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. →  These are the games I know, I know. These are the games I know.

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. →  Up to 6 billion readers.

Pachter predicts the PS3 is fucking awesome

Sony is something special. Any other console with the combined hardware and software sales of the PS3 would be considered solidly in third place. Somehow when it’s Sony in third, however, it is simply a strategy to take advantage of a grandiose ten year plan. Imagine how violently you’d have laughed had Microsoft announced a ten year plan for the Xbox.

Predictions from analysts and insiders are only now slowly starting to show that the PS3 may not come out on top this generation. The initial prognostications from ’06 can be forgiven but many refuse to treat Sony like another console maker.

The newest example is in this gamesindustry.biz article. Analyst Michael Pachter has gone on record saying, “There was likely some substitution of Xbox 360 for PS3 purchases, due to recent price reductions for the Xbox 360 and the bundling of the console with two free games,” and “In addition, we believe that PS3 sales are being impacted by lower demand for HD televisions as a result of the recession.” →  I'll get a job later, for now I'm going to read this

Review – Little Big Planet

Now that the game has been out for a while and I have eased myself off of Fallout 3, I feel it is time for me to kick in my two cents about Little Big Planet. I must admit that prior to the game’s release I was caught up in the euphoria surrounding LBP. I basically bought my Playstation 3 to play it and waited anxiously for each new video that was released in the weeks before the game came out. Once those evil lyrics about Islam had been properly disposed of and the game finally came out, I rushed home and barricaded myself in my room to play the game for almost an entire weekend straight.

Things you need to keep in mind when considering Little Big Planet:

1. The game is a side-scrolling hop ‘n’ bop. →  Oreshika: Tainted Postlines

It’s all over: MGS4, or the New Gen?

As I feared, the majority of reviews of Metal Gear Solid 4 are disappointing to say the least. Unfortunately, too many critics are interested in remarking about the length and quality of the cutscenes, which really means they like to make the obvious observations that they are “too long” and “too silly.” Rare is the review that compares them to the past entries in the series, which would show you that past cutscenes were less drawn out, and that dialogue in MGS1 sounded much more natural.

Kojima is like a novel writer who refuses to use an editor, and as a result we have scenes in MGS4 where characters can’t utter an important name without five lines of setup dialogue that could only possibly benefit new players (while making the characters look stupid and veteran players feel bored). →  Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty article.

That was quick – Firmware 2.4

The much awaited 2.4 update to the PS3 is out, and with it comes nearly all of the remaining features that are already available on the Xbox 360. In game XMB, Trophies, and partial custom soundtracks are all here now, making the PS3 that much more of a complete package.

Many have considered this a major trump card for Sony, claiming that they now offer everything that Microsoft does at no cost to the consumer. This is true only to an extent: features like achievements, custom soundtracks and an in-game system menu are offered to all 360 users. Nothing in 2.4 is reserved to Xbox Live Gold members, and so this is really Sony catching up with some of Microsoft’s basic features.

I recently chalked this up to the fact that Microsoft has spent so much time and money on Live, but if you think about it, most of Live’s features have been a part of PSN for a while now. →  Show me the reading!

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. Launching at $600 and offering the bleeding edge of movie playing capabilities did not make the PS3 a very accessible machine and these advertisements only reinforce the idea that if I am not hardcore, if I am not willing to join Sony is a vicious battle against its enemies, then the PS3 is not for me. →  Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘Game Over.’

….Metal Gear?

Folks, it’s that time of the month. No not that; the monthly blockbuster is out. Hot off the heels of GTA IV, Metal Gear Solid 4 gives PS3 users a reason to rejoice. It also makes a hell of an excuse for me to finally pick up a PS3. I’m not going to get into the story, but suffice to say it was a bit of a trial to save for and obtain the console, culminating in a fairly easy pickup at the local Walmart early Thursday morning.

It feels good to welcome a new console into the house, and it will mean vl can get more PS3 reviews on the site. Perhaps I will write a bit about the console’s user experience, though I doubt anyone cares.

In any case, MGS4 is now out, reviews are coming in, and the results are actually unsurprising. →  Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing memory cards.

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. The article cites the iPhone’s touch screen and accelerometer abilities as combining the features of the Wii and the DS. It also claims that the ability to quickly and easily download software wirelessly will make gaming simple and painless. →  Uncharted Waters: New Horeadin’s

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. →  Europa Universalis IV: Articles of War

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. →  Zone of the Readers: The 2nd Reader

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. →  Knock knock. Who's there? This article.

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. →  You fool. Don’t you understand? No one wishes to read on…

Where Gamers go? No…

There’s this great little electronics shop near me. I used to loathe them, and I still do for some things, but lately they’ve been picking up the pace in the games department. In the stores near my home and my job, I have found fresh copies of No More Heroes and Zak and Wiki. Back in the summer there were multiple copies of Persona 3 (despite its obscurity and its odd box shape). I have seen Every Extend Extra and King of Fighters XI in $10 bargain bins, and if you really want to get crazy, I can grab you a copy of Metropolismania 2. Today I picked up a copy of Patapon on its release date, though if I ordered it online I could have had free shipping (after watching a lovely trailer on their store website). →  Welcome to read.

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. →  An article approaches.
- Read
- Run

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.” →  Read Dead Redemption

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. →  Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Bore me and I sleep.

PSP Firmware – doin’ it right ways?

When I got my PSP, the prevoius owner had it at Firmware 3.5, AKA the Magic Number. If I recall correctly, that was the latest firmware to have a simple .exe downgrader for those interested in homebrew. This is why fate coxed me into immediately upgrading the system before learning this fact, thus sticking me with firmware 3.71, AKA you need Pandora’s Battery. I vowed to leave the firmware alone at this point, hoping that in a year or so someone would finally get around to hacking the newer firmwares.

Then Sony came out with Firmware 3.8 this week, and I immediately broke my promise. This update actually has some new features, and I am hear to report as best I can.

The main draw is a new feature for Internet Radio. →  Postlanser: Heritage of Read

Sony CEO – PS3 better than Wii

Howard Stringer is the CEO of Sony. He makes over 650k a year (very likely million/s). And he is terrible at PR.

“I’m happy the Wii seems to be running a bit short of hardware. The PlayStation 3 will come into its own because its are infinitely more fun, demanding and exciting.”

He is glad the Wii is selling out because consumers may now buy a PS3 out of frustration. He’s pleased that Nintendo’s giant safe can barely fit any more money in it because that may mean a few dollars drift down the street to Sony. He enjoys that Iwata’s back is sore from carrying bars of solid gold to the bank, and Miyamoto’s neck aches after craning to see the top of his new mansion.

But then he must also hold the public in contempt for not recognizing his product’s blatant superiority. →  Postgaea 2: Cursed Memories

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. →  Fear the old posts.