Wii U won't have any Frostbite 3 games -- it doesn't support the engine

Wii U Continues to Shy away from Game Publishers

The Wii U console from Nintendo has suffered from poor sales, poor reception, and a strange sort of self-demoralization since launch.  Not only does Nintendo seem oblivious to this decay in their fan base but they seem content to carry on with tactics that are guaranteed to dig an early grave for the Wii U.  Games like Crysis 3 were set to launch ont he console and would definitely have cemented the console’s “right to live” in the eyes of more “hardcore” gamers but Nintendo failed to engage with the publisher and let the title slip quietly off the console.

Why?  Who knows — but they keep doing it.

More Disappointing News from Wii U

 Kotaku is reporting that Wii U has failed to fix the problems with their console that are keeping big name publishers from pushing their huge titles on the Wii U.  Games like The Witcher 3 and Thief (4 perhaps) will not appear on the console.  Neither will games like the Next Dragon Age or Mass Effect.  Why?  Because Nintendo has its head stuck solidly up its ass.

Wii U Won't have Witcher 3
Screenshot from Witcher 3 (another title that won’t be available on the Wii U)

The Wii failed on so many levels but forcing publishers and developers who were already working in HD graphics and with in-game sales models to dumb-down their code before it could be ported was an ultimately stupid idea.  Sure the Wii U supports HD graphics and the user interface has been tweaked but if Nintendo can’t get solid titles on the console it will follow its younger brother into obscurity.

Lead developer of Battlefield 4, Patrick Bach, told press at Eurogamer that Wii U doesn’t support (and has no plans to support) the Frostbite 3 Engine — meaning any game that uses it will never appear on the console.

This is an incredible blunder ont he part of Nintendo because a lot of major titles already run on Frostbite and many more are to come.  In fact, BioWare has adopted Frostbite for several of their upcoming titles.

Nintendo’s Wii U Has the Hardware but Not the Support

The sad part is that the Wii U is capable of handling all of these games.  In fact, Crysis 3 was running on a Wii U console prior to launch but negotiations for publishing rights fell through and the Crytec team abandoned the console.  What is Nintendo doing by scaring away these third-party developers?  Why are they turning a blind eye to their demographic?  Why don’t they want the Wii U to succeed?

Should Nintendo get out of the console game and leave it to more business-minded manufacturers like Sony and Microsoft?

Maybe.  Essentially Nintendo is already allowing their Wii U to commit gaming console suicide.

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Xbox Live Updates Bring a Ton of New Content to the Console

Microsoft has worked hard to turn the Xbox 360 console into something more than just a gaming rig.  They want it to be an all-in-one media and entertainment center and have been continually adding service to Xbox Live for years.  Their latest upgrade brings a ton of new content (some free and some paid — requiring subscriptions to third-party service such as HBO).

New Xbox Live Content from Revision3, HBO, and More

This latest update will put Revision3 (the current home of XPlay’s lead reviewer and game guru Adam Sessler) to your Xbox Live service. This Internet televisions production service boast that it makes the best TV shows on the Internet.

Revisions3 coming to Xbox Live

There will also be independent films available on your Xbox Live service via IndieFlix — an upstart competitor to more established art-house publishers like IFC.

IndieFlix coming to Xbox Live

And if you’ve downloaded the SmartGlass app for your portable device, you’ll be able to enjoy HBO Game of Thrones content as well.  Of course, you’ll have to have access to HBO and you will need a Windows 8 device or an S device in order to get that last bit.

Game of Thrones coming to SmartGlass for Xbox Live

(If you don’t know, SmartGlass is the app that allows you to control, interact, and expand your Xbox 360 experience via linking to a smartphone, tablet, or other wireless device.)

And one interesting free service that’s also coming to Xbox Live is PopcornFlix.  The free streaming service will allow users access to tons of movie at no additional cost — it’s all paid for via your yearly Xbox Live subscription.

Xbox 360 Continues to Outsell Everybody Else

Even with rumors of its impending decrepitude, the Xbox 360 console continues to outsell all of the other consoles on the market. Whether because of the aggressive pricing, the abundance of additional content, or the familiarity of the brand, Microsoft is really kicking behind. The console recently enjoyed its 25th month of being the top dog as far as sales figures go.

