According to Hiroko Tabuchi from The New York Times, Sony is in the fight for it's life. The company is bleeding money and is struggling to find success in certain templates of the market especially the mobile phone and television markets. Whilst the gaming department of the Japanese giant is steady, there is concern that stern investments are not seeing handsome returns and as common sense will tell you, a business can only breathe so long before life support is turned off.
The recently released Playstation Vita has hardly set the world alight in it's success, despite being a technically efficient piece of hardware with a lot of potential, it seems a lot of targeted consumers would rather spend their portable gaming experience on Vita's rival the Nintendo 3DS or simply though their own mobile phones. The Vita's big brother, Playstation 3, has seen better success although it faces stern competition from the Xbox 360 especially in the western market. Sony are no longer the dominant force it once was and no fanboy flag waving should convince you otherwise.
Sony CEO Kaz Hirai has a major job on his hands and it will very interesting to see which direction the successor to Playstation 3 goes, especially given the constant rumours of the competition's next generation entry and the demands for a new console getting louder by the week within the core gaming community. It is imperative Sony learn from it's mistakes, the PS3 launch was stabbed with constant problems and the company from a marketing perspective did itself no favours at all with a very high price point, patronising the competition which has now bit them on the backside and showing ridiculous arrogance only matched by a small percentage of their fanbase.
The next entry in the Playstation platform needs to get back to basics, something the original Playstation did so well and saw great success. Here is a list of ideas I would like Sony to attempt for the inevitable next generation release.
As mentioned previously, Sony showed a high volume of ridiculous arrogance whilst promoting the Playstation 3, it didn't work as they hoped so a much more straight to the point approach I feel would work better. Instead of patronising the competition with childish, uninformative PR garbage such as "Xbox 1.5" and "Get two jobs" Sony would be much better off showing the potential consumer why they should invest in their machine by actually showing realistic real time gameplay, an approachable price point and sticking to what a console does best ...play games. Drop the codename routine also, "Emotion Engine" and "Cell" need to go, forget the hyperbole in which people could be fooled into thinking the machine is capable of much more than the reality. Keep it simple and effective. Focus on what gamers actually want, to play great games at a good price point.
Xbox Live has been a massive success for Microsoft and all that revenue is something Sony have possibly lost out on. While I admire the stance of keeping online gaming free, there is a feeling amongst many multiplatform gamers they much prefer Live due to it's design and features even if they have to pay a subscription fee. One thing that has to be improved is the feeling of convenience on Sony's network, fanboys especially will tell you the only difference between the two services is cross game chat which is not true, ask someone who takes this stance to send one of their friends a voice message and see how they get on. Xbox Live has a better sense of convenience all around from its design to its features and Sony has to take a serious look at it's online infrastructure with perhaps offering a very viable alternative at a cheaper subscription price with PSN+ an added bonus.
3. Developer Relations
The infamous Playstation 3 dev kit, a piece of equipment found more useful as a paperweight rather than a tool to create games on upon arrival at some developers. This is a simple strategy going forward, Sony needs to provide better tools to developers for their next machine. Building relationships with publishers and developers is a vital element towards success and will not be helped by providing almost alien like toolsets to work on. Sony would benefit by building and collating feedback with the most respected creators in the industry on what they would require going forward into the next generation, kits that would not confuse but provide a strong template to deliver high quality games.
So there you have it, three ideas for Sony to perhaps consider taking forward as we approach a new era of consoles. Do Sony fans agree or disagree and what would you like to see them do to improve upon this generation? Thanks for reading.
So Mass Effect 3 has arrived and despite a successful critical reception, all hell broke loose within the fanbase regarding the ending but enough has been said about that matter and I'm sure even more discussions and debates will pursue once the "Extended Cut" arrives. So what about the other much talked about topic regarding the series? Multiplayer....
Many negative views were expressed once EA/Bioware finally confirmed the inclusion of multiplayer into what was previously regarded as a personal single player only experience, with the main worries being development time and resources spent on a mode that was not required and it would be a tacked on element in a attempt to get more sales with the conclusion being the single player experience would suffer.
Personally I believe Mass Effect 3 to be a terrific game despite an underwhelming finish to a mostly well written and designed intellectual property. Mass Effect multiplayer is one of the most pleasant surprises I've experienced this generation, the combat is solid, the difficulty ensures satisfaction should you complete a mission and the maps in general are well laid out and crafted.
