Archive for the ‘XBox 360’ Category


After the dust has settled on E3…

June 11, 2009

So the doors have closed on another E3, and once again I didnt get to go – but then again, I’ve never been so I don’t know what I’m missing!!! Which is probably for the best!

So, what did E3 tell us about what to expect in the next 12 months and beyond?

Of the big three, Nintendo was largely a case of more of the same. Their current direction is working very well thank you very much, so for them to say anything other than “we will continue to plough this furrow” would have been insane. Follow ups to Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and Super Mario Galaxy prove that they arent going to change anything. They know their market and they are sticking with it. During their E3 press conference and since, they have said that they would like to re-engage with hard core gamers more as well, but I cannot see that happening. We know hard-core gamers and they are far too entrenched in the Microsoft and Sony camps. Even if they do look up from their GTA, COD or FIFA session, Nintendo dont seem to be offering anything along their lines.

As for Microsoft and Sony, well, I think Microsoft just edged it but both have a lot to offer the core market of gamers that we sell to.

The top ten list that IGN AU put together sums it up just fine for me – most games will come on both platforms, and where one has an exclusive like Splinter Cell: Conviction, the other has Uncharted 2. Customers often ask us which is best – 360 or PS3? And we always say “Neither – you have to have both, if you are a serious gamer”.

Exclusives will always be a part of this industry and so the only way to satisfy the addiction fully, is to make sure you get your drugs from both Microsoft and Sony. Purists like me will also say you need a Wii for the Mario/Zelda hit – and if you ask my brother, he says you need SNES, Dreamcast, NES, Megadrive etc etc etc – but that is getting off the point. This blog is about the future, not the past.

Coming back to that, both Microsoft and Sony gave tech demo’s on their answers to Nintendo’s Wiimote. Both very clever and both designed to bring more casual gamers into playing games. I have to admit – I think they both have missed the point. Although I didn’t really see it myself until earlier this week when I reflected on another presentation – Apple’s keynote at their World Wide Developer Conference. They have had huge success in a very short period of time, selling 1 Billion apps to an install base of 40 million users around the world. Not all these are gamers obviously, and certainly not hard core gamers. What some are and will increasingly be, are the casual gamers that Nintendo have succeeded in selling to and that Microsoft and Sony are courting with their tech demo’s.

As a little example, let me tell you about the picture of domestic bliss that is the Rowbotham household. I only tend to play games on 360/PS3/Wii and occasionally my PC – depending upon the latest hit that catch’s my eye. So I am core gamer – no question. My wife however over the last couple of years has drifted into the casual gamer sphere so well canvassed by Nintendo. It started with Brain Training and moved onto a bit of Wii Fit and a lot of Professor Layton – all games that have been squarely aimed at this new market that Microsoft and Sony said they are following Nintendo into. The point – well, my wife isn’t playing any of those games anymore. I bought her an iPhone for Christmas as her old phone finally died, and since then she has found a whole new world of casual apps – she spends more time on Facebook as it is convenient on her phone but she has discovered a whole new world of games from developers like PopCap that are quick and cheap to download. And now she sits happily chilling out at the end of a busy day, iPhone in hand. All of which means she has hardly picked up her Nintedo DS and the Wii Fit has got fat!!!!

And for me, this is the most interesting dynamic. Casual gamers are by their nature casual – so they will also be non-committed and transient – they will quickly move onto the next big thing. And I reckon it might just be Apple who will take all these non-core gamers away from Nintendo (and Microsoft and Sony too). A big prediction I know but no-one will hear me when I say “I told you so” in a few years – so I can pretty much say what I like really!!!

If it does happen, where does that leave our industry? And the big three of MS/Sony & Nintendo. Well, interestingly, the core gamers are still going to be here – still wanting their annual fix of COD/FIFA and bi-annual fix of GTA etc – the market may not grow by the double digit points that some shareholders might crave but it will still be strong at its heart, more than treading water thats for sure. And interestingly, Microsoft and Sony are more likely to have something to offer these guys than Nintendo. I don’t see Project Natal type interfaces opening up the market for casual gamers as much as reinforcing things for core gamers, adding more ways to interact and making games richer and more involving experiences – for those who are already hooked.

