OK, so Sony has sold over a million PS4s so far. That's great! Although, given its preorder numbers, I didn't really expect anything less. At this rate, it might even beat the Wii U's lifetime sales by the end of this year, and Sony will just dominate this generation... right?
Unfortunately, it's not that simple. In fact, since you've read the title of this blog, I'm just going to say what I mean.
A lot of people consider the Wii U to be the next Dreamcast, in the sense that it will be Nintendo's last console because... reasons. People aren't buying it en masse, therefore it's doomed, and it will cause Nintendo to drop out of the home console market.
In my last blog concerning Sony, I expressed concern about how Sony will be after the Playstation 4 launched. But now, I'm 100% convinced. When I say the Playstation 4 will be the next Dreamcast, I mean it will drive Sony out of the console market. Why?
Because they made the exact same mistake SEGA did.
So what happened? Well, SEGA was dominating the console market with the Genesis. Their marketing campaign has yet to be beaten in terms of aggressiveness. Then, in 1991, Nintendo released the SNES, a system that put them on even ground with SEGA in terms of tech. SEGA wouldn't have that, so they released all this brand new tech through the CD, the 32x, and the Saturn. All were released over the course of 3 years, and all were failures, which caused the Dreamcast to be the final nail in the coffin.
But how did this all start? What suddenly caused SEGA to take the path they did? Well in the video I just linked, one person had this to say, at the 5:25 mark:
"SEGA got a toehold in the market with technology, and that's what they figure is gonna win this game. Uh... and this is just the classic mistake you see hardware manufacturers making over... over and over again: Worrying about the console, and not about the games."
The next person in the video put it in simpler terms, and this was what got to me:
"They had the lead, and all they had to do was nothing to maintain it. But instead, they did everything and destroyed themselves."
Now, Sony does not have the lead in any sense of the term, so how is their situation related to SEGA's?
See, a lot of people are under the impression that winners of console generations are determined by the number of units sold. This is simply not true, as the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 clearly prove. Yes, both consoles did not sell anywhere near as much as the Wii, but that's not the point. The point is, console generation 'winners' are determined by whoever profits off their system. That is how business works. If you want to keep going, you need to earn profit.
In that respect, Nintendo was unopposed this past generation. Literally.
So far, the Xbox brand has generated 17 billion dollars in revenue. However, it has yet to generate a cent in profit. Microsoft lost billions getting the original Xbox off the ground, and then they lost billions more on the 360 (and we all know why). And the worst part? When Steve Ballmer announced he would step down as Microsoft's CEO, the company instantly generated 1 billion dollars.
Think about that for a second: In 24 hours, the announcement of Steve Ballmer's retirement generated 5.8 percent of the money the Xbox brand did in its entire 12 years of existence.
Now do you see why Stephen Elop is considering selling the Xbox brand if he becomes the next CEO (assuming the rumors are true, of course)? Yes, Microsoft is making money, but they could be making more if they didn't have the gangrenous money sink that is the Xbox brand.
At first, I thought Nintendo was the one making the mistake. Around 2009-2010, they kinda stopped supporting the Wii, making fans feel like Xenoblade and Skyward Sword were just Nintendo throwing a bone. I kept saying, "Nintendo, what are you doing? You have so much going for you! Why are you stopping?" Then, after hearing about the Playstation 4's Day 1 success, it all came together for me.
As Nintendo was pulling out of supporting the Wii, the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 were just starting to become profitable. After around 5 years of losses, it would take Microsoft and Sony a long time to recoup those losses. And that's exactly what they would have done before even considering releasing new systems.
However, when E3 2011 came around, guess what happened?
Nintendo announced that in 2012, they would release the Wii U, a system that would put them on even ground with Microsoft and Sony in terms of tech.
Sony just couldn't allow Nintendo to have the 8th generation to themselves, so they put together 'the most powerful gaming console ever.' Microsoft was thrown off by the Wii U as well, but Sony announcing the Playstation 4 as early as they did threw them off even more, causing them to rush the Xbox One's development.
But this isn't about Microsoft. This is about the Playstation 4.
As I just said, in response to the Wii U, Sony decided to make a system that would once again put them leagues above Nintendo in terms of tech. It has a really advanced GPU, and 8-core CPU, and most importantly, eight gigabytes of RAM.
That, ladies and gentlemen, was Sony's 'SEGA Mistake.' They worried about the console, and not about the games. All they had to do was nothing. Let Nintendo have their fun, and just keep releasing Playstation 3 games and making profit. Instead, they are doing everything, and will destroy themselves for it.
Just like SEGA with the Dreamcast, Sony is releasing the Playstation 4 as a follow-up to failure (PSPgo) after failure (PS3) after failure (Vita), much like how Microsoft is releasing the Xbox One as a follow-up to failure (Xbox) after failure (360). Now, being sold at a loss, the Playstation 4 has launched, selling one million units in 24 hours, making it the most successful USA launch in console history...
