Weekend Short-Takes: 7/26/13

Xbox One to allow indie self-publishing

Alex Miller:
This is massive for a number of reasons. Beyond the fact that it is yet another reversal from Microsoft made to great applause (one almost wonders if they dug their own hole just to make the feat of climbing out that much more impressive), the fact that they are simplifying the Xbox Live release process and making the pricing structure more flexible takes away two of the biggest complaints leveled against Microsoft this generation. By opening things up in this way we could see an explosion of awesome (and with the accompanying pricing reforms) appropriately priced content onto Xbox Live. This will invariably lead to a lot more mediocre games as well, but the good ones will rise to the surface, and by removing the the impediments in the process it will make the upfront cost of game design significantly less. Major coup for the Xbox to steal the Playstation’s Indie game thunder, it will be interesting to see how (or if) Sony responds.

John Fenix:
Can someone get me that picture of Will Ferrell saying the situation has escalated faster than anticipated? Anyways, this is something I didn't expect from Microsoft. While we will have to wait for Gamescom for more info about this process, the fact that all consoles could basically be debug consoles is huge, especially on a game console and given Microsoft's history with indie developers, this is a huge benefit for them. Of course, indie developers were noted more to complain about the process of trying to certify their games with Microsoft than making the games themselves, so Microsoft will have to explain more about the process. Until then, while the mood appears to be cautiously optimistic, the key word there is optimistic, a lot more than Microsoft has been getting recently.rosoft than making the games themselves, so Microsoft will have to explain more about the process. Until then, while the mood appears to be cautiously optimistic, the key word there is optimistic, a lot more than Microsoft has been getting recently.

Benjamin Mazzara:
Microsoft has always caught flak for being very resistant and money focused when it comes to indie releases and XBox Live. This has lead some truly great indie and downloadable titles, like Journey and Guacamelee, to be PSN exclusives, while Microsoft has relied fairly heavily on Minecraft. I hope that this new policy can help indie developers create new and interesting games, and maybe expand the playing field for gamers. Having one great area for downloadable games is great, but Xbox’s more accessible marketplace and indie policies could make us see some truly original titles in the future. I like that Microsoft is learning that a policy that focuses on delivering the best content, not the most money to them, will reap greater rewards.

engadget.com

 

Xbox One could outship PS4 3-to-1 this year

Alex Miller:
Wow. In just three letters I pretty much said all that can be said about the Xbox One. Starting from mild grumbling at the reveal event in May to outright calls that it had lost the generation already in June, and now, by the end of July preorder projects have Microsoft’s new flagship comfortably ahead of Sony’s offering. Wow. Though, when you think about it, its not that surprising. As I have said for the last month people are used to the system they currently own and, at least in the US, Microsoft has outshipped Sony this generation, meaning if people just upgrade to the newest version of their current console Microsoft is obviously going to retain that advantage. The $100 gap is not enough to make as a big a difference as Sony wanted it to, as people are willing to pay a little bit extra for a premium product. Obviously we are still months out of from release so a lot is still to come, but Sony's plan of silence which won them so many points early on may soon start to hurt them if they can’t respond appropriately.

John Fenix:
I have to admit, being biased more towards Microsoft, this headline does surprise me quite a bit. I expected there to a bit of a jump, but certainly not this big. Again, while launch is always big and huge and such a rush, it's going to come down to how each console is able to adopt in the long term, which usually means watching over several years, which I understand is tough for some people. The $100 price gap is going to definitely be an important factor for some people, but if the experience and the games and services offered is far more intuitive and enjoyable than the other console, than people might be more willing to look past that price gap. As I always say, only time will tell.

Benjamin Mazzara:
I admittedly have not been paying close attention to the constant changing of tides in internet opinion, so this comes as an almost disappointing shock to me. I will applaud Microsoft’s changing policies (see above), but the fact that the Xbox One (once the most feared and hated console) is now the favorite. What the hell happened? Are Microsoft’s fans really that loyal? Is the PS3 still paying off for a bad launch all those years ago? Even I, who only just got a PS3 and still prefer the Xbox, do not plan on supporting Microsoft after they showed their true colors a few months back. I just don’t understand how a console with more IPs and a cheaper price tag is now in second place. It’s times like this that I feel confused and almost upset over the gaming audience.

EA locks down college football deal

Alex Miller:
This interesting to me because of how quickly EA moved here. EA sports is one of their biggest divisions and NCAA Football is a massive yearly cash cow for them. That they were able to scramble and audible their way into a replacement agreement in around a week is certainly impressive. However, the root cause of the split is a lawsuit by current and former players against the NCAA for profiting off of them, and I wonder if EA will get drawn into things as the case progresses.

