Archive for category Video Games

How To Improve Sportscasting In Video Games

PSP LollipopAs a casual video gamer, sports games have always been one of my favorite genres. I like being able to play an entire game from start to finish, without having to devote a month of my life to beat the game. My natural love for sports probably also contributes to this preference, but whatever the case, it’s safe to say that they’ve been a staple of my entertainment system for a very long time. Unfortunately, when it comes to innovation in gaming, the sports franchises seem to lag the rest of the field.

I’d argue that this is because of the monopolies that surround most major professional sports, but it may also have something to do with the temptation to release a new game every single year. After being burned too many times, I did finally cut my upgrade cycle from every year to once every 2 or 3 years, but even with less frequent purchases I still notice that there are pieces of each game that seems to be endlessly recycled year after year after year.

Specifically, I’m talking about the commentary in EA Sports games. Whether you’re playing NBA Live or John Madden football, having live commentators lends a certain amount of realism to the experience. Sure, their puns are cheesy and sometimes there are glitches where they’ll tell you how bad you did on a great play, but overall I enjoy having someone critique my every press of a button.

The problem is though, that after you’ve played a few games, you start to hit repeat commentary and what was once cute and funny quickly becomes annoying. If EA provided entirely new commentary with each new version of the game, this would be less obnoxious, but in recent years they’ve added almost zero new commentary and just continue to repeat the same tired expressions from past versions of their games.

While I understand that there are limitations to how much content can be put on a disc and financial considerations over how much time these famous celebs can spend in a sound studio, I do think that EA is missing out on an extremely lucrative market.

Just like people are willing to purchase ring tones to customize their cell phones, I bet that sport franchise customers would happily pay a dollar or two to get their favorite commentators “in the game”. As someone who grew up watching the Lakers play, I’d be thrilled to hear some of of Chickisms that legendary sport commentator Chick Hearn used to say. Even though Chick has passed away, it wouldn’t be hard for his estate to use some of his in-game footage to re-introduce expressions like the Dime Store score or Leapin’ Lena to an entirely new generation of sports fans.

Better yet, EA could set up some kind of an online locker, where fans of the game could share their own commentary and use people’s own social networks to give us a reason to upgrade. When I was in school, I had a friend of mine who’d say “that was slammin” everytime we played and while this expression would get old if John Madden used it, I’d pay real money to hear my friend sitting next to me while I played. This could also be a good avenue for the professional players to extend their own brand. Whether it’s Shaq talking smack about Kobe or Darth Vader calling plays for John Madden, the creativity would be endless.

From EA’s perspective, they could not only use these updates as a source of revenue, but it would also give their customers a reason to buy more games. By allowing customers to make free updates over the course of a season, it would provide a strong incentive to always have the latest copy. It would also make some of the personalization even more meaningful.

It’s great that I can create a superstar player that looks like me (even if I’m not 6’5″ with one percent body fat), but how much fun is it when the game calls out “great basket by number 35″, instead of pronouncing Freeberg as my last name? Given how small audio files actually are, there shouldn’t be any technical difficulties associated with implementing this type of system. While the repetition from in-game commentary might not be noticeable to the control groups who are testing EA’s games for an hour or two, for long time fans like myself it’s a great feature that becomes irritating the longer you play. Instead of creating a product that causes less satisfaction over time, EA should be using dynamic sports commentary to improve how their games age.

TiVo’s Billions: How TiVo Could Spend Their Legal Jackpot In A Single Day

Money In The BankDuring their ten year history, TiVo’s obituary has been written more times than I’ve sat through an entire commercial, yet no matter how tough the climb has been, TiVo has continued to defy critics and skeptics alike by chugging along (as if by sheer will at times.)

Even though the financial wiz kids over at Engadget, still have TiVo on their “death watch”, I’m beginning to see a much different picture. With 6 quarters of EBITA profitability now under their belt, $200 million in cash (minus the zero in debt on their balance sheet), and partnerships with a significant portion of the DVR market waiting to be implemented and rolled out, it’s no surprise that TiVo has gone from being a small cap child with plenty of dissenters, to an emerging mid cap teenager looking to establish a legacy.

The last ten years may have been characterized by one rumor after another of who TiVo was going to be acquired by next, but the next ten years will be a much different chapter for the little DVR that could.

At the risk of counting my chickens before they hatch, I wanted to kick off the next ten years of innovation by highlighting a few companies that TiVo could use to transition themselves from a niche DVR provider to a diversified corporate conglomerate. Of course there’s no guarantee that TiVo will even get the billion dollars that they are asking for, but it’s still fun to spend imaginary money.

SecuriTiVo – For years TiVo has been dragged into a bare knuckle brawl with cable and satellite companies, just for the right to offer their DVR to their customers. Meanwhile, they are ignoring an important untapped stand alone market that their invention created. The home security business might not be as sexy as HBO, but the DVR has had just as big of an impact on the security industry as it’s had on Hollywood’s outdated business model.

Instead of fooling around with a couple hundred of gigabytes, TiVo should be building multi-terrabyte DVRs that can record several weeks worth of high quality footage. TiVo could also sell a consumer version of the system that connects to the DVR in your living room and allows you to see live security video from your couch.

Not only would a security DVR give TiVo a commercial product to sell, but it would also add important reoccurable monthly revenue from on going security contracts. It would also create an opportunity to add an additional revenue stream from high quality video cameras.

Potential Target = The Brink’s Company (Ticker: BCO) – With a current market cap of $1.36 billion, this top notch security outfit may be a little out of TiVo’s reach, but they could certainly consider a joint venture or pounce on them, if the market starts to get cheap. Either way, a free TiVo with your home security system sounds like a great promotion just waiting to happen.

TiVo Charge Card – In 1939, the US was reeling from an economic depression so Fred Lazarus Jr., the CEO of Federated Dept. stores did two important things for his business. First, he convinced President Roosevelt to change Thanksgiving to the last Thursday of November so that it would extend the Christmas shopping season and then he started offering store credit to anyone who would purchase through him. By giving cash starved consumers access to credit during a tough economic climate, Federated Department stores was seen as a friend and patriot during a dark economic period. The impact from these two decisions helped take the company from a struggling retailer to the Goliath that it is today.

When it comes to couch commerce, TiVo faces a similar opportunity. Currently, when you purchase something through your DVR, TiVo stays out of the transaction. Even if you want to order a pizza with a credit card, you’re not able to, TiVo makes you pay cash :( This is probably a good thing for home shopping addicts, but works against’s TiVo’s goal of revolutionizing the advertising business. If they want couch commerce to actually succeed, they must make it easier for consumers to make an actual purchase.

