The Value of a Dollar

I have discussed the dilemmas of downloadable content frequently in the past, and each new piece of news gives us more to chew on. Soon we will be seeing the very first DLC for Tomb Raider: Underworld. You know, the content that was meant for the original game, but eventually wasn’t. We may never know if someone put a gun to Eric Lindstrom’s head in order to change his story, but we’re here to discuss value.

This joystiq newscontains a quote from Crystal Dynamics claiming each piece of DLC will take between three to six hours to complete. Scroll down further and you will see that a few commenters simply won’t fork over the 800 MS points for it. Since then, joystiq’s more recent review of the level clocks in at around an hour and a half. →  It’s not you, it’s me.

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. →  Professor Layton and the Diabolical Post

Counting the Game Industry’s Gold

Like most industries, the gaming industry is bound by the conventional economic wisdom that you must spend money to make money. Historically, that’s meant taking a loss on every game system sold (with the notable exception being most Nintendo consoles) in order to tap into selling game after game to console owners. This measure of success is known as the “attachment rate” or “tie ratio.” A somewhat (November 2008) dated Gamasutra chart shows that the Xbox was in the lead, with 6.6 games/system sold, followed by the Wii at 5.5 and the PS3 at 5.3.

This statistic has historically been a powerful metric for measuring market penetration and overall success for a console. After all, what’s the point of selling a console if you can’t sell game after game? But as with many things in today’s integrated media world, the lines have blurred and traditional metrics don’t necessarily tell the whole story. →  This post are sick.

Review – Gears of War 2

When the first Gears of War was released, I wrote a little rant about Cliff Blezinski’s introduction to the game found in the instruction book. For a game about large meatheads shooting albino insect meatheads, the intro sounded far too pretentious and lofty. Commenters took me to task, and they convinced me that I was overreacting.

Thankfully, Gears 2 doesn’t put me in the same situation. This time, Cliff’s intro makes no bones about the fact that this game wants to emulate the feeling of “being in a summer blockbuster film” better than any other game out there. Shallow as it may be, knowing a developer’s intent can have a large impact on how I view a game. An over the top setpiece becomes more palatable when I know the creators aren’t presenting it as a work of gaming art. →  What is a post? A miserable little pile of secrets.

The next gen consoles then and now

Folks, it has been some time since the “next gen” was actually the next. I think it is about time to call it the current gen, and on that note, I think it is time to re-evaluate the three major players in the race. Much has changed, and my opinion of each console has changed wildly. Note that this is not an attempt to analyze who is going to “win” the console war. I think that it is quite clear that so long as there are games like Wii Fit and Wii Sports released at the right times, Nintendo is going to be unchallenged in total sales numbers. Meanwhile Sony and Microsoft will claim the Wii is not a true competitor, and then spin the numbers to make it look like they were the true winners. →  What can change the nature of a post?

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. →  [put on your VR headset now]

Finished with the Next Gen — A jumble of an article

I have had an Xbox 360 for about three months. Under normal circumstances such a short period of time would never be enough to wear down the novelty of this fantastic new toy. However, about three weeks ago tragedy struck. (No red circles were involved, the box works fine). I accidentally deleted about 25 hours worth of progress in one of my all time favorite games: Culdcept. The second I realized what I had done, I almost vomited from grief. I had gotten more than halfway through the game collecting about 300 of the 500 available cards, and all of it went up in smoke with a simple misclick. For the following week I could not bring myself to play another game. I could not even look at my Xbox without feeling a pang of regret. →  The only thing we have to read is read itself.

Something old, new, recycled and blue

I’ve decided to condense two potential blog posts into one topic, as they are both somewhat similar in nature. I should do this more often, as it seems to force me to take my almost article length ramblings and cut them down into something readable. A win for all.

Some time ago Jay wrote a discussion on Mario and how he is anything but a throwaway character. Interesting then that a “games editor” at Softpedia (a site which I have only known before as a place where I failed to get working drivers) has claimed that mascots like Mario and Sonic should be locked up in a museum and never put into another game, starting right this minute. His reasoning is that they are old and stale, and offer nothing new to the gaming table, hurting the industry more than helping. →  These are the games I know, I know. These are the games I know.

