No Gaming for many PS3 Players Worldwide


Waking up this morning, I was surprised to see my PS3 tell me that I could party as if it were 1999, but apparently its version of the millennium bug has been going on since Sunday. According to updates on Kotaku and Slashdot, there’s some kind of calendar issue that’s affecting PS3s worldwide. Many of those, they say, are the original phat units. Even developers are being affected by this with debug consoles caught in reboot loops.

On my end (I have a launch 60GB PS3), I couldn’t even sign onto the PSN network and the date on my unit was already set to 12/31/1999. I couldn’t even update the time from the internet, but it allowed me to download patches for games such as MW2…which I couldn’t play anyway. See the screen above? That’s all I get from MW2. At least it’s patched to 1.90, though, not that it helps.

Funny thing is that it doesn’t seem that every game is affected in the same way. I started up Valkyria Chronicles and was able to play the game, albeit it’s a single-player only title but it does have trophies. With MW2, it didn’t matter whether or not I wanted to just play the campaign. It booted me out regardless of what I wanted to do and it isn’t the only game affected. Manually changing the date doesn’t do much except make it look correct, but whenever MW2 checks back with PSN for trophy info, I’m sent right back into the Black Void of Error.

The ‘net is filled with plenty of speculation at this point on what the cause might be, running from it being a problem with leap year interpretation (it’s not due yet) to a possibility that it stems from upgrades to the PSN (which doesn’t explain why offline systems like mine were affected, or why it was able to download patches for titles).

Sony has acknowledged that they are working on the problem. Hopefully we’ll get some kind of fix sooner than later, but it’s more than a little disconcerting to see something like this cripple so many systems at once.

UPDATE(1) 3.1.2010: Some PS3 owners in Europe have even gone so far as to try and trade in their affected units for the slims at retailer GAME. GAME, however, is reportedly refusing to do so at this time.

UPDATE(2) 3.1.2010: Kotaku reports that Sony has contacted them with news that it has narrowed the problem to the clock the PS3 uses. They go on to say that a fix should be on the way in 24 hours, but “if you have a fat PS3, do not use it for 24 hours”. Aside from coming off as if it should be quarantined, I’m surprised that they actually had to say that.

It defies belief that something like this actually slipped past Sony’s Q&A. The PS3, for me at least, has performed flawlessly until now and I have no doubt that it will again after this fix. But still, it’s incredibly eerie to see Sony with this much egg on their face over what seems like such an innocuous feature.

UPDATE(3) 3.1.2010: Kotaku has good news that it looks like the problem with the internal clock for fat PS3s has been fixed and no patch was even needed. I was able to sync my PS3’s clock with the ‘net and start up MW2 without any problems. It looks like today’s craziness might be over.

A Holiday Gaming Guide


So it’s another year of holiday gaming as parents try and figure out just what they should get their kids (or themselves), and I’m willing to bet that a console might be on the minds of those willing to camp out storefronts in Black Friday or battle each other for the last copy of Super Mario Bros. Wii left on the shelves.

With Sony’s new pricing policy for their PS3, Xbox 360 bundles, and the Wii joining the moneymaking fracas, it’s as if it were launch day all over again.

A few days ago while browsing, couple had asked me what kind of games they could get their thirteen-year old daughter on the Xbox 360 and told me what kind of titles she loved to play. They were buying an Xbox for her because her brothers were living elsewhere and wanted to keep her connected, but were wondering what she could play on her own.

After hearing them gush about Guitar Hero, I pointed out Beatles Rock Band. They said she already had it for another system. I asked if she liked to play first-person shooters or sports games and they said no.

I didn’t know what to tell them, only that it was tough finding something for their daughter’s tastes on the Xbox 360 that wasn’t a first-person shooter or a sports game…both of which they said she was not interested in it, but her brothers were. In the end, they opted to get a flat screen TV instead. But if she had been a huge shoot ’em up fan like her brothers, she’d find more than enough to be happy about on the system.

Her particular needs were very specific, but the question remains the same for many parents and newcomers unfamiliar with all of the gaming jargon that kids, and perhaps as many adults, speak as a second language.

So here’s a little help from Tech-Out on what to look for when you head out into the busy shopping season and are trying to decide which console, and what extra games, you want to bring home.
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Angry PC Gamers are still irked over MW2 (and We Love Moon Gravity)


Despite having one of the biggest launches in history and collecting over $300 million in one day, PC gamers are still upset over the feeling of being shortchanged on features, not that it’s going to tarnish the runaway success that MW2 is currently experiencing. This also sent Activision’s stock price surging allowing its controversial CEO, Bobby Kotick, to exercise his stock options netting him a cool $20 million plus in the aftermath.

