Friday, January 27, 2006

A video that every Nintendite should see.

If you like Nintendo then you should pop over and watch this video. It is great.

Nintendo: Oldschool Revolution

Also, if anyone knows where I can download this from, let me know.

Here is another one. I don't know if this is official or fanmade, but it is hilarious.

Nintendo Micro testing

Why (re)design?

There is a wonderful question posed by the redesign of the Nintendo DS that obviously was well under way before the system hit it's first birthday. The question is WHY re-design? We all know that the lifecycle of a console averages 5 years. The lifecycle of a handheld though has been significantly longer, at least until recently. The reason for this probably has more to do with Nintendo holding virtually all the market share than with any other explanation I could come up with. First if you haven't seen a side-by-side comparison...

Oops... That's a DIFFERENT side-by-side comparison, here is the shot of the DS.

As you can see the case is quite a bit smaller, though from what I read the screen is the same size. The question though is why? There are many consequences to a redesign like this and not all of them are good. You will see though that the good far outweighs the bad. First, the good. You may or may not know that the Xbox went through eight or so iterations, though the outside shell never changed, the chips and hardware inside certainly did. The same is true of the ps2 and the Gamecube but because they aren't big in the modding world they aren't opened as much so we don't care as much about changes done to the insides. The truth is that console manufacturers are always finding cheaper components and it can save alot of money to change one little chip. This is the biggest reason, though not the only one that makes sense to your wallet. The redesign of the DS, as well as the GBA and the ps2 all revitalizes sales. When a new console comes out, the hardcore players will purchase it. These same hardcore players will probably purchase the redesign as well, Nintendo has just sold two systems. Less hardcore gamers come along as well obviously and will purchase a system based on many different things. How many times have you wished that your DS was as sexy as a PSP? I mean, the DS is beating the crap out of Sony. Now, imagine this redesign in the same black color of the revolution and it is easily able to compete with the PSP in terms of image.

You can see the DS logo on the closed cover, I assume it is etched on the inside so as to make a smooth polish finish on the outside. You have to agree that people who held off because of the clunkiness of the original DS .

I mean the clunkiness of the one that was ISSUED.

But seriously I wanted to post that original picture because it is interesting to note just how closely the redesign resembles the original model shown at E3 2004. The miracle of a new, shiny case I suppose.

The question is, will this thing sell. The answer is "like hotcakes". There will be a few people who just bought a DS in the last couple of months who will feel like they wasted some money. Do you think that people will start waiting on Nintendo before they by their products? I don't think so, not in any kind of widespread way. I bet there are a lot of PSP fanboys that are saying "they copied from the PSP!!" Which is why I showed the pic of the original at E3 two years ago, with a nearly identical shape, and even if Nintendo did grab the idea of "shiny glossy case" I think it is about time that what went around, came around, if you know what I mean.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A little bit of (relevant) news

There is a lot of buzz in the Revolution rumor area, and whether any of it is true or not doesn't really matter at this point. If you want to see some documented news that I found truely exciting (but still doesn't mean much at this point) then head over to Joystiq for their latest poll numbers showing that the upcoming Revolution is the most wanted system for single and multiple system owners. Out of 7,721 total Joystiq reader votes, Nintendo garnered a whopping 84.21% which is incredible considering that Joystiq is not a Nintendo site, they deal with all systems and news. Here is the picture from their site followed by their quotation.

Total percentages:

Nintendo Revolution: 6502 votes - 84.21%

Sony PlayStation 3: 3738 votes - 48.41%

Microsoft Xbox 360: 3575 votes - 46.30%

Market share:

Nintendo Revolution: 47.06%

Sony PlayStation 3: 27.06%

Microsoft Xbox 360: 25.88%

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Who loses next generation?

I just opened this site and so I thought I should make a new post. It has been a couple weeks since my last because I have been very busy studying the securities industry for my big test.

There are many dynamics that create the videogame industry. It is easy to look back and see what specific things turned out affecting past generations. Using some of these principals it becomes possible to TRY and predict what the future could hold.

