June 24, 2013

E3 2013 Aftermath

Hello everyone.  What an E3, huh?  I waited for the dust to settle a bit before I posted this ‘cos I literally didn’t have a lot of time.  Thought I was gonna do more, but I just decided to lump it all into this “aftermath” post.  I wanna talk about the state of the industry now that we know more about XBONE & PS4, then I wanna talk about Nintendo’s showing and the Best Buy Nintendo Experience I “experienced” this last Saturday.


My “state of the industry” post last time was a bit long-winded, so I’ll try to keep this part shorter.  WOW, Sony impressed everyone with PS4…even me.  Mainly ‘cos Microsoft set up the easy “win” and basically handed it to Sony by sticking with the crappy XBONE DRM policies.  Sadly, as was predicted, some select people (or should I say, future communist slaves) are actually excited to be XBONED due to all the great exclusive’s...but for rational level-headed people, it was not impressive at all.

Most of the games at Microsoft’s pre-E3 showing were also coming to other platforms and didn’t look that much better than current generation games.  Yeah, Halo is exclusive, but I really think that franchise isn’t as influential as it once was…basically only with XBOT’s who have to have everything Halo regardless that the last ones were very lacking (due mainly to no Bungie involvement).  One exclusive to XBONE got me kinda excited; Killer Instinct.  I’m a huge KI fan so when I saw that it was coming I was both excited that it was coming, but saddened that was an XBONE exclusive…until I saw it in action and read more about it.  Microsoft has destroyed the franchise and RARE as a whole, the character designs were ruined and the pay-for-character model relegates this game to Perfect Dark Zero territory...I actually pity RARE now  No other exclusives were worth anyone giving up their rights to own what they pay for…no way no how.  And the Microsoft conference itself was sad at points complete with booing and someone even saying “XBOX sucks” at one point.  Microsoft shutting off most one-on-one interviews and spending money to pay shills and marketers to hype XBONE all over the net is despicable…they’re going to continue to buy their “success” with XBONE, but I have to stop myself here ‘cos otherwise this post will be too long.

Next-gen (XBONE & PS4) itself didn’t look that good visually so if the industry is gonna try to rely on the HDx2 to mean anything, they’re going to be disappointed with the results, diminishing returns and all.

With PS4, I think Sony did a lot of things right.  I’ll address some negatives first though, to show how even when there’s negatives, Sony turned them around, unlike Microsoft.  Negative #1 was that PS4 won’t be natively backwards compatible with past PlayStation systems, but we already knew about that before E3 and they mentioned that they’re working on getting that working somehow through streaming…which is more than what I can say about the XBONE.  Negative #2 was that they are now introducing a paywall to play online multiplayer on PS4, but they snuck it in so craftily in the middle of people still cheering for their pro used games policies.  It was to be expected…and they are giving you a lot with PS+, but it’s still sort of a negative, but not so bad since XBONE will make you pay for XBL too.  Negative #3 was that there were a couple of hiccups with the on stage demos, but again , they actually transitioned out of those moments smoothly enough that it wasn’t too negative…especially compared to Microsoft’s on stage performance.

Even with all those minor negatives though, Sony had too many positives to ignore…so maybe there’s a little hope for the game industry with PS4.  Compared to the XBONE, it’s more powerful, yet smaller & cheaper, it’s more about games and indie developers and it has that Destiny game (which was the only “next-gen” game to me) which not only trumps all of XBONE’s exclusives, but is also made by former Halo creators (Bungie) and makes what Halo is today even more irrelevant.  Sony really stuck it to Microsoft at this E3 by seemingly going after the XBOX 360 audience and learning from some of the mistakes of the PS3!  I thought for sure Sony would follow Microsoft on those anti-consumer DRM policies in one way or another in an effort to appease the rest of the industry that obviously wants it…but they didn’t.


I have to hijack this post now with newer information as, again, I’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to keep up with my blog and I wrote all of the above before Microsoft decided to do a 180 on us and change their minds about the XBONE’s DRM policies.  So for the rest of this post I’ll be taking that into consideration.  I really want to point out though that I still despise Microsoft even though they changed their minds about this situation in light of PS4 getting all the positive feedback during E3.  What I see now though is that Microsoft can wait ‘til they “have the gamers” and then change their minds again on a whim and reinstate these policies.  In fact, Sony could too since they’re “leaving it up to publishers” to decide for themselves about their own DRM.