Review – Spider-Man: Friend or Mere Acquaintance

In another installment in my untimely series on finding something to hate while surrounded by the best games in years, here’s another look at games that ate shit in 2007.

Until recently, the Spider-Man franchise had been the only comic book license that somewhat translated into an enjoyable gaming experience. Next Level Games, a company that specializes in cramming a licensed properties into games that have nothing to do with the license they are based on, must have won some sort of raffle to be awarded the development of Friend or Foe. Any company that works solely in licensed games is going to suck worse than a circus put on by disabled veterans. Anyone who tells you different is Next Level Games.

Now That's Amore!

With hands full of cash and laps full of stripper, Next Level Games didn’t waste time on relating this game to the movie or even comic when they had already developed what I can only assume would have been called Mario Strikers Love Corndogs if Nintendo had called them first. →  Your right post comes off?

Microsoft lets a customer down, gamers let humanity down

When I first saw the headline of this story – Microsoft Erases Gamers Memories – I figured some kid drew a picture of his favorite My Little Pony on the side of his 360 case and Microsoft erased it. That would be a shame, but less crappy than what actually happened. The more accurate story (minus the ponies) – A guy has a 360 since launch, brings it with him everywhere he goes and accumulates a variety of signatures from Microsoft, Bungie and other companies. There is even a large drawing of Master Chief on the system.

So he calls Microsoft after his system inevitably breaks. They assure him that they will send back the same console he is sending in. Just to be safe, he also sends in a chapter of the Bible with Moses crossed out and his name inserted, and “XBox 360” replacing all references to “God”. →  Post of Tsushima

Better Late Than Never — Tyson Reviews the Xbox 360

I showed up a couple of years late to the party that has been the Xbox 360. Thanks to my cheapness and the joys of region encoding, I held off getting Microsoft’s newest system while I was in Japan, vowing to grab one mere minutes upon my return to the United States. Over the past two years I have had bouts of jealousy, smug satisfaction, and concern as I watched the trials and tribulations of the Xbox 360 owner. From red rings of death to the release of Halo 3, I have quietly observed from the sidelines and bided my time. Well, that time has come. Holding true to my promise, I picked up a 360 Elite two days after landing in the US and since then I have been sampling the many facets of the console. →  Genghis Khan II: Clan of the Gray Post

Breaking news – Wii sales decent, PS3 the greatest

Edit 1.26.08: This first interview is likely fake. The odds of a new blog getting first Robbie Bach and then Ken Kutaragi interviews one after another seem infinitesimal. If this is the case, don’t I feel like an ass.

In an interview that shocked the gaming world, Microsoft’s Robbie Bach announced that the Wii is in fact selling. This contradicts earlier reports that the console was an abysmal failure and moved only 14 units this past holiday season.

From Bach:

“At Microsoft we think of the Wii in a different bracket of gaming so its hard to compare the two consoles. The Wii has a very small life cycle and doesn’t compare to the Xbox 360 feature wise. And while it is taking plausible 360 sales its important to notice that Nintendo has created a revolutionary device and Microsoft expected it to sell decent, and the system can afford to sell decent because its very similar to a childs toy. →  Garou: Mark of the Posts

Two years of me – The Christian story

I was asked to write a retrospective of sorts, about myself as a gamer. How I have changed in my time as a writer for this site. It isn’t terribly easy, as at first glance it seems to me that nothing changed at all. I still play a lot of games, of many different genres. But I have changed, most of it in the last year. It has been slow, but certain, and I know that it is only going to progress.

I’m not sure if I like the future gamer that I will be. I’m not sure I even like the gamer I am now. Maybe talking it out will fix things (or maybe I’m just becoming a gurrrrrrl).

When I first joined vl, my company allegiances were something along the lines of “Love Nintendo and Sega, like Microsoft, grudgingly forced to follow Sony.” →  Keep it warm.

Numbers are fun – November ‘Nihilation

There has been a lot of good sales news for the industry over the past month. Enough numbers have been released that PR people from all three console manufacturers are able to claim some victory. We have all grown accustomed to hearing that Nintendo’s grandparent-friendly hardware is setting the world ablaze, but recent information has shown that its competitors may be gearing up to offer a viable challenge. The biggest headline probably has to be the fact that Nintendo DS sales set the record for most systems ever purchased in a single week with 653,000. This, combined with 350,000 Wiis sold during the same period adds up to…a lot of stuff sold by Nintendo during Thanksgiving week. The Wii is still supply constrained so it’s tough to say how many units Nintendo could be moving, but the Wii reached five million units in the US sold faster than any other system in history, doing so in a mere 12 months. →  Words are the towns and cities of letters.