If we look at the dynamics of the Playstation brand we can see what contributed the greatest to it's success. Or, rather, we can look at what started the ball rolling. Obviously great games and good marketing came into play as well. The PS1 was developed as an add-on to the SNES about halfway through the life-cycle of the SNES. The whole deal went very sour and it provided Sony with a great opportunity to put some finishing touches on an existing hardware unit and, most importantly, it let them release a system halfway through an existing generation, allowing them to have better technology and hardware than the competition. On top of this, many game developers were eager to develop software on a medium where they didn't have to worry about cartridge chipsets and the complications with programming on them. This resulted in a platform with many games and hardware with much stamina compared to the competition. When the N64 was released, the developers were content to stay with Sony as it was a sytem they were used to and because Nintendo stuck with cartridges (a choice that benefited gamers but not developers. You remember at the time the PS1 had like a 4x CD-ROM and loading times were painfully slow).

The PS2 was the king of this latest generation. Not in quality of games but certainly in terms of hardware sales, which of course pushes software sales regardless of their quality. This is not to say that there weren't many great games on the PS2, only that they were a somewhat smaller part of the dynamic that created such a huge success for Sony. The PS2 came to market about a year before the competition, giving them a huge advantage in terms of real time. I will go into this in greater detail later when I talk about the 360 because Micro$oft has the time advantage this upcoming console generation. A second huge advantage it had was being the first home-console with backwards compatability, providing not just a new console, but a replacement with a huge library. It makes sense that they would hold on to many of their base as they already had games that would run on it and they didn't have to wait for "their" system because it came first to market. I think this has translated into a false sense of security for Sony.

The strategy for this upcoming generation is not set. All the pieces have not been revealed yet. So it is impossible to try and predict everything. Having said that, there are a few facts that we know.

#1. Sony will not be first to market this console generation. Obviously the 360 has taken this award already. Looking at gamers in general you see a large base of young men, a class of society not well known for their patience. How many PS2 owners will have a 360 instead of a PS3 simply because they couldn't wait another year for the competition? I would be willing to bet on a lot, in America at least. Sales in Japan are very bad for the 360 making me wonder why they didn't release those consoles in the states instead.

#2. Sony will not have the only backwards compatible system. Micro$oft did what they could to bring backwards compatibility to the 360. Its not perfect, but it works well enough and with enough titles to get the job done for mostly everyone. Nintendo is pulling out all the stops and making the Live Arcade feature of the 360 look like a cheap knock-off with their virtual console. Granted, it is hard to say for SURE because we haven't seen it, but the concept is undeniably much better than Live Arcade. I have also heard that Nintendo is having talks with Sega to possibly bring Genesis titles onto the virtual console. On top of this there are rumors floating around of being able to interchange graphics on older games or maybe purchasing a visually and audibly upgraded version of older titles. I don't put much stock in rumors but I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be true. Still, the fact remains that Sony cannot market the PS3 by touting backwards compatibility.

#3. The PS3 will not come to market halfway through the generation. This helped the PS1 to have superior hardware at a reasonable price. The PS3 will have cutting edge technology, but it will cost the consumer alot of money. Speculation puts the price at around five or six-hundred dollars. Sony hasn't said anything so the price could be higher or lower, but if it is lower Sony will have to pay out the difference from their own pocket and if it is higher it will prevent many consumers from buying one. Either position hurts Sony quite a bit.

#4. Developers will not pick Sony based solely on media format. All three media formats are comparable in terms of ease to the developer with just a couple points. The HD visuals of the 360 require more disk space, especially since they are doubling everything to run on standard definition. Some developers are having problems fitting it all on a single disc. Nintendo will be using discs pretty much the same size as Micro$oft but without HD content it means they have more space freed up.

Those are what I can pick out as being the facts. Each of them eliminates a former advantage of Sony. Obviously in order for them to keep their market share they need to give us something new. Something that the consumer and developer can each weigh and decide if they want to keep following Sony. I think the 360 coming out a year earlier really hurts the Sony marketshare in the U.S. How many people will hold out for a name brand? More will wait just for a specific game, but how many games on the 360 will already be out? Certainly there are many more aspects to this dynamic that we need to explore. Unfortunately we have to guess on the rest of these aspects, as we don't have evidence of a reaction. We know what will go INTO the equation, we don't know what it will produce.

#1. Sony has said they will not have a centralized online community. With Xbox Live being so popular and Nintendo introducing their own online solution it is a wonder that Sony hasn't come up with an answer to this problem. With online gaming becoming ever more popular I am sure they will eventually implement a system, but how long until they decide to?