This is why Nintendo pulled out of supporting the Wii as early as they did, and released the Wii U. They believed that if they released a console that was equal to Sony's console, they, like SEGA, would go tech-crazy, and destroy themselves for it.
The trap was set, and their opponent walked right into it.
Pride got the better of Sony.
I now understand what Christians mean when they say pride is a sin. They don't mean you shouldn't be proud of yourself for getting a bonus, or be proud of your kid for winning the spelling bee. They mean you should not use pride as the foundation for your judgement. And that's exactly what Sony did.
They were not ready to release a new system. They only put their next-gen system together because Nintendo released a new system. It didn't matter to them that they lost so much money off their current system. Nintendo made a new system, and they were not about to let them have all the fun.
They say those who do not learn from their history are doomed to repeat it. When developing the Wii U, Nintendo used their knowledge of history and took a gamble, knowing that their current competitors weren't around as game companies when SEGA began their fall from grace. And it paid off.
Sony learned nothing from SEGA. And for that, they will suffer the same fate.
Many people say that Nintendo is not as 'hardcore' as they used to be. On the contrary, they are more hardcore than they ever were before. Soon, we will see them bring down two giants, using the exact same method they used ten years ago to bring down one giant.
Infinity Ward hyped up the Campaign Mode for Call of Duty: Ghosts because its story was being written by a guy named Stephen Gaghan, who apparently won an Emmy for something.
If I didn't know better, I would've thought it was written by a member of Call of Duty's majority demographic.
Here's the premise of Ghosts: Remember that mission in the original Modern Warfare where you're trying to stop some nukes from hitting the East Coast? Imagine if that mission failed, and there were missiles aimed all over the US. There's your premise.
Now the game begins with a middle aged man telling a story about these few soldiers who managed to fend off hundreds of enemies by hiding in the bodies of their fallen comrades. Though not exactly original, it was pretty well told, and the visuals complemented it quite nicely.
While this story was being told, I imagined that this man was telling it to his kids who haven't graduated high school yet and have expressed interest in joining the military. I also thought it was being told at night in the living room, before the kids went to bed.
Nope. It was being told outside, in broad daylight, to two grown-ass men.
Because of this, I immediately knew two things: One, the dad was/is one of the Ghosts. And two, he's preparing his kids to become Ghosts too.
Oh, and Hesh? Logan's (you) older brother? I dunno who did his voice, but I hope he never lands a gig again. He cannot act for shit.
Anyway, America blows up. Fast forward ten years.
Now the boys are in the military, and daddy sends them to No Man's Land, where nobody ever goes.... ooooooohhhh.
If you're not a complete moron, you can already tell that they're being sent for one last test, and if they pass, they join the Ghosts. Hesh even gives it away during the briefing, pretty much!
Now before I continue, I have a question about Riley, the dog: Why?
Here's what you can do with him: you can make him attack people, or you can control him yourself to attack people. That's it. So why hype him up so much? Well, judging from what I've experienced, it's because the game brings nothing else new to the table.
But that's for another time. For now, let's talk about Riley's contribution to the story...
...or lack thereof. He seriously does nothing in the game that humans cannot. It's obvious that Infinity Ward put him in there because everyone knows that people are suckers for cute animals in danger. When they said they didn't know what to do with Riley (meaning, to kill him or not), I predicted that someone would wound him, 'shocking' the player, but he'll turn out to be alright. Spoiler alert: I was right
Anyway, Logan and Hesh meet up with Keegan and Merrick, who turn out to be Ghosts, much to Hesh's surprise... at least I think he was surprised. You know what? Fuck it. I'm calling him 'Keanu' from now on.
The four men set out to find a captured Ghost named 'Ajax' before he gets killed.
SURPRISE!!!! He doesn't make it.
Before Ajax dies, he points to a kill list on a wall and mentions a name: Rorke. Keanu asks who Rorke is, to which one of the Ghosts responds with 'There's no time to explain.'
Seriously? How long does it take to say, "He was one of us, but now he's killing us?" It was obvious right from the moment the name was mentioned. Ghosts are supposed to be these anonymous badasses, yet someone has a list of them? But of course, Infinity Ward felt the need to save the 'surprise' for the end of the next mission.
Oh, and it's coupled with another 'surprise:' Daddy's a Ghost too!
If you don't plan on playing the game, go on YouTube and just watch Keanu's reaction to Daddy unmasking himself. I laughed harder than I ever did playing Saints Row IV.
Daddy 'reveals' that Rorke (I'm not sure if I'm spelling this right, so do forgive me if I'm wrong) was a Ghost, and recalls the day Rorke 'died' through a flashback mission.
