Tonight I wanted to write about Tom Clancy's Endwar, which is a strategy game on Xbox LIVE that uses a unique voice-based control scheme and is supposed to have a very interesting multiplayer set up where players choose a nation and participate in a persistent war on a global scale. The problem is that for the last few days, every time I try to enter the multiplayer mode I get a message telling me the servers are down. I'll have to report on Endwar next time, assuming it comes back up.
The last week has been very interesting for networked console gaming. The PlayStation Network, which is probably the biggest competitor to the Xbox LIVE service, has been shut down for just over a week now as the result of a breech in security. According to the news, Sony has notified some 77 million users that their identity may have been stolen, including names, addresses, email addresses, credit card numbers and even birthdays. So far the incident doesn't seem to have had an effect on the Xbox LIVE service, but I think some restructuring of both platforms should be expected as part of the aftermath.
I also think I'll talk a little about a Nintendo's console networks. I can remember linked console gaming as far back as the days of the Gameboy, when kids at school used to use a physical cable to connect two systems and trade Pokemon, or something (I actually never got into Pokemon). Nintendo also experimented with putting their second-latest generation system, the Gamecube, online with titles such as Phantasy Star Online, although a special modem had to be purchased separately. Titles were later published for the Gamecube that supported cross platform networking. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker gave players the option to plug a Gameboy Advance into one of the control sockets to unlock extra features. The Nintendo DS handheld supported linked play with strangers over wireless connections via the internet or local area wi-fi connections. The Wii supports titles which can be played online in the same way as if on the PlayStation Network or Xbox LIVE. The Wii also offers an integrated web browser, can access youtube and netflix, has features like news and weather slideshows, and you can even download retro games from older generations.