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2:07 PM on 09.17.2007

Recruiting New Heroes

Say what you will about casual games and party games. God knows I have. The fact is, now more than ever, games and technology have the means to bring people together, who wouldn't normally have a reason to cross paths.

Recently, I became hooked on a local social network (as seen by my lack of activity around here lately), due to the fact that I know the crazy mo'fo that runs the thing. It took quite a bit of coaxing as I figured local social networks had no point since they could easily form their own corners within the larger networks that I frequently whore myself out to. Nevertheless, the challenge of helping an online social network grow within my city, intrigued me, as well as the fact that the initial core group of people knows how to have a good time.

I offered up my services just to see how I could help out. He was in the beginning stages of trying to plan out the weekly event centered around Monday Night Football. He happened to mention a local bar that had just recently opened it's doors. It's your typical sports bar - spacious, plenty of TV's, pool tables, good drink specials. This bar also happens to have two isolated TV viewing areas, one of which has a NES and an SNES hooked up to two of the TVs. Before I could think, my inner-geek spoke up and said, "We should play Guitar Hero at half time." For whatever reason, he gave me the benefit of the doubt and said, "What the hell let's do it."

We had about a week before the first Monday night game, and honestly, I was doubting my idea. Here's a new group of people I'd just been introduced to, most of which just enjoyed drinking and dancing with people they already knew. None of them struck me as gamers, casual or otherwise. These were social people much more interested in interacting with people in real life, rather than through a TV screen. Apparently, I'm a self-defeatist gamer, who assumes most normal people wouldn't enjoy my favorite ways of passing the time.

I was quite wrong.

Even before the Heroing commenced, I noticed that the main man running the event may have a bit more in common with me and my fellow techies than I originally thought. Here we are during Monday Night Football, 30 or so people in the bar, playing pool and this party animal/social moth/extroverted opposite of myself, is at his table on his laptop on IM and multiple forums chatting with people, while drinking with his friends. Not exactly the common occurrence when enjoying the nightlife in the Midwest. I laughed to myself since earlier I had felt like a nerd by having my laptop in my car, you know, in case I needed it. Then, here he is "keeping it real" on and offline at the same time. I stepped outside to get the Heroing gear.

We took over the party room and set up the 360 with two guitars, hooked to the LCD TV on the wall, and readied the rock. I demoed Guitar Hero 2 with a girl that had played before and the buzz began to start around us. By the time the first song was over we had about 12 participants ready to try, 10 of which had never played the game, and more than half of those had never even heard of the game before that night. The consensus among them was that they didn't like video games at all, but this looked fun.

I just sat back and enjoyed the show. Filmed a bit with my "bar camera." Needless to say, no one watched the second half of the football game. Later, I hastily put together a quick compilation of said lead mo'fo as we started to promote Week 2 to get some actual competitions going. Based on the reactions, we will be taking over the main room in a few weeks and will probably have to bring a few more 360's before I introduce them to Rock Band.

[embed]44968:2475[/embed]

I'm sure this isn't an unfamiliar story given the success and reach of Guitar Hero. It was still pretty cool to watch it all come together first hand, and I'm always humbled when my initial predictions about non-gamers and people that I don't know end up being way off.   read


5:18 AM on 09.04.2007

Destructoid on WebbAlert

Just watched Morgan's latest episode, which I quite like having on first thing in the morning as I go through morning feeds in my Google Reader. If you hang on to the very end she plugs Destructoid and Leigh's Bioshock Pac-Man easter egg.

[embed]42298:1852[/embed]

EDIT: The link is on her site FYI

I will also be promoting the site in my own ways today since I gotta say I'm pumped that my schwag finally came in this weekend, gonna be sporting the new t-shirt today -



Now, if I can only figure out the most stylish place on my body to put the stickers...   read


6:10 PM on 08.31.2007

COD(is)4 Cocks?

My first jump into the Xbox LIVE Call of Duty community left me a bit put off. After finally being able to sit down to a few hours of the multiplayer beta yesterday, I was a bit surprised by meatheads I seemed to be surrounded by. Sadly, it has dulled my anticipation for the game a bit. So I'm hoping this was an isolated incident, but it begs the question, is this what the COD community is all about?

