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.
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.
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 . . .
Anyone who has played around with Playstation Home, Sony’s experimental, online, meta world where gamers can experience new levels of marketing from game publishers, long enough realizes, that the load times, and the downloading is horrendous at times. Any time you direct your avatar to go into an area, you have to stop and wait for that area to load – which takes quite a bit of time, before you can actually go there. And if you want to get into any new area you have never been to before, then you have to preempt your visit by first downloading and installing that area, before you can head there. And as can be expected, you have to wait for the download, and wait for the install, both of which thankfully can be assigned to the background while you continue to play around in your current area. All the same however, waiting around for the new area to load, is not as fun as you would think. And of course once it has loaded and installed, you still have to deal with the load times of actually going to and from the new location. Basically, there is quite a bit of waiting going on over Playstation Home. And this waiting can be a major interruption to the flow of the gaming experience.
So yesterday when the Playstation Blog updated with a video (found after the break) detailing all the improvements that are coming to Playstation Home in the very near future, the omission of Sony remedying the waiting problem, rightfully caught the attention of many fans of the service. But it was not until today, while perusing the comments at Joystiq, that I saw a comment that caught my eye, and got me to really thinking on the matter . . . not the matter of why the problem exists, I think we already know the why’s of the problem, but on the matter of how to fix it, once and for all. (more…)
I was over at Joystiq just now, and I was reading an op ed entitled, Nintendo’s creeping doom: how the company came to misplace $926 million, by freelancer writer, Russ Pitts. Russ, an industry veteran formerly of The Escapist, and The Screen Savers, makes some interesting points about how Nintendo got to where they are today – having misplaced almost $1 billion in just six months. It’s a very good read, and I highly recommend you read it when you have the time. In summation, Russ ultimately gets to the crux of his piece, that the true source of Nintendo’s problems, one that even Nintendo refuses to talk about (at least outwardly to the rest of the world), is their seeming lack of ability (or desire) to create great games in a timely fashion for their fledgling hardware. Not to be confused with good games, or “me too” games, but great games. And he’s right on the money with the assertion, but more on that later. (more…)