Tag Archives: Money

360 Wi-Fi Without a £60 Adaptor

Since moving into a place where my gaming den – more on that in an upcoming post – is beyond the reach of an ethernet cable, I came to require a way to get my 360 online wirelessly, and although the official adaptor was the obvious choice, I didn’t want to pay the frankly shameful £60 RRP. I know that wireless hardware is dirt cheap and that one isn’t even fully featured, lacking the WPA2 support that every certified Wi-Fi device since 2006 has featured. Not to mention that it wouldn’t help me avoid my previous issues with the PS3’s built-in Wi-Fi.

It’s not often that I can provide genuinely useful advice, so listen up. I know enough about home networking to know that one way around this is an ethernet bridge, which are reasonably cheap and will work with any ethernet device. But even so, buying one for each console and possibly more for, say, a standalone Blu-ray player in the future could add up.

Linksys WRT54GLMy solution was to buy a Linksys WRT54GL, which can be had for less than £50 new. It’s a fairly basic router with one exception: it runs on Linux.

This being the Internet, it’s been taken apart by enthusiasts to add piles of features through third-party firmware. The free Tomato Firmware, which has a simple client mode as one of its key features, is exactly what you need. I put it in ethernet bridge mode and both consoles are online without a hitch, and the router has been going strong for two weeks now.

I should also point out that Tomato works with a number of other routers, which may even be cheaper. I just went with the Linksys because it was the original.

The official site has a video showing how to put it into client mode, which will be all that 99% of users want. There’s also an excellent tutorial here, which explains the difference between the two client modes – I went with bridge because I wanted everything on the same subnet for video streaming.

I know that I’m not the only one who is baffled by the fact that you can get an excellent router to do the job of the official adaptor and more for less money, but I’m not going to complain too much when open networking standards give us a relatively simple way around the problem. Alas, it’s not as easy to get around extortionate prices on other 360 peripherals like the larger hard drives or charging cables that cost comparatively nothing on a certain competing console, but maybe Microsoft will have a heart with the next iteration.

Then again, only one of those machines is actually making money. Maybe not…

1UP No More

1UP Yours

It’s not unusual to see companies disappearing in this current financial climate and my thoughts are with anyone whose Christmas bonus included a P45, so it’s quite strange that the casualty that has disappointed me the most is actually one that may now be more financially secure. The 1UP Network will continue after its purchase from the ailing Ziff-Davis, but Hearst hasn’t bought its soul.

Cheesy as that may sound, the closure of EGM is the end of an era. While it may not resonate quite as much outside the US, I used to import it back in the day and would always look forward to the latest issue, late and with an inflated price – just like UK games at the time, then. I remember features like a guide to imports that became my bible in the late 90s, and EGM’s cover feature was the first thing I ever read about the original Xbox, which blew me away with its tales of custom soundtracks and built-in hard drives. I remember the short-format reviews, which I still infinitely prefer to some bloated four-pager from any of the big websites at the moment. It was unfailingly exciting to get the Christmas issues, which were a good centimetre thick.

Of course, it was equally mind-blowing just how many ads were in it relative to the content, but we mustn’t speak ill of the dead.

What I’ll miss more than anything, though, is the podcasts and video shows. 1UP Yours has been a permanent fixture on my iPod since the epic of E3 2006, seeing me through countless walks home from work, and The 1UP Show and Retronauts have been there for almost as long. Continue reading 1UP No More

That Annual Moan

It’s that time again, where every gaming publication under the sun stops moaning that they’ve had no games all summer and shifts to lamentation about how abused their poor wallet will be over the next few months. As much as I’d like to, I’m not about to buck the trend. I mean, just look at my pre-order list:

  • Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
  • Call of Duty: World at War
  • Fable II
  • Fallout 3
  • Gears of War 2
  • Left 4 Dead
  • LittleBigPlanet
  • Persona 4
  • Prince of Persia

And I’m also probably getting Dead Space, Far Cry 2, Mirror’s Edge, and Resistance 2 either depending on reviews or when I can get them cheaper than the RRP. (Or if someone sends me promo copies – hint, hint.)

No, the situation is no more ridiculous than it was last year… or the year before that… or the year before that. And I have no doubt that the same thing will happen next year. It still means that plenty of great games that could otherwise have been hits – out of my list, my money’s on Prince of Persia and Far Cry 2 being casualties – will be in the bargain bins sooner than the publishers might have hoped. It’s always a shame.

I just can’t see how it can be that much better to have a tiny piece of the big Christmas pie – up against the biggest juggernauts with marketing budgets big enough to end world hunger, of course – but I suppose it must work for them because they continue to do it. And hey, if they’re getting £350+ out of me again, they must be doing something right.

RIP Video Game Centre

Today was a pretty meaningless day in the grand scheme of things. For most gamers it simply represented the return to the grind after an extended weekend of GTA IV, but it was a sad day for the hardcore gaming community of Bournemouth, and for those regulars from all around the country: today was the last day of trading for the Video Game Centre.

