New Slim PS3 Has New Sleek Ad Campaign

Sony is making the most out of its second chance with consumers by delivering a fully-featured console (shame about that online network) at a new, lower price, and actually telling consumers about it in a clear, cogent and entertaining way.

Their new marketing campaign centers around the multi-titled fictional Kevin Butler, at times Director of Rumor Confirmation, at other times VP of Enough Is Enough.

We feel Sony and Deutsch LA have definitely come through this time, junking some of the very odd videos that launched PS3 in favor of an entertaining message that highlights the PS3 price and features very clearly.  Take a look:

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No Xbox HDMI Leads To Microsoft Spin

Both Sony and Microsoft now have attractive $299 price points for their flagship console packages. Great news for consumers, right? Not so fast. Both companies have decided to include only RGB cables with their packages, instead of cabling capable of HD output such as composite or HDMI.

So what in the hell are Sony and  Microsoft doing packing their $299 models with a set of RGB cables? Those yellow/red/white cables that came with every system since the Super Nintendo aren’t going to show off the HD beauty of some of these next-gen games, and some consumers are either going to be upset they have to buy an HDMI cable or, if they don’t know better, stare at a game picture that is well underwhelming for the money they just spent on the system.

Microsoft VP of Interactive Entertainment Business in Europe gave his spin:

We wanted to get the Elite pricing to a figure that is acceptable for consumers so they have the option of a premium console gaming experience. Removing the HDMI cable gives the flexibility to consumers who can then decide which type of cable they want for their specific gaming and TV screen set-up.

Masterful attempt at spinning an absolutely blockheaded strategy from both next-gen console manufacturers.

[Full interview at]

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that the PS3 Slim included HDMI cables out of the box, when it actually includes only RGB cables. The [a]list daily regrets the error.

Xbox 360 ‘Not At Halfway Point’

From a recent Kotaku interview with Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg:

“We feel like our system has done very well for us in the current form,” said Greenberg, director of product management for the Xbox 360. “We have no plans for a slim.”

“We feel that we’re not even at the halfway point (of the Xbox 360’s life cycle),” he said. “That is something we believe in strongly. People have invested in these consoles, and we have massively connected communities and we have storage. I think what we did with the New Xbox Experience is a sign of what we want to do with the console.”

It looks like the rumors of a slim Xbox 360 are untrue, and with Facebook and Twitter making their way onto the system this fall, it looks unlikely we’ll see a hardware refresh anytime soon, instead having software take the main focus of updates from Microsoft.

When A Demo Is More Than A Demo

SCEA is launching the new PSPgo in the Americas on October 1, and with each $249 system will be a demo of Rock Band Unplugged.

The game, based on the very popular music series, will feature five songs to whet gamers appetites.  What if you want more?   This is where the demo gets really interesting.

Sure, the demo could do its job and get you to purchase the full retail version chockful of songs; that s a demo’s job, right   But this demo will actually play any songs you purchase from the PlayStation Store, without the need of a full retail game.

This is actually very interesting: the thought is give away the base game in hopes of spurring online sales of songs (at about $2 a pop).  This gives consumers a choice of the songs they want to play, and it gives Sony/EA/MTV a chance to keep the $2/song train rolling for potentially hundreds of downloads.

We ll be curious to see if this method of distribution catches on, especially with music game sales down significantly from last year.

Of course, demo or not, it still doesn’t compare to the bundle European consumers are getting with the full version of Gran Turismo.  Clever demo idea, but they get a full, free game!

Fighting Fire With Fire

Activision today officially announced the inclusion of two classic Nirvana songs in their upcoming Guitar Hero 5.

The songs, Lithium and Smells Like Teen Spirit, are from the Seattle band’s breakthrough blockbuster Nevermind, an album that is largely credited with pushing the grunge rock movement into the mainstream.

Rolling Stone had the first opportunity to break the news and get comment from the different parties involved.  Some excerpts:

The licensing deal had been in the works for years, but Activision’s Vice President of Music Affairs Tim Riley is still pinching himself. Smells Like Teen Spirit is a song that we’ve had at the top of our wish list ever since I came to Guitar Hero, he tells Rolling Stone from his office in Santa Monica. So it s been a while.

Indeed, securing the proper approvals was no small feat. Not only did Cobain’s widow Courtney Love have to sign off on behalf of the estate, so did former drummer Dave Grohl and Universal Publishing, which administers the Nirvana catalog.

Naturally, Love did have some concerns. Namely, Cobain’s physique, Riley reveals. Courtney supplied us with photos and videos and knew exactly what she wanted Kurt to look like, he says. She picked the wardrobe and hair style, which turned out to be the Teen Spirit look, then we went back and forth over changes some subtle, some not so subtle. In column B Love’s reference to the Greek God Adonis, whose youthful good looks made the male deity an object of desire. She certainly had a physical image in mind, says Riley. She wanted him to have that sort of athletic definition but not overly so. And while Love has long had a reputation for being difficult, Riley’s experience was anything but. She was actually great to work with, he says. She got back with comments pretty quickly.

Bethesda Announces PAX Plans

Well known developer Bethesda is hitting the PAX show floor next week, and we thought it would be a good opportunity to see what a company like they can bring to the table to a fan-powered convention like PAX.

From Bethblog:

PAX is just over a week away! At this year s show, our lineup will include hourly, live demonstrations of Brink, as well as a chance to go hands-on with our Fall releases WET and Rogue Warrior. Additionally, we ll have playable builds of upcoming Xbox Live Arcade titles Doom II and Quake Arena Arcade. We ll also have giveaways at the booth, including Brink t-shirts and posters for Rogue Warrior and WET.

They re bringing the ruckus, and we re very pleased to see how PAX has grown in importance and size in the past few years.  Let’s see how other companies show off their wares soon.

Play Magazine Cover Just A Tad Suggestive

The cover of the newest issue of Play Magazine focuses on Muramasa: The Demon Blade, a game the magazine calls “the latest masterpiece in Japanese 2D gaming.”

Of course, the fact that the main character is half naked, with most of her other half fighting off a monster octopus, has nothing to do with the decision to make the for-now-little-talked-about Muramasa the cover story.

Let’s see how an upcoming Bayonetta cover one-ups this one.

[Play Magazine
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Hans Zimmer Scores Modern Warfare 2

Big name Hans Zimmer, whose scores have entertained audiences in The Lion King and Gladiator, is currently scoring the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.  At least, that s what his agency is saying.

Kotaku reported the information after seeing a resume that outlined the composers works, but could not get any confirmation from Activision. What are they waiting for, this guy adds even more credibility to an already hot game for the holidays.

[Full story at Kotaku]

Video Of The Day: Serious Sam HD

Informercials like the ShamWow, Snuggie and SlapChop have made their impact on marketing, whether we like it or not.

Well, Croteam, the folks behind the upcoming Serious Sam HD, like it, and they’ve made the infomercial their key piece of marketing for their remake.  It’s also our video of the day: