Tuesday, November 13, 2012

SPC Soapbox - 11/13/12 Grand Theft Auto V, Wii U's Price, and the Irrelevant Press

There have been some interesting pieces of news that I could not talk about in full length. That is where the SPC Soapbox comes in. Once more I have three topics I'd like to broach about, including my main desire and what I like so far of Grand Theft Auto V, whether Ubisoft's CEO's comment about the Wii U's price is founded in reality or not, and why I think that when it comes to Nintendo, the majority of the gaming press is no longer really as relevant as they think they are.

Grand Theft Auto V hopes and wishes

Grand Theft Auto IV was one of the most undeserving games to give high praise to. It was also very controversial how day-one reviewers had to play the game with Rockstar employees watching them at some sort of special press event, and they could only play the game for a relatively brief period of time. It doesn't help that reviewers in retrospect started mentioning why the game wasn't so great afterwards.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was my first and my favorite Grand Theft Auto game. The world of San Andreas was remarkably ambitious. It was incredibly massive for a PlayStation 2 and then Xbox game. I loved the settings, from Grove Street to the Strip at Las Venturas. The fact that Grand Theft Auto V will be returning to San Andreas in some regard has me totally stoked. Hearing that the world is larger than that of Red Dead Redemption has me positively enthralled. It's going to be amazing, especially since instead of large rocky deserts to traverse, we'll have metropolises, which interest me much more in exploring. Additionally, the thought of having three main characters to play as intrigues me greatly. The possibilities are infinite for how the story and gameplay will work out, but the potential for failure is also there.

One of my main problems with GTA IV was the replacement of realism over the wacky fun of past games. The title grew to be a chore as well, and compared to the Saints Row trilogy, it was just neutered in the entertainment department to me. So my paramount wish for the fifth mainline game in the Grand Theft Auto franchise is for the return to some oddball fun and zaniness. However, at the same time, the more missions like Four Leaf Clover, the better too. There needs to be a balance between realism and crazy.

I am without a doubt excited to enter the sunny shores of Los Santos once more. I can imagine riding down the streets of Vinewood with the top down in my shiny red convertible, passing by pedestrians and accidentally running over several hundred of them. Grand Theft Auto V is yet another blockbuster planned for the absolutely packed 2013 gaming year. Here's hoping it satisfies rather than disappoints!

Is the Wii U's price too high? Ubisoft's CEO says so.

Ubisoft's CEO, Yves Guillemot, recently made it known to the press that he is unhappy with the price of the Wii U. Of course, that is the typical take from a third-party on any platformer that many message board users will use as a talking point on how the Wii U is objectively overpriced. Nonetheless, you see, the higher the price of a console, it seems likely that the less games will be bought by consumers. In a perfect world, the Wii U would be free, so Ubisoft could sell the most games at launch. However, the world obviously does not work that way. Nintendo has already made mention that they are losing money on every Wii U sold, so Ubisoft and its CEO will sort of have to deal with the price right now.

For all Mr. Guillemot cares, Nintendo could take even larger losses on the console just as long as his company's games sell well. It's not really that selfish of a position if that were his stance, as it makes sense in Ubisoft's perspective, but considering Nintendo's stock price and fortunes have fallen within the past couple of years due to the dying off of the Wii, the slow start to the 3DS (which Nintendo also sold at a loss initially), and the exchange rates of the yen, making the Wii U cheaper would have sent Nintendo down an even more dangerous road.

Some people say the Wii U is just souped up Xbox 360, or an Xbox 360 and a Wii duct-taped together as it were. However, I don't know of any Xbox with a more advanced controller than the Wii U GamePad. Well, unless you make the argument that the human body is the controller for Kinect. Sure, that's plenty more complicated than any piece of tech! Regardless, having a bright screen, being able to play games on the GamePad itself, using near-field communication, using gyro for movement, and having what basically amounts to a Swiss army knife in the form of an essentially traditional controller makes for a higher price tag. I can't make any statements on the power of the actual system because 1) We don't really know the details until someone opens one up, and 2) My knowledge of tech is limited as it is. However, I feel the GamePad and the boost in visuals that I've seen compared to what the Wii could produce, the amount of storage, and for the Deluxe package, the bonus Nintendo Land game, make for a system that is worth the price.

How the Western gaming press is irrelevant when it comes to Nintendo

I mentioned this somewhat in my piece last week on the immaturity of the gaming industry, particularly the West. However, let me go into greater detail. It is my opinion that a lot of the Western gaming press is ambivalent towards Nintendo (when I say "gaming press" from now on, it will be meant as the majority and not all). The company doesn't play by the Western gaming press's rules, they march to the beat of a different drummer. The press seems to show contempt, especially after being made fools of when the console that they deemed dead on arrival outsold its competitors in a grand fashion. This failed analysis by the press made them look quite incompetent.

Nintendo has sort of wised up to the perception they have from the Western mainstream gaming press and have started creating avenues to completely bypass them. Enter Nintendo Directs and Iwata Asks segments. No longer does Nintendo have to give information to the press that will just be editorialized and communicated incorrectly by the press. Nintendo can simply give information straight to their fans without a third-party interfering. So it's no wonder why the gaming press has what I perceive to be contempt for Nintendo. The company plays by its own rules, it gives out necessary info on their schedule, and they directly give fans news now, making the mainstream press almost, if not completely, irrelevant for Nintendo coverage.

At that same token, it's important for Nintendo to hold a strong relationship with the press, and I feel that they do that. If going over the heads of the press to give information directly to the company's fans makes journalists bitter, these journalists will just have to deal with it, or maybe, just maybe, improve how they cover the company.

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