Weekend Short-Takes: 3/1/13

The PS4's processor and performance: what we know and what we think we know‏

Simon Wu:

I love stats, and these are some juicy ones to look into. The good news is, they really aren’t skimping out on this console, if the bits and pieces they’ve given to us are true. The bad news: it’s really cutting edge stuff that hasn’t even come out for regular PCs yet. And that stuff costs a lot of money. Of course, you can always explain a little bit of cost away with the old adage that consoles are loss leaders. But that won’t get your far enough. And that’s why we haven’t heard anything about price yet, and that’s the part that worries me the most *cough* $599 *cough*.

Max Gruber:

I’m not much of a guru when it comes to computer specs, so I’m afraid I can’t really comment on this. I’m sure Simon and, possibly, Alex will have a lot to say about this, since they have custom built PCs of their own, so I’ll leave the comments to them.

Alex Miller:

Thanks for the confidence there Max. In fact, I do have one or two things to mention about this design. First of all, as Simon mentioned, it includes a lot of high end items. Some of this will be reduced as it will be produced en masse, and hopefully the article is correct in its assumption/suggestion that Sony and AMD will take short term losses for long term gains, but this is one of the biggest sticking points for me. Sony needs to learn that even if they make the best possible console, a high initial cost makes it that much harder to sell. They need to remove as many initial blocks to people buying it as possible. Another thing that I thought was interesting was how this new processor is essentially an evolved netbook processor. While it wouldn’t appear to be underpowered as a result of this even though that would be the kneejerk reaction, it does look safe to say that it will draw less power (and as a result make less noise and produce less heat) than the PS3, which is always good to hear.


Every PlayStation 4 game will be available to download, subscription service a possibility‏

Simon Wu:

Sony really is on the offensive right now, and I like to see that the Gaikai purchase is not going to be one of those tech acquisitions that goes quietly into the night. Sony is right to understand that parity release online and availability online is going to be crucial as retail stores go out of business and consumers simply get more accustomed to being able to access anything they want from a single device. The only things to be ironed out are whether release date parity will be achieved, and whether price drops will be consistent or intelligently phased in.

Max Gruber:

I think they’re taking advantage of the supposed rumors that the Xbox VNext will not have a disk drive and that the games are digital only, while making them much better. Again, another point awarded for Sony. Microsoft, you have a lot of ground to cover when you unveil your champion in shining armor. They understand that the consumer should be given choices on how they purchase their games, whether they want to download it onto the platform in the safety and comfort of their home or if they want to drive out to their local Gamestop/Best Buy/Walmart and buy a physical copy of the game. Maybe the prices for digital will be cheaper than having to buy a physical copy of the game, but the conflicted variable would be your download speed.

Alex Miller:

This is interesting if not wholly unexpected. With the success of Steam as a digital downloads platform it seems unsurprising that the next generation would see games on demand become a fully fleshed out, functional service. I’m less sold on the Gaikai service they would be offering, partly because the comparison to a Cable TV company makes me cringe, but mostly because I’m reluctant to have my game essentially at someone elses house. Knowing how unreliable internet can be sometimes, I’d much rather go out and buy an external hard drive and download my games to my console so that they are always there. Hopefully we see same day release as physical copies (as contrary to the rumor Max linked, there is a 0% chance the next Xbox will not have a disk drive of some kind) and more dynamic pricing models ala Steam.


Xbox Live Ultimate Game Sale Kicks Off Today

Simon Wu:

My colleague Jonathan was quick to point out that this isn’t really news, and to a large extent he’s right. But I wanted to include it this week because it is a sign that Microsoft at some level gets that Steam is popular for a reason. If they can continue this with the regularity and significance that Steam does, they might have an effective riposte to the Steambox in hand. If, however, (and this is very possible) this is simply yet another way to shock just a bit of life into the now pretty much done 360, and they expect that games will never change price when on the v.Next Marketplace, I honestly hope Steam rips them a new one in terms of sales.

