Blake Snow

writer-for-hire, content guy, bestselling author

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal
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Tagged GamePro

Published Works: Fox News, GamePro, Venture Beat, Kotaku

Excluding blog posts and short news articles:

Published works: March 2009

Excluding short news articles and blog posts:

GamePro news articles written by me

Whoever said video games are recession proof is a turd. I know because my GamePro invoicing and contributions were drastically cut two weeks ago as the outlet readies for the great advertising scare and depression apocalypse of 2009. It was the right thing for the company to do in an effort to stay lean, even if freelancers like myself and lowly employees suffer as a result.

In any case, I will no longer serve as news editor for the publication, something I’ve greatly enjoyed since taking the helm in July 2007. Instead, I will remain an editor at large, helping to expand the coverage of GamePro’s subsidiary sites. I will continue responding to “letters to the editor” along with the occasional game review and preview, but for the time being, I will no longer be writing news.

During my tenure as news editor, I wrote more than 1,000 news articles (a partial list which can be found here) and oversaw 2,000 published works. I also scooped some original stories, got cited in CNN, planned coverage for a team of three reporters, and edited lots of copy. For any interested, click to your hearts content, and let me know if any media outlets are looking for wordsmiths (wink, wink).

GamePro: Take This Job (and love it!)

In the early 80s, video game programmers did all the work: sprite design, writing, music — you name it. Often times, one or two people was all it took to develop a hit.

But these days, hundreds of programmers, artists, and designers work together to create our favorite games. Here’s a handy explanation of some of the most common jobs held inside a game studio.

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GamePro: The trouble with review scores

Review scores are too complex. What began as a useful tool for players to compare and prioritize games has now become a confusing, lopsided, and political mess.

Consider score explanation guides, which often appear in magazines and review sites to interpret what should be easily understood: is a game any good? Furthermore, “average” games routinely score in the 80th percentile now, and the credibility of ratings are compromised when sly publishers allegedly work the system in exchange for favorable reviews (see also: Jeff Gerstmann).

So what’s a gamer to do? Should scores in reviews be thrown out altogether?

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GamePro: Review, Xbox 360 a good deal at $199

Ever since launch, the Xbox 360 core model without hard drive has largely been written off by gamers — and rightfully so. It lacks many of the attractive advantages of its older brothers, not to mention value for what’s included in the box. (Most core models can’t even save games without separate purchase!)

But all that’s about to change with the upcoming $80 price cut of the latest Arcade bundle (September 7, according to retailers), which includes a matte white system, wireless controller, and a 256 MB memory card for saving games and playing online.

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GamePro: The 8 Most Powerful Video Game Studios

Most gamers are familiar with big name publishers like Electronic Arts, Activision, and Sega. But what about the development studios themselves? You know, the ones that actually make the games, not just distribute them. Behold! Here are eight of the most important ones, in terms of multiple hits, present impact, and cash money.

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GamePro: The Most Anticipated Games of E3 2008

With only a week to go, we profile the 25 most-promising titles expected this year.

We’ve polled our editorial team, scoured the internet, and given special attention to original efforts to develop the following list of 25 games, all of which has us giddy with the prospects. So with exception to unknown announcements, you can confidently count on these babies to be shown this year… and hopefully playable.

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GamePro: 5 band-centric Guitar Hero games that would rock

Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, launching June 29, isn’t just a collection of songs grouped together by artist for a stand-alone rhythm game. It’s sort of like Behind The Music in interactive form, letting players vicariously relive Aerosmith’s 30 year performance history in near-chronological order, from high school to international stardom.

So based on mega-platinum sales on multiple occasions (read: broad appeal), a storied history, and anthemic riffs, here are the top five bands we’d like to see in their own Guitar Hero games.

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GamePro: The 8 Most Promising Non-Sequels of 2008

2008 may end up being the year of the sequel. Just listen to this lineup of high-profile follow-ups: Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Grand Theft Auto IV, Ninja Gaiden 2, StarCraft 2, Fallout 3, Metal Gear Solid 4, Resident Evil 5, Mario Kart Wii, Guitar Hero 4, Resistance 2, Gears of War 2, and Call of Duty 5. Hopefully these games warrant their existence, and we’re confident many will.

But what about new games, the ones that lead not just follow? Marketing types call them “original IPs;” we call them risk-takers. So in an effort to applaud their individuality, we profile the most promising ones for the rest of the year, based on first-impressions, breakout potential, and pedigree. A handful of titles are based on existing themes and ideas, but their creative spirit should not be overlooked.

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GamePro: Which controller has the best battery life?

Ever wonder which controller has the best battery life? If so, you’re in the right place. Over the last month, we juxtaposed Xbox 360, Wii, and PS3 controllers at GamePro Towers to find out which ones go the distance. Though our research is far from scientific, we isolated all obvious variables, rigorously documented our findings, and worked in an uncontaminated testing environment for optimal significance.

