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ManWithNoName's blog

6:01 AM on 11.22.2013

About the new Tomb Raider...

So, Tomb Raider is getting a sequel. I loved the game by its gameplay, as it was fun and good looking, tough its story left a bit to desire. I like the new Lara, and I am cautious optimistic with the sequel. So, my friend Tommy (@teh_tommy) and I discussed what we would love to see in the sequel this week, and here is what we want for Lara’s next raid.

First, we want to see Sam and Lara as partners and a couple. It makes sense story wise, as Lara took great risks to save her, more than it would if Sam was just a friend. Lara even ignored the other survivors safety to save Sam, so it would not be a stretch. Sam is very important to Lara, so it would be nice to see this character development. Of course, this can’t be just a way to use a lesbian romance for titillation to work.

Sam and Lara are both survivors from the last adventure ["A Survivor Is Born" might not have referred to just Lara - Tommy], so they would become more united than before. Of course, Sam wouldn’t want to be just a hassle to the more combat savvy Lara, and would likely train to be on par with her partner/girlfriend, tough in a different way. Sam would be more of a range fighter, or use more stealth approach than Lara.

This could be a nice way to enter a duo dynamic to gameplay, alternating GTAV style between the more fight prone Lara and the more tactical Sam. Sam could have an ability that allows her to create items for both her and Lara, like first aid kits and smoke bombs. Also, she would be more acquainted with ancient mechanisms, making her approach to puzzles different.

For the setting, I would love them to explore a famous myth, like Atlantis. You could have the underwater being inside an air cushion on a sea cave, so you could have an open world city for Lara and Sam to venture. They would need to combine their abilities to open paths on the city (Lara more proficient on the languages and Sam on the mechanisms). You would alternate both characters to solve puzzles [that would also be a good excuse to add co-op if the publisher insisted on having a multiplayer component - Tommy].

Atlantis also lends itself for anachronistic technology, like the Baghdad Batteries powering artificial lights and mechanisms, and several anachronistic machines to be used by Lara and Sam. Of course, some of those mechanisms could be mistaken as supernatural, which could make a nice ‘what is supernatural and what is not’ story.

Atlantis would not be unpopulated, of course. Descendants of its people would leave there, tough in a more feral state, but no ‘hard to kill almost monsters’ type. Lara and Sam would need to deal with them, and they would be mindful of how, as there would not be modern weapons and ammo all around. They would have to rely in more primitive weapons like bows and spears for most of time, saving the ammo they already started for more daring situations.

Weapons, by the way, would be severely limited. Lara would have her dual pistols, Sam could have a sniper rifle, but both would have limited ammo. Sam, as the tech expert, could make some weapons using the ancient tech as basis (think the Gorn cannon from Star Trek) or primitive grenades.

One thing: no damn zombies/monsters/the like. No hard to kill supernatural enemies. They suck, break gameplay and shouldn’t be there. Of course, you could have an apparently supernatural boss that is actually using some old technology.

Lara and Sam, of course, should have some evil adversary. Badman McEvil could be a rival tomb raider that is working for some evil group, but the number of modern enemies should be minimal and the encounters dangerous and meaningful. [And please keep the headshots lethal - Tommy]

An interesting mechanic could be some kind of stress level, but with no UI bar. Lara and Sam could be affected by stress of a hard encounter, or some weird, scary event on Atlantis. The stress would be visible through hands shaking, speaking to self, getting paranoid, and to combat it the player would need to make Sam and Lara interact, through speak (voice commands would fit nice here) and physical interaction, like hugs, hand grabs and kisses, making their relationship not only a story device, but a gameplay device too.

Survival is another element that needs to be explored. Sam and Lara would need food and water, and finding those resources would be part of gameplay. Lara and Sam would find some old agricultural fields and maybe some fishing ponds they could use. Finding safe places to rest would be needed too, and failing to do so will cause stress and making the characters hard to control.

I think there is a lot of potential to Tomb Raider as a franchise if done right, and would love to see Eidos improving upon the foundation of the reboot. Hopefully, we will get a great game, but I would love to see some ideas Tommy and I discussed there.
[actually, all of them - Tommy]


7:34 AM on 10.23.2013

About the Brazilian Price of the PS4

The Brazilian PS4 is the most expensive in the world. It cost 1850USD. When I heard about it I was disappointed and angry. How Sony could ask such absurd price, specially when the Xbox One is almost half the price? Them I remembered the country I live and asked the right people the right questions.