#2. Sony is losing developers. It is hard to tell how long this will go on, or to what extent but more and more developers are going 3rd party to cut down on their development cost ratios. They already have a viable software product, why not market it across platforms? Many exclusive Sony developers are cutting their ties. Also, never forget that developers are real people, just as excited to make new games with better graphics with which to express themselves. How many games will come out on the 360 because developers didn't want to wait for the PS3? When a game takes on average 2 years to make, a year makes a huge difference.

#3. Nintendo is very popular in Japan. Sony's largest base is in Japan. If the Revolution turns out to be a more enticing/exciting/cheaper system it only makes sense that many people who owned a PS2 would rather own a Revolution, especially considering the backwards compatability of the latter. How much market share do you think Sony might lose to Nintendo in Japan? Of course this same point applies in the states.

#4. Halo 3. Look, Halo is not, in my opinion, the best FPS game ever made. It is a solid title with many great features and it certainly is ONE of the best FPS games. But hands down, it is the BEST multiplayer FPS. This coupled with Xbox Live make Halo a killer app for 360 (assuming it doesn't suck. Bungie has a pretty good track record though.) I keep hearing that Halo 3 will hit stores when the PS3 does. There is a hardware push associated with the release of any AAA title and Micro$oft will definately sweep up some potential PS3 buyers at this time.

#5. Nintendo is a great big wildcard. Speculation runs rampant from 3D visors to displacement mapping, to Nintendo diapers so you don't have to get up and pee during your game. I don't pretend to know and would be hesitant to make a guess on what their remaining secrets will be but looking at their history and from a purely sensical standpoint the secrets they are holding on to will be the biggest and best. Assuming this is the case, Nintendo could sweep up market share in a big way. Where do you think those consumer will come from? Nintendo says they want to increase the market by selling to the non-gamer, but those sales will creep in slowly. It is the existing gaming community that will immediately test, judge, and buy/reject the Revolution as a concept. Considering some of the announced launch titles for the Revolution it is safe to say that everyone will have a chance to play an incredible game using the new controller.

I said earlier that Sony needs to offer something new to keep their market share, and they ARE. I don't think though, that some of these offers are going to be what consumers will latch onto.

#1. HD. Obviously Sony has some big competition in this market in the form of a big white box, with a HUGE black power converter. Also, as I stated in an earlier blog HD-TV penetration is at about 15% in the states right now. How many consumers will want to shell out extra money for HD they can't personally take advantage of? On the flip side Sony will be the only one to offer a system with built-in capability to play HD movies in the form of...

#2. Blu-Ray. Sony is putting a lot of effort into pushing this new media format. It might succeed but if it doesn't Sony would be odd man out in the movie world. And miking lasers that are capable of Blu-ray and standard DVD is much more expensive.

#3. Complicated hardware architecture. More and more you hear developers speaking against the PS3. With multi-threading being so new there are no development tools to help developers meaning that games that take advantage of this technology will take longer to make and be more expensive, both to the developer and the consumer. The PS3 cell processor is the equivalent of an eight core processor, exponentially complicating multi-thread programming. The director of the FFVII tech demo at E305' stated it would take 300 people 5 years to remake the game at that level. How many games do you think will take full advantage of the PS3 hardware? How many consumers want a product that may never reach its potential before it is obsolete hardware?

#4. Cutting-edge features. Did you know the PS3 will be able to refresh at 120 frames a second? Did you know there is not a TV on the market, HD or otherwise that refreshes at 120hz? How many features in the PS3 will the average consumer ever need? You can hook it up to 2 HD-TV? You can have 7 people play off one system? There are two video cards in the PS3. These cards aren't even out on the consumer market yet, but they will hit at $600 a pop. How much money will it cost Sony to manufacture each PS3? How much of that will be passed on to the consumer?

On top of these things the PSP is a wasting product for Sony, meaning it costs them more to manufacture than they charge the consumer. And certainly the PS3 will be a wasting product, though we can't know at this point to what extent. How much money can Sony lose on this multimedia front?

I don't think that Sony will exit stage like Sega. Not yet. But these factors will all contribute in their own way to change the market share between console manufacturers in the upcoming generation.

