Thursday, May 26, 2005

"Next Gen Consoles"

Announce/Media Launch

Xbox 360:
I waited for that MTV thing on the next Xbox for what seemed like forever. I knew it was gonna be over the top with MTV fluff. That was to be expected. And like 1/2 of the internet, I'd already seen tons of 'leaked' pictures of the console and the controller. So why did I want to see the show? I wanted to see the games in action of course. What I got was about 7 minutes of some gay ass bad (The Killers) playing some shitty songs, about 2 minutes of Frodo asking celebs who don't know squat about gaming what they thought, about 5 minutes of interviews with gamers whose opinions don't mean shit to me, about 5 minutes of interviews with Xbox developers that was mildly interesting, about 7 minutes of commercials, and oh yeah, about 4 minutes of game footage snippits. That was a bit too much fluff. I have to say though, debuting their console pre-E3 on national television was a very smart move on MS's part. It generated a lot of buzz, even if the show itself fizzled.

PlayStation 3:
Looks like Sony is doing things the old fashioned way. And why not? It's been working so far, right? Both the PS1 and PS2 were clear winners. So they go the oldschool route: debuting their new system at E3 in front of elite industry insiders, not leaking any pictures, eschewing a viral ad campaign like Yeah, pretty boring. There's no doubt the PS3 is an amazing piece of hardware, but even still, I don't think it has generated the buzz that X360 has. It reminds me of the days when the Genesis was thought of as being cooler and hipper than the superior SNES. In any case, Sony still looks like the front runner in this next race. The company that was once the newcomer just 10 years ago is now old reliable in the gaming industry. New generation, new kickass console, no nonsense. They're doing what Nintendo claims to be doing: making a kickass gaming machine for gamers.

Nintendo Revolution:
The fact that I feel like I have to put "Nintendo" before "Revolution" to tell my audience that it's Nintendo's next gen console pretty much says it all. No buzz at all. No one cares. They released a few very shitty pictures of the book-sized console at E3. Whee. It'll be way too little, and released way too late to compete (2006). Nintendo needs to stop telling gamers what they don't want. "Gamers don't want that slow CD-ROM format. (N64) Gamers don't want violence in their games. (Mortal Kombat) Gamers don't want to play online. (Gamecube) Gamers don't want to play DVDs on their dedicated gaming console. (Gamecube)" What gamers don't want is to buy your shit anymore. Because you suck. I'd write them off and say that this will be their last console because no one's gonna buy their shit, but that should have happened with the N64 and the Gamecube. So I don't know. What I do know is that their Revolution 'debut' was lackluster at best. I hope you're comfortable in that 3rd spot, Nintendo.


Honestly, I was shocked... at how "current-geny" the games looked. I mean, OK, they looked good, but they looked like they were running on an Xbox 1.5. For a next generation console, the game graphics sure were unimpressive. Of course I realize there is a lot more to a console that graphic prowess. You don't have to preach to me about how the best piece of hardware doesn't always win out. I know all about the Sega Master System getting its ass kicked by the NES and the Lynx getting massacred by the GameBoy. So I'm by no means saying that the Xbox 360 can't do well in the next hardware battle with Sony just because it'll be underpowered. All I'm saying is that the Xbox 360 games being shown look completely uninspired and underwhelming. The Xbox 360 games look about as much better over Xbox 1 games as Xbox 1 games look over Dreamcast games. It's noticeable, but the difference isn't jaw dropping.

And I don't wanna hear any "Well they're not done with the games... these are 1st generation titles" crap. 1st gen titles (games that come out at system launch or shortly thereafter) look about 80% of what the system is capable of doing. Just compare Halo 1 and 2. Or Dead or Alive 3 with Dead or Alive Ultimate. Halo 1 and DOA3 looked pretty damn amazing, but their sequels (go along with me and pretend DOAU is a sequel even though its a remake of DOA 1 and 2) looked only marginally better. Speaking of which, have you seen the DOA4 trailer for Xbox 360? You know how you can see the difference between the pre-rendered scenes and the gameplay scenes in that trailer? Yeah, I was expecting not to be able to tell the difference. Seeing as how Tecmo made some of the prettiest Xbox 1 games, I think the DOA4 trailer is a pretty good indicator of Xbox 360's graphical power, and I'm very disappointed. Gears of War is about the best looking games for Xbox360, but that's coming out on PC too. So basically the Xbox360 looks about as good as a high end PC. That's nice for the price, but honestly, I was expecting more.

Further backing up my claim that the X360 titles don't look like ass simply because they're "1st gen titles" are the amazing graphics of the PS3 games being shown. Wow. The PS3 is going to be a beast. I hated Killzone for PS2, but the Killzone 2 trailer was 'like whoa!' That's what I'm talking about right there. That's the true next generation look I was wanting to see. I'm not surprised to hear that some developers jumped ship from X360 to PS3 when they saw what the PS3 could do. Really, there's nothing more to say about the PS3 graphics other than they look really impressive.

