Dear Smartlaunch, Stop Hurting Video Game LAN eSports Centers and Arenas

So… I got this cool email from Smartlaunch today (pasted at the bottom). For those of you late to the game, in June of this year I sent Smartlaunch an email letting them know ggCircuit (my software company) will be discontinuing support of Smartlaunch on July 1.  I sent the email on June 27 and then 3 days later on June 30, Smartlaunch announced their “eSports 5.0” product.  It is posted on their “blog” which was the last post made on there the same day they announced eSports Leagues which never have started.  I did a quick screen grab of their site this morning:

Smartlaunch Screen Grab from October 31, 2016

As you all know, there wasn’t anything close to being a product yet, who knows if there was actually one at that point. After months of people trying to get it, some people actually got something installed (which has to be done directly working with one guy) and it was obviously not anywhere near finished.
So today, on the last day of our ggLeap pioneer program, they sent the email below to let all of us know that it “has been released”.  Sounds great?  But is it is an official product that we can all run our centers with and feel good about?  
During this time Smartlaunch keeps signing centers up with “BIG” discounts for 1, 2 and 3 year contracts. Then nothing works right, they disappear and stop helping centers and move on to try and sell the next long contract.  I know this because the list is LONG of centers coming to us just happy that we answer the phone, reply to emails, answer FB messages, give our Skype account to them, etc.
I absolutely don’t care about competition with our own software, if I give them the courtesy of allowing them to be anywhere near our product to call them a competitor.  For those that know me, I thrive on competition.  I welcome it.  I am driven on the thought of someone out working me to the finish line.

For the 12 years I have ran my centers I firmly believe that Smartlaunch has caused our industry to be stagnant and been solely responsible for many centers closing their doors.

While that may seem like a strong statement, here are the facts to support it:
  • In 2004 when I opened eBash, Smartlaunch software license could be purchased for a one-time fee.  We paid $1,500 for our copy and not only was it promoted as no other fees in the future, we could also actively sell our license to other stores.  This was a REAL program they supported, you contacted them and said “I sold my license for 27 stations to this email address” and they would transfer them.  Crazy, they actually made the licenses a commodity and gave them value almost like a bar with a liquor license.
  • Smartlaunch then went into financial ruin.  I know more than most about what happened.  But I will keep this extremely fact based.  They went out of business.
  • All of a sudden, they are back in business again and guess what?  Now you have to pay a monthly fee for the licenses for the EXACT SAME THING YOU ALREADY BOUGHT for a one time fee.  It seems like a joke, but it wasn’t.  Because the licenses we bought outright still authenticated on boot up they were able to just shut everyone off without a monthly subscription.  How does a monthly subscription even make sense when the software runs on game center servers at the game centers?  There is no SaaS model here, and there were no new updates to justify charging monthly.
  • Up until I guess today (if we believe this is a NEW product released today) the software has been on the exact same version since I started in 2004.  Yep, 12 years of the exact same version of software being provided and still charging monthly with nothing new and worthwhile developed.
  • The software is dated and therefore it still takes tech geniuses to be able to run it.  You have to set-up a local server, understand databases, be able to write batch files and search the internet for extra solutions.  Business people cannot run LAN centers using Smartlaunch, they have to be technically savvy and spend hours with work-around solutions to get things to work correctly.
  • Here is the big one:  For all of the  years that I have been in business as a LAN center owner, Smartlaunch has NEVER been concerned with making sure their own customers are successful.  It has always been about the money.  For them centers come-and-go and is all water under the bridge.

This is why today’s email makes me so upset.  Smartlaunch doesn’t care about the centers, they just care about the fact that someone else like us ( has finally started a product that actually helps centers.  They are willing to lie to people, take their money and then literally put them out of business and move on to the next center.