Rorke was exactly what I expected him to be: bad-tempered, growly voice. That's about all there is to his character.
After the Ghosts kill this South American dude, the bus you're on goes vertical due to the bridge collapsing. You hang on to Rorke and the game prompts you to 'let go,' as if you're supposed to feel guilty or something.
The flashback ends, and your team is sent to capture another South American dude. You do so, and after Keanu pushes him into a room with a large TV and the team starts asking him where Rorke is, I thought "OK, it's a setup, Rorke's gonna appear on the TV to taunt us, then the building will start to collapse."
It was a setup, Rorke appeared on the TV to taunt the team, and the building started to collapse. You escape.
Afterward, explosions happen, and you capture Rorke.
It's revealed through a long-winded briefing that shortly after Rorke was separated from the Ghosts, the Federation captured him and tortured him. Oh wait, I mean they broke his body, his mind, and his soul. Ugh.
Anyway, Rorke is taken to a plane, Daddy tries to use Talk no Jutsu on him, and Rorke summons his army to rip off the opening scene of The Dark Knight Rises.
Afterward, explosions happen, and Rorke's army enters your base and ties you, Keanu, and Daddy to chairs. I pity you if you don't know the outcome of this.
That's right, Daddy dies. And here is where I realized the biggest problem with Rorke. He is so predictable. At one point, you break out of your chair and try to grab Rorke's gun. Of course, you fail, and Rorke goes, 'Huh. I like you, kid. *turns to Daddy* You could learn something from him.'
Here's a lesson for aspiring movie/TV/game writers: Show, don't tell. If you need to tell something, do it once. Show it the rest of the time.
After Daddy dies, Keanu finally shows a hint of emotion, and Riley gets shot (but don't worry. He's fine).
Afterward, explosions happen, and you use Special Beam Cannon on Rorke and Keanu (but don't worry. He's fine).
The two of you sit on a beach and revel in your victory. Here I thought, 'Well, it's not the most original ending, but oh well. It was decent.'
Then they just had to fucking ruin it.
SURPRISE!!! Rorke's still alive! Yes, he survived a .44 Magnum shot through the chest, and drowning in a train car that got thrown underwater. To make things worse, as he drags you away... the credits roll.
That's right. They ended a four-hour long campaign... with a cliffhanger.
And that's how you don't tell a story in a video game. Lesson for aspiring game developers: There's a difference between a famous writer and a good writer.
A lot of people like to use Dark Souls as a good example for… pretty much everything in terms of game development. And they do so for good reason, of course. But there is another developer worth noting who follows a similar development philosophy to that of From Software (and is also based in Japan. Imagine that.). That’s right. It’s Tecmo Koei and its subsidiary Omega Force.
Now there are quite a lot of people who don’t like Dynasty Warriors, so you may find the very idea of Tecmo Koei setting a good example to be preposterous. But I urge you to read on and at least see where I’m coming from.
Tecmo Koei doesn’t really talk about the budgets and sales numbers of their Dynasty Warriors games, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s not exactly a big-budget IP (I don’t say ‘franchise’ anymore because Phil Spencer made me hate that word). Since it has a relatively low-budget, that means the games are going to be crap, and will subsequently bomb, right? Well apparently not, considering Tecmo Koei is still making games. If you want to know what they’re doing right, then please:
Let’s say you’re a developer. You have this amazing idea for a game, but you don’t have enough money to make your vision a reality. What do you do? If your resources are heavily limited, then your first priority should be making sure your game is at least fun to play, right? If you agree then CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You’re smarter than almost every single Western and Westernized Eastern third party developer. Why? Because you have something they don’t:
Actually, the Western guys do have priorities as well. They just have them completely wrong. See, Western developers are like spoiled, over-privileged children. The publishers give them exorbitant sums of money for their games. And much like a spoiled child would use that money to buy something shiny and expensive, the developers will more often than not use most of their budget on graphics, Hollywood actors and all that crap. Next thing you know, the game sells multi-millions, still fails, and causes layoffs/closures.
And from the looks of it, this behavior will not stop anytime soon.
In an interview with VG247, Eric Boltjes, lead designer of Killzone: Shadow Fall, said that while the Playstation 4’s architecture makes games easier to develop, it actually takes more time, money, and effort to make the games (Totally called it, by the way. ‘Simpler,’ not ‘cheaper.’)
Boltjes had this to say:
“The architecture is really cool because it’s easier to develop for, you get more memory, you get more hard drive space, you get more processing power so the architecture is easier,”
“It’s also a lot more demanding, because the production effort needed just to make a next-gen title now is not doubled; it’s quadrupled.”
