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Busted! 27 Gaming Myths!
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Post Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 9:15 am   
Post subject: Busted! 27 Gaming Myths!
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This is an article I found on the net with some cool info. Thought you all might enjoy, or at least learn something new, #22 and #23 were news to me.

MYTH 1.: Console makers lose money on every console sold.
Not always. Nintendo, for instance, famously insists on making a profit on its hardware sales; both the DS and the Wii are inexpensive to manufacture, and Nintendo squeaks out a modest profit on each. Some industry analysts now suspect that Microsoft is also making a small profit on its 20GB and Elite Xbox 360 models, thanks to falling component costs and steady retail prices. Sony takes the opposite approach with the PlayStation 3, losing hundreds of dollars for every unit sold. Sony hopes to eventually sell enough PS3 games to make up the difference. Unfortunately, hard numbers on console profitability are a closely guarded secret, so we'll never know for sure.

We do, however, know that older consoles are much more profitable. The PS2, for instance, has been on sale in North America since 2000, and at this point is little more than a DVD drive, a plastic chassis, and Sony's aging gaming chipset. Seven years and two redesigns later, the PS2 is cheaper to make than ever, as well as smaller and lighter to help reduce shipping costs. With a price point of $129.99, Sony is likely pulling in forty or fifty dollars of pure profit for every PS2 sold, perhaps more.

MYTH 2.: Backward compatibility is a crucial feature.
Not so much. Backward compatibility sounds like a must-have feature, but in reality, it's more of an added bonus. There's little hard data on exactly how many gamers use the backward compatibility found in new-gen consoles, but judging by the wishy-washy backward compatibility on the Xbox 360 and the 40GB PS3, it's likely that this feature doesn't rank particularly highly on the lists of many average gamers.

MYTH 3.: 1080p doesn't look any better than 720p.
You wish. While it's true that 720p is the dominant HD resolution of the moment -- and a fine choice for any HDTV -- so-called "true" 1080p definitely looks superior, especially on TV screens measuring larger than 42 inches. With a little experience, you can easily spot the difference between a 720p set running 720p content and a 1080p set running "true" 1080p (i.e. not upscaled) content. Several editors in the GamePro office are able to tell the difference between the two resolutions from a split-second glance.

Adding to the evidence is a simple, non-scientific test we recently conducted in-house. Using a native 1080p LCD HDTV, we showed the same game (Virtua Tennis 3 on Xbox 360) running in both 720p and 1080p to a group of office workers. Beforehand, we had the test subjects fill out a simple survey: their home TV, resolution of their home TV, prior experience with HDTVs, and so forth. We found that the least experienced viewers (those with standard-def TVs at home) were mostly unable to tell the difference between 720p and 1080p. More surprisingly, most test subjects who owned HD TV sets (particularly the ones who knew what resolution their home TV was) were able to correctly identify the 1080p resolution.

The test was simple in nature and certainly not formal research, but it helped provide a bit more quantitative evidence. Yes, it's true: true 1080p is "better" than 720p. Case closed!

MYTH 4.: The PS3 is a dud.
Nope...at least, not yet. It's been almost exactly a year since Sony launched the PlayStation 3 to massive hype and so-so sales. One year later, with the release of major Sony-produced games like Uncharted and Ratchet & Clank Future, Sony's big gamble is looking far more viable. In another promising sign, multi-platform games like Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty 4 have sold surprisingly well on the PS3...though a far cry from the Xbox 360 sales, of course.

The PS3 is struggling for two main reasons. First, and most important, the PS3 needs more marquee exclusive games like Microsoft's Mass Effect and Gears of War. Second, price will continue to be a major obstacle to the PS3's widespread acceptance, even after the much-needed drop to $400. In order for the PS3 to shift into high gear, it'll need to drop the price closer to $300. The longer it takes for Sony to make this jump, the more the PS3 will lag behind its rivals.

Still, at the moment, the PS3 isn't doing badly at all. Much will depend, of course, on Sony's strategies during 2008. But with Metal Gear Solid 4, Killzone 2, and Little Big Planet due for 2008-as well as lingering rumors about PS3 versions of megahits like BioShock-Sony will make it through this console generation battered but breathing.

MYTH 5.: The PSP has failed.
Definitely not. It's true that UMD movie sales have bombed, and PSP games aren't exactly flying off the shelves (outside of big hits like Lumines, MGS: Portable Ops, and Monster Hunter in Japan). But judging by the base barometer of a console's well-being -- hardware sales -- the PSP has performed remarkably well.