The positives outweigh the negatives and what gameplay negatives there are could be fixed in future DLC and patches. One negative that does stand out is not entirely down to the developer bur rather the gamer itself. From many hours with the game, I have come to the conclusion that to get the best experience possible, it is highly recommended you try and get together with friends rather than play with random people. Due to certain design decisions for Mass Effect 3, playing with random folk can at times be a very tedious and irritating experience.
Bioware decided to give the player customization options within a game lobby aswell as the main multiplayer menu itself, whilst most games throw the player into a match as quickly as possible without
the option to customize in a ready to play lobby, Bioware decided to give the player both options and this has its downsides. I have never experienced a multiplayer game with so many people playing yet taking so long to get started. Almost every match with random people has at least one person keeping people waiting rather than doing the simple thing and getting the match started, which was why the said person entered the quick match or create match path in the first place no? There has even been some suggestions on various forums and social networks that such the reaction from strangers sending messages in anger to those delaying the match, that more people should keep doing it as the reactions they get are amusing to them. Personally I believe it's bad manners keeping people waiting like that, I don't like it as it becomes tedious after a while so I certainly would not do it to others.
Overall, it is my opinion that the multiplayer in Mass Effect 3 has been a success and I look forward to future entries in the series included it and seeing what can be improved on. Do fellow fans of the series feel the same?
LucasArts forms a deal with Electronic Arts/DICE to develop a fully functional third person action shooter set in the Star Wars universe with a firm focus on online multiplayer.
The Plan: To deliver a true successor in the Battlefront franchise which has seen massive success in the past but has yet to see a fully fledged third entry on home consoles and PC. Designed to be an early launch title for Next Generation consoles, Battlefront Online will be the first of many titles using an
upgraded version of the Frostbite engine, which has given impressive results in titles such as Battlefield 3 and it will also present DICE a chance to show off their skills in the third person action department rather
than the normal first person which has been presented in titles from the developer in the past.
The Execution: Battlefront Online will present the opportunity for up to 30 players per match to take part in various modes such as Zones, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture The Flag. Fully grounded planet battles spreading out into space via various ships and vehicles will be on offer for the player. Experience points will be awarded enabling the chance to level up and upgrade to various weapons and classes based on characters in the Star Wars mythology.
When I look back at the past few years of this generation there has been more high's than lows, the high's have seen the likes of Mass Effect and Uncharted breathe life while the lows have consisted of having a scalding hot screwdriver rammed violently into the rectum...oh sorry I meant actually downloading and experiencing the Vampire Rain demo (for those who managed the full retail version you have my sympathy).
One low that constantly springs to mind is LucasArts, a developer/publisher that at one time brought sheer brilliance to our gaming needs and now leaves you feeling like you have been forced to tickle a crocodiles teeth with your penis. A company that has seen job losses thanks to the result of poor strategy at the top, LucasArts is currently a strange place to understand - they have simply failed to deliver a solid, in demand portfolio this generation which could of saved employment and brought enjoyment to many gamers.
One title that seems to be unsure if it's a ghost or a dream is Star Wars: Battlefront 3, a game that was once under the knife at Free Radical UK (Now Crytek) then cancelled many years ago and as it stands, has yet to say hello since. Battlefront , believe it or not, is one of the most talked about games on social applications like Twitter/Facebook and gaming forums, with many feeling frustrated we have yet to see another entry especially given the fact online gaming is more popular than ever before - it seemed a natural fit- a massive franchise with two successful entries in a series that has sold millions of copies - nope no third entry with better online infrastructures to support it. Strange.
What else has LucasArts done during this generation? We have the medicore Fracture, the shit in a shoebox that is Star Wars: The Clone Wars Republic Heroes, The Force Unleashed had promised something special given refinement and improvements in a sequel but sadly that sequel – The Force Unleashed II was a game that screamed half hearted hoping for a quick cash in resulting in stinging criticism from the gaming media which resulted in below target sales. To round off the portfolio we have an array of Lego based games in the Indiana Jones and Star Wars mythologies which to be fair have in general received good feedback from critics and gamers alike alongside a fairly respectable flow of sales. The download strategy has seen an excellent HD upgrade given to the classic Monkey Island series alongside a lukewarm response to the 2D puzzle adventure Lucidity which was deemed unsuccessful in terms of sales and critical reception.
