Archive for the ‘Opinion Piece’ Category

By Bill Gilbert, Business Insider

This November, Microsoft’s new Xbox and Sony’s new PlayStation are scheduled to go head-to-head in a competition for control over the next generation of video game consoles.

With that new generation comes the next major leap in graphics technology: Both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X are boasting 4K-resolution games at a stunningly high refresh rate of 120 hertz. What that means in English is crisp image quality paired with smooth motion. Games on both new consoles are promised to look better than ever.

Websites for the Xbox Series X, left, and the PlayStation 5 highlight the visual capability of their respective consoles.
Microsoft/Sony

Whether your television is actually capable of producing those visuals, however, is another question.

For a television to display 4K-resolution games running at such high frame rates, it needs to support those specs — and the vast majority of TVs do not, including many new sets that support both 4K resolution and HDR visuals. That’s because TVs with support for such high frame rates with 4K resolutions are still brand new, and most are still prohibitively expensive.

You’re looking at $950 on the low end — and much higher if you want something larger than 55 inches — for TVs that support those specs. Beyond producing 4K-resolution visuals at 120 Hz, TVs that fully support the next-gen consoles also need a new type of HDMI port to handle all that data: HDMI 2.1.

The latest version of HDMI is available on only the newest modern TVs — many existing 4K and HDR TVs don’t have it, and there’s no way to upgrade an existing port.

In so many words: If you want to take full advantage of the power of the coming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles, you’ll almost certainly need a new television.

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By Tyler Fischer, ComicBook.com

PS5 pre-orders are being canceled as a result of retailers taking more pre-orders than their supply. This month, PlayStation makers Sony announced the PS5 price and the PS5 release date. The moment it did this, retailers — such as GameStop, Amazon, Walmart, GAME, EB Games, and Best Buy — immediately began to take pre-orders, and it looks like most of them took more pre-orders than they should. In addition to Amazon sending out emails warnings pre-orderers they may not get a console at launch, GameStop Ireland has warned some of its pre-order customers they won’t get their console until 2021. It doesn’t end there though.

VGC reports that UK retailer ShopTo will not be able to fulfill all of its pre-orders unless some customers begin to cancel their pre-orders. In other words, like other retailers, they don’t seem very confident they will have enough stock to meet demand, which begs the question: why are they taking pre-orders before they know how much stock they will have and what their shipping resources will be?

It’s only September 29. The PS5 isn’t releasing until November 12, which is to say these are the early birds getting out early as early birds do. More and more retailers are going to run into this issue. Whether it leads to canceling pre-orders or delaying delivery, the result is essentially the same thing. PlayStation players are getting pre-orders to ensure they have the console at launch. If it arrives weeks later, that hardly counts as fulfilling a pre-order.

If Amazon is anticipating stock and shipping issues, then it’s safe to assume every retailer is about to have the same issue, as Amazon likely has more stock than any other retailer, and it certainly has the greatest shipping resources.

Unfortunately, none of this is very surprising, as it happened with the PS4. And it’s going to happen with the Xbox Series X, because it happens with most modern console releases. And everyone knows this, yet retailers continue to ignore this reality to get that pre-order bump on their books.

The PS5 is set to release worldwide on November 12, priced at $400 or $500, depending on what version of the console you purchase.

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by Jonathan Lee; In The Know

The post-event high of the PlayStation 5 Showcase has had fans buzzing, but new information from Sony has turned that buzz into mild disappointment.

PlayStation 5 will not be backwards compatible with the PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3, as Famitsu confirmed (via Ars Technica). However, Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan told Famitsu that “99 percent” of PlayStation 4 games will be playable on the PlayStation 5.

As Ars Technica also noted, this is an unusual change of heart for Ryan. In 2017, he questioned if PlayStation fans would ever take advantage of backwards compatibility in the first place, despite the fact that gamers have requested the feature for years.

“When we’ve dabbled with backward compatibility, I can say it is one of those features that is much requested, but not actually used much,” Ryan told Time. “That, and I was at a Gran Turismo event recently where they had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and the PS2 games, they looked ancient, like why would anybody play this?”

Some gamers on Reddit bristled at this quote and described Ryan as a corporate suit who is out of touch with his own consumers.

“Is this guy serious?” one Redditor asked. “This is the head of Playstation?”

“Don’t care how good Gran Turismo Sport looks,” said another Redditor. “GT4 has nearly [three] times the cars, better tracks, glorious OST and an actual proper campaign. I’ll always play it … and many other PS2-era games that their modern-day counterparts have yet to rival.”

For Sony, backwards compatibility is most likely not a technical issue. Indeed, people with jailbroken PlayStation 4s have discovered that the console is capable of running PS1 and PS2 games. (In The Know does not endorse jailbreaking a PlayStation — or any device, for that matter.)

The issue more likely has to do with licensing. For many games, the rights to use assets such as music are limited, so a digital version of an older driving game might be pulled from platforms because its sample of Lil Jon’s “Get Low” (skeet skeet skeet) has expired and the publisher doesn’t see the value in renewing it.

Noclip’s documentary on video game distributor GOG.com, which specializes in retrofitting classic titles for modern PCs, showed the enormous amount of work and legal red tape involved in preparing these games for rerelease.

It’s not clear how much console companies stand to gain or lose by limiting backwards compatibility, but there are still a lot of gamers out there who can’t (and won’t) let the past die. And for good reason! Bushido Blade still goes hard.

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by Tom Hoggins via The Telegraph

With the promised Autumn release dates of next-generation consoles Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 creeping ever closer, it seemed that Microsoft and its great gaming rival Sony were playing chicken over who would reveal the cost of their new box first.

Plenty of speculation filled social media over the months since the pair’s summer showcases, but the firms remained resolutely quiet on the pricing issue, perhaps in the hope that the other would go first and last minute tweaks could be considered.

Pushed by either the leak of its budget next-gen alternative, the Xbox Series S, or the need to be aggressive to have any chance of cutting the significant lead Sony had with the PlayStation 4, Microsoft jumped first.

And it went in with two feet. The more powerful Series X will cost £449.99 while the lower-specced Series S will set players back a faintly remarkable £249.99. Both prices were a highly aggressive move in their own right (many expected both the Series X and PS5 to be tipping over the £500 mark) but the circumstances and strategy surrounding Microsoft’s move are somewhat unprecedented in the gaming industry.

