Weekend Short-Takes: 2/1/13

Wii U misses out on latest 'Tomb Raider' title due to unconventional controller‏

Simon Wu:

This is a perfect microcosm of the blowback from the gimmick game Nintendo is playing, and we predicted this exact problem of developer attrition and loss might happen on the podcast where we picked apart all aspects of the Wii U. It’s really easy to map out controls across the Playstation and Xbox, developers have been doing that pretty well for ages, but as we said, coming up with a radically different system to put on a separate touchscreen might turn out to be too much on a cost/benefit analysis.

Alex Miller:

This scenario repeating over and over again is my exact fear when it comes to Nintendo’s new console. Because of what they have done by having a “unique” aka inconvenient controller they force developers to do more work than they want/are willing to do. Nintendo should be making it easier, not harder for developers to work with their console. The relative ease with which one can develop for it is one of the Xbox 360’s greatest strengths, and the Nintendo Wii’s habitation on the opposite side of that spectrum may lead, in my eyes, to the WiiU’s fatal flaw: because it is so different it will face a lack of (quality) content. Developers won’t want to port their games to the WiiU because, as said in the article, they don’t want to do it half heartedly, but since developers will always choose to make a game they can easily release on multiple platforms over a game that is tailor made for just one, it comes down to a simple business decision that is not in Nintendo’s favor.We saw with the Wii that most good games were Nintendo first party titles, most likely with the word Mario somewhere in there, and I’m afraid that what has happened here will be repeated time after time with the traditional developers, who will just give the console a pass because there attention could be better spent elsewhere.

Photo Credit: theverge.com

China may consider ending its decade-long ban on video game consoles‏

Simon Wu:

Well, on a macroeconomic scale, while the US’s economy shrank by .01 percent, China’s kept roaring up 7.9 percent. In addition, the gaming culture still has acres upon acres to expand. China might do for the consoles what it did for car manufacturers during the recession: keep them afloat while sales in the West continue to slide. If this policy is reversed, which might be very possible with the tech explosion we’ve witnessed in the country in the past decade, perhaps the new NPD numbers won’t be so dreary.

Alex Miller:

It would certainly be interesting to see what would happen if they were to reverse the policy, seeing as there is a definite market for gaming in China. For quite some time the players from that country have made up a significant portion (i.e. possibly as much as 50%) of the user base in World of Warcraft, showing no lack of interest in gaming. Beyond what Simon has stated above however, I wonder what affects the availability of consoles in China would have on WoW and online PC gaming as a whole. While I know the game is contracted out to another company to run because of Chinese laws, I wonder if a major hit to WoW’s user base there due to the option to switch to consoles might cause quite the dynamic shift in mmorpgs. If WoW was no longer as unassailable, who knows what might happen.

Nintendo Q3 earnings show 3 million Wii Us sold, sales forecasts lowered again‏

Simon Wu:

But speaking of dreary financial numbers, and tying in our first headline this week, we are seeing all that launch hype for Nintendo dissipate. Even though the article tries to portray the reversal into a gain, a net income of $87 million, although very impressive sounding at first, is a pittance for a major corporation of Nintendo’s magnitude. Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, which doesn’t even have the benefit of handhelds (unless you count Windows Phone, which right now is almost nothing), made $3.77 billion in revenue.

Alex Miller:

Nintendo are really going to have to pull a pretty big rabbit out of their collective hat, since the way these numbers are going they just don’t have the capital to compete with the rest of the conole makers. As Simon and I mentioned many podcasts ago, Microsoft and Sony have massive corporate bodies that can redistribute income from various divisions to support and kickstart their consoles, something necessary in the heavily front loaded cost of selling console games. Nintendo just does not have that and as more and more money is poured into the market, I’m not entirely sure how Nintendo plan to keep up.

Photo Credit: engadget.com

Gabe Newell says Apple is the Steam Box's biggest threat‏

Simon Wu:

The oracle of gaming speaks, and he still thinks that there is some magic in the Apple gaming console or gaming platform that is yet to exist. This is possible if Apple plays their cards right. There is news that the next Apple TV will look the same and only have some minor internal hardware changes. Therefore, it follows that if Apple doesn’t want to fall into a totally evolutionary dev cycle trap, the main refresh would be software. Apple has an established gaming platform on iOS and now increasingly so for OSX. Bringing the Game Center interface to Apple TV would complete the cycle and bring more brand cohesion, as Microsoft and Google are scrambling to do the same.

Alex Miller:

I’m not sure I buy this Mr. Newell. While Apple has been a game changer in many markets, some may wonder if they haven’t lost a bit of their edge. Having released nothing essentially new since the iPad (yearly reskins do not count) and with their stock prices on a general decline in the last four months, one might wonder if Valve should be focusing on the devices that are already in, and well established in, the living room. As Simon and I have long said, the Xbox 360 and the PS3 are not just gaming consoles anymore, they are top of the line home media centers. With their newest iterations coming out soon (possibly sooner than expected, see below) we can only expect their services to be better, the devices stronger, and the overall experience better. While Apple might make a play for the living room, we already know Microsoft and Sony definitely are, which, in my eyes makes them the force to beat, not Apple.

Photo Credit: polygon.com

Sony might announce Playstation 4 a bit earlier than expected

Simon Wu:

Sony officials probably still regret to this day letting the Xbox take a year lead last time around. This time, they’re not waiting. They have no cute countdown to E3 on their website. They are bringing the action first. I fully expected that they would be first to the punch this time around, but not by this much. Other estimates had pegged the announcement to be just slightly before E3, but I suppose they want absolute certainty. The game is entirely in Microsoft’s court as to how to respond. Do they tease a bigger unveil, or do they go full force soon afterwards? Will Nintendo have to drop its prices even faster as people see the stark superiority of the PS4? Will E3 see a fight between the consoles directly, a phenomenon we haven’t witnessed for over half a decade?

Alex Miller:

Well, in terms of stealing a march, there is not a better way to do it than to completely beat your competition to the punch by several months. If this in fact the announcement of the next Playstation, I wonder if we'll see it released before E3 (though the 2014 release date in Europe might cast that into doubt somewhat) and if this will in some way force Microsoft to move their plans forward. Will we see a rushed release from Microsoft? Are the roles from last generation about to be reversed? This will definitely be interesting to watch, though the claims that it will be more powerful than the next Xbox seem more like posturing bluster than actual news as no official specs have been released by either side. Stay tuned till February 20th everyone.

Photo Credit: gamespot.com

Solifluktion's picture

I'm really interested to see what happens if China decides to allow consoles. After all there are quite a few people living there who might be interested in console gaming. 

Whiplash's picture

I'm surprised you didn't mention THQ's expungement from the gaming industry.

I don't think Apple has the chance to top Valve whatsoever. It would be really difficult for them to topple a major contender in gaming distribution. The only thing Apple has against Steam is mobile, and that's nothing compared to the Über omniscient and omnipotent Gabe Newell and the PC market as a whole.

John Tarr's picture

As Simon and I have long said, the Xbox 360 and the PS3 are not just gaming consoles anymore, they are top of the line home media centers.

And Apple already has their own top of the line media center with the Apple TV, which has a significantly larger content library than the 360 or PS3 and only costs $100.

I don't think Apple could compete with Steam for hardcore games, but Apple could easily make a very appealing mini-console that runs relatively cheap iOS style games, dramatically undercutting the long term costs of owning a 'big' console. Same strategy that they are using right now to dominate the handheld gaming market, and Apple is barely even trying to win over handheld gamers.

Create New Account or Log in to comment