Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thoughts on Hype and Project Cafe.





hype 1  (hp) Slang
n.
1. Excessive publicity and the ensuing commotion: the hype surrounding the murder trial.
2. Exaggerated or extravagant claims made especially in advertising or promotional material: "It is pure hype, a gigantic PR job" (Saturday Review).
3. An advertising or promotional ploy: "Some restaurant owners in town are cooking up a $75,000 hype to promote New York as 'Restaurant City, U.S.A.'" (New York).
4. Something deliberately misleading; a deception: "[He] says that there isn't any energy crisis at all, that it's all a hype, to maintain outrageous profits for the oil companies" (Joel Oppenheimer).
tr.v. hypedhyp·inghypes
To publicize or promote, especially by extravagant, inflated, or misleading claims: hyped the new book by sending its author on a promotional tour.


- From The Free Dictionary.com

Hype is a double edge sword. On one edge, we can double or triple interest in a particular project or bit of information, whereas on the other end of the blade things are blown completely out or proportion, and the interested generated turns into an avalanche of disinterest, and (intended or unintended) miscommunication.

I tend to avoid Hype at all costs, because being blinded by too many voices saying dissimilar things often leads astray from the truth. Needless to say, that I am in total avoidance of any of the hype being spewed out on Project Cafe, which was just proven to be the actual codename for Nintendo's new console which is stated to be shown at this year's E3. While people are either speculating the things they read through IGN, or expressing their irritation at Nintendo's lack of interest in keeping focus on the current console, I'm merely just looking for as much (valid) information on the subject as possible so that I don't wind up jumping either the hype train of the lynch mob's bandwagons.

While I will not be feeding into hype, I will be throwing out the facts as to what I have read about the new hardware, teamed with logic to sort out the details of the things I've found...


First of all, I don't even believe anything I'm reading from IGN or Game Informer as of yet. The first thing you're probably thinking is "But they totally got it right that Nintendo was coming out with a new console", and yes that is true, but to those of us who actually keep tabs on gaming news we knew that Nintendo is always working on the next new console. So that's really nothing new. Just because a news site uses the scattergun approach and fires off a number of ideas in order to have that one or two shots hit, doesn't always mean all of the ideas are valid.  Nintendo is tight lipped so we know they're only dropping the name in order to draw in interest to whatever it is they are doing. Not too many people even knew about the motion controls when the Wii first dropped in 06, so this is even more of a reason to be skeptical.

GoNintendo

GoNintendo has been pretty forthcoming about information, and from what was viewed at the Investor's meeting there isn't any major information being shown about the new console. Everything points to E3, which is where the playable demo will be shown. There seems to be more information about the Vitality Sensor and the 3DS games than anything concerning the big news. There also has been some interesting discussion about how Iwata regrets not going through outside agencies to sell the Wii and some of  Nintendo's hardware and software. From these articles it leads me to believe that this is more or less a hindsight look at how the comapny could have improved their business, and turned around the image that some of their games have been getting. This is normal for a console nearing the end of it's lifecycle.

1up

A slightly less hype ridden article about Project Cafe found it's way onto 1up which features a few interesting tidbits. I'll post the blurbs and go from there..

"It became difficult for developers to surprise customers with the current Wii," Iwata explained, according to Kyodo News (as translated by Andriasang). It wasn't addressed why Nintendo chose now to confirm the news, but it was likely a combination of the rumors and the weaker-than-expected fiscal Q4 the company experienced. The latter in and of itself is also probably part of Nintendo's motivation to release a new system -- the Wii has not performed as well lately as it has in the past."

I doubt the news of Cafe has anything to do with the "poor" performance of the Wii. The Wii has performed rather strongly in it's run, and is only second to the DS at this point in sales. I only wish I could be that poor. If anything we're seeing an interesting play being made; considering that Sony and Microsoft are shooting for the ten year lifespan, and are in no position to put anything out currently since they've already committed to Kinect and Move as their means of snagging up the expanded market, and are intent on trying to make back the money they were bleeding out with their heavy emphasis on cutting edge tech.
"Iwata didn't explain just how the new system would allow for customers to be surprised. We do know it's unlikely to be 3D; Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime has said 3D is unlikely to be the hook for Nintendo's next system. "We've not said publicly what the next thing for us will be in the home console space, but based on what we've learned on 3D, likely, that won't be it," he said last month." 

"Iwata confirmed the company's thinking on the subject hasn't changed. "We would like to propose a new approach to home video game consoles," he said, Bloomberg reports. "It's difficult to make 3D images a key feature, because 3D televisions haven't obtained wide acceptance yet." It's a perfectly sensible perspective and it doesn't rule out 3D support -- it just won't be what Nintendo sells the system on."
3D is clearly not the draw of the new console. We knew this, already. The 3DS was a move to make the technology accessible to everyone at a fair cost. 3D isn't going to be a major part of console gaming until the tech becomes available to everyone at a fair cost.

The Wii for all it actually did to bring in new gamers and excite lapsed gamers, and everyone else in between wasn't without flaws. Mainly the Wii suffered from issues ( friend codes, and strange interface navigation ) that served as a barrier to less technical savvy consumers. This teamed with the bemoaning from the core demographic about the lack of graphical power and processing speed would lead me to want to produce something that would provide the same "outside the current range of thinking" type play to encompass an experience for everyone, while keeping up with the current competitors in terms of horsepower.

