Hey Dtoid community, just a quick summary of myself; I am a 22 year old marketing student from England (Home of the Worlds best football (soccer) league. I'm a huge gamer with an appetite for the industry however my true passion is football and my club; Tottenham Hotspur.
My favourite vidoe game genre is the humble JRPG (and all of the customary cliches that come with them) including bad voice acting and spiky hair!
[b]Favourite All Time Game:
Final Fantasy 9 (PS1)
[b]Favourite Video Game Character:
Sonic The Hedgehog
[b]Consoles Owned and Still Used:
Nintendo Wii U
Tales Of Xillia
Bleach: Soul Resurrecion
So Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD collection is out this week, and to say Iím excited would be an understatement. Itís not often I look forward to replaying a 10 year old game over newer releases, but this is an exception! The game may have taken way too long to localise and convert to ĎHDí, but the delay hasnít dampened my spirits in the slightest.
FFX remains a remnant from a not too distant past when JRPGs were at their best. It sits at the very pinnacle of interactive entertainment perfection, only encapsulated by its predecessor, Final Fantasy IX. Both games were the product of a time when JRPGs were all the rage; Japan knew what the world wanted, and delivered. Regrettably as weíve progressed through the noughties, both the genre and the Japanese development scene have slowly fallen into a lull. Whether this remains a temporary blip or a sign of a terminal decline only time will tell. Unfortunately to make matters worse, the downturn has had a major impact on the availability of games in the genre, particularly in the Western world. Fewer games than ever are escaping the land of the rising sun, and we are now at a stage where only those special few are even offered the chance to succeed globally.
In the Ďmodern video games industry, titles like FFX are rarer than ever, while the JRPG genre may still be alive and kicking, it has fallen far from its pedestal. Despite the relative success of the ĎTales Ofí series and other smaller franchises (Atelier take a bow), they cannot replicate the scale with which Final Fantasy typically aims to deliver. When budgets and audience priorities are taken into consideration, itís easy to see why. † There is no longer a viable target market for such big budget titles, the JRPG has been relegated to niche status and as such massive expenditure can no longer be justified. While I expect we will continue to see valiant budget efforts from the like of Bandai Namco (Namco Bandai?Öwhatever), we wonít see many more traditional big budget JRPGS hitting the shelves in the near future.
Final Fantasy X is a game that deserves all of the credit it receives. With a captivating storyline, world class soundtrack, charming characters, and immersive strategic gameplay, the title is the very personification of fun. I just wish such games were more commonplace in the Ďmodern marketí. If the industry could produce just one FFX a year, itíd be a much happier more diverse place. Unfortunately in the age of the all dominating blockbuster FPS this is nothing more than a pipe dream. With the majority of companies now fully focused on either triple AAA titles or mobile development, itís clear to see there is no longer a place for the humble JRPG, particularly at the likes of Microsoft, Sega (where is Phantasy Star Online?) or Konami (Suikoden!!!).
[font=Raleway, Arial, sans-serif]†[/font] This week Iíll take a trip down memory lane and remember the good old days, when the industry encouraged diversity, and wasnít so focused on how many shades of grey they could shove into their next shooter (I pray itís not 50!). While some may argue my love for FFX is unfounded, my disdain for the industry in its current state is wholly justified.
The video games industry is a curiously abstract entity. Encapsulating diverse experiences and thousands of games it has evolved into a magnificent interactive platform, unfortunately this evolution has been flawed and the impacts are clear to see.
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Despite thriving in the 21st century like no other entertainment medium, the three key players; platform holders, publishers, and developers all regularly struggle to meet expectations. Be they critical, commercial or otherwise, failure is a common sight. Yet this doesnít have to be the case. A large proportion of these failures can be attributed to foolish decision making. Very few interested parties take advantage of the glaring opportunities available to them or take the necessary action to avoid pitfalls which present themselves on an almost annual basis.
