Weekend Short-Takes: 11/23/12

This week on the Short-Takes, the next Xbox gets some rumored specs, Nintendo's blunders with DRM rolls on, could there be a media only Xbox device soon, Bioware asks nicely if fans are craving a prequel, and Halo looks to get its feet wet in the MMO realm.

Next-gen Xbox details emerge as Wii U launches and PlayStation 3 catches up in worldwide sales

Simon Wu:

A few weeks ago we heard of some preliminary specs for the PS4, and now this completes the circle. The reverse engineered renders in the article seem to make it look like a black Mac Mini, and it seems like it will be pretty on par with the PS4 specs, with a quad-core processor and a now common 8 GB of RAM. The VaporMg casing sounds fantastic, because I’ve had the privilege to check out a Surface, and it is definitely a classy upgrade from the plastic we’ve had on the 360. The Blu-ray drive is interesting, since it looks like they won’t make a proprietary high-capacity disk like Nintendo, and instead license the tech from Sony. I can’t wait to see more.

Alex Miller:

I am also definitely intrigued. The increased RAM and processing cores are the biggest thing for me. I have not had the chance to use a surface so I can’t comment on the case, but as for the internals, it seems like we can look forward to a significant upgrade. The Xbox 360 currently has 512mb of RAM, so the 16x increase in RAM up to 8GB is certainly welcome. The bump from a tri-core to a quad-core processor is also going to be nice and should allow the more graphically demanding games we are sure to see run nice and smooth.

Photo Credit: bgr.com

Nintendo forces Wii U owners to jump through hoops to transfer their Wii content

Simon Wu:

The Wii U upgrade misery rolls on. Bricked consoles, streaming services still not coming online, and now this. Where the Xbox is incredibly convenient in allowing you to transfer saves and content this way and that, as well as a decently simple content license transfer process, this sounds like a veritable nightmare. Seriously, I’m pretty sure rooting and unlocking my phone was slightly easier than this. I honestly don’t know how many times and to what extent I can keep saying Nintendo’s hardcore push is a non-starter when they keep taking away control and freedom from those who they’re trying so hard to win over. I do these sorts of things constantly on my Xbox, and I can’t see this winning over anyone.

Alex Miller:

When you start off a new console cycle by punishing the very people who have been loyal to you and spent time in your digital environment while also not doing enough to win over the new crowd that you supposedly covet so much, you are not going to be in a good position. Its kind of like Nintendo decided that it is now too cool for its old friends and that they should hang out with the “cool” hardcore gaming kids, only for them to reject Nintendo. Nintendo will have to do its best to try and make it up to its old friends now and hope they take it back, cause the hardcore gamers certainly aren’t warming to it.

Photo Credit: arstechnica.com

Microsoft 'Xbox TV' device due in 2013 with casual gaming and streaming

Simon Wu:

I actually am quite glad that Microsoft is diversifying the Xbox brand to mean all things entertainment, because it is this rolling together of features and services that is allowing a next-gen console to really even exist. The time for a pure game console is well and truly over. (Nintendo would do well to stop half-assing their transition) This also makes sense, since many people I know have stopped playing games on their console all together, and were it not for the rush of AC, Halo, and CoD, I would probably not be very far off from being that way as well. This also provides competition against the Apple TV and Roku, and will definitely make for a cheaper price point, which I would expect to be about $100 at most.

Alex Miller:

Microsoft is doing a very good job of producing first party hardware that covers a wide variety of functionalities. Creating a unifying yet easily personalizable system for people to make truly theirs puts them in a good position to compete across the board. This Xbox TV sounds like a great device for more professional individuals/couples or parents with young kids, as it allows them access to their entertainment content and some minor gaming functionality while not charging them more for more intense gaming functionality that they are not likely to use. The near instant turn on tech sounds cool as well. Good move Microsoft.

Photo Credit: infoxbox.com

BioWare asks if fans want Mass Effect prequel

Simon Wu:

In the same way Halo: Reach was technically a prequel involving completely different characters and messing with the canon about those events as presented to me before? There is absolutely no shortage of interesting events to explore before the established storylines. Given that Shepard won’t be the PC, I can imagine some leader during the First Contact War, or even the discovery of the Mars artifacts and how that unlocks the entire galaxy for humanity.

Alex Miller:

I too would be interested in a prequel Mass Effect title. There is plenty of galaxy to explore/ build a story in and I certainly think that as far away from the one truly bad part of the Mass Effect series (Mass Effect 3’s ending) the better off they are. Nice to see Casey Hudson asking fans what it is they want, nice first step of many more to come that the Mass effect team will need to take to pay fans back for the aforementioned letdown.wn.

Halo team seeking devs with MMO experience

Simon Wu:

Oh no. Another strong franchise looking at the dreaded MMO realm. If I might couch this in a metaphor, this is a King of the Hill match, and WoW has been the King for about 9/10ths of the game so far. The area around him is littered with the bodies of countless challengers. EVE Online is camping somewhere, and the latest contender, the Old Republic, is behind cover in Last Stand, and that’s where this analogy is starting to unravel. The point is, though, that SWTOR was going to be the best possible outside challenger to WoW, and even that fell short. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Halo has a slightly smaller fanbase than Star Wars. Perhaps the first console FPS MMORPG?

Alex Miller:

Another thing to consider is that the job posting just asks for experience and that they will be "building the next generation of backend services to power Halo 4 and our new game saga." It IS possible that this could mean they are taking another stab at the MMO genre, but it could also mean they are looking to try and implement aspects of MMO’s into their multiplayer and online functionality. Possible guild/clan support, more social aspects, things like that. Just a thought, but it makes sense to me as I just find it hard to think that Microsoft would really splash the cash to try and take Blizzard’s crown when the subscription model has been shown (time and time and time again) to be almost unworkable business model in the present day and age, with the one real exception of WoW (which might owe some of this to its long lifespan, its birth coming when this was still a viable model.)

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