"Gamers won't be seeing it on store shelves for almost a full year at least. As noted in today's statement, it's scheduled for release in 2012 but hasn't been included in financial forecasts for the current fiscal year. In other words, it's unlikely to be released anywhere in the world prior to April 1, 2012. Microsoft and Sony meanwhile aren't expected to have new consoles out until 2014. Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter raised the question in an investors report today if the new system will find itself in a Dreamcast-like position where it would be too late to compete with PS3 and Xbox 360 but not advanced enough to compete with those devices' successors. It's too early to say right now, as Pachter himself notes, though it does seem like a point worth thinking about. Nintendo apparently isn't worried about the prospect; after all, the idea of having at least two holiday shopping seasons uncontested by new consoles does sound pretty good."
Actually, Pacula you make two interesting points. Going back to what I just said about the last blockquote, Nintendo is in an interesting position right now. They know that the PS3 and the 360 had met the limits of graphical technology at the beginning of this generation, and any future console may not be able to go any higher with graphical fidelity for some time. Both competitors are not going to go into this thing making the same mistakes they made last generation, that's for sure.

 It's also common knowledge that Nintendo only uses affordable technology for their consoles to keep the cost low for consumers, so now would be as good a time as any to produce a console that is graphically and technically on par with the HD twins instead of releasing a horribly overpriced console that only a selected few could afford. Nintendo is going to want to shoot for something cheaper, better and with higher quality that is affordable to everyone. Releasing a console like this and having it run uncontested for two holiday seasons would strike a strong blow, indeed. Iwata clearly wants to be ahead of the game, while providing something that fixes the issues of the predecessor.

Misc

Game Blog has an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto which has some interesting tidbits concerning Project Cafe as well as the 3DS. Here's some blurbage via Mash Those Buttons.
"Miyamoto-san touched on a number of new games that he’s working on and even commented on all those wild Project Cafè stories that have been flooding the internet. After giving the old company line that Nintendo is always working on a new console, he (amazingly) admitted that he is in fact working on a new console. When questioned on rumors of a new Wii, Miyamoto responded that “where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire.” It’s extremely uncharacteristic for him, or any Nintendo employee for that matter, to officially confirm a rumor prior to a planned Nintendo announcement. Unsurprisingly, he added that you shouldn’t expect all of the dozens of rumors floating around to be true"

Just to clarify.  Here is the direct tranlsation via Google Translator

"Yes, I saw found rumors speak of "Coffee". At the time I want to say it's normal. You know Nintendo, like all other manufacturers, our job is to design new machines. We believe it takes 5 years to make the R & D interesting. Afterwards, I admit that there is no smoke without fire. We must realize that we spend our time developing in-house gaming consoles. Some of you will ever see. With us, as we do not know exactly where we are going and when do we get out our next console, we do not disclose publicly. But we should not believe everything we read ..."
Pretty self explanatory. They're always making new hardware. Always. There's always a certain timeline with hardware. In the case of the handhelds since the technology is on the cheap they can create revisions often (DS - DS Lite - DSi - DSXL - ect). On the console end of course that isn't the case so anything that falls short the first go-round has to stay until they can make the necessary adjustments with the next offering.

Why would they do such a thing? because Nintendo is always about research and development in order to create something entertaining. that's been the goal of the company since back in the 60s when they discovered that Hanafuda cards aren't going to keep the company afloat. Likewise, The top brass may feel that riding the Wii into the ground may not be the way to go, either.

Community

Of course there are people who are infuriated at the news that Nintendo is doing this. They have expressed irritation that putting the Wii out to pasture without providing the Motion Plus games that they had been promised is both shortsighted and indicative of "jumping ship" for the sake of pleasing the industry. While I can see how that would be plausible, let's look at this from an objective standpoint;

One - By November of this year, the Wii will have been out for six years. By the time Cafe is released it will be running about the same lifespan as the GC, which ran at 7 years. The Gamecube if you remember ran alongside the Wii and shared the release of Twilight Princess, which afterwards the predecessor faded into the sunset. I imagine the same scenario to play out. It may not be with Skyward Sword, but I'm sure there will be a few attempts to get people to transition to the next console without issue.

Two - Keep in mind that Nintendo did offer 3DS owners to have their DSware data to be moved onto their new handhelds. So if Wiiware or any additional data needs to be moved to this new console, there would likely be means for accommodation.

Three - I could easily see Nintendo wanting everyone on board of this new console. This means developers as well. The 3DS when it was merely a tech demo was shopped around to different developers in order to generate interest. (Hell, the DS itself meant both a "Devloper's System, and a Dual Screen handheld). This brought a bunch of praise from developers who saw the potential of the console and wanted to produce games with it's features. Developers for the most part have been either avoiding the Wii like the plague, or giving it half-hearted attempts at games while using the revenue to produce these high-end masterpieces.

Reggie has gone on record that Nintendo wants the GTAs and other games on the Wii. Iwata has also stated that they want people to develop the games that Nintendo cannot, as well. So how do you get the results you want without paying these guys to do so? Sweeten the pot. Give them a reason to want to produce something for your tech. This is what was done for the 3DS and it's the likely conclusion they came to for the console end. I can't say that's good or bad, but It's a means to ensure that they will be getting all types of gamers on board and not just one group of gamers.

 It is true, you can't please all of the people all of the time, but that never really stops people from wanting to accomplish such an impossible feat. That's just human nature.

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Now don't get me wrong. I find that the Wii hasn't even begun to tap it's full potential, but  Nintendo has a history of putting out new ideas and never letting them meet their full potential (GBA e-Reader, SuperScope 6, SNES Mouse ect ). Nothing lasts forever.  Sometimes you just have to move onto something else with the knowledge you have amassed from your previous endeavor in order to improve. This seems to be the case for Nintendo, and perhaps this may prove to be beneficial in the long run. Of course the only way we'll know is when we see the results at the end of the next console generation.



Game On!

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