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.… Read the rest

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.… Read the rest

The Small, White Elephant in the Room

Every month I get game magazines with beautiful characters from HD games splashed across their covers. The latest EGM features the Watchmen, the newest Edge details Little Big Planet and Game Developer dives into downloadable XBLA game The Age of Booty. Roundtable discussions in these magazines with developers and producers invariably focus on HD games and the challenge of creating and bringing them to market.

If you don’t follow the monthly NPD report you probably would have no idea that Nintendo has a significant lead in the American market. While the old guard of gaming press has been slow to downright resistant in accepting the Wii, the blame for the lack of Wii game coverage rests almost entirely on publishers.… Read the rest

Sony follows the lonely path

The new PS3 commercial shows a handful of games set to what sounds like a clip from a Gladiator or Braveheart type movie. A warrior with a middle ages accent (ye olde accent) rallies his comrades before a glorious battle. To Sony this console business is a battle, and a bloody $3 billion one so far.

Only declaring war openly and drawing lines in the sand is not what Sony needs to do now. The call for brotherhood in the commercial clearly creates an us-versus-them image but it is this exclusive mentality (remember, the PS3 is like a fine dining experience) that put Sony in third place this generation.… Read the rest

Review – Ninja Gaiden II

Ninja Gaiden 2 is not an earth-shattering masterpiece. As much as the fan in me wants to spout absurd levels of hyperbole that put recent GTA4 and MGS4 reviews to shame, and devote five paragraphs to how this game’s Oscar-worthy story made me regret having even existed before its release date, I feel it’s more relevant to discuss why games like this are so important in the current landscape of the video game industry.

The game represents what I consider to be the “Nintendo Legacy.” Back in the Sega & Nintendo days, games were short. A combination of small development groups, limited resources, and hardware abilities of the time meant that games of the era were around 2-5 hours long.… Read the rest

Playing catch up – River City Ransom

In my attempt to rectify my mostly Nintendo-less childhood I have been purchasing Virtual Console games at an unhealthy rate. Chrono Trigger and Super Mario World both lived up to their legendary reputations so I was excited to finally try River City Ransom (ignore that it’s slightly less popular and on a different console from the other two).

River City Ransom’s similarities to Double Dragon are obvious and I am proud to say it took about a second for me to figure out how to jump kick. (A and B at the same time for all you losers who haven’t played the exact same games as I have).… Read the rest

Apple and Agents (of the Elite Beat variety)

The Apple/Nintendo rumor mill has existed for a few years now, usually popping up quarterly or biannually with either a rumor about the two companies, or simple posturing about them. This leads to armies of geeks believing a merger is imminent, even though there is no proof or even any grumblings from either company about it. People simply look at how similar the two companies are, and somehow put two and two together (even if there is nothing to put together).

But maybe we are getting smarter about this inane trend. This time around, Forbes looks at how the iPhone might kill the Nintendo DS.… Read the rest

The promise of motion control

Who wrote this unspoken hardcore gamer law that we can’t enjoy a game that engages more than just our brains and fingertips? Just because our hobby has been sedentary in the past, a lot of people seem to want to treat this as some kind of necessary condition to enjoyment of a game. I’ve wondered why so many people scoffed at the notion of actually having to move their arms to play a videogame or, heaven forbid, stand up from the couch. I’ll be the first to admit this may not be conducive to hours long grinds or extended raid sessions, but Nintendo wasn’t looking to give you those kinds of experiences.… Read the rest

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.… Read the rest

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.… Read the rest