Sure, the PSP has sold just half as many units as Nintendo's DS: some 27 million PSPs versus 57 million DSes. But if you factor in the fact that Nintendo is the only success story in handheld gaming -- a gaming style it invented and defined with the GameBoy line -- and you'll see that Sony has done something no other game manufacturer could: stand as a solid competitor to Nintendo. And despite quality control problems in some PSP games, 27 million PSPs sold is nothing to sniff at. The PSP has some growing to do, but don't be fooled: it's a worthy competitor to the DS.

MYTH 6.: The Xbox 360's three-year warranty covers any hardware flaw.
False. This is a common myth, and unfortunately one that's false. Microsoft boosted the Xbox 360 warranty to three years in light of nasty reports of "Red Rings of Death." But this new warranty extension won't cover faulty DVD drives (another common Xbox 360 problem), hard drive errors, or other problems not related to the Red Ring of Death.

In fact, the official Xbox 360 Warranty Coverage FAQ confirms this repeatedly. The document specifically notes that the new three-year warranty "enhancement" will cover only "certain general hardware failures indicated by three flashing red lights," aka the Red Rings of Death. They also mention that premium console warranty upgrades, offered by many game shops, will continue to cover "issues outside the scope of this specific three-year warranty." In other words, if your Xbox 360 is over a year old and fails for any reason other than Red Rings, you're outta luck. Sorry, sport!

MYTH 7.: Bungie left Microsoft and has nothing more to do with them.
A half-truth, at best. Uber-successful Halo developer Bungie Studios has long expressed a desire to return to its independent roots -- something that couldn't be realized as long as Microsoft owned the studio. So when Bungie negotiated a separation from Microsoft, just days after Halo 3's launch, gamers threw around all kinds of wild-eyed theories: that Halo would go to the PS3, that Bungie would make DS games, and plenty of other nonsense.

The fact is that Microsoft is a minority stakeholder in Bungie LLC, the new private incarnation of the studio, and that Bungie has repeatedly said the two companies would work together in the future. "We will continue to develop with our primary focus on Microsoft's platforms," Bungie head Harold Ryan said when the news broke. "We greatly value our mutually prosperous relationship with our publisher, Microsoft Game Studios, and we look forward to continuing that affiliation through Halo and beyond."

That doesn't mean that Bungie won't work on new projects for other consoles -- one of Bungie's audio directors said that the company "could" work for other consoles. But in the short-term, Bungie still has close ties with Microsoft and will likely continue to focus on the the Xbox 360 and PC.

MYTH 8.: HD-DVD is beating Blu-ray.
Wrong. The HD format war is a complex issue. Just how does one measure the success of a particular format? Movie sales? (Blu-ray is currently winning handily) Hardware sales? (HD-DVD is well ahead in "standalone players") Studio support? (Blu-ray is ahead, for now)

Rather than get bogged down in numbers, we'll take a broader approach. But first, a little background. HD-DVD launched several months before its rival Blu-ray, and as we learned from the Xbox 360, launching early is a key advantage. Price-wise, HD-DVD players are much cheaper than comparable Blu-ray players, and HD-DVD discs and players are cheaper to manufacture. As for support, more movie studios are shifting from exclusive Blu-ray deals to publish on both HD formats. A good example is Paramount, which recently signed a deal to release its movies only on HD-DVD for the time being.

So HD-DVD is winning, right? Not so fast. In reality, consumers are simply buying Blu-ray films at the moment...though that tenuous lead could flip-flop during the sales rush of 2007. For the moment, though, it looks like the edge lies with Blu-ray.

MYTH 9.: Blu-ray is beating HD-DVD.
Wrong again. Maybe we spoke too soon. In reality, Blu-ray and HD-DVD are in a virtual stalemate. How do we know? Because Sony's CEO said so himself. "It's been a difficult fight. We were trying to win on the merits, which we were doing for a while, until Paramount changed sides," Sir Howard Stringer recently told the Associated Press.

The problem is that, at the moment, both HD-DVD and Blu-ray are floundering as new formats. DVD still dominates the sales charts, as most North American households aren't interesting in investing in a new, expensive format when regular DVD works just fine. This situation could change; the 2007 holiday season may see Blu-ray take a more commanding lead, or see HD-DVD explode in popularity due to its low-priced players. But for the meantime, this battle is mostly being fought on the PR front because neither format is selling particularly well. This fight is a draw for the foreseeable future.

