Weekend Short-Takes: 10/26/12

Nintendo’s Wii U voice chat mess: Console might not support wireless headsets‏

Simon Wu:

Case in point of why I am thoroughly skeptical of the WiiU’s hardcore initiative. Apparently Nintendo thinks that if you’re an Xbox or Playstation gamer you’ve been on your high horse too long. Easy connect wireless headsets? A convenient port to plug in a wired headset on the controller? Bundled wired headsets? No sir. You’ve had it too easy. You’ll need to go out and buy yourself a 3rd party headset, and while you use the Xbox Pro controller, you have to keep the headset plugged into the Gamepad. This is absurdity of the highest degree, and why Nintendo has failed to provide clear and convincing evidence that their hardcore play is anywhere near being superior to the 360 or PS3.

Alex Miller:
As long as they have been talking about the WiiU, Nintendo has said that they would compete for the Hardcore market. They have said that the WiiU can duke it out with the latest products from both Microsoft and Sony. However, despite this competitive bravado Simon and I have assumed a position of show me, don’t tell me. So while they have at least tried to say all the right things, they continue to DO all the wrong ones. Instead of providing a platform with the resources to make a legitimate run on Xbox’s or Playstation’s market share, they have supplied us a comparatively underpowered next gen console that once again appears to court the gimmick and family market instead of the professed hardcore one. Voice chat, as much as it is maligned by many for its oversaturation of racist, homophobic, etc slurs and other vulgar language, is a necessary component for serious online multiplayer. In team based games, coordination and cooperation is generally necessary to do well, and easy voice support is what gets this done. Unfortunately, once again, Nintendo has said one thing and done another. Hopefully for them the inconvenience of balancing two controllers while playing an intense online match won’t turn too many of the already low number of serious gamers looking at the Wiiu away from it.

photo credit: kotaku.com
 

Study finds 85% of social gamers quit after their first day‏

Simon Wu:
So when I railed against Zynga and Co. way back when on the Com-cast, it wasn’t all bluster. Social gamers really do have short attention spans and are like seagulls, easily distracting and constantly flitting onto the next shiny thing that emerges. However, despite this, analysts and pundits continue to bet their credibility on Zynga and the rest of Tech Bubble 2.0. Because of their extreme simplicity and flat learning curve, it’s easy to pick up but just as easy to drop down. It’s mindless fun, unlike our more favored type of games, which, although more difficult to pick up, provide deeper interaction and involvement.

Alex Miller:
How fickle are thee, ye consumers of social games (but in a way, thank you for disproving the dominance of your genre). To some, social games on platforms such as android or iphone are the future, where the money in gaming really is. I hope this serves as a wake up call to them. These games are, generally, largely ad supported or make their money on in game microtransactions, either extra levels, skins, characters, etc. If gamers aren't sticking around to consume the ads or to purchase further add-ons, then it becomes clear that this is not the gold mine that many thought it to be. Unless you have the next doodle jump or Angry Birds, then you are probably yesterdays game the day you come out. 

 

Zynga Shuts Down Boston Office, Lays Off 100+ Employees From The Ville And Bingo Teams In Austin
 

Simon Wu:
…And right on time, here is the consequence of that lack of substance. While I am disappointed good jobs were lost, the problem with making shiny things for seagulls is that you constantly have to make newer and shinier things at an incredible rapid pace. There’s almost no time you should spend on improving or upgrading your existing offerings. (see above)

 

Alex Miller: 

Echoing Simon, I would like to start off by saying how unfortunate it is for people to lose their jobs, especially at this time of the year, and that our hearts go out to them and their families. But as Simon also said, this is what happens. When you are not getting the revenue from in game purchases or the same ad dollars because your game is not sticking, then you cannot be surprised when you are in trouble financially. The most despicable thing about it is that this news broke during the Apple Ipad mini press event, a calculated move to try and minimize damage I’m sure. Yet another reason to dislike Zynga then.

photo credit: http://pandodaily.com

 

 

Microsoft 'retiring' Facebook and Twitter Xbox 360 Dashboard apps

 

Simon Wu:
Very obvious where this one was going: Microsoft wants you to use that pretty little IE for Xbox. However, I wonder what the use metrics on these apps were in the first place. I have used the FB app a grand total of twice. Once when it was released to try it, and then second when I was literally so lazy I used it to send a birthday message to a friend. The usage proposition for this, as with IE Xbox, are near absolute zero. With the proliferation of tablets and smartphones that can reach the same information much, much, faster, and can connect through HDMI quite easily now, even that argument is losing momentum fast. An interesting social experiment, I suppose.

Alex Miller:
Oh no, whatever am I going to do without the thing that I consistently forgot was on my Xbox, the thing I used once and never looked at again? But seriously, the problem with both of these apps, whose primary purpose was text entry, was that they were basically useless unless you had a chatpad on which to type (the on-screen keyboard is less than useful.) However, assuming that one does have the chatpad, it is still less convenient to cycle over to the app, open it, let it load, scroll to the status screen, and then enter your text than it is to simply whip out your smartphone and enter something quickly while waiting in a Call of Duty lobby. The fact that you had to load up the app and leave the game environment doomed it from the start in my eyes. If they had somehow integrated it with the Xbox guide then maybe it would have done better, but as it stands, goodbye Facebook and Twitter for Xbox, you won’t really be missed.

photo credit: gamernode.com

Assassin's Creed movie 'fast-tracked'

Simon Wu:
Oh how the good video game movies are finally on their way. For far too long Hollywood has ignored the likes of AC and Halo, instead giving us Mario and Prince of Persia. This resurgence also owes a great deal to the rise of independent movie makers. I remember back in the heady days of Halo 3 and 2007, video game movies were torpedoed left and right because Universal and the other big studios didn’t want that risk. But now, with enterprising smaller groups like the Weinstein Company, there is an attentive ear. Michael Fassbander is also very promising these days, I hear.