I don’t really think you could trust this next generation of consoles really…but that goes double for Microsoft with the XBONE.  So, I still see the state of the industry in a bad situation when these things are still not really settled and our rights to actually own what we pay for are still in question.  But that’s the way the world is headed, no matter how anti-consumer it is.  I really am just trying to point out that if you support these policies (or the companies that purvey them) then you get what you deserve.  I imagine that the “game industry” see’s now that it can’t force this DRM the way they want, so they’ll ease it in as this next generation progresses until BAM, Generation 9 will be digital only and have no disc support at all.  We’re already forgoing backwards compatibility like it’s no big deal, when actually it IS a big deal.  That together with all the talk of “the cloud” and all that, a digital only console is probably the only way the industry see’s that they can force DRM now that consumers cry out against what they attempted with the XBONE.

So while, coming out of E3 with PS4’s hype and now XBONE becoming the XBOX 180, the industry appears to be heading in the right direction.  I think it’s more of a delay of the inevitable, though, so its state is still in peril and still on the brink of another crash.  There’s so much more to say against Microsoft’s 3RD XBOX, but I’ll leave that for my “3RD Console Curse” post I’m cooking up.


Now, onto Nintendo…after they announced they weren’t going to have a traditional E3 pre-show press conference I kinda downgraded my hopes a little to avoid disappointment.  What I am disappointed in is the lack of journalistic integrity because of this coupled with all the Nintendoomed articles leading up to E3 this year.  It gets worse with them by the day.  Before the Wii launched some journalists went on a “Nintendo should go 3RD party crusade” no matter how much nonsense that was, they were quickly silenced by how amazingly well the Wii sold, so they seemingly went into hiding on this crusade, or should I say, they just delayed the crusade for the Wii U since it’s not selling out like the Wii did.  So the: “Nintendo should bring their franchises to other platforms” nonsense is back again in full force even though they showed off some great games again this year.  I’m going to say it’s intentional.  Yes, a conspiracy by the industry against Nintendo…call me crazy, but I’ll be posting more about that in another post someday showing that no matter what Nintendo does, they’re doomed, even when they’re not.

I’m kinda glad Nintendo did Nintendo Directs’ this year instead of a traditional showing ‘cos it allows Nintendo to directly talk to potential consumers rather than have it ground up and spit out by the game industry “journalists” who were kinda “cut out” of the mix doing it this way.  It’s like when Nintendo started doing the “Iwata Asks” to ask good questions of game makers instead of garbage that normal game journalists would say like: “Casual, casual, casual, core gamer…you can’t survive without 3RD parties so when are you making games for iOS?” which is way more informative then the typical negative and ignorant drivel most of the industry spews about Nintendo.

Urghhh…well, back to Nintendo’s E3 2013 showing.  I think Nintendo knew they were going to be overshadowed by Sony/MS since they are showing off new hardware this year, but even still, I think they had plenty for the Nintendo-only gamer like me!  I’m just gonna post a bunch of trailers in case you haven’t seen…

The Monolift Soft game “X” and Bayonetta 2 from Platinum games *really* impressed me and Mega Man in the new Smash Bros. is all big news for Nintendo, so yeah, I’m happy.  Since I posted a bunch of trailers, there’s not much else that needs to be said except that I’m REALLY happy how the Nintendo Experience went at the Best Buy in Fairborn, Ohio…it was fun, the games were great, the people were all nice (especially the Nintendo representative Don (or was it Dan) and a girl there that was nice enough to let me have the “Year Of Luigi” coin she earned…THANKS AMY!!!) and all the free swag was awesome, check out this video I made and see…

Thanks for reading and stay tuned to my blog in the coming weeks for my “3RD Console Curse” and “Nintendoomed” posts, as well as other non-Nintendo related posts and pages I’ll be updating!

June 10, 2013

The State Of The "Game Industry" Going Into E3 2013

Yup, not that I’m doing a prediction post or anything, I’d just like to talk about the state of the "game industry” going into this year’s E3.  I’m only for Nintendo, but I still like to see what the competition is doing since I work in video games and it’s good to know these things

Before I begin, I’m not under the blanket label of what most people in the “industry” (the console makers, the publishers, developers, retailers & gaming journalists) or even those outside the industry (mainstream media and gamers themselves) call either a casual or hardcore gamer.  I don’t like labels to begin with but those two are particularly stupid as it does nothing to define the person or define the types of games they like.  Those lame terms were made up and spewed about the industry as a way to excuse away the success of the Wii with expanding the market, a market that the industry itself was shrinking.  That’s a whole other topic altogether, the point is, most people like to simply label things with easy defining names so that they can name it, excuse it away and then move on, like as if to ignore it altogether.