To continue to break down where we are at today, let’s take a look at the main differences between our product, ggLeap, and Smartlaunch’s new product they are calling eSports 5.0 from feedback with centers that have ran it so far:


Cloud-based servers Yes No
Web-based admin usable anywhere Yes No
Game license management between multiple centers Yes No
Free game licenses like Battlefield 1 Yes No
Multiple center support channels Yes No
Player stat tracking in-game with leaderboards Yes (3 years) No Proof
Unique prize and redemption system Yes (3 years) No Proof
Integrated touranment bracket software Yes (3 years) No Proof
Prize support from major gaming companies Yes No
Built by LAN center owners Yes No

Currently we are moving centers over to ggLeap that have “upgraded” to Smartlaunch’s new eSports 5.0 product.  They can’t get rid of it.  It is either so genius in programming as an intentional take over of control of the machine or so completely poorly written that they forgot to make a way to uninstall it. Centers are now just formatting their PCs to get rid of the Smartlaunch product and start over from scratch!

Thanks for the Monday morning motivation Smartlaunch.  If that was not your intention, then sorry about your luck.  Just stop over-promising and under-delivering and I will leave you alone.  In the meantime you are putting my friends and good centers out of business so it is very personal for me.

I will leave everyone with the copy of the email I received today from Smartlaunch which is a desperate ploy to try and keep customers from jumping ship.

************* Email from Smartlaunch sent today, October 31 ***************


Smartlaunch eSports 5.0 has been released! eSports is experiencing explosive growth, which has made it a necessity for game centers to deliver advanced services to an increasingly sophisticated customer base.

Smartlaunch eSports 5.0 is a state-of-the-art software platform designed to deliver a complete eSports solution to Game Centers and eSports Arenas. Smartlaunch eSports 5.0 introduces a wide range of tools for day to day management of an eSports centers as well as administration tools for organization of local eSports events and participation in international competitions.

Smartlaunch eSports 5.0 comes with long awaited features such as automated game loading and patching in addition to a suite of eSports features including popular game statistics, player rankings and individual profiles for players and teams.

You can upgrade to Smartlaunch eSports 5.0 under the supervision of Smartlaunch Support. For more information and to book your installation contact me at or

Vinay Java

eSports Arena in Universities, Commercial Use Permits, University of California at Irvine UCI grand opening, ggLeap Software updates

Today we cover quite a bit about our software powering the launch of the University of California Irvine eSports Arena along with the big jump in colleges and universities getting into the eSports game.

So proud of our software and our team.  We are truly in the right place at the right time with something special.


Starting and Running a Video Game Center Lounge: Do I need Cafe Software and How Do I get Tournaments Going?

From today’s show we covered the following topics:

  1. Introduction to the weekly Twitch-cast
  2. LAN Center start-up “Question of the Week”
    1. “How important is software for a LAN Center?”
    2. How important is software in other businesses?  Stock Control?  Sales projections?  Employee management?
    3. Software is crucial for controlling PC access, but also for saving $$$ in game purchases
    4. Even as a timer, software helps track time balances as well as cash balances
    5. Credit on store accounts is CRUCIAL
    6. Useful data such as games reaching license limit, times of the day/week when it is slowest, etc.
    7. Using the right software, eBash has set-up a 100+ network of systems in two days, had 5,000+ gamers create accounts and play by the hour and tracked stats and given away random prizes, sent out a follow-up email to the group
  3. LAN Center growth “Idea of the Week”
    1. “How do I get tournaments going at my center?”
    2. Tournament Negatives:
      1. Nothing worse than spending tons of time, money, energy promoting an event to only have a couple people show up
      2. Displaces regular customers during busiest times
      3. Extra Work, Extra Cost, Extra Systems
    3. Tournament Positives:
      1. Great way to reach new players
      2. Gives your center the sense of importance, coolness
      3. Always want to have something going on, events
    4. Types of Tournaments:
      1. Big Cash Money
      2. Random/Scrambled
      3. Money vs. Prizes vs. Fame (Call of Duty players asked about trophies)
      4. Not always PvP, sometimes PvE
      5. Find a way to create rivalries with schools, clans, etc.
    5. Promotion = success
      1. “Impromptu” tournaments have a place, but not a good idea for long term
      2. Start it a month away or more
      3. Fliers:  Colleges, High Schools, Local Game Stores
    6. Results
      1. Ladders, leaderboards, presetige
      2. Photos and social media
  4. ggCircuit PULSE:
    1. Halo API notes
    2. Skin Release Schedule
    3. Tournament system Updates
      1. Brackets can be for just Players  now, not just teams
      2. Admin can automatically add players
      3. Types:  PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Wii U
    4. Extra Life
    5. WANdemonium
  5. ggCircuit “Tip of the Week”
    1. Winter Season Details
  6. ggCircuit Center Spotlight – Escape Gaming
  7. Welcome to new ggCircuit centers
    1. FunFirst Gaming – Czech
  8. Ending – ggCircuit now over 70,000 gamers

Video Game LAN Center Video Including How to Manage Consoles like Xbox and Playstation and more….