Rivulet aka Benjdude

A Little Note

Just as a note these preceeding posts were written on and before the 2nd of January.

A Slight Deviance

Well I was going to write a bit more about the DS but I will leave that beauty for later. The reason is that in the last week I have had three of my theories substantiated to a degree. They remain, of course, theory. Two I haven't mentioned here yet but one I have. I wanted to quickly draw attention to them not just because it gives me an ego boost, but also because I feel that they are important and interesting.
The first is about the market penetration of the HDTV. I ran across data on "According to a report by Kagan Research on the penetration rate of HDTV sets, only around 10% of households had televisions capable of displaying high definition images at the beginning of 2005. By the end of the decade, Leichtman Research Group puts that number at 55%." He goes on to say that two other groups put up their own numbers. "Kagan Research LLC, however, put that number at about 82%, citing a much steeper increase as average HD-TV prices drop to around $1000. A third company, JupiterResearch, predicts that 63% of homes will have HD capable TVs by the turn of the decade." Still, averaging these three numbers out give us a solid 66.66%. A clear majority, but that is by the end of the decade, at the end of the lifecycle of the Revolution, 360 and PS3. As I said on my blog, the penetration at the END of the decade, in the next generation would be a much cheaper and better time to implement HD graphics in video games.
The second was a thought I had when I found out about the new controller and also heard that Twilight Princess was to be delayed and I thought that the delay might very well be to incorporate the use of the new controller functions into the Zelda title adding replay to the title and also giving the Revolution a killer app because if you haven't bought a Gamecube yet, Twilight Princess probably won't sell you, but it might entice you to purchase a Revolution in the beginning of it's cycle. Especially if the new implementations are solid changes. Its not hard to find this rumor if you Google it. The interesting extrapolation is the fact that the biggest hardware push with a new game title is only a matter of weeks. If they want to take advantage of the hype surrounding Twilight Princess to sell Revolution hardware they might be planning a near-simultaneous launch, which would make sense don't you think?
The third is much more vague, but stands to be the coolest of the three. It revolves around a technology called "displacement mapping". If rumors are to be believed, the Revolution will have dedicated hardware to perform displacement mapping, which is a method of splitting polygon models to make them more detailed. When the virtual console feature of the Revolution was announced I thought how cool it would be to enhance the graphics of older games to run better on the Revolution. Obviously the SNES would not benefit from this, leaving the NES and especially the N64. The resolution of the N64 games can easily be changed but to change textures or models would probably require a game specific patch. If displacement mapping can remake the models on the fly then it would breathe new life into games that have been gathering dust for a long time.
Now onto a few predictions just to have them on the record for if they too are substantiated. First, it has been suggested that each game for the virtual console will need to be re-released, meaning that not all desired content will be available to each person. A tiny hardware unit consisting basically of a cartridge slot and a wire interfacing with the Revolution would hook up to a cartridge that you own and allow you to emulate it on the Revolution. Of course there would be a separate one for each cartridge form factor. In terms of hardware I can't imagine these selling for more than $10, making them a viable consumer option.
Also, clues have been coming together slowly concerning a much bigger Revolution picture that I'm not entirely sure what to make of. When the Revolution was announced I was wondering, like many, what the revolutionary aspects of the console would be. While people were focusing on the controller I was thinking about the Virtual Boy and how it is nearly time to implement true 3D perspective gaming which I believe is a gaming leap that is inevitable. I wondered at the time if this might not be what Nintendo is up to. A few statements fueled my theory. Statements about new ways to visualize a game, and a patent filed by Nintendo, but I didn't want to get my hopes up too much. Then the revolution controller was actually shown and instead of putting down my theory it helped to fan the fire. For the first time in video game history we will have a controller that can access all three axis at once, and in an intuitive way. If you wanted to have stereo vision don't you think you would want a controller that could interface with a Z axis? Well, here you go. Some subsequent statements have also bolstered my idea such as numerous statements that we don't know everything about it yet and just a couple days ago, Iwata-san was asked for a price point for the Revolution and said it would not be priced above "$399". Doesn't it strike you as odd that a system like the Revolution, priced down by avoiding HD could sell for that high? Many developers who have precursor development systems say that a pricepoint as low as $100-150 would be probable. Why the huge gap? Only two explanations present themselves. Either Nintendo doesn't have a price established and they don't want to be held to anything they might have said, causing Iwata to quote a high price or else there is something more to the Revolution that we don't know yet. I am sure I will touch on this eventually as more details add to my theory. For now, just try to imagine if Nintendo gave you true 3D, so that not only was there a new way to PLAY your games, but also a new way to SEE them. That, my friends, is a Revolution.

