Stories by Matt Peckham

iPhone 3GS tames Unreal Engine 3

What's glass-covered and architectonically gothic and smooth as black ice? Bonus points for guessing the Vatican inside a snow globe, but if you said Apple's iPhone/iPod Touch 3GS running Epic's Unreal Engine 3, you're either psychic or pretty amazing at untangling mangled metaphors. Yep, it seems one of Epic's pet projects involves getting the impressive visual engine that powers games like Gears of War 2 up and running on Apple's latest powerhouse portables.

Final Fantasy XIII nears 2 million sales mark

Square Enix's roleplaying spectacle-spinner Final Fantasy XIII sold over 1.5 million units in its first four days on store shelves, reports Japanese tracker Enterbrain. Not bad at all, considering the game's only available for the PlayStation 3 in Japan (the English-language version for both PS3 and Xbox 360 doesn't ship until next March). Square Enix president Yoichi Wada revealed the company has already shipped 1.8 million copies, and expressed hope sales would reach the 2 million mark shortly.

Is Apple's iPhone App Store growing unwieldy?

Research firm IDC says Apple's App Store could stock in excess of a quarter million iPhone and iPod Touch applications, tripling current levels by the end of 2010. That's some number. Contrast with an estimated 10,000 Windows 7-compatible apps, over 700 (released as well as announced) Xbox 360 games, nearly 600 PS3 games, over 1,000 Wii games, over 600 DS games (from September 2008), and over 700 PSP games.

ESRB releases iPhone app for parents

Listen up Moms and Dads, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is giving away a handy new iPhone tool that'll help you quick-check what's what when it comes to game content. Not that the little black-and-white rectangles voluntarily stamped on game jackets are tricky to understand at a glance, but this app's more than just a reference tool for the industry-representin' ESRB's alpha-numeric rating schema: It'll let you quick-check the ratings summary of any game you're thinking of buying, too.

Xbox LIVE iPhone app lets you message on the go

Can't get enough Xbox LIVE out of your Xbox 360? Apple iPhone owner? Two bucks to spare? You might care to give 360 Live a look. It's a smallish 1.6MB app available through Apple's iPhone store designed to let you reach out and touch your Xbox LIVE account from just about anywhere, as well as several of the service's tracking and messaging features.

The Sorry State of Windows 7 Gaming

Windows 7 is finally upon us, leaping off retail shelves in little blue- and green- and black-lined plastic containers in a matter of hours. With the critical plaudits, expect enthusiastic midnight sales, curious micro-throngs of buyers, and swollen message boards deluged by "impressions" confessionals from first-timers who somehow missed the endless betas and previews and release candidates foisted on us like fistfuls of Halloween candy. No Rolling Stones or Jerry Seinfeld this time, true, but that's all part of Windows 7's unassuming shtick -- less whiz, more bang.

Facebook and Twitter for Xbox LIVE

Microsoft's next Xbox LIVE update with Facebook and Twitter support went out to those of us with preview access early this morning, and I've just finished tinkering with it.

Grab PSP movies from Blu-ray discs

Want to watch Blu-ray flicks on your Sony PlayStation Portable? Okay, you can't watch them natively on the handheld--the system tops out at 480x272 lines of resolution, after all. But according to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Sony Computer Entertainment America, now you can pull the PSP versions straight from the Blu-ray disc itself.

Sony reveals PS3 Slim, slashes PS3 price

And there you have it, the fabled Sony PS3 price cut as well as confirmation of a trimmer, slimmer iteration of the PS3 after over a year's worth of gossip and false leads and photo-forgeries.

Nielsen: Gaming and used sales boom during recession

Time spent playing games and used game purchases are up, and in fact way up over the past several months, says the Nielsen Company. Citing a new study that gauged game playing and purchasing habits during the recent recession, the media audience tracker said the number of hours gamers claim to be engaged is at an "all time high," while the purchase of used games and video game rental service have both increased to "record-breaking" levels since tracking began in 2006. The conclusion? When it comes to entertainment, consumers are opting to get more from, well, more.

iPhone 3GS chews through PS, Game Boy games

Just what your brand new iPhone 3GS needs--Cloud Strife's super-deformed spike-do bristling at hundreds of frames per second. PlayStation emulation amped up to supersonic? Oh yes you can, writes Engadget, and with Game Boy Advance stuff too. All you need is a pre-jailbreak hack called psx4iphone, and one of Apple's newly supercharged iPhone 3GS's and you're in business.

More Americans Play Video Games than Go to Movies

I thought the revelation that video gamers outnumbered cinema goers was old news, but maybe only partly so. According to a new NPD Group report, 53 percent of U.S. consumers have been to the movies in the last six months, but 63 percent — that's 2 out of 3 consumers — have played a video game. I take it the significance of that derives from cumulative penetration, as opposed to the now redundant "novelty" of the latter surpassing the former.

PlayStation 3 Has to Suffer, Signals Sony Boss

Sony Europe's David Reeves is almost refreshing at a time when refreshing's in short supply. In an intriguing shift from the standard "everything's coming up roses" mantra, Reeves reflects on the company's third quarter losses of US$204m by telling The Guardian the company "simply [has] to suffer a little.

'Second Life' for Muslims launches online

The BBC reports that a trial version of Muxlim Pal, a virtual community catering to Muslims, is officially open for business. Don't confuse it with the actual Second Life, however. It's not a wraparound 3D virtual world, but more a series of isometric areas linked together, kind of like The Sims.