First, my country have some of the highest taxes in the world. A car price here is 50% taxes. That is right, for each car sold here, half the money goes to our government in the form of several taxes. And those taxes aren't asked just in the moment of the selling. So I asked the guy responsible for our taxes at my job ( I work on a cable making industry that use imported materials), how the count adds up.

See, this is how it works. When Sony bring the PS4 here, they pay the import taxes that can go up to 60% of the price. So a PS4 that costs 399USD goes up to 638,40USD. And that doesn't count the transportation, storage and port fees. After this initial taxes, when Sony sell it to retailers, there are a whole lot of new taxes, like PIS, IPI and Cofins. Those can go up to 40% of the imported price. And since Sony need to add their own cost of distribution and storage, which amounts circa 200USD, so we have 838,40+40% equals 1173,76. And them it have to go to retailers, who don't sell it here at low profits like 15USD. They have all their own costs, that are very high due to the insane Brazilian taxes. So they add their own costs, again something near 200USD, so 1373,76 more a lot of new taxes that can go up to 40% again equals 1923,26 USD.

With current dollar value, the PS4 could go up to 4231,18. So the 3999BRL price is actually someone along the way eating some costs or lowering any profit. So, how Microsoft can sell the Xbone lower? They either got some deal with our government to have lowered taxes and Sony didn't, or MS is eating a lot of a loss to have a bigger user base here. In order of comparison, an iPhone 5 (the vanilla one, not the S) is sold here at 3000BRL(1400USD), so it is not just Sony greed at work.

Sony, as any company, doesn't want to lose money. But they also would be happy to sell as many PS4s here as they could. When they say they aren't happy, I believe them. But different from MS that can eat big loses, Sony is not in a financial situation they can do the same. So they can't just eat the taxes my country asks in order to sell at a competitive price.

That price is a bummer, and I am postponing my PS4 till next year, when I will go to our neighbor country of Paraguay to buy one, where they basically have no taxes. Even if I had to pay the 60% of direct importation at customs, I would get one cheaper than the official price. Sony gets my money, but my greed, utterly corrupt government not. And taxes that could go to education and other services are lost.

Sony just announced PS+ here, it will be 99BRL (45USD). PS4 games will be 179BRL(82USD) which is cheaper than many PS3 games. Sony is launching localized games with Brazilian voice acting as low as 150BRL(68USD). They are trying to do the right thing, but sometimes they can't. The PS4 price is one of those times.

So, as a Brazilian, I hate the PS4 pricing. I would love it was priced right. But after looking at the issue and asking the right people, I can say the PS4 price, that absurd price, really isn't what Sony wanted. It is what they could without losing hundreds of dollars. And I blame my greedy government for it.

I will buy a PS4 eventually. Sadly, my money will not benefit my own country.

PS: A Brazilian site just confirmed the Xbone will be manufactured locally, so this is how Microsoft can sell it cheaper. Sony have plans to do the same, but they are focused on the Chinese factories right now and intend to manufacture the PS4 here sometime in 2014.   read

11:33 AM on 10.18.2013

Jimmy Hopkins from Bully is on GTA V! Really!

So, this just crossed my mind. Jimmy de Santa, Michael's lazy, idiotic son and Jimmy Hopkins, the badass kid from Bully are the same person. Not only they share a similar appearance overall, but it makes a lot of sense that Jimmy grown up from bully to be the idiot from GTAV.

First, remember that Michael and his wife doesn't have a happy marriage, so it is not much of a stretch that on one moment, they split as she found a more stable man to live with. She dropped Jimmy at the board school so she could have a honeymoon with her new love. Yes, Jimmy mention how many boyfriends she had, but remember, Michael's wife wasn't exactly faithful.

So, you may ask what happened with badass Jimmy. How he become a gullible, lazy asshole? First, Jimmy on Bully wasn't really that smart, he was manipulated a lot of times. This characteristic of naivety remains in older Jimmy. Second, the reality of a highschool is different from the streets, so a kid who is successful in the school environment trying to apply these rules on the outside, real world. Jimmy's school smarts doesn't translate in street smarts.

Third, fast food and weed. After Michael and his wife got back together, it is not a stretch to assume they just let him do whatever he wanted. Indulging in fast food killed his athletics, while weed affected his mind. So, after indulging himself on that, the cool Jimmy become lazy Jimmy in GTAV.