The beauty of a TiVo charge card is that it could be linked directly to your TiVo account once and then capture every purchase after that. If you wanted to rent a movie from Jaman or buy a pair of flip flops from Amazon, it would be the same process and simply require password authorization.

TiVo could also offer discounts on DVR service for balance transfers or for customers who carry larger balances. Extending credit during tough economic times might seem risky, but TiVo needs a better payment solution sooner than later. By putting themselves in a position to become the paypal of television, TiVo could lower the barriers of entry for advertisers, in exchange for a cut of every transaction.

Potential Target = Bank of the Internet (Ticker: BOFI) With a current market cap of $50 million, TiVo could easily acquire this sleepy little bank from San Diego, CA and immediately serve a national audience. Not only would they have the infrastructure in place to start offering credit card services, but TiVo would be picking up a high quality loan portfolio in the process. BOFI’s conservative approach to lending may have hurt investors during the boom years, but when the credit bust hit, it proved that there was wisdom in their prudence.

SlingTiVo – When Sling first introduced place shifting to the DVR community, TiVo choose not to implement the functionality directly into their software. My guess is that they were concerned that a feature enjoyed by the fringe, could spark a lawsuit with the media giants, who’ve had their business model disrupted by TiVo’s fast fowarding powers.

Holding off on introducing place shifting may have been the right choice when the technology was still young, but internet video has changed a lot since Sling was founded. While the legality of placeshifting still hasn’t been affirmed by the courts, even Sony is selling a placeshifting device to their customers. With placeshifting starting to reach a more mainstream audience, now is the time for TiVo to introduce this capability to their customers.

Potential Target = Echostar (Ticker: SATS) – Without the ability to manufactuer DVRs for Dish customers, Echostar may find that their business isn’t worth all that much. With a market cap of $1.31 billion, TiVo could offer an olive branch to Dish, in exchange for the Echostar/DVR side of the business. Frankly, I’d rather see them bankrupt Dish and buyout the satellite business in a vulture sale, but the poetic justice alone makes this one worth consideration.

TiVoPages – One of the problems with TiVo’s current advertising setup is that they are kind of taking a walled garden approach to selling the ads. There are strict requirements on the content allowed on the service and only certain agencies are really given access to the inventory. This may be necessary to butter the toast of their Stop Watch customers, but it also limits what TiVo can become.

Why not make it so that anyone can upload a video ad to TiVo and inexpensively reach the TiVo audience based on screening criteria similar to Google’s Adsense program? I may be a small business, but if the costs are low and I can target local viewers or people who fit a certain demographic profile, I’d advertise through TiVo in a heartbeat. TiVo should play to their strengths and become a video Craigslist for the time shifted generation.

Potential Target = Razorfish – Two years ago, Microsoft paid $6 billion for the company. Today they are rumored to be looking for $600 – $700 million to spin off the ad agency. Owning an agency might ruffle some feathers with some StopWatch customers, but Razorfish would give TiVo the infrastructure they need to their take their advertising program, beyond major, one time, national partnerships. By better implementing their advertising programs, TiVo could create a platform where local businesses could reach local viewers in their markets.

DigiTiVo – TiVo may be one of a handful of solutions for letting consumers watch digital video on their televisions, but they could go a long way towards improving their current implementation. One of the problems with trying to watch various internet video types on your TiVo is that TiVo needs to transcode the video before it will play on your screen.

Currently, customers can either hack their machines for free access or they can pay $25 for a copy of TiVo Desktop plus. While I don’t expect TiVo to support every flavor of codec out there, it would be nice if they threw their support behind a standard and tried to come up with a more seemless experience for their customers. It may be too late for them to get a piece of Adobe or to crack their way into Quicktime or Silverlight, but there are still smaller codec companies that could help.

Potential Target = DivX – (Ticker: DIVX) with a market cap of $175 million, TiVo could easily afford to buy the digital video company and use their contacts to adopt more of a licensing approach to the DVR business. By taking advantage of the profits from the codec business, TiVo could help to subsidize more robust codec support for their subscribers.

HuluTiVo – One of TiVo’s advantages is that they’ve managed to remain neutral despite competing in some pretty tough battlegrounds. In the past, TiVo has taken on the media giants, but now may be the time for them to lay down their arms and secure a stake in the next generation of television.

Love it or hate it, the Hulu cartel has been able to establish themselves as a major broadcaster in the narrowcast world. To date, other media companies have been reluctant to share Hulu on the television, but with TiVo’s relatively small subscriber base, they could be seen as a safe testing ground for experimentation. By implementing direct response ads into the actual programming, TiVo and the major media companies could finally benefit from working together instead of against each other.

A Hulu ownership position might make it harder for TiVo to sign more deals like UnBox and WatchNow, but I think if they stayed focused on advertising supported programming, they could still attract plenty of premium and subscription based partners.

Potential Target = Hulu – The company has raised $130 million to date at a billion dollar valuation, but with the market being down its hard to know what it would be valued at now. Given the “digital dimes” that Hulu is producing, one could argue that the weak market should offer new investors a discount, but one could also argue that given Hulu’s growth, a billion may be cheap. It’d be hard to convince Hulu’s current owners to sell or even innovate to the television, but I know more than a few TiVo customers who would love to see Hulu show up on their Now Playing lists.

NinTiVo – Even with TiVo’s new found purchasing power, buying out one of the three video game companies simply isn’t going to happen, so TiVo would either need to invest in building out their own billion dollar console or license one from Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft to create a killer DVR/PC/Console compatible platform. With three major companies fighting for a highly competitive industry, a partnership with TiVo would be highly sought after and could at least give them a seat at the negotiation table.

Potential Target = Take Two Interactive (Ticker: TTWO) – Take Two’s bad boy Grand Theft image wouldn’t compliment TiVo’s KidZone initiatives, but it would give them access to an instant powerhouse in the video game industry. With a market cap at $690 million, TiVo could easily acquire the company for a billion and tone down the bad boy image. With an exclusive on several of the hottest games out there, a partnership with a major console manufactuerer and a beefed up TiVo that acts more like a high end gaming PC/DVR combo then a VCR, TiVo could create a big splash with the gaming crowd.

