Tag Archives: SEGA

The next challenge

Gaming IP is always a challenge. There is the iterative challenge of getting a sequel or a remaster into play. Even as the innovative charge does not hold up for too long, a great game remastered can fill the coffers of a software house rather fast and nicely. We have seen it in the past, we could optionally see it when someone decides to take SEGA Dreamcast IP to a new setting. I personally think that both Fur Fighters and Wacky Races are undervalued and cast aside. Fur Fighters has its own challenge and graphically on the Dreamcast it would be able to hold itself up against most of the IP we see today. It had the quirks that made us wonder what else would be possible, and that is a good thing.

There there was the Hanna Barbera classic Wacky Races. It was a race game that held up against Mario Kart and it was unique, a setting where the racers all had special abilities and overall each racer was gifted with all kinds of options, it was when the game was done against one another when it truly started to shine. There are of course more, but a lot of them were done in new ways and with new options. Yet these two were forgotten and in the age of play that is a shame.

When we look at the innovation station, the setting becomes oblique, there is a lack of clarity, in almost everyone and I am no exception. You see, we look at the games that exist and how we might do better or how we might change the way we play and that is hard, it really is, I do not deny it. I created several pieces of IP, yet I am also gifted with the weakness of looking to those who did make amazing games. I believe that is a problem, not a big one, but one none the less. I tend to look at the age that stands between the CBM-64 and the CBM Amiga (Including Atari ST). That era gave us so many games and so many could be upgraded and improved upon. Not  because the makers failed, they did not. But what is possible in 2022 was not an option in 1986, moreover there is every chance that the makers never considered it in those days. In this David Braben might have been one of the few to move Elite (1985) into Elite Dangerous (2014), it was great then and it became overwhelmingly amazing in 2014. It is one of the few games that made a multi generation leap and the best part is that there are dozens of games that could have that ability. I wrote about it in the past. The 1983 EA game ‘Murder on the Zinderneuf’ could be the next thing. In this that it could be revamped, set to a larger stage and it gave me the idea to set the streamers (Google Stadia and Amazon Luna) to a new set of achievements one that could transfer into other games. Setting a new premise towards gaming and optionally trying new games. Yet that does not make it innovative. I believe my generation RPG, see previous story ‘Recap to the intro’ on September 25th 2021 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2021/09/25/recap-to-the-intro/) for details. The question becomes how many original new parts are required to move from iterative to innovative? I actually do not know. An RPG is not like other RPG’s and I avoided to copy the settings that Bethesda had, and I added options that Ubisoft ignored in the Assassins Creed. Sucks to be them! I ended up with more than 1 IP and a setting where Amazon could grow its population by 50,000,000 (not a typo). All settings that Microsoft just overlooked and ignored. The strongest console in the world? My ass! A ship is only as good as its captain and their board of directors are pushing ideas for self preservation whilst they do not understand what gamers want and need, as such they tend to lose battle after battle and it was Nintendo (the weakest console) that overtook them in less than half the time Microsoft had to grow its population. 

Yet the station remains valid. If we need more gamers, the need for innovation is adamant. Yes, we ca add iterative new games and that keeps the interest going for a little whilst, but it is long term games that a console need to gain real traction with consumers and that is why innovation remains key. Innovation is the next thing that drives hardware sales and that is what Ubisoft forgot about long before their 11th hour was up. And now that we see partnerships and all kinds of marketing messages (all whilst they lost another creative director), we can see that players like Ubisoft is trying to make their life last a little longer, all whilst the gamers know and see that their game is done. My prediction given last year was a lot more on the nose than most expected it to be and it matters. There is every chance that the headlines of Ubisoft that left become the new indie designers we hoped for and in this both Google and Amazon have a need to set that directive to their systems as fast as they can.

Time is running out and when gamers look around for a good game, it would be really nice if they are ready to support those gamers. Sony is ready, yet as a gamer I feel that a good gaming environment requires more than one platform and Microsoft is no longer a contender, so who will be the number two? Nintendo? Will the the people at Google and Amazon take this console war serious? We will let them decide.

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Sources of negativity

We are all binomial in origin, we like yes/no, we dislike yes/no, we hate yes/no and we love yes/no, yet most of us hide this in long winded excuses of reasoning, we all do that (including me). I partially hate Microsoft for what they did, for how they destroyed something that was pretty fabulous, I am upset with Ubisoft or how they squandered excellent IP and hid into the woodworks and made a quick buck, destroying the IP they created in the meantime. And as such as I was looking online for a few more tidbits as we approach the demise of Xbox, I came across a few items that puzzled me. 

