Weekend Short-Takes: 2/8/13

OnLive's Bruce Grove on next-gen gaming, MMOs: 'We can take the leadership here'‏

Simon Wu:

That’s pretty bold talk for bankruptcy, and I remain to be convinced for one fundamental reason. OnLive has yet to act like Netflix, parasitically attaching itself to every TV and connected device known to man. Most people I know who use Netflix do so because of the “well, it’s already there” factor. I think that the most groundbreaking and innovative approach OnLive can take is if they can somehow create a web-based interface, where you can stream games just like you do sporting events or Netflix now. That has to precede MMOs and more graphically intensive games that require even more overhead to process, which you may recall was the single biggest contributor to the initial bankruptcy.

John Fenix:

Grove’s optimism seems pretty infectious, as I can see already the possibilities that he’s been championing of cloud-base platforming, something I can get excited about. Still there’s reason to put on the face mask of skepticism given the recent troubles they have been having. To be fair though, a LOT of companies have been having financial issues. Like always, let’s wait and see what OnLive will come up with. Oh, and cover your mouth when you sneeze.

Alex Miller:

I have always liked the thought behind MMOs, the collectiveness, the group efforts always spoke to me like this was the way games were meant to be played. However, few ever get beyond this good idea into the range of actually fun, and even less so on consoles. That being said, OnLive is a much different approach to most consoles, and the fact that all the real work for every player is done on machines right next each other as opposed to miles and miles away could do something. A console mmo, if fun, that is exclusive to their platform could be a good selling point, but I think Simon is right, they should focus on making themselves omnipresent first, as that will be a much stronger tool in their survival.

Photo Credit: engadget.com

Xbox 360 will be the exclusive launch console for Redbox Instant‏

Simon Wu:

Another week, another service, as I’m sure they say up in Redmond these days. But I want to look at the next Playstation, whose launch is imminent. The service disparity between the two current consoles is about as wide as the Marianas Trench is deep. It’s quite possible, and in fact very likely that Sony will launch with a host of new services, and already we are setting the parameters for what the event on the 20th needs to be. Sony needs to do the same pivot Microsoft has dutifully been working at for the past few years, except much faster, and what better time to do it than with the next-gen console.

John Fenix:

As someone who uses a good proportion of his 360 and computer for Netflix, this is not as big a deal for me, although I have used Redbox’s kiosks before, which have always been handy when I need a DVD (shock I know, I like DVDs).

Alex Miller:

And so the Home media-box 360 continues to acquire services. Excuse me as I continue to beat my well dead horse, but I think it is very clear that consoles are used as entire media centers now and not just for gaming, and that more and more companies are finally realising this. I do think it is interesting to see Redbox, as a competitor to Netflix, go head to head with the older service. Especially considering that I think Redbox is almost the exact same thing as what Netflix was a few years ago, it will be interesting to see how this dogfight will fare. One thing is for certain though and that is that Microsoft can do nothing but profit.

Photo Credit: alvanet.com

New Xbox requires an always-on connection to block used games, says report‏

Simon Wu:

I was gravely worried about this rumor when it first surfaced some months ago. Not only because of the implications for what happens when I bring my game to a friend’s house, but also because I am absolutely positive that Microsoft will mess up this system in some fundamental way that breaks the entire experience until they hastily create a fix. This system, if implemented even the slightest bit improperly, might pan out to be even worse than the RROD pandemic from the 360’s early days. In addition, I am worried about the requirement for constant internet connection, because I currently am in a situation where my Xbox has spotty to no internet connection. Does this mean my Xbox is a glorified brick during that time? Do I have to enter license codes for each game like I do for Windows and Office? Will full games now become the equally as meticulous and difficult to manage as DLC is right now?

John Fenix:

This rubs me a bit in a bad way. Look, nothing against what the industry is trying to do. But having an always on connection can be a bit of a grind to for some people (or for those with bad internet connections). Tell you truth, I’d rather have those season pass EA and other companies love so much right now. I don’t want to have to connect to internet every time I want to play Assassin’s Creed IV or V (I never played much of the multiplayer anyways on the other titles anyways).