The Xbox Series X is launching without any specific exclusives to speak of, with Microsoft happy to say you can play its first-party games on PC or on the upcoming streaming service xCloud. And while smaller, budget versions of gaming hardware are hardly new, they usually come in the middle of a console’s lifecycle. Releasing one alongside a premium model at launch is new territory.

All of this is in service to Microsoft’s growing subscription service Game Pass. This Netflix-style service offers up a library of games to download for a fixed monthly price. All of Xbox’s own Game Studios titles -such as Halo Infinite- will appear on the service, while the company also announced that FIFA publisher EA would be folding in its own EA Play library into the price. Microsoft have been aggressively pushing Game Pass as the fulcrum of its gaming offering for the best part of two years and it will also be the backbone of xCloud.

Microsoft’s approach to its consoles is not about selling boxes as much as it is ensnaring you into a Game Pass subscription. The Redmond giant is even offering a smartphone style 24 month contract for the Series X and Series S, in which you can pay up to £35 a month (for the Series X) for the new console and access to Game Pass. Taken at face value (not including the inevitable offers on subscription that will come from buying the box up front) over the span of two years that would be cheaper for players than buying the box and a Game Pass sub up front (around £18 according to some back-of-the-hand maths).

It is an approach unheard of thus far. And while there are unquestionable risks inherent in committing to a 24-month contract, giving prospective customers an option where they are not forking out £450 at launch will be a tantalising prospect.

Microsoft have so far executed this plan as well as it possibly could have – gaming Twitter was a flurry of positivity after the reveal- but there remains a significant question mark over whether this is the right plan.

Game Pass has received plenty of plaudits for its breadth of choice, but whether subscription is the direction that the mainstream gaming audience will want to go remains to be seen. The dominance of subscription services in other entertainment mediums would suggest yes, but gaming has not always followed the same pattern as its TV or musical cousins.

And there is, of course, the question of the PlayStation 5. Where Microsoft are trying to disrupt the industry model through service, Sony seem to be playing a straighter bat. While it too will be releasing a cheaper (disc-less) version of its PS5 console at launch, its focus so far has seemed more traditional; highlighting its gilded first-party studio exclusives and touting a more significant step into the next generation. While it does have irons in the fire with cloud gaming and subscriptions, Sony hasn’t seemed to have shown the same appetite of building its gaming business around the idea.

To an extent: why should it? Estimates have the PlayStation 4 outselling the Xbox One at around two to one and Sony is widely recognised as having the superior exclusive line-up. Getting gamers to shift allegiance after a successful run is not an easy task and Sony may feel that too much disruption would not serve it well.

Still, the reaction to Xbox’s pricing strategy would have caused plenty of chin-stroking in the executive offices of Sony HQ. PlayStation’s initial riposte may be to undercut the ticket price of the Xbox -who knows?- but it may be keeping one eye on how the monthly contract idea plays out too.

The chances are that Sony can afford to wait it out a little longer than Microsoft. Xbox knows it needed to be aggressive to shift mindsets and further push Game Pass as the future of how we play games. An all or nothing gamble that could fall flat or disrupt the gaming industry entirely. Microsoft look to be making the right moves, at least. Now it is your turn, PlayStation.

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But can you lose a console war you’re not fighting in?

by Aaron Souppouris via Engadget

Microsoft has, since the launch of the Xbox One X in 2017, been able to claim that it sells “the most powerful console.” It’s a claim that will extend into the next generation, as the Xbox Series X’s CPU and GPU are, in terms of raw compute, stronger than the PlayStation 5’s.

For the Xbox One X, this has meant that cross-platform games almost always look or run better than they do on the PlayStation 4 Pro. You’ll often find a game that runs at 1800p on Xbox One X only hits 1440p on PS4 Pro. In other titles, the Xbox One may better stick to its target of 30 or 60 frames per second than Sony’s machine.

The gap between the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 for cross-platform titles will likely be real, though it’s not going to be as severe as the XB1X/PS4 Pro divide. Despite this, though, during the all-important launch window, it’s likely that we’ll see PlayStation 5 exclusive titles that simply look better than Xbox Series X exclusive titles.

You can see this in Halo Infinite, which looks like a 4K remaster of a Xbox One launch game. Now, some of that comes down to art direction and wanting to produce a game that recalls the Halo series’ legacy. There are also promises that it’ll “get better,” but the game looks like an upscaled Xbox One game because it is, in fact, built to run on an Xbox One. Microsoft can’t afford to release a first-party game that struggles to run on its own hardware, which means that the ambition of Infinite has to take a hit.

This might seem nonsensical, but it all comes down to a shift in strategy, and a promise.

The promise

As outlined fastidiously by Sean Hollister at The Verge, Microsoft has, since the Series X announcement last December, been promising Xbox owners that they’ll be able to play all of the company’s AAA titles on their current hardware for the foreseeable future. What the term “foreseeable future” means exactly has varied depending on which executive is speaking, but Phil Spencer, with whom the Xbox buck stops, is on record as saying two years. This means, for example, that Halo Infinite, Microsoft’s big holiday title, will play on a 2013 Xbox One as well as a 2020 Xbox Series X. Unless Microsoft goes back on its word, that should hold true for other titles to come.

Hollister’s article, however, points out that the majority of titles shown at yesterday’s Xbox Games Showcase have not been confirmed for Xbox One. If any of these games come out before late 2022, that would mean a broken promise. In responding to this controversy, Aaron Greenberg, who oversees the marketing for Xbox games, said that the company hasn’t ruled out an Xbox One launch for any title, and instead said on Twitter “we are leading with Series X & each studio will decide what’s best for their game/community when they launch.”

I’d venture a guess that Microsoft knows a fair number of these titles aren’t going to hit before that timeframe; we saw a lot of cinematics and not very much gameplay yesterday, after all. But it seems very unlikely that, for example, no Forza game will launch before Holiday 2022. (And if that is the case, that’s perhaps an even bigger issue for Microsoft than lying to some users.)

The Xbox model

Microsoft has been pushing away from the idea of console generations for years now. It started with the notion that gamers have one, singular library that works across generations. Over 600 Xbox 360 and original Xbox games work just fine on Xbox One, and will also be playable on Xbox Series X. Every Xbox One game will work on Series X too. 