And now that Amazon has officially opened its rating system, PC players have let their version have it. Surprisingly, several of the top entries lambasting the title make excellent points on why they don’t like it. Some sound as if they have even played it. There’s even a new petition out, although I doubt its success after the first one was basically ignored.

It’s hard not to think that MW2’s massive economic success has closed the door on whatever the PC crowd wants to bend Infinity Ward’s ear over with the game at this point. As upset as many are, it is a business and with that much money in tow along with the millions of sales made in one day for consoles alone, any complaints about dedicated servers will be marginalized.

Still, I’ve already seen posts talking about a tool that unlocks the console and several commands unavailable on the stock version of the title, allowing ways to kick players from games or change the field of view among others. On some days with Xbox Live, I wish I had the option to vote-kick certain players from a game, if only because of the sewage usually streaming across my headset when I take it off mute just to get a sampling of what it’s like to hear everything.

It’s only one game, though id is also considering to not include dedicated server support for their upcoming apocalyptic game, Rage. Whether others follow suit on the PC front remains to be seen, but it is clear that with MW2, Infinity Ward and Activision won’t be losing any sleep over dedicated servers.

Update 11.16.09: Those tools I mentioned earlier? Yeah, it appears that they work. Mind you, this isn’t the only thing that they’re meant for, but it does show off the kind of weirdness that having the freedom to tweak the online experience allows for. Ah, moon gravity…brings back the good ol’ days of beaching a destroyer halfway up Normandy in Battlefield 1942. Now if only they can get more players into the game…

Also, it’s not just one person doing this. Everyone on the server is affected by the rules set up by the admin, so its moon boots and unlimited ammo for everyone!

Modern Warfare 2: One star rating on Amazon


At least according to “customers” on in the UK.

Today’s information saturated world has turned the internet into an open bulletin board allowing anyone with a chip on their shoulder to post their unflattering review of the Transformers in less than three words, accessible to anyone with a browser. But it’s not all off the cuff. Some of that anger is also backed by a number of legitimate concerns.

Amazon is no stranger to this kind of internet vengeance. Last year, Turbotax maker, Intuit, raised the price on its flagship product by $15 and started charging users $9.95 for each additional return made on it. Predictably, this made many upset for a variety of well thought out reasons spanning more than three words. People who quickly downrated Turbotax’s listing on Amazon to one star.

The good news is that Intuit actually listened and reversed the $9.95 charge.

In another example, self-help author, Cooper Lawrence, had stated on Fox News that Mass Effect had “full digital nudity and sex.” which was extremely misleading, sensationalist “SE”XBOX” news header not helping. Mass Effect does have one sex scene, but it happens late in the game and is the kind implied on prime-time television, even for a game rated “M” for Mature (titles like Max Payne 2 or even the original Duke Nukem were a lot more explicit compared to Mass Effect). Of course, to anyone that believes that games are just evil, this is great ammunition…even if it is absolutely wrong.

Gamers quickly protested by hitting her self-help book on Amazon with one-star ratings, indirectly attacking her in the process and questioning the veracity of her own work in their comments. Soon, enough of these were submitted to drive it into the ratings basement until Amazon deleted them, but it did elicit a retraction of sorts from Lawrence a week later.

And now with Infinity Ward’s controversial decision to build IW.Net and remove dedicated server support from their latest game, Modern Warfare 2, moving it closer in design to what console players are used to, PC players furious over the changes haven’t wasted time in making their anger felt. A petition already passing 100K ‘signatures’ is still earning more, Infinity Ward’s response to the furor has only thrown more gas on the fire by simply looking at the comments, and angry gamers have already found its listing on Amazon’s UK storefront.

Interestingly enough, Amazon’s storefront over here has wisely opted not to open up the ratings for the any version of Modern Warfare 2 yet. It’s probably hard not to wonder why.

UPDATE 9.25.09: It looks like Amazon.UK have removed the PC title’s star rating (although the screenshot above shows what it had appeared as), likely because the reviews rating it aren’t from people that have actually played the game. The Xbox 360 version, though, has a five star rating according to one poster. The petition is still going strong, though, now surpassing 150K signatures. Not bad for one week.