Xbox One price is too high for now

As reported by and others, you can get $100 in store credit toward an Xbox One if you trade in your PS3 or Xbox 360.

But is that really a good deal? You’re still shelling out $399 for an Xbox One, the same price as the PlayStation 4.

Xbox One

Xbox One

Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to have an Xbox One (and if money was no object, a PlayStation 4). But I’ll wait until the price goes down, which hopefully will come when the Xbox One’s library of games is beefed up. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to choose from right now.

Absent of a big price drop and a robust gaming library, I’m still getting some good use out of my Xbox 360. Microsoft says it will continue to make games for the older console through 2016, so I’m good for now.

But here’s the thing. By 2016 or earlier, the Xbox One and PS4 are going to start showing their age because they can only support a maximum 1080p resolution when it comes to TVs.

Sooner or later (maybe sooner), 4K will become the standard high definition for TVs, which will eventually become affordable and hugely popular.

If that’s the case, I might wait to buy a gaming system that’s optimized for 4K.


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Xbox 360 video games for a steal

Bought new, we’re talking 250 smackeroos. But I only spent $47 and some change at GameStop for The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion (game of the year edition), L.A. Noire, Darkness II and Sniper Elite V2.

With the release of Xbox One, there hasn’t been a better time to land some pretty good deals on used Xbox 360 games that garner generally favorable reviews from critics and users.

Yes, Elder Scrolls, released in 2006, is showing its age. The graphics and overall gameplay look dated, but I wanted to give it a shot because I loved Skyrim and the Fallout games.

L.A. Noire, released in 2011, doesn’t show its age at all. The graphics are gorgeous, and the game play is a blast.

I look at good video games the way I look at good movies or TV shows. I can forgive dated graphics if there’s enough meat on that story bone. Case in point is the original Star Wars movie or the original Twilight Zone series.

You can have the best special effects and voice overs in the world but if the dialogue is cheesy and the gameplay is bad, it’s a waste of money. Exhibit A is this game, although the graphics aren’t that great to begin with.

Just terrible. I spent about 15 minutes playing it, time I’ll never get back.

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Xbox One reversal of fortune

It used to be Microsoft could do no wrong when it came to its Xbox video game systems (aside from some red ring of death and overheating issues).

But I think it’s not too big a stretch to say Microsoft has stumbled a bit since announcing the launch of the Xbox One.

Danny O’Dwyer at GameSpot nails it in this video:

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Xbox 360 and Xbox One to use real money, not points

You’ll soon be buying things on Xbox Live with money versus buying into a points system ahead of the debut of Xbox One.

“You told us you want to be able to buy things using money instead of points, and we listened,” By Marc Whitten, Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer for Xbox, posted on his blog.

The changes take effect after you get a system update prompt from Microsoft.

I was never a fan of the points system. It’s confusing as others have noted, and it seemed like you can never pay for just the amount of points you need to buy a game or an add-on because it’s in preset amounts ($5, $20, etc.).

So the announcement is good news.

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GameStop and the future of video game consoles

GameStop will have to see the video game writing on the wall to survive: It’s only a question of when, not if, video game systems will no longer feature disc drives. Discs of course are the bread and butter of the game store chain.

A big chunk of their business is customers trading in their disc-based games and GameStop turning around and re-selling them at profit.

When disc-based games go the way of CD-based albums, the game store chain could be in serious trouble. Unless it can learn to adapt.

The future of  buying video games is all in the cloud. You’ll stream or download them, not insert a disc, and share them on other platforms such as smartphones and tablets.  That’s a trend we’re already seeing, for example, with Xbox Live’s growing library of downloadable content.

Why? Convenience. Pure and simple. That’s why,  if you’re in your 20s, you probably never owned a CD player. Downloading music made it super easy to get your music fast versus driving to a record store (ask your parents), standing in line. Just a hassle, relatively speaking.

Sure, the purists still buy the record albums, just like there will be purists still buying old video game discs and cartridges for reasons including nostalgia.

But that’s going to be a small number of people by comparison.

I was chatting with a GameStop employee the other day at a store in Greensboro, N.C., when I asked him about this very subject, and he agreed discs will one day be a thing of the past, which won’t bode well for the store unless they diversify.