Oh, one last argument. Bully was released in 2006, and if Jimmy was 16 there, he would be 23 today, the same age as Jimmy de Santa.

Well, those are my points. I would love this to be actually what Rockstar did, cause this would be an awesome plot twist. And also because I really want Bully 2.   read

1:13 PM on 09.27.2013

The Steampad is... Well...

I have no idea what line of thought gave us the Steampad (as I will always call it). It is different for sure. VALVe must have tried a lot of prototypes and then come to the conclusion that this weird controller is the best suited for what they want from the SteamOS. It have a lot of weird new tech, and the lack of analog sticks is the most visible one. They promise precision on them, but I am unsure. It have a touchscreen on the middle, whose use is up to developers. And other little techs that doesn't matter that much.

While the design is bizarre, it is impossible to judge much without a hands-on. The face buttons weird placement can be its main weakness as it is. How I press A+B or A+X without having to left my thumbs out of the analog pads? Of course, maybe it is easier than I think, but it is the only flaw I can see in a picture alone.

Since there will be a beta first, I can see the final, retail design of it to be quite different due to tester's feedback. So, the controller, the most surprising thing coming of all announcements, is also the most difficulty to qualify. SteamOS sounds neat, Steam machines sounds unnecessary, but that controller is too weird, too hard to judge to make a call.

Of course, you will be able to use 3rd party controllers like the 360 pad on SteamOS, so this is more of an experiment for now. it could either be great or be awful. I bet it will be expensive since it is using untested tech, and a touchscreen and unique touchpads and haptic shenanigans will drive the price closer to a 100USD, I am betting.

So, to me, the Steampad is worth a test drive, and we will need on to decide anything on it. It could be a game changer? Yes, but also can be one of many controllers that tried to be different and failed. One thing for sure: it is a try before buy.   read

9:01 AM on 09.24.2013

The Best Thing of the SteamBox is no SteamBox

Yes, I believe after yesterday's announcement of the SteamOS, that we will not see a VALVe made SteamBox. VALVe will not risk their money on the venture of making a console-like PC and directly compete with PS4 and Xbone. And they are doing the right thing that will benefit both PC gamers and themselves.

SteamOS is a great idea. VALVe is great at making software, and I don't doubt SteamOS will have a good user interface, easy to use and friendly. The Linux based OS will probably be severely customized to avoid any traps other Linux-based distributions have, and it will be friendly enough to allow anyone interested in PC gaming to play at easy. I also expect easy to update both games and drivers on it.

Since the SteamOS is the most important thing, and it will allow you to stream games from your other PCs to it, I don't expect an actual SteamBox in the sense of a custom made microPC to compete with Sony and Microsoft. Yes, tomorrow we will see VALVe announcing partnerships with PC makers like AlienWare. They will license the SteamOS to anyone interested in putting it in their PCs.

What I expect for tomorrow is the reveal of a minimum spec PC to run the SteamOS and maybe some games. With that, VALVe expect to create a minimum spec PC for all games from now own to follow, making it easier to build a PC to attend the needs of PC gamers in a budget. We will likely see one of those minimum specs machines tomorrow, tough I have no idea if they will try to price it competitive with the PS4/Xbone.

VALVe played smart. There is few risks attached by just letting others making the PCs attempting to compete with consoles. Their OS will be popular with PC gamers making their own PCs, and any newcomer will be able to choose several configurations and prices that fit their needs. If they also include the basic PC functionality like web browsers, Skype and other stuff keeping it easy to use, I can see the PC gamer using SteamOS as their OS of choice.

I was wary that a SteamBox would have no reason to exist, as it would not find a place for itself. But by making the OS the real star, and letting others risk their money on this, I can see the SteamOS succeed big way, maybe even becoming a true competitor against Windows. Now I am really excited to see how it will work.

That said, I think is worth to be cautious too. I doubt the SteamOS will work perfectly at launch, and I would be wary of expecting too much out of it. Remember, there is not as many Linux games as Windows games, and if the SteamOS take its time to gaining market share, this will not change immediately, unless VALVe forces developers to develop to it if they want to be on Steam, which is a bad idea.

Also, there is the real chance of the first versions of SteamOS to not run as smoothly as expected, and to not attend all the needs of PC users at start. And again, those SteamBoxes could not convince people to drop consoles for them so easily, specially if they don't have the marketing push.

