E3 not only showed us what to crap our pants in excitement and anticipation over, but also the things that will surely disappoint. After hearing about each of the new generation of systems I have compiled a list of one or two major complaints about each.
Sony’s Ken Kutaragi has said that people who buy the PS3 will have HDTVs. He has also called the system the Cadillac of game systems. He may have missed the fact that the Play Station line has been so successful because it was marketed and sold to the casual gamer. I have no cute anecdote for the PS2, but the PS1 sold better than the Saturn in Japan despite the fact that Saturn software outsold PS software. This is because serious gamers bought the Saturn and then a shitload of games while casual gamers bought a Play Station and Toshinden. The PS2 was also the most casual friendly of its generation with the Xbox being seen as hardcore and the Gamecube as kiddie.
So the PS3 strategy is to cater only to the rich technophile. Good move. Has Kutaragi secretly been working at a different company for the last 11 years? How could they not have noticed their demographic shift potentially alienates the people who made them so successful? They noticed, but are hoping the brand name will sell the system even to the casual gamer. Ultimately, I believe the PS3 is as much about gaming as it is a mechanism to ensure the success of the Blu Ray format.
Kaz Hirai from Sony has mentioned that most peoples TVs lack HDMI inputs. This is interesting when contrasted to Kutaragi’s view that PS3 buyers will have HDTVs. PS3 owners won’t be able to view games in full HDTV without the HDMI outputs, though. So it sounds like Sony is saying they will not sell a lot of systems based on most people not having the digital inputs on their TVs and PS3 buyers being those who do. They really need to get a better PR coordinator.
My Microsoft complaint is potentially the weakest and furthest reach, but I’m not beyond being upset for no reason. MS pledges that Windows Vista will be very gamer friendly They are making installing and playing games easier and making a new Direct X to make games look better than ever. My issue is it seems like a conflict of interests for them to be invested in Windows Vista and the 360. If they help develop or produce games on one and not the other, why should I not feel at least partially screwed over by them?
I can make exceptions for games that have controls so rooted in their native hardware that porting them would result in nearly unplayable messes, but Id bet there will be games that could’ve been ported one way or another that won’t be, and if I’ve dumped $450 into MS’s pocket for a system I want all of their game making resources to go directly to making 360 games.
Nintendo is using the friend code system they first created for the DS on the Wii. The majority of gamers did not like the friend system on the DS as it sometimes restricted online play. Nintendo could have listened to gamers, or they could ignore us and continue doing what they want. And what they want to do is protect us.
I whole heartedly agree with Shigeru Miyamoto when he says games should make us feel like kids. I enjoy the graphical stylings of Wind Waker, think Wario Ware is adorable, and still enjoy saving the princess. A great game is a great game and I am not so insecure as to feel threatened by games that aren’t dark, moody and bloody. But at the same time, I am an adult and wish Nintendo would end their 20 year crusade to keep us pure and innocent. If I am playing Animal Crossing online and someone says “Hey Tom Nook, go fuck yourself you cock sucking shit stained dildo who’s a douche,” my world would not crumble around me. As a mature adult I can deal with such hilarious obscenities.
It’s a fine line to draw, but I enjoy games that are childish and whimsical (assuming they’re good) and at the same time do not need crosses removed from buildings and bars renamed coffee shops. Gamers do not need the friend code system and Nintendo should come to terms with the reality that treating us like children guarantees they will always be seen by the majority of people as a kiddie company.
And naming your system Wii doesn’t help, either.