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Wii U Will Be at CES, Just Don’t Expect Anything New

Wii U

Nintendo traditionally does not have a presence at the Consumer Electronics Show. Following a report that Nintendo would be at CES 2012, taking place next month, Nintendo has announced it will demonstrate the Wii U for the media — it just won’t be doing it with anything new.

After months of rumors and speculation, the Wii U was formally revealed at this year’s E3 in June. A variety of third-party games were shown, as were demos of Zelda HD, New Super Mario Bros. Mii, and a handful of other things. You might be hearing about those games once again in a few weeks’ time — CES takes place January 10-13 — but we won’t be talking about anything other than what was seen at E3.

“Nintendo of America, working with the 2012 International CES management, will offer demos of the upcoming Wii U console to members of the media who did not see the system at the 2011 E3 Expo,” reads a statement Nintendo shared with 1UP today. “However, Nintendo will not have a booth at CES, nor does it plan to include any games, experiences or information beyond what was available at the 2011 E3 Expo. Production and development efforts remain on track for the Wii U launch, which will take place between the start of the 2012 E3 Expo in June, and the end of 2012.”

More than likely it won’t be until next year’s E3 that new Wii U stuff starts being shown by Nintendo. Hopefully by then it’ll be able to tell us whether or not the system supports more than one tablet controller.

By Chris Pereira

OP-ED: EA Being Named America’s Worst Company is Crazy

EA worst company

Electronic Arts is the winner (loser?) of The Consumerist’s annual Worst Company in America tournament this year. Following a round of nominations and weeks of head-to-head, March Madness-style voting, the Redwood City, California-based videogame publisher was named the top vote-getter in the finals today in which it was squaring off against Bank of America.

Before going any further it’s important to note this is an Internet poll, and as such can’t be taken as an actual indication of what the population believes is the worst company around. Yet even with that caveat in mind, it’s hard to fathom that a company responsible for making games could be loathed so vociferously.

Yes, EA has certainly done its fair share to draw the ire of gamers. Origin has been condemned by many as an unneeded hurdle for playing PC games, a copy of Steam that does a poorer job and offers nothing in return even when its usage is mandatory. Others deplore the way it has monopolized the football market, acquiring the exclusive rights to the NFL and effectively killing off the excellent NFL 2K franchise while failing to innovate with its annual Madden releases. There are those who detest the way in which it sells downloadable content. Online passes have been a frequent target of criticism, and it was EA that pioneered the concept with Project Ten Dollar. The company has acquired a number of developers and been accused of forcing them to compromise or alter the way they develop games, or worse yet closing them down. Online servers for its games (even ones carrying online passes) have been shut down more rapidly than they should be. Most recently, Mass Effect 3 has been surrounded by controversy whether it be for the availability of launch day DLC that some felt should be in the game for free or because of the allegedly terrible ending (which almost certainly was the driving force behind EA coming out on top in this tournament).

Mass Effect 3

Even if all of these points are accepted as fact, there is no way EA or any other company in the games industry should be beating out Bank of America or many of the other companies in the tournament. (Walmart, GameStop, PayPal, AT&T, and Comcast were among the 32.) It’s difficult to even begin to pick out examples of the things Bank of America has done to make it more worthy of this dishonor. But however dissatisfied you may be with how Commander Shepard’s story concluded, false foreclosures are surely a much more serious matter.

This is not to say EA is or isn’t undeserving of gamers’ hatred; I do feel the reaction to Mass Effect 3′s ending was over the top, I don’t blame EA for snatching up the NFL license even as someone who greatly preferred the 2K games, and I think Origin might be pretty good some day. But especially when it comes to matters of objecting to downloadable content or the games it puts out, you are more than welcome to not spend on your money on those things — no one is forcing you to be nickel-and-dimed, as EA and others are accused of doing. Yet those in the games media who choose to point to how silly EA winning this tournament is are guaranteed one thing, and that is to be accused — baselessly, I might add — of being bought off or bribed by the publisher.

Again, feel free to dislike EA and its business practices all you want while keeping in mind that EA is a business (and accordingly does want your money) and that it doesn’t owe us anything (regardless of whether or not that is a smart long-term business decision). But also remember that this is, after all, the videogame industry, and to suggest that a bank with a deplorable track record is worse than EA is not an indication of bribery or blindness, but an attempt to put all of this EA hate in perspective.

By Chris Pereira

Rumor: Sony Creating a “Multichannel TV Service”

Rivals to traditional cable have been sprouting up left and right over the last few years, with services like Netflix, Hulu, HBOGo and more convincing consumers to throw out their cable box and stream content from the ‘net. And if a new report from Variety is any indication, Sony is working on its own “multichannel TV service to rival cable.”

Variety terms Sony’s endeavor an MSO – or Multiple System Operator — and states that the company is seeking licensing for various channels and “that [the service] could roll out in the U.S. later this year.”

