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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Video Game News: 12/15/2013

Video-Game-News

This is your Press Start to Begin news brief for December 15th, 2013

  1. A case study in the Journal of Medical Case Reports showed that a man developed deep vein thrombosis and had multiple blood clots throughout his legs. He developed this from playing video games for eight hours a day, four days straight. Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a person is sedentary (does not move at all) for extended periods of time. If this is not treated, it is fatal 30% of the time.
  2. Associate Professor Mark McMahon of Edith Cowan University (ECU)  argued that research showed video games offers a range of social and educational benefits for gamers. He urges caution to parents, however, with free-to-play games as there are a lot of hidden costs to go along with it.
  3. YouTube recently removed a large number of video game play throughs due to a copyright ID infringement detection system. Many video game developers and distributors encourages gamers, if their video was flagged and removed, to contact them so they can help get their video back up.
  4. In the month of November, the Playstation 4 sold 2.1 million units in North America and Europe. The Wii U sold 1.6 million units in North America and Japan. The Xbox One sold over 2 million units.
  5. Replay CEO Paul Trowe faced legal trouble for showing a sex tape to a 16 year old girl. He plead guilty and is now on a two-year probation. It it believed that this is part of the reason why Leisure Suit Larry creator Al Lowe left Replay earlier this week.
  6. Capcom shut down the Ghouls & Ghost: Demon World kickstarter campaign. Capcom claimed this was an infringement of their intellectual property rights. Phantasm Studios, the company behind the campaign, was aware they did not have permission from Capcom to create the game. They did plan on changing the character’s name and some of the graphics if they did not get permission. As of yet, Phantasm Studios did not release a statement to do with this development.

The Perils of Purchasing New Consoles

There are strange well known facts among the marketing circles that never seems to get out into the general public. I learned about these when I took a few marketing classes at College of Lake County that was taught by a former marketing professional. Did you know that in a blind taste test that RC has consistently been chosen as the best tasting pop (cola/soda) out there? That’s crazy. Billions of dollars were spent over the decades convincing us that the best tasting was either Coke or Pepsi. But the marketing people knew that was a lie.

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Also, did you know that it’s a bad idea to purchase brand new technology. New tech is filled with glitches and design flaws. The developers release it in order to make up the costs for research and development. If they can recoup the costs, then they can move forward with the product and fix the bugs for newer versions of the tech.

This is especially true with video games.

What? You don’t remember the PS1? That sucker had a huge overheating problem. The PS2’s and Xbox’s laser kept on being knocked out of alignment somehow and had to be manually adjusted. The Xbox’s original controller was too damn large to be usable as a video game controller! Or heck, the first generation of PS2 consoles cannot read a dual laser disc. Or…. the red ring of death with the Xbox 360’s original console release.

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We can look farther back to the NES with the screen blinking when it couldn’t read a cartridge. Or the Sega Saturn’s hardware being too complex. That design flaw led to a lot of third-party developers to abandon the system.. now THAT’S a huge flaw. Speaking of flaws and controllers, you can’t get any worse that the controller for the Atari Jaguar. Look at it for yourself! For whatever reason, Atari thought people wanted to go back to the Intellivision style of controllers with having a calculator pad along with their controller.

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The Jaguar Controller

That’s just a short list. I’m positive you read through that and said “you idiot, you missed xxxxxxxx!” I think every system had something wrong with it at launch.  And that’s the point.

Yes, it sucks when a console doesn’t work perfectly. Yes, it sucks when you purchase that console and find out that there’s something wrong with it. But, this is what happens with new technology. It’s a risk when you purchase it. Chances are, it’ll work very well, as advertised. But all the same, you have to accept the possibility that it won’t.

It’s weird for me to say that, since I’m all about consumer rights. Heck, I often argued that when a person purchases a product, they have a right to that product and expect that product to deliver what is promised. But in this case, it’s difficult for me to understand why anyone would purchase a brand new console on the day of its release and be surprised if it isn’t working. There’s a pretty well established pattern of bugs, glitches, and flat out bad designs.

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I want to conclude with a simple observation.