Umm... yeah, ummm. Nice... umm... hand there... you know... holding the Revolution and placing it on its stand. I like... the... umm... blue light emitting from the optical drive. And... umm... it's shiny! Oh, who am I kidding? Nintendo didn't show shit for gameplay graphics. The only hint of graphics capabilities was the statement about the Revolution being "only" 2 to 3 times more powerful than the current Gamecube. "Only"? Shit, that already sounds better than X360 graphics look. Then again, that's just it... it 'sounds' better. We'll have to wait and see. I do know that Nintendo isn't planning to be the top dog with regards to graphics. They've pretty much already conceded that, with their "only 2 to 3 times" more powerful statement. They also stated that graphics aren't everything. *sigh* There they go again, telling the gamers what they don't want. "You guys don't need fancy graphics! You want quality gameplay!" Which would be alright if they didn't put out crap like Kirby Air Car Racing or whatever the fuck. Anyway, that's the kind of statement that is expected from a company whose product won't be the most powerful. However, I still think the Revolution will be number 2 in graphics capabilities behind the PS3 and ahead of the XBox 1.5... err... Xbox 360.


This is where MS is gonna kick ass. Even today, Xbox Live is a huge success by any standards. By giving every single X360 owner an Xbox Live account, MS is going to transform the way everyday people think of playing games. It's taking the best part of PC gaming, the online competition, community and communication and presenting it in a nice, tight package. Breaking up Live into Silver(Free) and Gold (Pay) version is genius. You give people that might have never tried Live a chance to taste the experience. Silver members can send and receive messages, download content, and pretty much do everything except play games online. MS is even planning free play weekends when you can try playing games online for free. Nothing but good can come from the new Xbox Live that's debuting with Xbox360.

Going with wireless controllers was also a great move. Some people might bitch about having to use batteries, but you gotta remember that it can also function as a wired controller should you be out of juice. Very nice. I'm kinda glad they didn't get all radical with the basic design of the controller. Seems like MS just refined it a bit. Moving the white/black buttons to shoulder buttons was a good move.

The removalbe HD is pretty cool too, but I don't think it'll be nearly as big a deal as some people think. Basically, the HD just made the console modders very happy, but I don't see a bunch of things happening with the HD other than maybe being able to move your xbox saves around to other xboxs. I'm actually pretty surprised to see that MS stayed with a HD considering how popular modded xboxs have become. Also makes me wonder what the fuck the memory cards do.

Oh, and let's not forget that it can stand vertically. Heaven forbid it not have that amazing feature!

I guess MS got Sony's attention because now Sony's going out of its way to say that the PS3 isn't a game machine. That it is really an integral part of an entertainment system. That it's gonna be the center of the digital living room or some shit. I'm sorry, but the PS3 is a fucking game machine. This is strange because MS, whose Xbox 360 is a multifaceted, multimedia whore, is saying that it will have failed if a middle aged woman buys an Xbox 360 to watch movies. I guess you always want what the other has.

The PS3 controllers look like asshole. Yes, like asshole. They look like stinky asshole with tiny pieces of toilet paper stuck to it. Seriously, what the fuck where they thinking? The Dual Shock and Dual Shock 2 were nearly perfect. Why have some Aussie go and fuck up the design? Maybe if you get really pissed at the game and you throw the controller at the TV, it will actually miss the TV and come back to you flying through the air in a wide arc? Idiots.

I do like the full PS2 and PS1 backwards compatability though. That must've been another department that came up with that. One not based in Australia.

The BluRay support for high def dvd won't be a factor... at least not early on. New media takes a long time to catch on. The 1080p feature won't be utilized on the majority of the TVs either.

And yes, just like its predecessor, you can place the PS3 vertically. Whew! Didn't want to get shown up there by MS.

Well, not much is known right now. We know it'll have internet capabilities so you can download old Nintendo games. Which is cool, because like, the complete rom set of every NES/SNES/N64 game ever made, which you already have, is pretty lame. (This is where the animated gif of the smiley with the rolling eyes would go.) What else? Oh, it will play gamecube games too. That's pretty cool.

What about a vertical stand, you ask? Will it be able to keep on with MS and Sony on the vertical stand technology? Oh, yeah, it's got a pimpin' stand for your verticality, baby. I think its required by law actually.


XBox 360 will own it up this Xmas. I think the early launch is a good idea. MS is riding pretty high right now. So the time to strike is this fall. I predict a launch price of $349.99. I wouldn't be surprised if it was $299.99 though, because MS is hungry for marketshare, but I doubt it'll be higher than $399.99. MS will gain share with the X360, but it won't win vs. the PS3. I predict a very solid 2nd place with perhaps 35-40%% of the next-gen marketshare in the US by end of 2006. I think a big chunk of revenue will come from Xbox Live. I think their subsciption base will double by Xmas 2006, and I think microtransactions or whatever they're calling those $.99 and $4.95 online content purchases will rise dramatically as well.

