Weekend Short-Takes: 3/21/14

Report: PS4 will let you pre-load games starting in April

 

Simon Wu:

A tremendously key step for big downloadable games to get more attractive than physical media. This negates the huge annoyance brought up for key titles that the download can only start when it is released. Instead, we're now moving towards the proposition that you will be able to play the exact moment the switch is flipped. This also allows servers to be dedicated more towards playing the game rather than serving downloads to millions instead, which will be a lot faster than everyone clogging the pipes at the same time trying to download a huge file. Xbox needs to get its act together; the closest thing it has is the ability to start a game partway through the download. A menu, excuse me. The ability to start a menu partway through the download.

Alex Miller:

As Simon says, preloading games is crucial. Digital media will eventually win out over physical media, like it has for music and movies, when it is more convenient to download a game than it is to drive to the store and pick it up. We are not there yet, but this is a major step in that direction, spreading the impact on the server of downloading over several days prior to the launch rather than trying to handle a wave of downloads that end up shutting down the server. Hopefully the Xbox One gets this soon because preloading should be a standard feature for digital games.

Xbox Live players with 'good social behavior' may soon earn rewards on Xbox One

 

Simon Wu:

Alright, I'm putting in a countdown timer for how long it takes for a forum to be started for people to boost each other with good ratings for freebies. Gamers are legendary for their desire to get free stuff, and have repeatedly shown that they can outwit slow companies in exploiting systems. And believe me, Microsoft is nothing but slow in this area. The ratings system on the Xbox 360 was notoriously bad and was NEVER fixed. And as we mentioned on our most recent podcast, there is large audience begging to test this system to its very limits.

Alex Miller:

Well, if there is one thing we know about gamers, it is that they will go to ridiculous lengths to get free stuff (see Simon at the Titanfall launch for a console he does not own). This could work, fixing with a carrot that which they could not fix with the stick. And the stick is most definitely not working. As Simon said, Microsoft does not have a great history of solving this issue. The reputation system on the Xbox 360 was nigh on impossible to use, as once someone had a couple good reviews they were in Xbox’s good book till the end of time. Hopefully this brainstorming phase can come up with a reward significant enough to entice gamer to improve their behavior. And it needs doing, as one of the biggest (and unfortunately by and large true) accusations of gaming, especially online, is that it is filled with nasty people saying nasty things. So who knows which will win out: the online communities’ love for being racist, homophobic dickbags or their love for free swag? Only time can tell.

gamezone.com

New Assassin's Creed game confirmed for Xbox One, PS4, and PC

 

Simon Wu:

For the sake of not trying to repeat myself every week, I'll move on from the Japan angle and start by saying this is total favoritism from Ubisoft... those Frenchies. This time period does hit all the checkmarks, I'll give it that. The action did drag on through several phases, so there will be no lack of source material. Famous personalities we can draft into the Assassin v. Templar fight? Check. A wider region involved so we can have our little level up and dispatch trade minigame? Of course. Let's get started.

Jackson Sinnenberg:

As much as the gaming world enjoyed the stabby-stab, cannon happy adventure that was Black Flag, I think this is a potentially brilliant move for Ubisoft. The French Revolution not only allows for a return to the classic roof-top jumping action of the original games, but allows for myriad opportunities to actually assassinate people for a change. I am curious if you're working for or against the Reign of Terror, either way you will have a veritable and never ending list of dirty laundry that needs to be disposed off. Let's get back to running along roof tops at night and stealthing behind your enemy for the oh-so-satisfactory unexpected kill. I for one hope that one mission involves having to escape though or at least use Notre Dame and the Catacombs to sneak around and kill people. You're getting back to our good graces Ubisoft, let's see if the product is as good as we hope.

Alex Miller:

Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry gamers… ok, maybe I’m using a song from a musical based on a book based on the wrong French revolution (they just have so many) but once the passions clear over the fact that this isn’t Japan, I think Ubisoft might have actually made the right choice when it come to the setting of this game. We get to return to Europe, where buildings can be more than three stories high, and we can actually assassinate people in what was a highly political time with many people killed (I imagine finding people to kill was much easier than normal for the development crew). I’m sure there will be trips all over the French countryside and to the many large cities, and think of the sequels: want to take a stab at killing Napoleon? Certainly untapped material there, and with the setting closer to Assassin Creed 2’s Italy than to Assassin Creed 3’s America I think we might see more of the gameplay that made this series so great.

