Tag Archives: Google Stadia

Lifting the veil

Keith Stuart (the Guardian) gave the first reliable light less than 8 hours ago when he treats us to: ‘PlayStation 5: Sony gives the first details of its next generation console‘. We see a lot of digital techno babble (for the non-technical readers), what is important in first light is a positive and a negative. The positive is seen with “a custom graphics processor based on the forthcoming AMD Navi family, which will be capable of real-time ray tracing“, implying that the new PS5 is only inches behind today’s top graphics cards and on part what the PC could maximise in 2020, that is indeed a graphical leap that has not been seen before. Then we see “an eight-core CPU based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen processors“. This is good in a number of ways but let’s not blindly focus on the 8 cores. In the end gaming is about good games. What does seem to be implied is that Ubisoft has a unique option at present, it could get ahead of the crowd with a massive leap if they do their homework and if they focus on the result and not listen to whatever idiot is the voice of the shareholders and/or marketing, because that will end them right quick.

They have the option for a truly new Watchdog and optionally a few more of their franchises, but only if they focus, the next AAA rated at 65% could end them if they lose focus; the fans have become weary of Ubisoft and what they market and subsequently not produce. A similar stage is there for Bethesda, even as they have a lot more credibility. They have the products, but they need to have a much better QA team. They will not survive a second Fallout 76 that much is showing to be the gospel of gaming. When we see the specs of the PS5 we cannot even imagine what FromSoftware will be able to pull off, but we cannot wait to see. There are more players, especially with the implied God of War 5, even if they merely get an equal to god of War 4, people will sleep in front of gaming shops to get the game at first light, and so far we know that these makers always surpassed the previous versions, so we cannot wait.

Yet this gets us to the other place, the one negative one. You see, we might hype behind “a solid state drive“, yet the ugly truth is that space is expensive in solid state mode. Even as the current price of $975 for a 4TB drive is a lot and that price will be 30% down in 2020, the truth remains that 2TB will not cut it and we do hope that Sony is not stupid enough to follow the short-sighted path that Microsoft is on, they are now merely console number three and optionally before 2021 a number 4 out of 5. We get that we might start at 1-2TB, yet as long as the space is there to upgrade to 4TB the fans will be OK with it, selling that item short is the most dangerous path one could be on and 3mm makes all the difference. Even as Microsoft Marketing is trying to launch hypes around Xbox Two, they have already lost the faith of so many gamers that the stage now is set to them trying to repair damage in the first year of console release; this is totally difference form both Nintendo and Sony who are now steaming ahead at full throttle. Even as we get the Sci-Fi versions of what the Xbox Two might be, too many people are no longer willing to trust Microsoft at present and that is hurting them at the starting bell for a lot more than they are willing to admit to. I only they had actually listened to the gamers, we are not willing to trust them with their words: ‘We listened to gamer and this is what we came up with‘, they will bully always online, they will bully their Microsoft Azure needs. This is the consequence of doing what shareholders tell you and disregard the customer, it is a failed model and I have seen the fallout of that for well over two decades in the field.

So whilst others need to worry about the market share they lose against Nintendo and Google Stadia (optionally against Apple too), Sony has decided on the path that gamers desire and with one optional flaw they are on track to surpass themselves. It gets to be even larger if initial social media plans come to fruition, yet there is no evidence that this is in any way happening. what is interesting is that the winning path of Sony is pushed to a much higher level whilst Microsoft is still clinging to “Securely store player data, dynamically scale your gaming experiences to more than 50 regions, and save money as your game grows with Azure” and even as some give us: “Google may have stolen the show at this year’s Game Developer Conference with its Stadia cloud gaming reveal, but Microsoft is hard at work on its own service, xCloud, that it’s already testing now. At a GDC developer session yesterday, Microsoft representatives from the xCloud team gave us a little more detail into how games designed for Xbox consoles will translate over to mobile devices, where players might be used to either a Bluetooth controller or on-screen touch controls“, some need to see a reality, not only are they outgunned against Google (Stadia), the fact that the fact that I do not accept any Xbox game to be played on a mere 6” mobile, we now see that the entire concept of ‘gaming’ is seemingly slightly alien to Microsoft. This is all about stored player data; this is about data and facilitating for the capture of it.