Hotel TiVofornia – One of the biggest reasons why TiVo isn’t more popular with consumers is because it’s hard to know how much you’re missing until you’re actually a customer. Getting someone to buy a DVR in the first place is tough, but getting them to give it up is even tougher. What TiVo needs is an easy and cost effective way to introduce their DVR to the masses.

Whenever I stay at a hotel, the television is awful. If a national hotel chain were to partner with TiVo to let me schedule programing while I’m there, I know that they would become my default choice when I traveled. To date, TiVo has dabbled with these types of programs, but with the extra money they could kick this program into hyperdrive. By building out more support for hotel rooms, TiVo could secretly expose millions of travelers to a commercial for their DVR without travelers ever realizing that it could be the last ad that they’d ever have to tune into.

Potential Target = Boyd’s (Ticker: BYD) – With the Vegas economy still dealing with the after shocks of the credit crisis, Boyd’s market cap has fallen to $760 million. With a little bit of elbow grease and some slick marketing, TiVo could buy the hotel and pick up a casino as a bonus. With a Vegas style monument to the DVR, TiVo could let you gamble from your hotel DVR. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.

TiVoTube – Over the last few years, a lot of people have mocked Google for their $1.6 billion acquisition of YouTube, but in retrospect, it’s starting to look like a brilliant acquisition by the search giant. Not only did Google continue to expand their dominance on the web, but they picked up a major future broadcaster in the process.

It’s too late for TiVo to get their slice of YouTube, but it doens’t mean that other video sites wouldn’t be a good fit for them.

Potential Target = Dailymotion.com – With TiVo looking to expand DVR service into Europe and Asia, Dailymotion could very well be the beachhead they need with international audiences. This one would probably have the biggest risk associated with it because of the hosting costs and potential copyright headaches, but with Dailymotion having only raised $43 million so far, TiVo could probably offer $300 million and set aside the other $700 million to figure out the business model.

1-800-TiVo-Fon – I wish that I could take credit for this idea, but I originally found out about TiVo-Fon two years when a research report surfaced online by two teams of University students studying the idea. Unfortunately, I lost track of the link so it will have to remain internet legend for the time being, but the system they described worked similar to the Movie-Fon hotline that you can buy theater tickets with.

To use the service, you would link your DVR to your cell phone number so that you could call 1-800-TiVo-Fon and immediately go into the main menu choices. Currently, TiVo does have a cell phone app, but it costs money to use and doesn’t allow you to schedule things at the last minute. With TiVo-Fon any cell phone could call and a voice recognition system could be set up to take you to the program you want to schedule. This way if you’re at dinner and someone mentions that there is something good on at home, you could order your recording and have it pushed into your box, so that you can watch it when you get home.

Potential Target = Fandango – Fandango is a fellow .com mania survivor who managed to scrape together an impressive business by being early and disruptive. Early on, TiVo and Fandango partnered to offer movie ticket reservations through the DVR and may even represent their first couch commerce transaction. Two years ago Comcast paid close to $200 million for the ticket company, but I think TiVo could buy them for less than $150 million. With the right budget and some slick marketing, TiVo could use Fandango to take on TicketMaster and StubHub.

TiVo Video Conferencing – It’s 2009 already, but where are all of the video phones. Making it easy to attach a camera and Microphone to your TiVo would really change what it means to reach out and touch somebody. By adding VOIP and business support, TiVo could expand their services into the commercial marketplace.

Potential Target = Skype – When you consider that Ebay paid $2.6 billion for Skype in 2005, this one may seem like a longshot, but telecommunications has only gotten more competitive since then and Ebay’s already signaled their intention to exit the business. By picking up the popular program and making a subsequent acquisition for a small relationship management company like Zoho, TiVo could build a multimedia telecommunications solution that would rival Salesforce.com

TiVo Networking – One of the biggest challenges that TiVo faced early on was trying to convince consumers of the benefit to plugging your DVR into the internet. Owning a networking company wouldn’t necessarily make this any easier, but it would help to further wedge TiVo into the center of the digital media experience. If there were enough synergies for it to make sense for Cisco to buy Scientific Atlantic, then it makes just as much sense for TiVo to acquire a networking company.

Potential Target = Netgear (symbol: NTGR) – A few years ago Netgear had a market cap that was almost four times larger then TiVo’s but today they weigh in at $540 million. With a profitable business model and revenue that is nearly three times what TiVo is currently bringing in, a $700 million bid wouldn’t be ridiculous.

TiVo Extender – Over the years, TiVo customers have loved the service so much that many of them have purchased multiple units. TiVo charges an extra fee to add an additional DVR, but doesn’t really make much of a profit because they are forced to subsidize the hardware purchase with smaller multi-room viewing fees.

Instead of trying to get their customers to buy multiple DVRs, TiVo should instead allow the first DVR to act like a server and then have extender devices inexpensively tap into the main DVR signal. This would allow TiVo to sell hardware at a profit and give away multi-room viewing to their customers. With companies like AT&T making a big deal about their muti-room capabilities, TiVo could use an extender strategy to undercut them in pricing.

Potential Target = Roku – Netflix may have put Roku on the map, but the company is headed for greatness on their own. We don’t know a lot about their valuation, but if you consider that they’ve only raised $6 million in VC backing, I think that it’d be easy for TiVo to pick them up for less than $50 million. Not only would the other TiVo video services compliment Roku subscribers, but it would be an easy and cost effective way to solve the multi-room limitations.

Some of these ideas are admittedly a bit far fetched, but you have to admit that they would make interesting mergers. While I don’t expect that we’ll see TiVo go on any big shopping sprees soon, as their cash bulks up and their legal victory pulls through, expect to see more people asking what they plan to do with the money.

What do you think, if FakeTomRogers stepped aside and you were hired you as the new CEO of TiVo, what would you do with a billion dollar jackpot?

Why Isn’t There A Redbox For Video Games?

Hot DonkeyConsidering how much time I’ve spent writing about DVD kiosks, some may be surprised that last week was the first time I ever rented a DVD from Redbox. I was at the grocery store and saw that they had the most recent Indiana Jones movie. Indiana Jones has always been a favorite of mine, so on an impulse I made the rental. I probably would have rented from Redbox sooner, but between TiVo, Netflix and the internet, there has been no shortage of content for me to check out and I just couldn’t justify spending even a measly buck, when I already had too many options for movies and TV shows.

