Weekend deals: COD4 and the Target Wii sale

Target store logo.As the holidays inch ever closer it’s nice to be up on all the latest deals. Some of them are even good enough to get a little something for yourself.

For starters, Target is offering the buy-2-get-1 deal that’s been so popular lately on Wii games. Unfortunately it only applies to games (no accessories this time around) but it is for every game. Get yourself some Wii Sports Resort and throw the other two at your brother/son/roommate. No sense sending them out of the house, right? Sale starts tomorrow.

Steam’s offering a chance to play through COD4 before the release of Modern Warfare 2 drops. The old-school version is a whopping 40% off retail, down to $23.99, up until Monday. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t played the game, but if you lost your discs or something, at least Steam is here for you.

N-Gage goes the way of the dodo

Nokia's N-Gage going the way of the Dodo.Nokia will be closing the doors to its wildly unpopular N-Gage gaming service next year, according to an official blog post today. The service never really got off the ground, which isn’t much of a surprise. Remember those phones? They were absurd. After that it became an online platform with a following most industry folks would call “cute.”

Of course Nokia is masking the failure behind the launch of the Ovi Store, but I think we all know what really happened: the App Store. The iPhone tapped into Nokia’s arteries a while back and just isn’t stopping. The platform is much more attractive to developers and is probably making them a lot more money as well.

For the one to two this affects, you will still be able to get your N-Gage games until September 2010. The community site will shut down at the end of the year.

PS3 costs Sony $4.7 billion on the way to profitability

Sony HQ.Sony’s Q2 fiscal-year earnings report reads a bit like a good horror story. The most interesting for our purposes is that “networked products and services” division, which includes the Playstation brand. It also includes a whopping $654 million loss this quarter, which Sony attributes to declining PS2 sales and appreciation of the yen. The PS2 sold some 600,000 units less this year than last. Ouch.

Maybe worse, though, is that the numbers have given math nerds around the web enough info to figure that the PS3 has cost Sony roughly $4.7 billion over the course of its life. That’s a monstrous figure, particularly since this is Sony’s third-gen console. Microsoft lost about as much with the original Xbox, but the 360 hasn’t hurt Redmond nearly as badly.

There is some hope, though. As manufacturing costs continue to plummet and sales rise with the PS3 Slim, Sony thinks the brand will become profitable as early as next year. That would be a hell of a turnaround, and frankly one I doubt we’ll see, but I’m willing to hope a little for Sony’s sake.

Nintendo confirms big-screen DSi LL/XL

Nintendo DSi LL/XLAt a press event in Tokyo today, Nintendo confirmed rumors of a new Nintendo DS, called the DSi LL in Japan, DSi XL in Europe. The “LL/XL” in the name signifies the larger screen size, up to 4.25 inches, which is a whopping 93% increase in screen size (pixel count remains the same). It’s a strange update – the screen size increase is nice for games and internet browsing, but it bumps the device up to an awkward, less pocketable size.

The new model also comes in some odd colors. There’s the standard white, but you can also get Wine Red and Dark Brown. The DSi LL/XL will also come bundled with 3 DSiWare titles pre-installed – a couple brain games and the DSi Easy Dictionary. Again, it’s sort of a confusing mix of features. If anything, it seems like the new model is being marketed at an older crowd, not exactly the hottest market around.

The big DSi will cost approximately $220, though there’s no word on a North American release just yet.

Blizzard bends you over the customization fence…again

WoW race change.Blizzard’s unveiled its latest scheme to boost profits from World of Warcraft in the face of declining subscriptions: race change. You no longer have to traipse about Azeroth wishing you had made your warrior a Tauren. You can finally pay to get the best arena racials without buying yet another account.

The service costs $25, and only works for a change within your current faction. A faction change runs $30, though you obviously get a race change for free. Personally, this isn’t something I’d be spending money on, but it’s been a while since I’ve been in that unique state of WoW-drunk where almost anything seems reasonable.

Though I wish for the people still playing that Blizzard would lump some of these customization fees together, I also realize people are paying for this crap, so it’s hard to blame Blizzard. At least let me say, I feel for you, crackheads. It’s tough to pay for stuff like this when you’re calling off work to grind out those last few levels.