The PS3 will win the next-gen wars once again, but it won'd dominate as much as the PS2 did. I think they'll end up with 45-50%% of the next-gen market by Xmas 2006. I predict a launch price of $379.99, but wouldn't rule out $349.99 or even $299.99. I don't think PS3 will launch at more than $399.99 either. That would be suicide. There is a lot of talk about whether the demos shown at E3 were really running on PS3 hardware, but I think the graphics will be very similar to those shown. Their online strategy still will suck, though.

Ah, Nintendo. The "We're gonna do it our way because we're telling you that's what you really want." company. Nintendo's fucked. OK, moving on...

Final Comments

I'm a non-partisan gameplayer. I buy all the new consoles... even if I know they're going to suck. I don't like being limited on what games I can play because you know each of those companies is going to have a kick-ass game that you're gonna want. If a game is good, I buy it. What I do is call things as I see them. I don't call things as I want them to be. But I have to admit, I do secretely root for one of them. Which one? Let's just say that I love being an "Ameri-I-Can."


Anonymous said...

As a quick blurb I'll give you about (IMO) a 75% accuracy rating, since, well what do we know. Nintendo could rule all (somehow I doubt that) but you never know.

Having said that, you touched on a few things that I think need more weight:
Timing - Microsoft is going to come out swinging this year, which means most definitely I'm getting an Xbox all the while hootin'& hollering about the wholesome goodness, 1080i and how this will make me irresistible to all nerdy women (all 8 of them) thanks to being an early adaptor at 800 bucks.
MS is going to pw0wnz0r (my attempt at leet speak) the market for over 6 months... ouch, I do give the nod to them since they will usher in the "HD" gaming era... but on the other hand I REALLY doubt that they will hit that 299 price point. Honestly at 300 that STINGS for a lot of people, even I, and I have enough to go splurge on consoles. I think these will creep up close to 400 and by doing so will be labeled HARDCORE devices and out of many kids hands; unless they can woo people with their "Multimedia" capabilities thereby tricking them into thinking this is the must have device of the year.

Sony will follow up the same way, but when they do a) HD gaming will be somewhat normal to those that could afford it and b) they are asking you to drop another 4 bills on a second console that, realistically, does exactly what the first one does, no more. More importantly will be the games licensed to the specific platforms. I love me some Sony goodness (SNK/Namco ownz all j00 DOA 1 handed playing babies :D) but if I can get some Guilty Gear on the Xbox, with online support 6 months sooner, I'm gonna have to put down the bandicoot crack pipe and light up with ol' MS.
Ok I'm lying, Soul Calibur 3 will pull me back, and I will probably own both, but realistically 2 consoles at that price for most is a big no-no, since parents know nothing about their "features" just the price tag.

Oh and Blu-Ray will ownz, sure its slow to adopt, but when you drop a PS3 in tons of homes, that's your Blu-Ray player right there, I mean come on, their making PSP movies, and those are even more "niche"; also if they weren't 20 bucks each I might snag one or two. Supply follows demand, and with PS3's going to be in demand, there's bound to be supply. (Here's where I start another fight by telling all you HD lubbers to smell what the Blu-Ray is cooking or something derogatory like that.)

Anyway all that rambling,
Nintendo has a decent shot at claiming some ground simply because of its price point. If a kid wants the best shoes they scream Nike (why?!) but their parents sees the tag at $100, turns and buys them some Roo's... (Was I the only one this happened to?)
While some parents MAY cave for the 300+ console, quite a few will snag the Nintendo, its got a known name and a cheaper price tag.

I'm rooting for Sony, but even now I have all 3 consoles so this "war" wont be decided by me, I'm just here to facilitate it and watch the action...

Pass me my wireless controller, I got a 1080i - Dolby surround sound juggle combo to bust!

Katsu said...

That whole HD gaming thing is blown out of proportion. The Xbox 1 already supports 1080i. Not many games utilize it though... too big of a hit on performance. But technically, they can do HD now. Also, I'm willing to bet that a large percentage of people will not be playing their next gen system on an HD TV. HD gaming isn't going to be a factor. Early adopters will buy it regardless.

The Blu-Ray thing... I agree that having PS3's in lots of homes will tilt the HD-DVD/BluRay war in Blu-Ray's favor.

Almost as important as launching before PS3 and Rev is that X360 will launch during the Holiday season when people are more willing to buy more expensive toys. The PS1 and PS2 launched at $299. I don't see how if MS wants to really get a head start that they don't release at $349 or lower.

Timing... I agree that most people only buy 1 system. So that's a plus for MS. But there are always trade-in promotions for new systems. Lots of people traded in their DS to defer a portion of the PSP's price tag.

Soul Calibur 3 is for the PS2 not PS3.

Nintendo hasn't announced a price point, but it's almost guaranteed it will be lower than PS3 and X360. However, the gamecube is way cheaper than either current gen console right now, and its not exactly flying off the shelves. I still say Nintendo is fucked.