The entire rental process was very easy and only reinforced my belief that Redbox will be wildly successful with their business model. In fact, just this morning I noticed that 7-11 has even begun testing Redbox at their stores. I’m not sure if it was the convenience of using a machine instead of dealing with long lines and surly video store clerks or the convenience of being able to make a rental as I was finishing up my grocery shopping, but now that I’ve gotten a taste, I’m sure that I’ll be back.

While it would be hard to improve on the kiosk experience, in thinking about my own entertainment needs, I realized that there is one area of the kiosk market that is still being ignored. When it comes to DVDs, there have been a number of firms who’ve thrown their hat into the kiosk ring, but so far we haven’t seen anyone introduce a kiosk system that dispenses video games.

As a casual gamer, I tend to prefer purchasing my games over renting, but every now and then I end up buying a bomb and get upset that I’m out $60 for a weak title. When it comes to movies, I have no interest in watching the same one over and over again, but I could play a video game for a year and still get just as much enjoyment as the first time I picked it up. While the cost of video games would be higher, I have to imagine that there would be a lot of people like myself who would love to be able to rent a game and keep it, if it happens to rock. In fact, if Redbox (or Gamefly, Gamestop or even [shudder :-? ] Blockbuster) introduced a rent to own kiosk system, I’d probably start buying 100% of my games from them.

Because video games tend to appeal to a more niche audience, it would be harder to introduce these kiosks in places like grocery stores of coffee shops, but I do think that companies like Burger King would love to have junk food loving adolescent males visiting their stores on a regular basis, so that they can check out (and return) the latest gaming titles. The extra cost of the video games would mean that they’d probably need to be charging closer to $3 a rental vs. the $1 bargain that Redbox offers for movies, so it’s possible that kiosk operators would see less demand for this type of service, but I would have to imagine that the sell through rate would be significantly higher, which could go a long ways towards making this idea economically viable.

Another issue that a video game kiosk would face, would be having to stock multiple versions of a game. When it comes to DVDs, a single standard allows you to play your movies whether your DVD player happens to be made by LG or Toshiba, but with video games, you’ve got Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft all battling for the living room, which would mean that you’d have to carry less titles to handle more formats or you’d need to have a company like Sony build kiosks that would exclusively support just PS3 games, even if it meant reducing the pool of potential customers.

While a video game kiosk would have some challenges, I think that most of these could be easily solved. I’m not sure why we haven’t seen anyone come out with a product like this yet, but I believe that there is a great market opportunity for the first one to make a move. Currently, it takes about 9 months for a Redbox kiosk to completely pay for itself. Even if it took twice as long for a video game kiosk to pay off, it’d still make an incredible investment for most businesses, even before you consider some of the extra benefits like driving more traffic to the retailer. I’m not sure whether or not someone will seize on this opportunity, but if they do, you can bet that I’ll be a customer. While I may have more then enough solutions when it comes to getting movies, getting a video game can still be a hassle.

What do you think, if someone allowed you to rent video games from a kiosk for $3 a day (or buy them for $50 – $60), would you be interested or is this just a niche market for people too lazy to drive to Gamespot?

Grand Theft Gamestop

Grand Theft GameStop

Over the last year, I’ve been drooling over the new GTA and with less then a week before the launch, I’m starting to really get fired up. I’ve been playing GTA since it was a PC download only and with every new release the game gets better and better. When Rockstar ran their first trailer for the game, I immediately went to their site to reserve a copy. When I saw that overnight shipping was an extra $20! I canceled the order and decided to go the retail route instead.

I don’t buy a ton of games, but when I do it’s almost exclusively from Gamestop. Normally, I care more about price then brand recognition, but over the years certain brands have won my loyalty and Gamestop is one of them. Whenever I visit their stores, the employees are always really friendly and give great advice on which games to buy. Gamestop is one of those rare places where an employee will actually try to talk you out of a sale, if you try to buy a game that blows.

Since getting to Gamestop can be a bit of a hassle for me, I wanted to reserve a copy over the internet and then pick it up at a local store on the street date. Unfortunately, when I visited the Gamestop website, they were happy to let me pre-order the game, but only if I wanted it shipped to me. When I called my local Gamestop, they told me that I had to physically visit the store if I wanted to reserve a local copy.

Given that Gamestop’s core demographic is hyper connected to the web, I’m surprised that they would be so technologically backwards. It could be that they sell more games when they make people visit the store twice, but it’s not a very customer friendly strategy, especially with gas prices being what they are. Since I’m not willing to take two trips to a store (even for a brand I like), I ended up going to Best Buy’s website instead. From there I was not only able to pre-order the game, but I was also able to find a store near my home where I can pick it up. All without having to unplug from the internet.

Shopping at Best Buy always makes me feel scuzzy because they treat me like a shoplifter when I try to buy video games there, but in this digital age, I’m willing to give up brand loyalty for the convenience of the web. Losing my transaction won’t hurt GameStop, but I can’t help but wonder how many other people choose a competitor over a separate trip to Gamespot.

Gamestop told me that they have their in store pre-order policy in place for “security reasons”, but that doesn’t really make any sense. They allow you to purchase things with a credit card off of the internet, but they won’t allow you to put down a $5 deposit for pre-orders? If Best Buy can offer this type of convenience then GameStop should be able to come up with a better solution too. I still plan on stopping into GameStop when I’m itching for a new game, but they’ll miss out on the games that I know I’m going to buy, long before they even come out.

Is DivX and the Xbox 360 About To Become A Reality?

DivX and XBoxDivX followed up last night’s earnings report, with a presentation at the JP Morgan SmMid cap conference. After having just undergone their quarterly confessional, I didn’t expect to hear any new information, but wanted to tune in anyway.

Luckily, I was rewarded when midway through the Q&A session, JP Morgan analyst Paul Coster, coyly probed Kevin Hell about whether or not we were about to see DivX support on the Xbox 360. The question seemed to catch Hell off guard and while his initial reaction was enthusiasm, there was something about his tone, that suggested that Coster might be onto something.

Here is the exchange verbatim, but in order to appreciate the awkwardness of the exchange, you should really listen to the quote at the 24 minute mark of the presentation and make your own decision as to whether or not you hear a sense of urgency in Hell’s response.

Coster – “Just a minor point here, but there was a recent Microsoft conference where I believe their media extender now incorporates the DivX codec on it, is that correct? Can you confirm that and does that mean we’re soon going to see Xboxes with DivX on them?

Hell – “Yes! that, uh, we’re in discussions with Microsoft on that at this point in time, so I can’t go into any great detail on that. Um that is not a certified, that is not a certified or licensed product at this time.”

