5.16.2006

Hamstringing Yourself

Let's say I want to be innovative and create a whole new video game console. What should I do?

Well, first I'm going to build the second most expensive console to date (NeoGeo was the most expensive) using technology that we won't even need until we hit the 8th generation of gaming.

Then, I'm going expect developers to make shiney games for my new console using a convoluted kit that most of them don't even have yet.

And then, after fans gripe about the pricing, I'm going to offer two price levels, both still too expensive.

Then, I will prepare to launch with no game support.

Sound familiar? If it doesn't, you haven't been around long enough to watch Nintendo attempt a long, painful suicide.

It seems the days of Nintendo making an ass out of itself in the gaming world maybe over. Sony seems more than willing to take the lead and jump head first into shallow water. ABI Research reports that asking gamers to pay $500 for a console when most of them don't even have HDTV will give PS2 owners a reason to shop elsewhere. Sony is currently under the delusion that people will find the PS3 worth the large price tag. Of course, I don't think it has occured to Sony that I can buy a Wii and an XBox 360 for the price of one of their consoles.

At E3, Sony didn't present their new console as much as justify its existance. The PS3 would be great if Sony dumped the Blu-Ray and dropped the price. If they try to give us technology we don't want before we need it, they're going to do their own impression of the Atari's Jaguar, which was a 64-bit console when everyone else was 16-bit. (I know I'm leaving out the Sega-CD fiasco and the 3DO bullcrap. Though, to be fair, if Atari had actually advertised the Jaguar, they would have swamped Nintendo and Sega.)

Even though I think the name is stupid, the Wii appears to be taking off. Older gamers and new comers who want fun games with content rather than shininess will find a home on the Wii. Don't believe me? Then you haven't played Katamari Damacy. Or noticed that the Gameboy holds the title of highest grossing console: and it's only 32 bit! The Wii is tackling what serious gamers have wanted for years: games that defy the traditional genres. The Wii is also taking gaming back to the family, updating the original concept of the NES/Famicon. And, I'd like to reiterate, I'm still walking around, salivating at the fact that I may one day soon play Life Force again.

On the note of hamstringing yourself, EA seems to be competing with Sony for the lead lemming on the road to the cliff. They hit the end of innovation in sports games years ago. Now all they have is the constant need to keep their games shiny, which isn't doing so well since you can only listen to John Madden say the same thing over and over again so many times. Of course, if you actually listen to him narrate a game, you get the same effect anyway. I might as well turn off the console and turn on ESPN. The commentary is guaranteed not to be stale after a few rounds with Trey Wingo.

So back to the consoles.

Between Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, Nintendo finally got the hint. Gamer's don't want horse power, they want games. I don't care if the PS3 can connect to the internet, wash my car, and do my taxes. I just want to play games. And good games. They don't have to be shiney. They just have to be good. Shadow of the Colossus anyone?

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