I love Bethesda, I do not love all their products, which is fine. I am no lover of Rage, but others are, and that is fine. On the other hand I love Fallout, but was never a fan of Fallout 76 and that is fine too. I prefer my games not online and single player. Still, I accept that this is a pathBethesda went on, we all have growing curves and there is a collection of people (a large one) who do like Fallout 76. Perhaps the evolution of Fallout 76 will turn into Fallout 176, Fallout 276 and whatever comes and I will like it at some point, but the barricade that is out there is not one that Bethesda created. In another story we see the interaction, ‘Call of Duty: Warzone console players are turning off crossplay to escape PC cheaters’ it is merely one reason why I hate online play, I do not really hate it because I loved online Mass Effect 3, I was addicted to it, but the world has enough cheaters, when I game I want to get away from that and play on a level playing field, as such I focus on single player only, and in that my taste goes wide. 

As time went by I must have invested tens of thousands of dollars in console gaming, I agree when people say that it is wasted money, but that was my choice, I had a good job, my last ‘true’ vacation was in 1998, so when I get home I need escapism and puzzles, or challenges all at the same time and the consoles provide. It got me to the first issue on consoles, the pricing YouTubes are a little redundant and obsolete when you realise the origin.

When I look back, I started with the VIC-20, then the CBM64 ($1349) with disk drive. Overtime I evolved my systems. CBM Amiga ($700), Atari ST ($700) and there was the PC to use (I’ll get to that soon). As a gamer and reviewer I had made some waves, as such the Sega Dreamcast was free (christmas present from Sega), the Sony Playstation (I forgot what I paid for it, but it was less than the N4) The Nintendo 64 ($699) and after that I pushed towards the Sony PSX-II ($899). It was followed by the Nintendo Gamecube, a machine I loved. After that there was a small lull, I got the Xbox at the end of its lifetime for free with my mobile and it brought a few highpoints. We are now getting close to the time where everything changed. I was happy with my Xbox, the controller was a little bulky, but I have large hands, so it was a blessing in disguise. I played several of the games and Time Splitters 3 was an awesome trip, so good that I got it completed to 98% in hard mode. Then Microsoft upped the game, the Xbox360 came and I truly loved it, it was close to perfect in many ways, the 20GB drive was a little small, but you could upgrade it to a 120GB and within a year I did. Gaming life was close to perfect. I mentioned Time Splitters and it matters, there was the clear claim of backward compatibility and I fell for it, yet soon thereafter I learned the hard way that it was not and I never got Time Splitters 3 to 100%, the first annoyance was created. In all honesty, it is close to one defect in its life cycle. I too received the red rings of death and Microsoft replaced it, as such I was 3 weeks without my 360, but that was not an issue, the replacement was faster, the resolution was clearly better and gaming was at an all time high. Microsoft was a clear player in all this. The next step was the PSX3, Sony had always been great but I was not drawn to the third version, I was actually still enjoying the PSX2 (as well as the GameCube). So it was a nice relief when I bought a new TV and the PSX3 was part of this as a bonus, to be honest, I was not drawn to the PSX3, I did love the games I played on it, but overall, until Metal Gear Solid IV, games of the patriot arrived, I was not madly gaming it. As such, when it did the shift was starting to happen. 

Before that time the Xbox360 had 70% of my time, the GameCube 20% and 10% was for the PSX3. MGSIV was the first game to attack that pattern. Sony would give us more games on that system that impacted the consoles.As Sony got more adapt in exclusive games, the PSX3 would consume time: God of War 3, Infamous(1 and 2), Ratchet and Clank, Beyond two Souls, Gran Turismo and the end there was the Last of Us, Sony was reacquiring the timeline. Even as I had Oblivion and Mass Effect 3 on my Xbox, the timeline had shifted to 40% X360, 40% PSX3 and 20% Gamecube. Sony was back through great games, just like it did before and Xbox was not to blame. In all this I did not mention PC Gaming and that was on purpose, from 1989 onwards my PC was for gaming and I had more often than not the best of the best. A soundblaster card? I had it and when the first games came needing the better processor I had that system. Unreal Tournament, Black an White, System Shock(1 and 2), Wing Commander (1,2,3), Red Alert, Populous, Ultima, the list goes on, it was when Thief came that I ‘woke up’, I had a really good Diamond card yet Thief forced me to upgrade to the Diamond Viper 2 (no regrets) and the realisation set in (around 2003). Gaming is about the graphics card, sound, storage and the processor and at that point a graphics card was $600, the soundcard $500, and storage came as is. As such a console was a lot cheaper and my need for gaming was fulfilled. Only two years later a high end graphics card was $999 and as such console gaming was becoming increasingly cheap.