If you play games, you’re a “gamer” but ultimately, we have opinions, preferences, biases and due to that: agenda’s.  Mine would defiantly be a skewed towards Nintendo, sure, but that doesn’t make me a “casual” gamer any more than if a person preferred Sony/Microsoft consoles being “hardcore” gamers.  Most people really make a lot of assumptions based on those labels and that’s really ignorant.  Not all hardcore gamers like shooters ‘cos you know what…there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all hardcore gamer.  Likewise, not all casual gamers play cellphone games…they don’t ‘cos there’s literally no such thing as a casual gamer.  What’s a casual game…Tetris?  Well I know several people who play that game pretty hardcore.  What’s a hardcore game…Call Of Duty?  Well I personally play that game casually, as in lightly from time to time.

I’m getting off topic here as I’m trying to talk about the state of the industry going into E3.  The industry pandering to the broken ideas of casual vs hardcore is just one of the many problems with the state it’s in.  If you want to read more about this I’ll make more posts about it later, in the mean time I’ll put a link at the bottom of this post to Sean Malstrom’s blog as he’s written extensively on that and many other worthwhile topics about video games and such.  Anyways, the industry’s current state is not very good.  Of course gamers take direct offence to that ‘cos they see how much time/money they spend on their hobby and they think: “How in the hell could the industry be hurting?”

Well it is, BADLY…the numbers don’t lie…year on year everything is down across the board.  Do the research yourself.  In this last generation we’ve seen huge mergers of former rivals to weather the storms, tons of layoff’s and whole development studios shut down, smaller publishers either falling off the map or getting gobbled up by bigger ones, even large publishers being dismantled, console manufacturer’s going for behemoth hardware sold at huge losses that they’re only just now making their money back on, a prolonged hardware cycle to help ease the pain of those losses, after the highs of the previous generation gaming journalism had their own TV station, big publications like EGM & Nintendo Power magazines…now, that’s all gone and they’re relegated to low-budget web vlog’s, even GameStop who was arguably making the most off this last generation is considering closing stores, publishers trying to cash in on the “casual” fallacy losing their asses in the end ‘cos that bubble burst a while ago yet they still talk about it like it’s still okay, rising development costs that go for the chasing Hollywood AAA business models when actually one game could make or break your whole company, etc.  On and on the list goes and yes, there’s been good games and success stories, but overall the industry is hurting.

Nintendo foresaw this decline, that’s why they made the Wii (codenamed Revolution for a reason) to fight disinterred, to keep development budgets under control, costs down and to ultimatly expand the market beyond the declining state it was in…but the industry shunned it despite it selling out for 3 years straight ‘cos they had invested so much on the HD generation (PS3 & XBOX 360) that they couldn’t switch gears and catch the next big thing.  So, since they missed it, they’re going to act like it didn’t matter, mislabel it as some casual fad and ignore it even to their detriment.  They left money on the table!  They used the quick careless cash-ins they made on Wii games to fund their huge HD projects on other systems.  Even Nintendo fell for the self-fulfilling prophecy the industry was spewing about the Wii and stopped thinking disruptively (which is how the Wii had done so well, ‘cos it was going against the industry’s ideals) and started thinking like everyone else by making “hardcore” and/or industry-like games.

The industry is in bad shape, you can try to excuses that away with: “Oh it’s a shift in generations, of course things are low now!” or even: “No, everything is fine, you’re exaggerating the problems…these companies make millions of dollars!” but that’s the perceived notion that everyone wants you to think.  The economy is nowhere close to as good as it was when this last generation started, so even if everything were normal it would still have to be lower due to the macroeconomics going on in the world today.

What does this have to do with going into E3?  Plenty, even E3 has been in decline in recent years, but besides that, what we’ve heard about the next generation of consoles is the ugly reality of the state the industry is in.  People were SHOCKED when all the negative rumors came true about the strict DRM policies that the next XBOX would have.  Yes I was surprised, but at the same time, since I have a grasp on what’s going on in the industry and not just listening to the byline of: “Millions of dollars, everything is okay!” I saw it coming.  THIS is my proof that the industry is peril.  Why would an industry who thrived in generations past despite with used games suddenly want to eliminate them…hell it’s beyond used games, you can’t even rent them at all or even lend them out to friends without jumping through fire hoops.  This industry has been moving towards things like this for a while.  Things like what?  Not actually owning what you pay for!  Hell, lump in other entertainment industries like music & movies or even other capitalist things like land, homes & cars.