More recently, though, Microsoft has been moving away from the idea of game ownership; it’s all about Game Pass, its subscription service that gives you access to every first- and second- party game on day one, and plenty of third-party titles too. 

Let’s ignore the weighty discussions about ownership versus subscriptions, and whether this strategy is actually good for gaming in the long-run. Right now, Game Pass is a compelling option for Xbox players, and a fantastic strategy for Microsoft. In a market where most of your potential customers already own a PS4 and its major exclusives, what better way to bring people into your ecosystem than offering all of your exclusives they’ve missed for a single monthly subscription? Recurring, guaranteed revenues are hugely valuable, and with over 10 million subscribers, Game Pass alone could be a billion-dollar business already. (10 million subscribers at full rate would be well over $1 billion, but Microsoft has been discounting the service massively over the past year, so it’s not clear exactly how much the service is pulling in right now.)

When your business strategy is selling subscriptions, though, the importance of games and hardware is lessened, replaced by the need to increase retention and reduce churn — terms more commonly found in the earnings reports of cable operators and wireless carriers. Games and hardware are just ends to that mean. Look at the whole Xbox business from that perspective, and its decision-making starts to make (a bit) more sense.

The problem 

There are a few reasons why we have console generations; why every new console has to have better processors, more RAM, more storage. On the “creative” side, toward the end of the six-to-seven year console life cycle, developers have more or less used every trick in the book to make the “best” games that they can for the hardware (in scope and fidelity, at least). This then feeds into the business side, where games are typically sold on the promise of being longer, bigger, better than those that came before them. 

A new console rarely makes a lot of money for a company on its own, and in some cases is sold at a loss on the understanding that money lost will be recouped on games and lucrative accessories. (Rumors suggest that this “loss-leader” approach may be in effect this generation, although neither company has yet announced a price for its console.)

What new hardware does, then, is restart the cycle. It gives developers more power to attract gamers to their games, and lets Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo attempt to win over customers from the other side. With the Xbox Series X, developers have more power, but right now, the most important studios can’t make full use of it, thanks to the cross-generation promise. 

There are four key upgrade areas for this next generation, which are largely mirrored across Sony and Microsoft’s consoles: CPU, GPU, RAM and SSD.

When developing a cross-platform game, “scaling” is easier in some areas than others. The hardware differences between the Xbox One S and Xbox One X haven’t been an issue, because these changes were essentially “the same part, but more,” or, “the same part, but faster.” When it comes to rendering a game at a higher fidelity, or the same fidelity but at a higher frame rate, that’s all you need. 

With Xbox Series X and PS5, we’re seeing a huge improvement in CPU and SSD, though, and, if you want to truly take advantage of these parts, scaling your game is nigh-on impossible. Both Microsoft and Sony have talked about using the SSD as RAM to load highly detailed objects and textures on the fly, and about rich open worlds with instantaneous fast travel. A solid example of all these elements in action would be the new Ratchet & Clank title for PlayStation 5, where the core gameplay loop revolves around jumping between highly detailed environments with no loading. How can Microsoft build experiences like that when it also has to support a seven-year-old laptop hard drive in the 2013 Xbox One? It can’t. Or rather, if it is achievable, making it happen would involve a torturous amount of work.

There’s also the matter of the CPU, which is tasked with telling the GPU what to write. The more powerful CPU in new consoles will allow for richer simulations. That could mean more cars on a racetrack, more NPCs in an open-world crowd, or just a level of AI complexity that we’ve yet to see in a console game. While NPCs and cars are largely scalable, it’s these new levels of simulation quality that can lead to unseen “next-gen” experiences.

It’s worth noting that one of Sony’s major launch-window titles, Spider-Man: Miles Morales,like Halo Infinite, looks like a “scaled” version of a current-gen title, as it’s built on the back of the 2018 PS4 game. Many early cross-platform titles, like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or Hitman III, are not going to look meaningfully “next-gen” for the same reason. It’s only when developers can leave behind the last gen that we see that leap in fidelity. Just look at 2013’s Xbox 360-supporting Call of Duty: Ghosts versus last year’s Modern Warfare reboot to see what a difference the lowest common denominator can make. Backward compatibility is fairly simple; forward compatibility is a headache.

With its first-party PS5 titles, such as Horizon Forbidden West, Sony is free from those past-gen shackles as soon as it wants to be, and can use its 2021 lineup of games to attract gamers over to its new console. Microsoft, assuming it wants to keep its promise, can’t.

When you’re selling subscriptions, that maybe isn’t the greatest problem, especially when, as mentioned, huge cross-platform games like Call of Duty, Destiny or Far Cry will run just as well or better on Xbox Series X. But we’re at that period in the console lifecycle when people are picking sides, at least for a few years, and gamers are willing to jump ship. Banking on the lure of Game Pass alone to keep your users on side is a risky move. The fact that Microsoft is starting to muddy the waters so quickly suggests it knows it has a problem; that if it wants to build next-gen experiences that keep its existing customers and attract new ones, it needs to cut the Xbox One loose.

The solutions

Nothing I’ve written so far will be news to Microsoft. Its engineers, developers, marketers and community managers know exactly what the issue is with this promise. The question is: What to do now?

There are essentially three ways to fix this problem. One: Bite the bullet and actually produce functional last-gen versions of all of your games until Holiday 2022. Two: Ensure that the vast majority of your users (or, at least, Game Pass subscribers) are using a next-gen console by the time you abandon the Xbox One and Xbox One X. Three: Worm your way out of the promise on a technicality. 

The first option is self-explanatory, if costly, for all the reasons outlined already. The second option, though, is more complicated and the key could arrive in Lockhart, the Xbox Series S, or whatever you want to call Microsoft’s long-rumored cheap next-gen console. It’s widely assumed that this console will come in at sub-$300, possibly as low as $250. But when you consider the Xbox business as a subscription play, and pay attention to what Microsoft has been doing with hardware recently, “price” could be the wrong way to look at the Series S.

