Ask Alundra Vol. 2|
Ask Alundra: Volume 2
Welcome all to the all-singing, all-dancing second edition of Ask Alundra. In the past week or so, I have recieved a plethora of questions, and decided to sort four submissions out and answer them.
This week: The War-torn Path of the Double D's: Dreamcast and the Dollar.
"Do you know the price of games for these next-gen consoles? I heard it might be around $70.
Also, will the Xbox 360 (with their seemingly mediocre launch titles) be able to survive the launch of the PS3 or will it become just another victim? *cough* Dreamcast *cough*.... "
A: First off, there has yet to be a confirmation on the pricepoint of next-gen mainstream titles, but thousands of gamers were exposed to the ongoing marketing experiment that was published in a article in EGM some months ago. For those who do not know, In the past year or so, companies like EA have been releasing "Collectors Editions" of games that would require the buyer to dish out an extra 10-20$ more for their game, and gathered the results from that. What analysts have discovered is that a good portion of the gaming community will actually pay for a minusule insert or a "Collectors Tin", even though it does little more than raise the value of the game on the aftersale market.
So the question here is if developers will start to charge more for their games if it seems reasonable enough to charge almost 10% more, even though the content of the game is still standard. But my view on the subject is that this field test has little to no accuracy in gauging how the gaming community will react to paying that much more for a regular next-gen game. For example: If you are going to buy a PS2 game with no strings attached, you're expecting to drop around 50$, but sometimes, there are Collectors Edtions of the game that might entice you to spend a little more for a limited item, and that is the draw of the purchase. Fast forward to a year from now, where you might have to pay 70$ for a game that has nothing new, and almost 100$ for a collectors edition, would you feel that you are getting a fair deal even though the original price of PSX games is the same as PS2 games today?
But, there is one thing that some people don't understand, the gaming industry is predicted to grow into a 26 billion dollar industry in the coming years, which means that the production costs for games will also be driven up. In order to cover these costs of new and revolutionary technology, we will end up paying more to appease the budget of the development studios. So, I suggest that you start saving your money to play the next generation, because my guess is that we will be paying upwards of 65-70$ in the next generation.
Second, the XBOX360 debate is a heated subject that, as you have brought up, always links back to the Dreamcast. The 360 is a hard subject to touch on because of it's mix of unimpressive games (DOA4), and obviously next-gen titles (Gears Of War). What many are thinking is that Microsoft is trying to get the earliest jump on the market by releasing the 360 during the most profitable time of the year (Christmas shopping season), and gaining as many early adopters as possible. Their philosophy on Live! is to also get an incredible number of users, 500,000,000 (according to J Allard) Live! accounts. The draw here is the "online marketplace", where users can buy or sell different logo's, t-shirts and skins, as well as create them and basically, become another EBay user. This tactic is an obvious deterrent to combat Sony's very impressive online network they are developing for the PS3, which is allowing for the same, if not more connectivity than the 360.
Microsoft's main problem with their Live! philosophy is connected with their example of "VelocityGirl" during their E3 presentation. Apparently, Microsoft thinks that there is a pocket of the "gaming" population that will shell out the money for a 360 just to buy and sell virtual goods with other players. On the positive side, Live has two levels of service; with the lower one, which is free, only allowing marketplace utilization (to pull in the "gamer" that doesn't play online, but basically likes to lurk) and their Platinum serivice, which allows for full access. But the main concern here is that Microsoft is too confident in the casual gaming market, and doesn't realise that most casual gamers aren't going to sit at home creating skate parks and t-shirts for hours on end for a small dividend of money, the premise is really not that attractive. Second, would anyone in their right mind really pay actual money to ride in a skatepark that some 11-year old created?
But to defend the 360, I think that alot of people that bring up the Dreamcast are out of the loop on what really happened to the system. Although the Dreamcast was very much capable of competing with the PS2 and XBOX, Sega was a company that made alot of developers nervous, and deterred them from working closely with the company. Their changing philosophy made it hard for some developers to be confident that thier product would be best represented on the system, and with the promise of the "true next-generation" with the PS2, alot of developers jumped ship.
But now that we are in a much more integrated and solid online infrastructure (in gaming), the key factor in the 360's success will be in the quality of the games, coupled with the promises of a improved interface of the already stellar Live! service. One other thing, the real battle begins on the date of the PS3's launch, since Bill Gates himself stated they will be releasing Halo 3 the same day.
Let's hope they can actually write an ending for an already uninteresting single-player campaign.
"Hey Alundra. I wondered if you think since the Revolution project, do you think that would probably ruin the chances of nintendo to make another so call system in the near future and stick to just games [ like sega had become unfortaintly..]?"
A: To this day, the Revolution project is stil one of the best-kept secrets of the gaming industry. Little to nothing is known about the system, even though we are about a year from it's launch. One thing that Nintendo has always done is provide us with quality first-party products, and that is what makes me confident that the company will have a chance to stand up to the behemoths: the PS3 and 360. What Nintendo has learned from the past, though, is the fact that letting third-party developers slip by is a big mistake, and rectified this with Resident Evil 4(Officially the 4th best game ever created); the best GameCube game hands-down.
