Archive for February, 2006|Monthly archive page

The Xbox 360 and Over Capacity

i know it’s kinda of silly to think about it now, with the dearth of consoles on shelves, but, has anyone other than myself actually thought about how a ‘worldwide’ launch will affect long term capacity?
in a comment i wrote back in mid-january about console launch numbers, i mentioned it.

given all of this hooplah we’re seeing about the number of shipping consoles being huge by summertime, is that going to be an issue?

if you think about it, microsoft needed to get a bunch of big plants up fast and early.  now that they’re up, now that production is humming, is it too much?  will we see tons of inventory on shelves?  i suppose there could be worse problems to have.  like, i dunno, delays and no product on shelves.

it’s sort of like playing a realtime strategy game, right?  so, you build up huge amounts of resources early in the game, but, by mid-game, you don’t need them.  looking back, it would have been more helpful to invest in some heavier-duty units earlier on rather than all these damn zergs.

actually.  looking back at that, i have no idea if that’s an accurate analogy or not.  anyone got a better one?

maybe microsoft is just pulling a zerg invasion sort of launch.  i think i need to percolate on it a bit more.

m3mnoch.

Blu-Ray Titles Announced and Dated

may 23rd.

that’s the day you can go in and buy a movie you already own for $30-$40. heh. damn that’s funny.

this is my favorite quote from the article, tho:

Other Blu-ray studios, including stalwarts Fox and Disney, sat out Monday’s announcement.

that says to me, “we’re not sure.”

yep. hdcp is going to guarantee that no ‘next gen’ dvd format takes off. the people who would likely start the revolution are the same ones who will get screwed by the silly digital copy protection scheme. high definition dvd is dead before it starts.

and, can sony really expect to piggyback the blu-ray drive into the marketplace (a marketplace where people don’t actaully play optical media movies on their consoles) when it’s growth is determined through attrition?

hdtv doesn’t hit any pain points for the consumer. high definition dvd even more so.

m3mnoch.

p.s. thanks for the tip, oncnawan.

GDC Awards

since joytiq is making the voting sort of a community thing, i thought i would mention my picks.

Best Game
God of War (Sony Computer Entertainment America)
– David Jaffe, Shannon Studstill

New Studio
New Crayon Games (Bonnie’s Bookstore)
– Phil Steinmeyer

Audio
Electroplankton (Nintendo)
– Toshio Iwai, Koichi Kyuma, Yuichi Ozaki

Character Design
Psychonauts (Double Fine Productions / Majesco Entertainment Company)
– Scott Campbell

Game Design
Nintendogs (Nintendo EAD / Nintendo)
– Tsutomu Kaneshige, Hideki Konno, Shigeru Miyamoto, Kiyoshi Mizuki

Technology
Project Gotham Racing 3 (Bizarre Creations / Microsoft Game Studios)
– Edmund Clay, Roger Perkins, Phil Teschner, Ian Wilson

Visual Arts
Shadow of the Colossus (Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.)
– Koji Hasegawa, Masanori Kajita, Hironobu Nakano, Fumito Ueda

Writing
Indigo Prophecy (Quantic Dream / Atari)
– David Cage

brilliant stuff this year.  the only hard one, tho, was the best new studio.   for that, i just went with a biased choice.  i think breaking into casual games is just incredibly hard.  props to phil!

m3mnoch.

Sony Selling Off Assets Already?

just a quick hit.  i’ll probably expand on it a bit later.  i’m hungry and it’s lunchtime for me right now.

in the meantime, chew on this:

In other news, Sony has announced the sale of majority stakes in five of its retail brands. The company is seeking to offload unprofitable businesses.

originally, i was reading a next generation article on a sony insider saying that a launch delay was ‘possible’ for the ps3.

then, at the bottom, they sneaked that little quip in there.

is sony already pawning (note: not pwning) off parts of their business to pay for this bloated, overbuilt, dead albatross of a game console?

interesting question.  i’m gonna look more into the businesses they are selling off to see what i can find out about why they are selling them.

m3mnoch.

Dumbest. Move. Ever.

uber-observant reader oncnawan pointed me over to this article on ign: Next-Gen DVD Copy-Protection Debacle.

holy craptacular mistake, batman.

so, let’s see. what are we looking at here?

  • hdtv has a low installed base.
  • even in the face of hdtv fighting for adoption for decades.
  • blu-ray is stupid expensive compared to standard dvd.
  • games won’t need the extra space.
  • there is no pain point high definition dvds are solving for customers.
  • and now, sony is apparently hitting not only the niche-within-a-niche, but the niche-within-a-niche-within-a-niche. brilliant!

so, now, not only do you need an hdtv to get any value out of that big, expensive blu-ray drive in the ps3, but you actually need an hdmi connection (actually and additional one aside from the one the 4 people using it have hooked into their digital cable box) to use it because of copy protection. the other 3 million hdtv owners using component video because they have no hdmi connection are out of luck.

so, you have to be a gamer, have an hdtv, want to play high definition dvds AND have hdmi connections. then, the $250 extra for the blu-ray drive is justified.

good god!

so, the early adopters — the people who are out on the street pimping this cool new technology to all of their friends and families — are so gonna be pissed.

smooth move, sony. piss off your best customers.

i knew the high definition dvd formats were going to be anchored down with some form of copy protection, but i was assuming that was just anti-ripping technology. not a retarded attempt at closing the analog hole.

sony is:

  1. alienating hardcore video enthusiasts with trying to close the analog hole.
  2. alienating hardcore video gamers by making them pay for a blu-ray drive they have no interest in — they just want to game.
  3. alienating the causal customer with a huge pricetag on the ps3 when compared to xbox 360 and nintendo revolution.

who the hell are they making this thing for?

m3mnoch.

