This week, Playstation 3 gets another lease on life, Popcap takes another big hit, Wii U tries too hard for hardcore gamers, and Mass Effect gets bundled together.
I completely forgot this angle last week when the news first broke of the new slimmer slim PS3, but Sony does in fact keep last generation’s console around long after the new one comes out. I’m of two minds on this approach. If we go back to the discussion Alex and I had on the last Com-cast, I’m not quite sure it will work because today’s consumers are very much about the next big thing, and I don’t know if the last console fits in that well. The PS2 had a much longer life due to the outlandish price of the PS3. But it’s on that note that I think they have a point. Apple doesn’t make cheap mid-range versions of their products so they cost less; Apple simply makes the previous model cheaper.
Simon poses an interesting point with his Apple comparison, but I think there is one major difference that throws off the analogue and which makes this decision to support two consoles less than ideal. When I buy last year’s Macbook Pro, or even one that’s two or three years old, it doesn’t significantly reduce my capabilities. I can still use Garageband, Final Cut, Word, play games, browse, listen to music, etc etc. Basically, even if it lacks the latest processor or a Retina display, I can still get the same basic functionality out of it as I get from the latest version. Hopefully, if we see the kind of jump in specs Simon and I expect to see, I don’t think the PS3 will be able to keep up with its newer brother simply because of the way games will be set up. That causes the headache of whether to create a lesser version of a game for the older console or if the major titles will simply pass on releasing on the older console. Once again, Sony has played themselves into a difficult position.
Long-time listeners to the Com-cast won’t be surprised to know I’m at least glad to hear that mobile gaming is taking a higher priority than casual games. I say that because mobile games like Infinity Blade and some of the major franchise tie-ins are actually developing quite innovative control, layout, and navigation schemes for tablets and phones, and are also coming with graphics that are actually quite good. That said, we mentioned in a story earlier that EA intended to move decisively towards mobile and away from gaming. I wonder where those plans are now, given this setback.
Oh how the mighty have fallen. PopCap was once the be all end all of mobile games, keeping us all occupied on our Razrs with Bejeweled and...Bejeweled 2. Maybe there wasn’t a lot of variety in those days, but it cannot be said that they did not hit gold with their addictive casual gaming behemoths Peggle, Plants vs. Zombies, Zuma’s Revenge, and of course the aforementioned Bejeweled titles. Yet even with such an impressive C.V. EA has decided to trim them down, reducing what they termed “redundancies.” Yet when explaining the closing of PopCap Dublin EA Games President Frank Gibeau said that EA is “pivoting a little bit harder towards mobile and away from social.” One would think that given PopCap’s origins the studio would be at the forefront of this move, but who knows what goes on in the minds of EA executives.
Photo Credit: gametrailer.com
The parade of Wii U release news marches on, and this week we got to see a bit of Nintendo’s calculus on what kind of audience it expects to pick this thing up. Curiously,they are really making the push for hardcore gamers, getting out of the gate with Black Ops II, Darksiders II, and AC3, to name a few. This continues to thoroughly confound me; I don’t think they have given any indication of just why their platform is superior to the 360 or PS3 for hardcore gamers. All I see is a console with the same graphics, a grossly inferior online experience and infrastructure, and a controller that won’t work with my usual AC or CoD playing style, most likely forcing me to spend another $50 bucks for the Pro controller, a peripheral that critics are already calling a cheap copy of the Xbox controller. Bayonetta II has to be pretty damn perfect for me to even begin considering the Wii U seriously.
The phrase ‘don’t bring a knife to a gunfight is often thrown around for various failures and shortcomings, but given the launch lineup for the Wii U, I can’t think of a more applicable scenario for it. When one launches a new product which lags behind the competition in several key categories and which seemingly only has a chance if its “innovative” new feature is truly that, it is less than advisable to try and compete on the same terms as its competition. The Wii U is not for hardcore gamers, it will never be for hardcore gamers. The simple truth of it is that the Wii U cannot match the current Xbox or Playstation (let alone their fast approaching updated versions) when it comes to graphics, processor power, online infrastructure, etc, areas of true importance to hardcore gamers. The Wii U will have a fan base, just not that one, and that is something it needs to accept. If it wants to compete as a platform, it needs to have games that play to its strengths, i.e. motion control, interaction with the second screen, etc. That is not what I see in this list. What I DO see are a number of AAA titles that Nintendo has no chance of gaining any kind of market share on and that are doomed to fail on their platform. Unless we see more innovation from them and their game design partners, all I can say about this console and its launch lineup is: “meh.”
Photo Credit: kotaku.com
I actually got wind of this big news from a friend of mine who is a PS3 gamer and was coming to collect on my trash talk that the original Mass Effect couldn’t possibly come to PS3 because it was published by Microsoft Game Studios and billed as an Xbox Exclusive. Is there anything capitalism can’t do? I still get a small consolation that he’ll have to wait for it though. It’s possibly one of the greatest steals of all time, since you get three of the best games of this past decade for the price of one. What remains to be seen, and what I desperately hope, is that they roll in every piece of DLC out thus far. Every gun, skin, map, and mission. If it does, my money will magically rise out of my wallet and float in the general direction of Amazon immediately.
Well done EA, this is a step in the right direction when it comes to pleasing your fans. I think packaging all three games together in one set is a fantastic idea and the price they are offering it for is much less than I would have imagined, good on them for that. Though I’m not as hopeful as Simon in regards to the inclusion of all DLC, I would be incredibly happy to be proved wrong on that account. Even if I had to pay for it, if they could bundle it all together as one download with the same kind of price reduction as the actual games I would be a happy man. Either way, being able to run all the way through the series in one convenient box is great, especially for those who might have missed the first or second game, as playing through the entirety of the series is infinitely more enjoyable.
Photo Credit: gamespot.com