Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Down. In the dark.

This little clip is both a test of embedding Youtube clips and an indication of the possibilities of Wii. See how much fun they're having? You could too.

What if you launched a console but nobody came?

Barely a month on from the next gen console war peaking with the release of Sony’s stunningly monikered PS3, it already seems as if an age has passed.

Not long ago Sony Europe announced their European Launch a huge success, after taking £100 million in the first two days.

Such jubilation hardly sits well with the nigh-on simultaneous laying off of 160 Sony Europe employees, from mainly UK sources:
And the rest of the Sony world isn’t necessarily safe:
Fear in Hi Def

In other news, Sony announced a PSP price drop:
Cheap, hand held fun
Hardly controversial at this stage in the console’s life, but the PS3 was offered at over 5% off the RRP (at less than £400) at numerous online sites just days after launch, lending weight to the theories that the hefty price tag is holding back all but the most ravenous Playstation fans. Now over a month later, the software is changing hands at £30 a go:
And not just the crap games
Sales for the third week after release have the freely available PS3 at 17,000 units, whilst the Wii, coming up to 20 weeks from UK release and still in short supply, shifted 25,000 units according to this:
DS still wins

Then this week there has been a media fury, predictably from the hateful Mail newspaper, about the European launch of the critically acclaimed God of War 2 on Playstation 2.
But this time they do have a point:
Goat slaughter and topless waitresses

As media stunts go this one’s pretty fucking weird.

So, it’s not a good sign for Europe. But what of the other main territories? Gamecube and Dreamcast died horribly in the UK, but in the US and especially Japan they enjoyed somewhat more success, so is the PS3 held back by the comparatively massive prices Brits have to pay?

For most of this year the Wii has been outselling the PS3 by two-to-one in Japan (with 360 sales barely a fraction of these) and the NPD US sales figures speak for themselves:

February sales figures:
Wii 335,000
360 228,000
PS3 127,000

Wii 259,000
360 199,000
PS3 130,000

Then to top it all off, Ken Kutaragi steps down as the head of Sony’s Playstation division.
Jump or pushed?
Demoting oneself is rarely the action of a successful businessman.

In the UK it’s fair to say that the PS3’s initial (as in two day) success was fuelled by fans waiting a long time, but it is not being picked up by those who are only curious as it’s too big an investment, unlike the Wii, which offers something different from the norm that consoles have offered for a long time, and comes in at a comparatively budget price, as well as possibly offering some kudos thanks to it’s perpetually ‘sold out’ status at the moment.
A valid criticism of the Wii is that there are just too few decent games on the system, without delving in to the Gamecube catalogue, but the sales figures point to the fact that Nintendo have successfully hit the market of ‘non-gamers’, who aren’t too worried about a smaller crop of games as they buy them less frequently anyway. How this demographic will impact on software sales and therefore developer support is a worry for the future of the machine.

With all the negative press, it’s all too easy to assume that the PS3 is dead or dying, but with their still imposing brand name and dedication to producing decent software, it is more likely that this time around the battle of the formats will be on a much more level playing field.

For the first time I’m really torn between the machines on offer.
The Wii is a great little machine which more than any other promises of shiny potential that you haven’t even thought of yet. But at the moment it is plagued by a dearth of titles, and those that are available consist of an uncomfortably large proportion of lame kids’ movie tie-ins, ports of very old games from the last lot of machines with usually shoddy optimization for the new control system, the horrific curse of the ‘party game’ and only the distant promise of the Nintendo first-party blockbusters, which are all just nth generation updates of hoary old franchises anyway. I hope that that potential isn’t lost before it has a chance to be found.

The 360 is a great machine backed with great games, great looking, great sounding and great fun. But none of these games are any different than what’s been offered before. Lush graphics, sharp sound and some extended gameplay thanks to the extra horsepower, but the games on offer are the same games we’ve been playing for years. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the resurgence of ‘retro gaming’ would attest. But it’s hard to get very excited about.

The PS3 isn’t much different, with the same sort of old-gen-game, next-gen-polish line up on offer, and the integrated Blu Ray drive is essentially the audio-visual equivalent – it like DVD, but looks and sounds better. Besides the free “Home” online service (compared to the 360’s subscriber service), the PS3 has little different to offer, more so as previously exclusive titles such as Devil May Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed hop onto to the Microsoft platform, but there are promises shining through in the shape of games such as LittleBigPlanet. Click when you're linking

It’s a shame that Sony aren’t known for keeping their promises.

But rather than doom & gloom, things in the world of games are actually fantastic, because the people behind Lego Star Wars 1&2 are bringing out Lego Batman:

Now that Play.com are offering the Playstation 2 for only £69.99 I am so tempted that I can actually smell and taste it. I've long resisted the lure of the thing as it looked cheap and nasty, and seemed built that way judging from the number of friends who have had to return faulty machines, but there are a wealth of critically acclaimed games that just aren't available elsewhere.
I am desperate to play the God of War games thanks to what I've read about them, I've been dreaming of the gorgeous looking Okami for months -

- and others, such as Rockstar's Canis Canem Edit, the Devil May Cry games and the second volume of the Capcom Classics Collection have taunted me with their exclusivity.

I know that this path is that of madness, as even as I covet Sony's last gen dominator, dozens of unplayed Xbox and Gamecube titles call to me and a copy of Eledees for the Wii will shortly be joining my little library, but I almost can't help myself. Should I give in? I have the money, but will I ever have the time...

An Eledee. Or Elebit. Depends which country you're in.


  1. Ico. And Shadow of the Colossus.

    Submit, they're the balls.

    Just buy the machine, you can borrow my copies of the games.

  2. Thanks for volunteering to get me games with discount.
    I'll see if it's still on offer after work tomorrow.
    I so need to go to bed now. I am going to pay harshly. I'm not 18 any more. I'm not even 27 any more.


  3. Sony = Evil.

    But then so does microsoft. And you already do Nintendo. What a dilemma.

    That God of War party looks ace.