You hear that? QUADRUPLED!!! And this is coming from Guerrilla Games, a FIRST PARTY DEVELOPER!!! Now, Mr. Boltjes, why, despite having architecture that allows for simpler development, do next-gen games need so much more money and effort?
“That’s because everything needs to look that much better.”
And from the looks of it, it's only going to get worse.
Now what does all this have to do with Dynasty Warriors and what it does right? Well, since the games are low budget, Omega Force has the humility to push graphics aside and make sure the game is actually fun to play. A great example of this behavior is the Gamasutra interview with Platinum Games (another Japanese developer? Who would’ve thought?), when Atsushi Inaba says,
“Working with Nintendo, one thing that comes out of that is that we're not able to cover up weaknesses in the core gameplay by making the graphics prettier or adding cutscenes, or whatever. The concern, first and foremost, is the core of the game and the quality of the gameplay.”
Omega Force does almost the opposite in the sense that they cover up weaknesses in the graphics by making the gameplay freaking awesome. And before you say “But it’s just mashing one button over and over again!” try playing on Chaos Mode (the way it’s meant to be played) with that mindset, and we’ll compare notes.
But of course, while the game is fun, you can’t have it look like crap, right? See, you may have heard people (particularly those who primarily game on Nintendo systems) say that ‘Graphics don’t matter.’ What they mean is, ‘Graphics do matter, but they should not be the number one priority in game development.’ It just doesn't take as long to just say ‘Graphics don’t matter.’ Let’s face it; just like how we humans are with looks, if you say graphics don’t matter, you’re only fooling yourself. You need your game to look presentable in order to attract gamers. And that’s exactly what Dynasty Warriors’ graphics do. They may not be mind-blowing, but they get the job done.
Now I’m going to use Dynasty Warriors 8 for the Playstation 3 as my example. I’m not going to provide images or link videos because this is the type of game that needs to be seen in motion and raw, not still and compressed. Also, I understand Tecmo Koei announced a Playstation 4 version of Dynasty Warriors 8 with Xtreme Legends that has some graphical upgrades, but I’m not going to talk about that because we don’t know just how much of an improvement it will be over the PS3 version. Plus, since DW8 was released during the later years of the PS3, we can assume that that’s just about the best Omega Force can do with the hardware.
The way Omega Force approaches graphics is pretty simple: What is the player going to be looking at at all times? These are the things that need to look good. In the case of Dynasty Warriors, there are three things you’ll be looking at at all times: Your character, the weapon your character is using, and (if applicable) your character’s mount. Want to know why those three things look more detailed than everything else in the game? Because Omega Force knows you’re not going to spend much time looking at the other things.
This is why I laughed at the part of Game Informer’s review that said that the wall textures in the bases are laughable. Seriously, how much time do you spend in a base during a battle? Most of the time is spent in large open areas, so why waste time and money making the walls look pretty?
And the cannon fodder that serve as enemies. Why do they all look the same… and crappy? Well let’s look at their purpose in the game: They run up to you, get hit, fall on the ground, and disappear. If your budget is limited, why spend time and money making different and good-looking models, especially if they’re just going to disappear when they die?
The lesson Omega Force is teaching us here is that a lot of what we refer to as ‘finer details’ in games are not worth the time and money because the majority of gamers are too impatient and/or shortsighted to admire them when they're actually playing the games.
Wow, look at the detail on this thing that none of us are going to look at when we actually play the game.
It does look nice, yes. But here’s the thing: It’s a pump. Since it’s a third-person shooter, you’re going to be too busy shooting people to admire the finer details in the game world. And you’re not going to look at them when the fight’s over. You’re going to rush to the next fight so you can keep shooting things.
This is part of why I believe that this next generation is not going to be anywhere near as big a graphical leap as people are hyping it up to be. See, when the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 were announced, all they had to do was show off their games and let them speak for themselves. People understood that the graphics got a whole lot better just by watching. But with the Xbox One and Playstation 4, now developers have to show us tech demos and use fancy technical terms like occlusion mapping, tactleneck physics, dynamic particles and other terms that people pretend to understand but don’t in actuality (I’m one of them, if you couldn’t tell).
And that is what worries me. The games cannot speak for themselves anymore. If you sat down and were shown a gameplay video of Watch Dogs, you would not be able to tell which system it was being played on unless someone or something told you ahead of time. If Ubisoft did not post that video showcasing the features of the next-gen versions of Assassin’s Creed IV, you would not notice any of them when playing the game. If Mark Cerny did not show that ‘million particle’ demo before announcing Knack during the Playstation 4 reveal, I would have thought it was just an uninspired game, and not a glorified tech demo disguised as an uninspired game. Every time I see gameplay of Infamous: Second Son, while the developer hypes up the graphics, I always say to myself, “Well, it does look pretty… but I think I’ve played this game already… twice.” And don’t even get me started on EA Sports and Crytek.