The Old Republic has been deemed a success to many but any positives they have provided so far should of been the icing on the cake. LucasArts have failed to listen to what a lot of gaming public actually want and are willing to pay for. With such an array of potential to offer on current systems it seems the top guys at LucasArts seem more interested in telling people what they should want and get by financially. Not good enough.
If they are around next generation I hope they do a hell of a lot better.....
P.S If you are to release another Battlefront game don't make it handheld exclusive for fuck sake.
Many people love Podtoid, it has surged into one of the most listened to gaming podcasts of current times, gamers across the world wait in anticipation each week for the next episode with some having a strict routine during their "Session with Podtoid". Fans have declared some of the routines with pride, many include sitting on a horse covered in bees wax, having bottles of talc poured constantly on their anus by a loved one or friend or maid, sitting in the corner of an apartment block elevator with no clothes on and even camping outside Willem Dafoe's second cousin's house in Appleton dressed as Chinchillas. Yes! Podtoid has brought out the weird and wonderful out for a lot of truly amazing gamers during the two hour plus recordings by Jim Sterling, Jonathan Holmes and company.
"I love it, hearing that British guy Sterling declaring his intent to piss into the other guys mouth is like reading a script by the Farrelly Brothers for the first time" - Randy Quaid - WCWP Radio Interview January 2012
Having done extremely determined research over a period of five weeks, it is clear there is a robust library of love for Podtoid and it's unlikely to stop for the foreseeable future although during that research there was suggestions for what some of the listenship would like to be implemented in future episodes of the show, so here they are:
1. A show dedicated to Jonathan Holmes' laugh
A few people suggested this, some kept their reasons private whilst others admitted it could possibly be a free alternative to help return sexual arousal. An entire two hours worth of the handsome Jonathan Holmes' lingering chuckle similar to the one heard after a filthy remark made by either Jim or Max with no talking or music or breaking wind of any kind although one Podtoider suggested the famous "Whaatt?" Holmes declares to be used every few minutes just to add further pleasurable listening.
"A cigar, my cock and Podtoid, all I need to end the day"Dirk Benedict - ATeamOnline.net Interview - December 2011
2. Back after this short break
A surprising idea, some listeners suggested ad breaks to be placed into the show. Some podcasts of various subjects do have these but whilst they give information on either the latest toaster or charity the feedback here suggested adverts designed to fall into the humour of Podtoid created by either Jim Sterling and the team or the Destructoid community. A loyal listener from Fiji who wished not to be named declared " How about adverts each week, could be Jim Sterling advertising throat sweets made from Penguin feces or a fan created ad selling cheap spare game boxes made from the mucas of an Algerian goat, if Lazlow can do it for GTA then Sterling and co can do it for Podtoid".
"Have no fucking clue why they would mention me"Danny DeVito - November 2011
3. A Live Show
The most requested addition to Podtoid is a live show with a varied audience and location. Some have suggested the show could take place in the autonomous country of GreenLand in front of an audience of penguins dressed as Zelda, another idea was hiring the men's toilet facilities at the yearly E3 expo without restricting access allowing non members of the audience to urinate or take a tremendous shit for a chance to let it be heard live on air. It was not suggested prizes should be given for this. The most popular choice by far was using the employment of Jonathan Holmes for a live show with the audience members consisting of regular gamers and mental patients alike.
4. Competition Time
The heart warming community of Destructoid like to send the Podtoid team gifts varying from steel tables to penis's made from Super Nintendo game cartridges. Whilst the kindness is appreciated and declared so via the show, maybe it is time to offer the community something back...yes alongside the two hour entertainment you get each week. Prizes could vary from a tub of Jim Sterling's jizz scattered with blueberries, a signed photograph of Max's nipples, a Jonathan Holmes urine sample and or even a personalised Tara Long voice message.
Podtoid is a remarkable show, I'm sure many agree, so long may it continue for years to come whatever the discussion.