I've played my share of shooters online, mostly free-for-all based on the PC. Voice chat with anonymity has always annoyed me to an extent, but Halo and Gears have numbed me recently. I know what to expect in each of those games. However, I had never played COD online before. I was big into the first title in the series on my PC. Played the hell out of the single player and did some private matches with my friends. I skipped the rest of the PC titles due to what I'd call WW2 genre fatigue.

When I bought my 360 back in October, I still had some residual PC elitism when it came to playing shooters on the console. Especially the military shooters where precision shooting tied more into the gameplay, than say, Halo with its futuristic weapons and explosions. About the time, COD 3 came out I had laxed my opinion a bit and strongly considered buying the game. Then, I started reading up on COD 4 and decided to save my money for a more promising experience.

Now back to the meatheads - I think what annoyed me the most was that the non-stop colorful commentary I was hearing during every session was of the traditional 12 year-old Halo style, but it was coming from all older players. In my two hours of play, I only heard one pre-pubescent voice try and talk smack. Of course, he was immediately put down by the guy who insisted on describing every bullet he was shooting while making up an excuse for every miss. I should have just taken my headset off and enjoyed the game for what it is (it's as fantastic as I expected by the way), but it was one of those carwreck-like experiences where I couldn't stop listening.

I'll be playing this weekend a lot more, hopefully I run into some different crowds. Are my hopes too high? Is COD becoming the other game the frat boys play when they are bored with Madden and Halo?   read


2:48 PM on 08.29.2007

Looking Back at an Idiot

The recent influx of quality games from unsuspecting places has started me thinking about the games the didn't quite live up to the hype. Even still, the games that not only didn't live up to the hype but the hype was so strong it took even took me a while after playing the game to see through it. I so wanted the game to succeed, that I ignored the obvious and played up the rare hints of creativity that I could find.

The game that most vividly stands out to me is DOOM 3, which may go down in history as the best selling generic gaming experience ever, next to Halo.

It took me until two weeks after I first played the game that I first took a step back to take an unbiased opinion of the game and see it for what it was. Until that point, I was touting the game as the reason that everyone I knew should upgrade their PC.

Let me recount the vivid story of my first night with the game. I had picked it up at midnight, pretty much blocked out as much light as possible within my den, strapped on my headphones, and loaded the game up. I was ready to be absorbed. I was enthralled with the boring tutorial intro. Just happy to see the DOOM franchise have any characters and voice acting at all. I started blasting my way through corridor after corridor, trying to convince myself that every shadow was creepier than the next. Slightly before 2 am, it happened, the first Imp jumped out at me. I jumped in response. Unfortunately, I had been leaning way back in my chair with my keyboard in my lap at the time. When I jumped, I slammed my knees on the underside of my desk causing me to lose my balance in fall to the ground. I thought it was awesome.



I feverishly retold the experience to all of my friends trying to get some of them together online to try multiplayer with me. One of my friends came over to see for himself, and wasn't impressed at all. I told him, frankly, that he wasn't getting the full experience because it was still light out and he wasn't wearing headphones.

In retrospect, I just didn't realize that I had drank the DOOM flavored Kool-Aid (that didn't exist but I would have bought it if it had) ever since I saw the first tech demo. I was absorbed in the game by my own actions, not by anything presented to me. As a player, you shouldn't be forced to make yourself in the mood for the game. That's what DOOM was missing, and it took until Half-Life 2 finally showed up, for me to realize my follies.

Unfortunately, by that time I had talked about the game to the point that the memory of falling out of my chair is burned into my brain forever. It stands out as one of my most vivid gaming memories, right up there with Lakitu taking his camera around the castle in Mario 64 for the first time. I regret that I mention the two in the same breath.

It's in this vein that I am cautious about some upcoming games this season. I have zero interest in GTA IV. I look at Rockstar's track record and just see the game as a soulless next-gen experience. Where the minds that created GTA have had their glory with the perfectly timed release of GTA 3. Yet, they are incapable of building upon the initial experience and taking it to another level.