For our tests, we cleaved to the following criteria: We only used out-of-the box hardware — that means no charger packs for 360 and Wii, which must be purchased separately. We played a wide variety of games on each console, including lengthy single-player adventures and shallow downloadable games, both online and off. We played for varying time intervals, from fifteen minutes to upwards of eight hours (Hello weekends!). We used Duracell CopperTops for 360 and Wii testing. And we deemed all battery(s) dead after attempting to reconnect the controller for a third consecutive time. Behold, the results:

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GamePro: The truth behind doctored screenshots

In December of 2007, game developer Guerrilla Games admitted to altering newly released Killzone 2 screenshots in order to make them look more attractive. “There are only the tiniest bit touched up,” said the company’s QA manager, Seb Downie, in a reply to savvy gamers who noticed discrepancies when compared to actual gameplay footage. “There was a little bit of color-correction done and some minor polish, but nothing major,” he maintained.

Indeed, the advertised screenshot was hardly a radical improvement over its in-game counterpart. But it wasn’t the first time Guerrilla Games had altered the game’s appearance, either. Killzone 2’s debut trailer, shown in 2005, looked a lot more glamorous than it did two years later when proper gameplay was shown at E3. And who can forget EA’s exaggerated 2005 promo for its next-gen Madden? The screenshots looked superb, but the actual gameplay looked glaringly inferior when it was released later that year.
The Proof is in the Pudding

Faked, enhanced, or otherwise augmented screenshots are commonly called “bullshots.” Their intent is to make a game look more appealing than it actually is, and their occurrence has largely existed since video games were first commercialized. So are bullshots misleading or just good marketing?

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GamePro: The best holiday games you’ve never heard of

We’re betting you already have an ample supply of choice games to play this Christmas given the recent glut of releases. But that doesn’t mean the following titles aren’t deserving of your attention. Afflicted by a lack of advertising, an unfamiliar name, or just taking a back seat to Halo and Mario, these unsung holiday games should be on your radar — if not your game shelf.

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GamePro: The Wii won, but for how long?

To fade or not to fade, that is the question.

Fact: Nintendo’s Wii is on track to outsell Sony’s record-setting PS2 at 115 million units sold. That’s according to comparative NPD sales data for both systems. No other console has sold faster in its first eight months of availability than the Wii.

Despite its undisputed initial success, however, several industry pundits remain unconvinced. “The Wii will fade,” they say, suggesting that the machine’s novel motion-controls and antiquated graphics will soon cause the system to wane in popularity.

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GamePro: Are $60 games here to stay?

The conventional “rise in development cost” argument doesn’t always add up — here’s why.

When Microsoft released the Xbox 360 on November 22, 2005, it marked the first time that console gamers would be treated to high-definition graphics in all their detailed glory. It also marked the beginning of an era where major game publishers would impose a $10 next-gen tax — $60 per game instead of the usual $50.

Rumblings of a price increase for video games began in 2004 as publishers non-exclusively decided that a $10 price hike would help offset the rise in production costs as more and more money was being spent on big budget games. The move, in theory, would help mitigate the high risk of releasing video games. Microsoft and Sony obliged with the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), but interestingly not everyone got on board.

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GamePro: Top 10 games deserving of a remake

Outdated visuals suck. Enter the high-resolution remake; an effective way to revitalize and modernize classic gameplay for a new generation of gamers or for those wanting to experience a favorite for the second time. For a good example of what we’re talking about, think of Super Contra on Xbox Live Arcade or even New Super Mario Bros. on the DS.

Due to their enduring levels and game design, these are the games that would most benefit from high definition graphics, updated sound, and extra content.

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GamePro: Timeline of Japanese contributions to video games

As the Tokyo Game Show comes to a close, we pay homage to the major gaming contributions wrought in Japan with a nifty time line spanning more than a century.

1889 – Nintendo is formed in late September by Fusajiro Yamauchi to produce handmade hanafuda cards which are used for several popular Japanese games. Over the years the company will transform into one of the most powerful and influential video game companies in the world.

1941 – Gunpei Yokoi is born. His ingenuity in creating a mechanical arm for his own enjoyment while on the job would later inspire Nintendo authoritarian president Hiroshi Yamauchi to extend Nintendo’s business beyond that of playing cards. Yokoi would go one to design Metroid and the Game Boy before dying in a car crash in 1997.

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GamePro: Interview, Jaffe to play on Sony team ‘for a long-time’

We sit down with famed God of War creator David Jaffe and Twisted Metal mastermind Scott Campbell at their new Salt Lake City studios to discuss the PS3 (not to mention PS4, and PS5), review scores, God of War sequels, casual games, and the current state of the industry. While Jaffe is now independent, his loyalties still remain with Sony.

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GamePro: The 10 worst-selling consoles of all time

Be it a lack of games, poor strategy, or inadequate marketing, a majority of video game consoles are commercial failures. Here are the 10 worst selling consoles of all time in terms of high-profile systems that stood a viable chance. Other lesser-known consoles are sure to have sold worse, but the below represent the notable platforms that never met expectations.

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GamePro: Video Game Journalism Demystified

Game journalism sometimes gets a bad rap, but many of the worst accusations aren’t based in reality. Here are eight of the most popular myths about game reporting…and what really happens behind the scenes.