And the rumors (and not-so-rumors) of new consoles on the horizon may actually fuel the fire. Judging from historical views of the console market, when new machines are launched, the old machines enjoy considerable price cuts. With consoles as low as $200 I don’t know how much farther down Xbox 360 prices can go but I doubt Microsoft will pull the plug on this generation of consoles just because the next has launched.

 

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T-Mobile iPhone 5 to compete heavily with AT&T's handsets

T-Mobile iPhone 5 Models, Pricing, and Contract Details

The announcement earlier this week stunned a lot of people:  the T-mobile iPhone 5 will be available soon — for cheap — without a contract!  that’s right, in a news conference earlier this week the carrier that’s struggling to turn itself around and take on the Big Boys like AT&T made some huge announcements.

First, they said the T-Mobile LTE network is in testing in 9 cities across the country.  Then they announced that they’d be getting rid of their restrictive 2-year contracts and opening up a host of new plans to new people.  Then they announced that the T-Mobile iPhone 5 is a real thing and will be available (without a contract) for just $100 (upfront).

T-Mobile iPhone 5 Pricing Scheme

T-Mobile iPhone 5 to compete heavily with AT&T's handsetsThe announcement caused quite a stir and a lot of outlets struggled to get more details out of the company. Well, they’ve cleared the air a little bit and let their T-Mobile iPhone 5 pricing scheme out in the wild. Of course the $100 offer is for “qualified” persons (meaning you have to have good credit) but that doesn’t disqualify those with bad credit from getting the phone altogether — they’ll just have to pay more.

So, the $100 down plan means you’ll have to pay an additional $20 per month for 24 months. After that period, your plan drops $20 per month. So, the total cost of a T-Mobile iPhone 5 is just $579. That’s $70 cheaper than AT&T’s iPhone 5.

In addition to the “standard” T-Mobile iPhone 5 set-up available in-store, the carrier will also offer 32GB and 64GB versions as online exclusives. The former will retail for $199 down with the additional $20 for 24 months. The Latter will cost you $299 with the 24 monthly payments attached.

In all cases, the T-Mobile iPhone 5 pricing is considerably less than comparable models at AT&T. This has led analysts to speculate that T-Mobile could sell as many as 3 million iPhone 5 handsets during 2013 alone. That’s about 10% of all T-Mobile customers!

These flexible plans and an updated 4G LTE network could very well tease a solid number of subscribers away from bigger carriers like AT&T though only time will tell.  Will you be interested in buying a contract-free T-Mobile iPhone 5 when they become available?

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Play Console Games on Your Browser with Mozilla’s Unreal Port

Console games have brought gaming to the masses in a way that PC exclusives could never do.  By making gaming affordable, console games have breached the exclusivity of the digital world and allowed everyone to get their hands on home entertainment of the highest quality.  Of course the debate about PC versus console games quality will continue to rage but Mozilla has stepped in with an interesting idea that may just change the dynamic.  the Company behind Firefox (the third most popular web browser — depending on whose statistics you believe) has announced that they’re looking for a way to bring console quality games to your web browser.

Console Games On Your PC’s Web Browser

It may sound like mission impossible but the company has spent a good deal of research funding on porting the popular Unreal Engine over to its web browser.  This would, essentially, allow console games such as BioShock Infinite to be played on a web browser without the need for either a dedicated gaming console or a gaming PC.


Mozilla is currently constructing WebGL in order to port console game style 3D graphics to a simple web browser configuration.

Mozilla Seeks to Make Browser Games Better than Angry Birds

Though web browser games are incredibly popular, they’re unable to tap into a “hardcore” group of gamers (most who have been playing “real” games since Doom) because they’re far too simplistic. however, by bringing console games and similar technology over to the PC, Mozilla may just be able to tap into that untouched market.

The biggest hurdle would be, of course, load times. But with game streaming technology like OnLive and others really coming to the fore, it’s not impossible to see how a game’s components might be split up. While the bulk of the data would be stored on the user’s PC, sections could be made available in cloud storage. This would allow the cloud to call upon the data stored locally in order to facilitate faster rendering and gameplay. Mozilla has unleashed The Khronos Group (the makers of WebGL) onto the problem and, according to ArsTechnica,  they’re working to develop

A common set of data formats for 3D models, textures, and other resources that 3D applications need.

granted, there is a lot of work to do but the simple fact that Mozilla is even interested shows just how lucrative brining console games to web browsers could actually be.

