Thursday, February 25, 2010

No, No...I Meant the Other M

Wow. Joystiq has posted its impressions of a 45-minute (hands-on) demo of Other M, and I have to say...I AM PSYCHED! Sounds like the game is going to be a good one, though I am a bit surprised that it only uses the Wiimote for control. Is this an attempt to be more "accessible"? Haven't a clue, but the guy who wrote the blog entry clearly walked away impressed.

Speaking of impressed, a lot of news has come out of Nintendo's recent media summit this week, including release dates. Other M comes out June 27, but Cave Story comes out on WiiWare on March 22! Hooray! We also have Dragon Quest IX finally getting a "summer" release window...which is better than nothing.

Now don't hate me, but can I just remain completely indifferent about Super Mario Galaxy 2, which comes out on May 23? I know the first one was awesome. I know, I know, I know. But I never finished it. I got bored. Nintendo has a habit of doing this to me. Phantom Hourglass? Bored. Spirit Tracks? Bored. They keep putting out the same games, and there are simply TOO MANY TO PLAY. So I probably won't get SMG2. But Joystiq has their impressions here. Sure looks purty.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bum Fights, the Game

So I am all for entertainment that walks the line between "good" and "bad" taste, but Bumrise ("Europe's most popular onlinegame [sic]") kinda makes my stomach turn. In this browser MMO, you play as a homeless person, collecting bottles and getting into fights. It's actually kind of clever when you think about it, but the game's worst offense appears to be that it isn't very clever at all. Or, more to the point, isn't very smart. From the site description: "In contrast to other on line games, Bumrise takes an actual social them [sic] as the foundation of the game, combining it with satirical content and humor." Yeah, hilarious. Can you sleep in graveyards to regain health? Or dig through the dumpster behind Dunkin Donuts? Because that might actually be funny. This, on the other hand, is just...I don't know...sad.

(Kind of like the feeling I get when I watch the parade of retards on Tim and Eric's otherwise pretty hilarious Adult Swim show.)

And if video games often provide some form of wish fulfillment, who really wants to play as a bum? The whole thing just feels busted and crappy to me. Or maybe I'm just getting old.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Game Sales Down - So What?

The only Hollywood blog that I follow, The Wrap, posted an interesting story yesterday about the troubled game industry. First off, it is always interesting to me when "secular" (i.e. not game-related) blogs post about the gaming business. On the one hand, it generally means that a story has real teeth when the non-gamers take notice. (Probably true here.) And also, it often reflects the somewhat out-of-touch perceptions of the mainstram press...which can generally be interpereted as a more realistic Joe Consumer point-of-view. (Definitely true here.) As usual, it would be wise for the myopic "enthusiast media" to take a look at what people are really thinking about games.

Based on this piece, the perception is not good. Game hardware and software sales are down, down, down. But is this really a surprise? Take hardware. If we haven't reached peak penetration on this generation of consoles, we've gotta be reaching it soon. How many more people who don't have a Wii can be expected to buy one? Even if it is still a sizable number, that number has to realistically decrease every year. Same is true for the other two consoles, but perhaps not as much since their penetration numbers are smaller compared to the Wii's. As for software, well, I have my own theory. Today's games have an incredibly long shelf life compared to games of generations past. Think about it: everyone who bought "Modern Warfare 2" will be playing the multiplayer for months, if not years, after the purchase. How much time could they possibly have for a 40-hour RPG like "Dragon Age" or "Mass Effect 2"? Sure, teenagers might have the time, but they have less cash to throw around. Personally, I would love to play all these games, but as the time investment required gets higher and higher, I can't be reasonably expected to commit. And I can't be the only one. Thus: sagging sales.

The article also specifically mentions music game sales. Is it any surprise that these are down? I mean, how saturated can the market get? I love Guitar Hero, but I can't keep up with everything they put out for that franchise. And talk about shelf life...you can buy downloads for your music games to keep them fresh for a long time after you buy them. And downloadable content isn't the only stuff doing well, mobile game sales and social games are also up. Yeah, because those markets are still growing. So where is the surprise here? Couple all of the above with a shitty economy, and color me unsurprised.

The Wrap then goes on to show its true colors by mentioning Microsoft's Natal and Sony's Arc Motion Controller, as if these things are going to revitalize the industry. They might make some ripples, but there is NO WAY that these devices are going to spike hardware and software sales, unless Microsoft or Sony can come up with their own versions of Wii Sports (good fucking luck). To make matters even more silly, the Wrap comments, "each of these innovations could seem downright quaint once Brain-Computer Interface Technology goes mainstream." When? In the future with jetcars and food in pill form? Thanks, but I think controllers are going to be pretty popular for a while longer.

In summary, I think the gaming industry probably needs to come up with must-have experiences that innovate without demanding every minute of a gamer's leisure time. From the players' point of view, they are getting amazing experiences that keep going and going like the Energizer Bunny. As a result, we might see a shrinking pool of games...and maybe even higher prices? Who knows? Ironically enough, it appears that it is the companies themselves who have shot themselves in the proverbial foot.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mouth, Meet Foot

Heh, so right after I mentioned in a meeting that maybe we could do a couple of AS-branded games, this gets posted to the interwebs. Whoops!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Back in the Swim

So, here I am at Williams Street, the same place I started almost ten (!!!) years ago when I began my employment with Cartoon Network. At the time, the longest I had ever held a job was 14 months (at MTV Networks), and I was convinced that my time with CN would last about as long as the next opportunity waited to present itself. Well, the next opportunity never really arrived...at least until I jumped ship to work on the GameTap project. But even so, I've been working for Turner Broadcasting for almost a decade, and my new desk is about ten feet from the first desk I ever had here. Shows you how far you can go!