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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

June 2, 2009 at 4:48 PM

E3: Avatars, start your engines

LOS ANGELES — There’s a Starbucks vs. Tully’s — or McDonald’s vs. Burger King — thing going on with Microsoft and Sony.

At least when it comes to the “social” online racing games they unveiled this week at E3.

On Monday, Microsoft announced “Joy Ride,” a free, downloadable Xbox racing game available this winter. The game is designed to engage players by letting them customize their avatars and vehicles. Then they can race others via Xbox Live, and share upgraded tracks they’ve purchased with friends.

The game was actually built by Big Park, a Vancouver, B.C., studio that Microsoft bought last month.

Then on Tuesday Sony announced “ModNation Racers,” an online social racing game coming to the PlayStation3 next year. Players can customize their avatars and vehicles and race together online via the PlayStation Network.

Sony’s new racer also comes from a Vancouver, B.C, studio — United Front Games.

Sony’s racer won’t be free, and it looks like a slightly more serious and intense racing game. It also lets players share tracks they’ve built, rather than bought.

Sony and Microsoft probably aren’t copying each other as much they’re trying to emulate Nintendo’s “Mario Kart.” The “Super Mario Kart” version, by the way, was recently named “most influential video game in history” in the 2009 Guiness Book of World Records 2009 Gamer’s Edition, according to a Kotaku report.

Comments | More in | Topics: e3, E3, mario kart

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