Xbox 360 records a record 10 million consoles sold

Xbox 360 Elite console It seems that the Xbox 360 console is doing pretty well in EMEA with 10 million consoles sold, I would just love to know how much of the 10 million units sold can be attributed to South Africa.

The official press release follows:

Johannesburg- Xbox 360 announced that it had achieved console sales to 10 million consumers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in just four years. Reaching the landmark number has meant that Xbox 360 is the only console to achieve year-on-year growth across the region this year[1].

“Xbox 360 continues to pull ahead of the competition when it comes to delivering on a complete home entertainment experience,” said Martin Olausson, Director of Digital Media Research at Strategy Analytics. “By introducing innovative new services and content such as Natal, Xbox will likely attract a wider audience than its rivals and is in a great position to maximise sales in the next few years”.

2009 has been a pivotal year in Xbox’s journey from its gaming origins to now changing the way people consume and share entertainment content, interact with each other online and continue to play great games.

“Reinventing entertainment through play, watch, connect and share. This is the vision that we have for Xbox 360 and today that vision is the reality for 10 million Xbox owners. European consumers are very discerning and demand a connected entertainment experience. That’s why we focused on providing content that is right and relevant for them and entertainment beyond just gaming to movies, music and social networking. We have delivered on this promise and next week will bring real innovation into the living room through instant streaming high definition movies, connecting with friends on Facebook and Twitter and a personalised music channel. Together, this represents a real shift in the way people are entertained every day,” said Chris Lewis, vice president Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft Europe.

This reinvention of entertainment has already seen a shift in where the Xbox lives in the home, with the majority (60%) of Xbox’s now becoming integrated into the family living room. It has also caused a shift in Xbox’s customer base as now 35% of Xbox customers are women and 64% are over the age of 25[2]. The arrival of the much anticipated ‘Project Natal’ will create a new category of gaming and entertainment experiences through controller-free gaming that makes Xbox 360 more inclusive and relevant to an even wider audience.

[1] Xbox 360 remains the only console showing positive year-on-year growth in 2009 so far, both across EMEA as a whole and in each of the 5 main markets within the region (UK, FR, DE, ES, IT) – Microsoft estimates based on Gfk ChartTrack data

[2] April 2009 Microsoft Internal Research Study

Comztek is the new Xbox distributor for SA

Comztek logoIt was sad to see Mi Digital got through liquidation however its great that Comztek has been appointed the official distributor for South Africa. Comztek has been distributing most, if not all, Microsoft hardware for the last couple of years. Not sure if I like that they are exclusive as I believe competition in supply chains is the key to optimising the supply chain and service levels.

Here is the official press release:

15 September 2009, Johannesburg – Xbox South Africa has officially appointed Comztek as its exclusive distributor in South Africa. Having taken on the challenge of being an interim distributor following the news of Mi Digital’s liquidation, Comztek has exceeded expectations of managing the distribution for Xbox over the last three months.“We are encouraged with the service received so far, addressing our priority of ensuring continuity of supply into the local market. We are confident that Comztek will continue to effectively manage and indeed grow the business of Xbox console, first party software and accessory distribution in South Africa,” says Lance Thorp, country manager, Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft South Africa.

Powercare remains the service agency for Xbox 360 consoles and will continue to manage the Xbox Warranty process.  Contact number : 011 997 5000.

South African pricing for Guitar Hero 5, Band Hero and DJ Hero announced

Megarom, the South African distributor for the Guitar/Band and DJ Hero series of games has just announced the pricing. I’m keen to try my hand on DJ Hero especially with the special controller designed for the purpose.

My only complaint with all these music games is that you end up having to license the same track under multiple games. Already I’m seeing duplicates in my Rock Band and Guitar Hero set lists, now I’m gonna have even more duplicates.

Official press release follows:

FOURWAYS, SOUTH AFRICA – September 10th, 2009 – Megarom Interactive (Pty) Ltd., South Africa’s leading interactive video game importer and distributor, today announced the local pricing of Guitar Hero 5, Band Hero and DJ Hero.

Guitar Hero 5, the latest title in the Guitar Hero franchise, has been priced locally from R899.00 for the Guitar Bundle and from R399.00 for the Stand-Alone Software. The full pricing details are set out below. The game has also been dated for release on October 16th, 2009.

