hecklin' be a way of life. when you heckle, you heckle to live. you heckle the bad musicians right off they stage, you heckle the bad films right off they screen, you heckle the powerful right off they thrones.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Console Wars

I thought the non-extant audience of this joint would care to hear my thoughts on the upcoming console wars. Frankly, my money is on the Revolution as A big winner if not the big winner.

Here's Why:

      Let's face facts nerds. It's time to man up and admit that our precious videogame industry has succumbed to Hollywood syndrome. As games get bigger, more expensive and complicated to produce and as profit margins get even thinner and thinner on the Triple-A titles (talk of bumping default price of games to US$60???) we're going to see a lot more Maddens and a lot more Halos and a lot fewer Beyond Good and Evils and Icos. Nintendo recognizes this trend and they're the ones who have the straight-up ding-dongs to buck these trends and get down to doing what they do best. Innovating. Nintendo will be the company that, in the words of the baldheaded douche Jay Allard, "grow the market." It has been said that the Revolution controller will make development (read porting EA titles) more complicated. This could not be farther from the truth. Not only does the unique and yes, Revolutionary, controller design allow designers a greater freedom to experiment with immersion techniques (which is an area of design that has been sorely neglected in spite of the increasing sophistication of graphics technology). Not to mention that the Revolution's guts, the architecture of the thing, will probably be the easiest to program for as it follows much more closely a traditional setup. Consider the ridiculous complexity of the PS3's Cell Processor. One PPE with seven so-called "synergistic" processing elements. John (freaking) Carmack has been public in his distaste for the released PS3 dev kits. And if a dude like Carmack thinks your system is dificult to program for, then it is god damned impossible to program for. Carmack threw his praise behind the 360 with it's triple-core (three PPEs) CPU but I think there are a lot of good reasons Microsoft will be an also-ran at worst and a pretender at best.
      First things First. Penny Arcade. Perhaps you've heard of it. The entirety of the so-called "hardcore gamer market" certainly has. Therefore the entirety of the "hardcore gaming market" has seen this. Now, I know this is not a deal breaker for the fortunes of a multibillion dollar corporation, but consider that Tycho's newsposts have been awash with praise for the Nintendo DS. Seriously, the dude will not shut up about it. This in combination with Nintendo's fucking smart marketing and Microsoft's shit-terrible ideas about gaming (i.e. that "marketplace" BS? What are they thinking? Core system? I think Steve Jobs is behind the 360). Since I sort of brought up Apple there I'd like to take a short detour into discussing the fact that over a million windows users have switched to Mac this year alone. Why? iPods (the goddamn things). And you know what device will not be able to interface with iPods? The 360. Despite Microsoft's best efforts it seems. Which system most likely will be able to interface with an iPod? The PS3. Seriously, Sony has made a smart move by opening the API of the PS3 (well they had to really, it does run linux after all... (imagine a Beowulf Cluster!!!)). With this new open system Sony has got the one system on the market that actually has the potential to deliver on claims of being a complete media device (Ken Kutaragi has said "this is not a gaming machine").
      Ultimately however, I'm not going to make any set-in-stone predictions of who will come out on top. Sony, with the complexity of their system and a lock on the top market share is seeking to pull the same stunt they did with the ps1 that ended up in the death of Sega and the marginalization of Nintendo. Microsoft however has ease of development combined with a lot of exclusive launch titles. And Nintendo has, well, they have fucking Miyamoto. And if all else fails they've always got Mario and Zelda.
      Personally, I'm pulling for Nintendo. They've got the promise to give this industry the kick in the pants that it really needs and to make the big publishing houses recognize that there is money in making good, inventive and fun games.

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