This all matters, when we are confronted with the pricing of the Xbox One X and the PS5, we forget that what came before was a lot more expensie and offers less, it was also the time that we started to realise that we need increasingly more space, the Xbox360 and the PSX3 already taught us that, as such the faults in the Xbox were more than merely stupid. Sony solved it by letting people selecting a larger drive and replacing the old drive, Microsoft had not caught on and would not catch on for the entire life cycle of the Xbox One, it is only now that they are seeing the light and their other flaws (always online) are showing that they are no longer to be the trustworthy system and trust is everything here. 

So when I see this tyrade of options and systems and whether I (and many other gamers) are willing to pay only $500 or are willing to pay $550, I wonder if these people realise that they are continuing a consumer base that goes into pillions and they have spent a massive amount of money. Microsoft is also making the mistake to hunt towards the most powerful systems whilst good games is where it is at, so where are the great games?  This is where Ubisoft comes into the mix, exclusive or not they went from great game maker to mediocre game maker and you merely have to look at the exclusive sony titles to realise that. Whilst the creation of titles gave them 90+% games, we now see that 80%+ is the best they can muster and for the most pushed deadlines and marketing promises that cannot be kept are the cause. The lack of proper testing is another matter where they failed and it impacts the choices of consoles we have, because whether we want to accept it or now, Ubisoft is a big deal in console gaming and as they fail, the exclusives are where it is at and there Sony wins, it is a landslide win. To get the greatest games we need Microsoft and Ubisoft to get back to the top or we need someone to replace them, it is that simple.

Players like Bethesda, Capcom and others help, yet the more the merrier (in the high end gaming cycle) and we are all starved for good games and the consoles are a driving force.

Let’s hope that this gaming force is driven to the max at the highest peaks for years to come by as many players as possible, for in that setting the gamer truly wins, no matter who tops the bill.

 

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WYSIWYG?

What you see is what you get, that has been around since the old PC XT (or AT) tried its hands on desktop publishing. The phrase continued and spread in other paths, and we all accepted the term. Yet the term evolved and the fakeness of the term used later was ignored. As such the evolved WYSIWHY has come to be: What You See Is What Hyped You.

We see it in all matters of events. How the media gives rise to ‘Fed cuts rates by half a percentage point to combat coronavirus slowdown‘ (source:CNBC), even as there were less than 300 cases in a nation with 325,000,000 people, no such consideration was ever given with Swine flu or HIV. It was merely an administration what wanted to avoid the use of ‘recession’, now we see ‘Recession fears grow as Wall Street investors brace for a wild week for stocks‘ (source: Washington Post), even as we accept “after coronavirus fears caused the biggest weekly decline for U.S. stocks since the financial crisis“, the idea that a case of the flu, with a present 109,975 cases is just insane and most people are just buying the cake shovelled towards us. Consider that China has 73% of the cases and 19.3% of the cases are spread over Italy, South Korea and Iran. So how can these 4 nations impact the world economy to THAT extent? Lets not forget that the global fatality is still around 3.4%, all whilst the cases in Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Singapore, Austria, and Canada are without fatalities (at present), as such the overreaction is large and WYSIWHY is as I personally see it the stage.

Yet this is not about that, even as the beer virus (Corona) is staged to you in ‘E3 2020 is on a knife-edge right now – and it could end the gaming show for good‘ by Techradar (at https://www.techradar.com/news/e3-2020-is-on-a-knife-edge-right-now-and-it-could-end-the-gaming-show-for-good), there are a few important parts here and it is time to call the spades that they are not diamonds (or hearts for that matter). 

As I personally see it, there is a larger rift between Sony and Microsoft and it is coming to blows soon enough. Sony wants to be slightly cheaper than the Microsoft product, all whilst the Microsoft presentations are hiding the simple fact that they DO NOT want to reveal the storage space on their contraption. Look at all the presentations over the last year, it is all about hype creation, all whilst storage is a massive part of a console, no matter how you play, you need storage and for almost a year Microsoft steered away from it in any way they could and for them the E3 is coming too soon to feel comfortable. More importantly, in 2013 they had this ‘always online‘ part and it nearly destroyed the Xbox as a product, now they are afraid to come out and play as the kids would say, they are all into hype creation, whilst essential issues like price and storage are averted. I give them a pass on price this early, not on storage, because if the systems is this ready, the storage is known, even if there are multiple options. 

