There has been a ton of discussion in main stream media, blogs, social media, and forums over having more female characters taking the lead in video games or at least having female characters who aren’t your stereotypical “the girl needs saving by a strong, buff male” type. When games then try to spruce up classic video game characters from established franchises to breathe new life into them and to get with the times, then you have every reason to get excited about the possibilities and potential to have female characters who aren’t just there for the male character to save or end up with by the end of the game. This is why catching a glimpse of Princess Zelda in action for the upcoming game for the Wii U in Hyrule Warriors, as a princess who can take care of herself and fight as well as Link, is an exciting and refreshing thing to see for a video game.
Full Force is GFN’s weekly look at some of the biggest news in geekdom, from video games to anime to movies and everything in between. We also welcome your comments below, if you want to join the conversation. This week, our panelists take a look at the three next-gen consoles now that they all been out for at least three months.
The Playstation 4 and Xbox One have been out for almost three months now. Have you picked up one (or both), and if so, what’s your verdict? If not, why have you stayed away? Continue reading Full Force: PS4, Xbox One, Wii U in Next-Gen War
Insert cliched sentence about “dust settling” here. Still, now that we’ve all had time to calm down from the madness of E3, let’s discuss how things went for the Big Three. My Twitter feed was drowning in snark, most of it pretty funny, along with some occasional rage/betrayal. It was my first E3 on Twitter, and I can only hope that future expos are just as entertaining. So, just some quick thoughts to start your week off right:
Microsoft: The odds were definitely stacked against them after their dismal Xbox One reveal, but they promised that E3 would be all about the games, and I feel they delivered on that. They showed off a few nice exclusives, kept the TV/sports crap to a minimum, and generally had a much more solid conference than most people give them credit for. However, they made a huge gaffe on the price, one that I doubt they’ll be able to recover from. $500 was expensive even before Sony announced their price, but now it just seems ludicrous. I liked their conference (aside from the price announcement), and if they hadn’t already committed a multitude of marketing sins on the hardware side I think they’d have a real shot, but alas. What kills me is that the very publishers that Microsoft tried to appease with the always online/used games dealio (like EA and Ubisoft) are already hanging Microsoft out to dry after witnessing the backlash. It’s kind of a shame, because I own a 360 and not a PS3, and I wanted to continue that legacy, if I could.
Sony: These guys went right for Microsoft’s throat, which is exactly what they should’ve done. All they did was announce that nothing had changed DRM-wise from the previous generation and they instantly won over the crowd; Microsoft just handed them that particular victory. Still, I have to give credit where it’s due: they could’ve just priced their console at $500 and forced gamers to choose between two super-expensive mini-computers (and given Microsoft’s PR issues, customers probably would’ve chosen Sony anyway, even with a price tie), but they went straight for the jugular and made it absolutely no contest. Both machines have comparable horsepower (PS4 has a little faster RAM), both have robust, paid-subscription online services, both have decent exclusives. But one console doesn’t require an online validation every 24 hours, allows used games, and is $100 cheaper. I know that there are still diehard Xbox One fans out there, and I’m glad that they’ve found plenty to like about the console, but if I had to choose, I’d have to get a PS4. Plus, Jack Tretton’s slow evolution from a nervous, sweaty suit to an absolute shark is a joy to watch. I’ll take deliberate ruthlessness over complacency in my hardware execs any day. Hey, speaking of complacency…
Nintendo: After Sony’s conference, it was all on Nintendo. Xbox One looked like it was primed to fail while PS4 looked just the opposite, but those were both hypotheticals: Nintendo had already been dealing with the reality of a failing console for half a year now. With the PS4 priced at only $50 more than the only Wii U SKU worth getting, Nintendo needed to announce a price cut either in their Direct video or sometime during the show proper. No price cut ever came, which was…not good. Then their Direct was crammed full of sequels that were identical to their prequels, ports, and remakes, none of which were arriving before 2014. If Nintendo was going to have any chance at all against the Xbone or PS4 this fall, it was going to need a killer app, and the Nintendo Direct was Nintendo revealing their hand and showing they had been bluffing the whole time. If you’re going to launch a year before the competition, you better make damn good use of that year and build up your consumer base by selling systems. It’ll be over a year since launch before the Wii U has a killer app, and a lazy HD remake of a game that still looks stellar (Wind Waker) isn’t going to help buffet the storm coming in November. If anything, I’m a Nintendo fanboy, so it pains me to admit that they’re probably completely boned.
I guess none of this really matters because there’s no way I’m buying any of these damn things before 2014. My current gen consoles and my PC have been serving me quite well, and as much as I’d like to be an early adopter, buying the 3DS on day 1 left a bad enough taste in my mouth that I doubt I’ll ever do it again. But man, was it nice to get caught up in the hype along with everyone else on Twitter. Super fun. Same time next year, gents?
Nintendo, I should have been the first in line to get a Wii U. I’ve been playing your games since the beginning …hell, even before the beginning with my favorite Game & Watch. I’ve gotten to know Mario well over the years. Okay…maybe he’s not my closest friend, but we could easily hang. I’ve loyally given up many, many, many hours to your systems, from the NES to the Wii and DS. I should have been standing with the heady crowds awaiting the Wii U’s arrival last November. I should have been cheering your cause from the streets to the mountaintops. I should have been overdosing on the Wii U during my holiday break. But I wasn’t, I wasn’t, and I didn’t. Instead, I was just sad and confused over your new little contraption. What happened? Why didn’t me and U connect?