Microsoft has been piloting hardware-as-a-subscription over the past couple of years, in the form of its “Xbox All Access” program. For $20 a month (over 24 months), you could pick up an Xbox One S, and a subscription to Game Pass Ultimate (normally $15 a month anyway). It’s not hard to imagine the exact same deal being put in place for the “Series S,” offering a $20- or $25-per-month subscription that nets you a next-gen console and every game you want. This offers a fairly painless upgrade, and would likely pick up many of the stragglers that don’t want to buy expensive consoles outright. With the long-term benefits of retaining and attracting subscribers, Microsoft could even afford to “give away” the Series S with, say, a 36-month Game Pass subscription, thus disarming anyone complaining about the broken promise.

For option three, Microsoft can point to the cloud. Specifically, xCloud, the streaming service that’s coming to Game Pass this fall. The company could easily support every Xbox Series X game on the Xbox One S and Xbox One X for years and years to come — once they upgrade their servers. This is an elegant and cheap way of keeping the promise, if a slightly shifty one.

This is all speculation, but I think we’ll end with a solution that involves elements of all three. I believe that Microsoft will release its first- and second-party games on the Xbox One S and X through 2021. I also believe that it’ll be offering subsidized consoles through a program similar to Xbox All Access, and that the Xbox One S will be supported as (and maybe even sold primarily as) a streaming box for xCloud.

None of these solutions end in disaster for Microsoft. But similarly, none of them are likely to give the company much chance to close the gap on Sony or even Nintendo, whose Switch console has outsold the Xbox One despite the latter’s three-and-a-half year head start. That’s a huge problem for a console seller. But for a subscription provider? No churn, no problem.

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by Sabrina Rojas Weiss via SheKnows

How are all my fellow WFH parents doing today? Taking care of kids at home while working is just a walk in the part, isn’t it? We should probably all get second jobs just to fill our time when we’re not learning how to bake bread. Naturally, this dad who went on Reddit to complain about his wife nagging him to do the laundry when he really wants — nay, deserves — to play video games absolutely has our support, doesn’t he?

Kidding, in case your mind-numbing exhaustion has eliminated your ability to read sarcasm. We’re so amazed at the boldness of this man-child daring to ask if he’s the asshole in this scenario. While his wife works full-time from home and also takes care of their two children following stay-at-home orders, he works out of the home and says he is “physically tired when I get back.” The division of labor they agreed upon years ago is that he takes out the trash, cleans the bathrooms, and does the laundry; she cooks, does dishes, makes the beds, sweeps and mops, and has the minor duty of “keeping up with the kids.”

On the evening in question, the wife asked him to wash the towels, and he seemed to think there was no urgency in the matter. He takes his video games very seriously, and she should understand. Also, she should be grateful that gaming is his vice instead of cheating.

“It might not be that second, but I’ll get it done,” he explained of his laundry procrastination. “Especially since she’s been home all day, I didn’t think it’d be an issue for her if she did them. Tonight, I was on the game in the middle of a conversation with my buddies. She asked me again to take care of the towels and I simply told her, ‘I’m in the middle of a game.’ She took a towel from the washing machine, threw it at me, and stormed off, slamming a door. I said something along the lines of ‘You’re always bitching.’ ”

The fight escalated to the wife declaring she wants a divorce. Even after typing all of this out, the husband wonders if there is some other reason she might want out.

Kieran@pegler_k

https://www.reddit.com/r/AmItheAsshole/comments/g9f7dz/aita_for_playing_video_games_while_my_wife/ 

Dude’s gonna have a whole lot more time for gaming in his near future.

AITA for playing video games while my wife chooses to do house chores?

Throwaway as my wife is often on Reddit… Married for 4 years, 2 children. We always argue. We both work, but when I get home I’d like to be able…

reddit.com

I have scrolled through almost all of the 1,200 responses to this post, for which commenting is already closed, and I have yet to see a single person voting in his favor. Big surprise there. So, rather than recap any kind of debate, my service to you will be in the form of choosing some of the best insults hurled at him:

 

“You [may] have 2 kids, but your wife has 3.”

“The chores he has are the chores you give your 13-year-old who wants to earn a little pocket money.”

“Move back in with your mom if you want to be babied that badly. You obviously aren’t ready to live in the real world.”

“Not the asshole. I’d say you’re the soon-to-be-single man.”

“There are 171,476 words in the Oxford dictionary but that’s still not enough to describe what a huge gaping prolapsed anus you are.”

“YTA, what’s her @ though?”

“I’m 14 and have more chores than you.”

For a more cathartic laughs at this guy’s expense, head over to Reddit. Also, enjoy this past story of a husband who woke up in the wrong decade and doesn’t understand that men need to do housework.

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by Steven Petite via Digital Trends

Unless you are a serious collector, at some point, you’ve probably thought about getting rid of a few (or many) dusty old games. Whether you’re running out of shelf or closet space, getting ready to move, ready to acknowledge that you realistically won’t play them all, or want to fully embrace digital game libraries, there are plenty of avenues available.

Not all of them are great options, however. For games that still have some monetary value, most would like to maximize their return. Time is money, too, so convenience matters. For games you literally can’t give away, there is a way to dispose of them properly, rather than tossing them in a dumpster.

Let’s take a look at the best methods for getting rid of your old video games for profit, convenience, and eco-friendliness.

Sell ’em back: Yes, GameStop is still your best bet

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Sure, you’ve probably heard people complain about GameStop’s trade-in values in the past. While the business can justify sometimes marking up games 3x more than trade-in values (Mario, Zelda), it’s also understandable why this bothers some people. The bottom line, however, is GameStop generally offers a higher price per game than other major retailers.

Companies like Best Buy, Target, Amazon, and Walmart now buy and sell used games, but no one beats GameStop on the one metric that counts. GameStop is also the only major retailer offering cash for used games — all the rest offer store credit. You get 20% less if you take GameStop’s cash route rather than store credit, but even then, you’ll most likely wind up right around what you would receive for a pile of games at any of the other major retailers.

While selling your old games and consoles to GameStop won’t maximize your dollars, the convenience factor at least partially makes up for it. While we recommend using GameStop for convenience, that’s not to say that the company always gives the best value on every game. If you are only trading in one or two games, it’s best to do some research before choosing a place to sell your old games. GameStopWalmartTarget, and Best Buy list their trade-in values for each accepted game online. Amazon trade-in values are listed on product pages.