2014 already offers us solid evidence of the stereotypical stupidity within the industry. We are now in February and yet we are still waiting on the yearís first big blockbuster release, WHY? Other than Dragonball Z: Warriors of Z we have seen next to nothing on the release schedule. The industry seems to have some ill-conceived idea that consumers donít have the money to spend on video games after an expensive Christmas period; this is not only ridiculous but inaccurate too! †We only have to go back to 2013 to find a game which blows this theory to pieces; Ni No Kuni. With next to no competition the game managed to take top spot in the UK chart, now when was the last time a JRPG did that? (Final Fantasy aside) The opportunity is there, but year after year it remains ignored. Publishers need to understand the video game industry is not seasonal; consumers buy games throughout the year whatever the weather. In fact, I canít imagine a better time to release a game than January, when the days are short, the weather is poor and people are regularly stuck inside. † †
Of course typically this draught doesnít last long, once we hit mid-February/March the releases begin to fly thick and fast but this brings us to our next grievance. This year we have releasing in the space of a month not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 console JRPGs, again I must ask, WHY? The last console JRPG release was over 6 months ago, so why do publishers feel the need to release their games within the same time frame. Releasing two Final Fantasy's in the space of 5 weeks is questionable enough considering the size of the games, but to have Tales of Symphonia and Atelier Escha and Logy squeezed in between the two, is just too much. To make matters worse, the next console JRPG release after this mini wave wonít be until May, over 2 months away! There is just no good explanation, Iím no advocate for product delays but surely common sense must suggest this release schedule leaves few winners. Some genres can probably get away with such mismanagement but when you consider the average JRPG takes 40+ hours to complete you can easily see players being too busy with their current purchase to bother picking up the next. This is not an anomaly either, only last year we had Konami initially attempt to release 3 silent hill games in a single month, that is nothing short of insane!†
The game industry clearly has a problem, its inability to self-evaluate and learn from past experiences is a major hindrance and leaves it vulnerable to other activities vying for that all important free time of the consumer. Success often leaves a blueprint for success so the industries decision to ignore results and uphold unfounded beliefs is an extreme detriment. The lack of insight available is questionable at best, perhaps there is a genuine reason for such decisions based on internal factors but as an outsider looking in, they just appear out of touch.
Itís fair to say 2013 was something of a mixed year for Nintendo; while the 3DS continued its stellar performance, the Wii U failed to gain traction. Nintendo and their fans will be slightly concerned with where they currently sit in the industry. But with the dominant portable console in the market, and a blueprint full of potential for their flagship home console, things can only get better from here on out.
However, in order for Nintendo to meet their fans and more importantly their own lofty expectations, itís essential they take steps to cultivate future success. †
More Software, Exclusive or Not
The 3DS has experienced a major upturn in the past 16 months thanks to a blockbuster catalogue of software including heavy hitters, Pokemon, Professor Layton, Mario and Zelda. Ironically this is exactly what the Wii U is currently lacking. Nintendo just donít seem to learn from their mistakes, after such a slow start with the 3DS in 2011 you would assume theyíd take measures to avoid the same issue with future hardware. Clearly this has not been the case. The Wii U has experienced an almost identical software drought and as such the company is now experiencing the same problems, but on a much larger scale and the fans are suffering. Whether they come from an internally accelerated release schedule or from external incentives for publishers, it is essential Nintendo find some way to maximise software output on the Wii U to meet fanís expectations.
A Release Date and an actual Title for the Mysterious ĎXí With the announcement of the Wii U and the critical and commercial success of Xenoblade Chronicles the excitement for ĎXí reached fever pitch on announcement. Unfortunately since its introduction to the public weíve heard very little on this unknown entity. The Wii U is currently severely lacking in JRPGs and as such this title is essential, particularly for the consolesí success in Japan. Nintendo fans will hope Monolith Soft can showcase and highlight to other developers how the Wii U and itís gamepad can open up whole new possibilities for the JRPG in the future.†
An Original Franchise from Nintendo Over the last decade Nintendo has fallen into a relatively bad habit of relying upon tried and tested franchises to sell their consoles. The lack of originality in their intellectual property stable has been taken as a sign by many fans that the company just canít keep up with the times and this needs to change, fast. Nintendo fans want to see something completely new, something that is designed specifically for the Wii U that isnít possible on other consoles; something that differentiates the company from competitors whilst maintaining that classic Nintendo magic. †
An Expansion of Nintendoís Back Catalogue on the eShop Nintendo has an immensely strong software portfolio from past generations, and so its surprising, and disappointing to see such a valuable resource poorly utilised, particularly now they have the digital platform to distribute the software efficiently via the eShop. Nintendoís fanbase have by and large always had a strong affinity with nostalgic experiences from the companyís software vault and currently they are doing a disservice to both current and prospective Wii U owners. If implemented correctly this software could not only offer fans an opportunity to replay their favourite titles from the past, but also plug the gaps in the software release schedule which have so far left Wii U owners wanting.†
With the Playstation 4 off to a great start across the globe and fans still riding high from an absolutely stellar E3, Sony have a wonderful opportunity to really hammer home the benefits of the console in 2014. While launch software may have been met with mixed critical reception, sales figures do not lie; the console still managed to shift over 2.1 million units globally in 2013. However, for Sony to maintain this momentum throughout 2014, they need to ensure they take steps to appease their fan base and encourage growth.†
Uncharted 4 Release Date
With an arguably disappointing launch line up Sony fans want to see the big hittersí test their consoleís new powers as soon as possible, so what better way to do this than with the recently announced Uncharted. As one of the platforms flagship franchises Drakeís latest adventure cannot come soon enough. Playstation fans will be hoping with great anticipation that the release date ends in a 14 and not a 15.
