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What’s In Your Console?

. . . Without a Paddle


My immediate thoughts on the announcement that Sony is refusing to bring a price drop to the PlayStation Vita during calender year 2012. I think Sony’s problem is, and I think many Sony fans’ problem is, they are all making the mistake of thinking that the Vita is competing against the 3DS. And maybe, just maybe for the 10% to 15% of gamers who represent core gamers, this is true. But for the majority of gamers on the planet, the 3DS is not the main competitor keeping them from purchasing a Vita. The main competitor is iPhone, and Android, and possibly even soon the Win8, WinRT, and WP8 family of devices (especially if rumors are true that the Surface is going to retail for $199). Twice before I have written about this at length, in both cases before the Vita had even launched. The most recent being, The Same Boat, which I posted seven months ago. And in both cases I have been so spot on the money, that it is eerily insane that I can see something so obvious, but the people at Sony who get paid millions to steer the company in the right direction, cannot.

For crying out loud, you cannot even go a week around the net without reading a news article about how even major developers are jumping ship from traditional game development, to focus on the greener pastures that make up the mobile gaming space. There are signs everywhere of a huge shift that is currently happening to the games industry – and the portable games business is being hit with this shift hard. And soon enough, even the console business will be hit with the same shift, and must adapt, or die. And so long as SCE continues to fail acknowledge this shift, the PS Vita is always going to be in danger of simply dropping off the face of the Earth. (more…)


Uninspired Perfection


It’s amazing sometimes the memories, or a place in time, that a particular song, or a distinct smell can bring a person back to. And just now I got hit with a one-two punch from my music player, armed and loaded with over twenty-four thousand tracks, and set to shuffle. And just like that – epiphany. Just now (actually a week ago today, as of this posting) I was listening to Jonathan Coultan/Ellen McLain’s Still Alive, followed by Godley & Creme’s Cry, and a thought that has been brewing in the back of my mind for sometime now, finally bubbled up to the top – and then as I said before, epiphany; sad, sad epiphany actually. The best gaming moments of this console generation, have very likely already come and gone . . . years ago.
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No. Wii’re Not.


On the subject of the Wii U, after having a couple weeks to process everything revealed about it. Thank you Nintendo, but your services will no longer be needed. I’d maybe get one if I had kids. But I don’t. And to be honest with you, with Kinect around, I am thinking that if I actually had kids, I’d hand-me-down my Xbox 360 + Kinect to them, when I get a proper next-gen console for myself, before I’d waste money purchasing a Wii U. And this coming from a gamer who has purchased every game console, on it’s day of release for every generation since 1989.
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Sometimes, I Surprise Myself


Anyone who is a close friend of mine is already aware that I have taken a challenge upon myself to save as much money as possible on my gaming habit in 2012. There are lots of obvious tactics involved to the overall strategy, many of them like never purchasing anything at full price, looking for sales, taking advantage of sites like Half.com for pre-owned purchases, making liberal use of Steams ample sales, avoiding Gamestop at all costs, are all pretty much common knowledge to most gamers who give a damn about how much of their hard earned money they expend on gaming. However, some less commonly known tactics towards this goal involve a bit more imagination, a little extra leg work, and sometimes a little help from your friends. This particular tale, is one in which I purchased/pre-ordered over $130 worth of brand new games, for less than $16 out of pocket. I have finagled some really good deals over the past six months, but I have to admit that this one, this one took the cake.
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Summer of Arcade 2012


Summer of Arcade, Xbox LIVE Arcade’s annual promotion marking the middle of summer every year, turns 5 this year, and looking back over the 19 games released over the previous four years, I am not shocked that I own 13 of them. The annual promo usually brings out the best of the digital offerings every year, and 2012 looks to be no different.

Of the five games on offer this summer, at least three of them will go down as instant classics, not to mention day one purchases by yours truly. It would have been four day one purchases, but I no longer give money to help sponsor the corporate wrongdoings of Activision. Pretty much meaning that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is a no-buy for me; even if you paid me to purchase it – I’d just take your money, and still would not buy the game with it.

That aside, it looks to be a great summer line up, with a few surprises thrown in. And I for one cannot wait until the festivities kick on in late July. Look past the break to see the highlights of this year’s Summer of Arcade.
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The Fall of Amalur


38 Studios. For the past two weeks, this story has practically overshadowed every other story in the game industry. Even in the mad dash of news released in the weeks prior to E3, which any other year would be all the news in this business, the demise of 38 Studios looms over everything. And it seems to me that over the last couple of weeks everyone has put their own $0.02 in. Most of it from the perspective of passersby staring at the spectacle of a horrific traffic accident on the side of the freeway. But maybe it’s because everyone is in shock (unless you are in New England, then you are outraged – New Englanders love to be outraged by anything people in high places fuck up at; just ask Drew Bledsoe). But everyone else seems to be transfixed, which is probably why some of the most obvious stuff that should be what is being said about this situation, is not.

