Weekend Short-Takes: 4/19/13

EA shuttering SimCity Social, The Sims Social and Pet Society on June 14th‏

Simon Wu:

It isn’t easy totally shifting paradigms to compete in a new age; Microsoft is finding that out pretty hard with the response to Windows 8. It wasn’t all that long ago that EA had a huge pledge on moving past the boxed console games and into the mobile and digital space. Yeah, how’s that going right now? Well, clearly, banking on the names alone isn’t enough as EA certainly first thought it was. That poses an even bigger question, and one that not just EA has to look into, but one that all companies do (such as MSFT). Is there any room at all for the names of the past in the tech world of the future?

Max Gruber:

It’s not surprising that EA would axe a social network game with as much stigma attached to it as the actual SimCity has received. I was interested in at least trying to play it, but then I remember my experiences with FarmVille and decided to pass on it. I think this is just EA trying to rejuvenate their already withering reputation by quickly recapturing the people’s perception of their business as a whole, but the damage has already been done—and will probably stay that way. And there’s an unfortunate aspect that we’ve seen as of late: you get to see the hideous side of these publishers at face value.

John Fenix:

I can’t provide too much discussion since I have never played any social games, like SimCity and Farmville, but it makes a point that if you’re going to break into a new market, as the article points out, you need to bring more to the table than a name. This means adapting and designing the game for the medium at hand. Again, take all of this with a grain of salt as I have not touched any of these games.

Jonathan Tung:

While I did originally play both The Sims Social and SimCity Social awhile back, it wasn’t until I realized how much both of those games were major time wasters that I had decided to quit playing Facebook games altogether. That said, I suppose this is a sign that people are no longer interested in Facebook games and are instead wasting time on their mobile devices playing Angry Birds or using Vine like it’s the greatest thing ever. Also, EA shutting down their servers is nothing new, but shutting down three of their biggest Facebook games is perhaps a sign that they’re trying to purposely tarnish their reputation with gamers even further.

Alex Miller:

This doesn’t really surprise me. When you think of the height of the social games craze with Farmville back in like 2009, it took off because of a couple reasons. It was free, it was a time sink, it had no real competition (mobile games were there and growing, but had not reach the heights they would in subsequent years) and everyone else was playing them. Fast forward to now and it’s pretty clear why people wouldn’t want to play these games. None of your friends do, or if they do they try and hide it because of the backlash against spamming pigs and cows to your friends’ walls, mobile games are with you wherever you go and are generally better made, and because there are so many of these Facebook games now its hard for any one of them to hit the critical mass that Farmville did. EA is learning what it means to be late to the party, and I hope this means they stick to their Popcap studios for future non-console projects.

​engadget.com

Bethesda teases new game, isn't Fallout related

Simon Wu:

Just to clarify, here is the exact place on Twitter where it was confirmed that this... project is not part of Fallout. I’ll be honestly glad if this is Bethesda’s first entry into the new console generation; it seems like that is what most studios are starting to jockey towards. Also, I’m intrigued by the use of Vine; in retrospect it seems like the perfect tool for viral marketing and short teasers. The main question is will it be an RPG as Bethesda’s two titan franchises are? Or are they going to strike out and take a stand in a new genre? It’s worth remembering that they themselves did not develop Dishonored; they were the publishers.

Max Gruber:

So it’s not Fallout, and it’s probably not a new Elder Scrolls title. Can anyone say new IP? We’ve been seeing a lot of new IPs from the next-gen consoles, like Ubisoft’s Watch_Dogs, Capcom’s Deep Down and Remember Me, CD Projekt RED’s Cyberpunk 2077 and Bungie’s Destiny, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a completely new IP from Bethesda.

John Fenix:

Nice to see Bethesda has moved on to something new and interesting (not bashing any Elder Scrolls or Fallout fans here). It’s going to be great to see some new IP’s starting off this next console generation. Gonna be exciting!

Jonathan Tung:

For the record, this isn’t Fallout or anything, as it was later confirmed on various European webpages that the game is actually Project Zwei, aka the first title from Tango Gameworks, a game company that was founded by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami. Since it is believed that the game is supposed to be a survival horror title, I am praying to god that this turns out to be a spiritual successor to Resident Evil or something equally as scary.

