NGP's success will hinge on its software

By Mike on 9:00 pm

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Sony dropped a bomb on the gaming world yesterday. After months of speculation, we finally have a true successor to the PSP. It's not a phone either. It's an NGP, or "Next Generation Portable." That's what Sony is calling it. The device is a beautiful meld of the PSP and iPod Touch, mixed in with some pretty impressive hardware. OLED screen, dual touch surfaces, and two mighty quad core chips powering it.

Sony has gambled on high tech over the last six years. The original PSP was impressive for its day, and the PS3 was essentially a mini super computer. Sony's hardware is outstanding on all fronts, but that's only half the equation.

The PSP sold poorly in North America, relatively speaking. The Nintendo DS has outsold the PSP two to one since both launched in 2004. Sony has revised the hardware three times since then. Then again, so has Nintendo.

Sony's real problem with the PSP was lack of proper software support. Developers and publishers both bailed on the device. Although piracy was blamed, it's only a small part of the story.

The NGP is a powerhouse but it
will need original, innovative game to keep up

The PSP never really had any standout titles beyond God of War and Monster Hunter. Most of the games were pretty humdrum. Sony wanted to bring the console experience to mobile. That's commendable, but they did a lackluster job. Many of the games were ports of older PS2 titles, featuring watered down graphics. Few original franchises made their way on the system. Games were also consistently low rated. Not bad, but not good either.

So far the NGP seems to be going down the same road. They've already showed off an Uncharted: Drake's Fortune port for it. Rumour has it there might be Metal Gear Solid ports as well.

If Sony wants the NGP to be a hit, they're going to have to take a page from their competitors. The system needs its own Pokemon and its own Angry Birds. Original, innovative titles that allow games to be played in bite sized portions. That's what portable gaming is all about. Nobody wants to sit through a twenty minute cutscene while riding the bus.

Image courtesy of HyperBeast

Metered internet sending us to the online dark ages

By Mike on 1:06 pm

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More people than ever are looking to cut the cord. With the rise of services like Skype and Netflix, people are beginning to wonder why they need separate services at all. Just pay a small fee to each company and get everything online at a bargain. That's the beauty of net neutrality, and that's why big telecom companies want to quash it.

The CRTC, Canada's telecom regulation body, ruled this week on internet metering. Companies such has Bell Canada Enterprises have been fighting for this for some time. What metering does is allow these businesses to charge consumers per byte rather than in lumps of data. Every consumer would get up to 25gb of data per month, then pay through the nose after that's gone.

The idea is to put the breaks on heavy downloaders. You know, all those nasty pirates out there stealing software. It's unfair to other people, they say, because it snarls online traffic. That may have been the case five years ago when YouTube, iTunes, Pandora, Netflix and Skype didn't exist or weren't popular. Today, everybody is a heavy downloader. They want their content available exclusively online. Nobody can justify paying $120 a month for TV, and $60 for telephone on top of everything else. That's what has the likes of Bell and Rogers scared.

"Smart" hydro meters were intended to save money.
Like these, metered internet will end costing you more.

What the ruling does is threaten to send us back to the digital dark ages. The CRTC has long ensured that Canada's big telecoms are given monopolies. They do this by giving beneficial rulings to them which restrict consumer choice and keep foreign competition out. Netflix, for example, is already expressing concerns that this ruling could threaten their Canadian operations.

However, if you think this is only limited to Canada, think again. Big telecom companies around the globe have been trying to cut service through stricter caps, metering, and a la cart internet premium packages.

Canada already has the most expensive monthly rates for internet in the developed word. Internet speeds and service quality aren't keeping up with everyone else either. This is yet another big blow to cash strapped consumers. Paying more money to use an aging network is little more than a cash grab.

If you would like to voice your concern on the CRTC's metered internet ruling, send an email or letter to Minister of Industry Tony Clement. His contact information can be found here. For more information on internet metering in Canada, visit and sign their petition.

Nintendo 3DS: Eye-popping 3D gets an eye-popping price tag

By Mike on 9:02 pm

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Get ready for yet another three-dimensional revolution. Nintendo is telling everyone to circle March 27th on the calender. That's the date their much anticipated 3DS hand-held will launch in North America. The system is the first of its kind to deliver 3D visuals without needing special glasses. Those eye-popping graphics will command an equally eye-popping price. The device will retail for $249.99 for the system alone. No pack in games have been announced.

Gamers are already complaining about the high price. The 3DS is the most expensive successor yet to the venerable Gameboy. It costs 66% more than the original Nintendo DS, with half the battery life. The 3DS will feature a handful of games at launch. Major Nintendo franchises such as Mario, Zelda, and Metroid are curiously missing from this collection.

Source: Wikipedia

Video games don't kill

By Mike on 7:19 pm

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Video games did not cause the Arizona Massacre. Though some politicians are trying to tie them to the alleged shooting of US congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords by Jared Loughner. Republican representative Tim Murphy had this to say on the subject on CNN's State of the Union.

"This is something we have to pay attention to. Look, as we're trying to piece together what happened in Arizona, unfortunately, people are going at the low-hanging fruit and they're blaming political discourse, which may have some role in the underlying aspects here, but we also need to look at there will be other things that come out - the music, the video games, the social ways that people handle anger."

Rep. Tim Murphy (R) thinks gaming kills,
doesn't understand mental illness

I don't usually post political comments on MMNTech, but this issue bothers me. Study after study shows there is no link between video games and violence. Loughner plays violent video games. So do a lot of other people. It's such a common activity, it's hard to find someone in that age group that hasn't.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D) scowls at Chief of Naval Ops Mike Mullen
for admitting he likes to play Call of Duty. Okay, maybe not.

Blaming video games or the media for violent attacks shows ignorance. People on both the left and right display a poor understanding of mental illness. That's what likely caused the shooting. It's shameful and detracts from the real issue. Nobody got this man the help he needed, despite the obvious signs. We desperately need to reassess the way we diagnose and treat mental illness in North America. Stop scapegoating society and culture for the government's failures.

Source: Kotaku