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Law Enforcement to Mandate Carriers Store Text Messages?

In a disturbing Big Brother kinda of turn of events, law enforcement officials are banding together to pass legislation that would mandate all cellular carriers to store text messages.  the move would keep those texts on file for an indefinite amount of time for the sole purpose of making them available to law enforcement during criminal investigations.  It may sound okay at first but the safety and security of stored text messages alone is a whole messy can of worms.  Add to that the fact that nobody could be absolutely positive about how these agencies would be using these stored texts and you have a very controversial issue indeed.

Bill Would Instruct Carriers to Store Text Message Incriminating or Otherwise

CNET uncovered the request from “a constellation of law enforcement groups” that included those in several major cities across the United States. Word is that the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, the National District Attorneys’ Association, and the National Sheriff’s Association are the three main leads behind this proposed legislation.

Carriers may soon be required to store your text messagesThe legality of asking carriers to store text messages will definitely be called into question but with testimony in hand leaders from these agencies have been repeatedly proposing this move to various congressional groups since earlier this month.

The Good Side of Stored Text Messages

Investigators would be able to use these stored messages to prosecute individuals in various criminal activities including theft, domestic abuse, murder, and a host of other offenses. The stored text messages would also likely lead to greater recovery rates for stolen items and could indeed prevent crimes before they happen.

The Bad and the Ugly

Companies can’t even keep highly secured data safe from hackers so what’s to say that our stored text messages would be any safer? Random degenerates could easily get their hands on private sexy time messages, be able to follow the activity of individuals, and even access sensitive data that shouldn’t have been sent via text (but was anyway).

In addition, policing the police is a notoriously impossible job and civilian oversight committees are struggling to keep up with their current load of police infractions. Adding another layer to this may be a case of the straw that broke the camel’s back.

And who is to say that these text messages won’t be used for inappropriate purposes? The law enforcement agencies requesting them? The carriers responsible for storing them? It’s a very slippery slope and the issues seems to be sliding relatively unnoticed right under our collective noses.

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T-Mobile LTE Testing in Multiple Cities (Finally)

After years of passing of an inferior cellular network as 4G, T-Mobile LTE is finally right around the corner.  the news comes just weeks after a comprehensive third-party 4G network speed test discovered that T-Mobile was lagging behind all of the other nationwide carriers as far as speed was concerned (like light years behind).  The carrier currently only offers a HPSA+ network which it markets as 4G (but it’s really not).

Is T-Mobile LTE Testing Coming to Your Town?

The T-Mobile LTE testing is in isolated cities across the mop (and then not in the totality of any given city) but you could be (or maybe already are) benefitting from the necessary speed boost. Testing markets include:

  • Denver
  • Las Vegas
  • Kansas City
  • New Orleans
  • New York
  • San Diego
  • San Jose
  • Seattle

As OpenSignal notes, these T-Mobile LTE testing sites will likely be the first cities in which the service is available when it goes full blast.

T-Mobile LTE announcementT-Mobile LTE announcement Keep in mind, this is a test, only a test, but after years in development it looks like T-Mobile is very close to making the leap to offering an actual 4G LTE network.

There is another hitch though.  Because T-Mobile LTE is, for all intents and purposes, currently non-existent, the company doesn’t offer any 4G LTE phones per se.  However, a couple of their compatible headsets will be able to make use of the higher speed connectivity during the testing period.  These include:

  • Galaxy Note II
  • BlackBerry Z10
  • Galaxy (S III and IV)

T-Mobile LTE Speeds Respecatble

OpenSignal has been testing these T-Mobile LTE signals as well and has discovered that the 4G service isn’t just a watered-down version — it’s the real thing. With download speeds peaking at 25Mb/s and uploads of 8Mbp/s the T-Mobile LTE service looks to be on par with every other provider out there.

However, Gizmodo suggests that because the carrier has been able to squeeze astonishing speed out of their last generation cellular service that they may have something special waiting up their sleeves. In fact, the website believes that because T-Mobile isn’t replacing their existing network with LTE but just building on that they could position themselves as the provider to turn to if you want overall solid performance.

Oh, BTW, T-Mobile also now offers the iPhone 5 without a two-year contract.