Microsoft desperately needs WYSIWHY and the people in gaming have had enough of that stage. The Techradar article mentions Microsoft once, a player that distinct in the E3 history, to see it only once, implies (for me at least) that this is about avoidance. Sony has had a great run and it has the benefit of a huge PS population, it is ahead by a lot. To be honest, if the PS5 is $100 more expensive than the Microsoft version, I will still go for the Sony option, as I personally see and feel it, there was too much treason by Microsoft towards me, too much harassment towards online and too much bricks on the road for the offline players (not to mention all the advertisements on my XBox One home page), intentional limitations is as much of an harassment than anything else and Microsoft is out of options with me.

There are a few options, especially as the E3 trade show is a moneymaker, merely delaying it would already be a clear alternative, no the talk is ‘cancellation’ and it does not sit well with me (so far ESA has clearly denied any cancellation of the E3). Yes, even as the corona cases are blatantly out of proportions (the shouting that is), we see no foul in delaying the E3 event, cooler heads prevail and I see that the E3 might have to be delayed, yet for how much, that is the question, also, as the E3 is getting closer to the end of the year, the PS5 and the Microsoft alternative could actually be presented to players, as such I see that there is a lot more going on. Nintendo has a hard time ahead, but the Switch is so switched on that it will stay standing in the upcoming Sony vs Microsoft battle, but Microsoft does not want that, you see with the Nintendo Switch surpassing Microsoft on lifetime sales the stage is not pretty for Microsoft, they were willing to grudgingly be in second place, but to get to a trade show where the weakest processor sells better then the most powerful one, especially as pricing is seemingly not the issue is too unsettling for Microsoft, until they can hype some kind of a win over the other two, they want to avoid the E3 completely, yet the E3 is more than these three, the game makers (Bethesda, Ubisoft, Square Enix, Sega and others) are also a factor, they are the people also enticing the audience and even as we see good things, we see that Ubisoft is in terrible danger. First we get “The Division 2 is still having a few issues, despite the release of a new update. The issue appears to be affecting Xbox One owners, who are unable to login because their characters are locked.” (source: the Express), then there were a load of issues with Breakpoint, Digital Trends gave us yesterday “Ubisoft will try to save Ghost Recon Breakpoint with huge overhaul, new modes” this is on what some would call ‘an old system’, and it seems that they are nowhere near ready to go to the new systems, whatever presentation they bring with get nitpicked by thousands and Ubisoft might not ready for that as I personally see it because they could not properly test games (as the released evidence shows or muzzle their marketing department until it was safe for them to create hypes).

Bethesda’s largest issue was Fallout 76, and that is fair. They gave us two days ago “Just Because It Didn’t Go Well Doesn’t Mean It Was Wrong to Try Something Different“. OK I support that part, trying something new could break the bank, it did with the Nintendo Switch, and there is no shame in trying and failing (Nintendo WiiU anyone?) This is how gaming goes. When you are on the edge of what is possible, doing the same will not get you anywhere, I personally was not up for Fallout 76 (I prefer my games single player), as such Pete Hines is correct and beyond that, until they have something that is really ready on PS5/XBox, they might prefer to remain quiet, I get that. The E3 is too big and it is possible that some makers don’t have anything ready at that point and that is fine, but the fact that no one has anything, that becomes too weird.

If I can design a gaming idea in 8 hours, so can those who are better at it then me, that is merely a simple truth to behold and the cancellation of the E3 does not make sense. Yes it makes sense for Microsoft (for all the expected reasons) and it makes sense for Ubisoft (for all their unfortunate events), yet there is more than these two and there is so much to behold in gaming land that it is sad to see so much depend on the PS5/XBox to falter (whilst some are hiding behind a bottle of Corona).

As Techradar finishes with “given the melting pot of illness, behind-the-scenes disagreements, and online distribution channels threatening its survival. And the status of E3 2020 could be decided any day now. We’ll keep you informed either way” we see that nothing is set in tone, but the flexibility to avoid issues are in play, we get part of that. 