Handheld Bonanza

The Nintendo DS. Where do I even begin with a product like this? First let me state that I think this may be Nintendo's MOST innovative product to date, followed by the Virtual Boy (true stereoscopic vision which was so far ahead of its time that the technology could not support it) and the Nintendo 64 (the innovation in the 64 was myriad being the first console system to even suggest upgradable memory. The graphics and sound cards laid the foundation for the Gamecube and Revolutions own chipsets using advanced firmware in both which has allowed the Gamecube to look and sound incredible while keeping game software more compact. The real innovation here though lies in its controller. Before the 64, shoulder buttons werent aligned in the now standard trigger angle, the z button changed that. A standardanalog stick was an addition that changed console gaming with such resolution that Nintendos competition think the analog stick cannot be replaced or enhanced. We will see. On top of these the c-button configuration could be said to be the precursor to the dual analog and was utilized in FPS games in exactly the same way.) Nintendo has always had the market strategy to sidestep direct competition with innovation.
Let me give you a great example of this concept. There is a game on the market called Guitar Hero. This game sells with a 3/4 size, plastic guitar. The guitar has buttons on it that let you sort of mimic chords and some buttons that let you sort of mimic plucking. The developer and publisher both made a substantial gamble in terms of time and money for this game. The game runs $70. $110 if you want 2 controllers. Unless a sequel is made the controller will never be used for anything else. The manufacturing cost for a brand-new controller form will need to be recouped AS WELL as the development costs for the software. Most designers and publishers are not willing to take this kind of risk. Now take a look at the payoff. Anyone who thinks playing a guitar game would be something they should do has only one game to choose from. This would probably include people who play the guitar as well as people who dont. On top of this even though the costs for the controller were very high, the cost for software development on a game of this kind are very low and with existing game mechanics a sequel could be brought together in a matter of 6 months which could be a decision regardless of if the first game sells well. If it flys off the shelves a sequel will increase profit margin and genre proliferation. In contrast if the first game doesn't sell well a sequel can be made for a fraction of the already cheap development cost of the original and sold without a controller earning profit through marketing mainly to consumers who bought the first game. The same example can be made for the Nintendo bongo controller, with two main differences. #1 Nintendo can produce a new, high-quality controller form-factor for much cheaper and #2 because this product was released by Nintendo proliferation can be expected to be much higher so we see 3rd party developers creating games that make use of the controller such as Odama which is a quirky pinball type game. Where the guitar controller will never be used for any other type of game the bongos have been used for music games (2 I think), a platformer (which is awesome and very shattering to the game development world to have created such a solid platforming title with no d-pad, no analog and only 2 buttons. The title is actually operated with only 5 commands, tapping right and left to have your character run that way, slapping both to have him jump, alternating back and forth to have him hit things and clapping to interact with other characters and objects.) and the pinball game coming out in the spring (I think).
In contrast to both of these games and their unique software titles it needs to be noted that creating an entirely new handheld or console can increase profit margin dramatically as in the case of the DS. The reason why is simple, while a developer making a game that uses the bongos is mainly marketing to consumers who already have the special controller and developer for the DS has a market where EVERYONE has a touch screen, microphone, and wireless funtionability. We would say that market saturation for these new control forms is 100%. Therefore creating an innovative title to take advantage of these new control abilities is MUCH less risky and is not attached to high manufacturing costs of creating new controller forms.