Alex Miller:

I’m gonna go ahead and call bullshit on this, and before I explain why I’ll just leave this here for you to peruse. Go ahead, you can go read it real quick, just come back.
Read it? Ok good, now you understand why I am highly skeptical when an anonymous source claims something about the console that is so impractical it can’t be true. The element of requiring an always on internet connection (especially in their main market of the United States where internet availability is well below where it should be) would turn away so many customers while providing literally no gain to Microsoft. The only people this helps are companies like EA and Activision who have been pouting about Gamestop and used games for a long time now. Unless they are somehow giving Microsoft something ludicrously valuable in return, I don’t see this coming true.
(As a sidenote, that tumblr i shared is why I’m glad I comment on the news and don’t directly report it.)

Photo Credit: authentec.com

This Weekend's Grammy Awards Could Mean Making History for the Videogame Industry

Simon Wu:

I am very excited to see this, and it’s from a tiny but compelling little indie game, not a Hans Zimmer scored blockbuster like Crysis or Modern Warfare 2. It really is going to showcase the creative talent behind it, and its mere inclusion will definitely add even more fuel into the indie games rush that we are currently seeing. Moreover, it’s good that video games are working their way into existing awards shows, because we all know just how amazing the VGAs are.

John Fenix:

Not really hardware oriented, I know, but I think this is as big of milestone for video games as the move to cloud computing and cross-platform gaming. Despite all the big games that focus on action and fun, we can forget that games can move us, through storytelling and characters, and especially music (Confession: I fell in love with the cello thanks in part to the music of Halo by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori). So, as much snuff as video games get for not being up to “artistic” levels as movies and TV (looking at you Mr. Ebert), seeing a video game soundtrack competing with titans such as John Williams and Hans Zimmer is very exciting to see. I may just watch to see what happens. Now what are the chances of giving Marty maybe an Achievement Award or something like that?

Alex Miller:

I think this is fascinating simply on the basis that, either way it goes, it just throws fuel on the raging fire that is the debate on whether or not games are or can be art. That an indie game’s soundtrack is going up against the true living stalwarts of the soundtrack composition world is even more impressive and I think the underdog story makes it that much more compelling. Fingers crossed for Austin, but I think hes in there with a shot.

Photo Credit: music.yahoo.com

PlayStation 4 report suggests $400+ price‏

Simon Wu:

Sony’s getting better, I’ll grant them that. But they would only merit a certificate of participation this time around if this actually pans out. Recalling that their big, heavy, year-late PS3 started at $599 and preparing to launch in just a few weeks’ time, they have attempted to learn from both lessons that they failed last time around. However, I maintain that $399 is the absolute upper limit for the base console model with 1 controller. The era of $600 mainstream PCs is long gone, and this is the era of $300 tablets and $200 smartphones. Consumers will expect the new console to be priced accordingly.

Alex Miller:

Well, at least Sony seemed to have learned how to sell something that costs closer to $0 than $1000. If the PS4 does end up costing more than $400 I wouldn’t be particularly surprised, what with the new graphics and systems and the fact that any new console will be overpriced while the maker can get away with it (and potentially break even on the device). In fact I wouldn’t be particularly upset if this were the case, as this is what I expect Sony to do. However, if they start climbing north of the $500 mark I may begin to rethink my options, but as it stands I don’t think this will be a major turnoff for most people, at least early on.

Milleniummaster18's picture

I personally can't see that "always on internet connection requirement" rumor becoming true, since, as already said, it weighs too much against Microsoft. Besides, I think we already saw this particular issue with Steam, and how much of a hindrance it is to the paying customers.  I mean, come on, they can't be that naive.

Then again, we've seen companies do radical, unexpected things that turn out just fine in the long run.

I don't know. The new generation of consoles is approaching, after all. Anything can happen.