Weekend Short-Takes: 8/23/13

GameStop sales down 10%, profits halve

 

Simon Wu:
This is also like saying that iPhone sales are down right as rumors intensify around the suspected release date. This was to be entirely expected as people hold their breath and wait for the next consoles to finally arrive. Gamestop themselves have projected that this launch will be the biggest one for consoles ever. Also, analyst Michael Pachter has stated that he believes the retail games market has about 10 years left to run before it reaches total irrelevance, so I do expect to see GameStop diversifying even more than it already has with tablet and iPod sales.

Alex Miller:
As we all know, games don’t come out during the summer. Clumping around the Christmas and pre-Christmas windows means games come out all at once instead of spread throughout the year. As a result it makes perfect sense that the summer quarter would see a downturn in sales. On top of that, as the article says, this is a transitional year as everyone awaits the arrival of the new Consoles and the new accessories and games it will bring. While Gamestop may be facing some serious issues with digital downloads and developers trying to fight back against second hand games, I don’t think this dip is really because of that (though I’m sure it helped.) Look for Gamestop to bounce back as the crowded September launch window approaches.

Max Gruber:
Not surprised by this, especially given the summer drought that occurs every year. Thankfully, we have been redeemed by the existence of Saints Row IV, XCOM: The Bureau, and Splinter Cell: Blacklist all released on the same day. However, I think game sales for the current-gen will go down, since people are probably saving up for the release of the PS4 and Xbox One. I was waiting in line to pick up Saints Row IV at my local GameStop, and there was, maybe, 40-50 people there, which is pretty telling.

John Fenix:
I’m no financial advisor, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it, with the few big games that came out. With this fall featuring not only a tanker ship full of new games, but the launch of new consoles as well, I have no fear that Gamestop will bounce back from their losses from earlier this year. Whether you enjoy or dread that news is up to how you view Gamestop.

EA aiming for jaw-dropping Star Wars games

 

Alex Miller:
This summer has certainly contained the most promising news to come out of Star Wars games in nearly a decade, and this interview certainly continues that. DICE definitely know how to make a pretty game, so I have not doubt that they will be able to make it cinematic. Furthermore, the fact that studios like DICE and Visceral have been handed these projects gives me a real hope that we may finally see a more mature, grownup Star Wars title, something Star Wars fans have been dieing for long before Rick McCallum teased the live action show. Hopefully DICE having access to all previous Star Wars titles means they can take the best bits as inspiration and truly deliver, because hitting this one out of the ballpark would do a lot towards rebuilding Star Wars as a legitimate gaming brand.

Max Gruber:
Well, with titles like Star Wars: Battlefront, then yes, it’s going to be jaw dropping. Or it could be that they’re trying to farm these out when they become popular enough to warrant their usual hobby of going out to the farmhouse and milking the cow dry. I dunno, we’ll have to wait and see.

John Fenix:
I agree with Alex on this story. I believe that EA can deliver what they are promising. DICE is definitely a perfect combination, with the Battlefield more than enough evidence to prove that, and I have very little doubt they could create something quite amazing (I can’t wait to see what they have for space battles). Visceral also definitely has plenty of credibility to make a well-done, mature Star Wars games. Either way, I think EA definitely has the ability to create some in-depth and thoroughly fun games in this galaxy far far away, right up there with the likes of Republic Commando and th original Battlefronts. Of course we will always have to see. A Virtue, Patience is.

pcgames.de

Microsoft: Xbox One Will Never Come Without Kinect

 

Simon Wu:
I don’t use Kinect. I never will. Microsoft is staring the last big obstacle to beating the PS4 in the eye... and has come up with creative ways around it. Of course, as I have mentioned before, they have to break the cycle of nobody buying it, which causes developers to lose interest in it, etc. I applaud Microsoft for coming up with very creative ways to try and bridge that last critical gap of pricing by announcing at Gamescom that European Xbox Ones will come bundled with the next FIFA at no additional cost. Suddenly, customers only have a $40 bridge to cross, and that is so much more palatable.

Alex Miller:
I have said it before and I will say it again: this is a good thing. Especially with the news a few weeks ago that it would not be required for the console to function there is really no downside to the Kinect being packaged with the console as those who don’t want to use it have a very simple option:don’t take it out of the box when you setup your console. However, since everyone will have one whether or not they use it, packaging the Kinect with every console gives developers a real incentive to actually use it. This incentive brings the one thing we need more than anything else in the gaming community: creativity. I, for one, can’t wait to see how this device can be used in a non-gimmicky, crowbarred in way as it has been in the past. Making it always there means a developer doesn't have to make it an optional extra and instead can design with the Kinect fully in mind.