Now on to specific market arrangement. Nintendo created to DS to do two things. First to provide new tools to developers in order to create new genres and continue the gaming lifecycle which I will blog about later. Secondly they hope to create a new market. They said several times that the DS represented a third Nintendo product and was NOT a succesor to the Gameboy Advance. If we take a closer look at the Sony PSP we can easily see why Sony could stand to lose quite a bit of money on it. First though, I want to talk about some of the things that are really working in the favor of the PSP. The best marketing move on Sony's part here is definately the choice to go with UMDs. While I think that UMDs are a detriment to the handheld on the consumer side they are a real strength from Sony's perspective because they are cheaper to manufacture than cartridges and because the storage capacity allows Sony to market movies from Sony pictures providing yet another market for their movie lineup. Reasons why UMDs are bad for consumers would be the frailty of any optical disk in comparison to a cartridge and the marked battery difference giving less than 3 hours playtime if the disk is constantly spinning (as in watching a movie) which will drop to about an hour after a couple hundred recharges which could easily represent a year in the case of some hardcore gamers. Another huge benefit in favor of the PSP is the power of the unit. I would say to anybody that gameplay should always have more consideration than graphical power but at the same time there is no denying that if you could get the same game with better graphics you arent going to choose the worse looking version. Of course the consumer will pay a different price for a better looking product even though functionally it might be identical. The pricepoint for most PSP game is $40 while the price point for most DS games is $30. This is purely the difference in development costs because as has already been stated UMDs are much cheaper to manufacture than cartridges. As I said in my last blog, this price difference in games will be a major advantage of the Revolution over the PS3 and 360 where I think the price difference could be $20 or more. How hardcore are you REALLY?
Now on to why the PSP could face some major trouble. Firstly we need to take a look at the competition. Nintendo is the obvious competition and though I am not privvy to profit margins I would be willing to bet that Nintendo has a wider profit margin on a cheaper system than Sony does because that is how their prevailing history. This is a viable concern as it means that Sony may or may not make any money on its PSP lineup whilst competing against a corporation that is definately making money on its products. Not so obvious are the other huge competitors to Sony's device. When Sony decided to incorporate movies and music capability they put themselves in direct competition with quality MP3 players like the I-pod. In an earlier blog I talked about why videogame consoles don't drop in price as much as other electronics and here is another wonderful advantage. Apple can release a newer version of their I-pod and start selling their older versions as a lower price, eventually creating a media product that does what the PSP does for half the cost to the consumer. In contrast the PSP will almost definately never sell below $150 and it will be a couple more years before that price point can even be reached. Another big issue for Sony is the multi-fuctionality of the PSP. Multi-functionality does not typically drive sales up and in the case of the PSP this is definately true. In order for the PSP to remain competitive they have to have a lineup that incorporates games AND movies now, whereas Nintendo only needs to worry about games. Looking at this past year you can see a steady decline in games released for the PSP and this is part of the reason why. Now you have gamers disappointed with a product. If there were less movies available then you would have media buffs upset. Sony has put themselves in a position that is dificult to maintain competitively.
The comparison between the PSP and the DS is so important to Nintendo's strategy that I had to talk about it. Now on to some of the specifics of the DS and perhaps more importantly with the Revolution looming on the horizon, some idiosyncracies with the announcement and release of the DS. But first, have a Merry Christmas.

