2008: Family fun, girl gamers, IPTV, and more!

While it was reported yesterday that video game sales in Japan are expected to peak this year, and fall over the next two to three years. Meanwhile, in the states, even the Christian Science Monitor admits that gaming is still tapping into new (see: female) audiences. So much so that the powers that be over at C|Net’s news.com have determined 2008 to be the year of gaming, and companies like Sigma Designs have started partnering with our beloved Microsoft to work on the ability to provide 16 simultaneous streaming video channels to a “set top box” – potentially even the Xbox 360. The pull the gaming industry has on other industries is growing, as the whole video game “fad” becomes more of a cornerstone of American living. Take that, Fox News.

Satchell: XNA's future not completely mapped

So says Chris Satchell. This week, in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Satchell mentions they are focusing on the tools, not all of the distribution methods and other concepts behind how XNA Game Studio will work. They are more excited for a second round of Dream Build Play coming up this year.

He is also careful to remind people that just because XNA Game Studio is going to use a peer review process, the end of the pipeline is still controlled by Microsoft. Contrary to naysayer’s belief, the peer review process stands a fantastic chance at making some positive strides and leading to some excellent new games. The open source movement seems to work well as it stands right now, why should this be any different? 😉

EA's John Riccitiello claims games are equal to movies…

In an interview with Financial Times (FT) EA’s Chief Executive stated that we are in a time when “the greatest games will be viewed by almost everybody as being as important as Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Oh how I wish it were true, but I have to disagree with Mr. Riccitiello. One of the best games of the last few years was undeniably Mass Effect. Unfortunately for the industry, we spent more time talking about a 30 second scene than the brilliant quality of the game as an interactive piece of fiction – a piece of art. There was a graphic sex scene somewhere in the middle of Schindler’s List, too, but that’s not what people remember, or what people focused on. But unfortunately for video games like the upcoming Grand Theft Auto IV, clearly rated “M” for Mature (age 17+) in the United States, the media will have nothing to say of the brilliant script, fantastic voice talent, and fine details in imagery that go into the game. No, they’re going to focus on virtual use of drugs and alcohol, objectification of women, and violence. All of which were themes of many prominent films.

The silver lining to the FT article, was the undeniable success of the video game industry. His appointment to this position and decision to split EA into several lables all comes with a bit of pressure. “Under the 16-year tenure of his predecessor, Larry Probst, the company had grown from sales of $102m in 1991 to $3bn in revenues last year.”