The Return of Crash Bandicoot
After teasing his return in a thinly veiled reference in the flagship Playstation 4 ad, Crash Bandicootís triumphant journey home has only been suggested so far, but with evidence stacking that Activision have relinquished their grip on the 90ís icon, it wonít take long for Sony to announce that one of their prodigal sons has returned. This would be both a software and PR coup as Crash is representative of the original Playstation in its heyday, and the mere suggestion of Sony returning to their gaming roots and their PS1/PS2 form is enough to get any fan excited, even if itís just for nostalgiaís sake.
Investment in the development of Vita Software
Itís fair to say so far, the Vita has experienced a rough ride and Playstation fans know it. Pummelled by the 3DS, accosted by mobile games and restricted by a high price point, the Vita is in a similar boat to that of the Wii U; those who own one love it, but donít have enough reason to keep playing, there just isnít enough quality software. Playstation fans will be hoping the recent release of Tearaway and the announcement of Persona 4ís impressive sales show companies the Vita is worth investing in.
More Exclusives From Third Parties for the Playstation 4
With the Xbox One experiencing a more positive opening in terms of exclusive software, Playstation fans will be hoping Sony has been saving some of the best for the relatively near future. The lack of exclusive software has failed to majorly impact the PS4 so far, but once fans tire of Resogun and Killzone theyíre going to want and expect more triple AAA titles soon. Sony need to ensure they can match the Playstation 3ís impressive exclusive portfolio and this will require major effort, particularly towards those smaller companies who will likely continue to heavily support the PS3 to target its larger fan base. Its likely incentives will be required to encourage dual PS4 development.
Typically when gamers are asked to recall the original Playstation era, the same names are regularly referenced with rabid nostalgia. Crash, Spyro, Snake and Sir Daniel Fortescue all made their claim to fame utilising the ground breaking graphics and innovative controls methods (Analogue sticks!) the platform offered. Unfortunately like so many past generation success stories, Spyro failed to adapt and as such subsequent games became progressively worse. These quality issues were compounded by a lack of direction which can best be attributed to a constant change of ownership; the character has appeared in games created by no less than 5 different publishers and 13 different developers, to say Spyro has been around would be an understatement. After successive failures under the tutorage of Sierra, the popular purple icon fell into the ownership of behemoth Activision as part of an $18 billion merger with Vivendi in 2008. For two years the character remained a dormant asset of the monolith with little to no coverage on the future of the franchise; that is until February 2011.†
On February 11th 2011 Activision announced the return of Spyro the Dragon under a new moniker, Skylanders. This fresh direction was designed to completely reboot the franchise providing the popular icon with a new aesthetic, new friends and an innovative new platform. In conjunction to the redesign the company introduced the portal of power and associated figures. These new accessories enabled gamers to play as each figureís digital counterpart in game using the Ďmagicalí toys as instigators when combined with the portal.
While not exactly a ground breaking concept this was the first attempt by a software based company to move into software toy figures. With massive liquid assets Activision had the resources and marketing power to make such a product a success and with a clear product proposition the company had discovered a massive gap in the market. The series has since proven to be a smash hit across the globe becoming a key player in Activisionís software portfolio and the highest selling kids video game franchise ever, breaking the $1billion revenue barrier in just 15 months!†
After two smash hits the franchise has moved from strength to strength gradually increasing its character portfolio and scale of environments. To keep things fresh and maintain active progress in the series Activision has announced Skylanderís Swap Force, this title will allow players to completely customise their avatars and figures collaboratively. Each character for this series is designed specifically to break into re-attachable pieces, offering over 250 combinations, with so much diversity on offer this move can only increase the value of the figures attributed by parents and kids alike. By allowing children to mix and match they provide an opportunity for each to have their own personalised character. †
Innovation keeps a series fresh and Activision has maintained enough variation within the games so far to maintain significant progression. This evolution has been an integral component to the continual growth of the franchise. This year it will be essential for the company to redefine their product offering once again, Activision needs to be able to differentiate Skylanders from those competitors who are making an attempt to steal market share and get their foot in the door by deploying their own †diamond grade IPís. Both Nintendo and Disney have released their competing products with Pokemon Rumble and Disney Infinity.
What makes Nintendo and Disney such a prominent threat is the IP with which they have to utilise, of the trio Skylanders remains the weakest of the three, but with the 2 year head start Activision has a solid foundation to build upon and has already garnered a strong user base that trust the product. Whether the newbies can muscle in on the market will be interesting to see.
So I understand that Xenoblade Chronicles is still yet to be announced in the US and there hasn't been much news on it for several weeks so I'd just thought I'd let those who care know that Nintendo seem to have taken extra interest in the game through there Club Nintendo system. I have received an email asking me to fill out a (very in depth) questionnaire regarding the game, now I have been a member of CN for nearly 2 years and I have not once been asked to do such a task for other titles in the past. I'd like to think this is good news and shows that Nintendo are trying to determine the kind of reception it has received over here in the UK before making a final decision on its release in other areas.
Just thought i'd give those who care the heads up, personally I think its a no brainer, the game is excellent despite its drawbacks. (incredibly slow start takes about 10 hours before they stop introducing new tutorials to you)