The game I am most wary of that I will purchase without hesitation, has to be Devil May Cry 4. I want it to recapture the experience of the original so much, that I will take anything I am given.

Are there any vivid game memories you regret having? What's the game you are looking forward to the most, that you are the most wary of?   read


1:49 AM on 08.28.2007

You are Dumbass. Game Over.

Over the years, I've developed into a very methodical gamer when it comes to any game that has aspects of exploration. Games take me much longer than they should, but I get my money's worth. I try to get to know the boundaries of the game world in front of me and if it's engaging enough, I try to find every place I'm not supposed to be able to get to.

However, just once I'd like to play a game that punishes me for testing its boundaries. Not by glitches or crashing, but by actually catching me in the act and ending the game or making it impossible to complete a goal. I call it the Dumbass Law.


(Image edited from lifemetercomics.com)

I'll use a simple example from that game no one is talking about:

If I am dumb enough to repeatedly shoot the glass protecting Rapture from the ocean with frag grenades, the glass should give way and I should die a horrible and moist death.

I'd just like this unexpected easter egg in games that have obvious actions you shouldn't take.

Refuse to save the princess? You fail.
Intentionally blow up your radio link to HQ for the 17th time? You fail.
Shoot your squad leader in the face? You fail.
Forget the words to Wanted Dead or Alive? You fail and the game disc melts.

The only game that has come close to fighting back against me would be Eternal Darkness with its insanity tricks. I would intentionally get my sanity bar as high as it could go just to see what would happen, and the first time I thought it deleted my game, I was seconds away from throwing my controller through the screen.

Honestly, if a game was smart enough to react to moronic actions of the user without affecting the difficulty of the game, I'd find it endlessly entertaining. The developers could use it to set boundaries for the gamer to keep them focused on the experience, or they could do it just to be cruel and funny. It would become a Darwin security system for sophisticated games. Only the true dumbasses would become frustrated and stop playing, which is never a bad thing.   read


5:13 AM on 08.22.2007

Justin Bailey Needs a Daddy (2)

I was going to start with some bad pun about this post drowning in a sea of Bioshock posts, but I'd prefer to start by referencing a bad pun that only partially exists.

Last week, I posted on how a demo of a certain, Big Daddy gave my hopes for Metroid Prime 3 a reality check. This was before the near-perfect reviews of BioShock began driving us all into a plasmid frenzy. The buzz alone is enhancing my dream of a Retro Studios and Irrational Games collaboration to make the ultimate Metroid game.

My real dream though isn't of a Nintendo being aided by the great developers outside of their walls. It's of a Nintendo opening their doors to be able to collaborate with other game developers. Nintendo's true skill is thinking outside and off the walls of the proverbial box. Being that I've accepted their fortune lies elsewhere and that we are no longer their primary gaming audience, I know that there is a distinct lack of Nintendo quality game experiences ahead of me.



The idea hit me while describing Overlord to a friend of mine. I described it as "Evil Pikmin." At its core Overlord takes some key Nintendo-perfected gameplay elements and transports them into a game more targeted for my interests - it's evil, it has innuendo, it has drunk minions that piss themselves. While Overlord is blast to play and possesses that key factor of keeping redundant tasks entertaining after many hours of gameplay (I still laugh any time a minion says, "Sheepie"), it has major flaws. Most reviews of the game described it as being fun to play despite its shortcomings.

This got me thinking, what if games like Overlord were able to get that level of polish that we get out of games like first-party Nintendo titles? Now, I know a lot of this wouldn't work with existing budgets or timelines, but suspend reality for a few moments. What if established, historical, proven game developers made themselves more readily available to current developers producing games for different audiences? Mario-like innovation in more mature gaming experiences.

It's obvious from the soulless Twilight Princess that Nintendo has missed the boat to be able to engage us without "keeping it kiddy." They aren't the only ones that are out of touch either. Look at id - "Hay guyz, we have vehicles in our new game." Flagship - "Diablo with gunz!" or Sega - "Have we ruined all our franchises yet?"