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Borderlands 2 DLC Krieg playable Bandit

Borderlands 2 Just Got Better with Tons of New DLC Announced

Gearbox announced several upcoming changes to its amazingly popular shooter Borderlands 2.  While the title has enjoyed huge success already and has been continually supported through multiple DLC releases, fans of Pandora and the vault hunters thereon will get even more goodies, guns, characters, and levels coming this April.

Borderlands 2 DLC Brings More Leveling, a New Playable Character, and Much More

Borderlands 2 has suffered from a level 50 cap since the game’s release. The Internet has cried out for months now trying to get Gearbox to increase that in order to facilitate additional skill building and the general elite feeling of being better than all of your friends. Thankfully, after April 2nd, players will be able to shoot for level 61.

But the DLC promised to us at the PAX East conference offers so much more. Gearbox also showed off a new playable character in the Bandit class. Previously, bandits were solely NPC enemies, noted for their insanity, bad fashion sense, and foul mouths. Now you can play as one of those lovely miscreants.

The new character, named Krieg, is a muscle-bound meathead with a whole new class of skills for players to exploit.

Tiny Tina also made a triumphant return at the PAX East showcase event though here role, as yet, is still hush-hush. the video shows Tina and the vault hunters playing some sort of RPG game and likely is a teaser for yet another DLC pack similar to the three already released:

  • Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty
  • Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage
  • Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt

Borderlands 2 DLC Tiny Tina Campaign

In addition to these three main DLC packs for Borderlands 2, players were also able to access the Mechromancer pack (which added another playable character), and the Psycho and Ultimate Vault Hunter Packs which included tons of excellent loot.

The as yet unnamed Tiny Tina DLC pack was promised to be the biggest DLC pack yet for Borderlands 2 and will be available for download in June.  Judging from the fan reaction to the announcement, the Tiny Tina expansion may be one of the most popular yet — trumping even Mad Moxxi’s Underdome!

There were also a few other teasers announced at the Pax East event but these are the major points of interest.

For it’s dedication to its fans and the continued support of its game, Gearbox has my vote for one of the best publishers in the industry.  With dedicated teams games like Borderlands 2 and Mass Effect 3 can extend the love long after the main campaigns are finished.  Here’s hoping Bioshock Infinite can follow through with its three promised DLC packs.

 

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FAA May Soon Allow Tablets, eReaders, and More During Takeoff & Landing

You may soon be able to use your eReader, tablet, or other select digital devices on airplanes during takeoff and landing.  That’s according to buzz from behind the scenes at the FAA.  The Verge reports that the Federal Aviation Administration is considering flyers to use such devices during the maneuvers if they can be used in “Airplane” mode — meaning Wi-Fi and cellular receivers off.

That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to use your cellphones though.  Those digital devices will still be banned except during taxi maneuvers while the plane is on the tarmac.

FAA Study Supports Rule Change

The FAA launched a study last year and discovered that the ambient buzz from these devices doesn’t interfere with critical components of the aircraft. The study was the result of increasing pressure (according to an unnamed source who leaked info to the New York Times) to either allows these devices to be used or offer a credible explanation of why they can’t be used.

The study also looked into such topics as policing these new policies, what exactly should and shouldn’t be allowed, and whether or not the individual rules should be left up to airlines or if the FAA would issue a blanket statement across the nation.

FAA may allow tablets, ereaders, and more during takeoff and landing

The FAA has come under scrutiny for its lack of transparency in the past but even law makers are getting in on this fight. Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri said in a statement that the FAA needs to come up with some sort of official stance. She introduced legislation that would effectively bypass the FAA’s authority on the issue and allowed such devices to be used during any portion of an airplane’s flight.

The Verge also reports that the outgoing chairman of the FCC wants to see a change in the FAA regulations as well, stating that the agency really needs to relax its restrictions.

Currently, many airlines offer paid Wi-fi during flight but require transmitting devices to be powered off during what the FAA reports are the most dangerous times for aircraft maneuvering — takeoff and landing.

The final results of the FAA study will be available in July and any regulations changes will likely be months in the making.  However, this may be a very welcome change for those tech-savvy travellers and regular air commuters.

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Bill to Ban Google Glass While Driving (In West Virginia)

Google Glass isn’t exactly controversial. It does look a little funky and may cause wearers to get “the eye” from passers-by but is there anything inherently wrong with wanting to be connected all the time? Apparently so, according to law makers in West Virginia. Gary Howell, a member of the state’s House of Delegates, has introduced legislation that will ban Google Glass while driving.