Do you really think that I could ever enjoy Forza Horizons IV on a 6″ screen? That game is the reason why people buy a 75″ 4K TV in the first place. So not only is Microsoft failing its gamers, their own marketing department is failing both. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of games that play nicely on a Mobile, some games can be played at any place and screen (Fallout Shelter, Gems of War), but the premise to make it all go to a mobile display is almost insulting to the people who went all out and created Forza Horizons IV for the big 4K screens.

This matters!

This matters as it shows the people that both Sony and Nintendo have been on the right track all along, the Nintendo sales figures show that, the head start of Sony shows it and now the top two will vie for their audience and even as Sony is ahead, it cannot relax one moment, Nintendo is too good at what they do and it is what the gamers want, Sony knows that too.

for now we see the PS5 for what it is, an optional beauty to replace our PS4 with, the fact that it is still a year away (optionally 17 months) is not something we are sorry about. The PS4 gives loads of entertainment to all its users and is highly likely to do so until the PS4 hands over the baton to the PS5, that is how it works and even then the PS4 will keep gamers happy for the longest of times, just like the Nintendo GameCube did whilst people were buying the Nintendo Wii in force. For that too is gaming, it is like our favourite pair of shoes or wallet, we hang onto it a little longer than we should, we grew attached to the device that brought so much joy, something Nintendo accepted and Sony forgot just a little too easy.

 

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At the end of a journey

Today is not for the faint of heart, or those who are hindered by emotional parts, today is not merely about gaming, it is about the game. We are currently confronted with a few issues, the first one is given by the Guardian, was for two weeks. My initial issues with ‘Apple Arcade v Google Stadia: which is the future for video games?‘ is a simple stage. Why can’t we have both? I was never anti one or pro the other ever. I was not about Atari ST versus Amiga, I was not about CBM-64 vs Atari 800, I was also not about N64 vs PS1. My issue with Microsoft was their stupidity, as well as their refusal to listen to their gamers, that is the mere reason why the Nintendo Switch is now on par with the total Xbox lifetime sold consoles, it took Nintendo less than 2 years to get there and they got there, the most powerful console is now actively being surpassed by the weakest of the three consoles, that is the impact of stupidity (optionally ignoring Karma was partially a reason too).

So I believe that there is space for both, a case can be made for either console and even as we are most likely to get one of them first, there is a decent case for getting them both down the track. We will have to wait what is in store for us, yet the Google controller clearly looks like something we have seen before. Yet wait; only two days ago we see Microsoft Stupidity strike again. This time in the shape of the Microsoft CFO giving us: ‘Xbox CFO on Google Stadia: “Cloud Won’t Match Local Experience”‘, so thank you Tim Stuart (apparently he is the Xbox CFO), thank you for confirming this, the entire push of Cloud and always online is proven to be a bad choice, as I stated for the last 6 years. Too bad that you never considered the stupidity of your console choices years ago, you might not have become the underdog, defeated by the weakest of all next gen consoles.

I particularly enjoyed the passage (at https://mspoweruser.com/xbox-cfo-on-google-stadia-cloud-wont-match-local-experience/) “Microsoft believes that it will struggle in providing gamers enough content as the company doesn’t have strong ties to Game developers and publishers.“, it is merely a temporary delay at best, you see, when it came to exclusive games, Microsoft was nowhere to be found for almost two years, and when we see on how the magnificent growth through indie developers is seen on the Nintendo Switch (which surprised me too), we see that new players giving free value like (Gems of War) on IOS, android, PS4, XB1 and Switch is showing to be an amazing journey and for those who have all the consoles 500% more joy than ever expected. By having micro transactions, but not pushing them, we see a much larger market that will also benefit Google Stadia, then there is Fallout Shelter and there is a whole range of games that will find a happy audience on the Google Stadia (and its Apple adversary). So when it comes to Microsoft, they gambled and lost, they have remained short sighted as I expected them to be and they (as I personally see it) openly forsake their gamers for illusionary short term goals end their loss against their competitors is not done yet, not by a long shot.