At that point DivX CFO Dan Halvorson jumped in and quickly changed the subject.

It was only a brief exchange, but after pretty much giving up all hope of seeing DivX on the Xbox, I found the news to be very encouraging. When I originally saw that Microsoft was going to support DivX on their media extenders, but not on the 360, I took this as a sign that negotiations were over and that Microsoft didn’t want to pay for their entire Xbox360 population. In retrospect, Microsoft may have really been engaging in the subtle art of negotiation.

In thinking about some of the leaked XviD/360 rumors over the past summer, I can’t help but wonder if Microsoft could have intended to leak this information, in order to gain leverage in their discussions. An Xbox that supports XviD, but not DivX, is a less then optimal experience for consumers, but the downside would be far worse for DivX then Microsoft. Could Microsoft have been flexing their muscles in an attempt to get a better licensing deal with DivX? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I do have advice for both companies.

DivX – I know that you have responsibilities to your shareholders, but as a fan, I urge you to engage in some fiscal irresponsibility and give in to whatever Microsoft is demanding. DivX support on the Xbox is one of the top requests from your community and would make a killer extension for your codec. Don’t make us hack into our Xbox to get at the DivX love. The platform would give you instant access to millions of television sets and would energize your entire community.

Microsoft – Have you looked at how much cash you have in your bank account? Why are you even playing this game of chicken? We should have had DivX support years ago. Offering XviD, but not DivX would be a huge hassle for your customers and isn’t worth the money you would save on royalties. The publicity from adopting an open strategy would more then pay for your investment. Your strategy to treat media extenders differently from the 360 is an obstacle to mainstream adoption and one that should be abandoned. You should listen to consumers, even if it means overpaying DivX for their certification. With a consistent extender strategy and DivX support on the Xbox 360, you could crush the PS3 and create a more compelling reason for people to adopt your Media Center technology.

It’s hard to say how negotiations will turn out, but I have a feeling that it won’t take long to find out. The “fall” update is rumored to be taking place sometime in December and if it doesn’t include DivX support, it will likely mean that these discussions broke down. If it does include DivX support, it will be a huge win for DivX, for Microsoft and most important, for their customers.

Winter Rabbit Land

Winter Bunny Land

It’s probably still too early to be thinking about winter, but I couldn’t resist posting a link to this strange little bunny game that I found online. The game play is pretty minimalistic, but I found its soothing music to be a nice alternative over most of the shoot em up games that I find. The goal of the game is to see how many bells you can get the rabbit to jump on without falling back to the ground. I couldn’t get all of the bells in order, but think that it might play a song if you can. My best score was 3800, but that was using a touch pad instead of a mouse. My only complaint was that I couldn’t find a mute key or a way to change the song after a while. Still, it’s a good stress reliever for when you want to waste time online.

Software You’ll Need When Your PC Hits The Big Start Over Button In The Sky

ComputerRecently, I suffered a computer meltdown and the good news is that I still have my data, but the bad news is that it’s cheaper to replace the PC, then it is to fix it. Since I was already in the market for a laptop, I decided to purchase one, while I took the time to figure out my home PC strategy.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a new computer, so I was a little surprised at how long it took me to recreate my unique PC experience. Getting the right mix of bookmarks and software is key to taking full advantage of the horsepower that your computer has. At first, I thought that setting up my new laptop would be quick and painless, but I misjudged the sheer number of programs that I would need and forgot about the pesky bloatware to deal with.

Even after an aggressive campaign, I am still finding things that I need to uninstall. I did manage to get rid of the McAfee pop up that warned of my computer being comprised because I wasn’t paying them money :roll: but I’m still trying to remove the Vongo free trial offer that shows up in what seems like every menu.

Since I know that I’m not the only one to experience some frustration in setting up a new PC, I decided to keep a list of all the programs that are helpful, when you are doing a fresh install.

Web Browsing

Firefox – I’ve tried the new internet explorer browser, but it still can’t beat this open source underdog. Step #1 – fire up IE, so you can download Firefox, then delete all IE shortcuts, so you never accidentally launch the software again.

IE Firefox Plugin – As much as I try to avoid IE, sometimes there are services that are only supported by Microsoft’s browser. In order to avoid having to fire up IE, I install a firefox plugin, that allows me to use IE, in my preferred browser.

Email

Thunderbird
– I normally use web based email, but still like having Thunderbird, in case I need to archive my emails. I actually prefer Microsoft’s Outlook, but am not willing to spend the money when there is such a great open source product available.

Communication

Skype – I don’t use Skype as much as I should, but think that it’s a great alternative to cable telephone or Vonage. I’m still looking for a good program that can record my Skype calls, but this is still a pretty robust service.

TrillianThomas Hawk turned me onto this one. Why run separate Yahoo!, MSN and AOL instant messaging software, when one program can handle all three? Instead of being forced to choose your friends, you can show up on all three major networks easily.

System Resources

AdAware – This one isn’t fun to play with, but it’s important to have on your system. It can’t stop a full blown virus from invading, but it can help you find programs that are trying to sneak their way on board.

Spy-bot Search & Destroy – Spy-bot is a lot like AdAware, but I like to keep both programs available. One time I came across a download that blocked AdAware from starting, but was no match for Spy-bot. These services can’t replace the paid ones, but they go a long way towards helping to improve the security on your computer.

Google Desktop – I’ve had mixed feelings about Google Desktop from the get go, but still continue to use it. On one hand, it’s really helpful to be able to search my hard drive easily, but on the other hand, I also feel a little weird about Google desktop tracking me. I figure that the functionality is worth it, as long as I make sure that I’ve got a strong password for my login.

Java – I’m not even sure that I can tell you what Java does, but I do know that it is at the heart of some pretty cool applications. I’ve used the technology to play games, watch videos and watch live streaming content online and I don’t think that I’ve even scratched the surface of what it’s capable of.

Greasemonkey – GreaseMonkey allows you to mash up different parts of the web inside of your browser. It’s a very powerful plugin and is worth downloading, even if you’re not sure how you’ll end up using it. My favorite GreaseMonkey script is a plugin that allows you to see which movies in your Netflix queue, will be airing on TiVo soon.

Social Web

Commentful – This software will change the way you interact online. It allows you to leave comments on web entries and then notifies you when someone has added something to the conversation. In the past, I would comment, but would never follow up to see if there is a response, now I use Commentful to help me continue dialogues that would have normally fizzled out.

