Monday, January 30, 2012

Buffalo Studios blasts Zynga for copying Bingo Blitz social game



Nimblebit drew some blood last week when the developer of Tiny Tower cast a stone at Zynga, via an infographic, for copying Tiny Tower in an upcoming mobile game called Dream Heights.

Buffalo Studios is using the same tactic tonight as it calls out Zynga Bingo for being a copycat of Buffalo’s popular Facebook game Bingo Blitz. In the infographic at right, the company points out the similarities in graphics, layout, and game play between Zynga’s recently unveiled Zynga Bingo game and Bingo Blitz.

The copycat charges in social games are turning into an epidemic. Earlier today, Spry Fox announced it was suing 6waves Lolapps for copyright infringement for allegedly copying Spry Fox’s game Triple Town by creating Yeti Town.

“We wanted to alert you to the striking similarities between Zynga’s recently announced game, to our game Bingo Blitz,” said Salim Mith, vice president of product marketing and operations at Santa Monica, Calif.-based Buffalo, in an email.

Buffalo launched Bingo Blitz on Facebook a year ago and it is the No. 1 Bingo game on the social network with more than 1 million daily players.

Mith said that Zynga copies aspects of the game including the use of different themed Bingo rooms and cities, as well as updated powerups.

Buffalo was founded in 2010 and it has 45 employees. Bingo Blitz is the company’s only game. We’ve asked Zynga for comment.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sims 3 Master Suite Stuff Pack [Download]




Price:$17.99
Digital Download on amazon.com

Download size: 
170.0 MB
Download time: 
4 - 15 minutes on broadband, 7 hours on dial-up


Home is where the heart is! Whether your Sims relax in a bubble bath in their luxurious bathroom, enjoy some down time in their exquisitely furnished bedroom, or wear new intimate apparel for their special someone, The Sims 3 Master Suite Stuff adds some sizzle to their home life! From stylish bedroom sets to spa-inspired bathroom furnishings to romantic new lingerie and hairstyles, your Sims will relax in comfort and style.
Features
  • Create the ultimate master suite with a romantic canopied bed, a 40s-inspired chair, and more.
  • Give your Sims’ bathroom a makeover with contemporary, spa-worthy furnishings including a well-crafted vanity and a sleek and stylish tub.
  • Add the finishing touches. From vases of flowers to candles and rose petals, the little things can help set the mood.
  • Dress to impress. Whether your Sim is seeking a romantic rendezvous or an indulgent evening of relaxation, the new intimate wear options are bound to please.
  • Complete the look with a casual yet elegant new hairstyle that complements your Sims new commitment to relaxation.


This stuff pack is exactly as was shown in the producer walkthrough. It is a stuff pack centered around romance and the master suite of the house namely the bedroom and bathroom.

It has awesome new romantic clothing for your sims for seducing other sims and spending that special time alone. This pack has more clothing then ever before and it introduces a new never before seen accesory item.

It has a beautiful collection of furniture and decorations to decorate your bedroom and bathroom in a romantic theme.

This pack is just in time for Valntines day.

If you have romantic sims and enjoy spending time in sleep wear and playing that aspect of the game then this pack is for you. 


Get it now on Amazon.com! Sims 3 Master Suite Stuff Pack [Download]


Xbox 360 Live Subscription Gold Card


Price:$46.97
Product: Xbox LIVE 12 Month Gold Membership

ReviewTo start off, I'd like to say that Xbox Live is amazing and worth every penny. Online gaming is incredibly fun and quite a good way to pass time. 


That aside, there are downsides to Xbox Live that can be avoided through prepaid cards. Number one, you always run the risk that unwarranted transactions will be made if your credit card information is stored on your Xbox 360 system. It may not happen all that often, but it's best to avoid it all together. 

The biggest reason to buy prepaid Xbox Live card is the renewal process that happens when you don't use one. If you order Xbox Live through your system, it'll renew every time your subscription runs out. This wouldn't be a problem except that it's not that easy to cancel. Instead of canceling through your system, you have to go through the hassle of actually calling Xbox Live support. Even then, depending on the representative you get, you may be hassled to keep your subscription because they really don't want you to cancel it. I'm guessing that's part of their job to convince you to keep it, but it still is frustrating to the person that is trying to cancel it. 

You'll have to go through this process every time you want to cancel if you don't use a prepaid card. Is that hassle really worth it? I don't think so. Therefore, avoid all of the problems by simply buying a prepaid card. You won't be sorry. 

