News We Care About Update

Why Ensemble Closed
Once designer at Ensemble Studios, Bruce Shelley explained what went wrong at the DICE 09 conference. He kept it overly civilized and focused on what they should have done differently internally. Things like working on games in different genres and not expanding too quickly made his list, though he forgot to mention “Don’t be owned by a giant evil corporation.”

It must have taken an abundance of self control to not simply declare Microsoft the sole problem Ensemble faced. The studio created some of the best received and selling strategy games in the industry and sold millions of games. Despite being profitable, they were apparently not profitable enough for Microsoft to keep open. Just when I thought I was beginning to understand economics…

Single Player Games on their Deathbed
David Perry is more famous for saying controversial things than making good games. →  Ridge Reader V

News We Care About Update

You don’t catch someone by running slower (than they are running)
Eurogamer is one of my favorite sites but they’ve hit on one of my many pet peeves – inaccurate sales language. In Japan, the PS3 has been doing a little bit better lately while Wii sales have been slowing down. Eurogamer describes this as Sony catching up to Nintendo.

The Wii is actually pulling away from the PS3 at a less dramatic pace but every week it outsells its competition, the Wii is indeed putting more distance between it and the PS3. In order for Sony to even begin to catch up, more PS3s need to be sold than Wiis.

I think this stuff may actually be calculus, which would possibly explain why so many paid writers can’t grasp sales shifts. →  Up to 6 billion readers.

News We Care About Update 12.29.08

Nintendo to offer streaming videos, just not here
Nintendo is bizarrely slow to adopt some aspects of technology. Their latest console, the Wii (pronounced “Why”), has only cursory online abilities, and lacks both a practical storage device and the ability to function as a time machine.

As a curmudgeon who spouts things like, “Game systems should do nothing but play games” I was once on board with Nintendo’s seemingly similar stance. Their real position, which they have revealed at glacial speed, is game consoles should do a lot of things poorly and much, much later than other game consoles.

Whether this half-assed approach to new technology will be their ultimate undoing as Sony and Microsoft take over your living room in 2010, your wine cellar in 2015 and your apiary in 2020 is yet to be seen. →  The gamers have only interpreted the games, in various ways. The point, however, is to change them.

News We Care About Wrapup – 7.25.08

David Cage insults MMOs
Cage, the creator of Indigo Prophecy (or if you prefer, Fahrenheit) questions the emotional significance of grinding. His points look very similar to what some of us were saying during the long comment war after this videolamer article. He goes further than we did, though, and into territory I asked one writer to avoid despite his wanting to write on it:

“I think that’s fine for people when they need to build self esteem.”

Excellent fighting words. I agree with most of Cage’s positions but remain skeptical about his talent. Indigo Prophecy had about the best first few hours of any game I’ve played but is betrayed by Cage’s (or someone at Quantic Dreams) inability to write a good story. Once the plot starts falling apart it becomes clear that the actual gameplay of IP was mundane and boring because the simple controller inputs it demands are all at the service of the story. →  Ikari Warriors 2: Postery Read

E3 08 – Nintendo Press Conference impressions

Nintendo’s E3 conference this year was a big let down for most people. Gamers are even calling it the worst E3 presentation ever and discussing how to best dispose of their Wiis. What could Nintendo have done to have drawn this kind of ire?

Having a mom lead off the presentation didn’t exactly start things off with a bang (insert clever mom sex joke here). She has some fancy position like administrative vice principle of managerial accounting executive advertising president of marketing but that she was a mom was important.

Yes, for the first time ever Nintendo announced their goal of branching out to new kinds of gamers at this year’s E3. And how. Olympic Snowboarding Gold Medalist Carrot Top presented the first fun-for-everyone Wii title. Unfortunately Snowboarderz is being developed by Ubisoft so it will face fierce competition from Baby Party 08. →  Sounds amazing, I must read it now!

News We Care About Wrapup – 5.30.08

Beyond good and sequels
Beyond Good and Evil 2 was recently released much to the joy of gaming forums everywhere. Sequels are exciting because it means more of something good. That we long for sequels seems to stem from a few things but most of them point to problems in the industry. It means we expect crap and usually get crap and when a game that’s worth playing actually comes out we want more because the other option is crap. We want sequels because we do not trust developers to make good games. If Ancel is given full reign over his next project and allowed to do what he wants, then let the man create something new. Shadow of the Colossus is the perfect example – a great game by the same designer as a game you love is even better than a sequel. →  Reading. Reading never changes.

News We Care About Wrap Up – 5.23.08

Too early to declare a console victor
Ignore that Microsoft recently declared that history has shown us that the first system to 10 million historically wins the race, thus heavily implying their console is the winner as it’s sold a little over 10 million in the states. Their new PR line is that declaring a winner between the PS3, Wii and 360 will be impossible until one of them reaches 100 million in sales. By this logic the only systems to have ever “won” a generation are the PS1 (barely) and the PS2, and they did it after many years on the market, long after it became apparent to everyone who doesn’t work for Microsoft that Sony had won those generations.