So, yes, SteamOS is a great idea, and it doesn't need an SteamBox to succeed. It could create a more unified and easier to use PC gaming scene, and I think it can succeed. But being a bit cautious is always good, and I will eagerly await for more details before passing final judgement. But for now, SteamOS is an interesting idea that I am glad to see happening.   read

11:38 AM on 09.20.2013

The Steam Box Biggest Challenge: Justify Its Existence

Why you should buy a Steam Box?

This is a question you need to make a lot before celebrating the existence of it. And all boils down to what the Steam Box will be able to offer beyond both a traditional gaming PC and a console. And to that, specs and specially pricing will be the key to make it a successful product VS turning it out as a big failure that wasn't able to live on its promises.

Remember, the OUYA also promised a lot and under delivered a lot. Of course, different from OUYA, VALVe is a huge company with lots of money to hire competent engineers and developers in order to deliver a quality product. I don't doubt that both hardware and software(here, the OS) will be solid. But good hardware and good software is not enough. The main question VALVe need to ask themselves is: to whom we are selling this?

Let's suppose they want to compete against Sony and Microsoft. They will need to offer either a way better hardware or a compelling price point, but those are mutually exclusive. Good hardware costs money. The better the hardware, the more expensive it is. The PS4 isn't 400USD and have the specs it have just because, Sony knew they needed to find the balance between power and costs.

If the Steam Box is very powerful AND expensive, why should I expend money on that and not on a traditional PC? Let's suppose it have i5 Core, with nVidia GTX600 or more powerful, 8GB RAM. That will likely cost you 500USD or more. A GTX600+ card alone can draw you off 150USD+. So, if you already have a decent PC, you could get way more power using that money to upgrade it.

If they make it cheap, like a PS4, then they will have to go to weaker hardware, and why someone would expend money on a machine who will be barely better than a PS4? Remember, all those Ultra Graphics need a very expensive hardware, and if you can only get the same experience as a console, why bother?

Sure, PC games tend to be cheap on the mid to long term (when sales come about, specially). But many people want to play games closer to launch, and if the experience isn't better, they will stick with consoles.

It is also important to remember Steam Box is likely to use Linux, an OS many are unfamiliar with. While I don't doubt VALVe will use its own version for it, it will keep more casual users outside. And if they make a machine easy to upgrade as a normal PC, costs will add up too. Not only that, look at how many games are Linux compatible. Not as many as Windows.

So, a Steam Box as rumored would only appeal to the traditional, more dedicated gamer, who likely would have a competent gaming PC and/or consoles. The more broad audience would not find the appeal for it. I can't see anyone who would buy it unless VALVe can find a neat balance on price and power. And even so they would need a broad marketing campaign.

A Steam Box have little appeal to dedicated PC gamers who would prefer to make their own machine and to console gamers who would need a great deal with great specs to sway over. If VALVe can't find an audience whose Steam Box fit, it will turn out to be just another niche product.

In the end, I can't see a Steam Box being that exciting. It will likely being a neat product for few people. But even so, it will be interesting to see what it can do and what lessons we can learn from it.   read

12:11 PM on 09.09.2013

PlayStation Vita TV: A Great Idea

The PS Vita Tv is basically a Vita without buttons and screens. It will be able to play Psone classics, PSP and Vita games. At first, it sounds like an incredible bad idea, but when you start thinking about it, it can just be the greatest idea ever, one that will only help Sony and the Vita. Why? well, because several things.

First, it will come in two flavors, vanilla and gaming ready. The 100USD (approximate values) one is just the Vita TV, and it will allow video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, and probably any other video service available for Vita. It is unknown if it comes with a simple remote (which it should, but unknown if will). It is cheap and perfect for people who only wants a stream device. Also, if you already have a PS3 you can just sync your Dualshock 3, put a Vita game and play. It comes with 1GB of memory for saves or the small downloaded title. So anyone wanting a cheap way to play that Vita game you wanted but can't justify the 200USD of the Vita. Or if you just want to use Netflix on that other TV.

The second flavor, priced 150USD comes with 8GB and a DS3 is the perfect cheap console. It have enough space for games, specially the non-retail ones and PSone classics, and yet it allow for Vita and PSP games, giving it a huge catalog of games from the start. And still works for Netflix. So if you want a cheap console that do streaming stuff, the Vita TV makes sense. It have an extensive backlog of great titles, and if you are into indies, it have a lot of already released indies and more to come.