If you are selling older games from the pre-Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 era, GameStop is the only major chain that accepts “classic” titles. That being said, if you have a bunch of classic games to sell, you may want to consider our other options listed below, as you might possess, unwittingly or not, a rare title or two.

By and large, when selling used games to major retailers like GameStop, it’s best to bring in games for more modern systems like PlayStation 4Xbox OneNintendo Switch, and Nintendo 3DS.

Don’t forget about local retailers

Chances are, you probably live near a GameStop or big-box retailer that will buy your old games. There’s also a chance you live near a local retailer that specializes in multimedia products, like used games and DVDs. Not everyone has an independent game shop in their area, but if you do, these shops want to buy your old games for more money than what big-box retailers offer. Local retailers are also more likely to take older generation games and cartridge-based games off your hands.

Eliminate the middle man

If you don’t need to unload your unwanted games right away and you are willing to put a little extra effort into the process, becoming the seller yourself will almost always get you the best price.

In terms of online secondhand marketplaces, the first two that come to mind are eBay and Amazon. Both venues let you set your own prices, but you are responsible for packaging and shipping. For some, this may be more hassle than it’s worth. However, there is a considerably more convenient option that still allows you to set your price.

If you’re on Facebook (who isn’t?), sell your used games on Facebook Marketplace. Just create the listing, add photos, set the category, set your price, and publish.

You can also join a Facebook group dedicated to buying, selling, and trading. Given the local nature of each group, you can talk on Facebook, agree to a price, and meet up to exchange cash for games. You don’t endure nearly as many steps as it takes to list games on Amazon, let alone eBay. Facebook groups are also less sketchy than making deals via Craigslist. Always meet in a public space, however.

If you’re moving, perhaps it’s time to Decluttr

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Sometimes you don’t want to haul games to your local store and sell them. Sometimes you just want to box them all up and send them on their way. We get it. That’s where Decluttr comes in. It’s particularly useful when you are preparing to move, when you already have moving boxes and plan on downsizing other personal items as well, like books, DVDs, Blu-rays, electronics, and more.

Using the Decluttr app for iOS or Android, you can scan your games’ barcodes, print out a free shipping label, and send them off. When your games are received, the quoted amount for your lot is deposited into your bank account the following day. How much money can you expect per game? We found that while Decluttr doesn’t give the best rates for newer games (compared to GameStop), older games tend to fetch comparable amounts.

While we know Decluttr works well, there are other online options that may work better for you. NextWorth, which specializes in a wide array of electronics, is a reputable alternative that pays you via check or PayPal roughly a week after receiving your games. NextWorth doesn’t have a quick and breezy app, but if you aren’t selling a large collection, you may be able to get a few extra dollars, depending on which games you sell.

Another site, Cash For Gamers, also pays via PayPal or by check through the mail and offers hit or miss rates that sometimes exceed those found on Decluttr or Nextworth.

Donate and recycle

Let’s say you want to part with games that have little monetary value, or maybe you just want to clear some space, and don’t mind whether you get money back or not. In these situations, you may be tempted to just toss unwanted games in the trash or relegate them to a dark corner in the basement. Fear not: There are better options available.

First, if your games, consoles, and accessories are in working order, consider donating them to your local Goodwill. You can either visit a store to make donations or deposit your games into one of Goodwill’s many donation bins. There are also a growing number of gaming-focused charities that supply consoles and games to communities in need. These include Gamers Outreach, which donates consoles and games to children’s hospitals, and Operation Supply Drop, which sends consoles to men and women serving in the U.S. military overseas.

Your other alternative, if you so choose, is to simply throw away your games. We think it’s always better to find a new home for your collection, but if they really aren’t worth anything or they’re defective, throwing your games away is the logical conclusion.

As previously stated, throwing them in a dumpster — or even your recycling bin — isn’t great for the environment. If you want to dispose of your games properly, we recommend a few different options.

First, check e-Stewards, a company that has a high standard for recycling electronic products for both consumers and corporations. Look to see if there’s a recycling location near you that follows e-Stewards’ guidelines. Unfortunately, compliant locations aren’t found in every state, so there’s a chance that you won’t find one near you.

You can also recycle old video games and consoles at Best Buy. Bring them (or any electronics) to a local store, and they will discard them in an environmentally friendly way.

We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention Nintendo’s free Take Back program. Nintendo accepts used consoles, games, and accessories for recycling. Nintendo will even recycle competitors’ consoles, as long as you have proof that you previously purchased a Nintendo console. That’s pretty cool.

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by Dave Thier via Forbes

The console generation, in loose, constantly shifting terms, has dominated the world of video games for my entire life. The early era of home consoles is various and crazy, but for the sake of simplicity we’ll put the codification of the idea on one company alone: Nintendo. The NES, for all intents and purposes, standardized what we come to think of as a game console today, even if plenty other companies did something like it before. So that would make the transition from the NES to the SNES the first real console generation, something that all other manufacturers would begin to adopt as time went on. Eventually the field winnowed down, and generations became much more rigidly defined, eventually coming to a kind of apex with the release of the Xbox One and PS4, released as generational updates to their predecessors within a week of each other. And it’s well that the console generation reached it’s platonic form back in 2013, because that’s all done now.

Microsoft’s recent discussion of its plans with the Xbox Series X wasn’t really news, but it’s striking nonetheless. When the Xbox Series X releases, it won’t have exclusive games. Every Microsoft game that works on the Series X will also work on the Xbox One, and vice versa. Third-party publishers won’t have to abide by that at the beginning, but the economics of install bases dictate that they almost certainly will. While the PS4 and PS5 won’t necessarily abide by the same rules, we’re all assuming that Sony will at least pursue backwards compatibility, and I have to also assume that it’s going to have to have some kind of strong cross-gen compatibility plans. So while we’re still waiting to hear exactly what’s happening here, Microsoft’s rejection of the old ideas seems to confirm to me that the console generation, as we know it, is over.

This has been a long time coming. Console transitions are hellish on developers, which have to both work extra hard figuring out how to develop for new hardware and then turn around and sell those new games to an install base the fraction of the size of the previous generation. And they’re limiting for manufacturers, too: Apple gets to sell people a new iPhone like every other month, while console manufacturers find themselves waiting years to sell new hardware.