What is Maturity?

This is the second part of my last blog, and it is a very important subject. Afterall, software sales must drive the hardware sales. If games are undesirable the system by definition is itself undesirable. But before I continue I would like to state some facts that I didn't have time to put into part 1.
It is something that is very important to realize when you are considering Nintendo's upcoming hardware. When the original NES hit the market it was the most powerful console ever made. The SNES was more powerful than the Genesis in every way except the CPU. The N64 was much more powerful than the PS1 and the Gamecube falls between the Xbox and the PS2, leaning heavily toward the Xbox. The point here is that Nintendo has always had this same strategy of value and all of its systems have performed beautifully. The only possible exception being the N64 which was its most powerful system in relation to competition. Kinda funny no?
Now let me explain to you why most games on the Gamecube look as good as MOST of the games on the Xbox. The answer is simple. Most Xbox games are cross-platform titles meaning developers have to cater to the lower graphical power of the PS2 resulting in games without much difference between all 3 systems. On the other hand most of Nintendo's games are developed exclusivly for the system, taking advantage of the hardware to the utmost and resulting in a much cleaner, polished title. If you don't believe me look at pics of Twilight Princess. You would be hard pressed to find an Xbox game that looks as good visually. The next generation will be no different and everyone reports that all three systems will be comparable in terms of graphics if you are using a standard definition TV.
Let me draw another comparison. The Gamecube is not Dolby 5.1 capable, and Nintendo didn't include the support for it because it would have cost more money all around and because even though 5.1 has been around for years it is still not in many households. HDTV is the same way. It is an option, but has been an option for a handful of years already and penetration is like 15%. Sure that number will continue to rise. And they are phasing out regular TVs and putting full digital television out there but that is still 5 or so years away. Do you think everyone will have HDTV in 5 years? Even if penetration was up to 60 or 70% it will take all 5 years to get there. Don't you think it makes sense to save you alot of money now and 5 years down the road when the hardware is cheaper and the development tools for HD games are established to introduce HD videogames?
Think about the 360 for a moment. I have seen 360 titles selling for as high as $79.99! And while Microsoft is probably frantically trying to talk their developers into releasing at least the launch titles for $60 I gaurantee you that this price point will gradually rise. The reason being the added expense of developing HD games which also must be developed with different textures to support regular TVs as well. In contrast it wouldn'y surprise me if Nintendo released their 1st party titles (which represents a fair chunk of their lineup) at a price $10-15 LESS than what we view as the standard cost of a videogame ($50). If this happens the difference between a Nintendo game priced as low as $35-40 to a 360 or PS3 title selling as high as $75 will be pretty easy math for most people. Especially if they have a standard TV and can't see a difference in graphics between systems as has been reported will be the case.
Now to the maturity of video games. Its easy to look at a game like Doom 3 and say that it is mature when on a game mechanic level it is an extremly simple game, with a generic storyline, heaped with gore. The maturity obviously being the gore. In contrast a videogame like Sands of Time which pushes platforming mechanics to the limit and beyond, with a fairly complex storyline and interesting characters is also a 'mature' videogame. It has violence, but no gore. I would agree with the maturity of Sands of Time and disagree with the maturity of Doom 3. And when I say maturity here I am not talking about the ESRB rating, but rather a game that can engage and entertain an adult mind.
Alot of people see a Nintendo lineup and say "oh another Mario game." But in truth Nintendo has pushed the platforming mechanic with every Mario iteration, and the adventure mechanic with every Zelda title. The reason why Nintendo sticks to Mario is for 3 simple reasons. #1 A well established icon is the best and cheapest advertising. Everyone has heard of Mario. #2 The Mario character apeals to children. The lowkey and cartoony violence of Mario titles ensures that parents will be more willing to buy a Mario game for their child, meaning they will be more willing to buy a Nintendo console and will most likely protect their investment by purchasing additional titles in the future. #3 The Mario franchise appeals to adult gamers. The Mario franchise is one that a lot of older gamers have grown up with. They remember the fun they had as children when they play a current title. Most gamers who discredit the Mario franchise have never honestly played a game.
Another huge franchise for Nintendo is the Zelda franchise. This series has never been a 'kiddie' game. The storylines are usually very dark and what I would call mature. Many people point to Wind Waker as being childish but they base this judgement solely on the cartoon graphics of the title. The final fight ends with Link plunging his sword up to the hilt in Ganondorf's forehead. Some of the puzzles are so hard you will be proud of yourself for solving them, or you will break down and look online. The stoyline is very well thought out. And although I could have done without Tingle most of the characters were solid. On top of that there was so much you could collect and do that you could easily sink an extra 20 hours into the game just to do them all. Just like every other Zelda title.
There are many other games released for Nintendo that have maturity in spades if you look past Nintendos mascots and see the gameplay. Smash Brothers, Metroid Prime, Donkey Kong. The list goes on with each title pushing the mechanics of it's particular genre.
In addition Nintendo strives to innovate in their hardware. Constantly mixing things up with each new console. Giving developers new ideas and gamers new experiences. And this too has been one of their ideals from the beginning.
Well this is enough of this blog. The next blog is all about the NintendoDS and why it is smashing records across the board.
If you can think of a topic you would like to hear about, question you would like answered or a correction for me please feel free to comment.