WordPress – There are lots of blogging packages out there, but I use WordPress. I like it because it has great fan support and offers a lot of functionality, that I can’t find in other blog packages. My favorite part is having the ability to completely change the appearance of the site, with a simple click of a button. With plenty of WordPress widgets, it’s easy to customize templates, to fit any personality.

Del.icio.us – There are many different bookmarking sites, but I primarily use Del.icio.us. By downloading their firefox plugin, all you have to do is right click and you can clip articles. This is a great resource for archiving things that you want to view later.

Google RSS – A good RSS reader can help you keep track of your favorite sites. Without it, I wouldn’t see a tenth of the content that I track. In the past I’ve used Bloglines, but when Google introduced RSS search capabilities, they won me over. This feature alone, allows me to track 1,000 times more content, then what I could handle in a more basic RSS program.

Photography

Picasa – Photoshop is great, but there are still free alternatives, if you don’t want to spend the cash. Picassa not only has a decent photo editing feature, but also allows you to post your photos online.

Zooomr – I visit Zooomr several times a day, in order to check my Zipline. I also use Zooomr to host my photos for this blog and play web games in their forums. There isn’t any software to download, but if you drag and click on the Zooomr link, you can add a bookmark to your toolbar.

Flickr – Flickr is another great photo sharing site. They are one of the largest photo sharing sites, so they have an even better selection of images. There isn’t anything to download, but they do have a bulk uploader, if you plan on hosting a lot of images.

Remote Computing

Orb – You need a TV tuner and media center software for this one, but if you have these components, then Orb is a no brainer to install. It allows you to placeshift your content, anywhere you can get a broadband connection.

UltraVNC – Even though, I upload a lot of things online, there are still times where I need access to my home computer. UltraVNC allows you to log into your system remotely, so that you can access your files, even if you happen to be on the go.

Digital Video

Adobe Flash – YouTube is one of my favorite sites and in order to see their videos, you’ll need the flash codec. Because of the sheer amount of content encoded in flash, this one of the most essential downloads on the list.

DivX – Flash is great because it has broad support, but I prefer DivX because it offers a high quality experience that you can take with you. You can download support for just the codec, but I prefer to download the DivX web player, so that I can watch Stage6 content as well.

Quicktime – I’ve never spent a lot of time using iTunes, but I do come across a lot of Quicktime movies on the net. If you already have iTunes, you won’t need this one, but if not, then this is a helpful plugin.

Real Player – I’ve had so many problems with Real Player, that I almost hate to download it, but there are too many interesting things in Real format, to completely ignore this format.

Music

Pandora – This is one of my favorite places to find new music. Over time, Pandora will start to figure out your interests and will suggest a lot of things that you don’t hear on commercial radio.

Foxy Tunes – This is a great program for finding and sharing music on the web. It not only allows you to search for cool music, but you can also insert FoxyTunes links into emails that you send to friends

Last FM – I prefer Pandora, but use Last FM because it is supported on my TiVo. I’m not sure how to describe a technology whose roots are based in scrobbling, but once you get the hang of it, you can start to find some really cool music.

Word Processing

OpenOffice – This open source software package contains all the features that you would expect to find in a high priced business software package. It works transparently with Microsoft files and is a great alternative for those on a budget.

Google Docs – I don’t think that it can replace Microsoft in the business world, but Google docs is a free alternative for home users. It allows you to create and share documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

Foxit Reader – Most people use the Adobe reader, but I only turn to it as a last resort. Adobe’s reader is an important program to have too, but it always takes too long to load and asks me if I want to update way too often. Instead I stick to Foxit and no longer have to wonder if my system will crash when I’m closing a .pdf file.

Calendar

Yahoo! Calendar – When choosing a calendar system it’s important to choose carefully, because the more time that goes by, the more you will be locked into that system. At this point, I have most of my important dates scheduled on Yahoo!, but still yearn for a better solution that offers me true data portability.

30 Boxes – If you love Ajax, you’ll be a fan of 30 boxes. The site allows you to open up your calendar to the social web. This is helpful for planning and sharing events. It’s an interesting concept, even if I’m still not ready to turn over my schedule to bill collectors and ex-girlfriends.

Games

TripleA – I highly recommend downloading this one, but don’t blame me if you drop out of society from playing it. TripleA is an Axis & Allies emulator that replicates the original game to perfection. It’s entirely fan built and is a great resource for playing out your own World War II fantasies.

FreeCiv – Sid Meier’s Civilization game had a huge impact on video gaming and this program validates it’s place in the pantheon of PC based programs. The program is a Civilization emulator where you can raise and develop your own society. I always try to be nice, but invariably, I end up attacking my neighbors.

ZSNES – This is a great open source emulator for replicating old arcade games. It won’t come in handy, if you want the modern day gaming experience, but it is useful if you ever wish that you could go back and play games from your childhood. Finding the games can be a little tough, but reuniting with an old friend, can make the journey worth it.

Peer 2 Peer

Limewire – If you don’t want to spring for the pro version, Limewire can be a little spammy, but it’s still a good resource, for those interesting in taking a bite of the forbidden fruit.

Emule – Another powerful P2P client. It doesn’t have access to the largest number of files, but it does offer a clean interface and is a good resource for when you can’t find things on the other P2P networks.

Bit Torrent – It’s one of the most popular programs on Download.com for a reason. This robust p2p system allows you to download and share tiny bits of content from multiple users at once. This helps to speed up the download times and helps to get around some of the uploading restrictions.

Fox Torrent – Fox Torrent isn’t as fast as the original Bit Torrent software, but it’s easy to use and makes downloading a breeze, when you don’t mind waiting for the content. The software integrates nicely into the Firefox browser and adds bit torrent capabilities to an already powerful internet browser.

Entertainment

Stumble Upon – I’m not a huge fan of the toolbar plugins, but I make an exception for this one. You can find some amazing stuff on StumbleUpon. It’s a great time killer, if you are ever bored and still have access to the internet.

Search

Wikipedia Firefox Plugin – I like to use the search bar that is built directly into the Firefox browser. The default supports Google, but there are a lot of other sites that will let you install plugins on your browser. It’s probably a good idea to double check the facts that you find on Wikipedia, but this plugin, makes easy to search the site, without having to go directly to their home page.

Stage6 Search – DivX Labs has built a plugin for Firefox and IE browsers, that allows you to search the Stage6 website, directly from your browser. I’ve found that this plugin comes is especially helpful, when I know that I’m looking for video content.