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The first sign that Microsoft and Sony were done with generations came with the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro: mid-generation refreshes that functioned like a mini-generation, selling new machines and capabilities without any of the restrictions of previous generations. But with the next machines I expect this idea to be eliminated entirely. That’s what Microsoft’s naming convention is all about: it will release the Xbox Series X, followed by the Xbox Series (something else) and so on and so forth. PlayStation reserves its numbers for traditional generations, but I fully expect Sony to follow suit with the PS5 Lite, the PS5 Pro, or something like that.

The PS5 and Xbox Series X are much bigger deals than those refreshes. But when they launch, it will look a lot more like those refreshes than a traditional generation.

In this new scenario, games work backwards and forwards, playing on older machines with graphical compromises and upgrades on newer machines. Much like in the world of cell phones, older machines will still get phased out, it just won’t happen with the notion of generational sweep that it does now. So 3 years into the lifespan of the Xbox Series X—at which point we expect to have another Microsoft console in the mix—games will start getting released that won’t run on the Xbox One S. A year later, we might see games that don’t work on the Xbox One X. And so on.

Developers are ready for this. As Microsoft has noted, they’ve been doing it for years with PC development: most new games can be souped up to 4K, 60FPS with raytracing or be turned way down to what Gamespot calls “potato mode”. And while most developers don’t really want their games to look quite that bad on any hardware, they should be able to get games to run on a much wider variety of devices than they did in the past. One of the benefits of modern lighting-based graphical improvements like ray-tracing is that they can be turned off.

It’ll be interesting to see how it all works. Console Gamers are still very much invested in the idea of a console generation, which you can see from the degree to which we’re going to hype these new machines. But while the launch of the Xbox Series X and PS5 is going to look a whole lot like the launch of the Xbox One and PS4, in practice it’s going to be nothing like it. I’m mostly curious to see what things look like when the dust settles in 2021.

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Guillermo del Toro, Mads Mikkelsen, Lindsay Wagner, Margaret Qualley, and Norman Reedus star in a video game that doubles as one of the year’s best cinematic experiences.

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by David Ehrlich via IndieWire

Hideo Kojima’s “Death Stranding” is massive, moody, and — as usual for the video game auteur — weird as hell. The open-world experience has enough contemplative moments to make it feel like a “Grand Theft Auto” sequel directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, and it’s the greatest achievement yet from themost eccentric and forward-thinking designer of a medium in which virtually every large-scale project is created by committee.

“Death Stranding” could be described as the best “video game movie” ever made, but that doesn’t quite capture what makes it feel special. Is it a film that you play? A game that you watch? Does it invite all of the same criticisms that have been leveled at Kojima’s work since last century? Yes, yes, and yes. At a time when video games can finally look like movies as much as movies have started to look like video games — when people like Kojima and James Cameron are working towards similar ends with many of the same techniques — Kojima has created a bizarre masterpiece that doesn’t just blur the line between these mediums, but also illustrates the power of knotting them together.

“Death Stranding” begins with a quote that distills the ethos of his entire career. It’s a key excerpt from a Kōbō Abe novel called “The Rope,” and the words dangle in front of you for just a moment before they’re replaced by some cryptic narration about the Big Bang:

“The rope and the stick are two of humankind’s oldest tools. The stick to keep evil at bay, and the rope to bring that which is good closer. Both were the first friends conceived by humankind. The rope and stick were wherever humankind was to be found.”

Most video games think of a controller as the stick. Kojima, an obsessive cinephile who abandoned his filmmaking dreams in order to pursue a form of storytelling that can reach beyond the confines of a screen, has always thought of a controller as the rope. “We don’t need a game about dividing players between winners and losers,” he once wrote in his now-defunct Rolling Stone column devoted to the intersections and overlaps between digital media, “but about creating connections at a different level.”

Kojima has been trying to make that game for at least 21 years. It’s a journey that can be traced back to September 1998, and one of the most famous moments in the history of interactive entertainment. Anyone who’s played “Metal Gear Solid” already knows what I’m talking about: Psycho Mantis, the telepathically enhanced fourth boss that you encounter in Kojima’s landmark tactical espionage game, begins to read the player’s mind. He starts with some parlor tricks, as the leather-clad bad guy makes the player’s controller rumble as evidence of his power. Even back then, that part was kind of a yawn. Psycho Mantis gets a bit more personal from there, scanning the player’s memory card and citing some of their favorite recent Konami games; a fun and clever gambit, but more of an advertisement for the developer’s other products than anything else.

Then Psycho Mantis breaks your television.

The screen cuts to black, the music stops, and the controller becomes a worthless hunk of plastic in your hand. The word “HIDEO” appears in the upper-right corner of the screen, written in the blocky lime green letters the television industry once adopted as a universal symbol for “Input.” When the image eventually winks back to life, Psycho Mantis is invincible, essentially predicting the player’s every move. But, as with many of the bosses strewn across the “Metal Gear” saga, there’s a hidden secret that makes beating him a breeze: Players have to get off their butts, go over to their Playstations, and plug their controller into a different console port.

People complained that the cut-scene-heavy “Metal Gear Solid” was more of a movie than a game, but one moment was all it took for series mastermind Kojima to shatter the fourth wall that had sealed off the art form since its inception. Since then, Kojima has only grown more obsessed with bridging the gaps between fiction and reality; cinema and gaming; ropes and sticks.

Kojima’s latest is set in a post-apocalyptic world a few generations since a mysterious event known as the Death Stranding ripped civilization apart at the seams. The precise details of what happened are portioned out across the epic adventure (which this critic finished along with a decent number of sidequests in about 60 hours), but the gist of it is that something awful caused the world of the dead to be transposed over the world of the living.

When two distinct planes of existence merged together, in the blink of an eye, America — and maybe the rest of the Earth along with it — was overrun with invisible monsters called BTs. The sky began to rain a water-like substance known as “Timefall,” which rapidly ages any skin or metal that it touches. Human corpses started to melt into black pools of chiral crystals, and many of the bodies caused “voidout” explosions. The survivors, meanwhile, retreated into small underground shelters across the country where they isolated themselves out of fear and preservation. The country had been growing distrustful and remote from itself for some time, and the Death Stranding just hastened the inevitable.