OSC prefers a turn-based strat

Orson Scott Card.In a recent interview about Shadow Complex, the man himself, Orson Scott Card, talked a bit about his favorite types of video games: turn-based strategy. He’s no warmonger, though. OSC prefers games like the Civilization series, where you definitely have to be ready for battle, but most of your time is spent actually organizing and building up your civ.

“I like the turn-based strategy game and there aren’t very many of those made, and most of them are made badly,” OSC said. “Really Sid Meier is the only guy who does it reliably. And I wish more people would learn the lessons from the way he does it. Because I’ve looked at some of the other offerings and they emphasize the tedium and the fog of war.”

You can find the full interview at Big Download. If you made it through any of the later books in the Ender’s Game series or read much of Alvin Maker, I’m sure you’ll make it through just fine.

Sega’s got your Bayonetta costume solution

Bayonetta full costume.If you’re completely out of costume ideas for Saturday, Sega wants to offer a little help. Because really, what’s hotter than a busty witch dual-wielding Derringers? Nothing, that’s what.

Yes, the costume at right comes from Bayonetta, Sega’s witch-themed shooter set for a 2010 release. The heroine is a sexy mashup of witch, japanese school girl, and kung-fu master. Sega wants to make sure a few Bayonettas make the rounds this Halloween so it put together a little guide for making your Bayonetta as authentic and erotic as possible.

Even if you aren’t looking for a game-inspired costume this year, the page is worth a read. The game looks admittedly cool, but when you consider applying some of the…character design choices…to an actual human, it sounds totally batshit. For example, the description of Bayonetta’s guns reads, “Add-ons include a crystal in its center allowing it to magically summon bullets, as well as a rail on the top of the guns so they can be equipped on Bayonetta’s feet by sliding them into the gap in her high heels.” Just a little food for thought while you’re at your local thrift store this weekend.

Forza 3 tries to bridge the gap between serious sims and arcade racers

Forza 3 car crash.In case you’ve forgotten, Forza 3 is out today and ready to be driven across the world’s most famous racetracks. The game is unique in that it’s the first advanced driving sim that allows users to dial the experience from arcade racing to full simulation.

Among the many features Turn 10 has placed just a couple menu selections away are the options to toggle auto-braking, suggested driving lines, driving/traction assists, and tire wear. Those options have been in other games, but accessibility was almost always an issue. If you realized a race was too easy or too difficult, you usually had to scrap the whole thing. Turn 10 wants Forza 3 to be for everyone, though, so the controls are almost as close as the accelerator and the brake.

Accessibility doesn’t mean the sim features are missing, though. You still have full control over your rotors, tires, suspensions and the like. All of that for hundreds of cars and you’re pretty much guaranteed you’ll get your money’s worth. Oh, did I mention the game is actually fun? I’ve only played the demo so far, but it’s good enough that I’ll probably pick the game up in the next week or so.

PS3 gets Netflix streaming service

Netflix streaming for the PS3.Sony’s 10-year plan for the PS3 finally seems to be coming together…halfway into its life cycle. As a Netflix press release announced today, the PS3 will be adding the ability to stream content from the rental service. The new feature will be offered free of charge to PS3 owners;all that’s required is a subscription to the Netflix service, which can cost as little as $9 a month. By contrast, the same service for the Xbox 360 requires that users have a gold subscription to Xbox Live, which runs $50/year.

There is a catch, though. While services like that on the Xbox 360 give users access to BD Live content, the PS3 version requires a special disc for the drive in order to access BD Live content. It’s a small trade-off, particularly if you consider the $50 upcharge for the 360.

At any rate, the PS3 is finally becoming the console we all wanted it to be. Sure, it’s all coming a bit late, but better to have these things than not.

Gamefly releases iPhone app

Gamefly app on the iPhone.Gamefly released an app for the iPhone this week that could quickly become your go-to place for game info. The application is free, and integrates easily with subscribers accounts. You can manage your account as you would expect, and select games for rental on the go, but the app has a lot more than just account management.

The Gamefly app is full of game info, including control lists, walkthroughs for some games, cheats for others, user reviews, and achievement lists. You can get news feeds from ShackNews, which Gamefly picked up earlier this year.

Gamefly co-founder Sean Spector wants the app to be everything for every gamer, not just Gamefly subscribers. He mentioned plans to expand the list of titles in the app and even wants to add more news sources and reviews. I’m guessing he wouldn’t mind if the thing boosted subscription rates along the way.

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