Not only that, it will allow Remote Play with the PS4. So you can have the PS4 in your bedroom, for example and Vita TV on the living room. So when friends come over, no need to move around and deal with cables. Plug the Vita TV and play away. Not only that, you can play Vita games on big screen and show your friends. And it is small enough to just go to a friend's house with it and play with him.

Sure, some stuff need to be sorted. Touch controls will be relegated to pressing L3 and R3(and I am guessing R2 and L2, buttons that aren't available on Vita) to simulate the touch controls. But probably many future games will come with full Dualshcok 3 support (and probably the DS4 when it launches) resolving those issues. And I hope Sony put even a small remote with it for streaming purposes. It will not work as well if you ask a DS3 to be used for stream only people.

Also, the memory cards are still too high priced. A second round of price cuts would help move devices to people wanting a cheap console and don't mind it almost be download only. If Sony can solve the controller issue and the price of its proprietary media, people interested would rise.

All that put OUYA and Gamestick (and any similar device) in a rough position. Those devices don't have the great game catalog Sony has to offer, and Sony is actively hunting great indies for it. Sony also have its own exclusives to push, and the Vita TV is not more expensive than the OUYA, but promises a way better device with way better games from the start. So I can see anyone who wants a cheaper device with a known brand preferring a Vita TV instead of the avalanche of Android consoles.

Another factor that will decide the Vita TV success is how Sony market it. Well done market could get people who only are interested in streaming on board, but also getting people who don't want a portable but want to try some Vita titles on board. And with a bigger user base, the Vita will very well get more games, meaning a win-win to everyone.

So, I believe the Vita TV have a great chance of success. All depending on marketing and support. Everything else is already there, so I am greatly interested to see how it goes.   read

2:32 PM on 09.04.2013

Is the Xbox One Being Rushed?

Microsoft's Xbox One, their newest console, haven't had an easy ride since its reveal back in May. And a lot of it is due to MS ineptitude to proper communicate what they wanted to achieve with the machine. So many things changed that the current Xbone and the one they revealed is vastly different now, from hardware specs to on-line policies to even what is in the box. But why is that?

To me, it smells too much that MS rushed the Xbone to fight Sony. Remember, Sony said before the PS4 reveal in February that they weren't going to announce before Microsoft. And then they revealed it to many people's surprise. Microsoft couldn't let them go freely, so they announced the Xbone a few months later. And that haven't gone as smoothly as MS wanted.

One of the problems that make me believe it was rushed is the lack of an unified message. MS main quote between the reveal and before the first 180° was 'more details coming in a later date'. Big companies usually don't do last time decisions. It takes a lot of meeting to do a decision. And the fact they couldn't answer a lot of question meant they just showed what was decided already, but it is apparent they haven't decided all that should have being decided before being ready for the reveal.

Then there was the now infamous 180°, where they changed the dreaded DRM policy. It was a victory for many, but the fact that they said they couldn't do it, to do it a week later, show me they weren't ready. Than there was the headset being not included, to be included later, the GPU and recently the CPU overclocking, the inclusion of FIFA 14 to European markets, the fact they reduced the number of markets the Xbone will be available in November 22nd from 21 to 13, all that pointing they were making decisions on the fly, instead of a careful laid strategy decided beforehand.

It comes with a PS2 tough... Wait, no, that is the damn power brick.

There are rumors, denied by MS, that there were problems with the production of their next gen console. It is not hard to believe when they have changed so many things. The most recent signs of rushed development is lack of support for many of the voice command features (including in English speaking countries like New Zealand, and no, the accent shouldn't be a problem when they will release it in UK, with Welsh and Scottish accents) and that external HDD support, a feature promised long time ago, will not be available at launch.

Of course, it doesn't mean the Xbone will be a failure, or that it will have a big failure rate for its hardware as the first 360. But all of those are worrying signs, and I believe that yes, Microsoft is rushing their new console to not let Sony gain any lead for being out longer. Maybe they can have a very finished product at launch, while Sony can still fuck it up badly.

But for now, there is worrying signs that Microsoft isn't taking the needed time to deliver a well made, finished product, and that they may use their early adopters to beta test their console. So, I would wait before buying it. And people waiting to see could do more harm than good to Microsoft new machine.