Before I go on another tangent…look at all the industry buzzwords recently.  Streaming, digital distribution, DLC, “the cloud”, DRM, licenses.  I hate buzzwords as much as I hate labels, but these aren’t just buzzwords to try to promise something they won’t deliver on, it’s something they plan on delivering upon!  We buy it, but we don’t actually own it!  That’s right, that’s what it’s all about.  That’s their way of cutting costs, not reevaluating their management styles and/or keeping development costs low in a time of economic depression…hell no, let’s go all digital and “into the cloud” so that we can save money while screwing over the physical media partners, the packaging and distribution channels, the retailers and the consumers who put us where we are today.  “It’s because they’re greedy!” yes, but it’s also ‘cos they’re hurting so much that they want to survive so they’re trying to cut costs any way they can.  Look at instruction booklets nowadays, it's not just about "going green", it's about saving greenbacks.  Eliminating used games is one step closer to that.

I am in no way defending Microsoft here, but really…it’s not like they did this by themselves, they obviously had publisher support for these decisions as it’s the industry as a whole themselves that want this.  And while Sony isn’t enforcing these policies like Microsoft is, they’re “leaving it up to publishers” to do it too…so Sony is no hero here either, I foresee them ultimately doing the same.  Another thing that shows the industry is hurting is that they deliberately made their next-gen systems non-backwards compatible with both physical & digital games so that all that money goes to next-gen games instead.  What’s funny is, Nintendo seems to be doing the opposite of all this which could be why the industry has been dismissing it, ‘cos they won’t conform to the norm.

Now since I work in a retro game shop people are going to say: “Bla bla bla, your time is up you’re just resisting the inevitable in an effort to make yourself feel safer in your job!” and while it could hurt our business, most of our business isn’t even current or next-gen games which I think is due to declining interest in them.  This only amplifies why things like retro gaming are seeing resurgence…’cos retro gaming is still better than modern gaming in many consumers’ eyes.

Now, back to E3, I imagine that even with all the whining about DRM, some people (the self-proclaimed hardcore) will happily bend over to be XBONED…which is really sad considering how anti-consumer it is.  These will be the early adopters lining up to be XBONED on launch day, but hopefully there’s not too many that justify their ownership rights being lost for the sake of *slightly* better graphics or else there’s literally no hope for humanity.

I said I'd be updating this posts with pics/links, but I had no time so I'm just gonna put a link in for Sean Malstrom's blog at the bottom.  Thanks for reading and happy E3 before the impending 2ND video game market crash!

Malstrom's Articles News

June 08, 2013

Nintendo E3 2013 Preview

I guess this is my way of doing a “preview” for Nintendo’s E3 2013 showing.  I had to stop myself from saying Nintendo’s “pre-show” since Nintendo is not having a live pre-show this year.  Some would say that’s a sign of weakness, or Nintendo’s lack of relevance in the “gaming industry” or blab bla bla, but I think it’s just that E3 and the “gaming industry” as a whole that are becoming less and less relevant.  Not that I want to go on a tangent about the impending video game “crash” as this post is about Nintendo’s E3 2013, but I’ll probably make posts about that later.  While partly, I’m sad there won’t be a big live traditional E3 pre-show event for Nintendo this year I understand completely why they’ve decided to do their own thing (Nintendo Direct) instead.

The “industry” at large has it in for Nintendo, so I think it’s best for Nintendo to play by their own rules here, especially when the other two hardware competitors will likely have huge over-the-top press and presentations for their next consoles…so, it’s just best to stay out of that aspect of it.  Nintendo doing their own thing this year means they won’t have to worry about gaming industry “journalists” pissing on their parades as much.  The Nintendo Directs are usually pretty good and I’ve heard there will be a “main” one hour one probably in place of a live pre-show with other smaller Nintendo Directs throughout the rest of E3.

Plus many Best Buys will be holding “Nintendo Experiences” events during E3 complete with Luigi “swag” and playable demos of Wii U titles that will release in the future.  I’m hoping to be able to get off work and go to the Fairfield, Ohio Best Buy this coming Saturday to do this, but I have to line up a ride since busses don’t go through Beavercreek.