Max Gruber:
I’ve personally never liked the Kinect. Concept, yes. Execution? No. I do realize that the Kinect 2.0 is supposed to be much better than the Kinect for the 360, but I don’t think it’s going to lead the way to controller-less games in the future. We simply don’t have the technology to do that yet—even though it is possible to do, case in point, the Kinect. But to have it bundled with the Xbox One makes my head burn in frustration. I simply don’t want to use it. Period.

John Fenix:
I don’t think this was a bad thing. Even before Microsoft announced the lack of Kinect needed to use it, I really didn’t mind it. Despite what people think about the Kinect, I think it would be a second chance for Kinect. It’s an interesting piece of hardware, but I think developing and releasing several years after the 360 had been out, and there never being really any interesting games that used the peripheral, the potential was missed. I think that now with it being launched alongside the new console it has a chance to showcase really innovative and immersive ways of playing. These new concepts are nothing new (Nintendo DS comes to mind), but once developers realize what you are capable of doing, I think a lot of people might be taking those Kinects back out of the box.

gamers.vg

Minecraft Coming To PS4 At Launch [And PS3, And Vita]

 

Alex Miller:
Makes sense as a natural next step in Mojang’s multi step plan of world domination through the cunning capture of all free time. A feather in Microsoft’s cap for over a year now, Minecraft has done nothing but make money hand over fist.. Making Minecraft available on its platform is a big move by Sony and something that will certainly make lots of its fans happy. Fully fledged out Minecraft on the go with the Vita is particularly intriguing and adds yet another reason to purchase Sony’s perennially underperforming second screen system.
kotaku.com

Max Gruber:
This is a huge loss for Microsoft to have MineCraft coming out for the PS4, PS3, and Vita. As everyone in here knows by now, MineCraft is the most successful indie title to come out this generation, and to have it out on pretty much any and all platforms (excluding the Wii U), is truly inspiring to everyone in the industry.

John Fenix:
No surprise that Mojang took this step. Incredibly brilliant and successful game, on any platform, and no surprise that it will do well on the Sony consoles. While it is a bit of blow to Microsoft, I believe that with the One offering self-publishing, which has been an incentive to consider Microsoft’s console now, it might be able to bring it back in the long run.

Sony to launch PlayStation 4 on November 15th

 

Simon Wu:
We edge ever closer to launch, and of course the big news is the release date of the PS4, just in time for all of the big titles to drop by holiday time. I expect that a bundle with some new IPs will be released for the holidays in order to get more copies into gamers’ hands and get them talking about the new exclusives. This would be coupled perhaps with PSN subscription bundles to further improve the deal and provide a huge boost for the holidays. Now here’s hoping no unfortunate kids accidentally get the PS3 for Christmas this year.

Max Gruber:
One small step for Sony. One giant leap for gamers. No, seriously, this is BIG news when a new console is given a release date, and given the report from Ubisoft that the Xbox One would release in late November, that’s potentially a huge advantage for Sony right now. Say the Xbox One is set to release in November 22nd or the 29th—1-2 weeks past the PS4’s release. The PS4 is already out at that point, which is cheaper than the Xbox One, has better specs, and has the advantage of having the first lineup of next-gen games to play, and you have people buying a PS4 first than the Xbox One—in theory, that is.

John Fenix:
Marked on the calendar. I’m just glad it’s not on the 23rd. I'll be a bit preoccupied that day…

Alex Miller:
It’s interesting that Sony placed their release date right smack dab in the middle of the month, almost as if they were hedging their bets, hoping that they could launch before Microsoft but still release close to Black Friday. I almost feel like we might have a reverse of the scenario at E3 where Microsoft announced their price only for Sony to one up them later that day. With literally weeks in November available to them before the PS4 launches, Microsoft might be able to steal a march if they haven’t already set a release date. If they already have a concrete date after the 15th, I would move it. They still have months to sort out their launch logistics and at this point a difference of a week or two shouldn’t mean much. Any potential inconveniences of moving the date will certainly be offset, as Sony has blinked first and potentially given Microsoft a huge advantage if they can once again be first to market.

ibtimes.com 

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