Users can unlock achievements for watching video content on Xbox One

Winter is coming! Oops, I mean, new achievements are coming! We reported earlier that Xbox One will introduce new types of achievements which aren’t just tied to games. We now have some more details on this.

Microsoft has filed patent for achievements linked to TV. The patent links “awards and achievements to particular items of video or advertising content.”

The application explicitly states that the company wants to encourage users to watch particular video content by offering awards and achievements for watching it. So users can unlock achievements for watching an event like the SuperBowl, or watching an entire series like Game of Thrones.

Don’t be too surprised yet. Microsoft has stated that increased viewership can result in increased advertising opportunities. Sounds about right for an ”all-in-one games and entertainment system.”

Sources: Videogamer & Eurogamer

Is it ethical to disallow the use of used games?

If rumors that surfaced roughly a week ago are to be followed, the next Xbox will no longer be able to play used games. Game discs will ship with one-time-use activation codes that will render them irrelevant to anyone else but the person who first played the game. Of course, reaction to this among those in the gaming community is predictably negative. A common theme seems to be that not many people can’t go around spending $60 on games anymore; and that they’ll be more keen on buying a game for $20 used than they will buying a brand new game for $60:

Others point to the huge market that used games has created. In particular, GameStop thrives on the sales of used games. Even though used games only account for a third of its net sales, GameStop reports that used games account for more than half of GameStop’s profits in 2012. If used games were to not exist anymore, GameStop would assuredly suffer, even collapse onto itself for biting too much on the hand that feeds.

Ignoring the debate of whether eliminating used games altogether is a good idea, is it ethical to do so? It’s a loaded question, for sure, and because there are so many perspectives to use when answering such a question, I will focus on the perspective I align myself with the most: act utilitarianism. Then, I will look at it based solely on my subjective takes of “good” and “bad.”

Just be happy

For the uninitiated, act utilitarianism states that an action is good only if its net effect produces more happiness than unhappiness. This net effect is calculated using a formula that quantifies any action before it is declared as a “good” or “bad” action. A quick example would be sitting at home all day versus volunteering at some charity. The negatives of sitting at home all day greatly outweigh the positives, thus sitting at home all day would be considered a “bad” action. Vice versa, volunteering at a charity produces more positives than negatives, thus making it a “good” action.

Here, if we are to take this rumor as fact, then Microsoft’s action would be to disallow the use of used games for its console. Using act utilitarianism, let’s weigh the pros (+) and cons (-) of such an action:

ProsCons
Developers get rewarded.By any stretch of the imagination, this is probably the single biggest pro. By buying a new copy of a game, the developer of the game earns money. Sure, it’s not a whole lot per game, but it all adds up. By buying a game used instead of new, no money whatsoever is sent back to the developer. Definitely a bummer for developers who actually take the time to develop a game.Your ability to get rid of a game you don’t want is taken away.When buying any video game, you should have the ability to get rid of it if you end up not liking it. Whether that means simply returning the game to the store or selling it to a friend, this happens across multiple product categories. As long as we legally purchased the game, we should be able to get rid of it, and even sell it, if we want to. Prohibiting the use of used games in a console will eliminate that, and you’ll have to take a chance every time you buy a game. No bueno.
The new games market will once again be at the forefront.As it exists right now, this is a huge problem of the used games market. You barely see any industries that sell used copies of a product right next to the new copies. In addition, for the stores that do this, they would absolutely love to sell you the used copy instead of the new. They stand the most to gain, as 100% of the profit goes to the retailer in question. As a result, which do you think people will go for: a $60 game, or the used $55 copy of the game right next to it?Used games lead to purchases of new games.For publishers, what most, if not all, probably haven’t realized is that used games help in the purchases of new games. Hell, people actually trade in games in order to buy new games. Trading in used games helps the consumer save money on buying a new game, and by buying the new game, publishers and developers stand to gain from that. Take away the ability to play used games, and you take away this potential driving force for new games sales.
Developers can take greater risks with games.As discussed earlier, every time you buy a new game, the developer of the game earns money. By prohibiting the use of used games, and by virtue, eliminating the used games market altogether, developers can take greater chances since they will make more money. Since the new games market will be at the forefront, developers won’t have to worry about losing sales to the used games market. With that extra money, developers can further innovate and take risks.Retailers might not support the new consoles in rebellion.As a result of the virtual prohibition of used games in consoles, retailers, especially GameStop, will simply refuse to sell any more consoles. The used games market is, without a doubt, a huge market, and now that it would virtually be taken away by manufacturers such as Microsoft and Sony, retailers will simply refuse to sell their consoles. In this scenario, just about everyone loses.
Quicker and more significant price drops.Since, by extension, the used games market could potentially not exist anymore, developers can earn a lot more money. As a result, we could potentially see price drops at a faster rate. Of course, people will be quick to point out Call of Duty and Halo as examples of games that maintain their value because so many people buy those games. Ignoring those juggernauts, you could see games like the recently released DmC Devil May Cry get a nice sales boost when it drops in price even sooner than usual.Goodbye, GameStop.A lot of people may hate GameStop, but let’s face it: it is a video game retail juggernaut. Many have already written off GameStop and declared its obsolescence, but never undervalue the power of retail. GameStop’s focus has always been gaming, and has become an instantly recognizable brand. With the used games market to theoretically disappear, GameStop will crumble. Other retailers will feel aftershocks, but GameStop will feel the full brunt of the impact since its model hinges on used games and used products in general.