Alex Miller:

This definitely is intriguing. While there have rumors and hints at Fallout 4 which had many of believing the game was already in development, this seems to throw that idea for a loop. I think this has to be a new IP for the next generation, and I like Jonathan’s suggestion that it might be survival/horror. The use of Vine (which I agree with Simon seems to be the perfect online marketing tool) to show off some barbed wire and a record certainly gives me that creepy feeling. Interesting to point out that Bethesda Softworks last made a non-Fallout/Elder Scrolls RPG in 2004, when they made a drag racing game, the only time they have ever made a game outside of the two previously mentioned series. Perhaps the studio is looking to stretch its wings a bit more.

Update: The teaser has been unveiled as The Evil Within.

machinima.com

Nintendo Exec: Wii U Releases to ‘Dramatically Increase’

Simon Wu:

Right... bold fighting words as the PS4 announcement has already hit and the Xbox one is impending. Here’s a quote from the article:

“Fewer than 50 titles have launched for Wii U in North America so far, only a handful of them are exclusives, and none are killer apps or bona fide system sellers”. 

Here is the full impact of Nintendo’s gimmick push gone too far; it started with Tomb Raider and its spread like a wildfire throughout the developer community. No major studios want to develop for the tablet controller and spend an extraordinary effort working on cheap touchscreen tricks when they could simply stick to the basics and get a far more guaranteed return from Sony and Microsoft. Moreover, simply put: if you are a developer making a “system selling game” exclusive to the Wii U, you are both suicidal from a business standpoint and unstable from a psychological one. Oh yeah, and on the 3DS: beating the Vita is analogous to saying that Afghanistan beat Somalia in soccer. (hint: it’s all relative)

Max Gruber:

I personally have had my qualms with the Wii U, and I’m still not falling for the casual, tablet gaming crock. I can understand what motivations they had with competing against the tablet gaming market, but I think it’s just too ambitious of a move to get the ball rolling. Instead of them rolling the ball downhill, where it’s very easy for it to reach the ground below, they’re trying to roll it uphill. No matter how hard they push, it’s all for naught. While it’s nice to see that the games coming out for the Wii U will be much more enticing than what was initially released, I still don’t think they’ll be able to fight back against the titanic powerhouse that is the mobile and tablet market.

John Fenix:

As much as I am not a fan of recent Nintendo consoles, I do give some props for trying something different in the console market. I have always given them that, but I think they have to realize that they have to open up to third-party developers and give them ways of not being forced to adapt to the hardware on hand. Could we see some very interesting games on the Wii U that could secure its place? I wouldn’t be surprised, but I’m not placing any bets just yet.

Jonathan Tung:

Nintendo, if you want to move Wii U sales, you really, REALLY need to either release a new title in the Super Smash Bros franchise or a new Mario title that can make Super Mario Galaxy look like child’s play. That way, you will be able to rake in the millions and perhaps earn back some respect from the hardcore fans.

Alex Miller:

In Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw’s voice: What? A console that is by it's very nature difficult to develop for doesn’t have many games? And a console that isn’t selling well doesn’t have many exclusives? Who’d have thought that's how it would turn out.... 

Ok, explaining the obvious aside, Nintendo is making the only move they can here. In a way, this isn’t even newsworthy because this is what they have to do to survive. Unless the headline had said “Nintendo gives up, rolls over to die,” the only choice they have is to release games more quickly, which won’t be hard seeing as it's like trying to run faster when you have previously been using only one foot. Now, the thought that they will be releasing games pre-E3 is actually interesting, and might be the way that Nintendo accidentally stumbles into some sales, seeing as they will be the only ones releasing anything during the desert of content that is the Summer.

Nintendo confirms Wii U Virtual Console launch and suite of new eShop titles

Simon Wu:

And the above article is what has led to this. This so-called “Virtual Console” doesn’t mean anything like a game streaming service, not even close. The first stuttering half-step towards breaking Nintendo’s completely ossified traditional model, while at the same time completely promoting it. If Nintendo can’t bank on new iterations of nostalgia on the console quite yet, (see above article) then the most logical conclusion (from a Nintendo worldview) is to bank on old nostalgia! I am truly astounded that the seemingly serious push for top games fell away so quickly that we are left with this. It truly speaks volumes about the antiquation and utter repetition of Nintendo’s approaches.