Let's retire some of the old guard and move them into director and producer roles for an industry that's ready for it's next level. The younger companies can stay in touch with their audiences and keep creative control over their IPs. Then, have this new think tank of super developers consult their titles, so their influence can be felt across more titles and genres.

You can come up with some crazy combinations that would come up with entirely new genres of games and technology:

1) Square works on new storyline elements while Nintendo tries out some crazy new ideas for MMO gameplay under the creative control of Blizzard.

2) Epic locks away John Carmack to work with their team on the new Unreal 4 engine, while Cliffy B and Valve challenge Infinity Ward to step away from traditional soldiers for a while.

As an audience, we've accepted the fact that we will be deluged with sub-average games in between 3-5 truly great games a year. Yet, we are always looking forward to the next title from proven developers whose games are becoming more and more infrequent and more and more out of touch with us. It's just a shame to see great minds of the gaming industry still playing in their separate corners, when they could impact so much more.   read


2:22 PM on 08.17.2007

Masters of Code

Clive Barker's Jericho, Turning Point Fall of Liberty, Overlord, Rise of the Argonauts, DiRT... Maybe I'm just reacting because they are making games closer to genres I'm interested in or that Jim Sterling touched on this earlier but where the hell did Codemasters come from? I know they've been around forever (Micro Machines for the NES!), but still next to the Unreal Technology logo that's everywhere, their logo seems to be just as prominent.

Along with Activision toppling EA this past quarter, 2K games shamelessly expanding their brand. I'm just glad to see we are getting some diversity with developers and publishers of the games with mass appeal, it's no longer restricted to EA, Ubisoft, or the big 3's first party developers. Hopefully this trend continues.   read


5:14 PM on 08.16.2007

Justin Bailey Needs a Daddy (1)

As I count my nickels and dimes and glance at possible trade-worthy games in my classic collection, I'm clueless as to how I'm going to afford, let alone play, the games I want that are coming out in the next few months.

The current debate of choice was raised by some demo you may have heard of that came out this week: BioShock vs Metroid Prime 3.



First of all, I'm of the mind that none of us have the right to tell Nintendo how to do anything until after the sales numbers are in from NEXT years holiday season. I'll be the first one in line to defend their next niche' idea, but I can't help but be a little jealous of the ignorant Wii and DS owners who have become their target audience.

The classic Nintendo gamer has been forgotten. The stubborn of us who lapped up the scraps falling from their barren N64 and Gamecube tables, while Nintendo limped along until their current meteoric rise. I'm happy for my old friend, but I wish he'd impact a few games designed specifically for the old guard.

Buying into everything about the Wii, pushing aside the graphics and technology debates, the online friend codes, and their new target audience - I'm excited for Metroid Prime 3. Honestly, I salivate at the previews that I read about how solid the gameplay is and its amazing innovations in First Person Shooting/Adventuring control. If I focus on the positives, and never look away, I can't be disappointed.

Then, the BioShock demo comes along and jars me back into reality. Until this demo Gears of War was the stand out game that welcomed us to next gen gaming. The BioShock demo easily trumps the initial Gears experience and brought forward the awesomeness of a totally immersive gaming experience built on both the latest in gaming technology and gameplay. I admit that 80-90% of the 360/PS3 games are garbage and most sell on style over substance. Which is why I support Nintendo's focus on gameplay. I cannot however, help but be frustrated at Nintendo when games come along that I want to hold up to Nintendo and say, "We can have both!"

I know I will buy both games. I will enjoy both games for completely different reasons. There will be moments when I'm playing Metroid and I'd wonder what jumping around using the Screw Attack would look like in the Unreal 3 engine, or that I'd like to voice chat with one of my friends that just showed up online. There will also be moments in BioShock where I'd think Telekinesis would really feel better with a wii-mote than an analog stick.

You know the team at Retro has to wonder what their game could look like with more power behind it, their end vision of Samus couldn't have just been a polished and smoother running version of the Gamecube game. At the same time, if the team at Irrational chose to implement some wii-mote abilities into their game, it would be used for something pretty wicked. While I'm dreaming you may as well just combine the teams and make the ultimate Metroid game, complete with nerve-wracking exploration of an unknown planet which has, oh, I don't know, a wrecked ghost ship as one of the areas.