“Few specifics are known about the proposed service,” Variety admits, “but it would be a package of linear channels akin to what pay-TV distributors traditionally provide, only delivered via broadband connection. In contrast to the cable operators who are bound by a geographic footprint, a virtual MSO can conceivably offer TV service to any subscriber nationwide.”

Variety notes that “content and infrastructure” necessary for such an endeavor could cost Sony billions, money it doesn’t necessarily have at the ready considering its well-known (but improving) financial troubles. Then again, Sony has made investments even as the company was hemorrhaging money and laying off thousands of its employees, proven by its $380 million acquisition of cloud gaming firm Gaikai.

Interestingly, Variety reports that “it’s unclear whether Sony would have to create additional hardware to activate a multichannel service… or whether a deployment would even be restricted to Sony products.” However, should this rumor prove true, it’s safe to assume that, like Gaikai, Sony’s MSO is likely to be functional on Sony’s upcoming (but yet unannounced) new PlayStation console.

Though Variety got Sony’s standard “we don’t comment on rumors and speculation” line when they inquired for comment, we’ve reached out to Sony as well for clarification.

Colin Moriarty is an IGN PlayStation editor. You can follow him on Twitter and IGN and learn just how sad the life of a New York Islanders and New York Jets fan can be.

By Colin Moriarty

Final Fantasy XIV Beta Applications Open

Final Fantasy XIV image

Square Enix has unveiled the beta test application site for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is now open, meaning you should apply now if you want a chance to test the game ahead of its re-release later this year.

Applications are open for both the PC version of the game, which launched to a lacklustre reception back in 2010 and was closed in November 2012, as well as for testers wanting to try out the long-delayed PS3 version.

The application site comes in both North American and European flavours, so be sure to pick the one that’s relevant for where you live.

In addition to this, a new prologue trailer has been released showing the dawning of a new age in Eorzea. It’s the same as the one that was shown when the servers closed down last November for the most part, but with some pretty notable additions to the ending. You can check it out below.

Luke Karmali is IGN’s UK Editorial Assistant and lifelong Final Fantasy fan. You too can revel in mediocrity by following him on IGN and on Twitter.

By Luke Karmali

Microsoft’s Phil Harrison warns Steam Box creator Valve about console business

Gear & Gadgets on  Image / Screenshot

Gear & Gadgets Image

Apparently, the console business is not an easy one. Of course, that may be a bit deceiving judging by the recent influx of console announcements we've received the past few months. Dating back a few months we've heard of the Ouya, the GameStick, and perhaps the most intriguing of them all, Valve's mysterious Steam Box.

Valve has been long-rumored to be working on some sort of home console based on the company's PC game service, but we haven't yet seen anything official. At CES, we got a look at something many thought was the Steam Box (or at least very close to it) in XI3's Piston, but Valve's Gabe Newell reaffirmed the company is still working on its own console — putting to rest those speculations.

We don't know when or what Valve's plans are for the Steam Box, but Microsoft Studios executive Phil Harrison has issued a word of warning to Valve and other companies looking to delve into the console market: "Entering the hardware business a really tough business."

Speaking to Eurogamer, the ex-Sony PlayStation development boss and console business veteran explained, "You have to have great fortitude to be in the hardware business and you have to have deep pockets and a very strong balance sheet. It's not possible for every new hardware entrant to get to scale."

"They can be successful at small scale. But it's very rare for a new hardware entrant to get to scale, and I mean tens or hundreds of millions of units. There are a very small number of companies that can make that happen." Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft, of course, are the three successful ones that come to mind.

"And it's not just having a great brand or a great software experience. It's about having a supply chain and a distribution model and a manufacturing capacity and all the things that go with it. It's a non-trivial problem to solve and it takes thousands of people to make reality," he said.

Harrison went on to say that while he "admires" Valve as a company and what they've achieved with Steam, he wouldn't consider it to be the "benchmark of success."

"We would always seek to innovate and push beyond," he said of Microsoft's ability to grow its own cloud gaming service. "Xbox Live as a foundation, the reach we have and the experience we deliver is a great place to build on."

As it stands right now, Xbox LIVE currently has 40 million users from over 70 million Xbox 360 units sold; Steam boasts an even more impressive 50 million active users. Who knows, maybe Valve can pull off its own console — I'm sure there are plenty of gamers that want to see them succeed. Even Harrison welcomes the Steam Box.

"Any new entrant, without being specific to any company or brand or product, to the games industry is ultimately a good thing, because it helps validate, grow and enhance consumer excitement and consumer interest in our category," Harrison concluded. "So, ultimately, it's a win for everybody."

Keep in mind, Harrison's comments come at a time when speculation of a new Xbox console from Microsoft is at an all time high. Many expect a new Xbox system will be revealed sometime this year.

Tags: Microsoft, Steam Box, Valve

By Matt Liebl

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