So when I see “In an interview with The Telegraph, Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer for Xbox, Mike Nichols said, “Emerging competitors like Google have a cloud infrastructure, a community with YouTube, but they don’t have the content.”” I see a new level of shortsightedness. I see the failing from Mike Nichols. I designed three ideas in gaming in under a week and I am not even the visionary that some are, content can be corrected for; indie developers can make up the difference much faster than the barricades that Microsoft erected long ago.

Google has an optional trump card that none of the others used and as such has the open advantage much sooner than expected. The article has more laughable statements, but let’s move on for now. You see, Techradar had the right idea last week when it gave us ‘Google Stadia may be the first good use for 5G phones‘, the entire setting of 4G ‘Wherever I am’ and 5G ‘whenever I want it’ will find unification in Google Stadia and it will grow close to exponentially soon thereafter. Techradar also gives us: “Google executive Phil Harrison, meanwhile, confirmed that Stadia has already started gaining momentum and that Google received strong support from developers the game streaming platform which in theory solves one of the major concern regarding Stadia“, I do remain critical on the need to measure and keep in check those who are in it for the micro transactions and short term gain for themselves, they are not a joy, they are the Achilles heel of gaming soon enough, but the momentum counts and must not be ignored. Apple Arcade has a larger issue, Apple lost well over 450 billion in value and even as close to 50% of the loss has been regained, Apple cannot afford to be casual, there are 2 billion gamers in the world and if Apple does not play its cards right, they merely become another short term player in a game setting that they might not comprehend. Microsoft didn’t, that much is clear and they got hit and they got hit hard.

The other side

You see, the moment I ‘feared’ has come to town, there have been two games over the last year, two games that changed it all. The first is God of War 4; a game so amazing, so large and so perfect in almost every way that is boggles the mind. Even now, watching the total cut scenes on YouTube is a journey that is close to 6 hours. 6 hours that is a story supporting a game with graphic perfection that was unseen until that day. Now we see ‘Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice‘, a game with graphic and gaming perfection. Both games are PS4 exclusives, both are singular reasons to upgrade to the PS4 pro and both are challenges of the largest degree. It sounds morbid, but at the end of my life, I am finally seeing what should be regarded as the apogee of gaming. Finally I see something that equals and surpasses on what my imagination could perceive, after 40 years of gaming, we are finally getting the games that are the top in its field. Both for the Sony console. That is what Apple and Google are up against, yet they are not. With their solutions they are much more a trump solution for the 1 billion mobile gamers wanting a little more. Nintendo Switch with their docking station is proving the switch between on the road and the large TV screen, both regarded in equal measure on one system and with 5G google can do the same thing, Google Stadia could be a growth system (optionally much more than Apple) in the stage where systems are vying for a billion gamers. So even as Microsoft was (in my personal view) deceptive to hide behind “We’re developing Project xCloud not as a replacement for game consoles, but as a way to provide the same choice and versatility that lovers of music and video enjoy today,” they are eager to avoid the entire online only and pushing us towards their Azure desk. They opened that door and they are now learning that Google is much better in applying that very same portal, another battle lost for Microsoft (and they were never that ready to begin with). A game lost in one generation, what the Xbox360 build form the strong setting of the very first Xbox, the Xbox One pretty much lost and at present they have no options to regain that market any day soon, they wasted too much options on that road.

Google has an additional advantage, the bulk of all gamers have a modern TV, so form that part we see more than the Guardian gave us (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2019/mar/27/apple-arcade-v-google-stadia-which-is-the-future-for-video-games) two weeks ago. With: “streaming would open games up to millions – if not billions – of people who don’t want or can’t afford to buy pricey equipment“, take that consideration with a $59 Chromecast to stream to your TV, at that point a person’s Mobile is going to be the centre for gaming, stream to TV with merely a mobile and a controller. That is the true growth for Google and even those who have a console; it will be enriching to take a turn to the options Google offers, any gamer would want to take that path. As I see the gaming solutions that the CBM-64, the Atari ST and the Amiga offered, a mere high resolution upgrade will make hundreds if not thousands of games, none of them IP protected, all offering the original designers a stream of additional wealth, all there for the taking and all there for the streaming. Some of the most original games, even now still regarded as awesome passing of time, all ready for the next few years. So there we see just how the statement “Microsoft believes that it will struggle in providing gamers enough content as the company doesn’t have strong ties to Game developers and publishers” is not just a weak one, it is one that can be overcome close to overnight, a mere state of denial by what was once great and is optionally now soon forgotten, the mere application of not listening to gamers and keeping the focal point of greed and dependency got them there and now soon to be surpassed not once, but optionally twice. How is that for a lack of vision. Even as I see more solutions that could set a wining stage on the Xbox 360, now it will be the stage that fuels optionally both the Google as well as the Apple solution to gaming.

