The Free Future of Gaming

The “free” future of gaming is fast approaching. I don’t mean free, as it relates to your wallet, but free as it relates to what goes into the game system and what goes in your hands. This means more downloadable games, and less discs, cartridges, and controllers. Will this future also be make gaming get at least a little closer to monetarily free? In the short term, no. In the long-term, possibly.

From a disc/cartridge-free perspective, Sony is currently the farthest along among the three major console developers. Their recently released “PSP Go” system does not take UMDs that the prior versions of the hand-held system ran games off of. Instead games can only be purchased via an online store and then downloaded onto the system. The PSP Go comes with built-in memory of 16 GB and can have more memory if an additional memory stick is purchased. Like any “first” in technology, the PSP Go is not actually the future of gaming. For one thing, it offers no tangible benefit over the preexisting PSP units other than being smaller.

The older PSP systems are also capable of downloading games off of the store AND can use discs.

Furthermore the PSP Go is more expensive and, importantly, the PSP itself is one of the least sold consoles to begin with. It only narrowly outsells the PS2 on a monthly basis, which was released several years earlier.

For there to be success with a download-only system it must either be an entirely new console with unique games and features, or be cheaper than the alternative. Realistically, the cheaper idea is not going to work.

Microsoft has no incentive to sell a new version of the Xbox 360 that could only run downloadable games for less than the console they are already selling. So, as I said it won’t be helping out your wallets in the near future. There has already been some success in adding downloadable games to consoles as one option though. Hits such as Braid and Geometry Wars 2 have been only available for download. As a result of games like this I would not be shocked to see at least 1 of the successors to a current platform (360, PS3, Wii, DS, or PSP) be fully disc-free from the get-go. Just don’t expect it be any cheaper for it.

Next is the controller-free concept. Nintendo really made hitting the “non-gamer” market its priority. To do this they made each of their newer consoles have less traditional video game controllers. Each has buttons, but the DS also as an interactive touchscreen and the Wii uses a controller that has motion-sensing controls.

It has so far worked out beyond anyone’s beliefs for them with the Wii and DS easily outselling the competition, after Nintendo’s more traditional approach, the GameCube was outsold by the Xbox and PS2.

Clearly, Sony and Microsoft heard this news just like the rest of this. At an important video game trade show, E3, this year Sony showed off a motion sensor controller and Microsoft unveiled a totally hands-free way of controlling a game through a camera, complete with voice-activation.

Now camera based gaming is nothing new. Microsoft even has a “vision camera” for the Xbox 360. The PlayStation 2 had something similar called the Eye Toy. These have always been gimmicky pieces of hardware with limited support and usually poor functionality. With Microsoft’s new camera feature codenamed “Natal,” they seem to be hoping to make it more mainstream and usable. Whether this iteration of the hands-free gaming will be the one to finally take-off has yet to be seen. Certainly, it has more buzz around it than the Eye Toy or vision camera and major developers have been reported to be looking into its practicality and application in games. Regardless, it is clear that the concept of a controller-free gaming universe is one that is not dying off and I believe it is becoming evident that it will become more and more widespread as the years go by.

Both the disc-free and controller-free concepts seem like they should benefit the customer by being less expensive. If all you have to physically purchase is the console and not controllers or games it should be cheaper. Buying games would only require downloading code and the system would come bundled with all the controllers needed. One day this may be the case, but for now, like with any new technological shift, it will not be any cheaper than the past, and may actually be more expensive. Is this what gamers truly want or would a change to more powerful hardware, better games, and traditional controllers be better received? Would gamers rather have the current way to play get cheaper or have developers continue to push for new ways of play that could be more expensive?

There’s Value In Purchasing Used Video Games

In general, there is one thing that separates the video game industry from all other entertainment industries. Based on the title of this article, take a guess on what that might be? Right, the cost! Let’s face it, video games are expensive. Look no further than the release of the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii as an indication of this. Not only that, but sales prices have actually increased over the cost of video game consoles the previous generation.

