News Blips: PS3 for $250, PSP Vita socializes, 100k player SSX events, and more

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Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? Yes, says Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire who is investing in floating libertarian ocean nations. It’s good to know that supervillains still roam the earth.

News Blips:

Sony drops the price of the PlayStation 3. I hope you didn’t buy a PS3 yesterday. Sony announced that they're dropping the price of their home console by 50 bucks. That means frugal people everywhere can now get down with Sony’s 160GB Uncharted-player for $249.99, while the 320GB model will sell for $299.99. That means it took nearly five years to drop the price for the most expensive unit from $600 to $300. In five more years, we’ll be getting these things for free in Happy Meals. Oh man, I’m totally going to get a Happy Meal after this.  

The PlayStation Vita will focus heavily on the social aspect of gaming. Sony’s new handheld is entering a world far different from the one that the PSP was birthed in. The iPhone has drastically changed what gamers expect to pay and play when it comes to mobile gaming. Today, at their GamesCom press conference, Sony announced a suite of social tools aimed at making the device feel more like a social network.

  • Party — Similar to the Xbox Live parties, Party allows for cross-game chat.
  • Near — A GPS-enabled application that will display what games nearby people are playing.
  • LiveArea — Essentially, Facebook for gaming. It will keep players abreast of the titles their friends are playing, the trophies that they're earning, and more.
  • Social Essentials — Speaking of Facebook, the handheld will likely ship with the website’s app installed. Twitter, Skype, and Foursquare will also have native applications for the device.

EA will hold Global Events in SSX with up to 100,000 gamers competing simultaneously. After the success of Autolog in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, the publisher is implementing the system in any game where it makes sense. SSX is no exception. RiderNet, the snowboarding title’s take on the concept, will offer recommendations and challenges for lots of asynchronous multiplayer fun. If that isn’t enough, then EA is including a new mode for players who need the intensity of synchronized competition: Global Events. These real tournaments will occur at scheduled times and allow thousands of gamers to participate at once. The servers will probably just record the times instead of rendering endless scores of snowboarders on your console, but that’s a good thing. Can you imagine an Xbox Live voice chat lobby with 100,000 people all talking at the same time?

Europe’s long nightmare is over: Trenched is coming to the continent this September under the name Iron Brigade. The online-shooter/tower-defense title was held up due to a Portuguese board game known as Trench. Microsoft, the publisher of Trenched, and Double Fine, the game’s developer, had never heard of Trench, but apparently ignorance is no excuse when it comes to intellectual property rights. Thankfully, now that the name change has occurred, Iron Brigade can see the light of European gaming rooms from Frankfurt to Liverpool. Look for the World War I-era mech shooter this September on Xbox Live Arcade. Now, where can I get an Iron Brigade t-shirt?

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