Elections, games and Starcraft 2


At its simplest, elections are a lot like selling videogames. Developers spend a lot on publicity, just like politicians do for their advertisements and posters. Good previews that project upcoming games as groundbreaking are like newspaper write-ups that depict candidates as men of principle and shining beacons of hope. Game demos on the other hand are like those (staged) debates and forums that seemingly give us a closer look into the plans of the candidates. And as for the surveys? They are the beta testing periods that basically tells them if their game sucks or if it has the makings of a classic.

Politicians themselves are like games. The newbie candidates are looking to build their legacy while reelectionists are like sequels promising to continue and add more to what they have allegedly accomplished. And as for those games who have lousy follow-ups? They are like the trapos who just do not know when to quit.

Tomorrow, all Filipinos will be equal—rich, poor, young or old, all of us will have a single vote. Please use it on a candidate not because of their celebrity endorsers, popularity or public perception. Vote for a candidate whom you can brag about—win or lose—someone who can make you proud and give justice to your vote. After all, unlike games, which you can throw away anytime—be stuck with these elected officials for the next six years.

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After more than a decade of waiting, fans can finally start counting down the days as the most anticipated game of the year finally gets a launch date. Blizzard announced that StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty would be hitting the stores worldwide on July 27.

Mike Morhaime, Blizzard chief executive officer and cofounder said that like millions of gamers, they too have been looking forward to revisiting the StarCraft universe for many years. “Thanks to our beta testers, we’re making great progress on the final stages of development, and we’ll be ready to welcome players all over the world to StarCraft II and the new Battle.net in just a few months.”

And what a testing period it was. Codes were fetching as much as $300 at auction sites like eBaylike and if this any indication of how the game would sell, then the guys at Blizzard will have a lot to smile about.
The release date also came as a welcome surprise as everyone was expecting it to ship in time for the holiday season just like most big games and by releasing the game at the end of July, the company has ensured very little competition from similar brands and could mean monster sales.

The game’s standard edition will retail for $59.99, though die-hard fans can plunk down $99 for a Collector’s Edition that includes an artbook, soundtrack, behind-the-scene DVD and a flash drive containing the entire original StarCraft along with its expansion, Brood War.

The original Starcraft has sold over 11 million units worldwide, and has become a national pastime in Korea with no less than two television stations dedicated to showing competitive play.

Set in the 26th century in a distant part of the Milky Way galaxy, the game is built around three species: the Terrans, human exiles from Earth; the Zerg, a race of insectoid genetic assimilators; and the Protoss, a species with vast psionic power. Wings of Liberty will focus on the Terrans specifically, while the expansions Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void will focus on the Zerg and Protoss, respectively.

The storyline of StarCraft II takes place four years after Brood War, and features the return of a number of characters from the original series; including Zeratul, Arcturus Mengsk, Artanis, Sarah Kerrigan, and Jim Raynor. Players will also revisit the original series’ worlds, like Char, Mar Sara, and Braxis; as well as new worlds, such as the jungle planet Bel’Shir. It has been confirmed that the Xel’Naga, the ancient space-faring race responsible for creating the Protoss and the Zerg, will play a major role in the story.

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Wade McGilberry of Semmes, Alabama won a staggering $1,000,000 by being the first person to throw a verified perfect game in Major League Baseball 2K10.

“It was actually my wife who convinced me to go for it,” said McGilberry. “I never thought I’d actually win a million dollars playing a video game, it’s all still sinking in for me.” The 24-year-old threw a verified perfect game on the first day of the competition, a feat thought by many to be impossible. He went on to add, “The game itself was fantastic—I’m glad I bought it either way—but I have to say, this is a nice return on my investment.”

To compete, gamers had to play in MLB Today mode, select from any of the available matchups, and then choose the option to participate in the ‘MLB 2K10 contest’ that automatically defaulted to the proper gameplay settings as defined by the official contest rules. Entries had to be recorded via camera or digital video recorder in compliance with guidelines provided by 2K in the official rules, and all eligible entrants had to submit a copy of their recording in its entirety for verification. Submissions were only accepted on DVD.
To ensure accuracy in the verification and submission process, 2K Sports partnered with Twin Galaxies International, the worldwide authority on video game world records, and provider of scores to Guinness World Records that are published in the Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition.

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Price cuts have always been my favorite news and if analysts are correct we may see another round of price cuts for the Xbox360, Playstation 3 or Wii soon. According to the analysts, “we’re entering a new phase of the battle between Sony and Microsoft with these motion controllers,” says Colin Sebastian of Lazard Capital Markets. “One way to [win that battle] is to sell to the existing installed base, but the easier way to do it is to sell to new console buyers. Clearly, if you’re going to be aggressive in that, price cuts are the way to go.”

It also makes a lot of sense since today’s generation of consoles are already four to five years old and should have been giving way to the next generation of game machines. Also, as consoles get older, the price of the components that go into them drops, which gives Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo more flexibility on pricing.

Price cuts can come in different ways such as direct lowering of the retail price or in the form of additional features with no price adjustment. This year, we could see a combination of both.

Sebastian says it makes sense to lower the price of the PS3 outright as the $300 tag is still out of the comfort zone of the general public. Microsoft, he believes, will add larger hard drives to its low-end systems (or in the case of the Arcade, it may simply add a hard drive). Those actions could put pressure on Nintendo to react.

“If Microsoft and Sony release versions at $199 with bigger hard drives, that could compel Nintendo to go to $149,” he says.

Other analysts echo Sebastian statements with Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities saying the price cuts are most likely to come in September, with Microsoft making the first move. “Microsoft will cut price before the fall only if it begins to lose significant market share to Sony,” he says. “It is far more likely that we will see a slim version of the Xbox 360 with a 250 GB hard drive and with Project Natal bundled into the box while maintaining the $299 price point, especially if Sony does not lower the price of the PS3 by the time Natal and Sony’s Move controllers launch in the fall.”

Hopefully, their predictions come true so I could finally get all three systems by the end of the year.

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