MediaFile

When gamers hit Toys R Us and other tales of Black Friday

Sprinkled among the snaking lines of parents at a Toys R Us in New Jersey on Black Friday were diehard gamers. Many had no children to spoil. Nor were they particularly happy to be in the Toys R Us; but with gaming hardware fast selling out across the region, they followed the scent of the deal.

The Kinect moved especially fast, if early anecdotal evidence is any measure. Brisk sales of  hardware like the PlayStation3, Xbox and Microsoft Kinect on the nation’s biggest annual shopping spree also bode well for software sales, says Mike Hickey, a Janco Partners analyst.

But which games were enticing fans to shell out on Black Friday?

“ We’re seeing strong sales of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (Ubisoft), Just Dance 2 (Ubisoft), Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision Blizzard), Red Dead Redemption (Take-Two Interactive), Fallout: New Vegas (Bethesda), Gran Turismo 5 (Polyphony Digital) and Donkey Kong (Nintendo),” Hickey said.

Many of the hottest video items weren’t even on sale. The Microsoft Kinect, which was not discounted at any retailer on Black Friday (in fact, the price got jacked up on many secondary sellers’ websites), was out of stock both in stores and online at WalMart, Target and Best Buy. In New York, hundreds line up in Times Square in November for the launch of the Microsoft Kinect

GameStop also weighed in on Friday morning, telling Reuters about the traffic at its 800 US stores which opened at midnight, which were helped in part by the interest in the Kinect.  “Preliminary reports from our stores record a lot of excitement,” said GameStop’s president Tony Bartel,” and there were many customers lined up at 5 am when the rest of the stores opened.

Cloud gaming service OnLive coming to the TV

US-REARDEN-ONLIVEOnLive, the closely-watched startup that is aiming to change the way people buy and play video games, officially launched last June. But the company says that was a mere warmup for the main event, which begins in a few weeks.

OnLive emerged from years of stealth development in 2009 with a somewhat audacious plan to offer so-called “cloud gaming”:  instant, on-demand and lag-free access to video games stored remotely on servers in data centers.

The service started last June but was only accessible through a PC. But starting Thursday, OnLive began taking orders for its $99 “microconsole,” which connects easily to a TV and which will be delivered starting Dec. 2. Using the console, users can access a catalog of games that will grow to 50 by the end of the year, including big-name titles such as “Borderlands” and “NBA 2K11″

Sony on the Apple challenge in games, e-books

hiraiApple is, of course, absent from this week’s video game extravaganza, the  E3 Expo in Los Angeles. The company just doesn’t do trade shows.  But its presence looms over the event.

Apple has managed to create a whole new gaming market with the iPhone since its debut in 2007. There are tens of thousands of games available for download via Apple’s App Store, and it’s an open debate as to how much the iPhone’s success has hurt the traditional hardware makers, namely Nintendo and Sony, which both make portable gaming devices.

Nintendo is making a big push to differentiate its portable gaming platform with it’s new 3D-enabled DS, which offers a glasses-free experience.

Black Friday sprint begins for video game industry

Black Friday marks the beginning of the most critical time of the year for video game makers, as customers jam stores on the day after Thanksgiving to pick up games and consoles as gifts.

As a brutal 2009 winds to a close, the gaming industry is hoping that a strong six weeks of sales in the United States, the largest market, could help them salvage something from the year.

Nintendo said Monday its Wii home console — the long-time U.S. champ that has been struggling lately — sold more than 550,000 units in the U.S. during Thanksgiving week. To put that in perspective, the company sold around 500,000 Wiis in all of October, according to industry tracker NPD.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Xbox, Youtube, iPhone

We caught up with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at the movie rental company’s event where it awarded a $1 million prize after a contest aimed at improving the accuracy of movie recommendations. He spoke about his hopes of working with Apple on the iPhone, the possibility that YouTube will beef up its movie service, and the future of the DVD.

Reuters: What will Netflix subscribers gain from the improvements in the recommendation system?

Hastings: It’s doubling the quality of our movie recommendation and that helps our subscribers get more enjoyment from movies. Because more often they love the movie they watch. More often the movies recommended will will turn out to be movies that you love. If you watch a couple of movies and don’t like many, you start to watch (sports and other programming). If every movie is incredible, you start to watch more.