Gaming news summary for April 15, 2015
The Weekly Game Replay is no more, because there will be more posts than just once a week, due to popular demand. Rebranded the Game Replay and published every Sunday and Wednesday, the staff of MacNN and Electronista provide a look at the wider gaming landscape. Today's list of noteworthy gaming items include the launch of Grand Theft Auto on PC, the return of Guitar Hero, and one gamer's attempt to recreate the ill-fated OnLive using Amazon Web Services.
New bundle comes with two games, limited to Wal-Mart, Microsoft Store
Consumers looking for a replacement Microsoft Xbox 360 will have another option coming on October 7, just in time for the holiday shopping season. The new version of the almost nine-year-old console is bathed in blue, adding arctic blue accent pieces on both console and controller. Priced at $250, the Xbox 360 Special Edition Blue Bundle comes with a 500GB hard disk in the console, a month of Xbox Live Gold, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
Retailer diversifies as game sales switch to downloads
US-based game retailer GameStop is planning to add 23 Simply Mac locations this year, and as many as 400 Spring Mobile and Cricket locations, says the Star-Telegram. The company bought out Simply Mac and Spring Mobile last year in an attempt to diversify its revenue. Simply Mac is an authorized Apple reseller, whereas Spring Mobile sells AT&T products; Cricket is based on the AT&T network. The expansion is expected to cost up to $140 million, based on a mix of buying existing outlets and constructing new ones. GameStop says it expects to add 200 to 250 Spring locations and 100 to 150 Cricket outlets.
Sales of PS2 gear to continue for 'several months'
Years after it discontinued sales of similarly-aged Nintendo Gamecube and original Microsoft Xbox hardware and games, retailer Gamestop has announced that June 1 marks the end of trade-ins of PlayStation 2 games, accessories, and the console itself. Used and new game sales will continue in all locations, inventory depending, with existing stock expected to last for "several months" after the June 1 cutoff.
Kickstarter game console gets support from Best Buy, Target
The Ouya game console will go on sale in stores, shortly after it ships to backers of it's Kickstarter drive. Amazon.com, Best Buy, GameStop and Target will be stocking the Android-powered console when it goes on sale to the general public in June, after orders on the Ouya website ship in April, and after the Kickstarter backers receive theirs in March.
Nintendo launches Wii U Sampling Tour across US retailers
The Nintendo Wii U won't become available for sale in the US until November 18, but potentially interested buyers can try the system out starting November 5. Nearly 5,000 demonstration booths will be set up across US retailers that include Best Buy, GameStop, Target, Walmart, and Toys 'R' Us. They will either let shoppers play one of the launch titles or offer a video presentation of the console's features.
Olivera embezzled $2 million in funds over two years
Former Gamestop Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Chris Olivera has pled guilty to one count of Mail fraud. Olivera was accused of embezzling $2 million dollars from the game retailer. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine, in addition to compensating Gamestop for the money he stole.
GameStop to open nearly 80 GameStop Kids stores for the holidays
Video game store chain GameStop will open about 80 new stores meant to cater to the young ones by November 15. Called GameStop Kids, the first of the stores is now operating at Grapevine Mills Mall in Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas, The Dallas Business Journal reported. The retailer is betting the upcoming holiday season will pay off for the specially-themed stores, which will carry E-rated titles only.
Apple, Android products central to company turnaround
Faced with a troubled console video game market, GameStop is in the midst of remaking itself into a used gadget hub, buying and reselling mobile products from Apple and Android manufacturers. As Businessweek details, the game retailer is betting that an increased focus on previously-owned devices will make up for declines stemming from the trend toward digital distribution in the gaming sector. Apple's iOS devices are likely to prove especially lucrative for the retailer, with $1 billion in revenues possibly in the offing.
GameStop settlement offers customer restitution
GameStop has settled a class-action lawsuit concerning advertised downloadable content not being included in used games being resold. Under the settlement terms, the game retailer must warn potential buyers from California online and in-store that certain content may require an additional purchase.
PlayStation 4 gets possible major new leak
Gradually mounting talk of early PlayStation 4 plans culminated Wednesday with a potentially telling rumor. Believed to be codenamed Orbis or "circle," possibly to make it part of a "circle of life" with the Vita, the system outlined to Kotaku would not just break from using the Cell processor but from the entire Power and NVIDIA graphics combo. Instead, it would reportedly use a 64-bit, x86-based AMD processor as well as graphics based on AMD's Southern Island core, used in the Radeon HD 7700 series and up.
GameStop now has PS Vita testers
GameStop stores as promised have started carrying PlayStation Vita demo units. Depending on which of the 3,300 stores showing the Vita gamers visit, they should have access to a handful of the 25 launch titles to try. Among the mix will include FIFA, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and Wipeout 2048.