DJ Hero, one of the new IPs in the Hero franchise, allows gamers to experience the thrills of a DJ with a unique new controller and gameplay technique. This product is set to retail in South Africa from R899.00 which includes the peripheral and the software (full pricing details below). DJ Hero is slated for release in November.

Band Hero, another new IP in the Hero franchise, allows players to experience the band feeling with the best pop songs made up from all era’s. Band Hero has been priced locally from R2,299.00 for the Super Bundle and from R399.00 for the Stand-Alone Software (full pricing details below). Band Hero is also slated for release in November.

Full Pricing Details:

Guitar Hero 5 – Guitar Bundle (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii) – R999.00
Guitar Hero 5 – Guitar Bundle (PS2) – R899.00
Guitar Hero 5 – Stand-Alone Software (Xbox 360, PS3) – R599.00
Guitar Hero 5 – Stand-Alone Software (Wii) – R499.00
Guitar Hero 5 – Stand-Alone Software (PS2) – R399.00

DJ Hero – Bundle (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii) – R999.00
DJ Hero – Bundle (PS2) – R899.00

Band Hero – Super Bundle (Xbox 360, PS2, Wii) – R2,499.00
Band Hero – Super Bundle (PS2) – R2,299.00
Band Hero – Stand-Alone Software (Xbox 360, PS3) – R599.00
Band Hero – Stand-Alone Software (Wii) – R499.00
Band Hero – Stand-Alone Software (PS2) – R399.00

This Christmas you can truly party the way you want with the variety offered by Activision and Red Octane.

Xbox 360 Elite price drop in South Africa

Xbox 360 Elite consoleIn true Microsoft reactive form, Microsoft South Africa have announced a very significant price drop on the Xbox 360 Elite console featuring a 120GB hard drive. It has been reported in the US that Elite consoles no longer include the HDMI cable, I’m checking with Microsoft South Africa regarding this. What is important though is that the 60GB console is now being phased out simplifying the product line-up to the Arcade, Elite and themed consoles.

The official press release follows:

August 27, 2009 — Xbox 360 today invites you to experience more fun, more entertainment and more ways to connect with friends and family at an even better value. From August 28th 2009, the price of an Xbox 360 Elite console with 120GB hard drive will drop by R1 500 to R3 399 (ERP).

Xbox 360 puts all your entertainment in one place so you can play games and watch movies from your Xbox 360, and as announced earlier this year, the Xbox 360 bought today will work with code-named “Project Natal” and controller-free gaming in the future.

“With the Christmas season right around the corner, it’s already time to start looking for entertainment and gifts that everyone will enjoy,” said Chris Lewis, vice president Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft Europe. “We have a goal over the next 18 months to reinvent entertainment in the living room and we want to ensure that we have the right foundations in place for our consumers to make simple informed choices around their entertainment platform.  We know that price is a critical influencing factor in consumer choice, but we also know that consumers across Europe are looking for value, benefit and entertainment experiences, so we need to address all these points to continue to grow and be successful in Europe.”

Having an Xbox 360 at the centre of your living room provides entertainment for any occasion. Whether you’re a gamer playing single player or with your friends, you can enjoy hundreds of titles that fit your gaming style. Watch movies, interact with the friends and view photos in the comfort of your home.

Games for everyone. Families and friends can get together to build a famous foursome and relive the music of the Fab Four with “The Beatles: Rock Band.” For those who crave action, players can tear up the tracks of “Forza Motorsport 3”; jump back into the “Halo” universe as an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper in “Halo 3: ODST”; or deploy for combat with this year’s highly anticipated title from Infinity Ward, “Modern Warfare® 2,” the sequel to the best-selling first-person action game in history, “Call of Duty® 4: Modern Warfare.”

With all of these experiences available and the future addition of “Project Natal,” which will work with every Xbox 360 sold today and tomorrow, the Xbox 360 system provides more fun for less.

The price reduction on an Xbox 360 Elite coincides with a re-alignment in the Xbox console strategy across Europe, ensuring that at all price points Xbox 360 represents the best value for money in next generation gaming in each marketplace.  With the premium console of Xbox 360 Elite at a new price point of R3 399 aligned with R2 499 for Xbox 360 Arcade, the pricing structure provides clear choice, differentiation and value at both an entry and premium levels of Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 Pro with a 60GB hard drive will be phased out across South Africa.

