Video Game Statistics: Sales, Demographics, Usage

Post by Patrick

ESA_EF_2014-2

I’ve been reading a document I found online that breaks down various variables in regards to the gaming industry in the United States put together by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). The information presented within the document is based on information the ESA have collected for the United States. It gives us a pretty clear idea of just how dominate the gaming industry has become in regards to the movie and music industries. What it also shows is that mobile gaming is a booming business.

Some of the more interesting statistics I found:

  • 59% of Americans play video games
  • There’s an average of two gamers in each game-playing household
  • That the average US home owns at least one dedicated gaming console, PC or smartphone
  • 68% of gamers play on consoles, while 53% play on smartphones
  • The average age of gamers is 31
  • 52% of gamers are male, while 48% are female
  • When it comes to who is buying video games, it’s a 50-50 split between male and female gamers
  • Casual and social gaming on mobile devices increased a whopping 55% between 2012 and 2013
  • You can find more interesting statistics by downloading the ESA report.


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    Other Places: A Series Celebrating Beautiful Video Game Worlds

    Post by Patrick

    I came across Other Places through Twitter. It’s a website that publishes videos of beautiful environments found in games. I think it’s about time someone does this, we need someone to keep track and archive these worlds. They have a list of games they’ve already covered and even though it’s not a huge list (they’re still adding to it), it’s a great one. So be sure to check it out.

    otherplaces


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    Sensible World of Soccer 96/97

    Post by Mark

    sensiblesoccer

    I’m at the airport right now and not really sure what reminded me of the classic football game Sensible World of Soccer. So I just googled to see if by any chance someone out there had converted the game for OSX and turns out a publisher called GOG has not only converted Sensible Soccer to work on the Mac but a ton of other classics like Leisure Suit Larry, Magic Carpet, Ultima, Wing Commander and more. Check them all out [Here]


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    What I’ve Been Playing: Valiant Hearts and Tomb Raider

    Post by Patrick

    5

    Valiant Hearts: The Great War

    Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a game that was released late June by Ubisoft and it’s their third game that uses their in-house created game engine UbiArt Framework. The narrative revolves around a handful of characters that are connected in one way or another during the events of World War I. The gameplay reminds me of old-school point and click games. You start a level controlling one of the characters and you have to solve puzzles using items you find scattered in the environments. The art direction and music are incredibly well done, nothing seems out of place and the theme song is hauntingly beautiful. The atmosphere in the game is captivating. Every character has a diary that they write in and these entries gives you more insight into what they’re thinking. Every level also has collectibles, every collectible tells a story. Every level is also based on a real place and event that happened during World War I. Reading all this information is optional and Ubisoft did a good job by not flooding us with a wall of text and kept it at a decent length, enough to teach us something. Another interesting aspect of the game is that it doesn’t tell us the Germans are evil and the Allies are good. You’ll see both sides doing good and also terrible things.

    Unlike Ubisofts previous game Child of Light, I can easily recommend this game to anyone.

    Score:

    1

    Tomb Raider Definitive Edition

    I missed out on Tomb Raider on the PS3 and Xbox 360 so I was glad when I heard that the Definitive Edition was announced. Tomb Raider is a reboot of the franchise that was started way back in 1996. The game stars a 21-year old Lara Croft who gets stranded on a mysterious island within the Dragon’s Triangle off the coast of Japan. The game features a pretty big semi-open world that you can explore as you please. I say “semi” because some locations get blocked off after certain points and the only way to get back to them is through quick traveling. Some aspects of exploration reminds me of Metroidvania style games. You will find some areas are unreachable until you find an item that gives you access to the area. I really like the level of freedom the game developers give us. You’re not forced to play story missions. You’ll find side quests and hidden tombs (that have treasure) to explore.

    The narrative of the game is a focal point and the story is interesting but some aspects of it don’t add up. For instance Lara Croft has never killed before this game takes place and the game developers made a huge deal about Lara’s “first kill”. The moment is intense but after you get through it, Lara turns into a killing machine. She’s able to take down trained soldiers with ease. I know this was probably done for the sake of the “game”, but I feel that if the developers wanted to make such a big deal out of one moment, they could have at least taken it a step further and eased Lara into killing more enemies instead of turning her into Rambo right after the first kill. With that said, I like that there are various ways to go about fighting enemies. You’re not forced to do it one way; you can use elements in the environment to kill, you can use stealth, guns or a bow and arrow. Each has their advantages and disadvantages.

    The game also features some light role-playing elements. As you progress through the game, completing challenges that involve hunting, exploring or killing enemies you gain experience points that you can use to upgrade specific skills or abilities. You can also upgrade and customize your weapons by using material that you find throughout the game.

    Overall so far this is a pretty enjoyable game and I’m curious to see where the story goes.