The Real Nintendo

I am so sick and tired of the politics surrounding the videogame industry. It makes me just sick. The reason why is obvious, gamers are competitive by nature. A competitive person will not admit defeat, even at the bitter end there is usually an excuse for your shortcomings ("I have been up for 35 hours", "My contact ripped in half", etc.)Because gamers are so competitive there is usually a huge divide between gamers with different systems. To make matters worse it is great marketing for system developers to play into the competition to try and hook a gamer for life. The gloves always come off (if they even started on) and low blows are commonplace.This may not be the best subject to start my blog with but it has been the one rattling around in my head of late. It is 'why is Nintendo always seen as second-rate?' This is a question that has had me up in arms more times than I could count. The story that has been perpetuated by the media, competeting corporations, and gamers alike is that Nintendo is for children,and they have inferior hardware. If this weren't he opposite of the truth I would'nt be sitting here typing.The facts are much different than the askew reality that you no doubt have at least heard if not believed yourself. The fact is that Nintendo is among the most mature videogame companies on the planet. With over 20 years of experience in putting together great products and software, they have proven their ability to compete with everyone and anyone that comes their way.Looking on this currently ending console generation for example, Nintendo reports a profit, both on consoles and software. In contrast Sony had a slight loss on hardware and a profit on software. Microsoft had a huge loss on hardware and could'nt possibly have made it up in software. With Nintendo selling the cheapest console you might wonder how they are making a profit. I will try and answer this question.The next console generation looms before us. 360 has just been released. PS3 and Revolution are poised for a launch probably next holiday season. The 360 was $400. The PS3 is estimated to ship for at least that amount. The estimates for the Revolution however are around $150, some even say a $99 pricepoint could be possible. Personally I think a $199 launch feels right. It undercuts the competition, recoups some development costs and leaves plenty of room for price cuts later. The same question can be asked, how is Nintendo making a profit? The answer that is blown out of proportion again and again is that they are filling that sleek, sexy box with inferior junk. This is of course, subjective to your view, but factually false.The hardware comprising the Revolution will be just as next-gen as the 360 and the PS3, meaning that brand new chips, boards, and technology has gone into its development. On top of that, the Revolution is the only platform with the ability to deliver next-gen games as well as next-gen graphics. The new controller has the ability to be the next morph in video game control, and it will make waves breathing new life into the FPS genre which has become increasingly stale, and RTS games which never made a real showing on consoles due to the lack of intuitive, responsive control.Back to our question of price and profit. Here is some homework. Open a new browser and google video cards. You will easily be able to find the best video card on the market. No matter when you read this the price will be somewhere around $450-500. Now, find the video card that the best one replaced and you will save yourself at least $300, yet it was cutting edge 6 months ago. This is how Nintendo is cutting costs, by doing what you and I would do when shopping for a graphics card, getting what we can afford. Of course, Microsoft and Sony are more than happy to pass these costs on to you, but they are also realising a loss per sale which is really hammering them, especially for the first couple years after launch. Nintendo has chosen what I see as a much wiser path, delivering graphics that are *nearly* on par with the competition for a price that they can't ever hope to match, while still turning a profit.The obvious question now is if the PS3 and Revolution are coming out a year later why can't they have comparable technology to the 360 while still undercutting the price? The answer is simple. Unlike graphics cards which can be replaced and upgraded apart from the rest of your computer a console system is completely proprietary, with every part tweaked to mesh perfectly with every other part instead of having a resource wasting software bridge connecting everything like in your PC. So Nintendo had already made most of their decisions about what they wanted the Revolution the be like long before we even were hearing rumors about it. Likewise with Microsoft and Sony. The graphics board will go down in price quickly, and new iterations will force older models out of production and onto clearance racks. In contrast a console will not supplant itself for another 5 years meaning no new products can force the price down. Not because they are gouging you with the console, but rather because the new graphics boards are gouging you with a price well above the value. They suck extra money at the top because they can't make money on any particular model for long. Consoles need to stay profitable, and hopefully desirable for a much longer lifespan.So that is in answer to the inferior hardware part of the question. I remember when the N64 came out and the graphics creamed the PS1, but the cry then was that graphics didn't matter so much and that Nintendo sucked because they had the much more expensive cartriges instead of the cheaper, and cheaper to program for CDs. Now the position is reversed and Nintendo sucks because they aren't supporting HD (which will result in more expensive games) and less powerful hardware. Why can't they make up their minds? And why does Nintendo suck when they are the only one pulling a profit?Next blog is why Nintendo games are much more mature than you may think. Until then.Rivulet

The Nintendo Apologetic Mk II

Well, I have a site at but I wanted to have a profile on Blogger so as to be able to post with a name. Actually, this is a much better blog site than I plan to move my post from there to here and keep them both.