So the PS3 isn't the best Blu-ray player on the market? I'm confused. Seriously though, Sony has a major branding problem when the head of Sony Computer Entertainment, Kaz Harai, makes headlines for reminding the public that the PS3 is actually a machine that allows people to control images on screen and have fun!
Here's what Harai said in an interview with Japanese business website NB Online (translated by Kotaku):
"The thing that I did when I took over last year was to boast the appeal of games themselves... The main premise of the PS3 is video games. That's the absolutely most important thing that we cannot lose sight of."
After this year's E3, I wrote a blog post about how Sony lacked a strong vision for the PS3 in the market and with this sound-bite from Harai, it doesn't look like much has changed since then. The problem may be that Sony as a whole, had too much invested and at stake with the PS3 to allow it to simply be a game machine. They needed it to be so much more, but now that the PS3 isn't the monster success that the PS2 was based off the same technology-from-the-future branding, Sony is backtracking and trying to put more emphasis on the games. Just what the heck has Sony been up to all these years?
Unfortunately, you only a one chance to make a first impression and then its an uphill battle to get people to think otherwise. Is it too late for the PS3?
I got my greedy paws on a key for the Little Big Planet (LBP) beta, which I had the opportunity to play over the last weekend. All in all, I'd have to say... not bad. (Bonus points if you know the movie in which Lisa Luder said those words.)
"Not bad." Which is not the praise that Sony and Playstation 3 owners everywhere would like too see bestowed upon this key video game, a unique entry and selling point as we go into the fourth quarter of 2008.
Although I had mixed feelings during my time with the beta, it was after discussing them with (our very own) Brad that they solidified into something I could concretely describe. Is LBP a game I want to spend $60 and countless hours of my limited free time exploring? I'm a generally creative guy. I like to sing, write music, draw or write in my free time. (Depending on my artistic mode and inertia at any given moment.) This game initially spoke to me as a good outlet to make things that I can share with the PS3-owning world. Yet after playing the beta for a while, I have some doubts.
It's hard to imagine anyone using the iconic shape of the 8-bit NES cartridge for anything other than gaming, but artist sLip over at hush monkey studio has done just that by creating artwork in the shape of cartridges. He recently gave an interview over at the-minusworld.com (currently down due to all the traffic from digg.com).
On a more personal note, any reference to River City Ransom and other Technos games, instantly brings joy to my heart.
If you build it they will come... and they will build something you would never have imagined. Kudos to Sony and Media Molecule for creating one of the biggest sensations in recent memory. And double kudos for avoiding an Internet meltdown and allowing levels created in the LittleBigPlanet Beta to be ported over to the final retail version. These are just a few of the no doubt hundreds of creations floating around the web. Once it ships next week, LittleBigPlanet could be that PlayStation 3 killer app that Sony has been looking for.
Last year when Crysis came out, I think all of us who played it were a little disappointed in the abrupt, cliffhanger ending. It felt like the ending of Halo 2, where you think you're about to get the biggest, baddest level of the game, and then the credits roll. Crytek's reason for such a lame ending? "It's a trilogy". What? Why didn't anybody say anything before? Are they sure they didn't just run out of time to put in all the levels they wanted?
Today, EA announced that Mirror's Edge will be the first part of a trilogy. What? The first one isn't even out yet. We don't know if it will be any good or if it will sell worth a spit. Need I remind everyone what happened with Too Human?
Last year, hype over the impact of piracy and the supposedly shrinking PC games market reached a head when the NPD reported that Crysis, in its first two weeks of sales, moved only around 86,000 copies. Unreal Tournament 3 reportedly fared even worse, tallying just shy of 34,000 copies. Both of these games received enormous hype, and these seemed like pretty dismal numbers.
Then came the piracy talk. Developers including id, Epic, Crytek, Ubisoft, and Infinity Ward suggested that piracy was so rampant on the PC that it was fueling their decision to focus more centrally on console development. Was CryEngine2 the last great PC gaming engine? Would PC gamers become increasingly subject to "dumbed-down" multiplatform games and belated ports like Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect, while PC exclusives that didn't fall into strategy or MMORPG categories faded into obscurity?