MYTH 10.: Component video is just as good as HDMI for HD video
Not really. This myth, popularly repeated on the internet, has enduring appeal. Let's put it to rest right now: because it's a digital signal, an HDMI connection will usually look crisper and cleaner than a component connection, particularly when viewed on a large (42'' or higher) HDTV. Now, that doesn't mean that component video is bad or ugly; far from it. Component video serves up excellent HD quality, going as high as 1080p depending on your TV's compatibility. And component video isn't protected by DRM limitations, making it a popular (and flexible) choice for home theater buffs.

But component video is also an analog technology, meaning it's more vulnerable to background interference and noise...both of which are common in a typical home theater setup. Bent or looped analog cables -- again, common in many homes -- can also cause slight signal degradation. This quality loss isn't something that will immediately pop out at you, but when compared to a comparable HDMI signal, you'll see the difference. HDMI also has another big advantage in that it combines video and audio into one convenient cable, versus 5 or more A/V cables on an analog HD setup. That alone is a major advantage.

We're not knocking component; we're simply saying that, for most typical gamers, HDMI is the preferable choice. If you're stuck with an old-school HDTV with only component video, you shouldn't worry -- it's not worth shelling out for a HDMI-equipped TV just for the infinitesimal quality boost. But if you have a choice between plugging your PS3 into the HDMI port or the component port, the best choice is HDMI. Of course, the smartest action is to try both signals and see what looks best on your particular TV. Your eyes will thank you.

MYTH 11.: When a game says it runs at 720p or 1080p, it's always telling the truth.
Definitely not. This is primarily a marketing tool used by game publishers (and hardware makers) to entice HD TV owners. In fact, virtually no Xbox 360 games, and slim handful of PS3 games, run in true 1080p. The vast majority run in 720p and are stretched to fill the 1080 resolution. Most folks, as you might guess, won't notice the difference.

Perhaps more surprising is that many PS3 and Xbox 360 games don't even run in true 720p. For instance, the PS3 version of The Darkness runs at only 1024x576 pixels, a far cry from the 1280x720 pixels defined by 720p. This isn't a problem limited to PS3 games, either. The Xbox 360 version of Tony Hawk's Project 8 runs at 1040x584, while Halo 3 tops out at 1152x640. Where do the missing pixels go? Mostly to fancier special effects, crisper textures, and smoother framerates; upsampling handles the rest.

It's even worse on the 1080p front, with only several games hitting the full 1920x1080 resolution: Virtua Tennis 3 (both PS3 and 360), NBA 07 and 08 (PS3), Full Auto 2 (PS3), and NBA Street (360) are the only major titles we know that manage to hit the full 1080p resolution.

MYTH 12.: EA will take over all of video gaming.
Probably not. On a gut level, consumers tend to mistrust companies that perform "too well." Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Disney, Sony, and even Google have felt the wrath of suspicious consumers and lawmakers. EA is in a similar position in the video game industry, having long occupied the top slot among third-party publishers. Part of this success lies in its yearly franchise sequels, sports licenses, and increasingly licensed movie games, a fact that tends to frustrate hardcore gamers hoping for fresh experiences.

Even now, the tides are changing. Activision is becoming an increasingly stiff competitor for EA, particularly with mega-sellers like Call of Duty 4 (which is vastly outselling its competition, EA's Medal of Honor Airborne) and Guitar Hero. And even EA's venerable Madden series is starting to show signs of strain, with Madden NFL 08 selling lower-than-expected numbers on the popular PS2. EA will remain one of the biggest players in gaming for years to come, but it's unlikely they will become a truly dominating presence.

MYTH 13.: Downloads will completely replace disc-based games.
Not for years and years. Physical media will continue to dominate game formats for years to come, whether that media is a Blu-ray disc, a DVD, or a RAM chip. Game downloads will continue to grow, perhaps rapidly, but internet bandwidth and server capacity will remain a limiting factor for years to come, particularly in broadband-starved North America. Hard drive space is another huge consideration: the 20 and 40 GB found in the Xbox 360 and PS3 just aren't enough to hold lots of large games.