As a senior software engineer at EA Sports, Bob Summerwill was usually a pretty busy guy. Today, however, Bob leaned back in his chair, placed his hands behind his head, and smiled smugly. With the launch of the Wii U back in November, Summerwill had anticipated a long year ahead of having to develop for an extra console, but today, his company had publicly admitted what Summerwill had known for weeks: the company had no Wii U games in the pipeline. And that meant all Summerwill had to do to get his paycheck was just show up.
With little else to do, Summerwill pulled his phone out of his pocket and did a quick Twitter sweep. He was a passionate, loyal employee, and he wanted to see how his company’s latest statement was being dissected by the social media sphere. EA had been having a rough go of it in the press lately, what with CEO John Riccitiello’s departure as well as the rather dubious honour of being voted the “worst company in America”; however, Nintendo had also attracted their fair share of fanboy hate lately thanks to their tanking console as well as their recent encroachment on YouTuber advertising dollars. Summerwill’s face broke into a wide grin as he imagined the vicious NeoGAF hordes finally turning their attention away from his beloved EA as they focused on a new target.
However, as Summerwill perused his Twitter feed, he came across a tweet from Scott Hanselman asking (rhetorically, probably) whether there were “problems at EA” that resulted in their decision to not develop for the Wii U. A dark shadow crossed Summerwill’s face. Those stupid gamers were still twisting EA’s words and throwing them back in its face! As his blood boiled and his bulging veins stretched his neck skin, Summerwill came to a single definite conclusion: this will not stand.
Angrily, Summerwill composed a rebuttal to Hanselman’s tweet. “The Wii U is crap,” he typed, his fingers a conduit for his righteous fury. “Less powerful than an XBOX360.” Summerwill wasn’t actually sure whether this was true; he was a software engineer, not a hardware engineer, so what did people want from him, anyway? At any rate, the capitalization would surely let the dumber readers know which console Summerwill preferred. “Poor online/store. Weird tablet.” Just stating the obvious, he thought. Everyone knows it’s true. But what can I say that’s culturally relevant and still a pretty potent burn? “Nintendo are walking dead at this point.” Yeah, that’ll do it.
Summerwill’s finger froze above the “Tweet” button. Deep in the back of his mind, he wondered whether this could potentially come back to bite him in the ass at some point. He vaguely recalled an incident only a few weeks ago where a Microsoft employee was fired for commenting on company business on Twitter. Summerwill knew he had to be careful.
And yet, his mind was his own, was it not? EA doesn’t own me. The disclaimer on his Twitter bio, right after stating he was an EA employee, proudly proclaimed that his tweets were his own. Surely that would be enough to protect him from any overzealous and out-of-touch boss-mans who might be looking to put the kibosh on his airing of Internet grievances. It was a free world and he lived in a free country. He could say whatever he wanted and he would say whatever he wanted; and in the end, wasn’t he just defending the company name anyway?
With an air of confident finality, Summerwill tapped the tweet button and let the Internet work its magic. Someone somewhere instantly started a new NeoGAF thread.
Oddly, the tweet left Summerwill feeling somewhat empty. At first he thought that maybe he was subconsciously anticipating some backlash, but he quickly put that absurd idea out of his mind. After a little deep thinking and a quick round of Angry Birds, Summerwill soon identified the true cause of his uneasiness: he hadn’t made his point clear enough. He needed to say more.
Summerwill took to Twitter once again. The world needed to hear his message; he was the divine messenger of a great and noble cause. “Nintendo are still operating like it’s 1990. They should have “done a Sega” and offered Mario/Zelda as PS4/Durango exclusives.” When he gazed at his own words, he marveled at the simple truths contained in them. Summerwill couldn’t believe that no one else had ever thought of such a sound business strategy before.
He knew he was very close to gaining the trust of the people. In time, they would come to embrace his words; he could already see the retweets by prominent games journalists pouring in. Summerwill knew the time had come for absolute transparency; it was time to put on his spokesperson hat and give the entire Internet a glimpse into the internal workings of EA Sports.
“It is an utterly intentional decision to focus our resource on markets which actually matter… like mobile, and Gen4,” he wrote with genuine candor. “Nintendo platforms have always been very poor revenue-wise for third parties. Only Mario and Zelda make money.” Summerwill again felt a small twitch of apprehension after re-reading the way he described his company’s business practices, but he shrugged it off quickly. His cause was now above the petty mortal world of corporate infighting, performance reviews and HR complaints; it had become a holy crusade, the ultimate goal of which was to let my people know. If his words woke up the Internet and helped them realize what an “awful” console the Wii U was, then he could take whatever corporate lashing his bosses deemed necessary.
When Summerwill thought about it long enough, though, he knew that his sacred words were beyond reproach. He had defended his company’s honour and ultimately struck a massive blow to Nintendo and their “crap” console. Who on Earth could find fault with his methods? As he tucked his cell phone into his pocket, he felt refreshed and energized. He felt ready to engineer more software than he had in his entire life; all the softwares, even. As he grabbed his mouse and got ready to open up a new project folder, Summerwill felt a tap on his back. His boss was standing behind him, his face red with what Summerwill perceived to be embarrassment. Summerwill chuckled to himself; he wanted to make sure his boss understood that there was absolutely nothing embarrassing about thanking an employee for doing such a great job, but he realized it would be awkward to do so in front of some of the company’s lesser workers, so he accepted his boss’s invitation to join him in his office. Summerwill kept his face as neutral as possible, but on the long walk to his boss’s office, all he could picture was the extra zero that was surely about to be added to his paycheck.