Is it ethical?

In terms of act utilitarianism, prohibiting the use of used games in consoles would ultimately end up as ethical. Though the pros and cons carry an almost-equal amount of weight, the fact remains that developers will not earn a dime from used games sales. Not only is it the biggest pro when considering the ethics at play here, but, by itself, is already a huge factor. Combined with the rest of the pros, and they slightly outweigh the cons. As such, under act utilitarianism, prohibiting the use of used games in consoles is ethical.

My take

What is my personal take? I tend to view myself as an act utilitarian, but I acknowledge that act utilitarianism has faults. That’s why I will tend to look at the big picture and nothing else. Will jobs be lost? Yes. Are used games important in the sales of new games? In some ways, yes. However, I will argue that not rewarding the developers that worked hard on those games we all play is a travesty in and of itself. If a game doesn’t seem like it, speak with your wallet: don’t buy it. If you believe the game is worth the purchase and that it’s a great game, reward the people who actually made it by buying it new.

In terms of actually prohibiting the use of used games in your console, again, I believe that it is ethical. The product that these manufacturers are selling are products intended to be made in a certain way. If they believe that way includes blocking the use of used games, then I am completely okay with that. I don’t mind buying new games instead of used ones. If a game seems good enough, then I will happily fork over the $60 for it and reward the hard-working developers. They don’t do this for free, after all.

Battlefield 4 “Deluxe Edition” leaked by retailer, includes “bonus in-game content”

UK retailer GAME has just outed a “Deluxe Edition” for DICE’s upcoming shooter, Battlefield 4, which is supposed to be exclusive to the shop.

Not only will players be given a special steel book case, there’s also a “bonus in-game content” that has yet to be specified as what exactly. Check out the entire content of this Deluxe Edition below.

The Battlefield 4 Deluxe Edition is packed with additional content, including the Battlefield 4 China Rising multiplayer expansion pack, bonus in-game content, and comes with a collectible SteelBook cover. The Deluxe Edition is available in limited quantities only.

Battlefield 4 Deluxe Edition Content:

  • Battlefield 4 Game
  • Battlefield 4 China Rising Expansion Pack
  • Bonus In-Game Content
  • Collectible SteelBook Cover

For now, this edition is listed for current-gen and PC versions only and is priced at £64.99 for consoles , and £54.99 on PC, which is £20 more than the standard edition.  Seeing as it’s listed to be exclusive to GAME, we’ve yet to confirm if the U.S. will see a similar deal but we wouldn’t be surprised if it did.

We’ve reached out to EA for a statement and will update the story once they responded.

What do you think this “bonus in-game content” will be? I assume it will be early access to some guns, maybe an exclusive camo, dog tag or two, no?

Thanks, Videogamer!

The Last of Us Hands-On Preview: Not the last I’ll see of this

I got hands-on with The Last of Us this week, this brutal stealth action horror game is a force to be reckoned with, the blend of exciting melee combat, gunplay and harsh landscapes make this game stand out uniquely above other games, in both gameplay and graphics.

The Last of Us is Naughty Dog’s most recent IP, and is not a zombie game. They were adamant on making that clear, instead the game uses fungus to spread infection. The fungus is a kind of cordyceps, most notable for being the apparent cause of athletes beating several world records in 1993. The famous Ma Junren Case saw a group of Chinese athletes beat 5 world records, apparently they took cordyceps and turtle blood.