11:08 AM on 07.24.2013

Digital Game Rentals may be what the industry needs (short blog)

Game rentals was a past of my gaming habits when I had my Sega Master System (shut up, Nintendo only really started to invest in Brazil with the N64) and I would always rent some games on weekends. But nowadays rentals in my country is pretty much dead. I haven't rented something like movies or games since forever. And here it is something that publishers and platform makers are losing a huge opportunity with. Allowing digital rentals.

Imagine you can rent a game via digital stores like PSN or Steam? In a perfect world, you would pay 3.99(24 hours), 6.99(48 hours) and 9.99(72 hours, games whose buying price is lower than rental prices couldn't be rented). Download the game (the clock only starts to count when you load the game for the first time), play the game and when the time is up, get offered to buy the game.

Again, if companies where smart, they would allow you to buy rented games at a discount, maybe even the total value of the rental. PS+ (and other similar services) would give you discount on rentals. It would be a win for everyone involved.

Players could try out games without losing time and money. Like the game, buy at discount, don't like it, let the discount expire. You could rent multiplayer games for just a weekend party (and party games for parties) and save money. The publisher, developers and stores would receive a bit of money anyway, cutting out middleman like GameStop out of the equation and profiting more. New IPs and mid-tier games would have a better chance to sell.

So, in my opinion, I can't see how digital rentals would be a bad idea. More money for game makers, players can save money to buy the games worth keeping(and maybe developers would try harder to make games worth keeping). That is why I defend digital rentals.   read

3:49 PM on 07.20.2013

Nintendo is not doomed, but the WiiU is not well either

Let’s put this out of the way first. No, Nintendo is not doomed. The company will not disappear due to one of their hardware not pushing as many units as would be desirable.  Nintendo itself holds a lot of value due to their worldwide famous IPs like Mario and Zelda. Nintendo have a lot of money in the bank, so they can survive years (some say decades) before being in financial trouble. But all that doesn’t mean that their home console, the hilariously named WiiU isn’t in trouble right now, or that the perspective of it turning around this situation is actually good. On contrary, Nintendo is doing close to nothing to safe its next gen console.

First, the WiiU itself is not a bad machine. It doesn’t have any inherent design flaw, or some kind of stupid component that make gaming harder. The gamepad may not be the best controller ever in my opinion, but it is not making gaming harder. It is not fully utilized, even by Nintendo, but it offers some cool tricks like off-TV gameplay. And except by the big screen in the middle, it is pretty much like Sony’s or MS’ pads. The problem Nintendo is suffering is lack of compelling content.

Why should anyone buy a WiiU instead of a Playstation or an Xbox? That is the question that Nintendo is failing to answer. Sure, the biggest Nintendo fans will answer that Mario and Zelda is reason enough, but that is only reason enough for fans of the traditional Nintendo games. And that may be a big surprise, but there aren’t as many Mario fans as the fans might think. And it is easier to back it up by numbers.

The bestselling Nintendo console is the Wii. So, how many Mario Galaxy sold in it? The first sold 12 million units, and the second 7 million. In a 100 million Wii sold, only a tenth of its buyers bough a Mario game. It means that Nintendo’s biggest franchise can move, at best, 12 million WiiUs. But of course, not all Nintendo fans are Mario fans. So, how big is the Nintendo fandom? 22 million people, as that are the people that bought the least successful Nintendo home console, the GameCube.

Nintendo fans love to say nobody buy Nintendo consoles for 3rd party games. It is a lie. The Super Nintendo, the 16 bit console from Nintendo, was filled with great 3rd party games like Chrono Trigger and Street Fighter. In fact, the SNES sold 50 million units worldwide. Saying 3[sup]rd[/sup] party doesn’t matter is a lie. Also, it makes clear that not everyone will buy a WiiU and another console or a gaming PC. In fact, the majority of people will buy only one console. We must remember that the main consumers for consoles aren’t the ‘hardcore’ gamers who visit sites and post blogs like us, neither that they see value in buying all consoles.

Nintendo fans also love to use ‘if’ and ‘can’ in defense of the WiiU. Nintendo can price cut. If they release more games they will be fine. They can use the vast money reserve to save the WiiU. If they start an ad campaign, people will know the console exist. But what Nintendo is actually doing? What is Nintendo actively doing to help its console to sell? I haven’t seen any movement from them to make the WiiU a more appealing console.