Alex Miller:
To say I am excited about this would be, I think, a bit too strong. I am hopeful, certainly. Intrigued? For sure. But in the face of the promises of so many AAA game movies in the past that have so far failed to materialize, to be excited would be a step too far I think. However, on the bright side, it is good to see they went with a smaller production company (though not too small, these are the guys who made Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Marley & Me) where they will be able to retain control of the project and make sure it stays true to the source material. And as their resume shows, New Regency can make both an action thriller and a dramatic, character driven story, something I think Assassins creed as a franchise has in equal measures. Hopefully they can capture this and come through, keeping the same Assassin’s Creed feel that we all know and love ,and maybe, just maybe, we will finally get a film based on a game that does the original and the fanbase justice. 

photo credit: ifc.com

 

PlayStation 3: The Final Hack?


Simon Wu:
One last hurrah by hackers to usher in the PS3 Slimmer? I just think it goes to show that Sony has not adequately learned and prepared since their last giant breach. Unless there’s some radical infrastructure change or upgrade in the background services when the PS4 comes around, as a consumer I would be very concerned and skeptical initially about buying one. This is an unprecedented firmware break, and Sony has almost no recourse in fixing it through updates, because the MASTER decryption key was found. That’s not the image Sony needs to have. It’s something that Microsoft is unburdened with moving forward, and a new concern for Nintendo as the Wii U tries to incorporate all these online services, and is essentially untried.

Alex Miller:
I feel like Sony is the little dutch boy at the dyke, plugging a hole with his finger until another solution can be put in place. Except there are multiple holes, and each time the little boy sticks his finger in one another one pops up at the other end of the dyke. Such is Sony’s problem with hacking that I feel like it has become almost an ever present in the news, something that the Tokyo based company do not want at all. As Simon says, this puts a bit of a damper on the new PS3 slim and will force Sony to jump through even more hoops as they try and dance their way out of this most recent mess. And the funny thing is, if it wasn’t for a chinese company trying to make money off of the master decryption key, it probably would have never leaked. Sony just can't catch a break.

photo credit: light-walker.com

 

And with that, I (Alex) am off to see Skyfall. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

live2rock13's picture

I actually got done watching a video where Nintendo says it is expecting that the Wii U sales will be lower than what was initially expected and in order to make up the loses, they will be focusing on the 3DS. Personally I think the console will fail because there is nothing I can see that will make everyone go out and buy one like the original Wii did.  

Solifluktion's picture

An Assassin's Creed movie could be pretty awesome...as long as it doesn't revolve around Desmond/Altair/Ezio/Connor and instead tells it's own story. Since apparently Assasins and Templers have been around way longer than Assasins(Hashishini) and Templers (the real kind) there would be quite a lot of eras in which the movie could take place without interfering in the games' storyline. We'll see how they decide to handle the whole thing and maybe there will finally be a decent movie based on a videogame.

Milleniummaster18's picture

@Solifluktion

Well, it can revolve around Altair, there's quite a few feats we've only heard of him doing and never got to see them in detail. Ezio's story is pretty much wrapped up now, so I agree that there's no point for the movie to revolve around him or Connor (no need for the new kid to get the lead role, that's just unfair).

As for Desmond, you can do either with or without him. The games might focus on him but the movie doesn't have to.

Bringing up a completely new Assassin will most likely dissociate the video game from the movie a bit too much. It surely is a feasibly successful concept, but it gives me cold feet since we have seen quite a bunch of flops using this "make a new protagonist" formula (Resident Evil comes to mind).

michaelkirschner's picture

Hopefully the AC movie won't change the animus to a time machine as some have feared

Solifluktion's picture

@Michaelkirschner

I always thought the Animus was stupid. They should just focus on the Assassin and ignore the present day. 

@Milleniummaster

That's true. But his looks and his voice won't match with the actor and that's something I don't like. That's why I think a Mass Effect movie shouldn't focus on Shepard.

I have to admit, I'm thinking of the whole matter as a fan and not as an economist who thinks about what would make the most money. As long as I'm not dissapointed I don't care how the movie fares.

And the RE movies are crappy but apparently they're quite successful. 

disgruntledavians's picture

Not the PS3 again. Seriously. If the PS4 gets hacked also, Sony will have almost no credibility then. Then I think they're well and truly screwed. If the Wii U gets hacked, that'll stop their hardcore push dead in the water.

darthskeletor's picture

@live2rock13, 

I think Nintendo is going to be hard pressed to get those 5.5 million units sold that they anticipate. Also, I love how they say they are going to rely on a device that has health warnings for kids attached to it. That sounds like a stable business strategy.

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