He pointed to a row of mobile devices and tablets for sale. He says you can bring your mobile device in and get the highest trade-in value compared with other places (I didn’t verify this, so it pays to be skeptical here. Do your homework.).

Will GameStop survive or go the way of Blockbuster?

Time will tell.


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Why video games should be funny on purpose

Video games thankfully have come a long way in the purposefully funny department.  It used to be that lot of games were filled with such awful, cheesy dialogue that they became unintentionally funny.

Take Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation. The cutscenes are filled with over-the-top, cringe-worthy dialogue such as “go dance with the angels!

Even the name is ridiculous.

But then along came Battlefield: Bad Company, which to me represented the first game that I’ve played where it’s humorous on purpose.

In a nutshell, you lead a squad of ragtag soldiers who infiltrate enemy territory for revenge and profit.It’s a game that refreshingly doesn’t take itself too seriously, and some of the dialogue is funny.

The latest game to do it right is Farcry 3, including its DLC.

The latest addition – Blood Dragon – is hysterical (it’s actually a standalone game. You don’t need to buy Farcry 3 to play it).

Blood Dragon

Blood Dragon

The Daily News puts it this way: “Welcome to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Ubisoft’s first-person shooter ode to the great decade of the 1980s. It was a time of way-too-serious action heroes, cheesy one-liners and villains with thick Russian accents, not to mention Cabbage Patch Kids, legwarmers and “Don’t Do Drugs” commercials.”

But guess what? Like the Battlefield game, it’s also fun to play.






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The ideal next-generation video game console is Xbox One?

Xbox One

Xbox One

“Be amazed.”

That’s the how Microsoft describes its upcoming Xbox One console.

It’s a step in the right direction, all right. But amazing? Not exactly. Sprucing up your motionless sensor, adding an array of voice commands, beefing up your hard drive and processing speed is all fine and dandy, not to mention watching movies on its built-in Blu-ray player.

Not exactly groundbreaking.

What would be amazing is if a next-generation console served more as an easily accessible platform than a box, such as iOs or Windows.

That way, you could play the games on whatever your heart desires, whether it’s your tablet, smart phone, HDTV or PC.

Game|Life’s Chris Kolher sums it up this way:

“What if the next step in the process is to release the Xbox One operating system on a future tablet, once it becomes powerful enough? At that point, you’ve got all your games saved to your account, you log in to your x86 tablet running Xbox One OS, sync your controller and you have access to everything. Or you just run the Xbox OS on your PC.”

I’d also like to see a platform that doesn’t require discs, although I know that would put places such as GameStop out of business. I know that’s a storage issue, but the day will come when downloading or streaming games that are massive (somewhere in the terabyte plus range) won’t be an issue.

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DLC, it’s dynamite for video games and your wallet

Downloadable content can really extend the shelf-life of video games.

netchA bonus is adding onto an existing video game is cheaper than forking out $60 for a brand new one.

I’ve been pretty impressed with the latest DLC from Skyrim: Dragonborn.

Lots of things to do, great action, battles. The little dudes – the Rieklings – are a trip.

Also recently downloaded Far Cry 3′s DLC bundle for $10 – a pretty good deal.

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I need a get out of jail free card

I’m still playing Skryim and still love the game (currently playing Dragonborn – great add-on by the way).

But one thing that could make it even better (and this goes for other games too)?

Give us a get out of jail free card so to speak.

In other words, if I’m stuck on a puzzle or hopelessly outgunned, give us an option to move on.

That with the press of a button we’re onto the next level or mission or room.

Sure, that may not be as satisfying as solving the puzzle or killing the bad guy.

But who cares? That should be our choice. It’s just a game, right?

And it’s not as if I can’t easily find the answers on the Internet. But that gets tiresome. You have to pause the game, search by the mission name, then search for the best search result, then if it’s a video walk through, skip to the right section, etc.

Is that cheating? So what.

It’s not as if I’m performing surgery or taking the bar exam.

This will just get me back to the serious business at hand much sooner: Slaying dragons including some that talk on another planet inhabited by giant cave men, vampires, werewolves, trolls and spiders that spit frost poison.

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I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you boot me (I wish)

Unfortunately in the Tiger Woods video games, there’s no such option when it comes to booting obnoxious gamers during a round.

Maybe EA Sports could fix this problem in the next installment? That would make an already great game even better.

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