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. Unfortunately for them, the Wii has been outpacing PS2 sales and may surpass the 100 million mark and then MS will be left with, “but but but it’s a last gen system.” In other news, MS announced that no one can claim victory in the portable MP3 player space until they hit 37 trillion units sold.

Square boldly moves into the soft drink market.

Square Enix wants to buy competition
It’s hard to tell if this company has been more fickle than others in its drive to rival the Vatican’s wealth, or if they simply do a lot more press releases on their strategy of aimlessly wandering for pots of gold. A while back they decided to increase profits by making new franchises. This failed because they gave up immediately, which was good news to Square fans who can’t wait to repurchase the fifth version of Final Fantasy whatever.

So after half-assing their attempt to make good original games then giving up because none of them outsold the Bible, Square Enix decided to spread itself into other areas of the entertainment industry. We can only assume that it went poorly or didn’t make the company nearly enough profit because they have now announced yet another new angle – buying pieces of other software companies. Square is nearly a mirror image of Sega, if Sega made good games and terrible movies.

Court realizes Jack Thompson sucks
This has been obvious to anyone who believes the earth is more than 6,000 years old for a while now, so it’s good to see the legal system get on board.

EU suing Nintendo for being evil corporate bastards
Nintendo has a strong legacy of bully corporate practices. Strong arming retailers and price fixing doesn’t exactly fit with my image of family friendly, although I didn’t grow up in a Republican household. Nintendo is now being sued for fixing prices on their hardware in Europe, and its for nearly 150 million Euro.

If you recall, Nintendo was brought to court in NY state for monopolistic practices back when they were pushing the NES, so the company has a long history of being sleazy businessmen. Thank god America tutored the Japanese in business practices after we nuked them. Also, now I will make my obligatory Sega comment – The Master System was awesome, screw you NES kids. Nintendo won because they cheated. You suck.

CNET/IDC predicts PS3 to outsell the Bible
Two weeks ago, a CNET blogger predicted the 360 will win the console race (though it wasn’t clear if he was informed it must sell over 100 million to do so). Now CNET is reporting analyst predictions that the PS3 will see explosive sales in upcoming years and eventually surpass the Wii. This is somewhat hard to believe, but it isn’t impossible. It all depends on if the Wii reaches that tipping point where publishers see that all kinds of games will sell well on the Wii based on number of installed units.

It may be likely that a super hardcore FPS sells better on the 360 than the Wii today, but what about when the Wii install base is double or triple that of the 360’s? Eventually the numbers will be there for anything and everything to sell. The question is if this point will come early enough for Nintendo – if publishers are slow to see the potential of Wii owners, the 360 and PS3 will have a steady supply of AAA titles and things may turn out very differently.

The PS3 itself is something of a mystery to me. I understand why developers make 360 games and exclusives – they sell very well. Multiplatform PS3 games make some sense as developers are making their games for an HD system anyway, they might as well do the extra work. But PS3 exclusives may be somewhat hard to justify. Most of Sony’s first party games have underperformed, though that’s in part due to the PS3 hardware underperforming. Unless something big happens soon (and if you ask a Sony fan, the next big thing is always a game away), Sony will have a hard time procuring exclusives.

Starting next year the PS3 will cure erectile dysfunction.

So now that I’ve reasoned the PS3 out of the equation, let’s go back to the first line of reasoning. If Sony isn’t in the picture and it’s basically the 360 versus the Wii (this is a very America-centric view, I admit) and the Wii continues to dramatically outsell the 360 it is apparent that tipping point will eventually come. I’ve long wondered why people argued, “when game x comes out for the PS3 people will flock to it” but few seem to argue, “when hardcore games come out for the Wii, hardcore gamers will flock to it.” The argument seems to be that good games attract people to Sony and Microsoft products but repel them from Nintendo’s.

How core are you hard?
Nintendo has announced that some percentage of Wii owners are hardcore, whatever that means. This seems obvious to me and it’s ironic that detractors are actually giving Nintendo too much credit by assuming they’ve entirely grabbed a new market (old women and babies). Wii ownership demographics aside, this report has sparked online debates about what makes a gamer hardcore.