I’ve been reading everywhere like a madman, and the most obvious things, the stuff that in this particular incident are likely to be reserved for hindsight, no one is saying. And worse still, none of the talking heads in the game business are even speculating on solutions to fix this mess at all. This despite the fact that if 38 Studios goes under, it is going to have a negative impact on every game publisher and developer in North America and the EU. Half of every politician for the next decade will use 38 Studios as the poster child for not handing out tax breaks, and tax credits to game studios under their aegis. For the end gaming consumer, this means that the price of games are about to go up again over the next few years. When you consider that in many places, game companies receive between 30% to 50% of their development costs returned to them via nontaxable revenue earned under tax credit programs, you begin to realize very quickly why the retail price for games is headed upward should 38 Studios tank. And what is most sad, is that 38 Studios can be saved; should be saved even. I’ve already listed several good reasons why, and there are even more.
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Concerning KARA


It’s been a while since I have actually made a blog post, but in all honesty, I have decided not to blog for blogging’s sake, but to do so whenever something comes up that I truly feel I need to say something. I know this goes completely against the proven formula of what makes a successful blog, successful (three regularly scheduled, new posts a week; creating a poll with every post, like you really give a shit about what the reader thinks, et al.), but I feel in the long term, honesty in my blog is going to be my differentiating factor. And honestly, there is no point in blogging unless I have something I really want to say . . . which brings me to the following post.
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The Same Boat


Nintendo released their fiscal 2011 financials today, and looking over the sells charts for the 3DS, it became readily apparent the effect last summer’s price drop has had in turning the misfortunes of that system around from the dismal start last spring. The effect is so pronounced even, that 3DS is gaining traction faster than the DS, or the Wii in all three major sells markets: North America, Europe and Japan.

Looking at that charts in fact, not only can you see exactly when the 3DS price change occurred, but how far 3DS adoption has climbed, both in reference to the DS and the Wii, has got me thinking that Sony may seriously want to reconsider the price point of the PlayStation Vita before it launches next month, or they may be looking at a repeat of the 3DS’ initial dismal performance, prior to last summer’s price drop.
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Pulling Rabbits from Hats


Well it would appear that CES once again, has become the dumping ground for the major game console makers to announce the previous year/quarter’s hardware sells numbers to the public. These are worldwide numbers for units sold during Q4 2011, and a huge shocker came out of this weeks announcements. Heavy competitors Sony and Microsoft were the first to announce their numbers. Microsoft last night at the CES 2012 keynote event, and Sony today in a press release from the show floor. Starting with the PlayStation 3, which has been slowly gaining on the Xbox 360 for the past five years and was poised to catch up the the market leader last year, Sony announced an Earth shattering 3.9 million units sold globally for the crucial quarter ending the calender year, 2011. However, the news of Sony’s sales numbers were already overshadowed by the previous night’s announcement from Microsoft, who managed to pull out a soul crushing (if you are a Sony fan, soul uplifting, if you reside in the Microsoft court) 10 million units globally, in the final three months of 2011. That is a face slapping 2.6 to 1 sales ratio against the Sony branded game console, which put Microsoft firmly back in the lead, no longer a neck and neck race, between the two consoles.

The question on everyone’s mind today has probably got to be, “how did they pull it off?” And sure enough as I read over the story at Joystiq, that seemed to be the question on everyone’s minds. And surprisingly, considering that it is a multi-console discussion on the very sensative topic of hardware sells numbers, it has got to be one of the most civilized (ie flamebait-free, troll-free, cynicism-free) discussions I have seen online on the subject matter, in almost a decade. There is some really well thought out insight into how Microsoft managed to pull this particular rabbit out of their hat. Anyway, I thought I’d add my $0.02 to the discussion. So here goes . . .
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Ask, and Ye Shall Receive.


It’s hard to believe, that just a mere 24 hours ago, I was whining like a little bitch waxing nostalgic about the about the good ole days, and how modern game industry has an apparent lack of respect for source material for classic PC franchises. This generation has seen many more than a few high profile reboots of classic gaming IPs, Culled from the back libraries of PC gaming, these (in most cases) venerated game franchises, have burst their way unto modern day game consoles, with a fresh coat of paint, for an entirely new audience to enjoy. Sadly in almost every case, gone is the charm that made the originals classics, gone is any sense of the cerebral depth which gave these classics their uniqueness, and endowed the players back in the day with a real sense of accomplishment upon completing those masterpieces. Gone is mostly any semblance of what made these classics, classic in the first place. Replaced by mindless running and gunning, as one by one, classic game play and world building were replaced shallow first-person shooter game play mechanics, which has become the de facto, go to game style of the Call of Duty generation. It seemed that the only games publishers gave a damn about producing any longer, involved guns, and shooting, no strategy, very little depth, and little to no visual representation of even the players onscreen avatar.

Well, that was literally, yesterday . . . (more…)