Friday, May 24, 2013

2 Weeks to E3

In a few weeks time I'll be boarding a plane to Los Angeles to attend that mythical event known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

Here I am sitting at my office desk like that massive event isn't even going to happen. I'm trying to keep that thought at the back of my mind...the sheer massive epic event that I'm about to undertake...wow, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I'd even go to something as spectacular as E3 itself.

E3 is mythical to every gamer. We read about it in magazines (before, when we still bought them!), we watch videos from E3 after the fact...but has it ever crossed your mind to actually go? I didn't cross my mind. At all. I do watch it on the websites and all the news sites and I really enjoy that time of year when the game companies start talking about their newest stuff. But the idea of actually going there....sounds crazy!

But here I am, two weeks away....man, I don't know what to think. Part of me is a bit freaked out about it...it's a foreign country after all. I've been to the United States before but that was a long time ago, and I had my parents worry about the details of that. Now, it's just me....so yeah, I'm a bit nervous, scared, anxious, the whole nine yards.

But when I got offered the chance to do this, would you have done the same...even if you aren't really the traveling type (I'm not). I actually prefer the safety of a familiar place. Despite all my complaints about Manila I 'like' it here insofar as I have a grasp of what to expect every day.

That's probably one big reason why I've never looked for a job abroad...I'm too afraid to step out of my comfort zone.

In a few hours this week will end, and then the last two weeks before E3 officially STARTS. I'm trying not to think about it too much. In the end, I picked the option to go because when else do you have two of the titan console makers release their systems at the same time?? If you had a chance to go, knowing what THIS E3 is going to be all about, you probably would go, too. I wouldn't want to look back and remember saying no to a chance like this. It's history in the making, and I want to see it.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Xbox One: Microsoft Makes "No Official Support" For Us, Their Official Stance

I didn't wait up for the Xbox One conference like I did for Sony's. MS picked the most god-awful time for a 'worldwide' broadcast, going at 10AM Los Angeles time which made it impossible for me to wait for it in the middle of the night (I got a real life job and a baby to take care of, and that takes much more precedence than sitting up all night waiting for a game show....)

When I did wake up the following day, I checked on NEOGAF and this was the number one topic:

"XBOX ONE does not allow used games"

So even before I got a glimpse of the new console, I got the bad news FIRST. And it wasn't too thrilling.

While maybe it's too early to tell what will really happen, what I understand is, you can never trade in your games, and if you do, whoever gets your game has to pay FULL PRICE to even play it.

Also, your game needs some kind of 24-hour online authentication to ensure it works. This is for single player games too.

I do wonder, did Microsoft's bottom line get hit so much by piracy that they're doing this? My wife says its probably publishers that are pressuring them to do it.

Truth be told, it's very hard to sell a game that is just AVERAGE now. A 7/10 game is pretty hard to justify. But the reason for this is quite simple, too. These 7/10 games cost $60, and they're priced the same as good games.

With the economy in the toilet for the United States and everyone else, justifying that people spend $60 on console games, when there are FREE or 99c games available on their tablets or phones, is absurd. I think that's the real issue here. I'm surprised that more people don't bring that up.

The other day I saw Cliff Blezinski trotting around a picture of his Lamborghini which he probably paid for with his Gears of War money. Then I wonder to myself, maybe we are paying them too much for games? Films probably take as much money, if not more, to develop. But watching a movie has a lower price of admission than games do. Games are no longer that niche hobby that only one guy in the household actually cares about. Grandparents play games now. Every teenager has probably seen or tried a game. I think the original idea behind setting the price so high for video games was that it was so niche in the past. Try looking at old games, and try to imagine what your parents must have thought when you fired them up on your TV. Most of the time they were just blocky graphics and with throwaway gameplay concepts like 'shoot this red block here' or 'jump over this pit there'. Now, games are something else entirely. Some of them are better than cheap films or TV shows. So why do they have to be priced so high?

I always thought the high price in the past is because a few people buy them; a few people really understand how they work and would actually go through the trouble of playing them. So basically the price is high to compensate for the fact that not everybody would buy them.

But in our day and age, I think it's safe to say nearly everyone buys them. We're in a generation that knows who Mario is. It's not just some hobby for basement dwellers anymore.

So is there still such a huge risk to sell games at $60? Apple and Valve have proven otherwise with their inexpensive offerings. The console business has to do the same. It's the only way to justify draconian DRM security measures. Because at the end of the day, people just see these games as toys and nothing more. Their relative value to people's lives are just toys, just distractions. $60 is more than enough meals for a homeless guy; it's really a lot of money, and in today's technologically aware society, its relative value is really different than what it used to be in the 70s, 80s or 90s.

Everyone plays games now. Even guys like me in the Third World.

Last thing: you can't ask everyone to be always online with your console. Internet just can't be a requirement. What MS is asking is ridiculous. Networks still aren't perfect and I doubt they will be better in 10 years or more. That requires actually putting down lines, which takes time and involves a lot of politics. And not everyone can afford big fiber lines and what not.

I don't think MS can ask people to plunk down some ridiculous amount of money for a box they can't USE unless their Internet is also working properly. I'm even hearing talk about the Cloud and how it will influence in-game A.I.

Oh please.

Now you want to put LAG in our single player games?! Imagine your in-game enemies waiting to get instructions from the Cloud before they even start working properly.

That's insane.

MS should really put themselves in the shoes of their actual customers. When they test their hardware they shouldn't think of their yacht-owning bosses who have unlimited fiber access. They have to look at the common household, and I'm not even talking about us poor saps in the Third World. I do understand that even in major cities in the US not everyone has perfect internet. Not everyone can afford the best plans available. Sometimes all the money goes to that console already, or that tablet, or that phone....and to require people to pay MORE just to enjoy that expensive toy, is just crazy on Microsoft's part.

Microsoft, what the hell happened to you guys???

I just hope that Sony will be smarter than MS with their decisions for their console.

- Be considerate of who are buying your console. Not all of them are rich; whether they are Americans or Filipinos like me.
- Focus on what your console actually does. Even an expensive smartphone can't do everything perfectly. Same goes with game machines. They should do well with playing GAMES and everything else should just be a bonus.
-  Look at the current business environment. $60 games should be a thing of the past. We can't do anything about the fact that people want games to be either FREE or 99 cents. Not that console games should be free or super cheap....but at least make them within reach of people's budgets. Only then can you justify draconian anti-piracy measures.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I'm Going To E3!

I started this blog just for fun, because blogging was cool when it was first introduced.

Never thought that a few years later I'd get the opportunity to go to E3! And it has to happen THIS YEAR, which is probably the craziest ever in gaming, with two major consoles launching at the same time! This year, which might be the last hurrah of game systems, what with the challenges from tablets and smartphones looming on the horizon.

This is the year that E3 will actually mean something. It could be the downfall of giants, or it could usher in the future of games.

It's insane.

I can't believe it, I'm going to E3!