Video Game Centre

Since it opened in 1993, it was one of the biggest sellers in the country of import games and game-related oddities. No one misses the days of £90 SNES imports, but back in the day this place had a huge pool of regulars who were willing to spend that sort of money on the latest and greatest but also who would spend all their Saturday afternoons in there, just talking games. As someone growing up as a gaming obsessive at the time, it was heaven.

Alas, the Internet happened, as did supermarkets and their loss-leading games, and the pool of regulars started to dry up. Internet forums have become the hangout of the hardcore gamer, and the number of people who are willing to spend only a couple of quid under the RRP for a place to break street date has dwindled.

Looking at that photo, taken circa 2002, just makes me come over all nostalgic. The new games on the TVs, the Shenmue poster on the door there, whole import sections for every console. Next to the TVs you can see the accessories, with everything from the expected official controllers and AV cables to the handy weird stuff from Japan and Hong Kong that’s been impossible to find since Lik-Sang disappeared. And above and to the left of the PAL N64 games on the back wall you can see AES and Neo-Geo CD games – where can you get those without braving the bootleg minefield of eBay?

I miss the independent retailers in general. Where is there for people to get knowledgeable advice from people who’ve actually played the game, to try it before they buy and to get help with importing and modding hardware? And when I do shop in a physical retailer, I like to do it without being given the hard sell on extended warranties, official guides, and shitty, own-brand controllers. This was one of the last ones, and it had been one of the best.

So it looks like I’m going completely online now, and I can be happy with my favoured sites for both imports and PAL games. It’s just a shame that I can no longer pop in for a chat about the latest Edge scores…

Who’s More Evil: EA or the Taxman?

Rock BandSo today it was confirmed that we, in Europe, will be getting a game several months after its US release. Still, can’t blame the publishers when the console manufacturers and enforcing these draconian region locks. What’s more, the price will be a direct dollar-to-pound conversion, but with the exchange rate at around $1.40-£1, that’s fair enough if you take into account taxes and shipping costs. Oh, and I wonder what it’ll be like in a couple of years when Tony Blair is Prime Minister?

Oops, sorry. I was using a post template from 1995 and forgot to delete it all. I was really ahead of the curve on this blogging thing.

So today it was confirmed that we, in Europe, will be getting a game several months after its US release. This is a game that is region locked on the 360, despite it being an option. And with an exchange rate now closer to $2-£1, an already-expensive game coming in at £179.98 (that’s £49.99 for the game, plus £129.99 for instruments) equates to $354.34. By comparison, a complete US copy will cost you $169.99 from EB, which comes out as £86.34.

It’s not really on, is it? The timed exclusivity is nearly here nor there for me, because if I was going to buy the game – I’m not, regardless of price – I have the facility to play it on either console and I’d be comfortable importing the region-free US PS3 version if I had to. In any case, even if you got slapped by the full complement of import duties (17.5% VAT and 3.5% import tax), you’d still only be paying £104.47 plus shipping for the import.

So, to return to my original question, who’s more evil: EA or the taxman? It may seem like a rock and a hard place, but EA won’t pay for schools and hospitals, will it? And you’ll end up paying less anyway, so it’s win-win.

The DMC4 Question Made Easy?

I’m sure I’m not alone as a multiconsole gamer currently deliberating which version of Devil May Cry 4 to buy next month. Although it’s apparently been developed for the PC and ported to the consoles, one would expect the PS3 to offer the definitive version in terms of graphics and controls. It also has the benefit of almost zero load times, besides a 45-minute install the first time it’s run.

In any case, I had a nasty shock earlier today when I looked to get my preorder in. I first visited Gameplay, and then had a look around the others and noticed something strange:

  360 Standard PS3 Standard 360 Limited PS3 Limited
Amazon £29.98 (-£10.01) £39.99 £32.99 (-£7.00) £39.99
Game £32.99 (-£7.00) £39.99 £34.99 (-£10.00) £44.99
Gameplay £29.99 (-£10.00) £39.99 £32.99 (-£12.00) £44.99
Play £29.99 (-£10.00) £39.99 £29.99 (-£10.00) £39.99

All prices were correct at the time of writing, and though Gamestation, HMV, and Shopto were also checked they all had only one edition listed.

Why exactly is this? The supposed price increase that Blu-ray would bring for PS3 games never materialised and every previous multiplatform title has had price parity across both systems. Game owns Gameplay which could explain the difference there, but both Amazon and Play are independent which suggests that there’s a uniform difference in RRP. Indeed, the sites all list the PS3 RRP as being higher.

I wouldn’t expect this to become a regular thing, and indeed a quick recce of the same sites revealed the same price (± a few pennies) across the consoles for big multiplatform releases like Burnout Paradise and GTA4, but it’s still a bit of a mystery. The conspiracy theorist in me is looking for signs of a moneyhat…