This week’s video includes the following highlights:

  1. LAN Center start-up Question of the Week – “How do you manage consoles and console games (Xbox One, PS4, Wii U) in a center?”
  2. LAN Center growth Idea of the Week – “Bring in new customers and support the community with fundraisers.”
  3. ggCircuit PULSE:
    1. Center subscriptions
    2. Fall Season Recap
    3. Winter Season Preview, November 30th – February 8th
    4. ggCircuit Leagues
  4. ggCircuit “Tip of the Week” – Local Prize Vaults
  5. ggCircuit Player Spotlight – Derrick_Shaver
  6. Welcome to new ggCircuit centers – Monkey Gaming Center – Arequipa, Peru
  7. ggCircuit Fall Season week 5 winners

Week 5
Total: 306,379
Razer Chroma Keyboard – Raven (Galaxy Gaming) – 820
Razer Kraken Headset – lemboplanb (Elite Sevilla) – 289

Grand Theft Auto V in my Video Game LAN Center?

gta5I have always held a strong line to NOT carry the Grand Theft Auto series of games in our stores (along with a few other over-the-top titles). Our eBash partner store of which I do not have any ownership carries the games. This newest game would be a HUGE boost to our sales during the next few months and beyond and help us through our slower months. I don’t want to compromise my morals, but how do I skip a game that could mean so much potential income for my stores? I am thinking of perhaps requiring every single parent to physically come into the store and have us read to them the warning label on the game right at the front counter to their face. Something like this:

Me: “Hello mommy of Billy Gamer, are you wanting to allow him to play the newest Grand Theft Auto V game?”
Mommy: “Yes, that is fine. He plays games like that at home.”
Me: “Alright, I just need you to be aware that this game contains ALL of these items: Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Nudity, Mature Humor, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, and the Use of Drugs and Alcohol. You are fine with your 9 year old son being exposed to all of those things?”

Man, even typing that up I just get a bad feeling in my stomach. I know that all of these parents will say yes. Maybe I should require that they sit down and play the game with their kid for a minimum of one hour before they are allowed to give them permission to play the game?  Maybe seeing prostitution in action on the screen will make more of an impact than hearing the words “Nudity and Strong Sexual Content”?

I sometimes get the feeling that parents honestly think that the warning label on games (and maybe movies) are just *potential* things that could be in the game.  Almost like it is a general guideline for all M (Mature) rated games that *could* contain those things listed on the label.  At least that is what I hope is true.

However the items printed on that label are ACTUALLY found within that exact game.  So when GTAV says that it has Nudity and Strong Sexual Content the game itself has those items as something your child will experience while playing.

Maybe I just hope that is the case so that I can give parents a false excuse for not caring what their child puts into their brain.  I feel better thinking that parents are dumb and naive and not just doing a lazy and terrible job of raising their children.  I want to believe that parents are just too busy to take the time to monitor what their kid is playing, instead of probably the true reason they let them play these games.

Parents are selfish.

I know this is true because I am a parent and I am also selfish.  I want my time to myself.  We have 3 kids at home and right now my wife and I do not get any time to do what WE want to do.  At home and when parents drop their kids at my video game center these “guardians” are just looking for a break from being a parent.

I understand the feeling and I am not saying that having your kids play video games so that you can get a break is wrong.   It is not even wrong to have them play for a few hours in my opinion.  However it is not right to allow them to be exposed to such things that are in some of these games just so you can have some “me” time.

So, should I carry this newest game in our stores and just put a heavy burden on the parents to be the ones that decide if their child is exposed to the filth found inside?  Will that leave me a clear conscience?  I doubt it.