You play as Sam Porter Bridges, an immortal delivery man who schleps cargo around the Eastern seaboard so that he doesn’t have to dwell on his tragic backstory (Sam is embodied by a 3D photogrammed Norman Reedus, whose moving performance never steps foot in the uncanny valley). Eventually, he’s tasked by his adopted mother — the dying President of the United States — to embark on a coast-to-coast trek to reconnect people to the chiral network and “Make America Whole Again.” In a game that grapples with how America’s failed potential curdled into an extinction-level event, this early quote will not be the most explicit reference to Donald Trump.

But the internet is not an inherently benevolent force, and the story of “Death Stranding” is framed against our current darkness, an age defined by real walls along imaginary borders, industries that are burning up the planet they were invented to power, and social networks that bring people together in order to tear them apart. There’s no telling if rebuilding the country’s bridges will be for the best; no telling if Sam is bringing people the rope or arming strangers with the stick.

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So far, so relatively normal for this kind of thing. Built on the engine used for “Horizon Zero Dawn,” the gameplay itself is par for the course as well, with fun but clumsy combat sequences interjected between long and contemplative sequences of walking between distant outposts and sneaking around whatever monsters you might find along the way. It’s a testament to the ingenious cargo mechanics and the staggering world-building that you never really stop to consider that you’re role-playing as a glorified Amazon courier.

But Kojima hasn’t gone straight. This is someone whose Brechtian instincts and John Carpenter-inspired sensibilities have combined for many of the most daring and peculiar experiments in video game history. (Just ask anyone who beat “Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.”) He’s used his acrimonious split from Konami to follow his muse like never before: “Death Stranding” soon reveals itself to be the strangest thing Kojima has ever made.

The pre-title sequence alone contains some of the most arresting, unusual imagery that games have ever seen: Sam meets a Léa Seydoux character named Fragile, fends off a BT, has an Oval Office encounter with a death mask-wearing cabinet member who refers to himself as Die-Hardman (Tommie Earl Jenkins), re-enacts “The Ballad of Narayama” with his mother’s body, and finds himself outfitted with an adorable fetus “Bridge Baby” who can sense BTs when connected to Sam via a synthetic umbilical cord.

Players carry BB in a chest pod and have to soothe him when he cries out at you through the speaker embedded in the Playstation controller; maybe these are just the sentiments of an expectant father, but the emotional bond you eventually form with the little guy is deeper and more primal than anything a game has manufactured this side of “The Last of Us.” The connection between them even resonates with enough power to survive the “Irishman”-length expository monologues that suck the life out of the game’s “End of Evangelion”-inspired final chapters.

But if Kojima’s storytelling can be so convoluted and grandiose that it makes the finale of “Metal Gear Solid 4” feel like Chekhov, his vision has never been clearer. The prologue ends with Sam being roped into a rescue mission that devolves into the most spectacular and terrifying set piece I’ve seen in any medium this year. By then, there’s no doubt that Kojima has followed his own strange path to become the director he once dreamed of being.

And just when it’s starting to feel like “Death Stranding” is the greatest movie that Guillermo del Toro never made, the iconic “Pacific Rim” creator shows up in the game as a BB-obsessed NPC called Deadman. Del Toro, who previously collaborated with Kojima on the aborted “Silent Hills” and the Escher-like “P.T.” that it left behind, only lends his likeness to the character (voiced by Jesse Corti), which leads to some major cognitive dissonance for anyone who’s ever heard him talk before.

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But his appearance, and the perceptual clash that it causes, speaks to the heart of a game that’s about the schisms between and inside us; a game that treats ancient Egyptian ideas about the body and soul with peer-reviewed seriousness, uses a non-proprietary system of Facebook-esque “likes” as its currency, and leaves you with an entire language worth of Kojima’s pseudo-scientific philosophies about our own conflicting states of being (drink every time someone says the word “Beach” and you’ll be necrotizing before you know it).

Del Toro’s disembodied role indicates how giddy “Death Stranding” is about its own cinephilia, even by the standards of an auteur whose “Dune”-level dense “Metal Gear” franchise extrapolated some “Escape from New York” references into an entire alternate history of the Cold War. Nicolas Winding Refn lends his likeness to a very amusing major character named Heartman who goes into cardiac arrest every 21 minutes, two other very recognizable directors play bit parts, and the world is strewn with pre-Stranding relics such as the score to Dario Argento’s formative giallo masterpiece, “Deep Red.”

But the filmic nature of “Death Stranding” goes much deeper than nods and detritus and the presumption that the game’s primordial landscape more closely resembles contemporary Iceland than post-apocalyptic Baltimore due to Kojima’s affinity for “Prometheus” and its sequel (a fitting backdrop for a soundtrack powered by the American-Icelandic band Low Roar, whose lovely electronic post-rock ballads sound like a ray of sunlight breaking through the clouds). The most movie-like thing about it stems from the famous actors (no spoilers here) who reconcile the “ha” and “ka” of it all by voicing their own digital avatars. Kojima directed them in much the same way that Rupert Wyatt and Matt Reeves directed Andy Serkis in the recent “Planet of the Apes” trilogy, and the results are spectacular.

Not only does Sam Bridges so closely resemble Norman Reedus that you lose sight of the distance between them, but the fact that he’s played by such an obviously real and recognizable person makes it so much easier to believe in the porter’s humanity. “The ability to control real actors is unique to the fiction of games,” Kojima wrote while developing “Death Stranding,” “and it leads to a more realistic experience; and that is the shared aim of gains and movies alike.” In its own demented way, the verisimilitude of “Death Stranding” is off the charts.

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Margaret Qualley helps prove that point. The “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” star is so expressive that she leaps off the screen even as a hologram, but her layered performance as a tech-head named Mama becomes truly devastating once the character shows up in the flesh. The palpable weight and emotionality that Qualley brings to the role allows Mama to veer off in some wild directions that would feel silly if they weren’t so raw. Mads Mikkelsen is scary and poignant in a role that I couldn’t explain if I tried, but Kojima keeps this strand of the story from fraying apart by using a series of classic film tropes as footholds. And the Bionic Woman herself, Lindsay Wagner, carries the weight of the world as both President Strand and her twentysomething daughter Amelie, as Kojima more seamlessly de-ages the 70-year-old actress than “Gemini Man” could ever dream of doing. The strained bond between the past and the present is crucial to a story in which time causes far more wounds than it heals, and Wagner’s double-sided turn is able to trace a powerful line between them.