West Virginia Seeks to Ban Google Glass

Howell was “inspired” (according to Gizmodo) to write the bill — which will effectively ban Google Glass for all users while ont he road — after reading a review on CNET of search engine’s augmented reality device. Howell said that the young are, in general, unexperienced drivers and:

“it is mostly the young that are the tech-savvy that try new things”

Gary Howell

(Feel free to add a “fangled” in there anywhere you like.)

While Howell says it’s not the place of the United States government to protect people from themselves, he feels it is necessary to ban Google Glass while driving in order to protect non-users from those who adopt the new device as an accepted part of daily life.  It’s a sentiment that many can get behind as similar laws regarding other distractions are already on the books in many states across the nation.  Rather than a matter of policing individuals, these laws are designed (mostly) to protect the general public.   To some extent they also decrease the monetary expense to local, state, and federal governments by decreasing the amount of uninsured hospital visits.

Bill would ban Google Glass while driving in West Virginia

He added that while he “actually like[s] the product and [he] believe[s] in its future” he sees the need to regulate its use to prevent avoidable accidents and unnecessary loss of life.

If Bill to Ban Google Glass Passes, What’s Next?

While most would agree that banning the use of certain products during certain activities will benefit the greater good, if it’s not crafted well the bill could effectively lead the U.S. down a slippery slope.

The crusade to ban Google Glass from roadways could lead to legislation restricting its use in other areas as well — such as public venues, private and governmental offices, even the beach!  I’m not saying that it would, just that it could.

And is it really smart to ban Google Glass before anyone actually sees the retail version of the product?  Just like cellphones have hands-free options available, Google Glass could also be updated to have a “Drive Safe”mode or some such addition.  A blanket ban on the product (even as restricted as this ban is) seems like a bad idea.

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RetroN 5 Gaming Console Plays All of Your Old Games!

The RetroN 5 gaming console from Hyperkin allows users to play all of their old favorite cartridge games from the 16-bit through 32-bit without having to do major surgery on an ailing Nintendo or Sega.  This all-in-one gaming console is actually the fourth in line from Hyperkin (they skipped the RetroN 4 because the RetroN 5 is just so awesome) and allows players to easily continue their childhood fun with classic cartridge games from:

  • Nintendo
  • Super Nintendo
  • Sega Genesis
  • Famicon
  • Game Boy Advanced
  • Game Boy
  • Game Boy Color

Scheduled for a July release, the gaming console will retail for under $100 (according to Gizmodo) though no word on just how far under.

As an added feature to those graphics snobs out there, the RetroN 5 console has an HDMI output and will automatically upscale video output to 720p — which really doesn’t matter because 16-bit Nintendo games aren’t going to look that great.

RetroN 5 gaming console makes use of 7 types of cartridge

The console will also feature just two controller ports because it used the standard Super Nintendo controller (or compatibles) to interact with all of the Nintendo titles save the older NES games. The NES port will pull double duty and work for the Famicon games as well.

RetroN 5 Console Lets You Save Money On Spare Parts

Keeping a console going long enough to enjoy decades old games is nearly impossible. You can’t simply blow in it and pray that it works. You can spend big money searching used marketplaces like eBay and Amazon for older consoles (most which don’t work themselves) and piece them together to form a frankenconsole but it can be expensive, time consuming , and difficult.

The RetroN 5 saves you all that time and money by essentially slamming all 7 of these historic consoles (and handhelds) into one box so all you need are working cartridges (which is another story all together — you can blow in those!)

How is this all possible? HJyperkin has taken sly advantage of the expiration dates on the original manufacturer’s patents and copyrights in order to capture all of their hard work — decades later. Essentially, they’re looting dead corpses. Which is kind of cool because the RetroN 5 is breathing new life into old games.

Gizmodo even speculated that further in the future a new RetroN console may emerge that features playability for your favorite 64-bit games as well — as soon as those copyrights expire.  Maybe the Japanese should just skip a step and let Hyperkin have the rights to the Nintendo Wii U.

Now all you have to do is climb up in the attic or go dig around on eBay to get your hands on some game cartridges to feed into your new RetroN 5 console when you get your hands on it.

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