The Fryer, Vol. 19
How to help your Xbox 360 fanboy cope with the PlayStation 3's turnaround
With the PS3's new form factor and lower price, surging sales and highly anticipated exclusives like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Gran Turismo 5 coming soon, these are confusing times even for mature, self-confident gamers. But the effects of these rapid changes on the console market fall the hardest on the Xbox 360 fanboys, who are often the least equipped to handle them. We contacted grief therapist Dr. Lisa Engelstein to share some tips on how to help your Microsoft fanboy cope with their sorrow during this difficult period of transition.
Microsoft fanboys may benefit from professional counseling.
Police raid turns up "hundreds" of illegal casual games at office park
A team of a dozen specially trained police officers conducted a successful raid on a Shady Glen office park today, confiscating "hundreds and hundreds" of contraband casual games from the park's four businesses and arresting 96 casual-game addicts, a police spokesman said today.
"These games are a scourge to our city's corporate productivity and a threat to the way of life that most city families hold dear," said Police Captain Wade Martinson, who oversaw the raid. "We hope these arrests will send a message to workers throughout the city: Work time is not play time ... not anymore."
Police sustained no injuries during the raid, though one employee at Broadview Solutions, a mid-level marketing firm, reportedly suffered a broken wrist as she struggled against police attempts to remove a mouse from her grip.
Casual-game addiction is on the rise in the workplace.
As expected, Freecell and Minesweeper were by far the most common games removed from hard drives during the raid, but Martinson said he had begun to notice a disturbing increase in the number of "hard games" in use by office workers today.
"People think they can just play an occasional game of Diner Dash during their coffee break and they'll be fine, maybe even energized for the rest of the day," Martinson told reporters during a press conference. "Then the next thing you know, they're pouring whole work days into mastering that last Peggle board or building a 16-letter word in Bookworm Adventures. I cannot stress this enough: Once the addiction takes hold, corporate life as you know it is totally over. Totally over!"
The arrested workers were all charged with possession of addictive gaming substances and use of addictive games during working hours, both felonies. Because of severe game-related overcrowding in the city's prisons, most of the cases are expected to be pled down to a lesser charge, and those arrested subjected to mandatory gaming detox and rehab at a city medical facility, according to a spokesman for the district attorney's office.
Dolores Taylor, a 57-year-old homemaker from just outside the city, said she's happy the police are finally showing that they're serious about cracking down on the problem of gaming addicts in the workplace. "These people think they aren't harming anyone else by playing Bejeweled at their desk all day," she said. "But try telling that to my husband, who comes home exhausted every night because he has to do three times as much work to cover for all those [expletive] addicts."
But other city residents think the police could better spend their energies elsewhere. "Don't the cops have anything better to do than hassle workers who just want to have a bit of fun at their jobs?" asked a local 26-year-old data entry technician who asked to remain anonymous for fear of police retaliation. "Not everyone who plays a casual game at work is an addict! Not everyone who drags and drops a Solitaire card is a grave threat to our society! Why don't they go arrest some of those kids playing violent games on their home computers? They're the real problem."
With these arrests, the number of casual-gaming-related crimes reported in the city officially hit its highest level since 1988, when The Great Tetris Profit Massacre led to the passing of the city's first anti-casual-games law.
Sega drops price of Genesis
In response to recent price drops for the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360, Sega announced today that it would be dropping the suggested retail price for its Genesis system to a historic low of $10.
"With its lineup of over 500 games, its powerful 16-bit 'Blast Processing' CPU and its ability to display 512 distinct colors, the Genesis has always been one of the best values in gaming," said Stuart Blorch, VP of Sega's Genesis division. "We think this new price point make the Genesis an even more attractive buy in these tough economic times."
While new Genesis systems have been nearly impossible to find at most retailers in recent decades, Sega never actually stopped offering the redesigned "Genesis III" system as part of the catalog of wholesale products that it distributes to its retail partners. Genesis games are also still available to interested retailers, but prices for these still have yet to be lowered from the $50 average set in the mid-'90s due to costs built into the cartridge-production process.
Sega aims to be a strong contender.
Sega is hoping the cheaper Genesis hardware will be the focus, anyway. Manufacturing sources tell the Fryer that further reductions in chip costs have lowered Sega's outlay for each Genesis to a single dollar, leading to huge profit margins for both Sega and any retailers brave enough to stock the system, even at the bargain-basement MSRP.
But will the retailers and consumers be interested in the Genesis given strong competition from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo? Sega certainly seems to be doing what it can to make sure they will, sinking millions of dollars into a bold new ad campaign promoting the Genesis' new bargain price. Each ad in the series offers a comparison of what 10 dollars gets you on competitors' systems -- a small sliver of a disc drive, one-quarter of a Wii Remote, a little over two months of Xbox Live service, etc. -- with what 10 dollars gets you on the Genesis -- the entire system, complete with one controller and all necessary cables. At the end of each ad, the familiar green face of Alexander Hamilton on the 10-dollar bill lets out the famous "Sega scream."
Analysts were split on whether the Genesis could compete in today's market, even at the new bargain basement price. "By selling the Genesis for such a low price, Sega runs the risk of the system being seen as an underpowered or undesirable alternative to the more expensive systems," said Michael Pachter. "Both of these facts are undeniably true, of course, but the new price point just calls attention to them in a way I don't think will work to Sega's advantage."
But others were more optimistic. "For the price of one PlayStation 3, you can by 30 Genesis systems and link them together for a truly monster homebrew system sporting 4.6 MB of memory and over 230 MHz of parallel 'Blast Processing' power," enthused a post on gadget site Gizmodo. "Want to learn how to do it yourself? Click through for our handy, 10-page pictorial guide!"