These discussions remind me of music genre discussions. “No, that band isn’t melodic death metal, they are too wussy so they are melodo death. It’s an entirely different genre with the exact same words used.” Some people say that if you don’t own any HD systems you are not hardcore. Some say if you own a Wii at all you aren’t, and are also a pansy. Things ultimately devolve into dick waving contests, “Oh yeah, well I own 1,289 games and have Will Wright tied up in my basement.” “Yeah, well my mother delivered me by C section because the Galaga cabinet I was rocking wouldn’t fit out her vagina.”

I am somewhat shocked to say by many definitions I am not hardcore. Label wars may be retarded, but I still have feelings, damn it. I propose a new definition that is based not on what you own but what you think. If you think about games a lot, and let’s say…run a game site, and also you are named Jason and have brown hair, then you are a hardcore gamer. If you are not all of these things it may be time to stop reading this and get back to playing Bejeweled.

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16 years ago

Jay, your console analysis is sparking me to write a response article. I’ll give a quick summary of what I think though – PS3 will sell a lot by the end, because it is the most future proof console. The wii is going to sell a lot so long as Nintendo can generate Wii Sports/Fit type hits every year or two, but its 3rd party support may very well dry up as usual. 360 may lose out in the far future if Microsoft keeps screwing around with its customer base, as it has increasingly been doing. More details later.

16 years ago

Microsoft is Microsoft’s biggest foe. I’d probably have a 360 already if they had been built to last more than 28 seconds after being powered up. After a couple of devkits crapping out on me I decided there was no way I was spending hundreds of dollars on a box of hardware fail like that.

Nintendo is Nintendo’s biggest foe. They’d command large swaths of the online population and people would be sweating to get their mitts on the next Wii multiplayer fps if Nintendo’s idea of ‘online gaming community’ involved anything more advanced than sending packets by carrier pigeon. I respect that their family friendly stance informs a lot of their online designs, but surely some middle ground could be mapped out between friend codes and a bunch of 12 year old deeply repressed homosexuals yelling at each other.

Sony is Sony’s biggest foe. They HATE developers, one glance at their hardware designs will make that clear. They’re not terribly fond of gamers either, and have specialized in selling you proprietary formats you don’t really give a damn about for some time now (UMD? Blu-Ray?) because to Sony you are an unwitting pawn drafted into their format wars.

Hardcore? Who gives a shit. I play games that entertain me as much or as little as I want, because I’m an adult and I’ve grown out of things like giving a damn about labels and into living my life for MY enjoyment (while still being responsible, of course).

16 years ago

Good post Bruce. Interesting thing with those two proprietary formats, and how Sony has handled them. As a game media, there is nothing wrong with UMD, while at the same time they’ve smartly given up on using it for other media. They’ve also begun to slowly embrace games on Memory Stick.

They just got lucky that Blu Ray turned out so well.

16 years ago

I am a loyal gamer(even going as far as to refer to it as my religion) and like most religous fanatics, I must stick with the “mine is better than yours, because I was told that it was” I have a 360, with over 44,700 gamer score. I think that makes me a hard core gamer. I also feel that is the reason that I will not get a PS3, overall there are maby 3 exclusives that interest me, and that’s not enough to make me throw $400 more at another system. When(if)it hits $200 I’ll consider it, but not before. I also own a Wii, it is a fun system with great games and entertaining gameplay, but I still considder myself to be a hardcore gamer. no which system is better…I think they each have their points, but I would never considder “future proofing” as a reason. if anyone still has their NES, flip it over and take a look at those expansion slots on the bottom. They were there to future proof the system, but they were never used(or atleast were used by extremely rare add ons). by the time they worry about improvements, they might as well prepare to release a new system because with exception to the expanded memory slot of the N64, those things are there as a BS selling point to people who feel they are making an investment in a system that they will be able to spend $50 and keep it current with the new system releases. if you want to make an investment in games, buy EA stock, if you want to buy a game system, get something with the games and the gameplay you prefer.