Do you know why developers talk so much about graphics? It’s because they know that when it comes down to it, their games bring absolutely nothing new to the table. With the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, you’re going to be playing the exact same games you’ve been playing for the last 8 years, but with a slightly shinier coat of paint. In fact, after the PS4 reveal, Jim Sterling did a Jimquisition on it, and he expressed concern that due to the industry not changing its attitude, this next generation may not be a generation in its own right, but rather an extension to the current one with slightly better graphics.
And he’s right. As long as it’s “the same old gaming industry with its same old bullshit,” nothing is going to change.
But developers are not wholly to blame. For the last 7-8 years, I’ve run into tons of people talking about how a certain game is awesome because ‘the graphics are amazing.’ And every time I hear that, I jump into the conversation and ask them what specific details in said game blew them away.
To this day, I have yet to find a person that could properly answer that question.
And I know exactly why they can’t answer the question: like developers, gamers throw the word ‘graphics’ around as a buzzword. Developers say ‘next-gen graphics,’ and gamers and press alike just eat it up. Gamers say a game/console is awesome or sucks because of graphics, and people immediately believe them, so they don't have to worry about further justifying their opinion.
Developers’ prioritization of graphics over gameplay has taken a toll on the reasoning of the average gamer, which only serves to further strengthen their desire to make better graphics. It is the unhealthiest relationship this industry has seen, and it has caused both parties to become delusional to the point where they think the hype train is still going when it arrived at its destination a couple years ago.
This could all be easily fixed. All these people have to do is follow the examples of their Japanese counterparts (as well as the indie developers, of course). People keep saying Dynasty Warriors is the same game every time, yet I doubt any of them would even give it a chance to see what changes are made with each installment and see why people keep buying them. People like to rag on Platinum Games for their games not selling, but at least they have the balls to make the games they actually want to make and not just quick, safe cash grabs. People constantly bash Nintendo for ‘being stuck in the 90s,’ which I consider to be a good thing, since apparently running a game business like it’s the 21st Century only ensures bankruptcy.
But let’s be realistic. For years, these Western developers have shown that they would rather go out of business than abandon their ‘next-gen’ ideals. And according to Guerrilla Games, the collective cost of their recklessness will be even greater this generation.
Assuming Sony lasts long enough for Omega Force to make a Playstation 4 Dynasty Warriors from the ground up, I hope that they stick to their development principles. In fact, I hope all the Japanese developers I’ve mentioned stick to their guns in the short period of next-gen development being ‘the thing.’ Because if they do, they will be among the few remaining after the industry receives its long overdue wakeup call.
And believe me. It’s going to happen this generation. Guerrilla Games pretty much confirmed it.
And when the dust settles, the fallen (and there will be many) will wonder how it all went wrong. And the survivors can only tell them:
In the deep jungles of the internet, you will find many individuals who claim that this will be the last console generation for Nintendo (Hell, you might even be one of them). Whatever the reason they feel this way, it is irrelevant. What matters is that people are expecting Nintendo to go third party or bankrupt this generation. But if we're talking about losing money, then why does nobody discuss the possibility of Sony dropping out of the hardware market?
The reason I ask is because while the mainstream press would have you believe that Sony has the road paved for them, Sony themselves are telling a different tale: one that will most likely not have a happy ending.
To make it easier for you guys, I will summarize the article for you: Sony lost around six billion dollars this generation.
To put it in perspective, Sony banked hard off the Playstation and Playstation 2. But in one fell swoop, with the Playstation Portable and Playstation 3 (though mainly the latter), they lost every single cent they made off their game division throughout the ten years prior... and then some.
That alone should tell you that things are not going smoothly for Sony. If the 3DS and the Wii U not selling well at first is considered enough justification for Satoru Iwata to be replaced, then Kaz Hirai should have been burned at the stake years ago.
Well, I certainly hope so! But I'm not sure if Sony can afford a loss on the Playstation 4 period. Especially when you take into account their other source of loss at the moment:
The Playstation Vita.
I honestly have no idea what Sony is trying to do with this thing. Because it clearly isn't 'Make it a Success.' It's doing bad right now, and Sony knows it.
About a month ago, the internet was pretty much set on fire when it was revealed that Nintendo sold only 160,000 Wii U's throughout the first quarter of this year. Every gaming website and their mother immediately made articles and about how the Wii U is a lost cause and there is no hope for Nintendo.
Well not too long afterward, Sony released its Q1 financial report.
They didn't even show the sales numbers of the Vita.
At least Nintendo has the balls to show the world how bad their product is selling.
And before you say "But look! They also combine the PS3 and PS2 sales!" Look at the bottom of the slide. The third footnote states that the PS2 is not actually included in the report, so there you go. And even then, the combined sales of the PSP and Vita chart at 0.6 million, so you can only imagine how bad the Vita is really doing.