UPDATE:

there’s a helluva good discussion going on over where oncnawan originally pointed me to this article.

Microsoft Redefining Handheld Gaming

from paul thurrott’s fantastic wininformant newsletter.

Microsoft to Announce Mini-Tablet PCs

by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

On March 2, Microsoft will unveil a mysterious new miniature Tablet PC product family. Code-named Origami (and previously code-named Haiku), the new devices will be the size of a PDA but will include a full Windows OS. I don’t know yet whether that OS will be Windows XP Tablet or some version of Windows Vista, but my guess is that it will be Vista-based.

Indeed, we know very little about the devices at this point. At the 2005 Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), the software giant described Haiku as an “ultra-portable laptop convertible” based on Vista. Microsoft intended this device to showcase how a Tablet PC-enabled version of Windows could be applied to a much wider range of devices than PC makers target today. The device was described as weighing 1 to 2 pounds, having an all-day battery life, and costing from $500 to $1000.

Origami is even more mysterious. It is promoted on an enigmatic Web site called Origami Project, which suggests only that the device will be ultra portable and feature a touch screen (a feature promised for the Tablet PC software in Windows Vista). Currently, the site offers
mostly questions, such as “do you know what i can do?” and “do you know … how i can change your life?”

Here’s my take on this: Some of the rumor sites on the underbelly of the Web have been suggesting that Origami might be Microsoft’s “xPod,” or “iPod-killer.” Origami is not that product. Instead, Origami is clearly aimed at pushing the boundaries of the Tablet PC platform and will instead be the long-promised 9″ Tablet PC that Microsoft first started touting two years ago. It’s just the next version of Haiku.

The Origami Project
http://list.windowsitpro.com/t?ctl=22051:24C01

if you think about it — brilliant.

sure, it’s a got a heftier pricetag than a psp, but, it’s a goddamn computer. as a big proponent of the tablet pc i have, this kicks ass. it’d be great for lan parties.

vista (the new pc gaming platform) running on a tablet with an all-day battery? i’m so there.

if only it’s form factor was smaller to be more portable. my tablet’s not bad, but it’s not anywhere near as small as the gigantic (by portable gaming standards) psp.

m3mnoch.

The Picture of a Modern, Cool Nerd.

Modern, Cool Nerd
65 % Nerd, 60% Geek, 13% Dork

Nerds didn’t use to be cool, but in the 90’s that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn’t quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and “geek is chic.” The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!

Congratulations!

evidently, i’m cool.

m3mnoch.

Guild Wars: Episodic and Online Delivery – So Not Compatible With Xbox Live

so, this whole jeff strain complaining about how the business model for guild wars isn’t compatible with xbox live — absolutely for the birds.  who the hell lets this guy do interviews?

his points:

  1. delivering via xbox live wouldn’t allow ncsoft to have a ‘deep and meaningful’ relationship with the gamer.
  2. the episodic content model of guild wars wouldn’t fit with xbox live.
  3. i, jeff strain, am from another universe — called bizzarro world.

some stuff i wrote about it over on joystiq.

that has to be the dumbest argument i’ve ever heard.

http://www.bungie.net/Stats/PlayerStats.aspx?player=m3mnoch

you don’t think bungie has a deep relationship with their customers? how many halo players say “microsoft makes halo” vs. how many say “bungie makes halo?”

you would think the dork would be excited about xbl hosting an mmo like guild wars. it fits perfectly within their episodic-content business model.

hell. they’d even get to lift the infrastructure burden a bit as they leaned on xbox live.

this just sounds like the whining of a loser getting soundly thrashed by blizzard.

guess what jeff. you’re not ‘making it up in volume.’ subscription fees don’t seem to be an impediment to sales. your low margin/high sales tactic just isn’t working.

some advice: it’d work if you targeted casual gamers for your mmo — not the hardcore. hardcores don’t care about monthly fees. maybe, just maybe it’s about accessibility, not short-circuiting user base growth issues by dropping subscription fees.

followed up with this:

…the guild wars episodic business model is a perfect fit with xbox live but he’s saying no. for example this doozy of a quote:

“Xbox Live, for example, their whole goal is to encourage people to go and buy games on the shelf, then there’s an online component for it. But for us, when you buy it on the shelf, that’s just the beginning of our relationship with you – and we want a direct connection with our customer so that we’re always giving you new content, always supporting you directly.”