Some of these scenes are so drunk on their own nonsense that they leave you scratching your head. Others are so tender and well-composed that they take your breath away. All of them are so rapturously expressive that Kojima no longer has to rely on his old meta-textual trickery. And yet, in characteristic fashion, the most indelible moments of all manage to tie filmic and gaming devices into an inextricable knot that use the conventions of one medium to subvert the expectations of another.

I wouldn’t dare spoil a demented, exasperating stretch in the penultimate chapter, but suffice it to say that cinematic traditions crash into the game’s longest cut-scene with such destabilizing force that it’s hard to make sense of what you’re watching. You forget that you’re playing a mega-budget product that’s sure to sell millions of copies the world over — that you’re not the only person alive who’s bearing witness to it. Kojima uses game language to remind you how isolating a screen can be, and then in the subsequent climactic sequence (which hardly requires you to hit a single button), uses film grammar to expand the kind of stories that video games have been able to tell.

It’s BB who makes this effect most obvious, as the dramatic cut-scenes involving the big-eyed fetus make you more reactive to it during gameplay, and its various coos and cries during gameplay render you more invested in it as a character. As Deadman repeatedly observes, BB evolves from one kind of tool to another over the course of “Death Stranding.” Its nature and abilities never change, but the way that we and Sam think about it does.

As a whole, “Death Stranding” itself is the same way. The game starts by putting a stick in your hand, only for the controller to slowly become a rope as players guide Sam to unify a broken world over the course of the 60 hours that follow. Players are elated when they finally receive guns that work against the BTs, only to find that the bullets draw from your own blood — fire too many and you’ll die. Ladders, climbing lines, and 3D-printed postal boxes are some of the most rudimentary tools you’re given, but they only grow more powerful as other players on the Playstation Network begin to use them on their own quests (a brilliant riff on how the “Dark Souls” franchise twists the hostility of online gaming towards the better angels of our nature).

“Death Stranding” bends a wide array of modern tech back towards the most basic aspirations of art: It affirms that we’re alive, that we’re connected, and that humanity will always have reason to hope because our extinction and salvation are made possible by the same tools. The stick can prod us into action, and the rope can be fashioned into a noose; a movie can alienate, and a game can unify. What something does is only defined by how we use it. If we’re not careful, every new means of bringing us closer together can become a method for pulling us apart.

Like global warming and the spread of the internet, the singularity between film and video games has become inevitable; at this point, we only have the power to manage it. But “Death Stranding” finds that every cataclysm is its own opportunity, and that the end of one thing is the beginning of another. Kojima believes that the future will only destroy us if we don’t allow it to bring us together, and he’s never found a better way of delivering that message.

“Death Stranding” is available November 8 on the Playstation 4.

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by L.W. Barker aka ‘Sarge’, Founder/President, Gamer’s Outpost

BioWare’s ANTHEM is the latest Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) focused game to arrive on the scene. It joins other games of its type: PubG, Fortnite, and Apex Legends, just to name a few. And even though nothing is wrong with this multiplayer approach to gameplay (i.e. I’m enjoying ANTHEM), it is getting to be a bit much. Do you realize that the PlayStation 5 is being built to be multiplayer-focused? Yes, and that came straight from the mouth of PlayStation Boss, Shawn Layden. Wait! What? Why!? What has happened to us as gamers? Why this sudden change from single-player-based fun, to MMO-based chaos? Can anything be done to stop this madness? The below key-points might help.

MMOs lack substance 

Have you been in an online multiplayer game where you seem to be repeating the same things over and over again as if you are trapped in some type of Groundhog Day curse? That’s what lacking substance is all about. Unlike single player-centric games such as the instant classic, Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2), there is just no chance of any type of storyline, plot, or deep character development to be found in MMOs to keep you entertained for long. And yes, you WILL eventually lose interest and move on to the next “big game” on the market.

MMOs never end 

Do you really want to play a game that never ends? Hold that thought! Here’s a better question. Would you want to watch a movie that never ends? A film that goes on forever? Of course not! I would rather play a game from between 6 to 80 hours knowing full well that it will end rather than play an unending MMO. So the moral here is single player games end! And this is one of the reasons why they are worth their weight in gold!

Graphics are downgraded in Online Multiplayer 

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So look at RDR2’s single player campaign. Look at it very carefully, and make sure you take in all the intricate details of the scenery, the characters, animals and so forth. Now, switch over to RDR2 Online and do the same thing. See the difference? I do. Rockstar Games made some sacrifices to ensure the success of multiplayer, and it shows! Now the graphics still look good mind you, but if you really look and compare both modes, they are like night and day.

MMOs are not alone

However, this online multiplayer phenomena is fueled by our Industry’s embrace of it. So we, as a community need to just let it go! It’s not that simple though because a lot of gamers have found enjoyment in it. But at what cost? Well, the popularity of MMOs coupled with the rise of Downloadable Content (DLC), and higher prices for special edition games all contribute to the slow and painful death of the single-player campaign. And if single-player dies, so does our quality gaming days of old!

The forgotten Multiplayer

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I remember a time when I could play a game with a friend or family member in the comfort of my living room. And no, I don’t mean playing with them online! This memory is all about ‘Couch Co-op’ baby! I remember playing Contra with my brother on the NES, and how it felt as we raced across that screen to save the World. And how could I forget the outstanding Co-op mode in the SNES classic, Goldeneye? And don’t let me get started on Halo! Co-op has been largely forgotten in this age of online multiplayer games. This is sad! I wish more of today’s games had the Co-op feature so I could enjoy them with my gaming family. Now, PlayStation’s Shawn Layden did allude to some kind of multiplayer Co-op for the PS5, which would be a great move for Sony’s new console. I’m all for it, if true.

Our Once and Future…Gamers?

But why is online multiplayer so popular? Could it be that the so-called “old school” gamers have spawned a new generation of gamers who are so lacking in social skills that multiplayer games are the only remedy for their affliction? Maybe. Today’s “new” gamers are shadows of what the “old school” still are – legends! But is it really too late? No its not. Knowledge is power, and the more articles like this are written, information will spread, and the “heirs” of gaming (i.e. Millennials and younger) will eventually wake up and embrace their legendary birthright!

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