UPDATE: I updated this review pointing out that you could disable the subscription on Xbox Live's website. As of this update, they've taken that feature away again. I'm guessing Microsoft must have seen a major increase on people who canceled their subscription, thus now forcing you to call their customer service hot-line again to cancel. Even if they add it back, just save yourself the hassle and get a prepaid card. You never have to worry about dealing with customer service that will try their hardest to get you to stay on as a recurring customer. Amazon also gives great deals throughout the year. You could save yourself $20 to $30 sometimes just by checking to see if Amazon has these prepaid cards on sale. What's not to love about that?
Order Now: Xbox LIVE 12 Month Gold Membership

TO REDEEM GOLD MEMBERSHIP CODE:
  1. Sign in to your Xbox LIVE account.
  2. Press the silver/green Xbox Guide Button on the controller
  3. Navigate to Marketplace tab.
  4. Select Redeem Code & enter code.

Product Features

Subscription Length: 12 Months | Format: Card
  • Online multiplayer Gaming
  • HD Movies and TV shows
  • Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Last.fm - Right from your TV
  • Xbox 360 Live Subscription Gold Card code does not work outside US. We cannot guarantee compatibility outside US. You contact the call center for more information on compatibility.


Ear Force X12 Gaming Headset and Amplified Stereo Sound

By Turtle Beach


Pros: 
+ Super-sensitive mic picks up everything I say, even whispers and mumbles; this was the single biggest factor to my purchasing these to replace my previous headset, the Sharkoon X-tatic SP 
+ Great sound, not overly "bass-y", and you can control the amount of bass with the Bass Boost dial 
+ XBOX controller connection is compatible with the chat pad and all Rock Band/DJ Hero/Guitar Hero controllers without an adapter, unlike the Sharkoons 
+ Extremely comfortable, even with glasses and after multiple hours of continuous use 
+ While they're not noise-canceling, I'd say they cut external noise at least in half, if not more 
+ Controller dongle/pod is light and well positioned

Cons: 
- Microphone is so sensitive it often picks up background noise 
- I don't entirely like the microphone monitoring feature. I don't personally need to hear my own voice when I'm speaking, but it is a useful reminder about whether or not you have your mic muted. 
- Due to the position of the mute toggle, it can be a little too easy to accidentally change the Bass Boost/Game/Chat volumes inadvertently 
- Very, very slight static hiss when plugged into USB power, which is apparently systemic to USB-powered headsets. The hiss is less noticeable here than with the Sharkoons, at least

Overall, a huge improvement over my previous headset. The group of people I play with regularly noticed a big difference in audio quality and ability to hear me. Highly recommended if you need a PC and/or 360 headset. Ear Force X12 Gaming Headset and Amplified Stereo Sound

AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable (6.5 Feet/2.0 Meters) - Supports Ethernet, 3D, and Audio Return

This cable will work well with anything that supports HDMI 1.3x but it's built to comply with the higher HDMI 1.4 standard. You may consider this product if you have TWO devices that support HDMI 1.4 such as TVs and Blu-ray players. For these, the cable will carry through HD images and Ethernet data therefore eliminating the need for one dedicated Ethernet cable and one Ethernet port. You may also consider this cable if you currently need an extra HDMI 1.3 cable but you are planning to to replace your existing equipment with some HDMI 1.4 ready hardware in the near future. 

Unless either of the above is true, you will not need this cable and, given that the HDMI 1.4 standards aren't set in stone yet - the HDMI 1.4a was released recently - you may be better off waiting for the dust to settle if you don't need it today. Keep in mind that BOTH connected devices need to support the HDMI 1.4 standard for this cable to make a difference and that it is NOT possible to upgrade any existing equipment (TV, Blu-ray player) to support HDMI 1.4. Also, I would not pay a premium for the 'braided' feature. Other than 'cosmetics', the cable being braided does not add value to it. If the cable is going to spend its lifetime of service at the back of my entertainment center, never to be seen by anyone but me, I would not care about this and I would not pay extra for it. 


HOW GOOD IS IT? 

On my equipment, this worked as well as any older HDMI 1.3x cable. It replaced an existing 'cheap' wire at the back of my entertainment center and, nothing unexpected happened. The picture on my TV was as beautiful as before. The 3-meter length is a little bit too much for what I need but, since this is a certified 'high speed' wire, I am not worried. 