I'm going to stop for now so I'm not disappointed in both games.

This does just barely scratch the surface of the wealth of knowledge and creativity that Nintendo is holding back from established 3rd party developers. We would all benefit from future collaborations as gamers and industry supporters.   read


3:18 PM on 08.13.2007

The Grunting is Getting Closer

First Halo, now Madden. Where has my elitism gone? Next thing you know I'll be buying GTA 4 and trying to retroactively join a fraternity.

I did it. I "preordered" Madden '08 for the 360. My first Madden game since '94 on the SNES and my first sim-sports game since 2004.



In the end the jump to getting it for the 360 only came down to a few factors.

- I had already conceded I was going to be getting Madden on the Wii, so that brand-name hurdle had been crossed.

- I was extremely disappointed in the presentation of All-Pro Football 2K8 and would rather just play my copy of ESPN 2K5 rather than drop $60 to buy the same gameplay.

- None of my Wii friends were interested in online play without a mic.

- The gang tackling videos and physics make me want to tackle people in public just to see "if they'd really bend like that if I hit them there."

- All signs and reviews point to EA finally taking the time to polish the game for a true next-gen experience, rather than a HD graphics tech demo.

[embed]38394:953[/embed]
Gametrailers video review helped seal the deal.

Like all impulse online purchases the tension leading up to the final submit button was much more satisfying than reading the receipt in my email box. But it is done. I will either not be posting anything in two weeks as I'll still be Hitsticking 2.0 on some fools trying to see just how many different tackles Bob Sanders can do.

Or in two weeks I will have written more than one post about how I gave into temptation and sacrificed my ego once again for nothing as I had already traded in Madden to preorder some obscure and awesome Japanese title that only I know about to try and regain my posterity.

Now, I'm going to go play Odin Sphere to hold onto my former gaming self until the testosterone takes over tomorrow.   read


3:40 AM on 08.08.2007

Why Did You Make Me Do It, Mom?

MrRed made me think about my childhood. And you know what, Mom? I'm bitter.

You see you made up this rule that I could only have one game system at a time. Which means I had to sell ALL of my NES games, system, and accessories in order to even buy an SNES. Granted, any 10 year-old at the time should have been thankful to own any system, let alone the newest and best one. And let's face it, probably half of my friends remained or became my friends because I had Super Mario World.



This trend continued to the following generation. After doing my "research" (consisting of my Nintendo Power magazines and an infant internet full of low-res images), You made me sell my 30+ SNES games and system in order for me to buy a N64 on launch day. Which in turn was sold with its library when it came time to buy a PS2 before leaving for college.

I'm sure you had good intentions about teaching me the value of money at the time. But Mom, I've grown up now and I can do maths. Your logic is flawed.

Keeping in mind the horror of actually realizing the details has caused me to black out some of my game collection, there are two major issues:

1) I estimate I owned close to a hundred games between the 3 systems. A lot of which, especially in the SNES collection (not even counting Chrono Trigger and FFIII(VI), are worth more than $20 today. Our garage sales never sold any of my games for more than $7.

2) I've never stopped playing them, so I'm still having to buy them back in some form at more than we sold them for.

But Mom, I have the last laugh.

The entire time you told me I couldn't have more than one system, you had forgotten about the Atari 2600 hidden away in my closet. And I can still play MY copy of Combat any time I want, even past my bedtime.   read


1:41 AM on 08.06.2007

It was so... and then there were two fake-guitar games

So there's this game called Rock Band, you may have heard of it, whose hype is consuming me. After scoffing at Guitar Hero 2 less than a year ago. Here I am, still drowning in my own saliva secretions from E3 videos and the announcement that Enter Sandman is going to be in the game. That clinched it. I was dropping whatever ridiculous cost EA deems it will take to fake rock with my fake rock band in my living room.

This would be easy. I mean I'm saving $90 bucks by not buying Guitar Hero 3 since I have no use for it. So I decreed that Slash will not rock on my 360, and it was so.

