Weekend Short-Takes: 3/28/15

Don't Expect As Many Free Pack-In Games This Year, GameStop Predicts

 

Summary: 

GameStop's COO has said that the number of console bundles will decrease this year compared to last year. 

Analysis: 

There are actually some incredibly juicy numbers in this story. Digital sales have clearly not made the incredibly strides anticipated by enthusiastic proponents of the current consoles. Only 12 percent of all games in North America sold last year were digital, and of that, only 40 percent were actually purchased outright. The rest were all giveaways, including my copy of Titanfall for the Xbox One. It makes sense for PlayStation to take its foot off the gas and to allow more sales to occur naturally. For Microsoft, however, the story is completely different. After a brief reversal when the Xbox One outsold the PS4 during the holiday season, the normal state of affairs has returned and the One is now, once again, second. For them, bundles with the latest games have to keep happening. 

First Details of Nintendo's Next System, the 'NX'

 

Summary: 

Nintendo teased an announcement of its next-gen platform, which will tie in existing platforms under a subscription model. 

Analysis: 

We haven't heard much on Nintendo's next move to try and salvage some of its pride following the Wii U debacle, but the announcement that it will be part of a subscription model is unsurprising. Microsoft is ironically a leader in this, enforcing Xbox Live Gold as requirement for matchmaking and other services starting two generations ago now. Sony then followed suit this generation with PS Plus as a requirement for services on the PS4. So what should the next Nintendo platform deliver upon? It should address a cheaper price point, in line with its lower value proposition. We're not running Crysis here, it'll probably just be the next Smash or Mario Kart. It should utilize the 3DS, too, because many people who buy this will probably have one, and it should reward them for their loyalty. 

Dev kits for Valve's first SteamVR headset, the HTC Vive, to be free for select developers

 

Summary:

Valve announces that units of the HTC Vive, which runs Steam VR, will be made available to developers for free later in the spring. 

Analysis: 

Valve continues to be a leader for working with developers. Here, we have a determined initiative by the company to get developers working on a new technology but with the less corporate approach than Oculus/Facebook. I'm sure the plan won't be foolproof, and there will be some people who pretend to be a developer just to get one of these, admittedly, pretty cool headsets. Hopefully, we will see more indie and smaller developers get them in order to let the most amount of creativity express itself; I'm sure Activision will do just fine buying a few dozen. 

Disclaimer: Simon receives compensation for services rendered to HTC America, Inc. 

We Weren't "Cornered" Into Smartphone Games, Nintendo Says

 

Summary: 

Nintendo states that its decision to create mobile games for other platforms was not made out of desperation, and that it is not entering the mobile market too late. 

Analysis: 

What a totally obvious set of statements from the company that refused to acknowledge the existence of smartphones until just now. As a Windows Phone user, I feel uniquely qualified to say that when a company says that it isn't too late to the party, it usually is. I was talking to a friend earlier this week who said he hadn't touched his 3DS in over a month, because he was just so hooked on Clash of Clans. A perfect microcosm of the exact phenomenon that is accelerating worldwide. Sure, the 3DS sells plenty of units, but when compared to the sales of smartphones, it's a laughable drop in the bucket. Nintendo was counting on its IP to be the key differentiator, but from what I've seen, many people are content to do two things: 

1: Be content with playing Smash Bros. and Mario Kart on N64 and, 

2: Get addicted to new IPs on mobile. 

As you can see, neither of these gets Nintendo money. 

 

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