Nintendo Directs are great for the people who already have WiiUs and for Nintendo fans that plan to buy one. It assures them that the games they bought a WiiU for are coming, like Smash, Zelda and Mario. But it does nothing for people who aren’t on the internet actively seeking information on the console. There is no mass, main stream media campaign to tell consumers worldwide why they should buy a WiiU. Nintendo is right saying that games move consoles, but outside the internet and it and dedicated gaming fans, people are unaware of that.

It doesn't help when people doesn't understand this is not just another Wii accessory.

Second, Nintendo games will sell only to its fans. There are no new franchises, and the only game Nintendo have that is outside their traditional franchise is Bayonetta 2, whose first game sold something akin to 1.5 million units. Not what Nintendo need to move hardware. There is no movement from Nintendo to bring more games. No incentives for 3rd parties, no buying of new studios (they bought Monolith, but that is one studio whose game, Xenoblade, sold less than a million copies.

Nintendo is doing good to lure indie devs to its machine, as it can help to realize the full potential of the gamepad and fill some niches on the consoles, but I doubt anyone would buy a WiiU for titles they can buy in other platforms like the PC, PS4 and their tablets and phones. So, while indie push helps, it is not the WiiU salvation.

I expected the WiiU to be price cut during E3. Moving the Premium edition to the 300 bucks bracket and getting rid of the basic would have helped. As it stands now, the WiiU is not cheap enough to be competitive against a PS4. They can price cut later, but the longer they take to do it, the shorter time will be to them to capitalize before having to fight directly against the PS4 and Xbone.

‘Ifs’ and ‘cans’ will not save the WiiU. Nintendo need to stop asking people to wait for the day that the WiiU will magically become a great console. That huge amount of cash in the bank is useless if they just let it sit. When Sony was struggling to gain 3rd party support on the PS3, they started making games themselves to fill the niches. It gave us Killzone and Uncharted. Nintendo need to fill those niches themselves and stop hoping that a benevolent 3rd party will save their console for them.

'Please help us by buying three WiiUs. You love us, so go and do it!'

The WiiU tried to use the same formula the Wii used. Cheap, unusual controller and Nintendo franchises. But the Wii was a fad, which was left to gather dust after a few years. Nintendo failed to realize that and used the same formula expecting that lightning would strike twice, but ignored that the same formula that worked seven years ago could not work again, in a completely different scenario that Nintendo doesn’t want to accept is reality.

So, no, Nintendo will not die if the WiiU fails. They have enough resources and the 3DS to keep them afloat to try again. But Nintendo, right now, is doing nothing of the ‘ifs’ and ‘cans’ that could save their console. And if they keep waiting, the WiiU could replace the GameCube as the worst home console in Nintendo’s otherwise brilliant story.   read

9:45 AM on 06.24.2013

The Delusion of Microsoft Old DRM Benefits (Short Blog)

I will be short here. Many people started complaining on the benefits of Microsoft forcing its DRM on us would have. While some policies like being able to access your games on any XboX One as long as you log your account were detailed, others like the Family Sharing, cloud computing stuff and the Steam like cheaper prices are far from being thing Microsoft promised or/and detailed.

Microsoft never detailed the Family Sharing plans beyond saying ten people would be your 'family', no need to them to be actual family or live in the same address. But they never said what strings they were attaching except that only one person would be able to play the shared game at any time. Rumor says that the person on the shared family would only be able to play one hour tops before the game stopping and a store prompt appears.

If you think Microsoft would kill used games and just allow ten people to pay 60 bucks and play a game in full, you are lying to yourself. Microsoft would never lose money selling less copies of a game when their old DRM was made to sell more copies. MS didn't detailed the plan before because they likely knew the details would make the feature less appealing.

Second, cloud computing. Microsoft is saying how much better games will be with it, failing to tell people all the bad things about it, like lag, the fact that it needs big servers to do it(way more than to just handle on-line matches). Also, the fact that all this benefits only work as long as their servers are online. What happens if they go down? Or that they decided that your old game doesn't deserve space on the servers?

Last, people say Microsoft would push gaming prices down going the route they were going. Why? What reasons we have to believe MS would low their prices, when they would have total control over the games? The only digital store in the Xbone is the MS one, and they could as well say the retailers that want to participate on their trading program would need to follow their rules on pricing. Steam prices only get cheaper on sales and promotions, and because there is several other online stores you can go to.