John Fenix:
Sports fans rejoice!!! OK, not much I can say here, moving on....

Benjamin Mazzara:
This story is nice on a video game level, but I think this whole issue sheds light on how absolutely ridiculous the NCAA is when it comes to some of their policies. It really does feel like that episode of South Park, where Cartman thinks the NCAA treats their athletes like slaves. These player can even enjoy the benefits of their hard work, while the universities and sports organizations soak up all the profits and donations. It’s a disturbing system that I think really needs to be looked at. Not wanting to “corrupt” college athletes or the integrity of the sport is a noble cause, but it feels empty when the university is benefiting.

gotgame.com

Nintendo Says No To Japanese Independent Developers

Alex Miller:
Coming from a company who are still struggling to build any sort of gaming catalogue for their system more than a year on from launch this is baffling. That they would turn down developers from the one country where they are certainly doing well is confusing, and Nintendo’s nebulous statement did nothing to clear it up. If this is simply a legal issue then they should have done their best to make that immediately apparent since, at this point, they should be begging developers to work on their console, not the other way around. Hopefully this doesn’t harm Nintendo’s relationship with small developers in the long term because if any of the big three need to fill out their catalogue with indie games its Nintendo

John Fenix:
Guess our old childhood friend isn't as perfect as they seemed to be when we were kids. This still seems quite a surprise to me, given how much, as the article points out, that Nintendo is looking more at third-party developers to help bring people over to the Wii U. I hate to start more speculation, but I am wondering if Nintendo is trying to attract more international players by trying to look at developers in those countries. That's pure unaccountable speculation, but until Nintendo explains this move, people and developers are going to be scratching their heads in confusion.

Benjamin Mazzara:
It’s times like these I feel like Alfred in The Dark Knight. I’ve been saying for years that Nintendo’s bizarre and almost idiotic business practices will be the nails in the coffin of its console efforts, and it’s headlines like these that almost confirm my suspicions. It feels like now is the time to say “I told you so,” but it’s times like these that I don’t want to. Let’s see, with no help from prolific publisher EA and now openly disregarding any hopes of a profitable and creative indie market, what legs does Nintendo have to stand on? They seem resistant to release new IPs, and even their famous franchises are feeling worn out and take years to make? I almost feel sorry for anyone who bought a WiiU, because it feels like the console will soon be collecting dust like the Wii did. I really think Nintendo should just stick to its portable and game development, rather than half ass a console that is now not even being considered as a threat in the market.

escapistmagazine.com


Star Wars: Battlefront Already "Well Into Development"

Alex Miller:
This is good news and potentially the best thing to come out of the Disney purchase of Star Wars from George Lucas. Not necessarily because we are getting a new Battlefront (though that is definitely awesome) but because we are finally seeing movement in Star Wars game development. As Simon and I went over a few podcasts ago, Lucasarts grew incredibly stagnate by the end, releasing games only once every couple years. Now that EA has purchased the rights to the series they are concerned with making back that money and much more. However, the comments made by EA Games Label president Frank Gibeau that the game would have “a third-person component” left me with a feeling that the game won't just be a cheap reskinned Battlefield cash grab and will instead be more in line with the previous two games. Plus, you have to consider that they are motivated to make a great game, because they know that great games not only sell, but spawn sequels that sell. They learned their lesson with Medal of Honor that they can’t base a franchise of a poor first game so I am confident they are looking to get this one right.

John Fenix:
Simon is probably spinning in his chair squealing like a schoolgirl at this news, because that's what I'm doing. It will be interesting to see where DICE, who are definitely in my opinion have the experience and expertise to do this game justice, will try to create something amazing yet satisfy fans of the previous two games. As long as there are space battles, I am good.

Benjamin Mazzara:
I never played much of the previous Battlefronts, but I’m wishing this game well. I’m hoping this game is not cancelled late in development like Battlefront 3 was, or exploited under Disney/EA’s leadership. DICE is a decent developer, especially when it comes to Multiplayer shooters, so I think they can do the series justice. I would just hope everyone is keeping their expectations in check, so the game can be appreciated for what it is.

gengame.net

MarioDragon's picture

I don't get Benjamin's consistent cracking at Nintendo. They still leave Indie publishing open to basically the rest of the world, and you go on about how they're the underdog that is going to trip on its legs as it runs in the race based off of one country. Heck it's Japan, maybe it was to stop the hentai.

Jokes aside, the Wii U is doing badly, but it felt unwarranted to go on a completely different rant when they don't allow self publishing in only Japan. If a company can survive through the Virtual Boy, I don't think you should count Nintendo out until they're dead.

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