Back in the days before I accepted rhythm games as a gaming genre, I decreed that the only thing that would make me buy a game with tiny toy guitar would be the chance to fake-play One by Metallica, being my favorite song by my favorite band. Well damn it. Those crazy skateboarding programmers had a trick combo up their sleeves by catching me in a fake-guitar-game-starring-Metallica-decree paradox. Then, before I can even start to comprehend the paradox, my face was melted by Scorehero's Dragonforce video.

[embed]37698:840[/embed]

This whole healthy competition thing is really down playing the impact of my decreeing ability and exposing me as the elitist hypocrite that I am.

Here's to our wallets being >$300* lighter and our living rooms being filled with plastic instruments come "Holiday Season 2007."

^JDevL^

*still cheaper and able to rock harder than your band "that's going to make it"   read


4:54 AM on 08.03.2007

microsoft 180

As UPS decides to take the full 5 days in their 3-5 day estimate of the delivery of my newly revived Xbox 360, I can't help be surprised at how smooth the process has gone to bring it back from the red ring of death. Although, they can still be criticized for how they have handled the hardware malfunctions, I was relieved to know that Microsoft is standing by their hardware and supporting their customers. I am still very anxious over the future of the console that presently gets most of my attention, for several reasons. Apparently, maybe not as anxious as my 360 is to get to game again. I do, however, have good news to pass along to any newly initiated members of the Red Ring, as well as a challenge to Microsoft.

Once my initial anger and controller throwing passed at the sight of that horrific red ring, I retreated to the internet and began reading the first posts about the 360 warranty extension. Ironically, my crash happened the same day as the announcement. This calmed me a bit to know I'd at least be taken care of in some fashion. Between the painless phone call with the well versed technician, the constant email updates from Microsoft updating me on the status of my packaging, arrival of my system to their facilities, and subsequent departure, I really couldn't have asked for a large corporation to handle my problem any better, given the circumstances. It took roughly a full week to get my shipping materials, a week for my console to ship to their facilities, 2 weeks to repair the system, and now a week to receive the console. I do believe I beat the rush after the warranty extension as I'm reading some horror stories about a 2 month wait time for repairs, which is unacceptable. However, in my case I asked for a estimated turn around time and every stage has been within their estimate, so in that regard my expectations have been met.



The core group of gamers that I shotty to the face on a regular basis on LIVE were a bit shaken to see one of their comrades become a statistic. My console is at least 6 months older than most of theirs, and a good number of them are gaming on Elites. They'd like to believe their consoles are untouchable, but you can't ignore the reports that all 360's produced to this point have the defective design flaw at the source of the red ring. Yet, there is no recall in sight.

Microsoft is looking at a defining holiday season coming up. M$ has the chance to set the stage to knock out Sony completely as their only direct competitor, since Nintendo is right now untouchable in their defined market. The living room though is big enough for both a Wii and either a 360 or PS3 at this point. Sony is clinging to Blu-ray to pull them through until their 2008 game lineup can breathe some life into the gaming side of their console, as if, saying to themselves - "If we can just get through this holiday season without any more damage, we can get back on top." After putting on the best show at E3, dodging a PR nightmare around their price-drop, the PS3 is finally managing to generate some decent sales numbers. Well, this week Sony was slapped with yet another patent suit, this time over their parallel processing Cell chip. I'm not sure that the pain will ever stop in this generation for Sony. Every time they seem to right themselves, on their very next step they trip themselves all over again.

Honestly, I'm of the opinion that I'd like to see them fail miserably or pull out completely in this generation. Regroup, start fresh and innovate for the next generation, as I'm all for healthy competition. Innovation is my main problem with both Sony and Microsoft right now, as neither one of them is really initiating any major change to the gaming industry. They are growing and maturing it surely, but that's almost de-facto growth due to time. I'd love for one of the two of them to completely blindside the other one with a significant new feature or leap in the gaming experience, challenging the other one to make drastic changes as well. Nintendo has proven there is interest and money in previously untapped gaming audiences. We gamers are thirsty for something new, stop sequelling us to death with your games and your technology. Let's leave Nintendo out of this for the moment as they are making their impact elsewhere and no one really has the right to tell them how to run their business for a while. The best way to initiate a major change in the rest of the gaming industry at targeting the traditional gaming consumer, is for either one of the 360 or PS3 to fall soon and fall hard. Let's face it, if either company is committed to the industry, they will make a comeback. I'd rather see Sony fall now just to pay for taking their gamers for granted and not understanding what got them to the top in the first place. It's also fairly obvious from a business profitability stand point, that the PS3 has a much bigger risk of failure than the 360.

