Friday, March 30, 2007

My most anticipated titles of 2007

Let's face it, the year is barely underway and large number of the games we were talking about at last year's E3 we're still talking about now. We're continuously running into the problem of having two many friends for the games we love to play. So as a reminder, I thought I would put out my top 5 rather than a top 10 because 5 is probably all I can afford between now and next year:

5. Assassin's Creed - Also due out on the PS3 with "TBD 2007" release date. The stunning middle age visuals and rumored combat systems make this a very interesting title. Multiplayer potential - Mmmmmmmmmm, not so much. Probably along the lines of Oblivian. Lots of fun by yourself, not so much with friends.
4. Half Life 2: Orange Pack. What's in the box? Looks like we get Episode One and Two, Portal and Team Fortress. Remember that Part Two was the unanimous 2004 Game of the Year industry wide and made most PC's choke to death on its stunning visuals and physics. Multiplayer Potential - developers are promising that the included Team Fortress 2 will surpass Halo 2 as the greatest multiplayer game of all time. All for one low price. Winner.
3. Bioshock - Ok, a FPS epic where the citizens of a disintegrating underwater dystopia take mind altering drugs to survive? Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet. Multiplayer Potential - Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet, but probably limited to eight.

2. Halo 3 - Epic storyline, greatest multiplayer ever, infinite hype? It's Halo 3, nuff said. Multiplayer potential - Unlimited.
1. Mass Effect. It's an RPG, no wait, it's a FPS, no wait, it's a galactic epic spanning an entire fictional galaxy that may change the way games are designed. Apparently Bioware is considering putting this game on multiple discs because you can't fit a universe on a 9.7 GB dual layer DVD. Wasn't it Microsoft that told us they never saw a practical need for larger storage media? Seriously, this looks like the GoW of 2007. Sorry Halo 3. Multiplayer potential - given it's FPS capabilities, probably not bad.

If I'm rating them strictly according to Multiplayer potential, the list would change a bit. Probably look like:

5. Assassin's Creed
4. Mass Effect
3. Bioshock
2. Halo 3
1. Half Life 2: Orange Pack. I honostly believe the guys at Valve are a hair more talented than the guys at Bungie. Team Fortress was the gold standard for online multiplayer long before Halo 2. From early looks, these guys are combining the right mix of ability, tactics, graphics, and humor that will probably keep us laughing every Friday night until three in the morning.

Sorry honey.


Anonymous said...

Bioshock has no multiplayer. Sorry.

New Boy X said...

A brief history of Netflix!

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), established in 1998, is the largest online DVD rental service, offering flat rate rental-by-mail to customers in the United States. Headquartered in Los Gatos, California, it has amassed a collection of 75,000 titles and over 6.3 million subscribers. [1] Currently, Netflix spends about $300 million a year on postage to ship 1.4 million DVDs a day.

The company provides a monthly flat-fee service for the rental of DVD movies. A subscriber creates an ordered list, called a rental queue, of DVDs to rent. The DVDs are delivered individually via the United States Postal Service from an array of regional warehouses (41 in 29 states).[2] A subscriber keeps a rented DVD as long as desired but has a limit on the number of DVDs (determined by subscription level) that can be checked out at any one time. To rent a new DVD, the subscriber mails the previous one back to Netflix in a prepaid mailing envelope. Upon receipt of the disc, Netflix ships another disc in the subscriber's rental queue.
New NetFlix Security mailers, designed to prevent tearing or unauthorized access
New NetFlix Security mailers, designed to prevent tearing or unauthorized access

As of February, 2007, Netflix's most popular plan costs US $17.99 (plus tax) per month, which allows a subscriber to check out up to 3 DVDs at a time. Other monthly plans range from US $4.99 for one disc at a time to US $47.99 for eight. For the three-out plan and up, each rental slot costs the subscriber approximately US $6 a month. Netflix also offers gift subscriptions for varying periods.

Netflix has recently begun playing a prominent role in independent film distribution. Through a new division called Red Envelope Entertainment, Netflix licenses and distributes independent films such as Born into Brothels. As of late 2006, Red Envelope Entertainment has also expanded into producing original content with filmmakers such as John Waters.[3]

On January 16, 2007 Netflix began rolling out its new "Watch Now" feature to a limited number of customers, with the feature available to all subscribers within six months. The Watch Now feature allows subscribers, at no additional cost, to stream near-DVD quality movies and TV Shows instantly. Subscribers will get 1 hour of media for approximately every dollar they spend on their subscription. A $17.99 plan, for example, would permit the subscriber 18 hours of media streaming. Currently the service has approximately 1,000 movies and TV Shows available with over 5,000 expected to be available later in the year. Major studios including NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, MGM, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, Lion's Gate and New Line Cinema are all distributing films under this service.[4] It is available only to PCs running Windows XP or Vista.