Max Gruber:

Oh goody. Nintendo publishing games because of the “nostalgia sells amazingly well!” ploy. Why does this not surprise me? If nostalgia is the only reason a game sells, that’s flat out pathetic. And they’re doing it with old games from long ago, which makes it worse by all accounts. “Let’s find more ways to shake money out our customer’s pockets once more! Surely this will get us out of the massive hole we dug and buried ourselves in.”

John Fenix:

Do I have to be the party pooper again? Hmm...I will tell you that I have personally seen friends here at school including my roommate who have all been excited to play these games they loved that are coming out again. Perhaps because they are all frustrated with how Nintendo is currently handling games, especially because of how they have handled recent iterations (Nintendo, you’re not getting out of this either) We also have to consider the nostalgia filters that we all have, where we want to play games that were just like they were when we were all younger. Everyone suffers from it: you, me, Simon, Max, etc. Much as we say we want something different, we don’t want it too different and if it is, we go back to how old games, or how we think old games gave us joy. So while, these two say that Nintendo is simply ringing players dry, which I am sure they are, they are basically giving what fans want: these old games they loved. That does not guarantee that those games will hold up to the memories we have, and you can’t blame Nintendo for that (doesn’t stop people from doing it, though). But then again, I’m not interested in buying old games right now. I’ve got the memories anyways, so take all this with a grain of salt.

Jonathan Tung:

With the launch of the Wii U Virtual Console on the horizon, it’s quite clear that Nintendo is attempting to utilize their Nostalgia factor in order to bring in more customers into the Nintendo family (in addition to welcoming back those who have left for the Xbox or the PS3). However, given Nintendo’s rather disappointing past in picking crappy games for the Virtual Console (as well as refusing to release GoldenEye 64 as well), I highly doubt that Nintendo would do well in the future console-wise. However, given the fact that the 3DS is doing EXTREMELY WELL in Asia, I might pick one up in the near future, probably for the new Pokemon games.

Alex Miller:

Wow, it’s almost like Nintendo read my Mindshare and decided to do the exact OPPOSITE. While I suggested that Nintendo try and grow, develop new IPs and expand their audience, it seems that instead they are going to returned to the “tried and true” method of abusing gamers’ sense of nostalgia and feeding something that have literally paid for before. These games aren’t even updates or HD remakes, they are the same games just played through the WiiU. I just don’t know what to say to Nintendo anymore. I can’t see them continuing to compete in the console market for the reasons listed in the previous article, but with the way they operate as shown here I’m not sure I want them to anymore. Focus on the handheld market Nintendo, ‘cause you are losing the Console Wars.

​thecontrolleronline.com

Whiplash's picture

I really wanted to put this in the Short-Takes at the time we were writing this, but Simon had to axe it because no one—except me—knew what exactly to write about. But... *deep, steady, calm breath* FINAL FANTASY VERSUS XIII'S REVEAL DATE IS SET!! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Finally, we get to see something about Versus or XV or whatever it's gonna be called; it is all satisfying nonetheless. I really want it to be the same experience that was shown off back at E3 of 2006, which was SOO long ago now. Imagine if Gabe Newell went to E3, approached center stage, and said "Episode 3 is coming out for PC, Xbox 720 and PS4 on 'X' month, date, and year." That's how I'm feeling for Versus XIII, and probably how the industry reacted when this bit of news was announced. And I'm expecting Square to actually release it, instead of leaving it in the dark like they did for the past 7 years.

I know they'll release it soon, because this will determine whether they rebound from their financial decline, or if they go out like THQ did, which I would hate to see happen. (You don't have to talk about this, since I know the group has little to no experience with the franchise.)

disgruntledavians's picture

I wonder at what cost Bethesda is working on this new venture; there's incredible backlash over the news that Bethesda has simply hard stopped all further development of Skyrim DLC. I have no reason to believe it's anything other than starting to redirect creative talent to this new horror game. If they want to go after a new audience, fine. But don't alienate and leave your long standing fans hanging in the dust.

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