A WEEK IN GAMING 12/2/13 TO 12/5/13

Monday, December 9, 2013

This past week has been a heavy week in gaming. Separate from this post will be a reaction to the VGX 2013 announcements.

Now, let's take a look at a week in gaming from 12/2/13 to 12/5/13.

During last Sunday’s Bonus Round on Game Trailers, while discussing predictions of what is now the seventh generation of consoles, Naughty Dog co-founder Jason Rubin stated that Nintendo is “irrelevant as a hardware manufacturer” at this present time.
Back in July, I wrote a piece making similar statements, but strictly in the context of third party support, not as a hardware manufacturer. So does Nintendo have something to offer in the home console hardware business?
Historically Nintendo has, revolutionizing controllers with the N64, and initiating a dramatic shift towards motion control with the Wii across all platforms, even inspiring PC development to experiment with this control scheme even further. There’s no doubting that Nintendo has stood as a major influence in video game hardware in the past.
But what of the present?
Wii U’s online infrastructure is archaic and vastly underwhelming even in comparison to even last gen’s, let alone current. And, without beating a dead horse, the system’s raw power has turned away certain developers who’s interested in pushing technology and capitalizing on more system resources that Nintendo’s platform is incapable of offering.
Though neither has ever been Nintendo’s strong suit within the past seven years simply because they were never their primary focus. Nintendo’s focus has always – throughout the company’s history – been zeroed in on innovation. And that innovation this generation has come in the form of the Wii U Gamepad. The Gamepad is a modern technology concept, adapting their ideas from the DS line, integrated in a first ever fashion on a home console. And though the lack of multi-touch functionality is jarring, especially to the casual audience that has acclimated to iOS and Android interfaces, it has vast potential; it just hasn’t fully reached it yet.
There have been glimmers of genius in Wii U’s software. The system’s pack in launch title Nintendo Land has a garden variety of concepts in which the Gamepad can be used. ZombiU’s inventory management pulled gamer’s attention away from the screen, leaving them exposed to the dangers that lurk about, and side scrolling platformers such as Rayman Legends and New Super Mario Bros. U have built a truly unique co-op experience where the Gamepad holder plays as the invisible guide, opening pathways for the avatar controlling player or griefing them for their own pleasure. This concept – while likely not influenced by Nintendo – will be seen on upcoming titles such as Watch Dogs and The Division, and can already be experienced in current titles such as Battlefield 4 via its Commander Mode.
As the only system with second screen natively built in, Wii U has a chance to be the pioneer in second screen functionality. Xbox SmartGlass is just getting its feet wet, and Sony is finally diving in fully with Vita integration, currently primarily with Remote Play. As both the hardware and software developer a year ahead of these systems, Nintendo has the opportunity to lead this concept in ways that may not match their influence on motion control, but can still show competing platforms how it’s done. Nintendo’s hardware presence very much has the potential of hardware relevance.
It was a common joke prior to the release of the Playstation 4. “Careful out there folks. Don’t get trampled, or shot, or something…”
These jokes weren’t baseless. For those who remember, there were multiple outbreaks of violence around the Playstation 3’s launch, including a shooting in one case where two armed men shot a man waiting in line for a Playstation 3 (to be fair, they were demanding his money, not the system).
Last week, reports stated that a suspect has been arrested in connections with the killing of 22 year old Ikenna Uwakah, who after was trying to sell his Playstation 4 online, met up with the assumed buyer before being fatally shot multiple times by the gunman who then snatched his Playstation 4 and ran.
Who would have thought that one of the most infrequent and highly anticipated occurrences in the gaming industry can be so dangerous?
It’s an upsetting and infuriating tragedy that has played out like a drug deal gone bad. There is a fundamental problem in a situation where someone feels a sense of entitlement to take another’s life over a piece of entertaining hardware. I love video games; you love video games; but let’s be frank, it’s just f**king video games!
Even if the motivation wasn’t over “I WANT the hottest new system” and more driven by looking for a resell value himself, it’s a business that has no business putting people’s lives at stake. I had a therapy session with a client today prioritizing the value of money and materialistic items who stated that the root of his problems nestled in a lack of confidence.
Money doesn’t earn you respect. Having the latest game console doesn’t earn you respect. And if you’re willing to kill another human being over either, then f**k you.
Less like movie goers on Netflix, and more so like fans of literature, many gamers in this very young medium have a very innate and often emotional connection with games as physical software. EA’s CFO Blake Jorgensen’s statements highlighting the low sales of digital downloads in comparison to physical discs are very indicative of this sediment.
He attributes this phenomenon to the internet capabilities of the gaming consumers at large who all aren’t quite capable of handling the download speeds required to facilitate digital purchases. But even as a gamer who’s history dates back to the cartridge blowing early 90’s with a – more or less – reliable internet connection, I feel that the strong demand for physical software delves deeper than that.
The gaming populous was furious with Microsoft after their abysmally communicated (in its most basic form) DRM after announcing the Xbox One, and gamers resisted for equally strong reasons in addition to considering limited internet access. Trading games, whether that may be to Gamestop, or to each other, has been a mainstay in the video game exchange for two decades. Without the internet keeping gamers stationed behind headsets, players came together in physical proximity, and with it brought the practice of packing games to show off at a friend’s house. It was this that brought me to my favorite multiplayer game of all time, Super Smash Bros., and it was also how I was introduced to The Ocarina of Time.
Children and teenagers rarely if ever have disposable income; and the system of game trade-ins stood as a viable option for those who couldn’t shell a full $50-$60 for the newest game that they’ve been so eagerly waiting for. I’m too old to be ashamed to admit that this was a routine for me on a monthly basis when I was in high school, and every now and again now as an adult, I’ll pocket some cash for a game that I have no desire for sitting in my library.
But even that’s not enough to explain the gravitation towards physical software. I have two totes filled with games from last generation and appreciate moments picking them up and getting lost in the box art, reminiscing on the long nights I’ve spent in Fallout 3, or regretting not getting the chance to play as the female version of Commander Shepard looking at the alternate cover.
This install mandated console generation brings us closer to the transition of digital downloading with no justifiable reason to wait till 10 am to drive to my local Gamestop for a copy of the next game. It's a mentality that many of us console players will have to adapt to for those who haven't already. But it’s this 20 year history with video games that can very well force the habit of preordering a title, or – god forbid – waiting in line for a midnight release.
EA has not had a good reputation with their servers as of late. Sim City will be remembered as the bastard child example of DRM, and EA’s latest titles including Madden 25, Need for Speed Rivals, and famously, Battlefield 4 has had their host of problems after launch.
Battlefield 4 has been a special case of bad, plaguing players across all platforms with an enormous list of severe issues including the recent China Rising Expansion Pack, the infamous one-hit-kill bug, and locked out Conquest matches. In my case on the Xbox One, Battlefield 4 has been, in all accounts, virtually unplayable with consistent failed connections to matches, multiple deleted campaign progress, and full game crashes that won’t allow me to even get to the main menu.
EA ensures that things will get better, halting all Battlefield 4 development until the game is fixed. But when? Reports stated that the Xbox One version of Battlefield 4 would get a patch this week – some stated that it should have been today – however there are still issues plaguing the game. Should I hang on to my copy of Battlefield 4 with a flawlessly functioning copy of Call of Duty: Ghosts and Titanfall just a few months away?

No comments

Post a Comment

Newer Older