We should expect there to be bugs and glitches with releases. There’s no point to the focus of the ‘blue light of death.’ The damn light’s nothing more than a diagnostic tool. Sony sold over a million console systems within 24 hours.  I think that’s pretty impressive.

Video Game News: 8/1/2013

Video-Game-News

This is your video game news brief for August 1st, 2013

  1. Microsoft’s Games With Gold Games were revealed recently:  Crackdown and Dead Rising 2 (including the DLC Case Zero).
  2. BioShock Infinite has their first DLC: Clash in the Clouds. It is currently available on Steam for $5 and will be available on Xbox Live and the PSN Network later this weel. It is a combat-heavy DLC with new maps for the player to explore.
  3. Legal difficulties for EA Sports continue as the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on 7/30/2013 that EA’s use of college football players in their NCAA games is not protected by the 1st amendment. This means the players can take EA to court to receive compensation for using their likeness. EA plans on appealing the decision.
  4. Capcom’s first quarter’s profits fell 37%, only pulling in $8.4 million. The decline in profits is attributed to the company not releasing any AAA games during that quarter.
  5. According to a report from Digital Foundry, game developers for the PS4 can only use 4.5 GB of the 8 GB available. The other 3.5 GB is reserved for system operation.
  6. World of Warcraft lost another 600,000 subscribers last quarter, leaving approximately 7.7 million gamers left.
  7. Zynga is suing the makers of Bang With Friends because of the use of the title “With Friends.” Zynga has a trademarked line of “With Friends” games.
  8. Nintendo’s posted an $87 million profit last quarter thanks to strong sales of their 3DS.

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.

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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

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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 Death of the Nintendo?

Motley Fool claimed Nintendo isn’t protecting their intellectual property. They are losing to Angry Birds. If they were smart, they would get out of the console business and focus solely on developing games. Motley Food went as far to claim the Xbox One will destroy the Wii U as more kids would rather play Call of Duty than Mario Kart.  If you want to check out this article, click here.

A number of critics agree with these sentiments. There’s a call for Nintendo to take the same road Sega took back in 2001 and only produce software. Shigeru Miyamoto gave, to me, a convincing reason why Nintendo should never go that route. Long story short, Nintendo develops their hardware with their creative team can make the games they want to make. Its gives Nintendo a unique edge and a fresh way to create fun experiences that no other system can match.

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I am not convinced Nintendo is in great shape, but I don’t think there should be a call for them to get out of the console business just because the Wii U hasn’t sold that well yet. On a side note, Motley Fool’s claim that kids would rather play Call of Duty than Mario Kart is full of crap. The best selling Mario Kart, Mario Kart Wii, sold 33.78 million copies. The best selling Call of Duty (when looking at the total sales between the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions) sold a total of 27.69 million copies. Nintendo is doing fine with their intellectual property. It’s called research Motley Fool. You should look into it before you open your mouth.

Is Nintendo in trouble? I don’t believe so. Sure, their hand-held consoles may be in trouble as it’s far easier to play games on our smartphones rather than on our 3DSs. But try to look at this differently.

  • The 3DS has consistently outsold every other console out there since December 1st, 2012 (with the exception of a few weeks in January).
  • The Nintendo Wii, as of June 8th, 2013, has sold 99,660,380 copies. Only four other consoles have sold more (PS2 – 157 million copies, DS – 154 million, Gameboy – 118 million, and PS1 – 104 million).
  • The top 15 best selling console games of all time belongs to Nintendo.

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Yes, the Wii U needs to sell more consoles to get more 3rd party developer support. Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft, said as much in his interview. As long as Nintendo keeps on creating games that people want to play, they will continue selling consoles. Would they be more profitable if they decided to ditch their consoles and only make games? Maybe.

But as Shigeru Miyamoto seemed to imply, Nintendo isn’t after the highest profit. They want to make quality games.

So yes, I was disappointed at Nintendo’s showing at E3. It’s a slight stumble, not the end of Nintendo.

I still want to believe in Nintendo. I want to see them succeed.

Don’t you?