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Back in August, gaming website Kotaku posted scans of what purported to be a leaked Halo 3 manual on their site. Not knowing if they were genuine, they put them up and let the readership decide whether to give them credence or not.

Now it seems that Internet Investigator James Young has sent Kotaku a rather odd letter. Kotaku has posted the entirety of the letter, but it's worth pulling out a few select pieces for examination:

It has come to Microsoft's attention that your website includes material which is in violation of Microsoft's intellectual property rights. Content currently residing within your computer system infringes on the trademark rights of Microsoft Corporation and constitutes an unauthorized activity relating to Microsoft computer programs.

So, first off, disclaimers: I Am Not A Lawyer and This Article Does Not Constitute Legal Advice.

Secondly, trademark infringement. This usually refers to use of a registered trademark within a certain context. These are protected to prevent companies from creating me-too products to confuse consumers.

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John "JCal" Callaham has written another of Firing Squad's quarterly updates on the console wars; the page on the Xbox 360 has a number of suggestions to Microsoft on how to win the console wars. FS thinks a flawless Halo 3 launch is important:

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Bioshock is, by all accounts, an incredible-looking story-driven shooter with deep gameplay for the Xbox 360.

So is Halo 3.

The major difference between the two of them-- on top of Halo's multiplayer, saved films and map editing features, is that Bioshock is out already, and Halo 3 is not.

Despite this, on Amazon.com, two editions of Halo 3, the regular and limited, are both outselling Bioshock, according to Next-Generation. That's crazy.

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There's been an awful lot of community discussion around the first version of Microsoft's recently released Game Content Usage Rules. Most likely a result of Halo 3's upcoming Saved Films feature, Microsoft is the first game publisher to openly publish such rules, instead of simply remaining silent over copyright violations that do benefit them insofar as they help promote the games.

Shortly after the rules were noticed, some machinima studios claimed that its restrictions against "adding to the game universe" and prohibition against usic "music and audio effects" forced them to close down.

Don "DonkeyXote" McGowan in Micrsoft's legal department, who helped draft the rules, also posted in his blog about them, touching on the story, audio, and reverse engineering items specifically.

Machinima For Dummies has two news articles on the rules: one, two. Hugh Hancock provided an analysis of the rules, stating that they do need revision but are mostly positive.

However, probably the best analysis comes from EFF attorney Fred Von Lohmann, linked to in Hancock's post. The bottom line is: using this license is not mandatory, and even if you do use it, it provides rights additional rights to the fair use rights you already have.

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The Escapist article The Future Of PC Gaming Isn't You simultaneously contains one of the most true and one of the most false statements I can recall recently about this whole "casual gaming" thing that, like wireless technology, people just won't shut up about.

The most true is this:

"Casual gaming is not a demographic, it's a behavior."

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Two and a half years ago, I said that rumors that the Xbox 360 would not have a hard drive as standard were evidence that either the speculators, or someone at Microsoft, were on crack.

I thought it was silly for Microsoft to become the first company to make a hard drive standard in a console instead of an option, only to become the first company to remove the same feature.

I thought it was silly to tease developers into depending on the hard drive, and then take that away.

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SketchFactor writes at Bungie.net that if you get this status code from your Xbox:

"Status Code: Z: 8015 - 190D"

Congratulations! You've been banned for modifying your Xbox. This doesn't affect your XBL account, but does prevent that console from connecting to Xbox Live. Ever. Major Nelson also notes this on his blog.

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GamePro.com has put together the list of the 52 "most important" video games of all time. Because it's a list done according to importance, it means that games that were significant, even if they were bad, are on the list. One assumes that's not why Halo is on it in position #45, which won a spot for "scores of subtle gameplay refinements", or why Halo 2 clocks in at #20 for its innovative matchmaking model.

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UPDATE: Since I wrote this entry last week, it was announced that the new Halo 2 multiplayer maps will make some XBL playlists 360-only, since the maps are only being released for the 360. In defense, we've been told that most Halo 2 players are using 360s. However, Microsoft does not release breakdowns between the two consoles. Microsoft, I find it hard to believe that so many gamers have drifted away from XBL that there are more Halo 2 players using 360s on XBL than there are on the original console, given that there are three times as many original Xboxes. Players I know that have both prefer to use the original to play online because of the lag caused by emulation.

Is it really necessary to use Halo 2 maps to try and pressure more gamers onto the new platform? Is Halo 3 really so far away that you can't wait for that to draw gamers to the 360? Is two years really too long to support an online game?

If you want us to believe that original console owners really don't count, show us the numbers!


GhaleonB, via Louis Wu at HBO, points out that Microsoft has put out a nice press release (even attributed and with a dateline, thanks guys) touting the six million user milestone reached by Xbox Live.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love Xbox Live. While not an ardent online gamer, the service as a whole is well put togther and thought out: the integrated friends list and messaging, content downloads, gamerscore achievements; the works. The idea of separate friends lists for each game (Sony) and cryptic friend codes (Nintendo) really make me wonder what anybody else is thinking as far as online console gaming goes.

However, just because I've been a subscriber since Halo 2 launched doesn't mean I'm ready to drink whatever kool aid Microsoft is going to serve up regarding the service; and this press release is at least as interesting for what it doesn't say as for what it does say and the way it says it.

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Keeping a company light on its toes by keeping the core creative staff small and outsourcing the fiddly bits is how Wideload Games is approaching the problem of rising game development costs.

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Okay, this is a little obscure, but I thought it worth posting anyway.

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The Escapist has a nice piece on how Microsoft has gone from being a puppy to a big dog in the computer and console game space, and how often that has been achieved through acquisitions.

Yes! Who wouldn't want to see the Halo universe in the highest quality possible?
57% (279 votes)
No. They should stick to images generated by the game engine.
27% (132 votes)
I don't care either way.
16% (78 votes)
Total votes: 489
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Ars Technica notes that recent decreases in the costs of parts and manufacturing may mean Microsoft no longer has to subsidize the sales of their Xbox 360 console with profits from software: they may be making as much as $75 on each console sold, according to iSuppli.

Meanwhile, it is estimated that Sony will lose about $240 on each PlayStation 3.

No Xbox 360 price drops have been spotted just yet, but Microsoft would seem well-positioned to offer one if they so choose.

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Coming Soon has up what it claims is an official press release from Wingnut Films, detailing a joint decision by Microsoft and Wingnut to delay production of the Halo feature film until such time as they can guarantee they'll be bringing a "first class film" version of the game to screens.

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