Microsoft Drops Digital Anvil[xbox]
Digital Anvil, the studio founded in 1996 by Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts and later bought by Microsoft, is being shut down and its staff relocated to other Microsoft Game Studios positions. The studio was formed after Roberts grew dissatisfied with the direction of former employer Origin, and he hoped to recreate the small studio mentality, which he considered conducive to better games. The company released its first game, the space sim Starlancer (DC, PC), in 2000. At the end of that year, Microsoft announced its intention to buy the studio. At that time, largely under the direction of ex-Microsoft publishing VP Ed Fries, Microsoft was buying and making deals with many independent (or previously independent) studios. At the same time, Roberts announced his intention to leave Digital Anvil. Microsoft then sold two of the company's in-progress works, Conquest: Frontier Wars (PC) and Loose Cannon, to Ubisoft. The former was released in 2001, and the latter seems to have been quietly canceled somewhere along the line. Roberts remained in a consulting role on the better-received Freelancer (PC), released in 2003. The company also released Brute Force (Xbox) soon after.
The closure will be effective as of January 31, 2006.
Microsoft Ups 360 Shipments[xbox360]
Next Generation reports that according to a Microsoft representative, more Xbox 360 units are on their way to retailers "for the weekend," so if you find yourself in need of one of the machines and have been resisting the exorbitant eBay prices, you may soon have your chance. Let's just hope we don't see another launch-like event with campers and lines. So, uh, keep this on the down low, right? I'm just telling you guys because I like you. Don't spread the word around, or you won't be able to get one.
It is estimated that Microsoft has sold between 300,000 and 400,000 Xbox 360s in North America so far (for reference, about 300,000 units will be distributed across all of Europe for that continent's launch). American Technology Research suspects Microsoft could have sold about triple that number had supply met the demand, but insists the situation was not due to any kind of conspiracy or planned shortage. "I think they would have been happy to have sold another million if they could have. They just didn't have them," said analyst P.J. McNealy.
In regards to reported faulty Xbox 360s, Microsoft notes that the number is below the 3% average for new electronics. It was not stated whether this was taking into account all reported problems or merely replacements.
Sony Commissions PSP "Graffiti"?[psp]
It seems that Sony may be using a rather unusual marketing scheme to promote its PSP console. Reports have been coming in increasingly frequently of stenciled cartoon characters holding PSPs (or sitting on them, or using them as skateboards, or licking them). At first, some assumed it might have been the work of one or a few particularly enthused PSP owners. However, by now, they have been sighted and photographed across urban areas in Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco, which seems to suggest that some kind of organization is behind it, be it Sony or another entity. It's certainly not genuine street art; the Wooster Collective, "A Celebration of Street Art," has a photograph of a man applying one of the images (which he is copying from pad). One of the most widely-circulated reactions comes from a resident of the Lincoln Heights community of Los Angeles, asking, "Is anyone else concerned that Sony Playstation paid someone to vandalize our neighborhood to sell their latest toy, the PSP?"
For Relaxing Times, Make it Potion Time[ps2]
Square Enix has announced that for the Japanese release of Final Fantasy XII (PS2) on March 16, 2006, the company will be partering with beverage producer Suntory to produce a licensed drink for widespread distribution. Photographs can be found here. Suntory was featured in Sofia Coppola's film Lost in Translation, in which Bill Murray's character spent time in Japan filming commercials for the company. Currently, the drink has a working title of "Potion," but one would assume they'll come up with something better. The two firms claim to be searching for a flavor that is totally unique, but also admitted it is similar to herb tea.
Business Week explains why your Xbox 360 is good for games, but not necessarily at everything else.
GameSpot shows the difference between Xbox and Xbox 360 running the same games.
Movies: Peter Jackson's King Kong (DS, also PS2, Xbox, GCN, X360, PSP, PC).
Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]
Snake's Revenge for the NES. "Metal Gear without Kojima. It's weird action focused gameplay is neat...but it's just so unlike the rest of the series." (submitted by revraven)