And not a single major gaming website reported on this. It just flew right under the radar.
Now let's talk about an apparently integral part of Sony's next-gen plan: The indie developers.
Not long after Nintendo established a partnership with Unity, Sony did the exact same thing. At first, I thought this was yet another instance of Sony copying whatever Nintendo was doing while completely missing the point of why Nintendo was doing it in the first place. But then I saw their E3 presentation. And after watching that, along with reading a ton of articles about Sony's approach to indies, I was amazed. I said to myself, "Wow. Sony actually notices the potential in these guys. They're not shamelessly copying Nintendo. They're thinking just like them. I love it!"
Then Gamescom happened.
If you watch Sony's Gamescom presentation, you see a lot of indie games coming to the Vita, but there's next to nothing coming from Sony themselves that make you go "Wow, I should really consider getting a Vita." I didn't think too much of it at first, but then I came across an article that put it all together.
The gap in hardware capability between the Playstation Vita and the Playstation 3 is much smaller than that of the 3DS and the Wii U. Yet Masahiro Sakurai is crafting Super Smash Bros. for both the 3DS and the Wii U at the same time...
AND HE ONLY HAS ONE FREAKING HAND!!!
But the Worldwide President of Sony is telling us that bringing the newest entry to their biggest selling IP to their own handheld device, which has not seen a big-selling first party release in its entire year and a half of existence... would be really hard.
Sony is not supporting indies out of the goodness of their heart. They are doing so because they cannot afford to support both the Playstation 4 and the Playstation Vita by themselves. And rather than just give up on the Vita, they... Actually, let me tell you what I mean by, "Give up on the Vita."
In spirit, Sony has already given up on the Vita. Yoshida pretty much solidified that assertion. But the Vita is being sold at a loss, and with the recent price drop, that only means they are going to lose even more money with each unit sold. And rather than just stop manufacturing the thing and simply kill it off to slow down the money-bleeding, they are just going to leave it to the indies and hope that they will bring in the cheddar.
As a lot of people say, especially when it comes to Nintendo: First party games sell systems. The Vita is no exception. It's not special. And if Sony, the guys who made the damn thing, can't even get it off the ground, what makes you think anyone else can? You can't just make a product and expect someone else who wasn't involved in its development to make it a success. It doesn't work that way.
And you may say, "Well, when the Playstation 4 launches, Remote Play is going to turn the Vita into a massive success!"
No it's not. Why? Well, it's for the exact same reason why the PSP failed to beat the DS, and why the 3DS is trampling over the Vita as if it doesn't even know it's there. The purpose of Remote Play is for people to able to play their Playstation 4 games on the go. That right there is the reason why it's not going to be a success. If consumers wanted to play a console game (or console 'experience,' as Sony likes to call their portable games), they would do so on a console. The only people who will take advantage of Remote Play are the hardcore Playstation gamers who either already have a Vita, or will get one just so they can get their Playstation 4 fix wherever they are.
General consumers, however, do not buy handheld devices to play console games, and they especially do not buy them as companion devices for their home consoles. They buy handheld devices to play handheld games. And next month, when the 2DS launches, Nintendo is going to prove this... for the third time in a row.
So given everything we know so far, what does it all mean for the Playstation 4?
Well, simply put, if Sony wants to live to see another generation, they need the Playstation 4 to dominate. And I don't just mean that it needs to outsell the Xbox One and the Wii U. I mean it needs to be a multi-million unit selling success, right out the gate, every month, with no sales slumps whatsoever.
In addition, they need a high software attach rate (a good guess would be two digital first party games per unit) and a high PS+ attach rate (there's a reason Sony is charging for online multiplayer now). Otherwise, they will just continue to bleed money with every console sold.
And you may say, "Well don't worry! Since it has over a million preorders, the Playstation 4 is bound to dominate!"
Preorder numbers and launch sales mean nothing. They are not indicators of long-term success. Never were, never will be. Plus, I think it's a bit much to expect the Playstation 4 to sell millions this holiday season, especially considering that the Wii was cheap to manufacture (and therefore, purchase), the economy wasn't the complete shithole it is now, and it only sold 3 million units from launch in November '06 to the end of that year.
If you still need convincing, here's another thing that is overlooked by many:
No home console in history has ever been able gain adequate market share post-launch while maintaining a price point above $300. The NES, SNES, and Genesis were all priced no higher than $200. The Playstation struck it rich from the start at $300. The Nintendo 64, despite being greatly outsold by the Playstation, was a success thanks in part to its $200 price point. The Saturn, on the other hand, was a complete failure, thanks in part to having a $400 price point before the Playstation's launch. The Playstation 2 dominated, but mostly because, at $300, it was the cheapest DVD player you could get at the time. The Wii pretty much took over the world at $250. The Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 didn't become hits of their own until they got into the $200-$300 range.