The one thing that concerns me about the Revolution is their jump into the hugely popular foray of online gaming. Even though they will be assisted by GameSpy in getting their service up and running, as well as maintained, I still worry about their devotion to the program through the years. Nintendo's philosophy is still undeterred, they haven't budged from their position as a home-based game developer, and diving into online gaming with such a force may end up in them not conforming to (or liking) the popularity of online gaming like Sony and Microsoft have. It all boils down to a waiting game with Nintendo at this point, we still don't have a true controller, or a majoirty of general specs at the moment.
I have though, seen a controller image that looked to be official, but anything can be PhotoChopped nowadays. Although I do not have the image, it was basically the size of a XBOX S-Controller with a blank faceplate, and you could switch into different controller layouts with the press of a button. The controller displayed touch-oriented layouts of the GameCube, SNES, N64 and NES controllers. This could very well be close to what Nintendo will be unveiling to us, but a controller based off of touch screen technology lacks the visceral joy of having a movable joystick and depressable buttons.
Rumors aside, the Revolution is expected to be fully, and properly, revealed at Spaceworld (unconfirmed) 2005 in Japan: Nintendo's turf.
"Is there going to be an upcoming first person shooter that can hold up to the qualities of Halo? Are there any rumors about Halo 3?"
A: It has already happened, it was called Half-Life 2.
I have played Halo and Halo 2, and I can confidently say that I really do not understand what the hype surrounding the game is really about. The original Halo had an uninteresting storyline, blase AI, and very uninspired level design. I cannot reitierate to you how many times I found myself lost in the game because of the same repeated design in levels such as 343 Guilty Spark, or the Library. The multiplayer is fun, on the other hand, and redeems the single player campaign's shortcomings, but I don't think that a game should be so respected since it relies on its multiplayer as a crutch.
Want proof of that crutch? Look no further than Bungies latest release: the Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack. Now, one of the biggest complaints against Halo 2 was its rushed and anticlimactic ending, and many felt unfulfilled and let down by this. So, instead of actually answering the creative call, which I think all game designers should do, they go for the multiplayer cash-cow and feed it to the public, while setting the storyline out to pasture until Halo 3. You may respond, "But a new game is almost a neccessity to continue the story of Halo!". No, I'm sorry, a lackluster Starship Trooper storyline does not need an entirely new game to progress its story.
More proof? Half-Life-2: Aftermath, or maybe Painkiller: Battle Out Of Hell, how about DOOM 3: Ressurection of Evil?
Going with the first of the aforementioned, Half-Life 2 had a very anticlimactic ending, much like it predecessor; so what did Valve do to mend the situation? They created an expansion pack almost fixated on progressing one of the best videogame storylines to date. The multiplayer in Half-Life is definately more popular that Halo 1 or 2, we just know it as Counter-Strike, but Valve passes on revamping it's most resounding mod's success in favor of giving the fans an expansion on its enthralling storyline.
Bungie is going to be charging you the full price of a brand-new game for the same content that Valve and id are giving to you for nearly 1/3 of that.
Further research into Halo 2 shows how much gamers have been missing out on, how badly Microsoft clings to the XBOX flagship franchise, and how "n00bified" Halo 2 really is. The early builds of Halo 2 actually featured an expansive level which was shown off in Halo 2's E3 demo, but then was axed due to pressure from Microsift unto Bungie to finish the game to compete with HL2 and the Christmas shopping season. So this "Lost level" of sorts is now rumored to be a part of Halo 2.5, or maybe even transferred into Halo 3. Many will think that this is no big deal, but you're wrong, you will be paying another 50 (or 70) dollars to play in a level that was finished over 2 years ago; instead of including the level as a download to add to the single-player campaign, as a side-story, more precisely.
As for my "n00bified" point, how about not having to hit your opponents in Halo 2 to kill them? If I were a Halo fan before watching this video, I would be greatly insulted. The fact that Bungie makes it so easy for the average player to make headshots and instant kills makes it seem like they were trying to make the game easier so that they could draw more people in. Suddenly, beating the game on Legendary doesn't feel like such an accomplishment anymore, does it?
As for rumors on Halo 3, the most that I know is this: Halo 3 will be released on the same day as the PS3, which is part of Gate's plan to deter people from buying Sony's new console. The problem with this theory is that when a consumer decides to make a $495 (estimated price of the PS3) purchase, it is highly doubtful they will be swayed by the release of another shooter. Also, if the 360 does not meet with the publics expectations, releasing Halo 3 unto the very same people that are shunning the system would be a gigantic blow to Microsoft since the PS3's release could possibly overshadow the game.
"In your opinion, what should the prices of games be?"
In my many years with games, I have seen the rise and fall of exorbitant and reasonable game prices. Back in the days of SNES, buying a cartridge for almost 70$ was commonplace, but I think that the happy medium has been found in the 50-55$ price range. Although we can expect the prices of games to rise once again in the next generation, I don't think that America is truly ready to pay 70$ for games they paid 20$ for less than a year ago.
Personally, I like to pay 50$ for my console games, and 30-35$ for my handheld games.
Closing: Thank you to the_underdog, FireTears, fizz810, and GoddesPlayToy for posting their questions! As always, you can find the thread right here. Please, do not feel as if a question is too taboo, or maybe too strange to ask, because you never know which ones I will pick. I appreciate classic gaming queries as well.
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Published on: 2005-07-03 (5185 reads)[ Go Back ]