Briefly, this cable: 

- Behaves as a HDMI 1.3x 'high speed' or 'category 2' cable. 
- As a 'high speed' HDMI 1.4 cable, it supports video resolutions of at least 1080p and can go as high as 4K. 
- The 'data channel' (Ethernet support) works only with HDMI 1.4 ready equipment. 
- The 'audio return channel' is another feature supported by HDMI 1.4 ready equipment only. It will allow for audio to be sent 'back' from, let's say a TV to the HDMI 1.4 compliant receiver, therefore eliminating the need for a dedicated audio cable. 
- It should support all the HDMI 1.4 extra color palettes because those are implemented by the HDMI 1.4 compliant connected equipment. 
- It being braided does not improve or degrade the quality of the signal because all certified 'high speed' cables should be able to deliver good picture and sound or they would not be certified. 

A 4-star rating should be fair for this cable because, while it is fully HDMI 1.4/1.3x I feel that the braided feature is only a gimmick that that only adds to the price without adding much if any value. 


END OF REVIEW 

______________________________________________________ 


What follows is the byproduct of me attempting to clarify 'HDMI 1.4' for myself and understanding this specific product's features. I thought I'd share. 


WHAT'S IN A NAME? (understanding this cable's features) 

- HDMI 1.4 is a new HDMI standard adopted in 2009, backward compatible with HDMI 1.3. This cable should work with your existing equipment. 
- HIGH SPEED indicates that this cable supports resolutions of 1080p or higher and 3D video (unlike the HDMI 1.4 STANDARD cables which, believe it or not, are limited to 720p/1080i - why? nobody knows). 
- ETHERNET means that this cable supports a full-duplex 100 Mb/sec Ethernet connection - if you have 2 HDMI 1.4 ready devices and they both need an network connection, this cable will carry through the Ethernet datastream to the second device, therefore saving you the need for one extra Ethernet cable. 
- Audio Return Channel would save you the need of a dedicated audio cable between 2 HDMI 1.4 compliant devices. 
- This cable supports the full set of 3D features found in the new TVs. 


THE HDMI 1.4x DIFFERENCE 

HDMI 1.4 allows for the following new features: 

- Ethernet Channel - allows for the 2 connected devices to communicate with each other and share one network connection. 
- Audio Return Channel - eliminates the need of a second cable if you want to send audio from your TV back to your receiver. 
- 3D - It's supported by HDMI 1.3x but HDMI 1.4a specifically supports all the currently agreed-upon industry standards 
- 4K resolution - good to have it but there is nothing on today's market that would take advantage of this 
- Expanded support for new color spaces - by supporting sYCC601, AdobeRGB, and AdobeYCC601 it better aligns your display with the color spaces supported by digital cameras. 
- Type D connector - the 'Micro' connector is to be used by small, portable devices with supported resolutions of up to 1080p. 


The HDMI Consortium defines 4 broad types of HDMI 1.4 cables: 

* Standard HDMI Cable 
* High Speed HDMI Cable 
* Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet 
* High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet 

Of the above, only the 'High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet' makes sense and it's likely to emerge as the common HDMI 1.4 cable. 

Standard cables are limited to lower-resolution displays up to (approx. 720p or 1080i). High Speed cables support higher-resolution display (e.g. 1080p). They can deliver all video content currently defined for the HDMI standard (i.e. more than two 1080p/60 video streams, including 3D). HDMI cables with Ethernet are capable of sending 100/mbps over the HDMI Ethernet Channel. Since it is not likely that many HDMI 1.4 'standard' cables will be made or sold, I suspect that the crippled 'standard' type exists only to allow for calling the cables that support 1080p 'high speed' which sounds good and high-end. 
Get it on Amazon.com now!

Sonic Generations Review

I've been a Sonic fan since I first picked the series up all the way back on the Sega Genesis and recent Sonic games have left alot to be desired. In fact the last Sonic game I truly sat down and played was Sonic Adventure 2 then after that the series sort of tanked out as if Sega had no clue what fans wanted from the series. Game after game tried to recapture the magic that made the earlier games so great yet time and time again they failed to achieve. Now we have Sonic Generations, celebrating 20 years of Sonic, but is it celebrating the right years?

