Console gamers, this really seems to be the year of the fail; I can’t recall a year where so many parts of the industry failed this badly, so often. One in particular stands out, but let’s look at some of the highlights.
Sony and Microsoft both unveiled new consoles this year and swiftly set in motion the most public set of fails in console history, one of them actually seems to have forgotten why people buy games machines.
Microsoft unveiled their new giant-sized machine and extra large Kiinect in a series of badly planned press events which backfired catastrophically. What Microsoft presented us with was a bunch of things to distract from gaming, the thing most of us would have bought the machine to do.
They decided gamers would be more interested in seeing how they could watch TV and Skype during a game on their new machine rather than game. I barely talk to people on my own team during a game, I’m too focused on the game, why the hell would I want to Skype someone during it? Think about it:
“I just wanted to say thanks for that sweater, oh, hang on grandma, just gotta destroy this noob”
Then we get to the really silly stuff:
“If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards”
(Don Mattrick, head of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business in the Wall St. Journal, May 22, 2013)
Most people realised the games couldn’t be when they announced the switch to the blu-ray format, however the fact that none of the hardware I own will be compatible either irks me… and others.
The expensive headset I bought so housemates wouldn’t have to listen to the whining of my fallen foes, not to mention the really handy keyboard that plugs into my controller, all rendered useless with this new device.
Implying there was a mental deficiency in people who were irked by this was the wrong way to go about addressing the issue.
The now retracted ‘always on’ condition, which required your machine to check in once every 24 hours or it would turn into a brick for the week was frankly the dumbest thing I had heard in a long time.
I live in Ireland, we have proper weather here, one particularly bad bit of weather and I could be disconnected from the internet for a week and with that condition I wouldn’t even have my games machine to entertain me, you know, the purpose I bought it to fulfil.
The real offence in all of this was when they eventually got down to brass tacks about how the machine worked; does nothing new. The features they boasted of for both the machine and the Kiinect were nothing new, they were in fact all the same things they said the previous machines would do.
The new machine does what they said the old machine would do. There is nothing new here.
There is another issue, I don’t have room to use a kiinect, quite a lot of other gamers I know don’t either but if we want to buy the new machine we have to pay extra for it, a device that is useless to us. That’s what their upcoming losses are going to be mainly caused by. People simply can’t afford to blow money on a device that is totally useless to them.
Sony have been widely adjudged to have won this round of the “Console War” because they stood up at E3, pointed at Microsoft and said, (Using creative license here, stand those lawyers down): “Hey we’re not those ass~@les and we’re a hundred bucks cheaper!”
First off, not being the biggest ass in the room doesn’t mean you’re not an ass and secondly they also suffer from the same problem. Their new machine is a lot smaller than Microsoft’s and looks a lot better, however it has the same problem; it is simply a hardware upgrade.
There is still nothing new here.
Developers have tried to bring something new into games, an attempt to integrate tablets into the console gaming experience, because they seem to think I want to have to shell out for another expensive device so I can experience a game properly.
A tablet player can drop into your games in the upcoming Battlefield 4 for example and act as a command and control centre, advising on troop movements, providing artillery fire support and the like.
A team having this is has a serious advantage over a team that doesn’t so to play properly you need to be sure you have one on your side, only way to do that is to have one yourself.
Alternatively you could just not play it.
Guess which I’ll be doing.
Nintendo have actually changed the way we game, the Wii U is a brilliant device that opens a whole new world of player inter-action and multi-player experiences. The controller is essentially a built in tablet which allows that type of play at a cost well below that of the other large manufactures.
A player with a Wii U controller can act as GM for a group of players using Wii controllers (backwards compatibility ftw) in many games such as Luigi’s Mansion.
Their problem is very different to those of Microsoft and Sony.
Nintendo seem to be terrified that if they try to appeal to the hardcore gamer they will alienate their massive base of casual gamers. They are capable of producing brilliant hardcore games; the guys in Ubisoft who made Zombi U for them should be sweeping awards year round for a brilliant piece of work.
Nintendo however seem to be incapable of utilising the great machine they have, they are sticking rigidly to the tried and trusted pattern, another Mario kart, another Pokémon, another Mario Bros and so forth.
The only company that has changed the way we game is refusing to acknowledge it has done that, at a time when the other giants in the industry are floundering, Nintendo could be stealing large swathes of their markets, setting a new bar for the gaming experience but instead they stick to an outdated cycle of titles.
That’s the real fail.