Weekend Short-Takes: 3/7/14

As we begin yet another month here at GameDistiller Productions (and WikiGameGuides), we have already went through two big events in the Gaming World: GDC in San Francisco, and PAX East in Boston. While some of us are looking forward to Steam Machines, others are highly anticipating the future of virtual reality. Regardless, here's what we thought about the news this week.

Valve's Steam Machines Will Officially Launch In November

 

Summary: 

Valve confirmed that its highly-anticipated Steam Machines will launch worldwide this November. Machines are being manufactured by most of the top computer manufacturers in the world, running the entire gamut from $500 to around ten times the price at about $5,000. 

Analysis: 

The Steam Machines are vaporware no more! Finally, the much vaunted console to end all consoles is within sight. But will it work? That fundamental question remains, even after they're confirmed to be released. Even as bad as the Xbox One is currently doing, will the Steam Machines reach even that level of success? They start around the price the Xbox One originally did, which proved to be pretty wildly unpopular. This is the same thing we hypothesized months ago, so why does this matter again, now? Because we have an empirical backdrop with the Xbox One that showed it didn't work. Microsoft has even tied Xbox into the entirety of its ecosystem (as we will see below) and it hasn't helped. There is still no reason for me to spend a crazy amount on one of these limited scope machines when I could also spring for something less with more functionality. 

Nvidia unveils Shield console for TVs

 

Summary: 

Graphics card manufacturer Nvidia announced on Tuesday night that they will be releasing a $200 Android-powered game console under their Nvidia Shield brand. The console, which is not to be confused with the handheld or tablet of the same name that Nvidia released a while back, is being designed exclusively for HDTVs, allowing players to stream PC games from their computers via GameStream or from a selection of titles via Nvidia's own Grid streaming service. 

Analysis: 

While Nvidia has lofty ambitions for conquering the gaming world, they still have one problem that they need to get over: the fact that they are essentially aiming for a niche market, one that is smaller than mainstream game consoles, let alone Steam Machines. In fact, I have honestly never seen a Shield handheld used in real life, other than a minor appearance on the TV comedy Modern Family. At the very least, the company also announced that they will be porting over a variety of popular games to the Shield platform, including such titles such as Crysis 3 and Borderlands 2. The main problem is that, at face value, the handheld gaming market is quite big, as the stupid Clash of Clans ads on TV and the enduring popularity of the 3DS suggest. The problem is that the value proposition is just way off. The same thing could very well happen here. Remember the Ouya? Yeah, me neither. 

Microsoft GDC 2015 Event Confirming Xbox One & PC Cross-Buy, 20% DirectX 12 Boost

 

Summary: 

During Microsoft's GDC briefing, Phil Spencer announced that Windows 10 will bring across one core OS throughout the Microsoft ecosystem, meaning anything that can run on Windows 10 can also run on Xbox One, Microsoft HoloLens, Surface tablets, Windows Phones, and so on. In addition, he also announced that starting this summer, all Xbox One users will also receive free access to the Xbox One SDK, allowing some of the more talented folks to create their own games without having to pay hundreds of dollars for their own development kit. 

Analysis: 

First, we'd like to give our condolences to Mike Ey, one of the lead designers on Hololens, who was unfortunately and tragically killed in a car accident. His vision, of course, will live on but be greatly diminished without him behind it. Regarding Hololens, it was part of Microsoft's big GDC push to try and catch up to the PS4 by the people that matter most: the developers. This conference was quite a big deal for more reasons than just Xbox. This was a real statement of intent for all of Microsoft. Why? Because Windows 10 needs to work, because Windows 8 didn't. Because Windows Phone is barely scratching single-digit market share worldwide. By tying it all together, Microsoft's single biggest bet in a decade is that unifying all these platforms will entice... who? Developers, to all three of its stumbling platforms. 

Final Fantasy XIV's first expansion, Heavensward, launches on June 23rd

 

Summary: 

After the failure of the original Final Fantasy XIV, A Realm Reborn's first expansion pack will be released on June 23rd, and on June 19th for those who pre-order. 

Analysis: 

As someone who has dumped about 400+ hours into Final Fantasy XIV, I'm really excited to see this expansion come out. It really shows what the game has gone through to reach this point, as the original version shipped to a massive outpouring of hate and frustration. In addition, those that pre-order Heavensward will get early access to the expansion before anyone else, which I'm absolutely taking advantage of when the ability to pre-order becomes available. What's really mindblowing is the sheer size of each zone, as this expansion beings about flying mounts to the game, which I so want to get into. 

Create New Account or Log in to comment