The Nintendo Wii may have the benefit of the doubt here, but there’s no denying the increase of prices for both the Microsoft and Sony consoles. We’re talking about investments here. Typically, people that want to be entertained are not looking forward to taking out a bank loan just to do so. Unfortunately, these high price tags aren’t limited to console hardware. In fact, even the software that’s available for each console can cost upwards of sixty dollars or more. Pretty crazy, I know! This is where the true value of purchasing used games come in.

The great thing about used games is that it’s not difficult to find them for very cheap prices. Over the last 5 years, the library of used games has increased quite a bit. Taking note of this increase, it should not be difficult to find a game in particular that you may be looking for. From personal experience, I’ve found games of virtually every genre. You may remember a game that you really wanted to play, but simply didn’t have the budget or whatever the case may be, to purchase that title. Head on over to your local game store, and see if you can find it in the used section. Chances are, you’ll also find it for heck of a lot cheaper.

There are a lot of places that sell used video games. Some of these places include retailers like Blockbuster, Micro Play, EB Games, etc. – Virtually every game related retailer carries them. You may find deals along the lines of purchasing two titles for the price of one. In my case, I purchased two games I never got the chance to play, for ten bucks – Yes, ten dollars! There may be other deals along the lines of buying two titles, and getting the second one half-price. Again, it all depends on where you shop. Generally speaking though, it’s not hard at all to find games for cheap, and in some cases (I’ve personally had many cases like this), really cheap.

It’s a great feeling. You walk into your local Blockbuster, and “boom”, your hit with this intense view of all these games you’ve always wanted to play, and for really low prices. Games you forgot that you wanted to play, and now you can. In the video game world, you may sometimes hear this word, “hidden gems.” Essentially games that have been given great reviews, but somehow didn’t catch the attention of the general public. Now here’s another reason to go back and look for those titles.

Some people may wonder about the quality of the games. In my case, I’m usually given a thirty-day money back guarantee. Basically, if within those thirty days something is wrong with my game, I have the option of returning it. I’ve purchased a ton of used titles, and had only one incident where I had to return it. So I would suspect, based on personal experience, that the titles you end up purchasing should be working fine. With the rise of increased game sales, which includes prices for both hardware and software, there has never been a better time to take a look at the used-games section at your local video game retailer. You may just find the game you’ve always wanted to play. Good luck!

Do You Need a High-End Video Card to Watch Movies and Edit Pictures?

There is a certain stigma against integrated graphics and low-end video cards. Computer businesses will always try to win consumers over with the fastest computer hardware and the latest computer components. Consequently, many computer users are misled to believe that they need a high-end video card to do common tasks such as watching movies and performing slight photo touch-ups.

The truth is, today’s low-budget video cards are powerful enough to run your DVDs and movie files. They can also capably allow you to resize, recolor and revamp your digital photos.

The only reason to purchase a high-end video card is if you use intensive and resource-draining multimedia programs and applications. Web designers and graphic artists will need high-performance computer hardware and software to tweak their interactive designs.

A high-end graphics card is also a must if you want to play the latest PC games. Some games have minimum system requirements in order to run. Low-end graphics cards will not be able to load the latest games. Mainstream video cards may be able to do load these games but the player would suffer choppy frame rates, low response times and game lags. A more powerful video card can enhance gaming experience by enabling full display settings.

Some multimedia professionals, gamers and PC hobbyists will not even be satisfied with one video card. They would hook two to four video cards together — now made possible with new technology by Nvidia and ATI — and end up with an extremely powerful machine that displays highly detailed graphics and incredibly smooth, fluid animations. Of course, the average computer user has no need of these graphical effects.

So assess your computing needs before you buy the latest nVidia or ATI video cards. If you simply use your computer to do a little take home work from the office, a unit with mainstream computer components and integrated graphics can easily do the job for you.