I'm relatively new to the PC gaming landscape. I played some PC games here and there over the years and once lost a whole summer to Quake 3, but until a couple of years ago I had always been a console gamer. But I had always looked at the PC with envious eyes, and had always wanted a really nice, high-end gaming rig. Of course, I realized that an uber-rig was not necessary to enjoy PC gaming. But I figured that since I was going to get a new PC and I could afford to treat myself, why not get something really great? In early 2006 (back when AMD processors still ruled the performance charts) I built my first PC. My first game was F.E.A.R., which at the time was still a PC exclusive. I haven't looked back since. As both a gamer and a hardware enthusiast, I can honestly say that I enjoy PC gaming far more than I ever enjoyed console gaming. But to listen to some people, I got into the game at a pretty dismal time. However, I think that a closer look at the facts tells a different story.
I was happy today to find in my inbox an access key for the new Good Old Games digital store, an opportunity to try the beta and get my paws on some classic video games. What, do you ask, is Good Old Games? GOG.com is a new store from The Witcher developer CDProjekt that offers digital copies of classic PC games, at low prices and without any pesky DRM. As someone who has tried and failed to find a number of the games that are already available for purchase at the site, I think this service has the potential to garner a significant following.
The store is slick-looking and easy to navigate. Games can be found by price ($5.99 or $9.99), category, publisher, developer, and user rating. There is already a lively user forum with subforums for virtually every game available on the site, and the support section is very well organized and informative. With only two publishers on board—Codemasters and Interplay—the selection is a little sparse, but there are already some notable entries—not the least of which are the two original Fallout games, which will undoubtedly be very popular with the imminent release of the third. I cracked a smile at the sight of one of my old favorites, one I played on the Dreamcast years ago—MDK2. The definition of "classic games" seems like it could be a little loose too, with Colin McRae Rally 2005 slated for release "soon", according to the site.
The site is significant for a couple of reasons. First, the PC platform is long overdue to have an easy, one-stop shop for older games. Most of these games are difficult to find in stores, and some of them may be hocked on eBay at inflated prices. If enough publishers jump on board, GOG.com will be a great way for gamers to get their hands on old favorites or try classic games they missed (I must confess that, because I was not a PC gamer at the time, I have not played the original Fallout games, so I'm excited about the prospect of comparing them to the sequel later this month).
But more significantly, GOG.com is an experiment in DRM-free PC games. Based on the success of some other companies from Bethesda to Stardock as well as the success of DRM-free music services, CDProjekt has every reason to be optimistic. If GOG.com is successful, it may pave the way for the erosion of the increasingly intrusive DRM that has created a great deal of antagonism between developers and the gamers who support them. I have no idea how many beta keys are left, but now is as good a time as any for nostalgic old goats and younger gamers alike to give it a try.
Haven't had a whole heck of a lot of time to game this week, but what little time I did have was devoted to Sega's Yakuza 2.
This guy is one seriously badass motherf*cker
I'm not going to talk a lot about it right now because I feel an ethical responsibility to review it and I want to save some ammo for that future piece, but I will say that I think it's great. For those who don't know, the game is basically a real-time brawler with some light RPG elements bound together by an extremely well-written crime drama storyline -- and in this case, i do mean well-written. It's not a parody or a caricature of a story twisted around and made to fit all sorts of absurdly contrived game nonsense... it's a real, honest-to-goodness, straight-up serious crime drama.
The first step was of course the recent price drop of the Xbox 360 Arcade. Still, this next move is so counter to what the typical Xbox 360 owner wants that you wonder if Microsoft is willing to endure any kind of backlash just so it can grab some dollars from the Wii crowd. The transitioning period that Microsoft talks about is bound to be even longer than necessary since there wasn't a media onslaught similar to what Nintendo did for the Wii. As it is, Microsoft is expecting core gamers to just deal with it when this new "Xbox Live Experience" (and a recent price drop) tempts casual gamers to come play with the hardcore crowd.
"Dubbed the new "Xbox Live Experience," this re-launched service...really does seem to have something for everyone: an easy-to-use graphical interface complete with deeply customizable avatars that casual players will enjoy, and all kinds of new functionality that will actually reward the dedication of the hard-core Xbox player. Microsoft readily admits that there may be a bit of a transition period for those core players--a time during which a lot of griping might be heard--but the company fully expects a gradual realization on the part of those players that the new service takes the existing Xbox Live and adds all kinds of new community and interactive functions to it."
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