Max Gruber:

Assassin’s Creed 1, 2, and Brotherhood for $9.99 each? Halo 3 for the same price? Games selling for $4.99 or less? Count me in! While I’m really loving what Microsoft’s doing with these reduced prices, I do worry that it’s just a temporary ruse to get people excited for the next Xbox. It sickens me that a company would come up with something so awesome only to be Judas about it.

Alex Miller:

This is exactly what I was talking about above in terms of more dynamic pricing models. Especially for older games that people are much less likely to buy for full price its a way to make money without extra costs. Good to see this from Microsoft, a company which Simon and I have made a specific example of in the past when it comes to static pricing. Hopefully, as Simon and Max have said, this is not just a one time thing and we will see more such sales in the future. Heres hoping.


EA: All our games will have micro-transactions

Simon Wu:

Having watched the Dead Space 3 Drink Along and its implementation of microtransactions, I’m very worried about the integrity of skilled gameplay. What do I mean by that? Well, what I think might happen is that all games will get more resource oriented, maybe even becoming mandatory, requiring you to obtain a certain amount of x in order to make a better weapon, level up, or learn a skill. As is the case currently with microtransactions in mobile games, you can either take an inordinate amount of time to get the resources yourself, or you could pay $2 and have that obstacle magically removed. But because of this, the skill needed to accomplish those things is ripped away, replaced by a binary proposition: Will you give us your money?

Jonathan Tung:

If the future of video games involves game companies nickel and diming consumers, then you can count me out. Micro-transactions have already ruined a whole lot of video games on both mobile devices and Free to Play MMORPGs, and somehow, I get the feeling that paying more on a video game that you have already paid for seems to fall along the lines of the publishers being greedy for more money. This, coming from the company that pioneered the Online Pass.

Max Gruber:

*Sigh* Oh EA. It’s like you never left us, charging us for things that should be on the disk for free, ever lowing your social humility by doing their damndest to reel in as much money out of our pockets with their fishing pole that is their marketing division as they can. You’re doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons. You say this is the future of gaming, yet no one is doing it. Why? Because some people would rather make games with their fans on their #1 priority first than with money in their eyes. What are they going to do next, charge us to reload our gun? Oh wait... Shit. I may have given them maliceful inspiration there. Excuse me while I hang myself from my bellend.

“Them two-hundred dollar bullets ain’t so hot when they don’t hit nothin’, are they?”
–Scout, Team Fortress 2
(Paying to kill easier and more efficiently doesn’t make the player skilled.)

Alex Miller:

I am really very conflicted about this. As a general model, I actually love the idea of free content supported by microtransactions. It i actually what allows those free to play MMOs that Jonathan mentioned to exist at all, and it allows those who can’t or won’t pay for a game to get some of the experience. However, what EA appear to be doing is cutting back on content while raising the price. If this trend continues we will soon have two hour campaigns and then will have to pay to get into the car to get to the next level (gas ain’t cheap ya know.) I am genuinely afraid of that. However, I don’t think all of microtransactions should be thrown under the bus because of that fear. Maybe we will see it implemented more in line with some of the ways Simon and I discussed when we talked about modular gaming on the Com-cast, but given its EA it will instead probably be whatever makes the most money for the least amount of work, unfortunately.


Microsoft to reveal EA Partnership at Next Xbox Event

Simon Wu:

So... I would consider this a preemptive hedge against the renewed amount of new and exciting exclusive games for the PS4 that has many strongly considering it as their next console. What I expect are not true exclusives; these remain largely done through Microsoft Game Studios and its subsidiaries, or with already established partnerships such as Gears of War with Epic. Rather, I expect this to be exclusive content for multiplatform games, since Ubisoft has extra AC content for PS3, and Bungie will have special Destiny content for the PS4, through Activision I might remind readers.

Jonathan Tung:

With the next Xbox to be unveiled next month, it seems pretty clear that EA would show up to the party, seeing that they were absent at the PS4 announcement last week. What the partnership is supposed to be though still remains a mystery, although I can highly bet that it would either involve Kinect support or timed DLC exclusivity.