So let’s look at the elements

  1. Illness. Not an issue, the delay could optionally avoid that and give rise to solving another part.
  2. Behind-the-scenes disagreements. OK, we accept that, but that has always been the case, in this stage we see that Microsoft and Ubisoft are in a massive negative swing, so do these two players have THAT much swing on the E3?
  3. Online distribution channels. Not an issue educating and buying a muzzle for your marketing department solves that. What is hyped is an issue, but only to the hyper, online distribution channels have been a larger issue for much longer and the NDA tends to solve several issues, in addition, barring those who break the NDA is also a solution, the fact that they can never get nfo ever again also makes them unemployable, so people tend to take these parts serious. It also implies that the smaller fry gets left out which is not a bad thing, there are plenty of larger players that have (to the best of my knowledge adhered to the NDA states, as such just the muzzling of their marketing department remains, hiring the right people tends to solve that.
  4. New: E3 2020 Creative Directors Resign, OK that is an optional event, there is a larger issue in play and it is not merely the running aways by Creative Directors. There is not enough information to judge the actions of iam8bit, and the actions by Geoff Keighley give rise to a lot more and this has nothing to do with any fear of any case of the flu. 

As we look at the stage of the E3, the amount of questions rising within me is increasing almost exponentially, no matter how certain paths go, anywho has ever planned for an event will tell you that largest contributors walking out past the 90% point is not merely rare, it should be grounds for a large open debate towards what is really going on, in that same trend we see the walking off by Geoff Keighley and the face he presented towards gaming at so many events should also be the foundation of questions.

What you see is not what we are getting and the media is actually part of the problem here, and it is seen in other ways too, as CCN gave us on February 15th (at https://www.ccn.com/this-company-wants-to-save-e3-2020-and-its-inviting-keanu-reeves-for-the-ride/) ‘This Company Wants to Save E3 2020, and It’s Inviting Keanu Reeves for the Ride‘, we can optionally argue that this is the coolest invitation that Keanu Reeves ever got for St. Valentine, the truth is that he is more than a crowd pleaser, as actor, as the actor for the John Wick stories, as the man playing Silverhand in CD Projekt Red ‘Cyberpunk 2077‘ it is one of the better thoughts, yet Limited Run Games (the company behind this action) is largely unknown and so far the media is ignoring all this and I see no refusal or denial from the agent of K. Reeves (as far as I was able to look into this). As CCN (in their article) gives a lot more, we see the stage that makes no sense, The E3 is a lot larger than the mere product makers, there are the entertainers, the software makers and there are multiple event carriers in place, the math doesn’t add up on my side and the media gives too little attention to this (the news media, not the gaming media).

When a global event like E3 is on such a stage, how can the news media remain silent to such a degree? Lets not forget that the event is 3 months away, optionally 5-6, as such there is a much larger stage in play, can you all see that? For the most I steered clear of the  Electronic Software Association (ESA), I am not stating that they are not a factor, but I have no idea what factor they are and what their agenda is in all this, even as we see statements like ‘ESA says E3 2020 still going ahead as planned‘, we cannot say what the finite standing is, they will have to take the Coronavirus as a factor, because there are costs for moving an event like this and as such there is a financial path to consider, I am not denying that in some cases. 

The math doesn’t add up and the stage is too large, whatever is plaguing E3 has a much larger issue that is not reported on and it seems to me (paranoia comfortably setting in) that this might be a case of the media having to deal with people who are either shareholders, stakeholders, or advertisers. Yet this is merely my take on the stage.

Is it true?

Well that remains to be seen, until the end of last month Xbox, Nintendo, Ubisoft and Bethesda were all confirmed (more were), so I have to remain skeptical at the whole ‘cancellation’ hype, yet there are rumours in the weeds that the cancellation drive is growing and two players cancelling at this point implies that the cancellation drive is not non-existent. There are optionally more issues in the field, one is ‘Top Rainbow Six Siege creators call for Ubisoft to prevent harassment and ‘stream sniping’‘ (source: Windows Central) which is nothing against Ubisoft as a company or a product maker, but it is fallout that they have to deal with, as such I also accept “Ubisoft has made strides in tackling cheating and toxicity, top content creators voice concerns over tools to protect broadcasters“, we can argue that there needs to be ample protection against cheaters, yet against bullies it becomes a different matter, what can you allow for to keep the game as open as it is without restraining valid gamers beyond valid measures, it is an optional headache that Ubisoft doesn’t need and more clearly does not deserve. In addition to all this, there are several software houses pulling titles from the NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW service. This will also lead to all kinds of questions, as such we see that this E3 has an enormous amount of questions and this will be the first E3 lacking all kinds of answers, we can expect a whole range of spin answers, but actual answers? I fear the worst at present.

At present there is no cancellation of the E3, yet I believe that if this does happen during the week, whatever factor is given to the Coronavirus will be off by at least 50%, it is in my humble opinion too much about certain people needing it not to happen because of very different factors, the Coronavirus was seemingly no more than a happy coincidence.