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. →  Postlanser: Heritage of Read

Retrospectives – Halo Single-Player Campaigns part 1

When people think of the Halo series, they’re quickly reminded of the college dorm-room deathmatch. Halo is the quintessential multiplayer experience on consoles, but it wasn’t always like that. Before 2001, Halo meant nothing to people. It was just another FPS game that Microsoft was using to launch their first console, the Xbox.

To really get players talking (and ultimately spending their hard-earned money), Bungie had to create a compelling single-player campaign. If the core game was bad or run-of-the-mill, no one would care about multiplayer. And a launch game’s success is usually dependent on word of mouth. Look at Wii Sports. The more people that enjoy it, the more they talk, and the better it sells (which basically means more people to play multiplayer with).

Contrary to popular belief, Halo was originally all about the single-player, story-based campaign, which is the complete opposite of what it is now. →  God of War: Readnarok

The State of Japanese Gaming Plus A Couple of Signs That the End Times Are Upon Us

As I type this, I am covetously inspecting my growing stockpile of canned goods and rice. Earlier I cleaned and loaded my Colt .45 Airsoft pistol with silencer and under barrel flashlight (think Metal Gear Solid 3). Within the next couple of hours I will be ready for what I am guessing is either going to be the zombocalypse, the Second Coming, WWIII, or possibly the release of a Vanilla Ice Greatest Hits album. One way or the other something bad is going to happen and I am going to be ready.

The Japanese are doing curious things that have tipped me off to our fast approaching doom, let me explain.

First, as I was browsing through the video game section of one of my local electronics stores I spotted a Japanese man loading up his shopping cart with: A) Halo 1,2, and 3 B) An Xbox Live membership card and C) one or two other 360 games that I couldn’t make out. →  Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty article.

Time to shape up, Sony

Just days ago, Tyson discussed the many ways that Sony shot themselves in the foot, which have led to incredibly lagging console sales. He covered just about everything important. I am here to talk about why it hurts so much.

See, I just got a PSP. Before a DS. Shocking, I know, but it was a good deal that I couldn’t refuse. Truth be told, I’ve been pining for one for a long time, though I was constantly afraid that I would regret it months down the road and find a way to obtain a DS.

It has been three weeks, and I love the damn thing. I take it everywhere. I’ve tried out all its features. Somehow I love it so much that I already have five games for it, and I got three of them by trading in old titles at Gamestop. →  Shining Post: Legacy of Great intention

Review hegemony

Gamers expect very specific review scores for certain games. When Twilight Princess got an 8.6 the internet almost self destructed. Recently, Ratchet and Clank got a 7.5. People are in an uproar over a game they have never played. It’s a triple A title and deserves a triple A score seems to be the prevailing wisdom.

There are a few ways to look at this phenomenon. The first and plainly stupid view is that reviewers are doing their job poorly or are biased. I believe money has changed hands for good reviews but have a tough time swallowing that Microsoft payed for R&C to get a low score. The next and significantly more rational perspective is that the people complaining are actually in the minority. These people are also 14 year old fanboys with a first grade understanding of the English language. →  WELCOMETOTHENEXTARTICLE

The Sony Guide to Committing Game Console Suicide

Step 1: Create A Technologically Difficult Console. Decide that games don’t really matter and it is console specs that sell new gaming consoles. Create a partnership with IBM that introduces a very fast processor into your new gaming machine. Since games don’t sell systems, it is no big deal that this new bleeding edge CPU is very difficult to design titles around and port titles to. After dealing with the new CPU you decide to throw in your newest form of optical drive that shoots the concept of a decently priced system all to hell.

On top of that, you force yet another media standard on to consumers, something you are already notorious for. Lastly, you decide that the internet is a fad and that people don’t really like Microsoft Live so you figure that there is no need to include anything remotely close with the new console or your business operation. →  Read, you fools!