Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 12.1.06

Analyst predicts Sony will leave the hardware business
This may be completely stupid and absurd, but then it just may make sense. The recent management shuffle at Sony, some believe, is an indication of things to come. Kutaragi, the Sony hardware guy, has been promoted out of the way and now Kaz Hirai, a software guy, is in charge of Sony’s game division. The theory goes Kutaragi has fucked things up too much and the PS3 may cost Sony money, so by removing their hardware guy and putting in a software guy, they can transition out of hardware and focus on developing software only.

This is slightly hard to believe if only because I was completely unaware that Sony has a significant software division. Ueda and Jaffe aside, what does Sony have to offer gamers? Everquest 3? Untold Legends: The Same as Last Game? If you count studios like Naughty Dog and Psygnosis that they bought, maybe their software division is robust enough without their hardware department. Still, Sony is no Nintendo, Squeenix or even Sega (I take that back, my imaginary design team is nearly on par with Sega).

Oh, and it’s slightly hard to believe because Sony sold 60 trillion PS2s. It may be the case that the PS3 flops and costs Sony big, but it seems odd that they’d be planning for failure. Although, Sega knew the Dreamcast would be their last console and they went through with it anyway, so there is precedent.

A Japanese dinosaur.

They region locked my Wii
Despite Nintendo’s newly found progressive attitude about the game market, they are still a dinosaur in many regards (do Japanese dinosaurs know martial arts?). To remind us of this, they have region encoded the Wiis (or the game discs, I’d assume.) This is a particularly brutal move to Wii fans because 1) Nintendo consoles need all the titles they can get, despite country of origin, 2) The Wii promises to have the support of many smaller Japanese companies, and 3) If the DS is any indication, many quirky games will be left in Japan. I want Fresh-Picked Tinkle’s Rose-Tinted Rupee Land, and I want it now.

It’s not easy to make a profit on a PS3 game
Namco says they must sell at least half a million copies of a PS3 game to make any profit on it. This coupled with the fact that Sony hasn’t had the easiest time shipping PS3s, and thus the console suffers from a small install base, may make companies hesitant to develop for Sony. In related news, my mother must only turn two tricks a night to make a profit, offsetting assets sunk into lipstick and condoms.

EA’s new plan to suck less
An EA essential speaks yet says nothing in this interview. They are going to “pick up the pace” of developing new intellectual property (non-sequel or licensed games) but this has always been EAs policy. They have this new focus but they are not changing their business plan.

It’s also interesting how the guy claims EA is in the business because they love games. This wouldn’t be odd except that he also says that the company is very aggressive when it comes to growth. Maybe it’s just the 17 year old Communist in me, but the rabid purchasing of other companies seems to hint that EA is a standard corporation that loves success and their product just happens to be video games. “We love making video games, that’s why we spend half our time buying companies and negotiating with John Madden.”

Nintendo sells a lot of Wiis
In a week, Nintendo has made nearly $200 million from the Wii. This is in stark contrast to Sony’s loss every time they sell a console. Nintendo sold 600k Wiis and there is still more demand than systems. Nearly 75% of Wii owners also picked up the new Zelda game, but Nintendo is quiet about where all the god damn remotes have gone.

Indie games on the Wii
Serious and indie game developers are examining the possibilities brought about by the Wii. This is a very interesting article that I’d argue overemphasizes the Wii remotes stress of physical rather than abstract gameplay. The most exciting possibility for small game developers, this article says, is the chance to make new games for old systems that Wii owners will have access to thanks to the Virtual Console. A new Wii game may only cost a few million dollars, but a new C64 game costs a team of two a few late night pizza deliveries.

As usual, Nintendo is screwing themselves when it comes to small third party developers. They will not begin reviewing applications for games until next year. I predict that they will not open the doors of distribution to third parties who want to distribute their new NES games, nor will they license many full fledged indie Wii titles. This is based on their terrible 3rd party relations since…well, as long as they’ve made hardware.

Identify which is David and which is Sam and win a prize.

Some David Jaffe related crap
Jaffe is obviously a very talented man, and as such he should have the ability to hire a professional photographer capable of taking decent pictures of him. Or better yet, insist the media use a picture of Sweet Tooth or Kratos any time they mention his name. The current picture that goes with everything Jaffe makes him look like a Hobbit, what with his pudgy round face and scraggly hair. If he had a sense of humor, he’d bring a sword and a ring on a necklace to his next photoshoot.

Sony sells all of how ever many PS3s they launched with
EA estimates Sony only shipped half of the promised 400k units for launch. This reminds me of the line from a Sony guy — “This is not a perfect science manufacturing this device.” How can a manufactured good not be a perfect science? Is there a gnome who affixes the blu ray into each PS3 by hand? Sony seems to be their own worst enemy right now. Forget Microsoft, Sony can barely build their own console.

The Onion makes slightly humorous chart, internet applauds
With such clever jokes as, “Cost: PS3 — Fucking ridiculous, Wii – Reasonably ridiculous,” it’s easy to see why the Onion is the most popular parody news site. Give the man who wrote, “Love of Owner: PS3 — This much, Wii — Thiiis much,” a Pulitzer for his skewering of corporate America.

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17 years ago

Yeah, that comment about Sony leaving the hardware business was a little out there. That’s a mouthful to predict. I can somewhat see where he got the idea (if he means software like the disjointed OS that Sony uses for the PS3, he’s out of his mind), but Sony would never let something like that happen. They will probably learn from their mistakes and incorporate them into the PS4. And ouch for Namco. They probably knew this was coming and have already predicted it into their budgets, but damn, 500,000? It’s a little easier when they said it needs to be worldwide sales, but I don’t see that happening for at least 2 more months. And that’s if people still want Gundam and Ridge Racer by then.