated, a certain number of "bestselling" Xbox games will have 360 compatibility code preloaded onto the 360's hard drive. Moore also reiterated that Microsoft will continue to release backwards compatibility patches for other games, "Until consumers show lack of interest--then we will move on."
Moore stated that the backwards compatibility team is progressing well.
Schwarzenegger Signs Game Bill[ps2] [xbox] [gamecube]
Today, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill which will legally prohibit sales of particularly violent games to minors. The governor had not previously indicated whether he was in support of or against the bill. Today, he explained, "I am a big believer in those video games. I mean they're terrific, a lot of them are manufactured in California and they're doing a great job. We just want to make sure it doesn't go into the wrong hands or children under the age of 10 start playing those things because it does have an impact on our children." He did not address the issue of children between the ages of 11 and 17, though his signing of the bill would indicate he is against certain games going into their hands as well.
According to the bill, "exposing minors to depictions of violence in video games, including sexual and heinous violence, makes those minors more likely to experience feelings of aggression, to experience a reduction of activity in the frontal lobes of the brain, and to exhibit violent antisocial or aggressive behavior." The law will take effect January 1, 2006. The Entertainment Software Association plans to launch a lawsuit in opposition to the new law.
Nintendo Earnings Drop, Profits Hold[gamecube]
Pointing to falling GameCube performance in North America, Nintendo announced a 6.9% sales drop in the first quarter over last year's results. The company also cited high research and development costs on its upcoming Revolution console as a contributor to slimmer profit margins. However, strong DS performance and the weak Yen have led Nintendo to keep its revenue forecast unchanged and raise its profit estimates substantially.
GameStop/EB: The Circle is Now Complete[ps2] [xbox] [gamecube]
The two biggest gaming retail chains, GameStop and Electronics Boutique, have completed their long in the works merger after shareholders, as expected, approved the transaction. The deal will become set in stone this weekend, and the resulting company will keep the name GameStop Corp. The company is far and away the biggest presence in the used game market, but Best Buy, which is controlling a growing part of the overall gaming retail market, was recently determined to be moving into used game sales.
Marek Bronstring of Idle Thumbs delivers his X05 game impressions, covering Ubisoft's
Peter Jackson'sMichel Ancel's King Kong (PS2, Xbox, GCN, X360, PC), Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (X360, PC), Epic's Gears of War (X360), and Bioware's Mass Effect (X360).
IGN has a developer interview on Creative Assembly's Spartan: Total Warrior (PS2, Xbox, GCN).
Screenshots: WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006 (PS2, also PSP).
Movies: NBA 2K6 (X360, also PS2, Xbox).
GameSpot checks out Konami's Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix (GCN).
IGN previews EA Canada's SSX On Tour (PS2, Xbox, GCN), Taito's Taito Classics (PS2, Xbox), and Pandemic's Star Wars Battlefront II (PS2, Xbox, PC, PSP). 1UP checks out Midway's Blitz: The League (PS2, Xbox).
Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]
Earthworm Jim for the Sega Genesis. "Probably one of the most unlikely action heroes ever, Earthworm Jim was a great combination of humor and excellent gameplay." (submitted by Uncle Slappy)