I'm here to answer that question with a huge YES. Sonic Generations does a fantastic job at bringing both classic Sonic (the one we all know and love from the Genesis era, pot belly and all) and modern Sonic together in one of Sonic's best adventures yet. Gone are the gimmicks of past games, there are no talking swords, were-hogs, or pointless side characters to play. In fact all the main gameplay is done as either classic or modern Sonic with the side characters playing only a minor role here.

The storyline is fairly basic, an unknown force has started tearing through time and has capture modern Sonic's friends, scattering them throughout time and they must be rescued by completing each stage. Everything opens with a wonderful romp through Green Hill Zone as classic Sonic before cutting to modern Sonic as he celebrates his birthday (apparently classic Sonic forgot it was his birthday) with his friends. However things don't go exactly as planned as the party comes under attack by this new enemy. At first even Sonic doesn't appear to be too thrilled about running off on another adventure as everyone gasps in horror as the monster appears though Sonic simply gives a heavy sigh before his friends are kidnapped.

Each zone allows you to choose whether you play as classic or modern Sonic with Act 1 being a classic Sonic level and Act 2 being for modern Sonic. In order to advance to the next zone you only need to complete one Act however every three zones there is a boss battle. Each boss battle is opened by collecting three keys from challenges for each of the zones you just completed, however in order to open these challenges you must beat both Acts. I know a few of you just groaned at the thought of being forced to play as modern Sonic but I'm here to tell you that the modern Sonic levels are actually good! Yes you heard me correctly, Sega has finally found a balance that works incredibly well for our blue hero as the levels are all about speed and top notch platforming. You'll see the camera swing behind Sonic as he speeds down paths, blasting through enemies and bouncing from spring board to spring board before flipping over and giving you a retro 2D perspective that again works rather well for our modern hero.

Sega has done a brilliant job at building each level, bringing back multiple paths and requiring split second timing if you wish to take the best path possible. Numerous times I found myself making mental notes of where I would need to jump next time or a better way to navigate through an area. Nothing is quite as rewarding as zipping through a level at top speed without slowing down and navigating through obstacles as if it were easy. Both classic and modern Sonic feature amazing level design and at times you can see where the two different Acts cross paths. More than once I noticed areas that I had seen as the other Sonic and it was interesting to see the 2D take on the newer zones and the 3D take on the older ones. The game is made up of nine different zones, each one taken from a specific Sonic game ranging from Sonic 1, 2, 3, Adventure 1 and 2, Sonic Heroes, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Unleashed, and Sonic Colors. You start off with Sonic 1 and work your way through time until you reach the most recent games.

One thing that I instantly noticed about the game was the humor though some of the fans out there might not get it if they haven't been with the series for the last 20 years. For example in the Chemical Plant Zone (from Sonic 2) Tails makes a comment about the pink water making him nervous for some reason, a younger fan might not get the joke there though I remember plenty of times desperately seeking air as that pink water filled the stage around me and the surface got further and further away. Another one that made me chuckle was modern Sonic commenting on how familiar Green Hill Zone was but Tails had no memory of it because it was before he joined the series. At times the game even pokes fun at some of the missteps Sonic has had along the way such as when Tails comments on how weird this adventure is only to have Sonic come back saying weird is what they do but this is fairly normal with no talking swords, were-hogs, or aliens (though you do use the wisps in the Colors stage).

The hub world I thought was fairly interesting and worked as almost a mini level. Each Zone starts off colorless and lifeless with the side character frozen as a colorless statue in front of it. Beating one Act brings back some life to the zone as color is filled in thought beating both acts brings back the side character and completely restores the stage unlocking the challenges that go along with it. Everything is set in a 2D view though you can switch from classic to modern Sonic with a tap of the button, also each version of Sonic has their own set of challenges you can complete.

Now the challenges are the first area I feel the game really stumbles. Most of them aren't overly interesting, sometimes having you pair up with a side character or race against them collecting items, rings, or whatever. Personally I found them to really ruin the pacing of the game as you go from blazing through zones to suddenly engaging in a rather pointless contest. However there is one redeeming quality here that I quickly found myself skipping all the other challenges to go for. The Doppelganger races are perfect for Sonic and they fit the mood and pacing just right. Whether you are playing as classic or modern Sonic each zone as a Doppelganger race which pits you against a ghost Sonic (same version as you) and your only goal is to beat them to the end of the stage. Doppelganger Sonic however isn't perfect, you'll see him make mistakes, take damage, and not always pick the right path. That isn't to say these races are easy by any means. A few times I found myself nearly neck and neck coming up on the finish line or missing a platform and suddenly ghost Sonic is right there with me. Doppelganger Sonic sometimes fights enemies where it makes sense though you'll often see him slip by them and this is a tactic you must adopt as well in order to keep up. Overall I found these races to be incredibly enjoyable and really saved me from having to complete boring tasks in order to advance the game.