Where downloadable games will shine will be in the casual sector. Cell phones, handheld gaming systems, PCs, and MP3 players will benefit most from downloadable gaming. Home gaming consoles will continue to rely on optical discs for their big titles, while supplementing with more casual-friendly downloadable fare. We do expect to see more experimentation with offering large downloadable games (Sony is particularly interested in this tactic, offering large games like PS3 shooter Warhawk and the upcoming SOCOM: Confrontation as downloads). But this practice won't become mainstay until hard drives are tiny, cheap, and enormous (i.e. over a terabyte).

MYTH 14.: You need to buy the extended warranty.

Most times, this is a huge waste. If you're buying an Xbox 360, a PS3, or a Wii, know that each console maker has a pretty generous warranty period--one year in the case of the Xbox 360 and PS3, and even more for the Wii if you fill out the online registration.

Of course, don't expect the retail shops to stop offering extended warranties anytime soon: warranties are a retail cash cow because the failure rate of consoles and games is so slim and the fees are so high. Skip 'em.

MYTH 15.: The Xbox 360 can't handle 1080p.
Actually, it can, thanks to a recent downloadable update. Though Sony argues that the Xbox 360 can't handle true 1080p, this is a technical argument that's mostly splitting hairs. Generally speaking, Xbox 360 game designers will be able to code in true 1080p support for future games. Check out Sega's Virtua Tennis 3 as one key example of an upcoming Xbox 360 game that's rendered in "true" 1080p.

As for running existing games in 1080p on the Xbox 360, it's not so simple. Currently, selecting the 1080p option doesn't actually render the game in 1080p: it "cheats" by using the 360's analog scaler to blow up a normal 720p image to fill a 1080p display. This isn't the same thing, though it's still a nice option to have.

MYTH 16.: Cheat codes are put in for the sake of gamers.
They aren't. Q&A departments at game publishers use cheat codes to quickly and easily test for bugs. Typically, these codes are simply left into the final retail product, where they become what we call "cheat codes."

But more and more, cheat codes are being phased out. Why? Mostly because cheat codes tend to shorten the game experience, which leads to more returns and more used game sales, all of which hurt the bottom line of publishers. The longer a company can coax you into playing a game, the less likely you are to sell it back quickly and cost the publisher a future sale. In theory, at least.

MYTH 17.: Wireless controllers don't work as well as wired.
In reality, both are equally responsive. If you think you get an edge by using a wired controller over a wireless, know this: it's all in your head. Of course, we're not one to discount a psychological advantage, but the truth need be told. Wireless controllers are every bit at fast and responsive as wired ones.

One exception: wireless mice are often incredibly finnicky, and that's due to the super-precise nature of mouse movements.

MYTH 18.: You have to spend $500 for a PC video card.
Wrong! Sure, if you've got to have the latest-and-greatest PC graphics experience, you'll need to drop some serious dough. But the truth that Nvidia and ATI don't want you to know is this: for the vast majority of gamers, a mid-range video card like the Radeon X1950 GT or GeForce 7900 GS will give you an excellent visual experience. The price? Under $200, if you know where to look.

MYTH 19.: S-video is fine for HD video.
No, no, no. Get to the Radio Shack* and upgrade your cables, son. S-video and its close cousin, the composite cable, are strictly standard-def and are relics from another generation. If your TV supports it, you should always shoot for component cables, a VGA cable, or DVI/HDMI. S-Video and composite are dead, dead, dead, and shouldn't be used unless you have no choice.

*UPDATE: Yes, it's true, eBay is definitely the best place to buy cheap cables. I recently picked up a 12-foot HDMI cable for $10 and a 6-foot component cable for $5. Can't beat those prices...thanks to the Diggers for reminding me.

MYTH 20.: VGA output is better than component video.
When it comes to HD TVs, component video sits at the top of the analog video cable heap. VGA is an outstanding choice for PC monitors, but the signal loses some of its boldness when converted to a standard HD TV television signal. If you don't believe us, just plug a VGA cable into your Xbox 360 and see how dull and muted the colors look. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as TVs with cheap, lousy component video inputs.

VGA still gives a quality HD experience, but if you're gaming on an HD TV, stick with component for the brightest, boldest color.

MYTH 21.: Third-party controllers are just as good.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. In the vast majority of cases, non-licensed controllers, memory cards, and other peripherals are shoddy knock-offs of the real thing. This is particularly evident in third-party controllers, which, judging by internal GamePro tests, are often poorly made and more likely to fail. Part of the reason is that Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony all hold patents on their particular controller's design, right down to the directional pads, buttons, and analog sticks. This means that third-party companies like Nyko and Mad Catz must start from scratch by designing their own buttons. Ever wonder why third-party directional pads feel so awkward? Now you know: it's because of the patents.