Walmart jumps into the game trade-in business

 

Simon Wu:

At least for the American market, this means there will finally be some semblance of competition for the market until now completely owned by the one and only Gamestop. Firstly, while you can't trade games for cash, you can trade games for credit at Walmart... which is more or less as good, because it'll have more or less everything you could possibly need. In this way, Wal-Mart can leverage its market power, scale, and presence far more than GameStop ever could. What it needs is to do is to rapidly build-up a pre-owned stock to offer that lower price point that has made Gamestop successful. In addition, because Wal-Mart has what I would consider a pretty successful business outside of games, they can offer better return rates and lower pre-owned prices to snatch business from Gamestop.

John Fenix:

On the one hand, as Simon pointed out, it's some competition for Gamestop, but on the other hand, well....it's Wal-Mart. Granted, they have plenty of stores, far more than Gamestop, making it much more likely and more available for consumers. One problem, though is whether it can maintain the business, giving quick turnaround, not to mention ensure they actually work, and give competitive value for consumers. However, given such things, Wal-Mart is in better position given established spread and infrastructure to do so than previous efforts. If it means both Wal-Mart and Gamestop offer better value for used games, then all the better.

Alex Miller:

Walmart really seem to be seriously jumping into the gaming world. Between this and their new bundle to give the Xbox One price parity with the PS4 (http://www.pcworld.com/article/2109598/xbox-ones-price-disadvantage-disappears-with-new-bundle.html) they appear to be making a strong push to take over what is becoming an even bigger gaming market. With used games still around for this newest generation there is plenty of money to be made, and with their infrastructure and supply chain I’m sure they will be able to undercut most competitors’ prices (even, perhaps, Gamestop) and let people save money, live better.

Jackson Sinnenberg:

I'm sorry, this is the same "Low low prices" Walmart we're talking about? I do not see them buying games for anywhere near $35 unless they are very recent next gen console games. Plus, their logic does not seem to make much sense. If they're buying games for that much, the only way they're going to make money is to sell them for above that price. If those are the kinds of prices were facing, why would we ever leave Gamestop. The used game market works well with Gamestop and CE Exchange because that is what they specialize in, or at least it is one of their main specialties. Even with Exchange's support, this seems too irrelevant to the monolith of Walmart's overall sales for it to fit in well. Maybe I am looking at this the wrong way, but Walmart getting into used games rubs me the wrong way. At the very least, based on Mr. Miller's comments, if any company has thoughts of banning used games, they're going to face much stronger pushback now that the Leviathan seems to be stirring.

neoseeker.com

Microsoft Reveals First 25 ID@Xbox Games

 

Simon Wu:

I remember one of the main gripes with the One during the yonder days of always online and only digital was the lack of support for indie devs and smaller studios. It's a good start, but several of these are just reposts of existing titles for a new platform. It's not good enough to simply say that you have a ton of indie developers onboard. Working with them to make sure their game gets the publicity it needs is critical, especially if Microsoft is aggressively seeking volume here. Making sure they feel respected and that their needs are addressed is also important, because although figures like Jonathan Blow can be mercurial, their words mean a lot to the community.

John Fenix:

Given that Microsoft hasn't had much good news when it comes to indie games, this announcement at least shows that Microsoft finally putting action towards its promises. It must be given that a number of these games have already come out on PC and 360 (Divekick, Guacamelee, Strike Suit Zero etc.), these are nice variety of games that is a nice start for the One, although maybe not in comparison to the PS4..yet. We'll hopefully see more, which Microsoft is promising as the article indicates. Once Microsoft streamlines the process, combined with the fact that each console being a dev kit, we may see more console-developed games. I see a possible bright future for the Arcade market.

gamerant.com

Whiplash's picture

PS4 is getting the ability to pre-load games from the Marketplace? No surprise there, especially how Steam already provides that. I understand the need to give people ways to download their titles on launch day without having to download the full file in one go, but it's difficult to fathom having to first pre-download a 30-50 GB game, and then downloading the rest afterward. Still, I look forward to people who prefer digital games over physical copies to have more options to download their games.

 

I like the idea of getting rewards for contributing positive reinforcement to Xbox Live's otherwise hostile service, but the problem that this initiative might face is what people will be rewarded with. Free games? Money to spend in the Xbox Live Marketplace? Furthermore, if the latter doesn't provide people with enough money to spend, I think the whole idea will fall flat on its face, as people will invest so much of their time trying to be as positive as possible, only for them to be rewarded with, essentially, nothing. It is a very noble effort of them, but the reward has to be large enough for there to be change.

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