GameStop plans to expand iOS trade program
GameStop on Wednesday touted strong early results with its iOS trade-in program. The progress had "exceeded our expectations," the game retailer's president Tony Bartel said. It believed that many customers post-holidays would be using GameStop as a way to clear out older iPads, iPhones, and iPods that had been replaced with gifts.
Amazon repeats ASUS tablet shortage history
Amazon has shown ASUS repeating its pattern of early tablet shortages after sending cancellation notices to early buyers. Orders for the quad-core tablet have been dropped due to a "lack of availability from suppliers," Amazon said. It encouraged shoppers to try third-party resellers trading through Amazon for alternatives.
GameStop to show demo Primes this weekend
GameStop revealed on Friday that some of its stores will get the ASUS Transformer Prime as soon as this weekend, albeit for demonstration purposes only. It will become the first retailer to let customers get their hands on the quad-core Tegra 3-powered device. The tablet is available for pre-order from the gaming retailer now, with online orders due to begin shipping on December 19.
Vita memory cards priced from $30 to $120
Video game retailer GameStop has potentially revealed US pricing information for the unique memory cards that the PlayStation Vita will use. The 4GB card will cost $30, an 8GB one $45, 16GB will be $70, and the 32GB version will cost $120. This is somewhat similar to the prices of the cards for the PSP system at GameStop, which are $38 and $51 for the 4GB and 8GB cards, respectively, and $125 for the 32GB version.
GameStop to get Transformer Prime on November 28?
GameStop may begin carrying the ASUS Transformer Prime tablet as soon as November 28, according to its webstore. This is a little earlier than the rumored early December timeline heard before. The listing also reveals the 32GB tablet will cost $540, marked down from $600.
GameStop takes tablet pilot program live
GameStop's mobile plans became real Friday after the company started up a tablet test program to sell tablets online and in stores. Android tablets like Acer's Iconia Tab A100, ASUS' Eee Pad Transformer, and Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be available in 200 of its stores. Each will have both access to Kongregate's Arcade app store as well as seven free games, including EA's mobile versions of Dead Space and Madden as well as Sega's Sonic CD.
GameStop confirms Android tablet a respin
GameStop's plans to be involved in tablets will involve rebranding an existing Android tablet, company head Tony Bartel said in an interview Monday. Rather than make its own, the company will use its existing refurb center to adapt existing tablets and preload them. While he wouldn't name it, he explained to GamesIndustry that it was in testing.
GameStop to sell used iOS gear, mum on new models
GameStop confirmed some rumors Monday and started up trade-ins for iOS devices. Nicknamed iTrades, the promo lets US visitors trade in virtually any generation of iPad, iPhone, and iPod for either cash or store credit. Devices only need to be free of personal engravings and significant damage.
GameStop could sell iPads, iPhones soon
GameStop could take the unusual step of becoming an Apple reseller as a way of staying relevant in the modern gaming world. A rumor Monday claimed that the store would soon sell iPads, iPhones, and iPod touch players. Quick checks from 9to5 found that GameStop had just started Apple device trade-ins this week, likely in an attempt to keep up its focus on selling used goods over new.
GameStop compensates deprived Deus Ex buyers
GameStop on Friday sought to quickly contain the bad publicity surrounding its decision to pull OnLive coupons for free games from Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Those who bought copies of the game before it was temporarily pulled from shelves will get both a $50 gift card for the store as well as a two-for-one deal on used games they might buy. It's stil unknown if or when the action RPG will return to shelves.
GameStop pulls Deus Ex, has Square Enix support
GameStop has responded to the backlash after it was found to open PC copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and removing coupons for the game on the OnLive games streaming system by pulling all copies of the game from store shelves. A copy of the e-mail sent to franchise stores was sent to Wired urges stores to pull the regular PC copy of the game for a later return and refund to maker Square Enix. Surpisingly, Square Enix supports GameStop's decision.
GameStop squelches competition with box plans
GameStop drew widespread criticism from gamers Wednesday after it confirmed that it had been altering copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution to silence competition. Store field operations manager Josh Ivanoff sent a memo asking staff to "immediately" open boxes and pull the OnLive coupons for a streaming version of the action RPG from all standard copies. While the note only said that GameStop didn't want the coupon to "go to any customers," GameStop spokeswoman Beth Sharum tried to portray it to Ars Technica as an act of subversion by Square Enix.
Beats out likes of Tiffany, Whole Foods
Apple is the top US retailer, at least in terms of sales per square foot, a RetailSails analysis indicates. The firm recently surveyed the last four quarters of over 160 retailers, and remarks that Apple's sales were about $5,626 per square foot, up 49.1 percent year-over-year. The figures are based on global results, not just those from US stores, RetailSails points out.
