Weekend Short-Takes: 6/7/13

Japanese games companies facing difficult times in 2012 earnings reports

Simon Wu:

It’s not just Nintendo and Square Enix, the two most prominent stumblers. The most notable fact is that new IPs (and consoles for that matter) failed to get off the ground. This shows something that Max highlighted in his Mindshare on the case study of JRPGs: Japanese companies don’t get the Western market nearly as well as they used to. The WiiU at this point might only barely be salvageable (more on that below). This is a microcosm of a larger corporate decay in Japan that is only now being turned around, but the bottom line is that Japanese companies need to adapt better to the regional market... quickly.

Max Gruber:

It’s really sad to see the Goliath of the gaming industry fall to the David of the gaming industry. I really can’t think of a way for them to move forward. A game like CoD is the only thing that people buy these days, because it’s the biggest and “newest” thing in gaming, and most of these people are more than likely in their late teens who are still in high school, so they don’t care if there’s a new Mario or Zelda game, a new Final Fantasy game, or whatever is out right now. As Simon mentioned in an earlier podcast, their budget is allotted to two or three games per year, and CoD is more than likely one of those games on their mind, which makes it harder to create a CoD killer. The only way I can see the global gaming market move forward properly is if CoD somehow dies a horrible and painful death, which is highly unlikely.

Alex Miller:

Something interesting I noticed while reading this article was that, amongst the listing of how these companies have regressed, it was suggested by Nintendo that they would release more first party titles. First of all, well done Nintendo for identifying the obvious problem with the WiiU that there is nothing worth playing for it. Secondly though, it seems to me like Nintendo plans to run back to being all first party titles as soon as they can. With major new IPs failing for them, it might seem that their particular brand of first party titles involving the same four or five games may be the best solution. However, I hope this does not happen (or at least not fully) because I think a complete regression to solely first party titles on the WiiU will doom Nintendo in both sales and in their hunt to be taken seriously as a legitimate alternative to the Xbox One or PS4. I don’t think it will happen, but if it does, it will not end well for Nintendo.

extremetech.com

Harmonix will return to Rock Band 'at the right point in time,' says CEO

Simon Wu:

Our next Com-cast will be about this exact subject: putting together the death of rhythm and its meaning for the rest of the industry. Should this resurrection pan out, it would be the first major revival of a burned-out genre. (a poorly received arcade-only HD repaint of Tony Hawk doesn’t merit “resurrection” in my mind) Will the trend towards more realism continue? If so, how will that affect people who still have plenty of leftover peripherals from the past dozen games? Moreover, how will the new installment be any different than what caused the genre to go south in the first place?

Max Gruber:

I haven’t been a fan of Guitar Hero or Rock Band, but I’ve been wondering where Harmonix has been this whole time, especially considering that EA has been doing its rounds of milking with Battlefield, Medal of Honor, Mass Effect, Dead Space, etc. But it is really interesting to possibly see another Rock Band coming out, and I know people will love it. But I find that rhythm based games don’t sell nearly as much as they used to, given how fast the market shifts and adapts to the newest trends. It’s like racing and simulation games: They’re relegated to a niche audience.

Jonathan Tung:

All I want Harmonix to do is to release an actual sequel to Frequency and Amplitude. That is all. Never really cared about Rock Band, anyway, although I did find the Dance Central games to be extremely fun, especially when I break it out during parties.

Alex Miller:

As Simon mentioned, our very next Com-cast is on this very subject, so fortuitous timing it seems. That Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos says Rock Band will be “something [they will] return to at the right point in time and reimagine it as appropriate for its time” does not fill me with any hope for another RockBand game anytime soon. This seems like Harmonix testing out the waters for a possible future return, not burning any bridges that they don’t need to burn, but with a new console generation approaching and people looking to try all the newest things it has to offer a gimmick game like RockBand will be forced to wait until the initial excitement dies down.

wikimedia.org

Wii U Basic being discontinued at GameStop - Report

Simon Wu:

I always thought that for the specs the Basic SKU provided, the price was comical. Now it looks like Nintendo gets that 8GB is a pittance in today’s world. I’m hoping that this recall will be part of a retrofit to higher storage capacity for all these consoles. That, combined with an all out assault of first party titles, preferably bundled, might drive sales a little higher. This needs to be coupled with a very aggressive courting of entertainment and content providers to turn the Wii U into the Xbox One, except much cheaper, without the need for a Gold subscription, no always-on, no used-games restriction, and equal in cloud games support and mobile access. That’s the only way I can see the Wii U making it out of this year alive.

Max Gruber:

No surprise that it’s being discontinued, given how much of a “success” it was. It’s hard to see Nintendo continuing their console division, given how hard the Wii U flopped. And it’s worse that this was their next-gen console, when its specs say otherwise. I honestly think that Nintendo should take the Sega route and make software instead of consoles this time, since all of their exclusive games have a lot of heritage and nostalgia for many people. I bet everyone reading has played the original Super Mario Bros for the NES. I mean, you can’t say you’re a gamer if you haven’t played it.