 

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All eyes on Nintendo

We have 9 weeks left, 9 weeks until we are hopefully blown away by the 2018 E3 presentations. This year the stakes are very high. You see, the number one place in not up for grabs, it is there for Sony, there is no chance for anyone to catch up and the next 15 months will give Sony the boost of a lifetime, optionally the strongest boost in its existence. The games are just that impressive. The only worry is, will they all be on time and how long until the next one is released. That last question is actually more important than you’d imagine, and not for the reason you might think.

You see Microsoft fumbled, they dropped the ball and whilst too many are listening to their marketing ‘the Xbox One X is the most powerful gaming console ever made‘ these many are now seeing the negative sides, the flaws. Some are handed how components are held together by thermal paste (I cannot verify that validity), some state that bricking and hardware failures are too often heard (another thing I never heard myself). My issue remains that the entire design was flawed all the way back to the beginning of the Xbox One. Microsoft had the opportunity to fix their gigantic screw up with the release of the Xbox One X, but their ego got the better of them and it is about to cost them even more, more than they ever realised. It is not about the PlayStation, that ship has sailed and it is now almost half an ocean ahead of Microsoft. The setup for the upcoming releases of Sony PlayStation games is more than stellar; it is close to the best setting of amazing games since the release of the PS4 console itself. The only worry is will they all be on time? There are always the hazardous moments that gamers call ‘delays’.

This all matters as Microsoft is about to qualify for a very special award. One that would make Satya Narayana Nadella, Phil Spencer and Bill Gates proud (I guess). You see, Microsoft is about to qualify for the Wooden Spoon award, the award for being dead last. That is not a joke. We are closing in on the moment where the Nintendo Switch will surpass the Xbox One sales. In just over a year the Nintendo Switch got 50% of the total number of sales that the Xbox One had in its total lifetime. What I predicted last year is going to happen, it is still unlikely that it will happen in 2018, but in 2019 the goose of Microsoft will get cooked in the most entertaining way. Fun filled Nintendo does with glamour and joy what the Marketing department of Microsoft was unable deliver, an actual product that brought joy. And now the previous line ‘The only worry is, will they all be on time‘ becomes very much an issue. You see, more and more PlayStation players are moving into the line to get a Nintendo Switch on the side. And it actually works, because these two are in very different gaming lanes and whilst some always thought that having the Xbox One and the PS4 together was a good idea, the bungles of Microsoft is making these people reconsider and they will switch for a Nintendo Switch. I see it as a very good choice; Microsoft has been too stupid for far too long a time.

It is weird because even as Microsoft bungled their E3 in 2016, they actually hit the ball out of the ballpark in 2017. There was a glimmer of hope for Microsoft at that point. I was not convinced, even though I thought that the 2017 show was the best they had given in a very long time, the Xbox One flaws were too clear on the surface and they ignored it in the Xbox One X. So as we await what will happen in 9 weeks, we will realise that if Nintendo does another great show, the date of Nintendo overtaking Microsoft will move slowly and steadily towards the beginning of 2019 and perhaps even towards December 31st 2018, this year the thanksgiving and Christmas season will make all the difference, it will set the stage for the optional new number two console, the Nintendo Switch.

I have no doubt that Nintendo will take that spot, it is merely the fact that, at present, it will not happen before January 2019. That could still change if the Nintendo Show is stealing it this year at the E3 2018 whilst the Microsoft show drops the ball like it did in 2016 and 2017. There is supporting evidence. You see, when I read “While announcing its E3 2018 press conference date and change of venue, Microsoft has promised that the company’s E3 presence will be greater than ever before“, I personally did not see it as the spectacular option to make a change for the better. You see “This year the show will be held in the Microsoft Theater, a separate venue located across the street from the Los Angeles Convention Center” is the indication that once seen together, in the same place as the Nintendo and Sony, the people get to see that Microsoft is losing, losing faster and becomes increasingly less impressive.

