Sunday, May 13, 2007

In The News (5/6-5/12)

Mortal Kombat lacks online, blames Nintendo
      Mortal Kombat: Armageddon came out for PS2 and XBOX last year and had online play. Now it's about to come out for the Wii and it isn't going to feature online play. Why? Because Nintendo (once again) isn't taking online play seriously. Nintendo is a Japanese company at heart, and Japan still isn't so hot on playing with other people online. They've started to warm up to it, but America is still the place to be if you want a serious online strategy. That's why Microsoft, based in USA, has the best, most robust online service. Sony has started to catch up, but Nintendo still lags behind.
      What I'm afraid of is that the Wii will be another GameCube (aka worst online of the big three). Nintendo obviously still didn't think that gamers cared about online (or more accurately, that they cared) before the Wii came out, thought it was still just a fad and never really prepared any sort of online. Then they saw everybody's reactions and were like "shit guys, hurry up and make something!" And now the first online Wii game is going to be Pokémon Battle Revolution. Wow. They couldn't have picked a shittier game to start off with.
      Not only that, but who says they'll even get online right when it does finally come to fruition? All we really know right now is that it'll have game-specific 16-digit friend codes, which wouldn't be quite so bad if I could add someone's code to my friends list and it would just automatically send them an add/deny message rather than waiting until they add me as well. But of course, this is Nintendo, so let's not get optimistic. Here's my prediction: Friend codes, crappy online, no voice chat during games, and a lack of third-part support due to disinterest and Nintendo's unwillingness to help developers out.
      But then again, I'm a cynic.

Rock Band's peripheral prices in focus testing
      So how much are you willing to pay to be in a rock group? That's what Harmonix, the developer behind Rock Band, wants to know. It seems that their focus group is doing us gamers a service by rejecting the $200 and $175 price points and getting Harmonix to think seriously about $150 for the game, a guitar, a drum set, and a microphone. That's a pretty good deal.
      But the real concern there is whether or not Rock Band is going to be able to take off and either eclipse or be eclipsed by Harmonix's former baby, Guitar Hero. After having paid almost $100 million for Red Octance and Guitar Hero, Activision surely isn't going to go out without a fight and let Rock Band invalidate their purchase. Rock Band is promising a much more full-fledged experience with more master tracks and big names (being backed by MTV) and more of a community-driven experience complete with online play. But now Activision is promising much of the same, like online play for Guitar Hero 3.
      Competition is always good for gamers. If only somebody would challenge EA, huh?

SOE Porting More Classics for PS Network
      It looks as though Sony is going to continue expanding their collection of old games to the PlayStation Network, most noteworthy of these additions is Joust, which already came out on the XBOX Live Arcade, enhanced by Microsoft with online play. So what can Sony really add to Joust to differentiate their version from Microsoft's? Obviously they need online play, but to justify its appearance, they need to price it lower than Microsoft and give it extra features like new levels or maybe even a graphical overhaul (like Super Mario All-Stars did), but I wouldn't expect them to go that far.
      But what I want to know is what these companies objectives are when they port old games to their new consoles. Is it to add filler, merely a distraction while new games are being developed? Or is it a serious source of revenue? Is it to let new gamers experience old games or to make money off of the nostalgia of older gamers? These companies really ought to be designing new games for their online services, original and exclusive to their platform. Make some new awesome 16-bit game, and it'll sell. People love that kind of stuff. But for how long will downloading old games be popular?

WEEKLY SAMPLER: DS Lite Sales / Crackdown DLC / Vib-Ribbon PSN / Rock The 80s

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