As I said before, in order for Sony to succeed this generation, they need to settle for nothing less than total domination. And the way I see it, in order for that to happen, they need nothing less than a miracle.
To tie back to the story analogy I used earlier in this blog, if this tale is to have a happy ending, then there needs to be some sort of deus ex machina implemented into the story.
And I don't think the author has enough ink for that.
I was born on Janurary 8, 1992. I spent most of my infancy sleeping. Children with Asperger Syndrome learn to speak at either a very early age, or a very late age. I spoke my first coherent sentence at the age of five... Oh wait. Videogames. Right.
In 1996 (I was 4, if you can't math), my dad came home from work one day with a really big (to me, it was big) box. My dad was a tech geek. He always needed the latest and greatest technology in the household. This new piece of tech in particular was called the 'Nintendo 64.' He plugged it in, plopped a controller in my older brother's hands, and turned it on. What followed was a sequence that would essentially determine the direction of my life:
"*coin sound* It's-a me! Mario!"
And when Mario's face flew right at me on the TV screen, I was blown away. From that point on, I just couldn't stop playing. Videogames became the perfect form of entertainment for me. Going outside? Pah! What's so fun about throwing a frisbee around and running down the same street every day? Doing ninja flips and throwing dragons around (I thought Bowser was a dragon. Shut up.)? That's where the real fun is. To me, videogames were (and still are) even better than reading. With books, your imagination is limited by the action the text dictates. With videogames, while there are things you need to do, you are given the freedom to make up any story you want. Every game I got was a treasure trove of stories just waiting to be told: Diddy Kong Racing, Star Fox 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64... I was in heaven.
Of course, I had a life to live, and when Kindergarten started, there was some adjusting that had to be done. And as a kid with Asperger Syndrome (something that I would be unaware of until 8th grade), one thing I have trouble doing is adapting to changes of routine. I would refuse to go to school, either because I didn't get my videogame time in, or Gulla Gulla Island wasn't on yet, which used to be the indicator that it was time to go. And it wasn't just me. My older brother had this problem too. So after some thinking, my parents set a rule:
You may only play videogames on weekends.
This infuriated me. I'd have to go through five days of hell school every week to be able to partake in my favorite hobby. For the first couple months I would sneak in a little bit of play time when mom and dad were outside, but I eventually got used to it. And that rule remained in effect until I graduated high school... in 2010. Afterward, I thanked my parents for setting that rule. Had they not done so, my grades would have suffered badly.
With videogames still being a niche hobby at the time, very few people around our area played them. And since that was all I was interested in, making friends was rather difficult. But I didn't care. Mario was all I needed. But when I heard that we had family in New York that had gamer children, I was ecstatic. When we drove up to Albany, I was thrilled to play some Mario Kart 64 with my cousins. But they didn't have an N64. Instead, they had this weird device called a 'Playstation.' When I went down to the basement, I saw my cousin Andrew playing this game called Final Fantasy VII, and decided to talk to me about it. After noticing how confused I got from watching the combat of the game, he decided to get into the airship and let me fly it around. With the awesome music and the feeling of exploration I got from my N64 games, I thought to myself "This is my kind of game." After seeing that I was comfortable with the flying, Andrew decided to go upstairs to get some juice. It was then that I saw this little red blob on the ground, and decided to fly towards it. If you've FFVII, you know exactly what I'm talking about. And apparently, Andrew had been playing for two hours before I arrived. He was not happy. But in the end, I was glad that I was exposed to a new video game system.
Videogames were a gateway to many things for me. One of those things was Japanese culture. During Kindergaten, I was in a phase where I loved the medieval theme: knights, dragons, you name it. That's how I became obsessed with The Legend of Zelda. But afterwards, I was in a ninja phase, mainly due to the film 3 Ninjas. One day, during our weekly trip to Blockbuster (RIP), my eye caught an N64 game titled Mystical Ninja: starring Goemon. As soon as I saw the word 'ninja,' I asked my parents to buy it. When I played it, I had the same problem as I did with Pokemon Blue: I didn't know how to get out of the first room. I was so used to doors with knobs. But as soon as I figured out how to get outside into the game world, that was the beginning of the greatest adventure I ever had in a videogame. Everything about Mystical Ninja was amazing: the characters, the dialog, the humor lost in translation, but most importantly, the music. I still stand by my opinion that this game has the greatest soundtrack ever. I still find myself humming some of its tunes every day. As I got older, I learned that while this game seemed different compared to other western games, it was par for the course in Japan. That was when I decided that Japanese culture is best culture.