The game opened up in a half-destroyed building with  Joel, Ellie and a third character who’s name I’ve actually forgotten (Good journalism skills, Patrick!). Graphically I was taken back, Joel really interacted with the environment, doing things like hiding his head from water, and hides behind cover in a way that makes you feel as if Joel is actually in the situation.

I started the preview with very limited supplies, but soon enough had a shotgun, two pistols and a bunch of rocks, sticks and metal pointy things. There’s a focus on using materials gathered to create new items and weapons.

It felt as if the game was divided into two things: scaling the landscape and combating enemies.

Scaling the landscape was pretty impressive and really took me back in time to earlier games like Tomb Raider, where you had to move around big chunks of brick to reach higher places. This is also the best way that we are able to view the game’s beautiful environment, as the game will have you climbing along the outside of buildings and scaling to the top floor of office blocks.

The issue with this is that Joel seems to often get confused when he’s meant to climb a small rock or do a high jump, and he’ll often jump as high as he can as if he’s trying to reach a really high wall, even if it’s just a small step up.

Fighting the enemies is the major challenge in the game, the weakest enemies even prove a challenge as they group up on you and swarm you almost instantly. As they pile on to you, you can push them off and run, but it rarely helps because they run so damn fast! But I adore the challenge and there’s nothing like the thrill of having a bunch of infected swarm on you at once.

I only saw two enemies, one was the runner which I just mentioned, the other was the “clicker”, once they grab you there’s no escape. To avoid these you have to use all of your resources, creating noises and sneaking around them. At one part of the preview I was attempting to stealth kill all the enemies, but accidentally punched an enemy in the back of the head and ended up wiping out the room with my gun. Now some of you will be upset by that because you’ll think the game is now less about stealth and thought, but that’s not the case because ammo is extremely limited.

This game is well on the way to hitting refresh on the survival horror genre mixing stealth, action and horror with brilliant story telling and platforming segments, all I can say is that I’m excited.

Saint’s Row 4 originally featured a flyable dragon

I love what I’ve seen of Saint’s Row 4 so far. But I can’t help thinking it’s a cool story bro, but needs more dragons ‘n’ shit. But according to Volition’s Senior Producer, Jim Boon Saint’s Row 4 originally had more dragons ‘n’ shit.

Speaking at a panel in the London MCM Comic Con, Jim Boon said

Saint’s Row 4 originally had a flyable dragon, that could shoot fire balls. But we had to cut it because we had to focus on finishing what we already had in the game.”

It seems almost definite that the game will have the dragon appear as DLC, I’d pay for that!

Boon then went on to say he can’t talk about

SPOILER

Gat, who is apparently now a Zombie. “We believe Gat is dead, there’s no Zombie Gat that we can talk about…”

END OF SPOILER

Grand Theft Auto V Special and Collector’s Editions revealed by Rockstar

In a press release sent over by Take-Two, Rockstar has announced the “Special” and “Collector’s” editions for one of this year’s most anticipated release, Grand Theft Auto V.

Listed below are the contents for each edition and their corresponding price.

Grand Theft Auto V Special Editionincludes ($79.99):

  • Full retail copy of Grand Theft Auto V;
  • Collectible SteelBook with Exclusive Artwork – features custom color and metallic treatments to bring out the detail of the Michael, Trevor and Franklin artwork created exclusively for this SteelBook;
  • Blueprint Map – exclusive, 21.5″ x 26.75″ map displays a blueprint view of Los Santos and Blaine County;
  • Special Ability Boost – Michael, Franklin and Trevor each have a unique special ability. With this boost, the special ability bar will generate 25% faster;
  • Stunt Plane Trials – single-player Stunt Plane Trials let players take on additional aerial challenges spread throughout Los Santos and Blaine County;
  • Bonus Outfits, Tattoos and More – Michael, Franklin and Trevor get bonus outfits in their wardrobes, character specific tattoos at tattoo parlors, and special deals from shopkeepers across Los Santos and Blaine County;
  • Additional Weapons – when visiting Ammunation stores in single-player, merchants will have special weapons in their inventory available for free: the Pistol .50, Bullpup Shotgun and melee Hammer.

