Thursday, May 11, 2006

Here we go...

It's time to remind everyone why you come to my site. The reason is that it is not specifically "news" oriented. Rather it is based on the marketing and buisiness side of the gaming market. That doesn't mean I don't get excited about the news, on the contrary. What it means is that I try and think about what we hear as news and then give my personal view on how it will affect the gaming industry. This is the major reason I am so excited about Nintendo, because the things they do CHANGE the industry. They were the company that introduced the d-pad, the trigger style button, the analogue stick, camera control on the 64 evolved into the dual analogue, rumble pak, the list goes on and on if you start to count some of the gameplay implementations that Nintendo introduced. There is no other company on the face of the planet that has changed gaming nearly so much as they have, and it is the thing I most respect about them. It is the reason I have this blog in the first place.

Now I want to make it clear that I don't consider myself a 'fanboy' because I like Nintendo for legitimate reasons and in a like manner, the things that I don't like about Sony and Microsoft are equally legitimate. If I could bring one console company back from the dead it would definately be SEGA as they are the company next in line based on how many gameplay and hardware innovations they have made such as shoulder buttons, first color handheld, first online capabilities, first CD drive on a system, etc. SEGA and Nintendo were bitter rivals but I think I would love to have a SEGA console right now and if they were making a next gen system it would probably be on my list because I could bet you that it would bring new things to the industry.

Having said that I would like to give my take on the E3 press conferences as well as some of the breaking news. First this whole Sony implementing tilt sensors in their controller. Sony says that they were toying with the idea long before TGS in November but it is easy to say that Nintendo influenced them to go for it. Speculation since E3 2005 was that the Wii controller would have tilt sensors, it was what made the most sense when they spouted off about making their controllers different. Even if they had the idea on their own, which is almost laughable given the timing of the whole situation, they still waited for Nintendo to take all the heat about their "retarded" controller. Nintendo defended itself and only when the waters calmed and Sony saw that it was good did they hop on board, no risk and no shame I might add. But there is a bit more to the story than first meets the eye. The PS2 DualShock controller is considered to be one of the finest controllers available, but something about the rumble feature infringes on patents filed by Immersion Corp. I don't know more detail than that but last year Sony was fined over $90 million (000,000!!!!) for this infringement and was denied permission to sell the controller and quite a few games in the US market. They appealed the courts decision but it has only delayed the probably inevitable outcome. Now we see the PS3 controller with a tilt sensor and by the way "rumble interferes with the sensors so it has been removed from our controllers." Does this seem convenient to anyone else? The link I found is here. And how many people will miss the now commonplace rumble feedback we have all grown so accustumed to?

Next up is the press conferences. The most new information regarding hardware was released by Sony only because they told us the release date (November 17th) and the price tag ($500 or $600 depending on the package you pick.) Nintendo didn't give us much in their press conference and neither did Microsoft. All in all the press conferences were rather uneventful. The crowd favorite was Nintendo though if you are wondering.

The last secret regarding the Wii controller is a speaker on the controller itself, this may seem weird or stupid but I think it will be cool. I mean when you shoot the sound would come out of the controller, when you fish in Zelda the casting of the line and the sound of the reel are heard on this speaker, it sort of elevates surround sound just a tiny bit. Not really a huge innovation but I think it will add to gaming. I of course, was hoping for an announcement about stereoscopic vision being added back into gaming but no such luck. This doesn't mean however that such technology won't still come out on the Revolution. I said a minute ago that I try and put the news into a perspective of how the industry is moving. Nintendo doesn't need to market stereo vision, if they had it in the works and they announced it every hardcore gamer would find out about it within 48 hours, thats how tight the gaming industry is. The people that Nintendo are marketing to are non-gamers, people who might likely be put off by space age goggles. At the same time Sony had JUST announced that they were ingeniously ripping off Nintendo's controller idea (and doing a lame job of it as you can read about in my last blog). Why would Nintendo want to give their competition any more time to ready their own responses to their disruptive technologies? They could hold on to this secret up to a month before launch and it would do them much more good than harm. Now don't take me the wrong way, maybe Nintendo is doing this and maybe they aren't but we have heard a lot of rumors and weird quotes from industry leaders that back it up. Nintendo themselves clearly stated that they had "not revealed everything with the controller" and that there was a huge secret left and they made it sound alot like they were two different things. Furthermore they have stated that the Wii can output to a computer screen. Stereoscopic glasses are technically identical to computer screens but quite a bit different from TVs. I would say at this point that stero vision is not any less likely or more likely to be real after not having heard about it from Nintendo this E3.

Next I want to show this: This is a controller shell prototype for the Wii controller. Made by Nintendo this bad boy holds the controller securely and turns it into a lightgun. It also has an analogue stick meaning it could be used in place of the nunchuck attachment for games like Red Steel and Metroid Prime 3. You can see how the trigger button on the controller could act as a secondary fire button with ease and I think this attachment would add a lot to some of the FPS games coming for the Wii.

Now about games, almost every single game for the Wii is totally fresh and new. Even the games based on existing genres feel brand new thanks to the incredible new controller. Furthermore, the proprietary nature of the Wii controller make it veritably impossible to port games from the Wii on to any other system but the 'normal' controller for the Wii makes it possible to port games from other systems to the Wii. Remember though that the best games on the Wii will be ones that take advantage of the new controller meaning that all the best titles will be exclusive titles for the Wii. I think Peter Moore (VP Microsoft games) said it best when he said "Tell me why you would buy a $600 PS3? People are going to buy two (machines.) They’re going to buy an Xbox and they’re going to buy a Wii … for the price of one PS3." Thank you Peter.

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