We've suspected that this was the case for some time now. Sony executives have commented in the past week or so that the amazing success of the PS4 has surprised even them. They also noted that they weren't quite sure who exactly was buying the device, a curious and telling admission for a major company that would probably otherwise have claimed to have masterminded all of the success brilliantly. I've heard many stories of gamers who have defected from the Xbox 360 to the PS4, generally citing its focus on ... games. Finally, we see the fulfillment of the prediction that I made a while ago that by combining a focus on the home entertainment market and a very high price, Microsoft wound up with neither gamers nor price sensitive families.
While the impact of the Xbox One's high initial price cannot be discounted (luckily the console was!), I think the string of blunder after blunder from Microsoft's PR and media team really handed Sony a gold-wrapped, caviar-covered birthday cake sprinkled with diamonds to celebrate their new console; point being Microsoft screwed the pooch and gave Sony a massive opportunity, something Sony has done well to capitalize on. However, maybe even more important than that has been the wave of fans who have lost interest/faith in Nintendo and have hopped over to their national rival. You can tell, beyond the comments Simon referenced above, that Sony could not have planned this by the string of things that have gone wrong for both companies. Sony is happily picking up the pieces (and customers) from each rival's 2014 troubles. It will be interesting to see how each responds.
Hot on the heels of Sony's Share Play announcement, Microsoft is once again playing catch-up on their own vision. Game demos have always been around, but they've always been, well, demos. Finally, we see a concept of the game demo that incorporates some of the technological advances we've had since ... the early 2000s? Both consoles now have preloading as well as streaming (although when streaming truly goes beyond menu surfing early access remains to be seen). Dozens of times, I've been scrolling through dozens of games, and while I've heard good things about some, there's no way I can find out for sure except by buying it. So I skip it. Allowing users 24 hours of free reign is a much better way for them to kick the tires than giving them one level.
I agree with Simon that looking at the game itself, warts and all, instead of a carefully chosen (by the developers) slivers of the overall game is a much better way to make a purchasing decision. I hope that this system can be successful, as I would like it to become the new standard for trials. The interesting thing would be if PC gaming followed consoles in this situation, as it has for most of the last decade. One of the main arguments for piracy (other than I'm poor) is that "Oh, I just wanted to try out the game before I bought it." Now, I can't condone game piracy, but I understand where people are coming from there. Games are expensive, and with all the options out there gamers want to make sure they are making the right choice. If the whole game was available to try for free from the publisher, would we see a drop in piracy? It wouldn't disappear, sure, but I would be interested to see the impact.
Hold on to your butts. For ages now we've been saying that Nintendo simply must diversify beyond its own platforms. I've talked with a staunch Nintendo supporter recently who lovingly pointed out that a game called Youkai Watch 2, available in Japan for only five weeks on 3DS, has already surpassed sales of Titanfall, which has been out on three platforms for 22 weeks. Bear in mind, that their handhelds are doing just fine; it's the console that's doing poorly, though at the moment they may have passed that crown to Microsoft. I think this is the very first, very small step in what will be a larger trend. When Nintendo gets serious about taking down illegal ROMs on the app stores and replacing them with genuine paid copies (or maybe free to play with microtransactions), then we'll realistically be talking about a three horse race again.
So, theoretically, "Pokemon" "Game" and "Headed to iPad" should be a sentence that brings joy to all people and lets Nintendo fire up their cash printing machine. However, it’s the inclusion of that little word "card" that throws off the whole thing. Sure the Trading Card Game was popular, but more as an accessory to the TV show and Game Boy games. It didn't have the popularity of Yugioh or Magic: The Gathering when it comes to the card game itself. Obviously you would shank someone to get a shiny Charizard, but that’s because it was rare and you wanted it, not because you desperately needed it to complete your deck of cards.
The fact that Nintendo is willing to allow their content on platforms other than their own is encouraging (I wrote a Mindshare almost two years ago on how I see them going the game developer route, like Sega, in the future) but the fact that they aren't offering their quality stuff makes the whole thing feel kind of phoned in. Seeing as handheld is where they are still relevant, I find it hard to believe they will give mobile gaming more of boost than it has already, but I think it would have been in the long term benefit of the company if they had offered more here. Pokemon Yellow on iPhone? Why not, presumably they aren't making another remake of Gen 1 games anytime soon.
Where there's good news for Nintendo, there must be bad news. This has been a long time coming, but it's now official. Hardcore titles are all but extinct. You can't fault Ubisoft for lack of trying. They were first to platform with Zombi U, which was designed specifically to try and utilize the Wii U's unique features as much as possible, but to underwhelming results. So then they simply tried to port all of their hit titles over, like AC3, AC4, and Watch Dogs, but even that didn't work. I've also previously noted that in a conversation with the friend of a Wii U owner, he noted that his friend bought Call of Duty: Black Ops II for the Wii U, and had a great time with the other several dozen people in matchmaking. My ... Nintendo loving colleague himself admitted that all three of his Wii U games were first-party titles. And that puts it all in a nutshell.
As Simon says, it's becoming painfully obvious that the Wii U has become a first-party only platform. While that serves a purpose in offering a potential for an alternative to mainstream gaming, this opportunity is not taken often enough or well enough for Nintendo to maintain their current path. Ubisoft has done the most for Nintendo, bending over backwards where most other major publishers have simply given up, but even the Canadians are getting tired of Nintendo's hoops now. While sales have been up since Mario Kart 8 came out and the new Super Smash Bros. was announced, the fact that both of those games are part of decade-old franchises shows the lack of original content on the Wii U. If it's going to serve as a gaming alternative, which (now that Ubisoft is pretty much done with them) is the only role left to the Wii U, it needs more than that.