Seven Xbox 360 Kinect Playing Tips and Tricks from the Number One #1 Kinect Player in the World

I love the Kinect and have been playing it non-stop for years now.  I don’t have any plans of stopping and I get very frustrated when I hear that people “hate” games on the Kinect.  Unless you are just extremely lazy there is no reason to not give the Kinect a chance.  I don’t want a bad experience to turn you off from a great option for gamers getting off their behinds and being active.  As the #1 Kinect player in the world and also playing in multiple environments I thought it might be helpful to create a list with things that have made my Kinect experience so successful.

  • First of all, it is worth spending some time moving some furniture around for your Kinect session(s). At my house and at the store I have the sensor on top of 52″ televisions (size of the TV doesn’t matter) and directly at my eyesight level (on top of the TV).  I have played with the sensors below the TV and it SUCKS TERRIBLE.  If you are ever playing with a sensor below the TV you will NOT have as good of a time.
  • Secondly make sure you are about 8-10 feet away from the screen. This might seem like a chore in smaller spaces, but the trick is that you can put your TV in the corner of the room facing out diagonally. I did that in our house and it made a huge difference. The farther from the TV the better, but honestly at the store when you get past 10 feet away the sensor also gets mad, so the perfect range seems to be between 8 and 10 feet.
  • Lighting is the third VERY important set-up. I have actually messed with this A TON at work, moving the florescent lights around the room and found that the light sources need to be above and in front of you. At home I have can lights in the ceiling in the corner of the room above the TV and that will be the only lights I have on in the room when I want the perfect experience. If you have to, move a desk lamp up on a desk or something and point it at you like a spot light, or two desk lamps. Having lights off behind you seems to also help a ton.
  • I almost always reset the tracking on the sensor when I start a game. For some reason many times the sensor either A) Decides to cut off right above my head and arm motions above me are not seen or B) It cuts off my feet at the knee and it can’t see my feet movement correctly. When you start go to the Kinect guide, let it “adjust tracking” on its own (which never seems to work), then choose to adjust tracking manually. Move the sensor up/down until you can see at least 1 foot above your head and a bit below your feet. When the sensor is at eye level it will seem like it is pointing down more than it should, but you can watch your image as you adjust it and it will be obvious when you get it positioned correctly.
  • Dress for success. Believe it or not it matters quite a bit getting the sensor to see all of your body correctly. The biggest thing I have found is to wear white socks, no socks or white shoes. When I wear black shoes or black socks the sensor seems to loose track of my feet quite a bit. Now it could just be that I have darker floors so in the rare case that you have white floors, I would assume that darker shoes would be better. Also the same goes for the rest of your clothing. If you are in front of a dark couch, wear lighter clothes. If you are in front of a light colored wall wear darker clothing.
  • Stand on a blanket.  This isn’t necessary if you have a solid color floor, but at home I have a patterned rug in our living room where the Kinect is played and on some occasions I find the sensor won’t read my feet correctly.  I put a solid colored blanket down and all is better again.  It also is nice when you are playing at night to dampen the sound of you jumping around the house when the kids are asleep. 🙂
  • The final tip is more of an observation of sorts. After all of the Kinect I have played, the trick is not necessarily figuring out what to do by following instructions in the game. The trick is figuring out what you can do with your body to get the Kinect to see what it wants to see.  Sometimes figuring out how to get a motion of your body to register correctly on the screen is the game, not the game itself.  I have done bizarre stuff facing an opposite direction, taking my shirt off, tucking in my shirt, pulled my shorts up to my chest, standing on a chair, etc.

Some of these might seem irrelevant, but I can assure you that each item above needs to be addressed if you want to play Kinect games and have fun.  Sure, not every game works perfectly and you might run into some that are just bad games.  Don’t blame the Kinect itself and don’t group all Kinect games together if you have one or two bad gaming sessions.  The Kinect is awesome and I am standing by it to the end! 🙂

Video Game Sound at LAN Centers

A recent conversation with Will Wilhem from Quantum X game center about headsets really got me thinking about how we have struggled over the years trying to find the perfect solution.   A quick search of “headsets” on iGames forums had 741 matches while a search for “game sound” found 544 posts.  I want to take a walk through some of the options we have used at eBash over the years and the positive and negatives that come along with each option.