If this scenario does play out, the biggest looser here could be Nintendo – who has less to fall back on. I have played and finished every Zelda and Mario game to date, but they don’t come along often enough to keep a company the size of Nintendo going – their current market is much more reliant on casual gamers. And if Apple can distract other users like they have my wife, well who knows?


The most wonderful time of the year

December 28, 2008

So as Christmas rattles towards us at a spectacularly alarming rate, we find ourselves finally free of impending releases and can take a good look at what’s been released in the last 3 months and sift through the glut that publishers and developers decide to throw out all at the same time in poorly calculated attempts to wrestle your hard earned pound from your grasp and deflect said pound from rivals pockets. Some I’ve played, some I want to play, some I won’t play until they hit the bargain bins as I’m tight/skint but let’s have a butchers anyway. In the interest of keeping short attention spans happy (probably killed by this intro anyway) lets see if I can do it in one-line-review/prize description from Bullseye stylee.

Left 4 Dead – PC, Xbox 360

Shoot Zombies into a gooey mess while cacking your pants in this ultra-violent yet enjoyable multiplayer horrorfest.

Dead Space – PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Event Horizon meets Resident Evil 4. Oh yes. Oh yes indeedy.

Prince Of Persia – Pc, Ps3, Xbox 360

Foppish Arabian prince with American pretty boy accent runs along walls while avoiding death thanks to hanger-on token game female.

Midnight Club: Los Angeles – PS3, Xbox 360

A fun yet rock hard street racer which no bugger bought.

Fable II – Xbox 360

Want to get married, fart at people and do menial, mind numbing, tedious labor-intensive mini-games and not have to bother with good things like actual questing and getting fat loot and all the good things that make RPG’s great? Well, come on in then!

Tomb Raider Underworld – PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Posh bint jumps around temples looking for Thor’s armour and hammer while shooting endangered species.

Gears Of War 2 – Xbox 360

Musclehead marines take on underground army of musclehead alien types with chainsaw guns. Again.

Call Of Duty: World At War – PC, PS3, Ps2, Xbox 360, Wii

Call Of Duty 4 with added tanks, dogs and Wehrmacht.

Mortal Kombat Vs DC – PS3, Xbox 360

If you’re not going to kit out the Mortal Kombat chimps with Kryptonite rings so you can rip Superman’s head off you really, really shouldn’t have bothered.

More to come as I plough through them.


Are you a True Achiever?

September 1, 2008

The Xbox 360 gamerscore system has split gamers into those that whore the points to the point of obsession and those that just accumulate them as they plod along through their games (well, and there’s those that scoff at them, but they tend to be PS3 owners so we’ll let them off trophieslol etc). Personally, I see it as something that’s a nice extra to push yourself for if you can be bothered. But have you ever wondered how developers determine the score for each achievement? It’s all a bit arbitrary really. Anyway, the point is that some caps have decided to attach a gamerscore to the achievements dependant on how hard they are. The harder they are to get, the more points they are worth. Have a butchers here. Here’s my True Gamerscore.


Console hard drives get bigger

August 12, 2008

So following the announcement by Sony that they are putting an 80GB hard drive in the PS3, the shortage of XBOX360 premiums is explained by the announcement from Microsoft that they will increase their hard drive size to 60GB.

This is all to do with storing digital content on your console, and I’m not sure how many people do that??

I store all my music and home movies digitally – but they are on my Mac. I can spool them over the house’s network to either the 360 or PS3 (using software on my Mac from Nullriver) but I would never store them there. No backups, cant edit them, take them with me, sync to my iPhone etc.

A computer is still required (for me) to do all the things I want to do with my digital media – and none of the next gen consoles have taken its place yet. Especially as I use a Mac, which is so media centric. What the consoles can now do, thanks to the software from Nullriver, is take the place of an Apple TV – a set-top device for spooling my media from my computer. One less cable to worry about.