That is the war and that is the stage where Microsoft marketing has no chance of staying afloat. Digital Trends gives us the final part with “As Microsoft becomes the latest major player to ditch the E3 mold, it will be interesting to see if other studios follow suit in the years to come. Microsoft will still be present at the convention center with a Mixer booth that will hold play and streaming sessions throughout E3“, you see if you have something truly spectacular, you want the others to stand next to you, fading away as you sparkly shine bright. I remember the ECTS in London (the UK version of the E3 in the 90’s) the year that SEGA had its Dreamcast on show, Sony was not a happy player that year. Microsoft is about to have the same issues and bailed ahead of that inescapable downturn. The E3 booth is as I see it merely for show and presence. The audience at large are all hoping and expecting to see The Last of Us: Part II, not merely a small demo, but a playable part and that is the first of several games that will blow Microsoft out of the water, they have nothing to counter with, they did this to themselves. Yet in all this the Nintendo games are still a little bit of a question mark. Some have been announced, most will be there, but in all, most are hoping to see the Pokémon Switch part as the rumours have been all and about. Others are still wondering if Metroid 4 will capture the awesomeness of the first two and some (including me) are hoping that the first two will make it to the Switch too. Some are all on the Skyrim Switch horse and those are equally ‘demanding’ that fallout will make the jump too. I am not convinced, you see, when you played this on XB1 and/or PS4, you know you will lose partly some of the power of the game, it just does not completely hold on the Switch, that is not bad for the switch, because the game was never designed as such, but those who play the whole part do not want to settle for something that is partial. Yet, that seems to be merely me and most are all on the Bethesda Switch horse, which is a growing community pushing the date of overtaking much closer to December 2018.

In this the 2018 E3 might be one of the most important E3’s that the NextGen consoles have ever faced. Even as Sony is in a happy all rosy setting at present, for Microsoft it will be a day where not one but two swords of Damocles are looming over the heads of these executives. One sword is linked to the failure of the Microsoft show; the second one is linked to the success of the Nintendo show. The most powerful console of the world is about to get bashed twice, once by their own ego, the second bashing will come through the actions of a smashing plumber named Mario, in this specific case in the shape of Super Smash Bros, the enduring agony of Microsoft will not be fixed in the short term, if they had only actually listened to gamers beforehand, their predicament wouldn’t have been anywhere near this bad.

So as we are now swamped by news on all levels on how “Microsoft’s E3 2018 plans will give the Xbox One a chance to shine away from the show floor”, with one source giving us “With the larger venue, Microsoft will be able to host more fans and partners at its press event than ever. Of course, it will all be for naught if Microsoft doesn’t have anything to show off, but the company knows that it is on shaky ground”. The source (@JacobSiegal) is right of course, but the fact remains that when it comes to exclusives at present, Microsoft is clearly a Far Cry behind Sony. Oh, no! Far Cry 5 is there for PS4 too, so there is that loss for them. Yet the pun was intentional. There is a clear visible case that the only reason that Microsoft remained in the game for so long at this speed was due to the unrelenting support from Ubisoft, without them there would be no Xbox One, or the One X at all. Ubisoft set the post high enough for that so called ‘most powerful system’ to be around at all. Even now, we see that as the Ubisoft listing is showing that their games are for both systems, they will also be releasing Switch titles. It is there that the Switch will gain even more momentum, whilst their dedication (Ubisoft) to all consoles give rise to the fact that the slowdown of Xbox One X consoles will remain minimised. So it is in that part that we will see that implied huge display from Microsoft in that place across the street from the E3 will be really heavy on Ubisoft presence, and in all honesty, plenty of Xbox gamers will love that, especially when they are treated to playable multi player parts of the Division 2 (speculation from my side). That is essential as we now see that several exclusive titles for the PS4 will never make it to the XB1x. It will be the other way round for some titles as well, but weirdly enough, none of those titles score anywhere near the excellence of the PS4 games. It seems that the most powerful system in the world gets to lag in more than one area, that whilst Switch is bringing their own remastered titles, like the Spyro trilogy (several sources), what is shown is pretty much amazing in quality, so it is there that my one warning to Sony is given, they were already worried that Nintendo was taking off in stellar ways, Sony will show another worry, not that Nintendo will catch up with them, but that software sales of Nintendo will make a huge leap, whilst the overall sales of PS4 games are extremely excellent, its top increase will merely lag by an optional 1%-2% as many consumers might buy one less game on the PS4 and will change that one title less bought for two Nintendo Switch titles instead, which would make perfect sense in several ways.

We will know a lot more (read: we can predict a few things better) in 9 weeks; I just can’t wait to voice the words ‘I told you so!‘ to Satya Narayana Nadella (apparently the CEO of Microsoft).

 

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The virtual reality of it all

Well, I would have expected my gaming ideas to come from many places, the Guardian was not one of them to be honest, but there you have it, we find information in all kinds of places. reason here is the other BAFTA, not the one eloquently mentioned by Stephen Fry (aka Reaver to gamers), but by the Gaming BAFTA, which will be awarded on March 12th (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/10/alien-isolation-2015-bafta-video-game-award-nominations). There are many titles that will be mentioned, many will become non winners, and remain nominees none the less and one will stand out. Let’s take a look at those categories and some of the games mentioned.