Jonathan Tung:

While I do agree with Max and Simon on how much the Wii U was a flop, do keep in mind that most game consoles in recent years didn’t tend to do so well, such as the 3DS. I mean, back when the 3DS came out, it barely had any interesting games on it! Now, we have Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, and Kid Icarus, with Pokemon X&Y and Monster Hunter 4 on the horizon. Keep in mind that E3 is next week, and as long as Nintendo plays their cards right, we could end up seeing the opposite happen sometime in the near future, especially during the all-important Holiday season.

Alex Miller:

I agree with Jonathan that Nintendo are not down and out quite yet, but they are certainly approaching the 12th round with many yelling for the towel. That they have thus far squandered an entire years lead (something that truly made the Xbox 360 what it is last go round) is certainly not points in their favor. However, with a price drop and higher standard memory (I think the only possible reason for a recall would be for them to upgrade the memory as Simon suggests) they might last long enough for the “cavalry” of Nintendo first party titles to ride in and save the day. What comes out of E3 and their separate Nintendo Direct conference will determine Nintendo’s future for the entirety of the next console generation, but they only have so much time to establish a lead on the two far heavier hitters, and this year they really need to make it count.

epdaily.tv

Diablo 3 coming to Xbox 360 as well, dated worldwide Sept. 3 [update]

Simon Wu:

I thought at first that this was surely going to be a PS3 exclusive, but it looks like it was only an exclusive in attention before launch. Is this the start of a larger diversification attempt on Blizzard’s part, since the PC title has sold just over 3 million units at this point? Obviously the Titan MMO faced a huge setback last week, and they might need some other projects to divert resources into. My only question is, why the delay between the announcements for the two platforms?

Max Gruber:

So the Xbox 360 now gets Diablo III along with the PS3 and 4. Seems like they’re trying to rake in as much money out of this one title as possible. I already played and finished D3, and I don’t have the will to play through it once more, what with the crappy drop rates and whathaveyou. However, I do wonder if this will be the future standard for the Diablo series, since the original Diablo was released on the Playstation.

Alex Miller:

While it is true that the originally Diablo was released on the playstation, I still can’t wrap my head around the idea of Diablo on a console any more than I could when it was first announced. ClickClickClickClickClickClickClickClickClickClickClickClick doesnt work if you don’t have a mouse. I think Max is correct when he says Blizzard is just trying to cash in on this title. They have already made it, so why not squeeze whatever they can out of it seems to be the thought there. I for one will be very interested to see how this port fairs.

destructoid.com

Microsoft Cancelling One-on-One Interviews with Xbox Executives at E3

Simon Wu:

I think Microsoft learned their lesson from the One announcement press event, after which no less than three competing explanations of always-online were given, only to ultimately be overriden by a big corporate “We’re not sure yet.” Now they are being very cautious. The full details, good and bad, are now online, and I expect that instead it will be entirely low level spokespeople and PR reps that will stick to the official line. I expect that more importantly, this means that Microsoft will dodge the hard questions that will most certainly be asked of it by the gaming press.

Jonathan Tung:

Now this is interesting. It seems that despite the negative reception given from last month’s Xbox One announcement, Microsoft is still trying to come up with various ways to shoot themselves in the foot. This, along with rumors from NeoGAF that Microsoft is also trying to moneyhat various third parties into showing Xbox One versions of their titles at E3 next week goes to show why the company really has no idea what it’s doing at the very moment.

Max Gruber:

How far down the rabbit hole can Microsoft fall into? They’ve closed off the public press to even ask questions about the various rumors about the Xbox One. It’s like they’re trying their damndest to make this fail on so many levels. At this point, I think Microsoft is walking inside their own Wonderland, filled with insane inhabitants on the brink of killing one another over a cup of tea.

Alex Miller:

I am going to have to disagree with Jonathan here. While it is unfortunate that this is the way they are doing it, I think its a good thing for Microsoft to do all they can to stop sending confusing signals and that it shows they do know what they are doing. At this stage in the game, misinformation is more damaging than information is a bonus, so it makes no sense to to make a noose for themselves.Hopefully the press conference in full, which is really the second revealing of the Xboxone, will reveal enough. However, not all one-on-ones have been confirmed to be cancelled, so there's still a chance that this is instead a choice by Microsoft to limit the amount of times they have to explain their story, once again avoiding any mix ups.

dalton32389's picture

if harmonix wants to make a next gen rock band i'll be there day one. i've been playing the rock band series nearly every day since december '07 when the ps2 version hit store shelves. i don't know why so many people fell off and we few stayed with it. my 360 will stay plugged in long after they stop making games for it only to play rock band 3 and all that dlc i spent hundreds of dollars on. also jonathan, if there is a demo for rock band blitz i recommend you check it out. has more similarities to amplitude and frequency than traditional rock band.

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