Here's a smattering of news bites from the past week:
Comin' at ya!
Every Consumer Electronics Show is defined by its buzzwords. At this year's Las Vegas gathering, they were wireless everything, “green tech” and 3-D. Sony seemed particularly enamored with the idea of making games pop out of your TV set, showing off 3-D versions of Gran Turismo 5, Wipeout HD and MotorStorm: Pacific Rift. And Nvidia, the graphics-processor maker, introduced technology that it said will turn hundreds of PC games into 3-D spectacles. Yes, you still have to wear the silly glasses.
CES is generally a showcase for hardware, from tiny smart phones to gigantic flat-screen TVs, so it usually doesn't feature many new-game announcements. Indeed, the biggest news for gamers was sort of a non-announcement: Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos said his studio was working so hard on its new Beatles game that it's not likely to produce a Rock Band 3 this year.
(Publisher MTV Games was quick to clarify that there will be plenty of fresh Rock Band content, including downloadable songs, throughout the year.)
Besides promoting this year's releases of Halo Wars and Halo 3: ODST, Microsoft introduced one new piece of software. Called Kodu, it's an extremely simplified design tool that's meant to encourage amateurs to create their own games for the Xbox 360.
The global economic meltdown is finally taking its toll on the video-game industry. During the last few months, thousands of employees have been laid off, with everyone from big publishers to small studios cutting costs. One loss might be felt more keenly than all the rest: The demise of the venerable magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly.
Ziff Davis Media, EGM's owner, pulled the plug on the print magazine and sold its associated Web sites, including 1up.com, to the Hearst Corp.'s UGO Entertainment. Ziff Davis has been shifting its focus to Internet-only publishing, so the move wasn't a big surprise.
Wii the people
Further proof that Barack Obama could be our first geek president: He has a Nintendo Wii.
According to The New York Times, he's been using it to practice bowling with his daughters, Malia and Sasha — and he says his virtual game is a lot better than the 37 he threw in a Pennsylvania bowling alley last March.
GameStop a bright spot
In what was a dismal holiday season for many store chains, GameStop proved an exception.
The company said last week that its sales for the November-December period jumped more than 22 percent, boosted by strong sales of new games. Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, grew 10.2 percent in the nine weeks from Nov. 2 to Jan. 3.
Chief executive Daniel DeMatteo said consumers are flocking to video games because they see their value. The $50 to $60 that gamers plunk down for new titles translates to relatively cheap entertainment when looking at the many hours of playtime they can get out of it.
GameStop's sales hit $2.86 billion during the holiday period, the busiest time of the year for video game sales.