Tuesday, May 21, 2013

SPC Soapbox - 5/21/13 Xbox Don't One-t & the Wii U Virtual Console

Welcome to a special edition of the SPC Soapbox, hot off the trail of the big Xbox Next coming out party. On this edition I express my disappointment with the unveiling of the officially named Xbox One, and to cap things off I talk about Nintendo's apparent strategy with the slow releases of their Virtual Console games, particularly on Wii U.

Xbox One = Don't One-t

I should have been smart enough to know that the Xbox One-- that's the name of Microsoft's third home console, don't you know-- wasn't for me when the first half of the entire presentation was mostly dedicated to the entertainment features of the system instead of what a game console is meant to primarily be for-- y'know, the games. Every time the one presenter said, "Xbox, show movies." "Xbox, show TV." "Xbox, power on." I wanted someone to yell, "Xbox, show games" or "Xbox, power off." Just to make the presentation at least a bit better.

I honestly believe that the word "television" (EDIT: Or "TV) was used just as much, or maybe more so, than the word "games" throughout the presentation. Is there a good reason for this? I think Emily Rogers put it wonderfully on Twitter:

For what little games that were actually shown for the Xbox One, the only one that was intriguing to me was Quantum Break, and even then, I can't say there was gameplay footage in that. The EA Sports trailer showed off impressive models, but so did that Madden trailer some years back, and we all know that that footage was representative of the final product. Ending the conference with the new Call of Duty only further isolated me from the conference. To me so far, and pretty much everyone at SuperPhillip Central, the Xbox One is basically the Xbox 360's lineup with prettier graphics, and the Xbox 360's lineup of exclusives is the worst we've seen for a popular mainstream console-- no hyperbole intended. It's just the same games from the same genres with only new coats of paint. I like the idea of all of Microsoft's new franchises, but if they're just the same genres and games we've played last generation only with new assets, then I'm not interested. 

On the positive side, according to Jason Schreier of Kotaku, the Xbox One will not force users to always be online. Instead, developers can decide whether their games will be always online or not. That's reassuring, but what isn't is the idea that the Xbox One might require installation of games to be played, meaning the system might actually block used games. As someone who frequently trades games that he doesn't care for to get games that are out-of-print or hard-to-find, this idea pisses me off severely.

All I know personally is that all Microsoft's event did for me was to help me decide that unless E3 is kind to Microsoft, I'm definitely going where the games are, and that seems to be the PlayStation 4, and less so the Wii U.

Wii U Virtual Console

There was rightfully a huge amount of disappointment when the North American Wii U Virtual Console lineup was revealed. The best game on the list was Super Mario World, and the rest were NES games that most people have downloaded from past Virtual Console platforms. 

Some argue that the drip-feeding that Nintendo is doing by releasing a small amount of titles each week is because that emulation is so difficult. I don't believe this for a second. I'm not going to pretend, though, that I know the work involved with emulating old games so they will work on the Wii U hardware and the GamePad controller. Instead, I'm going to theorize why Nintendo constantly releases their Virtual Console titles at a slow clip instead of all at once.

This has to do primarily with sales. If Nintendo released every Virtual Console game they had on the Wii to the Wii U, you can bet that only the most popular titles would sell, most likely Nintendo's own titles. This would result in less sales for third-parties and less sales for the "bad" games. You see, by having a drip-feed release schedule, Nintendo can entice buyers to spend money on Virtual Console games they otherwise wouldn't give a second look to, especially for when there's a drought in software for the Wii U. It's ingenious, and it seems to work for Nintendo or else they wouldn't be using this business strategy for the third time in a row. It sucks for gamers and consumers, but it's definitely working for Nintendo.

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