Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Doom Generation

The Wii as far as we know it is doomed....

It's been doomed since it's release in 2006, it's been doomed during it's initial run which made Nintendo a household name again, and brought in an entirely new audience of gamers. It was doomed when NCL and NOA announced a price cut, and was doomed before last christmas' spectacular comeback with an old platforming favorite. And now in 2010 it's still doomed.

The Sony Move released to some hype, and people immediately said that this would be the Wii killer considering the use of a camera would trump the already fixed precision issues that Motion Plus brought to the table..

Not even a month later the Move fell into obscurity, and even Sony has been downplaying their commercials. Currently the only ones i've seen are the Bravia combo purchase commercials and the "where can I find a blu ray player that plays video games" commercials. (Ironically one move commercial just came on during wrestling) If I were to use my best Horatio Caine impression, I would say that people....

 have Moved on..


The Kinect releases and immediately Microsoft is working their PR magic on the people, and it's actually selling decently. Immediately, people are starting to proclaim that this marks the end of the Wii. Obviously the lack of controllers make for a better experience and this trumps Nintendo's controller based scheme entirely..
Again, I say..


Realistically, we are being made to believe that because the add-on has an impressive showing in a two month period (holidays included, considering everything gets a considerable boost during the holiday season)  that it's going to be the factor that makes Xbox win the fabled 'console war'. However, two months compared to five years is a very lop sided point of comparison to be using when proving superiority of one product over another. This doesn't stop companies from trying to skew and spin information into their favor.

Case-in-point: sales figures when displayed in games journalism is usually only showing partial information to convey a larger number of units sold that actual customer purchases. It's logical to, in order to boast a larger number of sales, to include your pre-order numbers with your actual sales numbers. It's about the same as talking yourself up in an interview for a job you want, or saying any and everything to impress a potential mate, or even how candidates for political offices will sling as much mud as possible to make them look better by comparison. Boasting is natural. Everyone tends to do it from time to time, but you have to stop and think about how much of it is true and how much is smoke and mirrors. Things are usually told in half truths - meaning it's up to you, the consumer to basically figure out what's real and what's being generated to make you interested in a product.

The other day I had a discussion with a co-worker who was trying to buy a Kinect for her daughter, and was figuring out the difference between the bundles. She said that her daughter has the Wii and a few games, and then after finding out about the Kinect was told that the Wii was 'obsolete',and wanted that. Considering that motion control based gaming is fairly new and was only limited exclusively to one console for the last five years, it's difficult to say that both a similarly designed motion control add-on, and a hands free motion controlled sensor add-on would be a means for declaring the predecessor antiquated. It's like saying that with the influx of newer touch screen phones that Apple's Iphone, Ipod touch and I pad are antiquated by comparison. Some would actually argue that they are, but that doesn't mean that there isn't any less of  a demand for that product. And that's the same thing with the Wii. With the demand still there it doesn't make the product any less obsolete, by anyone's standard.

And yet people still seem to have this strange idea that the system is in trouble and it needs some changes in order to be 'up to snuff' with the current competition. Let's look at this particular little gem from EA's own John Riccitiello

"Riccitiello began by mentioning how the Wii market could really benefit from another price cut now. "I would say they did exceptionally well in ‘07 and ‘08, started tapering in ‘09 and ‘10, and... I think if they were to price down to $99, they would explode. I think they’ve now got competition, in the form of gesture-based gaming from Sony and Microsoft. If they were to find ways to promote third-party content better, as opposed to first-party content, and would hit pricing, I think the platform would see new life," he said.
We followed-up, pressing Riccitiello on the third-party situation. It's well known that Nintendo platforms have always had a greater focus on first-party Nintendo content, often at the expense of the third-party games. This doesn't sit too well with the EA CEO. We asked him about his level of frustration when it comes to Wii and third-party support.
Riccitiello responded, "I think it’s a frustration for all third-party publishers, when a platform holder does less to promote third-party content. A great third-party company is Apple, a company that’s all third-party content. There’s often tension in a company between first- and third-party content. Nintendo’s unique in the world. They’re a great company because of the blend of first- and third-party content. First-party hardware, first-party content is what makes them great, but it’s actually pretty tough. I can come up with a dozen titles in the last decade, but it’s really tough to come up with a dozen great titles that have been platform defining for them that weren’t their own. I don’t care whether it’s Mario or Twilight Princess or GoldenEye; it was their own content. I’m going back to N64, and I can go back to SNES if you want, but they’ve never really been a heavy third-party supporting system. It’s not lack of trying; they start the morning thinking what’s best for their own intellectual property.
Translation : To avoid doom, Nintendo must comply with industry methods of competition - meaning cutting the price until the hardware is effectively useless, and depending on third parties (who vocally didn't give a rat's ass about the console back in 06').

Even the statement about software is ridiculous. Notice back in the 80s that the quality of the third party content was on par with Nintendo's offerings. Your Castlevanias, your Ninja Gaidens, your Mega Mans were all above and beyond what a lot of current generation games are right now. Why is that? people on forums have been begging to have that question answered for years now. Why were the games from the 70s 80s and most of the 90s so good compared to this current generation of gaming?

welll... not like the current prophecies of a second gaming crash or anything of that nature. It's more like what's happening in hollywood, and in other entertainment mediums; Developers are losing touch with their audiences, and putting their trust in technology to sell things rather than making an entertaining product. EA isn't immune to this either, considering they put out that commercial for NBA JAM that featured more features and online in an effort to sell their game because they didn't want to put the same amount of effort in the Wii version. And don't misunderstand - this isn't about making console exclusives.  Personally, that's not going to help these companies at all. However, making an effectively great product that keeps an audience entertained and doesn't exclude people based on what version they choose to purchase is integral to building a more receptive audience.  It shouldn't matter what version of the game they purchase. It should matter that the games are both compelling and worth that 50-60 dollars being spent on it.

Apparently, Sega are prophets as well...

I don't expect EA or Activision to understand this now, considering they're just going to keep going the route they feel is the best, regardless of what the consumers say with their wallets. As what's going on with Squaresoft right now, that will be their own undoing as well. It's only a matter of time. In the case of the Kinect. We'll see how that goes in a couple months from now. Others have already pointed out that there really isn't much in terms of games that would warrant the system a purchase. Even Dance Central isn't pulling the same weight as Just Dance has been for what it's worth. And that seems to be the most notable title out of the bland games and clones and of other Wii based games Microsoft and Sony have. As for the prophecies of  Nintendo's demise, well.for a company that's been around for a little over a century, I'm not counting them out for a second.

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