The Sound Dome from Brown Innovations

I do want to mention that many centers take advantage of renting out headsets to cover the cost of maintenance and upkeep.  Probably the pioneer of this type of policy was the guys out at Euphnet in Sunnyvale, CA.

First let’s look at PC Gaming sound.  Obviously I don’t think I have EVER heard of anyone that uses external speakers instead of headsets except for Netheads in Indianapolis, IN.  They use a very expensive product similar to the picture shown on the right made by Brown Innovations.  99.99999% of other centers (yes, I made up that percentage) use headsets of some kind for sound when it comes to PC gaming.

PC Headsets
This is probably the most commonly used option at LAN centers because a headset integrates the microphone with the speakers.  For me this is our #1 broken item/complaint in the store because it seems no matter how durable a headset appears, customers will find a way to break them.  We have tried many products over the years ranging from inexpensive to moderately expensive.  Currently the $6/pair behind the head models that have detachable microphones is what we are using at eBash (similar to THESE) and seems to hold up just as long and doesn’t make my blood boil when I find a pair that has been broken.

We went through a period where we tried many different products at a higher price level for a few different reasons.  Originally eDimensional stepped up with a deal for iGames members which put their $100 retail headsets in the LAN centers for only $50 each (I think they were 6 headsets in a box for $300).  We tried out a couple cases and of course had some sets broken.  They replaced some initially and probably would have kept replacing them but it became tiresome.

Next we struck a deal with Turtle Beach to put both their Xbox headsets and PC headsets in our stores when we opened our 3rd location in Bloomington, IN.  I worked out a deal directly with their promotions group to buy the headsets at a significant discount in non-retail packaging.  We actually stocked the brand new store in Bloomington with 100% Turtle Beach headsets throughout.  Honestly the PC headsets held up pretty good but our frustration with the Xbox headsets led us to look for other solutions.

Probably the best deal we have seen yet on the PC side was the one provided by Creative that had them match our purchases 1-1 with free units to use in the store.  We didn’t like their behind-the-head style as they seemed to break easy but their Fatal1ty version was really nice except they hurt a bit when you wear them more than a few hours at a time.

Console Loudspeaker Sound
I am going to talk about my experience with chairs soon so I don’t want to talk too much about sound through gaming chairs.  However those are by far my favorite option for external sound if you aren’t wearing headsets.  There are a few other options for loudspeaker sound that I want to touch on and I will save the chair sound for a later blog.

TV sound is probably the most common for console sound.  This isn’t bad at all, just a bit common since that is probably how the average gamer (not diehard) plays at home.  Our first store had 27″ CRT TVs that sat on top of plywood boxes we built and each player just controlled their sound through the TV speakers.  The major problem with sound out loud is that each player begins the “volume war” to turn their system just a bit louder to hear it over the others around them.  Next thing you know the room is full of TVs blaring out at 90% of their total sound level.

Bose Companion 2 Speaker System

In our current tournament rooms we have our XBox 360 systems running on VGA cables to 22″ Samsung monitors.  This forced us to come up with a 3rd party sound option as the monitors do not have built-in sound.  (*** Side note *** Most monitors I have tested with built-in sound is terrible anyway, so you might as well plan on external sound)  We tried the Turtle Beach headsets which I will discuss more below but the longest standing solution is the Bose sound system pictured on the left that we buy at Sam’s Club.  These little babies can really pump out the sound and make for some REALLY noisy rooms.  However they have a headphone jack right on the front and they are simple with just a power cord, volume knob on the front and RCA inputs.  By my count we have 24 sets of these still running at our Terre Haute store.

Console Headset Sound
This has to be the biggest area of headaches for our center when it comes to maintenance and upkeep.  I have yet to find a great solution but I do feel like we have come up with some good solutions so far.  The first thing we have done for 3-4 years now is simply rent out the cheap Microsoft voice headsets (that come with a new 360 or you can buy wholesale for around $10) .  We just rent them for $1 and after they are used 40 or 50 times we have to pitch them and buy new ones.  Gamers using TV sound, gaming chair sound or Bose Speaker system sound will all rent these so they can talk online.