The other area I felt the game stumbled was the boss battles or rather the lack of them. There are some pretty memorable boss battles with Dr. Eggman throughout the years and I felt this was a missed opportunity by only including four boss battles overall and three mini boss battles for chaos emeralds. Some of these fights are over pretty quickly as well and don't really offer much of a challenge, while others (especially the battle with Silver in Crisis City) are pretty fun and definitely play to the strengths of the game. Another thing is the chaos emeralds are basically handed to you as each boss battle gives you one and you only need to truly collect three on your own by battling Metal Sonic, Shadow, and Silver. Again another missed opportunity by not including the bonus stages that really test a gamer's skill in earning (keyword here) these emeralds. 

There are plenty of collectibles to earn here with over 50 songs to unlock (each unlocked song can be played instead of the usual zone music) and alot of concept art. It wasn't enough to get me to tackle all the challenges, which is where bulk of these are earned, though it was pretty cool to see these included. Another addition I didn't bother with much was skills, which can be purchased from an in-game store and give you a way to customize your Sonic experience. Whether you want to start with 10 additional rings, land on feet after taking damage, run up hills and such faster, or other things like that you'll find these little perks here. It didn't take me long at all to purchase them all though and I didn't really in much of a need for them outside of giving myself a few extra seconds to gather my rings after getting hit and increasing my speed in water and going uphill. Each skill has a certain point cost and you have 100 points total to spend for equipping a skill. This was a nice addition but not something I spent that much time with, I basically bought them all and equipped the ones I wanted then never looked back.

Now I did play this on PC (purchased via Steam) and the graphics are top notch, the stages look amazing, and on my system the game didn't slow down at all. However this is simply a port of the 360 version as Sega didn't even take the time to change the in-game key prompts which display the standard 360 controller inputs. The cut scenes looked slightly grainy and not nearly as clear as the gameplay was, but that is only a minor complaint on an overall great package.

With gameplay that is amazing for both Sonics, level design that gives Nintendo a run for their money, and only few minor missteps it is hard for any Sonic fan to go wrong with Generations. This is truly a return to form for our hedgehog friend and hopefully Sonic Team uses this as a template moving forward with future Sonic games. Sadly there are no plans right now for classic Sonic to return in future games, but that is ok though. At the start of the game I favored classic Sonic but by the end of it I was always going for modern Sonic and finding his levels to be pretty intense and very enjoyable. If modern Sonic has levels like these in future games then Sonic Team has successfully brought me back to the series I used to know and love. I'm giving Sonic Generations an overall 8 out 10, this is a great package with only a few minor stumbles though I wish the overall adventure was a little longer and featured more zones from Sonic's past. Happy birthday Sonic, it has been an interesting ride these past 20 years though this gives us alot to look forward to and hopefully it will be another great 20 years ahead of us.

Battlefield 3 Review

   When it comes to delivering edge-of-your-seat action in the first-person-shooter department, Activision's Call of duty has dominated the landscape on this current round of consoles with a long line of impressive installments that solidified the franchises status as a true gaming icon.
    But where many publishers see an impenetrable fortress, at least one of the industry's big guns sees an opportunity to hit the storied series right where it hurts -- namely, Electronic Arts, which pulled out all the stops for their latest blockbuster shooter, Battlefield 3. Billed as "Above and Beyond the Call," BF3 set its sights squarely on Modern Warfare 3 this holiday season, with the hope of becoming the new top dog in the world of war-games -- and, thanks to developer DICE's innovative Frost-bite 2 engine, they just might have a shot.
    Blending incredible animations, earth-shattering explosions, and more real-time effects than you can shake an AK-47 at, BF3's single-player experience is jam-packed with an impressive mix of realistic tactics and adrenaline-pumping gun-play. This helps drive the game's intrigue-laden plot as you uncover the truth behind events surrounding a group of soldiers caught up in a conflict on the Iran-Iraq border -- including stealth missions, bomb-defusing operations, and a massive firefight in the midst of a live earthquake!
     It's an impressive package, but DICE didn't just deliver a hollywood-caliber campaign and call it a day. They've also integrated a host of online co-op missions that allow you and a friend to partner up and take out the opposition. Additionally, the robust multiplayer slate that showcases DICE's considerable chops through a bevy of modes such as Conquest, Rush, and Team Deathmatch, offering a wealth of depth and replay value for fans of competitive play.
      This should come as no surprise, considering this is the same core team that helped develop the immensely successful Battlefield 1942 -- known for its large-scale battles and intense vehicular scenarios -- and DICE did an excellent job at staying true to its roots, as BF3 follows suit with the ability to pilot tanks, choppers,jets, and more across massive maps full of intricate detail and thoughtful design that helps keep each match interesting.
      Taken together, it's a pretty impressive package that mostly delivers on its promises. While it may be touch to say if all these options cumulatively provide the muscle needed to unseat Call of duty from its place at the head of the table, Battlefield 3 is a clear turning point for the franchise that demands a long, hard look from both avid action gamers and FPS junkies alike. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America Review