Netflix began operations in 1998 with an online version of a more traditional pay-per-rental model (US $4 per rental plus US $2 in postage; late fees applied).[5] It did not introduce the monthly subscription concept until late 1999.[6] Since then it has built its reputation on its policies of having no due dates, late fees, shipping or handling fees, or per-title rental fees.

Netflix has developed and maintained an extensive recommendation system based on rating and reviews by customers, similar to the system used by The company believes this gives it an edge in competing with newcomers like Blockbuster. On October 1, 2006, Netflix offered a $1,000,000 prize for the first movie recommendation algorithm that could beat its existing algorithm, Cinematch, at predicting customer ratings by more than 10%.[7] (see Netflix Prize for more information).

Unlike most online on-demand entertainment services, such as MovieLink, Netflix's offerings cover the vast range of DVD movies (and increasingly, television series) with 75,000 titles, including titles by major and minor studios (excluding pornographic movies). Particularly, Netflix has become noted for its extensive collection of documentary films, Japanese anime, and independent films, many usually hard to find in traditional rental shops. Indeed, "some 35,000 different film titles are contained in the 1 million DVDs it sends out every day."[8] The company's published subscriber counts have increased from one million by the fourth quarter of 2002 to around 5.6 million at the end of the third quarter of 2006. Netflix's growth has been fueled by the fast spread of DVD players in households; as of 2004, nearly two-thirds of U.S. homes have a DVD player. Netflix also operates an affiliate program which has helped it to build online sales for DVD rentals.

Founded by Reed Hastings, Netflix was incorporated on August 29, 1997 and began operations on April 14, 1998. Netflix initiated an initial public offering (IPO) on May 29, 2002, selling 5,500,000 shares of common stock at the price of US$15.00 per share. On June 14, 2002, it sold an additional 825,000 shares of common stock at the same price. After incurring substantial losses during its first few years, Netflix posted its first profit during fiscal year 2003, earning US$6.5 million profit on revenues of US$272 million. Netflix has been one of the most successful dot-com ventures. A New York Times article from September, 2002, said that, at the time, Netflix mailed about 190,000 discs per day to its 670,000 monthly subscribers. The company is well-known for its worker-oriented culture, including unlimited vacation time for salaried workers and allowing those employees to take any amount of their paychecks in stock options

Netflix's success has inspired a number of other DVD rental companies both in the United States and abroad, but none of the purely online companies appear to approach Netflix in terms of size or revenues. Wal-Mart began an online rental service in October 2002, but left the market in May 2005 and now has a cross-promotional arrangement with Netflix. Netflix has also cited as a potential competitor.[10] operates online rentals in the UK and Germany but has remained coy about any intentions for the U.S. market.

Netflix had preliminary plans to expand to Canada and the UK in 2005, but the expansion appears to have been postponed or cancelled as Netflix concentrates on the U.S. market.[11] currently serves as a Canadian equivalent to Netflix.

Blockbuster Video, the world's largest store-rental chain, entered the U.S. online market in August 2004 with a US$19.95 subscription. This sparked a price war; Netflix had just raised its flagship 3-disc plan from US$19.95 to US$21.99 before Blockbuster's launch, but by October had reduced this to US$17.99. Blockbuster responded with rates as low as US$14.99 for a time, but by August 2005 both companies settled at the (identical) current rates. Blockbuster's subscriber base after one year was roughly a third of Netflix's size and growing.[citation needed] Netflix founder Reed Hastings commented in a January 2005 interview that rival Blockbuster threw "everything but the kitchen sink at us."

Many video store chains have unlimited rental plans similar to Netflix. Hollywood Video started Movie Value Pass (MVP) in late 2004, which lets customers rent 3 movies at a time (due in five days) for US$15 a month. New releases are usually excluded for two to six weeks from the MVP "Basic" plan. Blockbuster started Movie Pass in 2004, which lets customers keep 2-3 DVDs at a time for US$25-30 a month without restrictions or due dates. Hollywood's MVP "Premium" offers the same benefits for a comparable price. Both still require the customer to travel to the store to rent and return movies, and their selection is not as diverse.

Netflix's allocation policy — referred to by many as "throttling" — gives priority shipping and selection to customers who rent the fewest discs per month. Higher volume renters may see more of their shipments delayed, sent across country, or sent out of order.[12] Netflix currently claims that "the large majority of our subscribers are able to receive their movies in about one business day following our shipment of the requested movie from their local distribution center."[13] However, not all shipments come from the subscriber's local distribution center. Shipments from distant centers are often delayed, as well.