The long term angle behind this absurd criteria for victory may be to prevent Microsoft acknowledging any victor this generation. →  Illiterates hate her! Click to read this one weird trick.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 2.1.08

New game from Parappa masterminds
Well this sounds promising. A new Wii game from the creator and lead artist of Parappa the Rapper. What’s this, Majesco is publishing it? That’ll be ok, a good idea doesn’t need 10 million dollars to work. Err, it’s a marching band simulator? That… sounds cool. I mean, I’ve always despised parades and anyone who likes them and walking around while playing music makes as much sense as reading while performing ballet, but… Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind?

90% of American DS owners pirate games
This comes from the Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association and is wrong. It is so wrong it makes normally unbelievable things believable. If you told me the butter on my bagel was not actually butter right after telling me that 90% of DS owners pirate games, I wouldn’t think twice. →  Phoenix Write: Just Posts for All

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 12.21.07

PSP sales explode in Japan
Sony’s handheld has been selling very well lately, this last boost thanks to a new red model. If Sony simply releases a new model and/or colored PSP every other month they may be able to seriously compete with Nintendo. At least on the hardware front.

Games simply don’t appear to sell on the PSP. The leading theories as to why this is are:

If you cut yourself while playing you won’t even notice.

1. The PSP is a successful multimedia machine. A significant percentage of purchasers are using it to listen to music and watch movies. Reports of people not particularly interested in games buying the system are common, and even dedicated gamers (see Christian of this website) are very interested in all the multimedia aspects of the PSP. →  Please sir, can I have some more?

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 11.30.07

Gamespot editor allegedly fired for giving a bad review
Jeff Gerstmann was supposedly let go because he gave Kane and Lynch a mediocre review (recent updates indicate the firing was a culmination of multiple reviews that angered sponsors). The story goes, Eidos was paying CNET a ton of cash to promote the title and threatened to pull future ads because of the review. It’s true that when this story broke yesterday, the Gamespot site was covered head to toe in stupid K&L ads. The people who say the firing happened because of the review range from Penny Arcade (who confirm the comic isn’t simply a joke in their forum), to a freelance Gamespot writer (who gave Shenmue a bad review…breath in…), to mods in the Gamespot forum who said things like – if we tell you what happened we will be fired, and don’t blame us, it’s all CNETs fault. →  Ask not what this post can do for you - ask what you can do for this post.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 10.26.07

Skies 2 on Wii?
This may be old, but it’s too amazing to not mention. EGM reported a rumor that Skies of Arcadia 2 is in development for the Wii.

An interview with Will Wright
Will Wright may be a genius. His games are all brilliant, despite always leaving me feeling empty and suicidal. When he speaks, people listen. And then complain if he offended their company loyalties.

Will thinks the Wii is the only next gen console. It’s noble of him to defend ingenuity but I think the higher ground is to simply dismiss next gen chest thumping entirely. In my experience, generations are measured in time and progeny, not progress. My father does not consider me to be in his generation simply because I am as slow, weak and annoying as he. →  Welcome to read.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 10.5.07

Dream team created to make MMO
One of the three guys behind Fallout and 17 ex-Blizzard guys all in one development team? You know these are going to be amazingly well crafted fetch quests that change absolutely nothing in a static MMO world. And think of the grinding!

Halo 3 is the biggest event in human history
The release of Halo 3 makes John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald look like footnotes in history. The moon landing is dwarfed by Bungie’s newest game, which sold approximately thirty thousand times more than any other product ever created. There are now significantly more copies of Halo 3 than wheels, and just about the same number of grains of sand.

This game topped the charts in Japan last week, proving that in a tepid market environment an American game can actually sell well in the East. →  Knock knock. Who's there? This article.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 9.21.07

PSP outsells DS in Japan
Square’s Final Fantasy VII spin off for the PSP, Crisis Core, sold half a million copies last week. It also sold PSPs. Possibly not all of the 95 thousand Sony sold in the week, but likely around 80 thousand, which is how many more units were sold than the previous week. Sony’s business strategy should be clear – simply release a spinoff of one of the most beloved games of all time once a week and the PSP will handily outsell the DS in Japan 1.2 to 1.

Or, to quote someone from a forum I read:
“If DS stopped selling and PSP continued at this rate, it would catch up in 139.7 weeks (May 21, 2010).”

Does anyone else feel nauseous?

Home delayed till Spring
Good for Sony. →  Michigan: Article from Hell

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 9.7.07

Molyneux takes a shocking stand – his company is more influential than its competitor
In a recent interview, designer Peter Molyneux said that Microsoft’s Live will be more impactful than the Wii remote. Molyneux was clearly kidding – would anyone use the non-word “impactful” in a serious statement?