The games they provide will not equal the two games mentioned or what the PS3 pro offers for now, but as we clearly knew and what Nintendo Switch has proven to us, the most powerful console does not win, the best game does and when we see that, when we see that great gaming has existed for decades, yet some of these titles were forgotten, or better stated not played on current systems, they are not dead, they can be revived in the new gaming world that is introduced by Apple and Google.

So what was three is now set to the stage of 5 and in that stage we know the top  two, yet in the end Microsoft could fall back to 4th position soon enough, when that happens will they finally wake up in Microsoft land, or will we get more marketing and statements that can be laughed at soon thereafter. Gaming is a much more serious business than most realise and those who do not will not last long in that place, so the need to listen to the gamers was always a first, the one part that Microsoft never considered for the longest of times, that is why they are sliding from 2nd to 3rd and soon enough optionally 4th. If I am still around in 2022, I wonder if my words will be shown and proven to be correct. For Microsoft to gain momentum they will require to make massive changes to their way of thinking and with both Google and Apple entering that field, will they change fast enough, and more important, will they finally truly listen to their gaming population?

Time will tell.

 

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A BAFTA for controllers

Yes, another event is taking place; this time it will be the BAFTA for games that is up for some to grab. The competition has been fierce in the past; I actually did not choose God of War in the Games Awards 2018. I would have given it to Forza Horizons 4, who had blown me away on several fields, even as there was no dispute, it was close, really really close. So as we see the Artistic Achievement mask, God of War wins, not by much as the competition was fierce.

With Audio achievement, God of War wins, it will also win the Music; the soundtrack is overwhelming and amazing. They also have the benefit that AC Origins and Arkham Knight are not on that list; these three are the best soundtracks gaming has ever produced. Bear McCreary, a musician who already earned his stripes with Battlestar Galactica (and several others) is now the one favourite for that mask, as I personally see it.

Yet best game is interesting, with Forza Horizons missing, only God of War remains; in my personal view the others will not make it a nose length fight. Yet all is not lost for Microsoft, with the British game, we see a win that clearly goes to Forza, racing through Britain is just too much fun and too amazing.

I have to pass on debut game; too many are unknown to me, making my voice not a fair one. As Evolving Game, Elite is the one for me. I have skin in the game there, having loved the game since its initial release on the BBC Micro B and my own copy on the CBM 64 (I did not have the BBC Micro B myself). I still remember that day as I had to take a 90 minute train trip to get to the one store in 1985 that had it. When it comes to Family, my view is skewed. I do not think that Pokémon is a family game, it is family friendly, that is true, but true family game implies engagement by all and there I merely see Super Mario Party as the one option, perhaps it is most likely that my view of the Family category is wrong, but perhaps it should not have been given a category that comes across as dubious in its interpretation. As for Game beyond Entertainment, 4 are unknown to me, so I skip that category. The same would apply to Game Design was it not to the fact that God of War is sublime in all ways, so I reckon they will get it. Yet, I am happy to be proven wrong due to a game I had not seen. The same can be said for Game Innovation, yet when it comes to innovation the entire idea of creativity and cardboard to be added to a console and gaming is just so whack that it should win. I never saw the appeal, yet the appeal to see kids fold a piano and then play it making the switch play music is just slightly too strong on the side of magic beating that horse named science. Only Nintendo could ever be that one player who does not know what a box is, and therefore not being hindered by one.

I skip several but then halt at Original Property, which only as it ends up being slightly flawed Subnautica wins. I have been testing it since its early release and it is by far the most immersive (submersive too) and innovative (as well as original) survival game. The fact that it is almost all on water makes it weird, strange and it never stops being weird and challenging.