So you’re stuck with a 20GB or 60GB console, the good news is that the retail stores should be stocking the 120GB hard drive accessory at around R1600. Note you can only use an original Xbox 360 hard drive on your console due to rights management. Transfer kits are available to help you transfer your content from your 20GB or 60GB hard drive to your new 120GB hard drive.

South African iPhone 3GS pricing

At long last I finally found some package pricing for the new Apple iPhone 3GS due to be launched by Vodacom in South Africa sometime around the end of July 2009 or early August. Thanks to my new jacked up service provider Cellucity for the information. Initially it seems only the white model will be available. Here are the prices I was sent.

  iPhone 3GS 16GB iPhone 3GS 32GB
Package Once-Off Financed Once-Off Financed
Talk 1000 0 999 49
Talk 500 3439 169 4579 229
Business, Talk 120 & 240 3439 169 4579 229
Talk 350s 3439 169 4579 229
Top Up 315, 315s, 300s & 500s 3669 179 4809 239
Top Up 590 3669 179 4809 239
Talk 75s 4239 209 5379 269
Weekender 4919 6059
iPhone 3GS Talk 500 1999 99 2999 149
iPhone 3GS Talk 120 & 240 2999 149 3999 199
iPhone 3GS Weekender 4199 5199

All prices are subject to a 24 month contract and excludes the monthly contract fees.

Apparently the iPHONE 3GS TALK packages will include an SMS and Data bundle which explains why the once-off payments are higher than the respective TALK packages. Personally I can’t wait to get my new iPhone 3GS.

How to fix the FTP service in Windows

Recently I found something rather irritating with regards to Windows Server 2003 and 2008. I noticed that FTP connections didn’t work properly when the FTP client is behind a firewall that is really restrictive. Now typically this wouldn’t be an issue for most people but I like to keep my corporate firewalls secure with specific outgoing connection rules. As a result all FTP client connections normally use passive (PASV) mode hence not requiring the server to connect back to the client and avoiding all the associated NAT (network address translation) headaches.

Anyway, recently I found a problem connecting as an FTP client to some of our customer servers as well as the new SA Developer .NET server. Using my favourite Windows FTP client, FileZilla, I was noticing the connections stall on the LIST command as follows:

 Failure to retrieve the directory listing

Its been puzzling me for a while so I started digging around and found that if the Windows Firewall was enabled on the server then connections would fail even though the firewall specifically had a rule defined to allow connections to the FTP service on TCP port 21. After some further hunting I found a really useful post that solved my problems. Open up a Command Prompt (as an Administrator of course) and type in the following:

netsh advfirewall set global StatefulFtp enable

All of a sudden all of my FTP transfer issues were gone. Its definitely a much better alternative to disabling the Windows Firewall on a server.

Guitar Hero 5 Band List

Guitar Hero 5 Megarom has released a press release today with the band list that will be appearing in Guitar Hero 5 which is due for release in September 2009. It must be noted, that this is the release following Guitar Hero Metallica and Guitar Hero Smash Hits.

Looking at the band list I’m excited to see Dire Straits and The White Stripes on there but I’m sure Guitar Hero will succeed in getting me hooked on new artists like Guitar Hero World Tour did. One of the best new features I think is the ability to play with multiple of the same instrument in the same band. So yeah now for example you can have four guitarists at the same time.

The original press release follows:

FOURWAYS SOUTH AFRICA – 4th June 2009 – Megarom Interactive (Pty) Ltd., one of South Africa’s leading interactive video game importers and distributors, today announced that with some of the biggest rock artists and most prolific bands of all time, Guitar Hero® 5 is tuned for the ultimate shredfest as players prepare to join together and rock any way they want, with any combination of instrument controllers. Guitar Hero 5 features the most diversified set list to date, comprised of songs from some of the hottest bands of today to all-time favorite classic anthems, with music from a variety of genres including hard rock, classic rock, indie rock, metal and more. Get ready to shred, drum and wail with any in-game instrument combination as Guitar Hero announces the full list of artists and bands that will be offering up some of their greatest works to living room rockers everywhere. The complete list of artists and bands to be featured in Guitar Hero 5 when it hits store shelves later this year will include songs from:

