Slave to the Game

Filling you in on the oddball gaming news

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When the hell is Unreal Tournament III coming out on PS3? No-one, not even Epic, seems to know, but a 2007 release isn't completely out of the question just yet, according to Vice President of Epic, Mark Rein.

UT III was originally scheduled to release in the latter end of this year before Midway said that there's every possibility it could be delayed into next year to ensure it's finished.

When a delay is suspected, you can usually be damn sure it'll happen, but Rein says it could still make 2007. "We're getting awfully close," he said, adding: "This version we had here today was [gestures] this close to being a release candidate, so hopefully we'll be done with it really soon."

He encouragingly went on to say: "If we get it done at just the right time, there's a good chance it'll be out in stores just before Christmas," in an interview with Destructoid.

PC gamers, the lucky bastards, will have it on November 23. Xbox 360 owners, however, will definitely be waiting until next year.

Nintendo is launching an interactive Nintendo Wii channel to let users upload, view, and vote on the best Mii creations.

The new feature will be available as a free download in the US from the Wii Shop Channel beginning 11 November and will give Wii owners the opportunity to submit, browse, and vote on bi-monthly popularity contests.

"The Check Mii Out Channel lets people show off their Mii creations and vote on those created by others," said Nintendo's outgoing marketing president, George Harrison. "It's yet another way that we're building fun, interactive communities of Wii owners without charging them extra for the privilege."

Any gamers hoping to cosy-up on the sofa this Christmas and watch films with their Wii are set to be disappointed. Nintendo has confirmed that DVD playback won’t be added to the console this year.

Nintendo claims it’s postponing the release due to a need to secure enough production units in time for the Christmas rush. It broke the news on the Q&A section of its Japanese Wii website.

The addition of DVD playback functionality, either through a firmware update or by creating a second-generation Wii, has been widely discussed since well before the console’s December 2006 debut.

In November last year, software developer Sonic Solutions claimed its CinePlayer CE software would be used in the Wii as the DVD playback application. However, it said the enhanced Wii would be released by Nintendo “in the latter half of 2007”.

That timeframe was confirmed by Nintendo on its Q&A site. It appears that it did indeed plan to release a Wii that can play DVDs in the second half of 2007, but that production restraints have prevented if from doing so.

It also noted that "DVD licensing fees... are higher than expected".

"Sorry for the inconvenience, but please be patient," Nintendo told its fans.

Nintendo gave no indication of when a DVD playback-enabled Wii might actually appear.

Hot on the heels of a PS3 DivX rumor, DivX has pretty much pilled the beans on upcoming support on the Xbox 360. Here's the clip from a routine financial earnings call that's set the rumor mill ablaze:

Coster - "Just a minor point here, but there was a recent Microsoft (MSFT) conference where I believe their media extender now incorporates the DivX codec on it, is that correct? Can you confirm that and does that mean we're soon going to see Xboxes with DivX on them?
Hell - "Yes! that, uh, we're in discussions with Microsoft on that at this point in time, so I can't go into any great detail on that. Um that is not a certified, that is not a certified or licensed product at this time."

Forthcoming Xbox 360 controls will let parents limit the number of hours played by uoung gamers.

In addition to restricting the type of games played, Xbox 360 will soon be able to limit the total number of hours played by younger gamers.

"As the customer base broadens, the demand for these kinds of capabilities does increase," said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division.

Not unlike a similar feature found in Microsoft's Windows Vista operation system, the new timer will grant care-takers the ability to restrict total hours played on either a daily or weekly basis. Once the time limit is reached, the console will automatically turn off.

According to Bach, a restriction timer was the number-one most desired feature by parents in a recent study conducted by Microsoft.

News of an Xbox 360 timer was first rumored in early September.

Sales in Japan of Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 video game console have exceeded those of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.'s PlayStation 3 for the first time on a weekly basis, a survey showed Friday.

According to the survey conducted by research firm Media Create Co. <2451>, Xbox 360 sales came to 17,673 units in the week to last Sunday, against 17,434 units for PS3.

Xbox 360 overtook PS3 as the second best-selling video game machine in Japan, Media Create said. Nintendo Co.'s <7974> Wii stayed the best-selling machine.

The Xbox 360 machine performed strongly in the latest week partly because Microsoft on Nov. 1 cut its price by up to 5,000 yen. In the preceding week, Xbox 360 sales totaled only 3,718 units.

Meanwhile, PS3 slumped due to a lack of blockbuster game software titles. SCE plans to launch a low-priced version of PS3 on Sunday.

Xbox 360 was launched in Japan in December 2005. PS3 was released in November 2006.