Has been an engaging and interesting look at how some of the major players in the industry are going about their business. It is almost beyond comprehension for a lot of gamers out there.
Let's look at it though from a casual gamer perspective, yes? What does this all mean? Well....for one, Playstation gamers are going to get a Bungie game. Given Bungie's latest statements regarding their thrust into a new action universe (and given their forward momentum in the delivery of universe creation from Myth to Marathon, ONI to Halo...one can only assume that what is going to come out in the near future will be something "on steroids" as one analyst puts it. To the average gamer, it doesn't seem like anything is going to matter about this new Activision/Bungie deal. There is only good that can come out of it from the end user perspective (at least on the long run.)
To a lot of us looking around at this...it comes as a shock, absolutely no doubt that to many of us, this a huge announcement that on the surface, does not make sense. Some news sites, notably Destructoid, have been voicing a big concern about Bungie's motives. One can only assume that given the incredible PR backlash inherent with this Infinity Ward fallout is heavily influencing the initial reactions.
Bungie, a powerhouse developer...one of those developers that is readily known even outside of the industry, is at one it's peaks again, Halo: Reach beta comes out on Monday, and the game is expected to be released sometime this Fall. The viral ads are in full swing, Twitter is abuzz (Reach is a trending topic at the time of this post), the newest live action trailer came out...and soon this advertising blitz will go full swing towards the general audience. It's almost as if Bungie thought it pertinent to post up their announcement with Activision as a means to boost the PR hype....in some hilarious and new way?
Activision...could not be hit with a worse time. Kotick, their main man, is being touted as a devilish man who sees nothing but the profits of his company as the only reason to exist. (I could literally go on about the morality of a market place, and I actually highly recommend this article as an alternative perspective that would agree with Kotick's viewpoint: www.colorado.edu/studentgroups/libertarians/issues/friedman-soc-resp-business.html ) It is inherently concurrent with many business practices...but it does not currently agree with the aim of the gaming industry as a whole. This industry looks to prove itself as artists and developers of entertainment, not as developers of drop-and-forget products that seeks to keep the consumer content until the next round of slop is introduced. Given the PR backlash with Infinity Ward, no matter who is correct on this one, Activision is clearly taking a hit in the eyes of gamers.
So what could possibly make Bungie want to to go with Activision on publishing rights? Well...I highly doubt this is about money as a priority for Bungie. Breaking from Microsoft gives Bungie a chance to finally try it's hand on Playstation 3 (perhaps even Wii...?) Bungie gets to play with better processing power with the PS3 as well, and there is a heck of a larger user base in the entire market...save for one segment. Bungie is poising itself towards better distribution of it's properties. Why sell 10 million, when you can sell upwards of 15 to 20 million units?
So, Bungie is well on it's way to World Domination. It's one of their goals, has been since they got started. Did they sign a deal with the Devil on this one?
If anything, they retained themselves as an autonomous entity. Though we don't know the intricacies of the deal, the shock was more news than the repercussions of what we as gamers could expect in the next couple years. Bungie has more than enough capital to keep itself free from the "shackles" of Activision (let's assume for a moment that this train of thought is correct ...), and we are almost certain that Activision offered the best deal, given Bungie's contract terms of not talking about whom else they spoke with on publishing rights. Bungie is going to give us some new stuff here soon, and though Activision is going to get a slice of the cake, they won't be taking it all for themselves (this Infinity Ward debacle should be warning enough from them.)
Until such time, One last hurrah with what is perhaps one of my favorite story telling developers out there. Here comes Reach.
(Destructoid for Kotick's caricature and the Reach logo property of Bungie.)
It's the beginning of another year, and the major platforms and developers are gearing up for another go at attracting new consumers, be it through rather silly looking gadgets (here's lookin' at you Natal) or in depth and serious story-driven gaming experiences (Alan Wake and Heavy Rain perhaps?)
It's another year at gaming, and things continue to look a hazy type of brightness that one would expect from looking through a semi-translucent spherical object that is obscured in some manner, perhaps a light dusting of paint....I digress though, we're here to talk about this year, as we know it so far.
Gaming started out as one of those silly little things in the basement where smelly men got to be more interactive than we had ever believed possible. Someone in the business world saw potential, and well...the rest is history.
Living History that is.
We stand at the cusp of a rapidly evolving and ever changing market. Happens a lot of with emerging markets, but this one is fun in that has started to hit the popular general marketplace, with perhaps the Wii becoming the first console that really appealed to a general audience.
Good for that.
We're gamers. We care about games and what our very specific market is giving to us. Whatever for the Natal, if it can come up and give us an experience that makes a game genuinely fun, I am sure we will accept it with open arms. Watching Jane Lynch and some random family that happens to have all the demographics in it (very convienient, eh Microsoft Marketing people?) play the Natal does not leave me with favorable impressions of what is to come, but I have yet to forsake the Natal to the "gimmick" status.
We want to see the next year bring us some cool stuff that leaves us with memories on par with those of the first time we got that wooden sword or got our first Star (if you dont get the reference, you might not be a gamer...). Of course we're getting the massive amount of sequels, big hitters being Halo and Fable, Medal of Honor and I'm sure Mario is gonna somehow show up somewhere (Mario Accounting). What I think the industry is really looking forward too right now, is how Heavy Rain is going to fare, how Alan Wake is going to give us a story and how the interactivity is going to continue to sky rocket. Games used to have some silly story and all's we had to do was chop up the badguys, now we got such in-depth narrative, one that I welcome with open arms; I continue to maintain that Hideo Kojima is a master before his time when it comes to cut scene direction.
Games as art is still a very heated discussion. I tend to believe in the idea that it is art, for I believe that what we see is better than any other media can give us. Movies give us the visual, books give us the depth, games give us immersion. Good for James Cameron and his 3-D witchcraft, at least in Mass Effect I can decide if the Na'vvi (err...Asari) deserve their share of stuff. It's not art as how we know it, but it is art in it's own form.
2010, above all things, above Natal, above Home, above 3D and crazy visuals, above Mario Accounting, is going to be the year of the epic story.
What's going to help in the long run, I believe, is the art aspect (don't get me started on a debate on this, just hear me out.) Thanks to Capitalism, we're gonna get slammed with the usual random games that none of us "hardcore" gamers care about...but hey, it makes up the majority of the sales of games, without them we're not gonna see stuff that really rocks our socks (like...Mass Effect 2 and Bioshock 2, perhaps?) We'll continue to attract the college guys and kids with stuff like Madden and FIFA, and we'll get them in with some Call of Duty. Cool beans, it drives the business, respectable (and they are fun too, that's a plus.).
All of it, comes back to seeing major developers develop some truly in depth experiences. Mass Effect 2, hell yeah. Fable, hell yeah. Heavy Rain, Hell Yeah.
Gamers got it good, and we had it great last year. From what's been revealed this year.....Destructoid, the Gawker Network, GamesIndustry and a whole mess of industry blogs are hopeful, clearly a good sign.
Microsoft is saying its the biggest year for the 360 (as they do every year)
Sony is saying it is totally gonna be the year for PS3 (again)
and Nintendo is sitting there, printing money....still.
2009 was a cool year, every single year, we see something new come out and astound us. Here's hoping 2010 gives us something we really remember, as for me? I'm gonna sit here, turn on my ME2 and know that in 5 more years, something even better is going to be on my TV (or whatever we're using in 5 years...but let's be realistic.)