25 May, 2014

Pre E3

written by Blain Newport on Sunday, 25 May 2014

Microsoft Forced to Abandon Nonsense

Microsoft released a lot of bad news recently so that by the time E3 coverage started up, the only news left would be good. In Microsoft's world, bad news is actually nice for consumers.

Netflix and other services used to be locked behind subscribing to Xbox Live. Yep. You had to pay a subscription to take advantage of a subscription you were already paying for. As of June 6th, that's gone, and the Xbox One will finally have caught up to the Nintendo Wii. :P

The other piece of bad news is that they will now sell the Xbox without Kinect for $400. This means that their slightly inferior hardware will now only cost the same amount as a PS4, not $100 more. They have removed every differentiator they had, and their system is less powerful.

Microsoft has never won a console generation. They won North America in the last gen, but they still lost to Sony worldwide. Yet somehow they thought they were in a position to dictate terms to consumers. I'm glad they got humbled. I don't want them out of the race, because nobody wins when a single manufacturer, regardless of who, is in the driver's seat. But Microsoft was hosing customers by double charging for access to video and trying to hose customers on used games and on a peripheral they had no plan to make worthwhile. They deserved this.

And now they'll have to seriously revamp the system's interface because they assumed people would always use voice commands and left it a terrible rat's nest. They deserved this.

Wii Online Dead

As of May 20th, only games that made you pay for online will work on the Wii. I don't have a list of which titles have paid multiplayer, but basically it's killed multi for just about everything anyone might care about: Mario Kart, Monster Hunter, Smash Bros. They're all dead.

Why would Nintendo do this now? Because Mario Kart for the Wii U comes out May 30th. Mario Kart always moves hardware and now Nintendo is pulling an even worse move than EA. At least EA would wait until the next iteration was out before killing the servers of the old one. But EA wasn't desperate to move hardware like Nintendo is.

Much like Microsoft, Nintendo brought nothing substantial to this generation.

But at least they tried.

Sony Parent Company Issues

Sony Entertainment has posted losses for six of the last seven years. And some investors want it broken off from the rest of the company. I don't really know what this means for the games business, but it's a huge distraction, and that's never helpful.

But they've got the best indie support, VR on the way, and they haven't been slipping on banana peels like their competitors seem to be.

Wrap Up

According to Arthur Gies on the latest Rebel FM podcast, gamers will have a lot to play this holiday season. It'll take something amazing to reverse the larger trends, but one killer app can make all the difference.

E3 officially starts June 10th.

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