Pretend he was serious. Is Live more influential than motion sensing controls? This is not easy to answer, partly because it’s comparing apples to gypsies, partly because the Wii is very young and partly because in some form, both things being compared have already existed for years. At its base level, Live is the internet. Should we thank Al Gore for being more impactful on games than Microsoft? If that’s too far a leap, what about X-Band on the Genesis or SNES? Surely Seganet was impactful as all get out. →  Prince of Postia: Article Within

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 8.31.07

Nintendo stops whoring out Metroid, or at least Retro stops
Please, let Retro make a game it wants to make. I know you own them and want to assign them to a franchise because franchises make all the bling, but it’s really not in your (my) best interest. You have no “mature” themed franchises left, unless you’re giving them the next console Zelda. An excellent developer like Retro also deserves to be rewarded – let them design a game from the ground up. It could be dark, with nudity and blood everywhere. Perhaps bloody nipples. You know, mature.

You would get what you need out of them – an awesome title for the older gamer who is too insecure to play something cute and candy colored. Retro would get what (I assume) they want – the chance to make a game without being assigned 75% of the design. →  Knock knock. Who's there? This article.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 7.27.07

Microsoft sort of wants you to buy an HD DVD add on
$20 off is not a good deal for something that costs $200, but that’s the amazing deal Microsoft is giving us on their 360 HD DVD add on. The move feels like a last ditch effort to make it appear that they still have a chance at beating the Blu Ray format. What is it with these companies that are desperate but not willing to allow this desperation to save me a lot of money? The PS3 should cost $300 and the 360 HD DVD doohickey should retail for $19.95.

Then there’s the prevalence of bundle deals. In addition to the twenty big ones you’d save buying the HD DVD drive, you’d also get five free movies. Choose from classics like Seabiscuit, Chronicles of Riddick, and Tomb Raider. →  Is that an article in your pants, or are you just happy to read me?

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 6.29.07

Capcom not merging with another company
Sega and Sammy did it, Square and Enix did it, so why not Capcom? Imagine the awesomeness of Capnomi — crossovers like Phoenix Wright Solid, Gradius May Cry, and Silent Resident Evil Hill would delight fans worldwide.

Unfortunately (or fortunately if you live in the real world), Capcom won’t be merging with another company any time soon. They did announce they would go the Sega route of buying a bunch of crappy Western developers, at least. We can only hope Capcom nonchalantly hands over enormous franchises for their new developers to systematically destroy.

Dragon’s Lair DS
This game gets a bad rap just because it’s basically not interactive in any way. It’s true that if Dragon’s Lair came out today on the PS3 and looked amazing but offered little to no gameplay, my throat would be sore from all the screaming about how shitty it is. →  Holy crap, show me more!

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 6.18.07

Sony announces 9,648,319 games by March 08
Unfortunately, they counted each individual household a game would end up in as a unique game. If you don’t count your copy of God of War 3 as a different game from my copy, then 145 or more PS3 titles are coming.

Sonic RPG on DS being developed by Bioware
Funny, whimsical RPGs can be cool. Mario’s Super Star Saga and the whole Paper Mario series attest to this. Cute, colorful cartoon characters in RPGs can hold their own, too. Kefka may look silly this day in age, but he is still insanely evil. So what is so horrendous about a Sonic RPG? I’m glad you asked.

Sonic is uninteresting in every possible way. Running fast makes for a subpar to decent action game (or awesome 2D platformer) but is not solid foundation to build a character on. →  Monster Reader 4

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 5.14.07

Starcraft 2 is coming
Golden Jew was wrong. He is hereby stripped of one hundredth of his massive pile of gold coins, crowns, and swords. I’ll give it back when the Starcraft MMO comes out in two years.

Rare to broaden 360s audience with all age friendly games
But also don’t rule out that they will make mature games, says Microsoft’s Peter Moore. They will or they won’t. They may and they may not. I’m glad Moore cleared that up.

Rare is fascinating because Microsoft seems to think Rare can change the Xbox brand image and because I have a theory that Nintendo makes their second parties what they are. On the first point, Rare will fail. Microsoft is taking the same attitude towards appealing to the mass market as they took when attempting to appeal to the Japanese — “one or two games should do it, now let’s sit back and wait for the money.” →  But the future refused to change.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 5.4.07

Sony markets to teens
Sony decided this was a smart business move after analyzing the figures:
Selling games to 10 year olds = totally lame (Nintendo sux LOL)
Selling games to 14 year olds = awesome to the max (we rulz)

The All I want for Christmas is a PSP, Sony’s first attempt to market to teens, went over slightly better than September 11th. Most failed ads don’t bring in more customers, this failed ad led to current customers donating their PSPs to their walls at 15 MPH.

EA noticing Wii and DS appeal to kids, plans bad mini-game game to cash in
EA Playground appeals to “the kid in everyone.” How exactly did EA deduce this? There are the obvious things that appeal to kids but not adults, like finding the opposite sex disgusting and eating chalk. →  Can you read me now?