Mystical Ninja was also the first videogame I beat. I was eight years old. When I saw the credits rolling, I asked my dad "Dad? What's with all these names?" He replied "Those are the people who made the game, Stephen." My mind was even more blown than when I first played Super Mario 64. Up until that point, I thought videogames grew from trees. As soon as my dad answered my question, I resolved that I would make videogames when I grew up. My parents constantly tried talking me out of it, but more on that later.
When I was nine years old, I learned that not every game was all sunshine and rainbows. My brother had his best friend Walter come over to play games with us. When we went to the basement, Walter put an N64 cartridge out of his pocket and popped it into the system. The game was titled Conker's Bad Fur Day. What a game to start with, huh? It was just mesmerizing, the stuff this game had. Urination, vomit, projectile defecation, profanity, blood, gore. I wasn't even traumatized by it. I thought it was funny as hell. My dad disapproved, of course, but after talking to my brother and I about the difference between fantasy and reality, he was more accepting of M-rated games.
From the end of elementary school onward, I exposure to video games greatly increased. I discovered the internet, my dad won a Playstation 2 in a contest (at least, that's what he tells me), everything was just dandy. Then, in 7th grade, I overheard some classmates talking about this upcoming games called Halo 2, where, and get this, this'll blow your mind: You can play with other people... all over the world. This was something even my dad was amazed at (again, tech geek). So, that following Christmas, we got an Xbox, Dad hooked us up with Xbox Live, and we were ready to take on the world.
The online community was fantastic. There were no try-hards, no trolls, just people who wanted to have fun. And at the end of every match... Every. Single. Match... we would all say "Good game" to each other. None of us knew each other, but we were all friends. We were all a community...
What in the world happened?
Seriously, what happened? Were people beginning to take these games seriously? Were children who don't know better getting their hands on Xbox Live? Was it all these things and more? Why did something so beautiful have to turn to crap? Why?
I tried to deal with it. I really did. But there was one Halo 2 match that changed all that. It was on Coagulation. I was on the Blue team. I was team-killed in the first ten seconds. I was team killed the entire game. When I asked what the deal was, all I got was "Shut the fuck up, n*****." "Go die, you n*****."
N*****, n***** n*****... The entire game.
I'm white. You know why they called me 'n*****?' It was because I had the word 'black' in my Gamertag. But what was the full Gamertag? Black Dynamite? Black Weed-smoker? Black Dingaling?
Nope. It was "Black Sabbath1." Black Sabbath. The all-white heavy metal band.
I gave up online gaming right then and there. My brother still does it, but not me. I told myself it would only get worse. And judging by all the YouTube videos I see getting featured on gaming websites, I was right. To this day, the only multiplayer modes I put up with are local multiplayer and online co-op with people I know. And it's worked out pretty well so far.
As if that slap in the face by reality wasn't enough, it decided to kick me in the nuts in my junior year of high school. My older brother, Kevin, had graduated, and has now left for college. I depended on him to get anywhere socially, to get people to recognize me. When he left, I literally felt like I lost the most important thing in my life forever. I felt so lonely. And the fact people would now only talk to me to ask how my brother was doing didn't help. In high school, I was never my own person. I was 'Kevin's little brother.' I thought the silver lining in Kevin being in college would be that people would begin to see me for who I really am. I could not have been more mistaken.
So how did I deal with this? Videogames of course. But now, I wasn't playing them to see what new adventures await me. I was doing it to get away from reality. I hated it. I wanted it to go away. I wanted Kevin to come home. I wanted things to stay the way they were, because again, I have great difficulty adjusting to change. And this was just too much to handle. Videogames stopped being fun to play. They became time-wasters, making the wait for Kevin to come home at the end of each semester feel less unbearable.
I remember reading some quote online that read something along the lines of "The only thing worse than feeling lonely is enjoying it." Well that's exactly what happened. I got used to it. I began enjoying the solitude. I created my own silver lining to my dilemma. I told myself, "Look dude. Those guys you see every day in high school? After you graduate, you're gonna be commuting to university. You are never gonna see these assholes again." And it worked. I felt better, knowing what the future had in store for me.
I am beginning my fourth year in university, majoring in Computer Game Design (That's right, bitches! It's a thing now!). And I know exactly what I want to do. I want to make music for video games. I want to create a legacy like that of Grant Kirkhope, my idol in game music composition. I want people to use my music for Garry's Mod videos and have people comment on them like "Oh, you used music from [insert game title]. Awesome!" That is what I want to do. I have been writing music for a couple of years now, and all my peers who I have shown my stuff to have been greatly impressed. I cannot wait to do this as a profession.
Looking at pieces of my life individually, it may seem rough, but in the grand scheme of things, I'm thankful that it all happened the way they did. I may not be where I am now, were it not for all my life events.
Videogames are my past, present, and future. And I regret nothing.