So, any attempt into making Microsoft dropped DRM seeing good is by wishful thinking. Nothing in their announced policies state any of the benefits many people want to believe they could get. I am glad MS dropped their policies, but in no way they would take a hit for the benefit of the customer.   read

8:43 AM on 06.20.2013

The Xbox One Uphill Battle Will Continue

Microsoft, in the last few months, was the bad, bad guy of gaming. Its obscure, confusing and certainly anti-consumer DRM gained the rage of gamers. The fact the Xbone(how I will always call their new console) is more expensive, less focused on games, region locked and it comes with the Eye of Sauron AKA Kinect 2 didn't help it to gain consumer's trust.

During the few weeks after their reveal of the Xbone till yesterday, Microsoft defended that all their decisions would benefit the customer and would make everything better for us. They utterly failed to make this message being heard. Instead, they garnered more hate, and every time Microsoft executives(specially Don 'Chipmunk' Mattrick) opened their mouths they made their product seeing worse.

'Oh, crap...'

Here is the first thing. MS actually believed that their decisions would be more profitable to them. No company is there to be your friends (Sony, Nintendo and any other big company doesn't care about you, they care about money) but no company likes to lose a sale. MS probably expend a lot of time in meetings discussing how to make more profit, and of course they put in the equation how many customers they might lose due to their decisions. And in the end, they decided the Xbone and all its policies would be more profitable.

They likely decided their new target audience (hint, not us who like games a lot) would be more profitable and wouldn't mind all their restrictions. They also decided that us, people who love games, would buy an Xbone as long as great games were available only there. They also believed that Sony, the one that they likely consider their main rival, would use similar policies.

Let's not be naive here. 3rd party publishers probably was putting pressure on both Sony and MS for anti-used measures. Maybe they didn't give an ultimatum, but they certainly send messages on how they would benefit of it. MS decided it was worth to conquer the 3rd parties and made their system with them in mind.

On E3, they showed lots of good games, that actually would make many interested in giving MS a chance. All depended on Sony being similar in their proposition. Sony instead killed Microsoft at the show. No DRM, no always connected and a smaller price tag by not adding an accessory most wasn't interested. MS expected Sony to be similar enough to make everyone stop and think. Sony make it easy to most to choose. Or better yet, MS make their main competitor looks better by mostly just keeping the status quo.

Even after that, MS still believed their target audience would love them and would ignore their flaws. Until yesterday, they were adamant their DRM policy would benefit the customer. But them the pre-order numbers starts coming in. Sony was leading pre-order interest. An Amazon poll showed that 93% of customers where interested in the PS4 instead of the Xbone. GameStop employees said that MS put only 10 pre-order units per store, while Sony put 30. Even the mainstream media was aware and unhappy with their policies.

The internet complaining may not being the only factor that made MS change its policies. But it helped. That combined with bad PR, Sony policies being less draconian and the fact that they was becoming the bad guys at the public eyes made them do the now infamous U turn.

'Thanks for making our console looks better, Microsoft!'

While this is going to help the Xbone to sell a bit better at pre-orders, by making Xbox fans more happy with he console, the uphill battle will continue. MS needs to fix all the PR damage they made to themselves (gagging Don 'Big Mouth' would help) and they still need to prove to the public their machine is better than the PS4. It will be hard and long.

Even after the DRM drop, MS still have the most expensive machine, they still have the never-blinking Kinect 2 (it is up to you to thrust Microsoft will not spy on you, no matter how much they promise they won't) that must be connected all the times and we must remember if they could just flip the switch to turn DRM off (something they promised they couldn't do, so here is your thrust) they could just turn it on again later if they want to.

Microsoft did a good thing by dropping the DRM and the region lock. They reacted to the bad reception of its audience. But remember it was them that created the problem for themselves in first place and until yesterday they utterly believed they were right.

Microsoft made the first step to have a chance in the console wars. Now their machine is not an undesirable piece of shit, but a console many will take in consideration. But they are still in the uphill battle. They still need to fight against a lot of bad will they created in their possible customers. They still need to make their most expensive machine, Indie unfriendly, with a camera that needs to be connected all the time seems a better option than its competitor. Games can help that.

But for now, Microsoft and its Xbone is the underdog, and not the likable kind.   read

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