Del.icio.us – Most of the time, I prefer to use Google, but Del.icio.us can help you find articles that wouldn’t show up in simple keyword searches. I never know quite what to expect, but Del.icio.us search results tend to focus less on style and more on function.

Technorati – I love Technorati, even though the site only seems to work part of the time. I’d like to find another blog search plugin, but this is the only one that I know about.

MusicPortl – This search plugin allows you to enter the name of just about any artist and you can instantly find a wealth of information on your favorite band. MusicPortl aggregates their information so that you can see the latest YouTube clips, blog entries and Wikipedia information. This is a must, if you enjoy researching music.

Spout – If you love movies, you’ll love Spout. The site is a great resource for finding out information about your favorite films and for connecting with other film fans. This firefox plugin makes it remarkably easy to focus exclusively on movies, with your search results.

There are a lot of programs on this list, but I’m sure that I’m still missing some of the most important ones. f you know of any other services that should be included on this list, feel free to contact me or leave a comment and I’ll keep this post updated with other helpful programs that people suggest.

Poker Bots Still Can’t Beat The Pros

The Superstition of the PoorA few months back, scientists at the University of Alberta built a piece of software that could not lose at the game of checkers. Even if you played the game perfectly, at best you’d end up with a tie. Somehow I doubt that most online gamers are looking for games that they can’t beat, but it was still a pretty amazing technological feat to see accomplished.

After proving that checkers could be perfected, the team behind the software set their eyes on the high stakes world of Poker and in late July they entered their Polaris poker software into the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Computer Poker Competition in Alberta, Canada.

The highlight of the event turned out to be a Polaris rematch against celebrity poker player Phil “the Unabomber” Laak. Laak previously had beaten the Polaris software, but not without quite a bit of difficulty.

For the rematch, the AAAI paired up Laak with fellow poker pro Ali Eslami and the two did battle against a number of different poker programs. The end result of the event proved that the pros can still beat the best software out there, although even the pros admit that the poker bots are getting better.

“And so it seemed a solid victory for team humanity. Was this more proof that the complexity of poker was still currently too much, even for a program that had been in the works for 16 years?

Not according to Eslami and Laak.

As the applause died down Eslami spoke to the crowd, “This was not a win for us. First of all there are a few things you need to know. One of the bots completely clobbered us. Another one had kind of a glitch in the second match that we won.”

Both players also agreed that they had played their absolute best poker and if there had been a time limit on the hands, they would not have been able to beat Polaris.”

As it turns out, the Polaris software wasn’t even the best bot to play in the tournaments. A piece of software called Bluffbot 2.0 couldn’t beat the pros, but was able to edge out the other robots in a tournament that pitted a number of different bots against each other.

The Bluffbot was built by a couple of software developers Teppo Salonen in Claremont CA. The duo that created the software hasn’t released the Bluffbot 2.0 on their website, but they do have an earlier limit version, that is available for download. They also promise that they’ll have an online version of 2.0 up soon, so that internet surfers can test their own skills against the machine.

A lot of people find the idea of poker robots somewhat distasteful, but I’m fascinated by the technology. Trying to create the perfect chess or checker games is tough, but because there are only so many mathematical possibilities, it’s something that is at least possible.

When it comes to poker though, there are so many variables involved that I’m still not convinced it can be done. You can certainly analyze other players patterns for tells, but sometimes, it’s the little things that give away someone’s hand. I used to play online poker quite a bit, but after finding that I couldn’t win online, I stopped playing in the real money tournaments.

I’m not sure if people are gaming the system online or if I just can’t do well at poker in an online environment, but when I play live, it’s a very different game for me. Just being able to look for subtle tells like which card someone is eyeballing, can give you a real advantage in real life, but when you play online, there isn’t nearly as much info to go on.

Eventually, someone will come up with a piece of software that will be able to consistently beat real life players and when they do, it will make online gambling even less attractive. There have already been attempts to deploy this technology on real money sites, but there isn’t any good data on how effective these programs really are.

At the end of the day, I enjoy online games as much as the next person, but part of what makes internet gaming so appealing is that people actually make mistakes while playing it. It’s fun to be challenged, but it’s even more fun to win and when your opponent is a cold calculating machine, it takes random mistakes out of the equation.

Sony Has Already Lost The Console Wars

Game Over For The PS3There is no doubt that Sony dominated the second generation of the console wars. Their PS2 platform had an early jump on the Xbox and Sony never looked back. Since it’s launch, the console has sold over 105 million units and has made Sony a video game powerhouse.

Given their footprint, Sony should have had an easy time convincing their customer base to upgrade, but as the latest generation of consoles have launched, Sony has lost their control over the market, after trying to force users to buy a Blu-Ray drive, along with the console. The inclusion of the drive has resulted in high prices, product delays, and limited supply during the launch. Even after Sony has agreed to sell the console at a loss, they still have not been able to get the device down to an acceptable price level for consumers.

As the latest generation of consoles have been hitting the market, Sony’s PS3 sales reflect some pretty troubling numbers. They may have recently celebrated their 1 millionth sale in Japan, but overall they’ve actually performed pretty miserably. According to the latest data from the NPD group, Sony sold a pitiful 98,500 PS3 consoles for the month of June.

Sony is quick to point out that these figures represent a 21% increase over their May sales, but even with the gain, if they continue at this pace, it will take them 83 years to hit 100 million console sales. If Sony was hoping to sell 100 million consoles over the next 5 and a half years, they would need to increase their sales from 98,000 units a month to 1.625 million.

Now to be fair, Sony’s latest price cut on the PS3, has improved sales. The company reports that they’ve seen a jump of 135% since lowering the price by $100. The problem is though, that the price cut is really only temporary and perhaps even worse, it may have prompted Microsoft to consider slashing $50 off of the price of their own consoles.

With the Wii taking half of the market and Sony and Microsoft fighting for the rest, Nintendo has put themselves in an enviable position in the console wars. They’ve not only been able to draw in non-core gamers without sacrificing profits, but they’ve also been able to convince consumers that the Wii can compliment an existing console system. With their innovative game play and their low price margins, they’ve been able to turn single platform households into dual console living rooms.

The addition of the Wii as a 2nd option creates big problems for Microsoft and Sony, because it eats into the profit centers of the video game industry. Because so much of the money on gaming is made on the software, having another competitor in the living room, can have a significant impact on the profit margins for that customer. Nintendo’s ability to not only capture market share, but to also siphon off video game sales from the incumbents, will change the dynamics of the third stage in this battle.