In September, 2004, a consumer class action lawsuit, Frank Chavez v. Netflix, Inc,[14] was brought against Netflix in San Francisco Superior Court. The suit alleged false advertising, in relation to claims of "unlimited rentals" with "one-day delivery." In January 2005, Netflix changed its "Terms of Use" to acknowledge what has commonly become known as "throttling." (Mike Kaltschnee, owner of the Hacking Netflix blog, says Netflix calls this practice "smoothing" internally.)[15]

In October of 2005 Netflix proposed a settlement for those who had enrolled as a paid Netflix member prior to January 15, 2005. Former members would be able to renew with a one-month free membership, and those still currently members would receive a one month free upgrade to the next highest membership level. Netflix's settlement denied the allegations or any wrongdoing, and the case did not reach a legal judgement. Netflix estimated the settlement cost at approximately US$4 million, which included up to US$2.53 million to cover plaintiff lawyer fees. Not offering registration for it on their website, a controversial aspect of the original settlement offer was that the membership or upgrade provided would continue in place after the free month provided by the settlement, with the customer being charged. On January 5, 2006, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice filed a challenge to the proposed settlement stating that (among other things) the necessity to opt out of the upgraded or renewed accounts at the end of the free month ultimately amounts to a "marketing tool" for Netflix due to the increase in revenues that can be expected from members who fail to opt-out at the end of the term.[16] The Federal Trade Commission also filed an amicus brief urging rejection or modification of the settlement terms for similar reasons, describing them as appearing "dangerously close to a promotional gimmick." In February 2006 Netflix indicated that it would alter the settlement terms so that customers would be required to actively approve any continuation after the free month provided by the settlement. The final settlement hearing was on March 22, 2006. After the settlement was agreed upon, Netflix opened up registration on their website, with a deadline of June 26, 2006.[17] On September 6, 2006, an appeal was filed in California Appellate Courts, 1st Appellate District. The settlement benefit will not be distributed until the appeals process is completed, which could take 12 or more months.

Netflix v. Blockbuster

On April 4, 2006, Netflix filed a patent infringement lawsuit in which they demanded a jury trial in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California alleging that Blockbuster's online DVD rental subscription program violates two patents held by Netflix.[19] The first cause of action alleges Blockbuster's infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,024,381 (issued April 4, 2006, only hours before the lawsuit was filed) by copying the "dynamic queue" of DVDs available for each customer, Netflix's method of using the ranked preferences in the queue to send DVDs to subscribers, and Netflix's method permitting the queue to be updated and reordered.[20] The second cause of action alleges infringement of Patent No. 6,584,450 (issued June 24, 2003) which covers in less detail the subscription rental service as well as Netflix's methods of communication and delivery.[21]

Blockbuster issued a press release on April 6, 2006 stating its belief that the claims are without merit and that it intends to fight them.[22] "Apparently Netflix would prefer to take us on in the courts rather than facing us in the marketplace where the consumer is the judge," said Shane Evangelist, senior vice president and general manager for Blockbuster Online.

In Fall of 2006, Blockbuster signed a deal with The Weinstein Company, that gives them exclusive rental rights for the studio's films, starting January 1st, 2007. [3] This would force Netflix to obtain copies from mass merchants or retailers, instead of dealing with the company. [4] Netflix has speculated that this might result in higher costs and/or smaller quantities purchased. [5] As of March 2007, Netflix continues to rent Weinstein DVDs. They now have Unknown (30 Jan 2007), School For Scoundrels (13 Feb 2007), and Harsh Times (13 Mar 2007), among others. The long-term effects of this deal are uncertain.

Customer service

A telephone number for customer service was added to the Netflix website in December 2006, after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was unable to locate a telephone number on the company's website during an interview on 60 Minutes.[23] When calling this number, callers will find a standard IVR system and will have an option to speak to a representative if automated options are not sufficient.

The phone number for Netflix customer service (which is still not on their site) is 1-888-NETFLIX (638-3549). Press 0 for a human operator.[citation needed]

Another phone number is on the How It Works page, but you can't access it while logged in. That number is 1-800-585-8131. [6]

Customer service is available between the hours of 7:00 AM and 12:00 AM (midnight), Eastern time

Army Strong said...

No multiplayer on Bioshock? Strike that from the list. Limited budget means I can't afford limited features.

Booger Dawson said...

I still would not mind playing an RPG that we can all get in on that is worth while to play. Other than that I am like army, limited budget means only games that involve multi player unless it is an RPG of course i am all over it. The list of games shown looks good though.