Last week wasn't huge for industry news, but there are some interesting pieces of miscellanea out there. Check 'em out.
The Death and Undeath of Handhelds
Earlier this month, Sony announced that the PSP Go had been discontinued. Generally considered overpriced, plus hampered by its lack of UMD support, the Go never saw strong sales in any region. Last week, however, the Go was declared Not Yet Dead (or perhaps Slightly Undead) in North America, where it will still be produced and sold. It probably won't survive the launch of the NGP, however, so interested gamers may want to pick one up soon. Just don't blame me if your zombie Go starts hungering for your brains.
In the meantime, it looks as though the venerable DS Lite has finally seen its day. A number of Gamestop employees have posted pictures of recent instructions telling them that DS Lite units are now discontinued and will not be restocked. That leaves the DSi and DSi XL as the last remnants of the previous Nintendo portable generation, and the decision makes sense considering that Nintendo is trying to focus on a stronger online component for its portables. Fare thee well, DS Lite, you have brought joy to many gamers over the past five years.
ESRB to Be Assisted by Robots
Ever wonder how the ESRB keeps up with the thousands of video games that come out in the United States every year? Apparently, it hasn't been easy, and the ratings organization will soon be automating its process for smaller titles. The affected game creators will be presented with an extensive questionnaire about the content in their games, and a computer algorithm will determine the resultant rating. Never fear, clueless parents, the ESRB promises that every game will be inspected by an actual person at some point, and any game creators who have lied on their questionnaire will be penalized. There's no word on what the penalty will be yet, so I'll just imagine that it involves listening to a shrill Fox News commentator shriek, "Think of the children!" for hours on end.
Microsoft Tries to Stop Jerks from Downranking Indie Games
There's been a bit of a brouhaha going on over at Xbox Live Indie Games for the past few weeks. You see, anybody with an Xbox Live account, whether or not they own an Xbox or have ever played the game in question, was able to rank games on the Indie Games service. It all worked fine and dandy until a bunch of people started ranking many of the service's top games at "1," the lowest ranking, apparently while attempting to move their own personal favorites up on the list. It appears that these miscreants were abusing the ease of creating accounts on the Xbox Live website to create a bunch of dummy accounts and use them to game the ranking system. Microsoft responded by disallowing Indie Games voting from website-only accounts, which should calm things down, though many of the developers involved would prefer if only people who had actually played the game or its demo could vote.
If I may step on my soapbox for a moment, downranking games like that is a really jerky thing to do. Gamers often use the Indie Games rankings to separate the wheat from the chaff, so the highest-ranked games get many more downloads (and thus, purchases) than the lower-ranked games. Artificially deflating a game's score means that talented, worthy indie developers can lose out on a lot of money that they would otherwise have earned through the high scores of gamers who actually played and enjoyed their games. It might seem like harmless fun involving $1 and $3 games, but some of these folks have been making enough money off the Indie Games services to be able to develop games full time and move into more mainstream game development. As a gamer, do you really want to hurt these developers, who have the talent to make great games and are looking for recognition and funding? Don't be a jerk; only rate games you've played and don't stuff the Indie Games ballot box, ok?
It's-a Me, Mario 3D!
Perhaps in an attempt to shore up 3DS sales, Nintendo has teased the next handheld Mario game, which will be shown off at E3. Series creator Miyamoto spoke about the upcoming 3DS game, describing it as a combination of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy. Little more about the game was mentioned, except that the raccoon tail in the game's logo is indeed a reference to the fan-favorite raccoon leaf power-up from Super Mario Brothers 3. Players have been clamoring for the flying Raccoon Mario's return for years, and the power-up is likely to be the first thing that E3 previewers look for in the game.
That's it for this week, and as April comes to a close, we can look forward to some great releases coming up in May. I personally have pre-orders in for The Witcher 2 and L.A. Noire. I'm pretty sure even the ESRB robots would have no trouble rating either of those games M, so I'm fortunate that it's been a very long time since I was seventeen. What are you looking forward to in May?
CCC Freelance Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*