Wednesday, May 18, 2005

SONY and Microsoft PRESS Conferences - My Reaction

As E3 is going on this week, most of my rantings and ravings will revolve around games, hardware, fanboys, marketing, hype, and why I can't focus on anything else. I really don't even play many games - I've been a one trick pony the last few months, with nothing but Halo 2 in my diet; of which I haven't even played for the last 3 weeks. So despite my desire to play more, I almost find it more interesting to be an "industry-watcher" with regards to all things gaming - and this week is always exciting.

Today kicks off with the opening of the show room floor, and being that I am no where near LA or its huge convention centers, I am relying on others to bring me the news I want to hear. I enjoyed watching the press conferences from Sony and Microsquash, but don't appreciate how late in the night Monday they took us. I guess this is how PST people feel about TV schedules being driven by EST. Here is my quick summary of the two pressers.

Microsoft said, "Hey, we are still making games for our current console!" Then went on to talk about their approach to the next gen, and how they plan on reaching "1 BILLION" customers; add your own Austin Powers "Dr Evil" tilt to that comment. Microsoft went to great lengths to ensure the hip image that is the 360 was oozing over the whole crowd, and I'd have to say they are either doing a good job connecting with a multitude of demographics or trying to create demographics that don’t exist. They also convinced me that I will indeed have to buy a Media Center PC at some point; and we all thought we would get off cheap with this unit. For some reason, most of the games demonstrated for the thing weren’t as impressive as should’ve been. I’ve been hearing that Microsoft is showing some extremely impressive demos behind closed doors today, and many are wondering why portions of these game demos weren’t seen at all during the press conference. Games like Perfect Dark Zero, Gears of War, and Call of Duty 2 are supposed to be wet-your-pants good in these lengthy demos, but didn’t pop up in the presser. I guess MS was too busy trying to talk about their console’s MOJO. I mean, they paid models to sit in the first few rows and clap ecstatically at every little thing!

Sony's presser could be summed in two words: TECH DEMO. They spent barely any time talking about their support for the waning PS2. The aging console MOST in need of replacement, but pushed onward to talk nothing but PS3. After they blasted the audience with chart after chart of specifications, I was losing interest. I took each one with a grain of finely crushed salt after they falsely listed the BlueGene/L as having only 36 TFLOPs of power (and the Japanese owned Earth Simulator at 35.9). First off, to think they can somehow compare any game console to multi-billion dollar machines is ludicrous. GIVE me a break! For those that don't know, BlueGene/L was last clocked at 135.6 TFLOPs of power, ousting every supercomputer on the planet. The 36 TFLOP number is from several months back. Perhaps the slides were prepared months in advance, and they “forgot” to update them with current information? It is like looking at last year's sales charts to determine your investment approach today! Brilliant! Eventually, Sony moved out of the chart drivel, and started giving us technical demonstrations. Some of them were jaw-droppingly good. Then again, "The Incredibles" was jaw-droppingly good. The talk of the town was KillZone 2. Honestly, the only reason we were all stunned, is that is was presented as IN-GAME, REAL TIME footage. Sony actually never said it was; I think we all just SECRETLY hoped. All this got gaming fans to wet their pants repeatedly. It's like Kutaragi got up their and said, "Last night, I dreamed future console games, and saw much good, and my minions have rendered what I dreamed for you to see. Take good look, yes?" I especially loved the Spider-Man/Vision Gran Turismo combination.

The reality is that their is no PS3. They have a concept box design, that may be the final, OR maybe NOT. Developer kits for the thing are sparse, as the GDC a few months back made blatantly obvious, and the final specs are still so far from reality that none of it is to be believed. Hell, even Xbox's specs may be bloated, but I think MS is being a little more honest here because they have to be, their console is too close to release. In one year, we will all forget the bar charts Sony put up at E3 2005, only to be replaced by much more suitable benchmarks of the cell's power. I bet money that the PS3 will be delayed a few months, maybe even to Christmas time 2006. It is a radical new technology they are putting inside the box, and with new technology always comes seemingly insurmountable problems. I don't think there is a doubt that we will have a more technically proficient box in the PS3 over the X360 - that's like saying a computer system a year from now will be more powerful than the one I am working with right now. It's a "DUH" in this industry!

I hope Sony works the kinks out of the cell, and makes a fantastic box. I think they will, and we will see some awesome visuals and great games. The last thing I want is to see a one console market. Microsoft is notorious and notoriusly good at smashing the competition, and then sitting on their hands while other people struggle to break out of niche markets. Just remember what Internet Explorer did to Netscape. Since Nintendo has no desire to battle for technical superiority with their next box, and admitted they are happy with being a distant third place, we have to rely on the two company balance of power to drive the competitive market place for consoles. I see a good bit of parrying between the two with a tie for marketplace dominance being good of us all.

Lastly, Microsoft, why can’t the rest of us see the good stuff only being shown behind closed doors on the E3 floors? Do you think all we care about is IMAGE and our GamerTags? Live looks awesome no doubt, and the improved next-gen approach to online is sounding great, but us “hard-core” still want our meat and potatoes! I’m glad to see you have a working console on the floor, even if it is alpha hardware. If ALPHA hardware impresses the people playing it, than we can be sure that the final design will be awesome! At least, we all hope so…

2 Comments:

At 11:33 PM, Blogger cc Infopage said...

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Games & PC Games News - Oct. 15, 2005


PRESS RELEASE: WonderPhone announces Empire Earth® - a made-for-mobile version of the best selling PC strategy game (gamesindustry.biz)
Paris - October 14th, 2005 - WonderPhone today announces the release of its latest java game - Empire Earth ® - a made-for-mobile version of the best selling PC strategy game from Vivendi Universal Games.

Xbox 360's New Media Play Finding Fans (eWeek)
Consumers were impressed by the expanded multimedia features of Microsoft's upcoming Xbox 360 at the Digital Life conference, while gamers were excited to begin using the devices to access other types of services.

Free open-source gamer's treat unleashed (Macworld UK)
The fantasy-themed turn-based strategy game lets players build and train armies, allowing them to create pools of tough warriors to be called-up in crisis. Experienced warriors gain powerful new features and spells.

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At 8:32 PM, Blogger cc Infopage said...

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Games & PC Games News by www.infopage.cc - Oct. 18, 2005

Beta testers needed for GPS enabled Golf application for Windows Mobile (MS Mobiles)
October 17, 2005 [General] There are many applications for Windows Mobile about game of golf. Not all of them are GPS enabled though. Here comes yet another application about golf, in versions both for Pocket PC and MS Smartphone. (Read More ...)

GameTap download service launches in US (gamesindustry.biz)
Turner Broadcasting System has officially launched GameTap, a new gaming download service which gives subscribers access to more than 300 arcade, console and PC games. (Read More ...)

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