8. Video game journalists aren’t as responsible as traditional media.

Conventional wisdom suggests that most gaming journalists are uninspired, inconsistent, overly sensationalistic, or even fail to fact check before running a story. While some outlets are more irresponsible than others, this isn’t the case across the board. Game journalism didn’t get where it is today by being inaccurate and irresponsible. Additionally, widespread video game coverage has existed no longer than 20 years since the late 80s. While the media is anything but nascent, it still has its growing pains. Was the mainstream media as reliable as they are today? Not likely. This same is true of video game journalists.

The Verdict: It depends on the publication and the reporter, but more often than not, game journalists are right up there with most media in terms of credibility.

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GamePro: The Best (and Worst) Video Game Commercials

More than 5,000 video game commercials can be found on Game Ad’s online archive. That’s a lot of ads. Sadly, a majority of them aren’t worth your time, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to hand pick the best using only the finest ingredients; humor, creativity, cachet and a hint of nostalgia. Peep ’em. They’re the best video game commercials of all-time:

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GamePro: The 11 Worst Trends in Video Games

Definition: Trend (n.) – the general course or prevailing tendency. A leaning towards, a fad, a novelty.

So why do trends exist? Because they are familiar, they enable standards, and they just make life easier. In the case of video games, trends help companies maximize sales while reducing costs because gamers will purchase what they are accustomed to. But easier isn’t always better. Here are eleven reasons why:

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GamePro: 7 Ways to Turn Around the PlayStation 3

You could view the current situation of the PS3 in one of two ways; either everything is going as planned and the geniuses at Sony are gifted with insane amounts of foresight, or things could be better. Being that Sony appears a little bit, shall we say, defensive about the whole ordeal, we suspect the latter. So assuming Sony still wants to appeal to the mass market, here are seven ways the company can turnaround the PS3 in the shortest amount of time. Behold our armchair quarterback skills!

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GamePro: The Toughest Job in Video Games

However justified, Sony has been fiercely criticized for both its approach and management of the PlayStation 3 to this point. The company just posted its biggest quarterly loss in four years shortly after dealing with several public relation mishaps related to the PS3. Just listen to these colorful quotes by former PlayStation boss Ken Kutaragi when describing the PS3: “It’s probably too cheap,” “It’s 4D,” and “[We want] consumers to think… ‘I will work more hours to buy one.'”

Not very endearing, huh? So who’s in charge of helping gamers see beyond such rogue statements? None other than Sony’s senior director of corporate communications, Dave Karraker. Karraker, who is just eight months on the job, has perhaps the toughest job in video games; helping consumers regard the PS3 with as much esteem as the record-setting PS2 despite the former’s high price and somewhat slower start. We sit down with the man to ask how he’s coping with being the public face of Sony.

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GamePro: Predicting Next-Gen Console Sales With Last-Gen Numbers

You can learn a lot from the past. Gauging the current state of the console wars is no different; historical context can be enormously helpful. In this article, our goal is simple: to predict the commercial victors of the next-gen console war.

But how? Easy: by comparing the sales of the last-gen consoles — the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube — to the current crop of next-gen consoles using a concept called “sales velocity”. Sales velocity is just a fancy name for how fast (or slow) something sells over a period of time. In this case we’ll examine the launch numbers and examine the complete last-gen sales cycle. And even though the data is U.S. only, what bodes well here generally bodes well globally and vice-versa (with the occasional exception, such as the PC Engine’s monstrous success in Japan).

First up, Last-Gen Sales Velocity in terms of the first five months of launch:

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GamePro: 8 reasons the Xbox 360 Elite isn’t “elite”

On April 29, Microsoft will release their third flavor of 360 ice cream — the black Xbox 360 Elite. Let’s not be coy; the reason in adding a third, more expensive 360 is solely due to the existence of the $600 PS3. Since the inception of game consoles, prices have traditionally dropped with age, not increased. But If Sony can sell 3 million “supercomputers” in five months, why can’t Microsoft?

The Elite was largely criticized when it was announced last month and still is today. So at the dawning of its release, GamePro presents eight reasons why the Xbox 360 version 2.0 is anything but elite.

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GamePro: The Real Reason Behind Game Delays

Game development, like any software development, is an immensely intricate process. Given its temperamental nature, delays are inevitable — it just comes with the territory. Sometimes, game developers delay a game’s release in order to enhance the gameplay or polish the presentation, frustrating original release dates in the process.

“Typically, development teams delay games because they want to add an extra feature or spend more time on a specific aspect to get it just right,” says Dave Karraker, senior director of communications at Sony Computer Entertainment of America. “You need to remember that at the end of the day, the developer is truly an artist and their name is on that final product,” Karraker continues. “They will take every opportunity to get just a little more time to make the game as great as it possibly can be.”

But even though quality is a major reason for game delays, it’s far from the only reason. “Delays occur for both strategic and quality reasons,” says analyst Michael Pachter. Contrary to what you may think, publishers are just as as likely to delay a game for strategic reasons as they are quality ones.

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