Given Sony’s prices, it’s a lot harder for them to convince a Wii family to compliment their console by adding on a PS3 system. While the graphics are much nicer than what the Wii offers, the extra entertainment benefit isn’t worth the additional cost attached to their super computer.

When Sony could control the video game market, they were able to negotiate gaming exclusives, but now it’s Nintendo that has the pipeline of exclusive titles. There will be those who argue that less price sensitive customers would buy a PS3 over a Wii in a heartbeat, but if you look at the most recent Nielsen’s survey, high end households are actually more likely to choose Nintendo over the PS3.

If Sony is failing to sell their Blu-Ray infested video game console to the least price sensitive customers, it doesn’t make me very optimistic that price cuts will be a very good long term solution for competing against the Wii and the Xbox. While there is still plenty of time for Sony to retake their lead in this latest incarnation of the console wars, I believe that their missteps at the starting blocks have all but assured, that they’ll never be able to outsell their PS2 console.

Nintendo, Wii Have Liftoff

WiiThis weekend I was driving through the East Bay, when I noticed a Gamestop store nearby. Normally, I would have kept driving, but I wasn’t in a hurry and having canceled my Gamefly membership, it’s been a while since I’ve checked out any new games, so I decided to stop in and see what they had.

I usually buy my video games from whatever store is closest to me, but Gamespot is one of those rare stores, where I actually enjoy shopping. Normally, when I go shopping, I just want the employees to leave me alone and let me get in and out with the product I’m interested in, but at Gamespot, the employees are the best part of the store. I don’t go there to buy things, I go there to graze. Unlike the employees at Best Buy or CompUSA, Gamespot employees are usually working there because they love video games.

I’m not sure if they get free rentals or discounts or if it’s just that Gamespot attracts employees who like playing every game that comes out, but every time I go in their store, the employees give me customized game reviews on any title that I’m interested in.

Because these employees tend to be hardcore gamers, I have to be careful to not always pick the games that they are fanatical about, but I still listen to what they have to say and more than once, they’ve saved me from buying a bad game.

When I dropped into Gamespot this weekend, I wasn’t planning on buying anything. I just wanted to know if there were any new games coming out. Once I started to talk with the clerks though, one of them pulled me off to one side and in hushed tones, told me that they had one more Wii tucked away in the back of the store.

By the way they told me about the Wii, you would have thought that they were selling illegal fireworks left over from the Fourth of July, but when a console has been this hot, for this long, I can understand why they would speak about it with a strange sort of reverence.

Apparently they had gotten a shipment just the day before, and the Wii they had in stock, was the last one left from the batch. Even before I went into Gamestop, I had toyed with the idea of buying a Wii, but had not made a decision about whether or not I really wanted one. Since I knew that the Wii’s were still pretty hard to come by and because they told me, it was the last one, I made a quick decision to buy it and figured I could always flip it on Ebay, if it didn’t live up to the hype.

When I took the console home, I was eager to try it out. I had read a lot of the reviews on the Wii, but nothing had prepared me for what the experience would really be like.

When I was a kid, my parents used to take me to Zuma beach in Southern California. Even though, I didn’t know how to surf at the time, I must have been born with a pair of extra flippers or something, because they could not keep me out of the the water. From the moment we would arrive until the moment we left, I would spend the day splashing about the water, just about as happy as I could be. Whether it was body surfing through the waves or just swimming along the coast, no matter how cold and shriveled I was, I never wanted to get out.

After I would go home for the day, I would be dog tired, but when I would lay down, I could still feel the up and down motion of the tide. I’m not sure what the medical name for this effect is, but the sensation would stick with me for a night and would go away until my next trip to the Pacific Ocean.

Since moving to San Francisco, I haven’t spent anytime in the ocean and had almost forgotten about this sensation, but after spending all day Saturday playing the Wii, I was surprised when I closed my eyes and felt the same sensation creep over me.

Instead of an up and down tide motion though, I felt like I could fly. Something about the visual aspects of playing the game, combined with the physical exertion required to control the characters had burned the experience into my sub-conscious and made it feel like I was still playing, even after the console had been shut off.

The one big downside (or upside, depending on how you look at it) of the Wii, is that because it’s such a physical process to play, you can’t play for 12 hours straight like you can other consoles.

When I was a kid, I would have friends over and we would play the Nintendo all night. Eventually, someone would pass out from too much caffeine or red vines. If I try to play the Wii all night though, it’s not a caffeine overdose that makes me stop, my body eventually goes kaput and my muscles say no more.

While I’m sure that owning the Wii will help to improve my conditioning, when you can barely lift your arms over your head, it makes the thought of playing another quick game less appealing, than some of the less active forms of gaming.

Overall though, I’m really pleased with my new console. My only legitimate complaint, is that the graphics aren’t very impressive. Of course, I knew that this was the case going in, but I still expected them to be a little bit better than what they really are.

It could just be that the Wii isn’t designed to be played on a big screen TV, but when you play the console on a big screen, you can really see how rough the pixels look. It’s still way better than the original Nintendo, but the graphics do make me feel like I’ve taken a step back in the evolution of my video gaming.

When the Xbox 360 came out, they made a big deal about the HD graphics that they had, but I never realized how important this was, until I saw the quality of the Wii. What the games lack in graphics though, they make up for it with the fun factor.

When playing Zelda, instead of mashing buttons to make your way through the fighting scenes, you use the joystick like a sword. I can’t over-emphasize how much fun this is. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a monster will jump at you and you have to dodge, twist, turn and slash, all in real life, in order to dice your way through each level. This adds a dimension to gaming that is way beyond 3D. It’s like you are out there by yourself, fighting to save the princess.

While I’ve only been playing for two days and I haven’t gotten to try out many games yet, I can already tell that this will be my new #1 console. As much as I like the Wii though, it still won’t be able to replace my Xbox 360.

If a game is especially dependent on graphics or if it’s exclusive to Microsoft, I still plan on buying it for the Xbox, but if a game involves a lot of physical characteristics, than I’m likely to buy the Wii version instead. I am especially excited about trying out John Madden’s football game on the console. It’s been a long time, since I’ve seen any real improvements to this title, but Madden on the Wii, will be like a whole new game. I just hope I don’t get so excited, that I end up breaking my TV, throwing touchdown bombs to Randy Moss.