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Rumor: PS3 Price Drop Imminent, Blu-ray-Free PS3 in the Works

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294w ago - A Wall Street analyst reports that a price reduction for the PlayStation 3 will happen "in the next couple days."

Mike Hickey with investment-banking firm Janco Partners told investors on Wednesday that he expects Sony will drop the price of the console to respond to sluggish hardware sales. To quote:

"Recent channel checks indicate increased speculation for a PS3 price cut announcement from Sony in the next couple of days," Hickey wrote.

Currently the PS3 is the most expensive of the three "next-gen" consoles on the market. The Playstation 3 with an 80 GB hard drive runs $399, while the 160 GB model is priced at $499. By comparison, the most expensive Xbox 360, which includes a 120 GB hard drive, retails at $399 and the economically priced Wii, when it can be found on shelves, sells for $249.

While many Playstation fans argue that the PS3 more than makes up the price difference with its Blu-ray drive, with the economy as it is, consumers are looking harder than ever at the PS3's spendy price tag.

In fact, Hickey believes the PS3's price would have to drop by at least $100 to make a big difference in Sony's sales numbers.

"We think the company needs to reduce the current price by USD 100 to effectively restart unit velocity at retail. We believe...
 

Microsoft Launches 'Free Your Avatar' for XBox Live Members

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297w ago - Recently Microsoft launched a new way for XBox Live members to interact with their newly minted avatars.

The new initiative is called "Free Your Avatar" and with this new idea, comes a [Register or Login to view links] where you can take your avatar out of the Xbox Live arena, and put him into desktop wallpaper, screensavers, etc.

Once exported, users can then customize their image, uploading and adding props and backgrounds to liven things up. You will even be able to create festive cards that you can send to friends and relatives.

All clothing choices are free, and will remain available. It is easy to tell what is new when you are in the avatar editor, just look for the gold star. Any item of clothing with a gold star is new since the last time you signed in to the avatar editor.

Finally, Microsoft states the application will provide options for every special occasion, from XBL member's birthdays to holidays.
 

Microsoft Plans Free XBox Live Gold Functionality for GTA IV

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297w ago - Microsoft has announced that is will offer free access to Live Gold functionality for players of Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV in February. Starting on February 17, anybody playing either Grand Theft Auto IV or its upcoming expansion, The Lost and Damned, will be able to play free of charge. The offer will expire on February 22.

The move is set to coincide with the release of the new DLC episode The Lost and Damned, which Rockstar hopes will revive interest in its open-world shooter. Hopefully they have also made some tweaks to the multiplayer modes in this new game. Heck, if it is free to go online and check them out, we will definitely give it a go.

This is the first time that Microsoft has extended such an offer. We can see this move potentially backfiring for the Redmond company, however. Like the days of Perestroika, once gamers get a taste of the good life, they might not be so eager to go back to the old gulag of paid online service.

Hopefully this opens the door for future online demo offers to coincide with the release of new titles, leading to the eventual liberation of Xbox live for all. Microsoft, tear down that wall!
 

Mirror's Edge Exclusive FREE Time Trial Map Available Tomorrow

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299w ago - Mirror's Edge Producer Tom Farrer reminds us today that the release of the free and exclusive PlayStation 3 Time Trial map hits PSN tomorrow, and shares some of his thoughts on it as follows:

When we started Mirror's Edge we were working with abstract environments, quick test levels that we threw together so we could mess around with the moves.

Then came the game and the more realistic urban settings which were a lot of fun to work with but there was always a little voice in the back of our minds saying, "Remember when you could build any bizarre shape you wanted?"

We have been making a variety of maps for the upcoming release of the Pure Time Trial Map Pack. We didn't want to be limited by an urban setting; we wanted to "leave the city behind" and focus completely on the nature of movement itself.





The maps are all about exploring the purity of the core gameplay with nothing getting in the way.

Each map is quite different in style and had different inspirations. The look of the Sony-exclusive map "Synethesia" (that will be released separately and for free tomorrow, January 29th) was actually inspired by balloons of all things. However, we did decide to settle on an overriding theme – If Faith...
 

Burnout Paradise Free Pack Details, Coming February 6, 2009

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300w ago - On February 6th, PS3 owners of Burnout Paradise will be able to download a free patch that adds a whole lot of content. To quote:

• In-Game Store (PS3/PC only) - An in-game browser will connect to the "Criterion Games Network." From here, you'll be able to see all the game's updates and purchase any of the upcoming premium DLC.
• Tweaked vehicle handling - The earlier cars are now tweaked to be easier for newcomers to use. "These cars are now slower, harder to crash and less likely to spin out at low speeds."
• Junkyard sorting - You'll be able to compare the stats of cars, and you'll be able to filter out cars, bikes, and upcoming DLC vehicles.
• Stunt Run timer changed - Stunt Run will now have a different timer that starts much slower than before. This allows beginners more wiggle room to start a combo. Experts will still be challenged: the larger your combo, the faster the timer runs out.
• Events rebalanced - All events have been modified to accommodate the new car speeds.
• Road Rage tweaked - Players no longer get additional time once they reach the target score. This is great, because we usually intentionally crash in order to end this mode.
• Enhanced visuals - In-game items, like billboards and smashes, are now easier to spot. The lighting has been tweaked...
 
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