Some third-party manufacturers are better than others, but in general, you'll never regret buying the first-party controllers and peripherals. It's money well spent.
Thinner is not necessarily better

MYTH 22.: LCD/plasma TVs look better than old-fashioned CRTs.
A popular misconception is that new-fangled LCD and plasma TVs have better image quality than an old-school cathode-ray tube TV, all HD resolutions being equal.

This is actually false. An HD CRT will almost always look better than an HD LCD or plasma TV, as CRT boasts deeper, more vibrant color. CRT TVs can also render a wide variety of resolutions, from 480i up to 1080p (if supported), without losing quality through downsampling or upsampling. In contrast, an LCD or plasma TV has a designated "native" resolution that must be hit (say, 720p); anything above or below this number will usually look muddy or blurry as the signal must be converted. This is especially true for interlaced formats like 480i and 1080i

CRT may beat both plasma and LCD in terms of picture quality, but they are enormously heavy, with larger sets weighing up to 200 pounds. The key selling point to plasmas and LCDs is their sleek size and light weight, in addition to solid picture quality.

MYTH 23.: 1080i looks better than 720p.
Only if you plan on looking at your game on pause. The truth is that 1080i only displays 540 lines every 60th of a second while 720p displays, wait for it..... 720 lines. While 1080i has a slight edge in sharpness, it often suffers from a slightly flickery look that can strain the eyes and cause breakup in fast-moving scenes. Most times, 720p and 1080i are just about even-- they each have strengths and weaknesses but you'll be hard-pressed to spot a big difference. And for HD video gaming, 720p is sometimes preferred for its smoother, slicker frame rate.

MYTH 24.: The more memory, the better the gaming system.
While this generally is a decent rule of thumb, it is also important to consider the software that utilizes the memory. A former employee of EA games told us that "when developing a game for both the PS2 and Xbox, we had to reduce texture size to get it to work on the Xbox because [Microsoft's API] DirectX is less efficient with memory than [the standard API] OpenGL." As the PS2 showed us with it's inferior 32 MB memory, it's not just size that matters when it comes to rendering slick graphics.

MYTH 25.: You need 1080p.
You don't. 1080p is a wonderful technology that's capable of rendering lush, crisp, high-resolution films and video games. But it's also way, way ahead of its time. Only a handful of PlayStation 3 games and Blu-ray films can even output at 1080p, and the number of 1080p-capable HD TV sets on the market is a tiny sliver. Like it or not, HD standards 720p and 1080i are still the key focus, and are likely to remain so for years to come. That said, 1080p is a great bonus feature, if you've got the cash to spend.

MYTH 26.: Porn will settle the next-gen DVD war.
Puhh-lease. As important as adult films were in trailblazing the home videocassette movement in the 70s and 80s, porn is hardly a kingmaker. In fact, if you judge by recent sales data showing Blu-ray soaring ahead of HD-DVD, it looks like video game systems like the PlayStation 3 will do more to settle the next-gen DVD war than mere smut.

MYTH 27.: The PC is the only good place to play first-person shooters.

PC elitists often argue that first-person shooters are intended to be played with a mouse and keyboard, and that no console controller can match this flexibility. This is false. Though the mouse and keyboard still have an edge for precision sniping, the Xbox 360 controller has proven itself to be a dependable workhorse for most other violence-related tasks, especially with console-specific tweaks such as "sticky crosshairs" to help even the odds. The key, as always, is practice.

It's true that controllers and mice have their own strengths and weaknesses, but this doesn't mean that the mouse is always king. In fact, FASA is enabling Xbox 360-to-Windows multiplayer in their recent shooter, Shadowrun. And they don't seem too worried about an uneven playing field between the mouse and the Xbox 360 controller.

Last edited by gamexxover on Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:50 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 2:39 pm   
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Good reading!! Thanks for sharing this info.
Mr. Mythbuster! Laughing


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Post Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 10:09 pm   
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Nice job, interesting stuff to know

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Post Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 4:16 am   
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very nice.. Smile
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Post Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 4:30 am   
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Ill keep some of those in mind for the future Cool

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Post Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 10:09 am   
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thank you

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