Image taken from Amazon.com
The best part of this book, by far, is the cover. It's an arresting piece of artwork for anyone who grew up with a Nintendo: Mario paused in mid-jump, a perfectly Nintendo shade of blue wallpapered behind him. It's an image that promises more than the book offers. 

The writing is clean and straightforward but far too often Ryan resorts to pop culture jokes (the intro to Sonic the Hedgehog is particularly brutal) or cultural stereotypes (in the section detailing with the creation of the first Mario arcade game are the inevitable references to yin and yang and Japanese Zen). It's a style that should be familiar to anyone who's read Wired magazine. There are also a few spelling errors sprinkled throughout the book, nothing terrible, although Konami is referred to as Komani. 

As a history of Nintendo it's a worthy primer but don't expect anything as in-depth or meticulously researched as David Sheff's "Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered the World," from which "Super Mario" paraphrased a cover image and a subtitle. "Game Over" was a video game book but also a business book. At nearly 500 pages it offered a level of detail and character necessary to understand the under-scrutinized subject. Ryan too often focuses on the trivial and skates by the interesting; multiple page bios on historical footnotes like Captain Lou Albano and Billy Mitchell yet a single paragraph of background on Shigeru Miyamoto. For a more compelling look at the history of Nintendo and Miyamato, I'd first refer one to "Game Over" and "Master of Play" by Nick Paumgarten from the New Yorker.

Ryan's greatest mistake is in his disregard for any description of the actual act of playing video games. There's never any sense of what it's like to hold a controller in one's hands and play a game. Although it's safe to assume that most everyone who reads this book will have played most of the games described within, there is something missing to a book that covers such an intensely interactive activity without any mention of what it's like to participate. It's like writing a book about football and never describing what happens on the field. The other recent mainstream book about video games, last year's "Extra Lives" by Tom Bissell, details the peculiar mix of immersion and passivity that goes into playing video games as does Nicholson Baker's "Painkiller Deathstreak" from the New Yorker magazine. 

It's been nearly twenty years since Sheff's book and since then there's been an explosion of innovation and expansion in the video game industry, largely undocumented by anyone other than industry trade magazines and online publications. Ryan's book is good video game journalism, but it needs to be better than that. It needs to be good journalism. 


Buy the book at Amazon.com now! : Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America


Thursday, January 12, 2012

ESA still fully backs SOPA, issues statement of support


The Entertainment Software Association has addressed recent discussion of its involvement with SOPA, confirming to Joystiq that it has no intention of withdrawing support. The controversial bill, which maintains growing popular disapproval, shall continue to have the backing of a large section of the game industry.
As an industry of innovators and creators, we understand the importance of both technological innovation and content protection, and do not believe the two are mutually exclusive. Rogue websites – those singularly devoted to profiting from their blatant illegal piracy – restrict demand for legitimate video game products and services, thereby costing jobs. Our industry needs effective remedies to address this specific problem, and we support the House and Senate proposals to achieve this objective. We are mindful of concerns raised about a negative impact on innovation. We look forward to working with the House and Senate, and all interested parties, to find the right balance and define useful remedies to combat willful wrongdoers that do not impede lawful product and business model innovation.
Many huge publishers -- including Sony, EA, THQ, Microsoft, and Capcom -- belong to the ESA, and as such, indirectly support legislation that could threaten jobs and the freedom of the Internet. Clearly, the ESA is thinking of short-term gains and refuses to see the wider impact of SOPA. It has also officially turned its back on the people who helped it in the case of Brown v. EMA, and proven the Videogame Voters Networkto be nothing but hypocritical astroturfing.
I still hope that the ESA will open its eyes in the near future, and realize that blindly signing up for anythingthat opposes piracy -- no matter what it is -- is a very rash, very stupid thing to do, especially when nearly every member of the ESA promotes its products using the very same sites directly threatened by SOPA.