Grand Theft Auto V Collector’s Edition includesthe contents of Grand Theft Auto V Special Edition ($149.99) plus:

  • Grand Theft Auto V Security Deposit Bag with Logo Key – inspired by the heists in Grand Theft Auto V, this custom 10.75″ x 8.5″ money bag features a pop-up style lock and laser cut logo key to secure important items. The reverse side features a pressed Rockstar Games logo on the security mount with a framed ID window;
  • Grand Theft Auto V New Era 9FIFTYTM Snapback Cap – this exclusive New Era 9FIFTYTM cap features an embroidered Los Santos logo on the front, a stitched, black Rockstar Games logo on the wearer’s left side, a Grand Theft Auto ’V’ logo applique on the opposite side, and snapback closure for an adjustable fit;
  • Custom Characters for Grand Theft Auto Online – get classic Grand Theft Auto characters to use within the Grand Theft Auto Online Character Creation System;
  • Unique Vehicles and Garage Property – players will instantly receive a garage to store custom vehicles. In single-player, the garage will be stocked with the 1930′s style Hotknife hotrod and the CarbonRS sports bike. In Grand Theft Auto Online, players will get the high-end Khamelion electric car.

On top of the added stuff, the Collector’s Edition will come packaged in a collectible outer box featuring foil embossed GTA V logo on the top and finished with a matte, scuff-resistant film lamination housing all of the contents.

Both the Special and Collector’s Editions will ship the same day as the vanilla one, which is on September 17 later this year for the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Retailer lists “Mirror’s Edge 2″ for Xbox 360

Hold on to your seat, folks! Amazon Germany has a listing for Mirror’s Edge 2 for the Xbox 360.

While there is a chance this is a mix up or whatnot, it’s important to note that retailers do have knowledge in advance what games publishers are lining up in advance.

Here’s a screen grab of the listing:

As you can see, the box art itself and price are placeholders. And if this is indeed listed for the Xbox 360, chances are there’s a PS3 version to be released, too.  Of course, with the franchise being a high-profile one, I’d expect it to see release on the PS4 and Xbox One as well.

We’ve emailed EA to ask for an official response and will update the story once they’ve replied.

Who’s up for more free-running goodness? Let’s hope this is one of EA’s announcements at E3.

Thanks, Wario64!

UPDATE: Every multiplayer game on Xbox One to get dedicated servers

UPDATE: Regarding Wired’s piece, it could very well be conjecture and not an official confirmation, here’s the entire report posted word-for-word:

Perhaps most intriguing, however, is that Xbox One gives game developers the ability to access Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform. That leads to a few obvious and immediate applications: All your downloaded and installed games and achievements are synced to the cloud and can be accessed and played without interruption on any Xbox One you sign in to; stable, dedicated servers for every multiplayer game rather than the notoriously fragile practice of hosting matches on one participant’s console; even multiplayer matches that can grow to 64, even 128 participants, rather than the usual limit of 16 or 32.

We’ve contacted Microsoft and will update the story again once they’ve responded.

Original Story:

Wired published an awesome piece on the Xbox One, but if there’s one thing that stood out to me, it’s the introduction of dedicated servers.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: there will be dedicated servers for every multiplayer game developed for the Xbox One:

…stable, dedicated servers for every multiplayer game rather than the notoriously fragile practice of hosting matches on one participant’s console…

This is a huge boon for users wishing to play multiplayer on the Xbox One. Hosting matches on someone’s console will be a thing of the past with the Xbox One. In addition, thanks to dedicated servers, multiplayer matches can exponentially increase in size, from the usual 16 or 32 to 64, or even 128.

This, alone, could be enough to sway some people back towards Xbox One’s camp.

Source: Wired

Rumor: Retailer posts alleged Xbox One price

While UK retailer GAME already has the Xbox One available for pre-order, it doesn’t really show how much it will cost. Well, that’s because Microsoft didn’t reveal the price for its newest console.

Fellow UK retailer Zavvi decided to out the price of the Xbox One, apparently. Head to the Xbox One product page, and you’ll notice that the retailer slapped a price tag on the console: £399.99. That translates to $606.30, though I will safely assume it won’t cost that much here in the US.

Of course, since Microsoft has yet to reveal the Xbox One’s price, take this with a grain of salt. Still, it seems like a good price for the Xbox One. Check out the screengrab below to see what I’m talking about.

Source: Zavvi

Call of Duty: Ghosts behind the scenes trailer showcases next-gen engine

There was a bit of a slip up last night when Gamespot accidentally ran the Call of Duty: Ghosts teaser trailer early, which was removed pretty quickly. (Watch the full version here).

At the Xbox one reveal two trailers ran for Call of Duty: Ghosts the first actual trailer, and the behind the scenes trailer. This trailer has Infinity Ward talk about their game and what they focus on, and how the dynamic maps will affect the game and gameplay.

I have to say graphically I was damn impressed, but I’ll save my thoughts on the game until I actually play it. I used to adore Call of Duty but the series has been quickly going downhill.