  • 3 Doors Down
  • A Perfect Circle
  • AFI
  • Attack! Attack!
  • Band Of Horses
  • Beastie Boys
  • Beck
  • Billy Idol
  • Billy Squier
  • Blink-182
  • Blur
  • Bob Dylan
  • Bon Jovi
  • Brand New
  • Bush
  • Children of Bodom
  • Coldplay
  • Darker My Love
  • Darkest Hour
  • David Bowie
  • Deep Purple
  • Dire Straits
  • Duran Duran
  • Eagles Of Death Metal
  • Elliott Smith
  • Elton John
  • Face to Face
  • Garbage
  • Gorillaz
  • Gov’t Mule
  • Grand Funk Railroad
  • Iggy Pop
  • Iron Maiden
  • Jeff Beck
  • Jimmy Eat World
  • John Mellencamp
  • Johnny Cash
  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • King Crimson
  • Kings Of Leon
  • Kiss
  • Love and Rockets
  • Megadeth
  • Mötley Crüe
  • Muse
  • My Morning Jacket
  • Nirvana
  • No Doubt
  • Peter Frampton
  • Public Enemy Featuring Zakk Wylde
  • Queen & David Bowie
  • Queens Of The Stone Age
  • Rammstein
  • Rose Hill Drive
  • Rush
  • Santana
  • Scars On Broadway
  • Screaming Trees
  • Smashing Pumpkins
  • Sonic Youth
  • Spacehog
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Sublime
  • Sunny Day Real Estate
  • T. Rex
  • The Bronx
  • The Derek Trucks Band
  • The Duke Spirit
  • The Killers
  • The Police
  • The Raconteurs
  • The Rolling Stones
  • The Sword
  • The White Stripes
  • Thin Lizzy
  • Thrice
  • Tom Petty
  • Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
  • TV On The Radio
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Weezer
  • Wild Cherry
  • Wolfmother

About Activision, Inc.
Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision, Inc. is a leading worldwide developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and leisure products. Activision maintains operations in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom,France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Scandinavia, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan and South Korea. More information about Activision and its products can be found on the company’s World Wide Web site, which is located at

About Megarom Interactive (Pty) Ltd.
Megarom Interactive (Pty) Ltd. is based in Fourways, Johannesburg, South Africa and is South Africa’s leading interactive video game importer and distributor. Megarom distributes PC, Playstation 2™, Playstation 3™, Xbox360™, PSP™, Nintendo Wii™ and Nintendo DS™, video games. Megarom was established in 1995. Megarom distributes interactive entertainment software to leading chain stores as well as independent stores nationwide.

Guitar Hero & Rock Band 2 – I’m addicted

Guitar Hero : World Tour Super Bundle (Xbox 360)When I bought Guitar Hero 2 a few years back I must say the game didn’t get much play time in my Xbox 360 console, I just figured that I was clueless and lacked the required coordination to succeed at playing a plastic guitar.

Then last year after seeing what Rock Band was like at the 2008 MVP Global Summit party, I decided to order Guitar Hero World Tour, the complete band pack. Why? I figured the drums would do it for me. As a result I found myself playing a whole lot more Guitar Hero. I put it down to the songs not the drum kit as now I’m playing guitar more often than drums.

What really makes Guitar Hero World Tour so great though is that more than two people can play at the same time which is really awesome as it brings in people that would typically not be interested in gaming. Yes its a social experience and it rocks!

Rock Band 2 (Xbox360)Rock Band Song Pack 2 (Xbox360)In March I visited Seattle again for the 2009 MVP Global Summit and once again got to see and this time even played some Rock Band 2. Unfortunately its not officially available in South Africa yet and there is no news from Electronic Arts when it will be. However our good friends at Evolution Games have been importing PAL copies in for the local gamers. The awesome thing is that all of the Guitar Hero controllers work with Rock Band 2. Stock is very limited right now so get your orders in quickly for Rock Band 2 (Xbox 360) for R699 and the Rock Band Song Pack 2 (Xbox 360) for R409.

You can easily order for Guitar Hero World Tour Standalone (Xbox 360) for R596 or the Guitar Hero World Tour Super Bundle Pack (Xbox 360) including wireless drums, a wired microphone and a wireless guitar for R2869.