I feel like that is the generic solution but after that honestly nothing is much better when it comes to LAN center solutions.  Sure there are tons of other headset manufacturers that combine game sound and chat for Xbox 360 and (sometimes) PS3 but the cost of those units sure make it hard to swallow when a cord gets caught around a chair and torn in half.

To defend each of the manufacturers I do want to point out that Microsoft really screwed the pooch when it comes to their chat/voice set-up.  Instead of just letting something work that plugs into the console they make you plug into the controller which adds more cables to get in the way.  Most of the headsets are made so that a person on a couch can use their headset for the TV across the room so when it comes to a LAN center you don’t really want wireless for theft reasons NOR do you want 25 foot cables since the players are sitting right next to the screens.

Here are a few options we have tried:

Turtle Beach – These are just not built for the long haul from what we have experienced.  The plastic breaks, the cords get pulled out and the microphone booms get broken off.  Not to mention adapters get moved around and lost and the units just feel very light and dainty.

The Tritton AX720 sell for around $130 and are an expensive option.

Tritton – We are currently using 6 of these in a room that we charge a premium to experience.  This has made customers realize the value of the equipment and I honestly think they are more careful in the room.  Secondly by charging for the room the cheaper customers just steer clear and the room is used probably 50% less.  That leads to the only problem which is that the room generates less profit than the other rooms in our center.

Astro – Honestly I have never used a pair of these yet.  Guys bring them to the store and spend 15 minutes hooking up all of the wires and players ooohhh and aahhhhh over their “ultimate pro gamer” experience but for a game center there is no way in the world I can drop $250 headsets at each station and feel good about it.  Maybe if I was reselling the units and could get them to set-up a room for the store it would work but if I am shelling out my cash I will stick with the less expensive options.

In the end each game center has an opinion on what works best for them.  The sad thing is that there is no real consensus on the best option even for the groups that will agree on headset vs. external sound.   I am somewhat motivated to start testing out products specifically for LAN center use.   Hmm… maybe testing new products each week can become a regular feature.

What’s New @ eBash: 3D Gaming!

A week before Shawn and I were going to take back over the Terre Haute eBash store the employees made a list on the white board of the items they want to tackle to re-energize the store.  Shortly after Shawn sent me a Gtalk message that he had another item to add to the list.    He told me it was something that no one had thought about or mentioned yet.  Being the over-confident and hard-headed individual that I am of course I told him that there was nothing I hadn’t thought about.  He then said “3D” and linked me to the Sony Bravia at Best Buy that you see in the picture below.

Admitting that I had never considered 3D for eBash was my first step towards recovery.  “Hi, my name is Zack and I am a 3D doubter” could have easily been my AA greeting at the time.  Seriously who wants to try and wear those goofy red and blue glasses while they are playing a game.  My first experience with 3D gaming was during a showcase a few years ago with iZ3D and the glasses were uncomfortable and after playing for an hour or more I would get a headache. (author note:  since then iZ3D has released all sorts of new products and this is by no means a valid opinion on current iZ3D models)

The Sony Bravia KDL-46HX800 46" 3D/LED/LCD/HDTV just needs one more acronym for Yahtzee.

Just to clarify we are not talking about the “3D” movies and games that you can buy at the store and watch/play on your normal TV.  Those just draw a set of red and blue lines on the screen that create the effect for your eyes when you wear the red and blue tinted glasses.  The tint alternating on either eye makes you see the images in a slightly different view giving them “depth”.

Here is a great description of the new technology taken from the Best Buy listing for the Bravia TV:

“3D-ready HDTVs use active shutter glasses and they will only work with the HDTVs they are intended for. For example, a pair of Samsung 3D glasses will only work with a Samsung 3D-ready HDTV.

The glasses run on batteries and sync up with the HDTV through either an infrared or Bluetooth signal. After a certain number of hours, the glasses for some HDTVs can be recharged through a USB connection, while others will need to have their batteries replaced.

