Life Cycles of Consoles

John Koller speculated that the PlayStation 3 will be supported for up to four more years. Is this true? Do video game companies continue to support previous generation consoles? This article looks at past trends to see if that is the case. Continue reading

Dragon Age: Inquisition – What is known

There’s a lot of hype surrounding Dragon Age: Inquisition right now. And I mean, a lot. For those of you who are fans, you’re probably thinking ‘duh.’ It’s the final instillation of the trilogy. So, independent of the hype, what do we know? As it turns out, quite a bit.

Inquisitor_faces_models

Character Races, Male and Female Available

  • Human
  • Elf
  • Dwarf
  • Qunari

E3-2013-EA-Dragon-Age-Inquisition-035

Confirmed Past Characters Returning

  • Varric Tethras
  • Morrigan
  • Cassandra Pentaghast
  • Flemeth

dragon-age-inquisition-21308-1280x800

Development Information

  • Frostbite 3 Engine
  • Speedtree Software Toolkit
  • Will be released on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and the PC
  • Environments will be reused less than in Dragon Age 2.
  • BioWare has worked on the game since March 2011, two months after the release of Dragon Age 2
  • Release date pushed back from late 2013 to 3rd quarter 2014
  • Development team focused on creating an open world, using Skyrim for inspiration. Mike Laidlaw, the creative director of Dragon Age: Inquisition, said that the game will not be a true open world but rather have a linear story.
  • Further refined combat system, focusing on preparation rather than button mashing.
  • Further refined romance system, moving away from gifts and focusing more on decisions and events.
  • Developers claim decisions from previous two games will have a great impact on the world of Dragon Age: Inquisition. They developed a program, Dragon Age Keep (soon to go into Beta Testing) to allow players to make the decisions without needing to replay the two games.
  • David Gaider, lead writer for the entire Dragon Age series, confirmed there would be a multiplayer aspect to the game.

dragon-age-3-inquisition

Dragon Age: Inquisition seems to have promise, taking to heart many of the issues fans had with the previous game. One thing that I found curious was the inclusion of female Qunari. On one hand, I think that gender/sex diversity will only add to greater options for the players. Though, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a female Qunari before. How does BioWare justify their absence until the third game? I am afraid that they might just throw them in there and act like they were always around.

The one thing BioWare does better than anyone else, in my opinion, is improving gameplay from game to game. While I may dislike story decisions they made (see Dragon Age 2: how not to make a sequel for example), I have never criticized how the gameplay progressed. And since the release date was pushed back almost an entire year, it’s obvious that this game is not being rushed.

dragon-age-inquisition

I want to believe in BioWare, they they would make the same old high quality story-driven games like they used to. But I was let down with the past two ones. Way, way, way too dark. I like my stories to be a little bit optimistic. Not… so deathy, you know?

If you’ll notice, I didn’t bother saying anything about the story… I guess that’s why I don’t think I have a good sense of it. Sure, there’s a civil war… but who are the good and bad guys? Can you take a side? What will the Inquisition do exactly? How does the tear in the Veil play a factor? Morrigan’s reappearance… is this a good thing or did she cause the tear? And what about Flemeth? What is her role in all of this chaos? There are enough unknowns to where I don’t feel confident about anything about it.

Though I’ll say this. Whatever the result, BioWare is trying their best. Gotta admire that, right?

Unintended Consequence of the Next Generation

A recent report from the security firm Kaspersky Labs said there was an increase in hacking attempts against the Xbox One and the Playstation 4.  Coupled with every other game system and devices used for gaming, the report claims that approximately 34,000 attacks occur per day worldwide. The claim that I want to focus on is that the increase in hacking is concurrent with the release of the Xbox One and PS4.

th

Video game consoles having online play was experimented on as early as the Fourth Generation with adapters for the Super Nintendo. We saw an expansion of that in the Sixth Generation with the Playstation 2  and Xbox having an internet connection. The Seventh Generation further expanded on it, making DLCs easily available on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It was in the Seventh Generation that we saw a hint of the dangers when Sony was hacked and millions of customer’s personal information was stolen.

VGCats

We’re now on the cusp of the Eighth Generation of video game consoles. We’re seeing a further expansion of their online capabilities. We’re seeing a lot more options for online play (co-op and pvp)… to the point where the games that tended to not have online play suddenly will have some sort of online option. Microsoft wanted the Xbox One to always be online, a policy they thankfully reversed (though it is not clear how often it has to be online). Sony has the PS4 offer interesting online features like streaming  and/or sharing gameplay.

There is an implicit danger with greater online options. And we are seeing that with the increasing attempts to hack into these newer consoles. To be honest, I was taken off guard when I found out about it. Sure, it makes sense on one hand. The danger of being hacked, dealing with worms and viruses, or whatever else have you is a part of daily life with the internet. That’s why we all purchase software to help minimize the risk.

VGCats1

If we are forced to have our video game consoles be “always connected” or “always on” like what is being pushed.. let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time… then we have to expect our console to be someday hacked. Having a system be always on and connected has to be an inviting target for any criminal out there.