Here are Xbox Live’s most played games of 2011


Microsoft has revealed the top 20 most played games on Xbox Live through the year of 2011, and you don’t even need to be an expert in the industry to guess what game is at the top.
The list, posted over on Major Nelson’s blog, reveals that, to the surprise of just about no one, Call of Duty: Black Ops was the most played game on Xbox Live throughout 2011. Modern Warfare 3, which only came out a couple of months ago, took second place, followed by Modern Warfare 2Halo: Reach and Battlefield 3.
If you’re interested in checking out the full list of Xbox Live’s top games of 2011, see below.
Xbox 360 Top LIVE Titles
  1. Call of Duty: Black Ops
  2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  3. Modern Warfare 2
  4. Halo: Reach
  5. Battlefield 3
  6. Skyrim
  7. Gears of War 3
  8. FIFA 12
  9. FIFA Soccer 11
  10. Madden NFL 12
  11. GTA IV
  12. NBA 2K11
  13. Battlefield: Bad Co. 2
  14. Call of Duty 4
  15. Battlefield 3 Beta
  16. Halo 3
  17. Gears of War 2
  18. Forza Motorsport 4
  19. Red Dead Redemption
  20. Call of Duty: WaW
Top Arcade Titles
  1. Pinball FX2
  2. Full House Poker
  3. Castle Crashers
  4. Fruit Ninja Kinect
  5. From Dust
  6. Trials HD
  7. Magic: The Gathering — Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012
  8. DEAD RISING 2: CASE WEST
  9. Torchlight
  10. Toy Soldiers: Cold War
  11. Plants vs. Zombies
  12. Portal: Still Alive
  13. Bastion
  14. LIMBO
  15. Game Room
  16. DEAD RISING 2: CASE ZERO
  17. Peggle
  18. Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale
  19. Battlefield 1943
  20. Beyond Good & Evil HD
Top Indie Games
  1. FortressCraft Chapter 1
  2. Total Miner: Forge
  3. The Impossible Game
  4. Avatar Paintball
  5. Toy Stunt Bike
  6. CastleMiner Z
  7. I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1
  8. Avatar Legends
  9. CastleMiner
  10. Miner Dig Deep
  11. Avatar Laser Wars
  12. Bird Assassin
  13. Voice Changer 360
  14. Nuclear Wasteland
  15. Avatar Karting
  16. Zombie Estate
  17. Avatar Drop
  18. Baby Maker Extreme 2
  19. College Lacrosse 2011
  20. The $1 Zombie Game
Games for Windows LIVE Top LIVE Titles
  1. Age of Empires Online
  2. GTA IV
  3. Batman Arkham City
  4. Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition
  5. F1 2011
  6. DiRT 3
  7. F1 2010
  8. Fable III
  9. Street Fighter IV
  10. Resident Evil 5
  11. AoE Online – Beta
  12. Fallout 3
  13. Colin McRae : Dirt 2
  14. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  15. Bioshock 2
  16. Bulletstorm
  17. Section 8: Prejudice
  18. Red Faction Guerrilla
  19. Dead Rising 2
  20. Operation Flashpoint Red River
Windows Phone Games
  1. Angry Birds
  2. Fruit Ninja
  3. PvZ
  4. Need for Speed Undercover
  5. Full House Poker
  6. MONOPOLY
  7. Doodle Jump
  8. Bejeweled LIVE
  9. Rise Of Glory
  10. geoDefense
  11. ilomilo
  12. Assassin’s Creed – Alta├»r’s Chronicles HD
  13. Sonic 4 Episode I
  14. Tetris
  15. Fable: Coin Golf
  16. Hydro Thunder GO
  17. The Harvest
  18. Uno
  19. Tentacles
  20. The Sims 3
These lists are based on global unique users connected to Xbox Live or in the case of Arcade and Indie Games, full versions purchased during 2011.