Max Gruber:

You know something bad’s going to happen when EA and Microsoft create a partnership, much like examining a tiny block of text VERY closely, telling you to come closer to read it properly, only to have it suddenly blow up in size and an irritatingly loud, obnoxious horn is blasting your eardrums. I know a lot of people will agree with me on this, but I HATE EA so much. I seriously do. They’re a gargantuan tumor of the gaming industry, waiting to be removed from the experts of the field and not from quacks like Activision.

Alex Miller:

Given Activision’s partnership with Sony announced last week it seems unsurprising that EA would try and grab its own champion for the upcoming next gen battle. With all the content Sony has announced (including what's to be discussed below) it is important for Microsoft that they maintain their lead in the content department and they need to add more to do so. This would definitely be a major step in doing so, even if it only was exclusive or staggered DLC.


New Pirate Themed Assassin’s Creed is announced, is an hour longer on the PS3

Simon Wu:

My wait for the Chinese/Japanese installment continues, although it looks like Ubisoft’s intention to continue down the one bloodline might make that... difficult. I don’t understand why they felt the need to continue down this one family, though, and you’ll understand why if you’ve finished AC3. I thought the trilogy was finished, and that would give Ubisoft latitude to move elsewhere and start anew, maybe with new cultural dynamics, weapons, and architecture that would significantly renew gameplay. In addition, although pirates have been in demand for some time now, I felt like AC3 could have been Captain’s Creed at some points, and I’m afraid that it might consume the game at this point.

Alex Miller:

I’ll just say this: this is a game about a fucking ninja pirate. Just let that sink in. Right, now on to serious matters. Sailing will obviously be a major component of this game, even more so than in AC3, and while I have yet to play that game I have heard good things about the naval experience but that it could probably do with some polish. Well, here is its chance to shine. With the numbered trilogy hopefully over I would be totally fine with a continuing series of Assassin’s Creed games set in various locations and times just to serve as moneymaking fan service. And don’t worry Simon, we got pirates this time, but I’m sure ninja ninjas will be coming soon.


Milleniummaster18's picture

Well, well, EA vs. Activision: both companies have good developing teams that are stifled by the long dead, rotten corpse of the "lazy business" model. You know, the one that sums up to: more money, less work. Intelligent, if you're being selfish, yet by definition, a company has to also serve society. Myself being a righteous person (yeah,right), I can't sincerely extend a shred of interest for the "positive" contributions made by either one of them, since the amount of shit that covers them nowadays is particularly more noticeable. A pity, since their developers can come with some pretty innovative ideas, I suppose.

Do I need to say that EA and Microsoft are a match made in "financial ripoff" heaven? No? Alright, moving on. :P

Solifluktion's picture

Hopefully they hide the fact that there will be microtransactions in all EA games although I doubt it.

Nothing is more annoying than seeing a glimpse of something cool just to realize that you'll have to pay extra for it. I get while they do it but I find it quite offensive to make us pay more than just the initial 50-60€ to get the complete game. Remember the days when you bought a game plus a year later the addon that actually added real value to the game and that was it? No DLC, no Hats no nothing.

I miss those days.

darthskeletor's picture

The AC4 trailer was FANTASTIC as always, but the problem I see is that he had 6 guns and two swords. Of course, there will be intrigue and killing and a great story to tell, but what of present day? The present day stuff to me was all a huge gimmick that served as the loosest string possible to tie the various games together; essentially the justification being: we need to know where x macguffin is, so use another ancestor!

The only candidates are that Desmond didn't actually die and that Juno was lying about that as well; which she very well could have been, seeing as Minerva called Juno out on her BS or half truths OR that it's now Desmond's dad which is an even less exciting prospect.

disgruntledavians's picture

I want to take the Xbox Ultimate sale positively and say that it is a sign of Microsoft getting it... but that may be entirely tempered by the fact that the Xbox head just said that they don't take Valve seriously. Or the latter could just be more posturing on behalf as happens with public heads talking, and this really is on the down low a serious attempt to head Valve off at the pass. Though with the Steambox heading out to testers, it feels like Microsoft is trying to head off the Titanic at the pass in terms of sales.

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