In the build up to E3, I had not taken much notice of Sony's next generation handheld, having became disatisfied with the original PSP and it's line up of ports especially, I was weary of what Sony would do to improve it's handheld strategy. When Vita was first shown to the press, with the codename NGP, the first thing I thought of was not the gorgeous screen or improved control functions, it was the hope that we would see games created especially for the format, not just a avalanche of ports, games created and exclusive to that platform. With E3 giving us the news of the final price for the device (a great price point it has to be said given it's capabilities) now is the chance to really invest in games from first party and third party, give people a reason to invest and spend time with the machine rather than just show off how sexy it looks.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a step in the right direction, along with a new Little Big Planet and Wipeout 2048, all exclusive and contain content that can only be played on the PS Vita platform. Sony has shown they will support the machine with their talented development teams but what about third party? Would it be difficult to get well respected developers/publishers to create original content to Vita without simply porting console versions with a small number of additional content? Having thought about the possibility of third party creating exclusive games, here is five ideas I think would help Sony gain advantage in the market and help define their goal of being the handheld to go to if you want exclusive core gaming enjoyment.
1. Bioware - Exclusive Mass Effect Spin Off
The Mass Effect series is well regarded in the gaming world, one of my personal favourite franchises of all time. The Vita with it's graphical capabilities would be able to screen the unique universe Bioware has created in style and with a high volume fanbase, a exclusive spin off would surely attract a large percentage of it. Templates for the spin off could include a RTS that is offline and online orientated with Vita's touch controls coming into play should you wish to use them. Other ideas could be a more traditional RPG affair following the adventures of Captain Anderson, possibly focusing on the events leading up to his feud with the dreaded Saren.
2. Rockstar - Grand Theft Auto
Yes this is predictable but we all know the Grand Theft Auto franchise is one of the biggest in the gaming world and a Vita exclusive title would be more beneficial to the platform than do any harm. As we wait on news of a follow up to the excellent Grand Theft Auto IV, it would be easy to port any new entry into the series onto Vita and use some sort of streaming or bonus content between both PS3 and the handheld. No, a totally exclusive experience including a large open world, full multiplayer like the console and PC versions would be much more enticing. Rockstar has the talent and the teams capable of achieving this, I wouldn't be surprised if next year's E3 gave us some sort of announcement.
3. 2D "Beat em Ups" With Style
Being a traditional old school gamer I still think fondly about games such as Final Fight, Streets of Rage and the cult classic Batman Returns on SNES. With the outstanding Batman Arkham Asylum and the sequel Arkham City promising to improve on an already original template of brilliance, there is an idea here to bring back beat em ups in traditional 2D with iconic figures such as Batman. Although not a beat em up, games such as OutLand on Xbox Live Arcade/Playstation Network have proven there is talent in creating beautiful artistic graphics and flowing gameplay. Batman is a character who is known to lurk in the shadows pursuing his prey then proceeding to knock shit out of them when the time is right, Batman Returns SNES showed a beat em up in the Bob Kane mythology can be done without having to be a stealth warrior and still be enjoyable. With the capabilities of Vita, I feel a beat em up, done right of course with excellent visuals alongside flowing animations and gameplay, would be a terrific addition to a exclusive line up. A game in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe would not go amiss either, at least something to make up for the very disappointing Turtles in Time ReShelled.
A current gen project was cancelled which left many who were hoping for a true successor very disappointed. Road Rash has potential, with today's graphical engine's it is very surprising a franchise with such a following and fond remembrance cannot be achieved in this modern day. Done correctly, Road Rash has the sort of panache that would match the sales and stature of the Need for Speed franchise, so it is quite puzzling to see developers struggle to get something with such a basic template done right. With confidence I can say a Vita rebirth would please those who felt let down and bring in new players who did not have the chance to experience the fun first time around.
5. Call of Duty
Yes, I know predictable again but the truth is this franchise sells...sells incredibly well. I am not a fan of the franchise, I'm not even a big First Person Shooter fan, in fact it is safe to say I am probably amongst a small percentage that wont be purchasing Modern Warfare 3 or have any strong interest in it and get slightly annoyed when I see games that are in my opinion, a much better experience not even sell a fraction of what this series makes. I have mentioned it because I feel it's a chance for Activision to secure the handheld market in sales aswell as the console market, Sony have the system to achieve it and Activision has the money to invest into it. No ports, an exclusive Call of Duty title made specifically for Vita would no doubt give Sony a massive advantage over Nintendo and perhaps tempt many who are used to playing the action shooter on console and PC. More sales of the hardware could result in more developers taking that plunge and releasing exclusive big name franchises onto the platform.
Sony has done well with Vita so far, an excellent price point for launch, some stunning looking games and a new positive outlook for many in the handheld area. The machine has bags of potential and I for one, would like to see it become a success, not a underwhelming experience like the original. Thanks for reading.