    Score:


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    Best Deal on Xbox One Controller

    Post by Mark

    xboxone

    I picked up an Xbox One last week and since it only came with one controller I needed to pick up another. After doing a bit of research turns out Blink was selling the official controller for the best deal and by far. Check out the price comparison below:

    Blink: KD14.9
    Digumz: KD20.9
    Digumz Store: KD22
    GamesQ8: KD18
    Mr Babu: KD21
    Xcite: KD22.5


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    Buyers Guide: Wii U

    Post by Patrick

    wii u

    Since the end of E3 Nintendo has been riding a wave of positivity. The 3DS has continuously been selling well, Mario Kart 8 has been moving consoles and Nintendo is now sponsoring EVO. The future looks bright with Super Smash Bros, Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 1 & 2, Devils Third coming out around the corner with new games like the Legend of Zelda, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and Splatoon (among a bunch of others) announced at E3. The Playstation 4 and Xbox One have been selling well but with the exception of Destiny, Dragon Age Inquisition and one or two other games the rest of 2014 seems pretty lackluster. The exciting and promising games that were meant to still be coming out this year have been delayed until 2015. For that reason it seems like it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to invest in a Nintendo Wii U. The console isn’t perfect, it obviously isn’t as powerful as the PS4 or Xbox One but the Wii U is powerful enough to produce some beautiful looking games like Mario Kart 8 that run at 60 fps. If you have friends over the console features some great party games like Nintendoland, Wii Party U, Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart 8. There are also some great single player games that I’ve listed below. To top things off the eShop on the Wii U also features some classic Super Nintendo and Gameboy Advanced games, besides indie hits like Shovel Knight and Ducktales Remastered. Finally the Wii U is the only next-gen console that is fully backwards compatible so you’ll have access to great Wii games like Super Mario Galaxy and the Metroid Prime Trilogy.

    wii u games

  • Super Mario 3D World
  • Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
  • Wonderful 101
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • Lego City Undercover
  • ZombiU
  • Mario Kart 8
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
  • Pikmin 3
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
  • wii-u---egames

  • Shovel Knight
  • 1001 Spikes
  • NES Remix 1&2
  • Trine 2: Director’s Cut
  • Mutant Mudds Deluxe
  • Bit.Trip Presents…Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
  • Child of Light
  • Pushmo World
  • Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
  • DuckTales Remastered
  • wii-u---snes

  • Super Metroid
  • Earthbound
  • Super Castlevania IV
  • Super Mario World
  • F-Zero
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Mega Man X
  • Super Punch-Out!
  • Contra III: The Alien Wars
  • Super Street Fighter II
  • wii-u---gba

  • Advance Wars
  • Metroid Fusion
  • Golden Sun
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
  • F-Zero: Maximum Velocity
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
  • Kirby & the Amazing Mirror
  • Wario Land 4
  • Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3
  • Mario Tennis: Power Tour

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    Want to help out on an Oculus Rift project?

    Post by Mark

    oculus

    Local blogger Q8GEEK is working on a flight simulation game for the Oculus Rift and he’s looking for help. Specifically he’s looking for:

    1) 3D Artists
    2) Musicians
    3) Designers

    So if you’re interested in working on this project visit his blog and send him an email [Here]


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    Rogan and Goldberg Commentate on Funny EA UFC Glitches

    Post by Patrick

    pettis_01_1920x1080

    EA’s UFC game recently was released and users have been reporting a whole bunch of bugs and glitches. TTTHS got a hold of some footage and impersonated Rogan and Goldberg to come up with some hilarious commentary.


    [Youtube]


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    Buyers Guide: Playstation 3

    Post by Patrick

    PS3 Buyers Guide

    It’s been a couple of months since the Playstation 4 has been out and I personally haven’t found a reason to go “next-gen” yet. The console is lacking quality games and many of the promising games that were announced for it have all been delayed until (at least) 2015. So what can we do? Buy a Playstation 3. The PS3 was released back in 2006 and had a terrible first year and struggled to be an attractive purchase for gamers. It was ugly, bulky, expensive and didn’t have any really good games. Kind of like the PS4 nowadays, except Sony pulled off a great marketing campaign for the PS4 (and Microsoft dropped the ball at E3). Eight years later, the PS3 has a great library at games and you can find a console for pretty cheap. I’m going to be sticking to exclusives, so don’t expect Grand Theft Auto or Assassins Creed on the list. Also, Ni No Kuni is missing because of the horrendous companion AI, don’t play it unless you enjoy yelling profanities at cute charming characters who consistently do mindless dumb things.