As a 3D movie is playing, one frame on the screen will display content only for your left eye, and alternately one frame will display content only for your right eye. Your brain will then combine these two images into one, forming the depth we associate with 3D. Amazingly, within one second, the screen will produce 120 or 240 alternating frames, depending on the HDTV (60 or 120 for your left eye and 60 or 120 for your right).”

Needless to say I was intrigued by the concept.  Those of you that know Shawn realize when we are at this point of research and things have intrigued us then you might as well stand back and get out of his way.  Within a day he was at Best Buy trying out the glasses and watching 3D movies on the Bravia system.  The problem was that they didn’t have any games to try in the store and so far only the PS3 makes 3D capable games.

While I was working with fifty-four 3rd through 5th graders at camp last week I had an email arrive on my Droid from Shawn telling me the TV was ordered and should arrive by the end of the week.  He also had fired up his PS3 and started downloading the 4 games that were 3D ready.  At least with the purchase of the Sony Bravia you also get a code to download the games all for free.

This system is not for the faint of heart (or wallet).  If you use the link on the image above to see the Best Buy listing take a quick glance over at the accessories page.  The TV itself is $2500 for a 46″ and then you can just keep adding to the cost.  Sensor bar… $49.99.  3D Glasses…. $149.99.  3D capable HDMI cable….$79.99.   Add to that the cost of a PS3 and easily you have spent nearly $3500 for a 4 person system to watch movies and play games.

I want to make sure that everyone does realize that the glasses are $149.99.  They have batteries inside and work in harmony with the sensor bar that is mounted on top of the TV almost like the Wii motion sensor.  Remember these are “active shutter glasses” meaning the glasses themselves open and close the lens hundreds of times per second.  We have to be very careful renting these out in the store so that kids are not left alone with a pair!

Most of the employees have played on the system for a few hours now.  However let me highlight a few things I have observed by watching both the employees’ and other customers’ experience with the system.  There are three full games available: Pain, Wipeout HD and Super Stardust HD.  There is also one track demo available in 3D for Motorstorm Pacific Rift.

Games still have to be fun. First of all everyone’s favorite 3D game varies just like normal games.  Shawn and Tucker really enjoy playing Super Stardust HD while Zander and Courtney enjoy playing Pain.  The funny thing is that Zander has now played about 10 hours of Pain and at one point he just asked for the 3D to be turned off.  He was “wowed” by the 3D experience to start but then didn’t really care if the image was 3D or not.  Most people that try Wipeout 3D just play one track and then move onto one of the other games.

Cartoon-style games not as bright. I love racing games and almost blew a gasket when I played the Motorstorm Pacific Rift demo track.  That is the first game I had my brother Andy and my close friend Chad try out when giving them the demo.  It is really the best for putting a true HD environment into a 3D perspective.  However with a game like Pain that is a brightly colored cartoon-style game the colors are really lost when switching to 3D.  That is one reason why I think Zander prefers to play that game without 3D on so the colors are more sharp and bright.

3D in full 1080p is amazing. Playing the Motorstorm game really gave me a new sense on where 3D can take us in the future.  I am not sure how to describe it here that does it justice.  I can tell it is sweet when observing other people who are watching or playing the game while wearing the glasses.  The grass and trees are dimensional.  The other vehicles and dust seems to be all around you.  It is very easy to lose yourself in the game and environment.

A crowd draws a crowd. If no one is playing the TV it doesn’t draw much attention.  However as soon as one person is playing a small crowd will start to form around them.  Everyone wants to put on the glasses and watch.  There are usually a ton of oooohhhs and ahhhhhhs from the spectators around who have glasses.  The funny thing is that some people just stand and watch without glasses.  This new technology is not nearly as blurry as the old red/blue 3D images without the glasses on.

I am very anxious to start trying out other genres (Killzone 3 is going to be full 3D!) but just the one free trial track in Motorstorm was enough to turn me from a doubter into a believer.  I hate to jump on the bandwagon after being such a hater but it does seem like 3D is the next step for gaming.  I still have never climbed on the Wii bandwagon and think it is more of a gimmick than gaming but you can’t ignore the sales numbers for their systems or their games.

If you are close enough to eBash then come down to try it out and let me know what you think!