[scribbling notes]

let’s see….

xbox live: buy game on the shelf.
ncsoft: buy game on the shelf.

yep. check.

xbox live: an online relationship starts with an ongoing pipe of fresh content.
ncsoft: an online relationship starts with an ongoing pipe of fresh content.

yep. check.

xbox live: perfect for episodic content.
ncsoft: business model is about episodic content.

yep. check.

xbox live: offers best of breed server architecture for developers.
ncsoft: subsidize the hard cost of server architecture themselves.

yep. check.

[nodding prophetically]

um. last time i checked, that’s what xbox live does — constantly feed you new content. buying the game off the shelf is just the begining for microsoft too. maybe he’s just afraid the easy nature of spending points (they’re only points! not real money! woot!) will lead to some buyers remorse? i dunno.

if you ask me, looks like they are perfect. so, i have no idea what he’s talking about and it sure as hell sounds like he doesn’t either.

as to the whining, did you read the whole interview?
http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?aid=14931

it basically equates to: my silly contradicting business model isn’t working so i’m going to take my ball and go home.

sounds like the whining of someone who got their ass handed to them to me.

really dude.  all you had to say is ‘i’m sony’s bitch and i don’t like microsoft because they are evil, so no guild wars property will ever come to xbox live.’

at least then we’d have some shred of respect for your cognitive abilities.  lord.  that or maybe you are just prone to mental hiccups.

sorry, man, but you’re just coming off ignorant.

m3mnoch.

Next Generation Hardware Cost Comparison

if you haven’t read this report from cnet, it’s looking to be a lot more grounded than that trash that was the infamous “merril lynch” ps3 cost estimate.

the final cost breakdown?

Total: If you use the low-end figures for Cell ($150) and the Blu-ray drive ($200) the PS3 materials bill comes to $700. The high estimate, including a $230 chip and $300 drive, comes to $880. The average is $790. The Xbox 360, meanwhile, comes in at $476 through averaging prices from different analysts. A study from iSuppli puts the figure at $525.

basically, it comes down to the manufacturing cost of the 360 + $250.

at $10 in royalty sales per console, that’s an ADDITIONAL 25 games for their game-to-console attach rate.

goooooooo sony!

blu-ray is so gonna sink the ship that is sony.

m3mnoch.

Would a Delay Actually Hurt Sony?

human kevlar posted a question over in his comment wondering what i thought of a particular article. it was a pretty interesting read, so i thought i’d post my thoughts here.

i agree with the article from thestreet.com (stupid multipage warning) that missing a spring delay really won’t hurt the ps3’s chances much. there will be a pretty substantial stock drop, but that’s about it. as long as they actually launch by the holiday season, in north america, it’ll be fine.

a few things are at stake tho.

where to launch
what if they miss spring and summer? what happens if they don’t want to do a multi-territory launch? they saw microsoft get hammered on supply issues. i’m not thinking they want to suffer through the same thing.

the problem is where to launch first.

if they pass up the u.s. to launch in japan, they are missing the mighty black-friday-ensuing-madness that is the north american shopping season. that’d be bad. however, if they don’t launch in japan, how many will buy 360’s in protest? prolly none. but, they’d buy the shit out of the revolution.

irritating publishers
publishers will really only buy the ‘holy grail of gaming hardware’ thing for so long. for every month the ps3 isn’t out, that’s another month of losing cross platform sales. why devote resources to building a game for the ps3 when they are just going to sit there? (witness fight night)

publishers may be evil, but they aren’t dumb. if the ps3 misses the holiday season, the 360 is going to have a huge advantage for installed base. and they know that the ps3 will have similar shortages as the 360. maybe not as bad. maybe worse. but, it’ll be about the same. i’m sure i’m not the only one who remembers them blaming the whole sorry state of holiday game sales on 360 shortages.

all of that just says to me “get it out. even if it’s just for the 360. we can always port it later.” that’s basically the definition of an xbox 360 ‘exclusive’ right there. and, it’s just another game that won’t make it into the ps3 launch ‘window’ library.

i think any publishers that arean’t contractually committed are looking hard at that. especially come e3.

360 hitting its price stride
another bummer about missing the holiday season is the timing for a 360 price drop. we already know that the revolution is going to be really cheap inexpensive (comparitively). with the 360 hitting a price drop when the ps3 hits the market? well. that just brings down the mean average cost of a gaming console.

and, of course, exaggerates just how expensive the ps3 would be. in western cultures, price drives adoption.

they could delay forever in japan
i’m sticking hard to this one: japan doesn’t matter.

sure, it’d be nice for microsoft if the xbox 360 sold well in japan. tho, really, i don’t think they care. if they did, there’d be some japanese-style rpgs. instead, microsoft is courting japanese developers to build western style games. *cough* ninety-nine nights *cough*

their politically correct ‘it’s a marathon’ statements they’ve made on penetrating the japanese market are just that — a politically correct way of saying ‘we don’t really care about japan.’

me? i’ve never really been politically correct.

m3mnoch.