    PS3 Games

    The Last of Us
    Uncharted 3
    Little Big Planet 2
    Valkyria Chronicles
    Ico & Shadow of Colossus HD
    Demon’s Souls
    Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection
    Tales of Xillia
    Resistance 3
    Heavy Rain

    PSN Games

    Journey
    Tokyo Jungle
    Flower
    Guacamelee!
    Lone Survivor
    Lumines Supernova
    WipeOut HD
    Soundshapes

    PS Classics

    Xenogears
    Persona 4
    Psychonauts
    Final Fantasy IX
    Metal Gear Solid
    Crash Bandicoot
    Grandia
    Resident Evil 2
    Parasite Eve
    Chrono Cross


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    First Person Shooters, How Much Has Changed?

    Post by Patrick

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    Since the release of Wolfenstein: The New Order this image above has been circulating around Twitter and other social media sites apparently showing how far games have advanced since the release of the original Wolfenstein in 1992. But how much have first person shooters actually advanced? Not really that much. But is that really an issue? I think the problem arises when we look at the bigger picture. First person shooters are the action movies of the video game industry. They’re not necessarily bad, but they’re abundant, lack variety and can get mind-numbingly repetitive, albeit fun in short bursts. When it comes to first-person shooters we don’t really have much choice between what kind of games we’re playing. There are some exceptions like the Half Life, Deus Ex, Metroid Prime and Portal franchises.

    The original Wolfenstein popularized the genre of first-person shooters and Doom took it a step further, adding more pixels to the visuals and multiplayer modes. They had ultimately set the foundation and precedent for first person shooters for years to come. In the majority of these games your character is tasked from moving from one room to another killing enemies. Moving through the environment is a basic task for the most part requiring no skill or precise movement. The majority of the games get repetitive in single-player mode as you’re just walking from one action set-piece to another. That’s the basis of the majority of first person shooters and that basis hasn’t changed since the release of Wolfenstein back in 1992.

    Sometimes you’ll come across exceptions to this rule. These games tend to have a couple of things in common like a strong narrative, choices in how to approach enemies (or avoid them) and environments you can interact with in someway. Half Life was like your typical FPS but it added platforming and puzzle elements. Moving from one room to another wasn’t such a simple task anymore. These two new elements made the FPS aspect of the game less repetitive and added a new dimension to the genre. The Deus Ex games added stealth and role-playing elements. Giving you choice on how you progressed. You could get through any Deus Ex game without shooting a single bullet, or you could go Rambo and shoot everything up. Metroid Prime took a 2D game and turned it into a fantastic first-person adventure game. There was a narrative that you could discover by exploring and “scanning” aspects of the environment you were in. It made the game feel more immersive. Portal is a strange game in the sense that you’re not shooting your gun to kill enemies, but to traverse the environment and to solve puzzles. And how weird is it that we consider a game where you don’t have to kill anything unique?

    And it’s rare for a first person game to feature an interesting, engaging narrative. The single-player mode in FPS these days feels like an after-thought. The majority of developers seem to focus more on the multiplayer aspects of their games. Some developers have tried to create interesting worlds and stories. Id software released Rage 3 years ago, creating a big world that you navigate with a car that you could customize. The concept was interesting, a mixture of Mad Max and Fallout, but the execution was lacking. You were basically driving from point A to point B, with nothing interesting happening in-between. It was unnecessary. The levels were for the most part incredibly linear. It was a shame, because Rage had a lot of potential. The enemies could be frightening and the AI was intelligent, moving through the corridors at fast speeds avoiding your gun-fire. Then you had games like Halo, which also have the potential of a powerful narrative and a great single player mode. The single player campaign mode in Halo games ended up incredibly mediocre with flashes of brilliance. The multiplayer modes which were fun in early iterations ended up trying to imitate some of Call of Duty’s multiplayer aspects in the later Halo games, which made the game less unique and the fun short-lived.

    Now that “next-gen” consoles are out developers should be taking advantage of the hardware. Sadly when you look at what games they’re working on it seems that things wont be changing in the near-future. Open-world games, third-person shooters, first-person shooters are all for the most part following very similar formulas. Companies want to have the next “big” hit, the next Grand Theft Auto, the next Call of Duty, so they take less risks and we end up with bloated, huge-budget games that end up not selling well. This turns companies away because they don’t see profit. The video game industry is huge and makes more money than other entertainment industries, everyone wants a piece of it. When the video game market crashed in the early 1980’s it was due to the over-saturation of the market, these days it seems like the opposite is happening, we lack choice.

    Luckily indie developers are making games that are fun, varied and unique. We have designers, artists, programmers leaving the bigger development studios to start their own little companies to create the games they want and that’s really good news for us, the consumers. And luckily, we live in a day and age where these small studios are (mostly) respected and where they have the freedom to publish their games on whichever platform they choose. Ultimately, choice and variety are (obviously) a good thing. I’m not saying that games like Wolfenstein: The New Order are bad games, they can be enjoyable. But the video game industry needs to discover a balance between “more of the same” and the “new”. If not, how long will it be until gamers get sick of playing similar games, over and over again? How long can it stay fun?


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