Weekend Short-Takes: 9/28/12

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.

With PlayStation 4 launch looming, Sony says it will support PS3 for at least three more years‏

Simon Wu:

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.

Alex Miller:

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.

PopCap hit with more layoffs as Dublin office closes

Simon Wu:

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.

Alex Miller:

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

Wii U launching with 23 games

Simon Wu:

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.

Alex Miller:

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

Mass Effect Trilogy arriving November 6

Simon Wu:

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.

Alex Miller:

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

John Tarr's picture

I completely forgot that Mass Effect 1 was published by Microsoft. That's a pretty badass collectors edition for $59.99. Despite the lackluster ending in ME3, I would highly recommend buying this to anybody who has managed to not play this franchise.

RareDaniel46's picture

I might pick that Mass effect up since I have never played it before! thanks for letting me know about it

darthskeletor's picture

Why would Sony want to keep dragging us along unless they plan for the PS4 to cost an insane amount like last time? I think that you would want to move everyone along as quickly as possible to the latest and greatest thing, given how the tech industry works these days.

Josh Kowbel's picture

With the PS3's vast virtual and physical library, the increasing number of HD collections, and the price drop of the Slim model, I believe Sony will make good on supporting the PS3 for the next several years. Developers won't take full advantage of the next system's hardware until a couple years into the life cycle anyway, so the multi-platform games should look comparable until 2015.

Concerning the Wii U, I don't think I've seen as strong a launch lineup in the history of consoles. Of course I'm ignoring the fact that half the releases have already hit store shelves for the Xbox 360 and PS3. I'll probably wait until Christmas to invest in the Deluxe version, seeing as the only title that truly interests me right now is ZombiU.

I will not be buying the Mass Effect trilogy for the PS3 either. Mass Effect 1's gameplay does not match the quality of the story it tells, and after four playthroughs witnessing every piece of dialogue that Shepard's first adventure offers, I no longer have the will to take down Saren. However, I still want to see what the Mass Effect 3 DLC contributes to the timeline. 

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