GameStop to use Spawn for tablet gaming, own model
GameStop during its Investor's Day event on Friday outlined major plans to get into remote gaming and the tablet field. Its purchase of Spawn Labs, which provided remote console streaming for developers, will let it offer an OnLive-like streaming service to play many games, including console titles, on a tablet, a notebook, or other devices with large screens. The Dallas Morning News was told that GameStop would still try to protect its retail business by limiting the streaming to buyers who register their games with the Power Up Rewards program and may take on an additional subscription fee.
Sony to expand in-store sales of PSN games
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) President Andrew House said in an interview with UK-based via MVC that the electronics giant has plans to sell its PSN games in retail shops. These titles are thus far only available online through Sony's PlayStation Store on the PS3 itself. The company is already doing so in the US with retail chain GameStop, but wants to do so on a larger scale.
Nintendo 3DS reserve orders start at Gamestop
Gamestop on its own accord has started taking advance orders for the Nintendo 3DS. All its US stores are taking minimum $25 deposits to reserve one of the handhelds ahead of the March ship date. Full launch information, including the release dates and prices, isn't expected until January 19.
New audiences credited with pushing demand
GameStop has confirmed that it has encountered shortages of Xbox Kinect controllers and bundles, as demand has proven greater than initially expected. Executive VP Tony Bartel suggests "expanded audiences" have been showing interest in the controllers, which are expected to bring sales performance similar to Nintendo's Wii launch.
PSP said to be biggest "disappointment" of 2010
GameStop's vice president of merchandising and marketing, Bob McKenzie, has criticized Sony's business strategy for the PSP handheld. In an interview with Eurogamer, the executive pointed to a "disappointment" over the selection of PSP games that were released this year, compared to the higher number of games that arrived on the market last year.
Webvention asking $80K for web patent license
A new company is sending out letters claiming that websites that use rollover images and pulldown menu are infringing on its licenses. What seems to be a patent troll, Webvention, is asking for a one-time license fee of $80,000 in what's billed as a temporary campaign, Ars Technica reported. Failure to comply would result in getting dragged into a lawsuit, as Novartis has recently for its webpage.
Sony to bring out Candy Pink PS3 controller soon
Sony will soon release a pink DualShock 3 controller for the PS3, as revealed by this pre-order page at electronic games retailer GameStop. The listing reveals the controller ships on September 21 and costs $55, or the same price as PS3 controllers in other colors. The new color is officially dubbed Candy Pink and is said to be suitable for girls and households with kids.
Sony lets PS3 and PSP owners get 3-year service
Sony today gave PS3 and PSP owners the option of an official extended warranty for their consoles. The Protection Plans give the consoles either one or two years of coverage beyond the built-in single year of coverage. PSP owners can also choose an accidental damage plan that covers shattered screens and other ill effects.
Leaked GameStop ad confirms black Wii in the US
Despite official confirmation from Nintendo, the black Wii console seems to be all but confirmed for North America thanks to a monthly print ad from GameStop. The ad shows a bundle that includes Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, Wii MotionPlus and the console along with one Wiimote, and was supposed to remain undercover until May 4th but was leaked early thanks to an anonymous GameStop employee.
Black Wii coming to North America in May?
Sources from electronics retail stores such as Target, GameStop and Future Shop indicated that a black Nintendo Wii will arrive in North America in May. The bundle would be slightly more advanced than the original, Kotaku said, and would include a copy of the Wii Sports Resort game and the Wii MotionPlus accessory, all for $200.
Sony sees spike in PS3, PSP sales from holiday
Sony late on Monday said it had achieved a record for single-week PlayStation 3 sales last week. The combination of Black Friday deals at Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop and elsewhere, along with the usual increase in holiday shopping, helped the company push over 440,000 PS3s for the week ended Sunday. Upticks were also seen for PSP sales and for games across all platforms, though the company didn't provide exact numbers.
Leaked pic corroborates earlier rumors
Several alleged screenshots from a Norwegian GameStop inventory system show what appears to be several 250GB PS3 bundles, according to Joystiq. The gaming systems have been paired with titles such as Need for Speed: Shift, FIFA 10, Uncharted 2, and Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time.
Slim PS3 sold out
Sony's loosely-defined launch date of early September for its redesigned PS3 gaming console was not only wrong, but stores are already sold out of the first shipments. Earlier this week, photo evidence showed the console arriving at certain Best Buy locations and now there is word of other electronics retailers also getting limited runs of the game system. Not surprisingly, retailer shelves were picked clean and the PS3s are now sold out at many of the stores who got the shipment.