Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why Gaming Advocates Are Way Off The Mark

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In an upcoming hearing by the Supreme Court of the United States California's video game sales law, the first of many state laws that ban the sales of Mature rated games to minors, will be ether upheld or struck down because it supposedly violates the right to freedom of speech.  Two advocacy groups have sprung up to push the issue beyond the courts and into the legislative spotlight.  The Entertainment Consumers' Association and the Video Game Voters' Network claim that making Mature rated video games is the same as censorship.

One big hole in the arguments that these groups make is that none of these laws dictate to game developers what they can or can't put into games.  These laws make the voluntary guidelines set out by the ESRB that most retailers adhere to the law of the land.  Those who argue that making little Johnny show some photo ID to buy the next Grand Theft Auto is some how unconstitutional,  then that would make denying admission to an R rated move unconstitutional as well.  Striking down any law restricting the sales of Mature rated games would mean that the law requiring TV sets to carry the 'V chip' would have to be struck down as well.

Selling video games at retail, I am required by provincial law to check photo ID to make sure that purchasers of Mature rated games are over the age of 17.  It's no different than when I had to show my ID the first time I went to a R rated movie on my own.  Was my right to freedom of speech violated? Without a doubt it wasn't so what's the big deal about restricting Mature rated games?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Windows Phone 7: When Can Canadians Get Theirs

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For those potential smartphone subscribers looking for an alternative to Blackberries, iPhones, and Android phones in the Great White North, Windows Phone 7 the smartphone operating system from Microsoft that is being watched with some interest by technology industry journalists and analysts launches on November 8th will be available in Canada on the Launch day through the big three cellco's Telus, Rogers, and Bell.

For subscribers on Wind Mobile and Mobilicity there will be a little bit of a wait, while the models launching on T-Mobile in the states will work on Wind and Mobilicity, the startup cell carriers will need to make deals with Microsoft and handset manufacturers before they can offer Windows phone 7.

For those on Sasktel there will be a wait for six months to a year, their new HSPA network supports the same Windows Phone 7 handsets that Telus, Rogers and Bell offer, the big national carriers will have short term exclusivity agreements with handset manufacturers to carry those phones.

Subscribers on MTS and Public Mobile are out of luck for a year or more.  Microsoft has chosen not support CDMA in Windows Phone 7.  Support for CDMA is supposed to be added sometime in the end of 2011, depending if handset manufacturers choose to make CDMA phones with Windows Phone 7 will remain to be seen.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Windows Phone 7 Not For Tablets: Microsoft

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Despite having a user interface and a low CPU and memory requirements that would make Windows Phone 7 perfect for tablets, Microsoft still insists that Windows tablets will be running the full Windows 7 Operating System.  According to Microsoft's Senior Product Manager, Greg Sullivan "Windows 7 will provide a richer touch and applications experience and will be necessary on tablets."  It maybe true that Windows 7 has large third party support from software developers, and Windows Phone 7 like Windows Mobile before it virtually none, it's not a good reason to burden a tablet with chore of running an Operating System designed for full sized PC's.

Even though Google's Chrome OS was designed to be lightweight for tablets, it's Android, that is becoming Operating System of choice for hardware manufacturers that are hoping to compete against Apple's iPad.  It's unlike Microsoft to just let others take all the market share for something like an operating system for tablets.  Google had the foresight to allow device manufacturers to allow Android to be put on tablets, Microsoft will need to do the same with Windows Phone 7 if it going to gain market share in both tablets and smartphones.

Any potential tablet OS war shouldn't be a two way fight between Apple and Google, with HP still going to wade into the water with a version of WebOS for tablet, it's foolishly unlike Microsoft to concede because they couldn't think outside of the box (PC's)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Could Handheld Gaming Get New Competition

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In the past decade the home console market has had three players that have done well in their own ways.   Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have made a lot of money selling consoles and games.  The market for portable handheld has been much different though.  Nintendo had been the 800 pound gorilla of the handheld gaming market.  It has only been in the past few years that Sony's Playstation Portable has held it's own but the overwhelming majority of the market share has belonged to Nintendo's DS system.

While the market for portable handheld video games is so much smaller than the home console market, a third player wants to put their system into the hands of gamers.  Rumours have surfaced that Panasonic is developing a handheld system called the Jungle.  Any new system Panasonic wouldn't be their first entry into gaming, the often slagged and virtually forgotten 3DO back in 1993 was Panasonic's debut in the gaming market.  The early online marketing material from Panasonic promoted the Jungle as a handheld system for online gaming.

Who exactly would be the target audience for the Jungle?  Trying to go after gamers playing on existing handhelds is probably won't be the best way to get their foot in the door and establish market share.  Going after the hard core home console gamers whose shooters have been poorly ported to handheld systems when attempts have been made to bring those games to handheld systems. 

Even though Nintendo owns the market in handheld video games there is potential for Panasonic to do well simply through the multitude home console players whose games are unrepresented on handheld systems.  Even though Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch have been seen as the third player in the handheld gaming market. 

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