New Xbox 360 bundle with Burnout Paradise and Trivial Pursuit

Xbox 360 bundle with Burnout Paradise City and Trivial PursuitMicrosoft South Africa has just announced a new Xbox 360 console bundle that ships with the popular racing title Burnout Paradise as well as a well-known board game Trivial Pursuit.

The official press release follows:

Johannesburg – 25th March, 2009 – Microsoft today announces a limited edition Xbox 360 bundle, featuring an Xbox 360 60GB Pro with two games from EA – Burnout Paradise The Ultimate Box and Hasbro-inspired TRIVIAL  PURSUIT.  Available in stores across South Africa from 1st April 2009, the bundle represents great value at an Estimated Retail Price (ERP) of R3, 799.00 a value add well in excess of approx. R800, 00.

Welcome to Paradise!

Burnout Paradise The Ultimate Box, the latest offering from the Burnout series thrusts the player into Paradise City, the ultimate driving playground set in a vast open-world that will push your driving and riding skills to the limit.  The Ultimate Box features all the additional game add-on content and updates released following the games launch, all on one disc.

Nothing Trivial About It

Since its official launch in 1982, Hasbro’s TRIVIAL PURSUIT game has tested the wits of families and friends across the globe.  The bundled Xbox 360 version now brings the party to the living room TV with dynamic visuals, new questions and question types.  Players can connect with friends in classic TRIVIAL PURSUIT mode, hone their knowledge with the single player mode, and gather their friends and bet on their brains with the high stakes mode where every answer counts.

“This bundle offers families a great opportunity to bring the exciting multimedia entertainment capabilities of the Xbox 360 into their homes,” said John Press, Product Marketing Manager – Entertainment and Devices, Microsoft South Africa. “At fantastic value for families looking to save money by staying in, this offers high quality home entertainment right out of the box.”

Shorewall restart on PPP link change

I’ve found great joy running a Shorewall firewall on a Linux box but I came across the problem that when the PPP interface for an ADSL, WiMAX or VPN link goes up or down, Shorewall needs to be restarted to take the new IP address assignments into account. To this solve this problem I’ve written a few scripts to make it all work nicely for South African users.

Firstly put the following two scripts in the /usr/bin directory (or any directory of your choice):

/usr/bin/ (chmod u+x):

set –e
set –u
set -o noclobber
if [ ! -r $RESTART_NEEDED ]; then
    date > $RESTART_NEEDED 2>&1

/usr/bin/ (chmod u+x):


set -e
set -u


# The restart needed flag is put in place by the ip up/down scripts.  If
# it doesn’t exist or is older than the shorewall restart flag file, we
# don’t need to do anything.
if [ ! -r $RESTART_NEEDED ]; then
    exit 0
if [ -r $RESTARTING ]; then
    exit 0
    exit 0

# Make a mutex – should exit the script if this file already exists,
# due to the combination of the set -e and noclobber options.
set -o noclobber
echo "$$: `date`" >$RESTARTING

## We only remove the $RESTART_NEEDED if the restart succeeds.
#if /sbin/shorewall restart >/dev/null 2>&1; then
#    rm -f $RESTARTING
#    rm -f $RESTART_NEEDED
#    rm -f $RESTARTING

# Remove the $RESTART_NEEDED and replace if failure.
if /sbin/shorewall restart >/dev/null 2>&1; then
    rm -f $RESTARTING
    rm -f $RESTARTING
    if [ ! -r $RESTARTING ]; then
        echo "$$: `date`" >$RESTART_NEEDED

Then symbolic link the script in the /etc/ppp/ip-up.d/ and /etc/ppp-ip-down.d/ directories so that the firewall gets restarted when a PPP interface goes up or down:

ln -s /usr/bin/ /etc/ppp/ip-up.d/shorewall-flag-restart
ln -s /usr/bin/ /etc/ppp/ip-down.d/shorewall-flag-restart

Then schedule cron to check for the restart flag every minute:


*/1 * * * * root  [ -x /usr/bin/ ] && /usr/bin/ >/dev/null

These scripts were developed and tested on a Debian system. If anyone has any improvements or recommendations I’d appreciate to hear from you.