So what can Microsoft do to put themselves in the best position to dominate Sony? It's as simple as reinvigorating your existing fan base and gaining a loyal community. It can start tomorrow.

1) Admit the 360 design flaw causing the malfunction in all 360's
2) Allow repairs to include 360's that have the flaw but have not failed yet.
2) Detail the fix that's being implemented to repair the console.
3) Guarantee the fix will last.
4) Guarantee a shorter turnaround time for the repaired consoles.
5) Get the Falcon processor in production.
6) Get a new Peter Moore.
7) Have him announce all of this to the gamer's himself along with the expected price drop for the consoles.

Microsoft, if you want the gaming market, take the hit. You've got that money for a reason, and if you are serious about owning the gaming community you are going to need to sacrifice a bit for this crowd. Both you and Sony are corporate giants that we will never trust farther than we can throw our controller. However, in the last 2 years the gaming division at Microsoft has become a lot more easy to relate to, humanized, and gamer friendly. The division has the illusion of being the cool brother within the huge, rich, and out of touch family that we all love to despise. Sony has the same PR problem as Baghdad Bob and they seem to be run by soulless, methodical, robots with no sense of their flaws. This is your chance, Microsoft, to embrace the gaming community. You've already taken a huge step forward, for you, in extending the warranty and paying back those that endured other useless repairs. Take that last remaining step and admit the entirety of the issue. Be transparent. We know the console is flawed, you know it's flawed. Either issue a recall or allow anyone that hasn't had an issue yet to send in for a fix preemptively. The last thing you want is for 360's to give out during the Halo 3 launch. Boost production and give us a drop dead date so we know that if we send it in, we will have the game back in time for Halo 3. Hell, use it as a promotional tool for the game. If that game, does what you need it to do, you've pretty much guaranteed your targeted Xbox LIVE yearly subscriptions for the rest of the consoles lifespan. Stand confidently by your product and to your solution. Give us details so we can be confident in the fix, and give buyers on the fence a reason to trust you again. The undecideds' are having to choose between two flawed consoles. It doesn't have to be that way. If it's left as is for the rest of the year, Sony is liking it's chances in 2008.

How does all of this get announced? Well, you need a new face for the 360.



Love him or hate him, Peter Moore was a great fit for promoting the 360. I thought he was great at handling the entire warranty situation (even if he was just smirking about the whole thing since he knew he was on his way out the door already). He was relatable, confident, well spoken, accessible, and is as good as you can hope for at having humility in bad press situations. It took me a while to warm up to him, but honestly a lot of us are a bit shaken by his exit. It doesn't help that Steve Ballmer is now taking about the console, scaring us almost as much as we laugh at him. I'm also less than optimistic about Peter's replacement, Don Mattrick, as he has yet to make any waves since the announcement. He may end up being the face, but whomever it is, they are going to have to make an impact. You can power that by giving that person something to make an impact with - a chance to wipe the slate clean for the 360.

The foundation gamers that establish consoles as a success or a failure are getting fed up by the constant PR spins of Sony and Microsoft. Everything about their rivalry is stale and repetitive. If one of the companies would just step up and own up to their audience about their obvious mistakes with a plan to right them, it would be so unexpectedly refreshing that our loyalty would be all but guaranteed. They would distinguish themselves from their competition which would only reinforce their fan base. Unfortunately, right now neither company has to take the stand to do something great for the industry. Both companies are accepting flawed practices and wasting resources to pick up the pieces. Until one of them completely rights the ship and issues a true challenge of establishing a quality experience, product, and service - we will all be stuck in mediocrity.

^JDevL^   read





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