For me personally the Performer mask should be Christopher Judge as Kratos in God of War his performance of Kratos is iconic, yet the voices: Danielle Bisutti as Freya, Jeremy Davies as The Stranger and Sunny Suljic as Atreus are all worthy nominees. I believe that the voice of Kassandra failed in AC Odyssey, not due to the actress though, which is a shame for her, because all nominees clearly worked their asses off to get the top achievements in the games, this is one part where the software makers can intervene and slightly screw it up, yet in God of War the work on any level remained 5 out of 5 all over the board giving 4 nominees a clear advantage.

As for EE mobile game of the year, there is no way of telling. An audience will vote personal and emotional giving Pokémon go the home field advantage, but in the end it will be anyone’s guess and Fortnite is on that list too, so I wonder if that voice will be impacted by the PC and console gamers, I actually do not know. I am not surprised that I did not elect Red Dead Redemption 2. I was never into Westerns. I do acknowledge that everyone tells me that it is the best single player experience ever, but so was God of War, so was Forza Horizons 4 (if you are a racer). You see, some might hide behind the marketing of ‘the most powerful console in the world‘, yet when the awe is not in the hardware, but in the excellence of game design like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. We see it when the least powerful console overwhelms you with graphics, music and gaming experience. When the noise of ‘jing jing’ when you switch on a console does not do it, but your heart flutters when you hear the ‘Yahoo!’ of Mario grabbing another Power moon and your mind races where more can be found. When you get that part, then you also understand why Microsoft ends up having their most powerful console in the world in the number three position of consoles. And it gets to be worse for them soon enough (optionally). When the people at Google realise what makes gamers tick, they might end up being a mere number 4 contending party in 2021. It is the adaptation of a French expression; I think it came from the French revolution. The adapted expression is: ‘Change is valuable it turns the leaders into underdogs’; it is a lesson that Microsoft will just have to learn the hard way. Their unwillingness to listen to gamers is coming at a very steep price and it will look optionally a lot more expensive soon enough.

How does that matter?

It matters as we see the gamers move to other consoles, at times keeping the old console around, but the funds (if they have any) will go towards the games that they are drawn too, Microsoft seemingly forgot about that. They pushed for backwards compatibility so that could ride on the coattails of the Xbox 360 a little while longer, but that too will lose steam and the game awards as well as the gaming Bafta gives us where the need for new games was at, and in that respect God of War truly delivered, the fact that a Sony Exclusive game is a nominee in most categories also gives us a tale of where Microsoft dropped the ball (yet again), and now Google Stadia is just around the corner biting into the multi gamer and streaming services fruit that Microsoft thought they had secured for themselves. I admit that they went about it the right way and anyone into gaming and online not getting a Game Pass is pretty much insane, yet that horse has other jockey’s and Google as the late arrival is about to walk into the ring.

We will be ready with Irish jokes as the awards will be presented by Dara O’Briain on April 4th, so we should hope that Milton Jones walks in to have a bit of a go at Dara on stage, but that is just wishful thinking.

I like game awards as it shows to some extend what games achieved and who were the ones teaching us what gaming can be about. We tend to look at the large games, the large players, yet in that world we might not have noticed Minecraft, a labour of love that became an addiction for millions, for many it still is. In this day and age it seems impossible, but who has played Subnautica? When you look will you suddenly realise that you missed out on something? That is actually the best art of the show, until one award night I had never heard of Threes! That can happen to us all, and for those seeing that one game that makes you buy a console, that is the moment you open another door to multiple worlds.

Game awards also give rise to new directions, at present more often than not instigated by small indie developers, but pushes like that can be game changers. Even as I contemplated an entirely new direction for changing difficulty levels in a game like Watchdogs 3, I suddenly considered that this path had never been considered ever before (optionally a slight exaggeration), and it could have an educational impact as well. The added value goes towards the replayability that a game has, changing the value of a game and the bank for your buck. Now, we can all agree that not everyone might like it that was and that path is not for every franchise; yet the realisation that no one has ever taken it into that direction is also food for thought, especially when you realise how many games have been published and I have been involved with and around gaming since Mirrorsoft.

And in finality, this is the first year that where it is my feeling that the Gaming awards had a better impact and was appreciated better and more than the academy awards, implying that the ascending star for gaming will continue for some time to come.

 

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