Artistic Achievement

This is the only place where we see Ubisoft shine, to be more precise their graphical teams, no matter how I spoke out against Ubisoft and how they neglected Assassins Creed, their graphical teams did not. These graphical gurus did show a level of excellence that has been from out of this world. No matter how many bugs we see in Unity, the graphics were unreal, as were they for Black Flag; it is a well-deserved nomination and a possible winner, although they will compete with their own title Far Cry 4 here.

Audio achievement

There is one title that stands out, more important, the title itself is an achievement that many will have waited for, for a long time. It is Alien: Isolation and it puts the SEGA logo back on the screen in a most wonderful way. This alien game is not about blasting, it is about staying alive. This is the one perfect horror survival game that places the genre in a new light whilst remaining true to the atmosphere of the original Alien movie. The Evil Within scratches the surface of this genre, Alien: Isolation breaks through the skin and leaves you sweaty with possible heart problems, just like the original movie from 1979. The game truly takes you to the nerve wrecking ordeal of sharing a spaceship with an alien in the most unwanted way. The audio is every bit as important as the graphics and the audio team delivered like nothing you ever faced before.

Best Game

Is always a hard nut to crack, many games stand out in their own way, for various reasons, SEGA is the strongest nominee here, but a truly exceptional game delivers on many fronts, as such all titles deserve to be there, personally Destiny is as I see it, the least likely title to win, as it depends too much on multiplayer events, yet, this does not take it out of the race, I wonder how the silent title in the back (Monument Valley) will do. It is a silent gem, the use of the masterpieces of M. C. Escher are not to be ignored. There is a mesmerising element in this game that is as addictive as a game like Minecraft ever will be. As I mention addiction, I must warn you to stay away from nominee handheld game ‘Threes’. what seems like a simple game of addition, will turn from one second into the next into a game of addiction and your next set of threes is only one little swipe away. I reckon that in this category it will be a fight between Monument Valley and Threes and either should be seen as a worthy winner.

 

I can go on but you will have to take your own look and see what you think should be the right one to win. The important element here is that we see two parts of gaming that are now clearly impacting business. The first one is quality, yes, I started with the good side of Ubisoft as their graphical teams truly deserve it, but overall Ubisoft bungled the ball and an event like this, where they should be in domination, they are only attending in the most minimalistic of ways. The critique on several levels for Far Cry 4 and the massive failure Assassins Creed: Unity has shown to be, should be a clear indication that Yves Guillemot needs to clean up his divisions and he needs to do it no sooner than 5 minutes after the gaming BAFTA’s have ended.

The second part in all this is originality in gaming. SEGA is showing that in no small matter, in addition, we see Minecraft mentioned a few times, but the stellar part is that silent achievement Monument Valley, developer Ustwo under guidance of fearless leader Neil McFarland shows that independent developers are the future in more ways than one. The Creative Assembly (those behind Alien: Isolation and the old EA sports games) are not indie as such, but they are a far stretch from a massive developer like 2K and Ubisoft, which in addition show those larger developers that the true gems are in the mind of a person and not in the massive visibility of a division.

It will be interesting to see who is elected winner in these BAFTA’s for the mere reason that those who decide might not be the group that largely play these games, the one part that will be interesting to see is that the audience might see the real Ellie (Ashley Johnson), it is always nice to meet the person you kept safe in a digital world, even if she looks nothing like the digital character, an issue Jonathan Irons who will be portraying Kevin Spacey won’t face any day soon. I am eager to see Cliff Martinez on the stage, hopefully for winning the BAFTA for Far Cry 4, which was an excellent piece of work. I have been a fan of his work since Solaris and Contagion, two of his many created master works. As a debut game, Hitman Go definitely takes a shine. They changed a shooting assassin into a tough puzzle game with pawns shaped like Sebuteo figurines, but in the style of Hitman 47 and the goons he goes after. However, in that same category we see Shovel knight, a true retro game, based on the best of the best old style console games, whilst looking new fresh and fun to play. It is a fun achievement for both the new and the seasoned gamer.

So we will all be looking forward, or in some cases dreading this awarding evening. The only worry might be that the people who casted their votes and enjoying a horror survival stealth game is too low, which might impact SEGA to get a decent amount of the 6 nominations it received. We will see it all on March 12th and no matter who wins, I feel certain that the winning views will entice several players to take a look into nominated and winning games they had not considered playing before, that in itself will make the gaming BAFTA a great event for nominee, winner and gamer alike

The full nomination list can be found at http://www.bafta.org/sites/default/files/uploads/baftagamesawardsnominationslist.pdf

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