As far as Nintendo’s E3 games itself, hrmmm…I used to theorize about how Nintendo would do their pre-show every year and was brainstorming about this one up and until they announced they were not doing one this year.  But I’ll continue to theorize here in this post.  Before they said they weren’t doing a live pre-show I imagine they’d have a big show to “compete” with their competitors next consoles and they’d be all about games.  I “dreamed” that they’d have 10 big games and the idea of how they’d be announced was that each one would be numbered like say:
1) Some new franchise
2) Bayonetta 2
3) Pikmin 3
4) Super Smash Bros. Free 4 All
5) GTA V
6) Resident Evil (5 and) 6 Wii U Edition
7) Final Fantasy 7 remake
8) Mario Kart 8
9) ???
10) “X” and or Dragon Quest 10

Yeah, I know, crazy…I guess there’s reasons as to why I thought these and why they could or couldn’t happen, but I think I’ll be more realistic now.  We’re expecting (or speculating) that the next (3D) Mario, Mario Kart and Smash Bros. will be there as well as some surprises like Retro Studio’s new game so I guess I’ll give some thoughts on those to stay realistic.  I’m hoping the next (3D) Mario would have a 3D over world map connecting tons of 2D levels, basically a mix of both 2D & 3D Mario’s as I think that would sell more Wii U’s.  I like the idea of mixing 2D & 3D together in those franchises that had been in both, but this post isn’t about that…so, more realistically, the next (3D) Mario will probably be “Super Mario Universe” taking it a step above Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 instead.  Mario Kart, I think, needs something new, but I dunno know what Nintendo will do with that...some rumors of adding newcomers from 3RD parties like Sega with Sonic, but who knows?  Retro Studio’s new game is hopefully there, whatever it is.  Part of me would love a Metroid Prime 4 or anything Metroid from them, but if not that then I like the rumor of a Star Tropics revival from them.

The one I’m most excited for (as is most everyone else) is the next Super Smash Bros., but I have worries about what they’re planning too.  To me, they shouldn’t mess with what works, just add MORE.  More content, more Nintendo history, more characters, more items (especially trophies & PokeBalls) more levels, more newcomers from 3RD parties (like Mega Man or Simon Belmont, etc.)…just, more!  Also, improve online play and don’t be afraid of dlc and/or NFC (near field connection) figurine characters as time goes on to keep the game fresh.  That’s what I think most people want, but I’m afraid they’re gonna change the next game too much in part ‘cos of what Sakurai has already said, Namco/Bandai’s Tekken team being involved and that there’s a 3DS version of the game too.  I fear that they may make this traditionally 2D fighter into a 3D fighter like Sakurai did with the multiplayer fighting in the 3DS Kid Icarus game.

Rumors abound as it is E3 season, but there’s two other things I’d like to touch on: 1) Square Enix seems to be holding a conference at the exact same time as Nintendo’s show floor (not the main Nintendo Direct) press event which could mean nothing or they're being Sony shills & 2) everyone thinks this is a make or break thing for Nintendo, but it really isn’t…the state of the “industry”, Nintendo and the Wii U are topics all their own, but I think people are writing Nintendo & Wii U off too much.  While it isn’t and probably won’t ever touch the success of the original Wii, that’s not to say Nintendo is hurting, they could coast on Gamecube-level success and still be okay.

Thanks for reading, E3 starts in a couple days, so we’ll see…
Nintendo Experience @ Best Buy
NeoGAF- Nintendo E3 2013

July 10, 2006

DVD- The Wizard

The Wizard is finally coming to DVD! Not known whther it'll be the theatrical version or the GOODTIMES home video release. It'll be a bare-bones no extra's version remastered in widescreen, but only in stereo...that's okay though, my VHS of it is wearing out. I'll have my fanpage up for it to compensate for the lack of special features. It'll be available 08/22/2006, just in time for Nintendo Wii's launch!


DVD- Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie UNCUT

I saw an ad for this at work and looked it up. Apparently this is the original Japanese version uncut for the first time officially. I already own the movie, but for it suppossedly being uncut, with extras as well as both the Japanese & English tracks, I'll buy it again. Details are a lil' shakey 'cos Manga's official site is so damned jank. It'll be coming out: 07/18/2006, right around the corner.


July 09, 2006

DVD- Voltron: Defender Of The Universe

Voltron is finally coming to DVD! WEP is working with Media Blasters and they will be bringing out the full original (Voltron lion force) series (in 8 15 episode box sets) as well as the uncut Japanese Go Lions series. They're planning on lot's of extras to include with each box set. "V-DAY" will take place by the end of September!


MXC- Yakuza Fight

This is something I put on YouTube myself. I love MXC and I always found this lil' skit funny, especially when Kenny says: "ha ha, that guy's got a sword".


Wii- Super Swing Golf PANGYA

Official Tecmo trailer for Super Swing Golf PANGYA.


Wii- Elebits

Official Konami trailer for Elebits.