Comparing Sales Figures: Xbox 360 versus PS3

Studying the weekly sales figures of the Xbox 360 versus the PS3 reveals something unexpected. The Playstation 3 has outsold the Xbox 360 for months now. Months! Sales figures were pulled from the website VGChartz.com.

ps3_vs_xbox360_4b4ce8fc0bb3c

Febuary 23rd

  • PS3 – 184,342
  • Xbox 360 – 141,741

March 2nd

  • PS3 – 186, 210
  • Xbox 360 – 126, 582

March 9th

  • PS3 – 166,209
  • Xbox 360 – 119,539

March 16th

  • PS3 – 159,646
  • Xbox 360 – 115,039

March 23rd

  • PS3 – 157,118
  • Xbox 360 – 106,565

March 30th

  • PS3 – 175,908
  • Xbox 360 – 126,817

April 6th

  • PS3 – 153,771
  • Xbox 360 – 115,838

April 13th

  • PS3 – 146,889
  • Xbox 360 – 100,965

April 20th

  • PS3 – 139,768
  • Xbox 360 – 96,128

April 27th

  • PS3 – 136,517
  • Xbox 360 – 88,275

May 4th

  • PS3 – 130,667
  • Xbox 360 – 80,825

May 11th

  • PS3 – 120,714
  • Xbox 360 – 77,868

May 18th

  • PS3 – 126,462
  • Xbox 360 – 84,576

May 25th

  • PS3 – 131,251
  • Xbox 360 – 83,634

June 1st

  • PS3 – 129,226
  • Xbox 360 – 80,991

June 8th

  • PS3 – 121,374
  • Xbox 360 – 79,277

June 15th

  • PS3 – 146,813
  • Xbox 360 – 79,854

ps3vs360

The Xbox 360 dipped below 100,000 consoles for sale a week on April 20th and has been unable to get much higher than 80,000 since then. I’m surprised that the horrible debut of the Xbox One didn’t hurt their sales figures that badly. Seriously. The initial announcement occurred on May 21st. In that week, sales seemed to hit a fairly stable plateau of 80,000 a week. If the announcement would have hurt it, I would expect sales to plummet rather than stabilize like that.

Taking a look at the sales figures for the Xbox 360, sales of the system have fairly consistently fallen every week since the end of February. The figures are limited this way for the sake of brevity, as it is easy to put months of data up to show how the sales have fallen for quite some time. It could be there haven’t been enough games to attract people to the Xbox 360. Or maybe Microsoft’s marketing machine shifted away from the system to prepare for the Xbox One’s launch. It’s difficult to pinpoint any one reason or identify if any reason offers more explanation than any other one. No matter the reason, or reasons, it is clear the Xbox 360 sales are on a decline with no indication of recovery.

In comparison, sales for the Playstation 3 have remained relatively strong in comparison. Just like the Xbox 360, sales figures have consistently fallen for the PS3, but not at the extreme rate of their competitors. In fact, there are a few occasions where the sales increased. The week of E3 saw a jump in sales of about 20,000! It could mean that Sony’s success at E3 had a huge impact leading to more sales for their current console. It could hint that people are warming up to Sony or they won over fans. It could mean there were still great games being released which motivated more people to purchase consoles.

The figures strongly hints that there’s more trust in the Playstation name brand than in the Xbox name brand. More gamers are purchasing the system, plain and simple. It remains to be seen if this trend will continue or if this will definitely carry over into the next generation of consoles. As long as Sony can make a good showing as the 7th Generation Console War ends (The Nintendo Wii is the clear winner as it is closing in on 100 million in total sales), they can claim a very clear cut victory over their main competition.

Nicely done Sony.

The 8th Generation of Consoles

Welcome to the 8th Generation of gaming.

Wii U. Xbox One. Playstation 4. Are you ready for this generation? Are you excited?

I’m not.

Poor Mario

Poor Mario

The Wii U had a lackluster debut and has been stumbling ever since. 3rd party developers are still steering clear of the system because of incredibly awkward controls and disappointed specs. The Virtual Console’s still pretty fun, letting the gamer play games from past systems like F-Zero, Punch-Out, Super Metroid, Ghosts n’ Goblins, and so on. Outside of that, there doesn’t seem to be too much for the Wii U in the near future. It’s like Nintendo isn’t even trying with the system. Sure, there’s the occasional hit. But think about it..

Wii U came out November 2012… and it’s only sold 3 million copies. To make things sadder for Nintendo, the Wii console is outselling the Wii U. If Nintendo doesn’t turn this around soon, there’s no way they’ll come close to repeating the dominating performance they did with the 7th generation.

Seems accurate, sadly.

Seems accurate, sadly.

The Xbox One hasn’t even debuted yet, and it’s getting hammered by the gaming community. Concerns about the Kinect always being on, the cameras and microphones always monitoring, and licencing fees for used games are some of the many concerns people have about this system. Yes, you read that right. The system comes off as a creepy Big Brother (a la 1984) mixed in with a greedy SOB. Forcing gamers to pay extra for used games? Seriously?

I get how they are getting away with it legally with digital rights. This is legal. Sadly, this is also unprecedented. People have been buying used games for as long as there have been video games. This is the the first time a console is making the gamer pay extra for the game. And if the rumors are correct, the gamer will be forced to pay full price for the game.

Greedy pricks.

Pardon my language.

The only stuff that's known about the PS4

The only stuff that’s known about the PS4

All that Sony has to do is not screw up. They revealed the dual-shock controller and the motion sensor. Not much else is known. But based off the horrible press the Xbox One has and the abyssal failure known as the Wii U, Sony only has to present their console and say: “this plays games. Yay.” That’s it.

But is this really all we have to look forward to? Sony trying not to screw up…

Is there any hope at all?

Rumor has it, Steam is making a console.

Rumor has it, Steam is making a console.

Yes. Yes there is hope. Valve.

I think it’s time for a new system to step forward. And I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping that the rumors are true, that Valve is making a home console so gamers can download from Steam and play them just like any other console game.

What about you? Are you optimistic? Pessimistic? What are your thoughts on the 8th generation of video game consoles?