Tuesday, March 24, 2009

OnLive (nominated for Most Original Title Evah)

OnLive is to games what restaurants are to food:
You don't need the cook's set, it's all about the service.

Well, on paper, that sounds good, right? Yes, it does, but as I said above, the real question now is if the system can live outside of the perfect lab conditions.

They say they can already target 200 million people. We'll see.

Now, some bad, concrete and direct points for the gamer:

  • Need of a connection.
    If it cuts, you cry. No game, even if it was a solo.

  • You don't own the game.
    This, I don't like. I cherish my very property.
    But let's be frank, it's been a while since you truly legally owned a game.

  • Need to pay a monthly fee.
    That's the base model. One can only hope it would be fair and proportional to the amount of different games you play.

  • High bandwidth requirements.
    I totally forgot that one. Figure out, in typical test lab conditions, you'll need 5Mbits for a resolution of 1280 x 720p pixels.
    Sorry, but that's just too high, and I cannot accept anything lower for an AAA PC game.

Now, on the larger scale, the main problem is to convert the new "gamers" who have barely digested the Wii.
That said, after seven years developing that stuff and surviving on UN rice bags (myth), these guys have a major head start and it's a revolution.

Simply put, while we're certainly not going to see cheaper games anytime soon, any current game provider, be it on physical support or pure e, will most likely have to follow, or get a deal with these guys.

If it proves workable and profitable first.

OnLive website.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day of Lolz

I know, the activity on this blog is low. I pulled it. But I have an excuse for that!
Ha! I had much greater things to do, since I'm no consultant nor journo, and therefore subordinate to greater prerogatives.
This is not much of a problem tho, as I still have some bizarre stuff to post, and thankfully, our dear video game industry is always full of surprises, so we can all have a good laugh, at least.
So what's going now?

First, this story about how Rabbi Micah Kelber found salvation in CoD:WaW, giving him for the first time of his life a concrete enough opportunity to trucidate Nazi left and right and put an end to his bad dreams. Beyond eventually proving how games, even the most unexpected ones, can be used for psychiatric purposes, after looking around on the net about this story, it seems very few realize how hatemongers could easily spin it in their favour, in order to attack video games, again.
Let me summarize Mr. Kelber's experience:

A video game's violence was realistic enough as to "flip a switch" in the mind of a Rabbi who was having bad dreams about the Holo-freaking-Caust since he was a young boy.

Now, not only this case makes me feel uncomfortable for some reason I can't put the finger on, but this extract from the original article is even more boggling:

As a Jew, being involved in virtually ending World War II allows you to experience the closest thing possible to killing the sense of victimhood created by the Holocaust. And you do it without actually hurting any real people. In fact, it’s so satisfying that when you get to shoot down the golden eagle on the Reichstag, while sniping headshots at flame-throwing Nazis, you simply don’t want the war to end. This is weird, of course, because the war’s end is the ultimate goal of the game, as well as your desperately fought aim in real life.

Uh-huh. Talk about misplaced addiction.
Now we will probably agree, Mr. Kelber is certainly older than all those teens or preteens who the non-game press often describes as easily influenced.
Our dear man was finding a solution in the simile orgy of German deaths. So if a violent game has this kind of credibility and power on the mind of a well rounded Rabbi, a sage we'd say, then... what about the mind of a kid?

Secondly, Nintendo thinks it doesn't get enough juicy Yens these days (just like a good many companies in case you did not notice). There seems to be some hole in the pocket.
So the smartest idea they had, in those dire times, is to raise the price of the Wii.
It's a funny story (I swear) about how the change rates don't return much Yens as they used to from certain other currencies. Of course, Nintendo will milk its customers once more, like they always did. And history has proved countless times that we beg for it, so why stop. We love to be abused.
Of course, you'd say why don't they simply crank up the amount of Wii they sell instead?
The answer is twofold, and quite simple.
There's a cultural thing in Japanese large companies about minimizing bumps on their quarterly graphs. They like their numbers clean and growth curves steady. They don't want bursts, like the one I'm presenting as a solution.
The second point is that Nintendo has always made it sure to maintain a certain level of demand, and it took a hell of a time for many to acknowledge the fact that the Wii is a bubble. A fragile one.
Now, it's wake up call. It's crisis time! So, will the Wii seel as well as it used to, while as far as we can see, there are not that many killer apps at the horizon that make it worth the expense for your average forty-fifty years old "gamer"?
I don't think so, really.
With Xbox360 packages which offer a better return on game catalogs, at a cheaper price, the Wii could be heading for its first cold shower.

Thirdly, I was also wondering when would come the day of the first unholy union of the banking system (the whole unregulated broke fest that put all of us into that big pile of poo we're all writhing in) and the MMO industry (flawed in just oh so many ways).
Unless I missed something, it happened around the 20th or March:

MMO operator MindArk has been granted a banking license for its virtual world Entropia Universe, by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority.

Champagne! Maybe someone did it before, I don't know, but one thing for sure is that I find this absolutely distressing.
  • Because finance is poorly regulated and string-manipulated, only in the interests of those who thrive on chaos and profits, as all Earth has recently observed, Taser fashion.

  • Secondly, because the treatment of video games under the numerous laws relative to each country is disastrous, and still pretty much an affair of witch hunting. It is neither stable nor mature, but those who pass the bills are not gamers yet, so it's nothing more than ignorance and bias. In such conditions, we can only expect the worse.

  • Thirdly, because there's literally little agreement, understanding and fair "mainstream" talk on the real issues of the MMO genre and possible addictions, its implications and how it might need to be regulated (while trying to avoid caveats illustrated by the Chinese ruling).

  • Fourth, because I can't wait for the day people will lose car, house and family after contracting choke-credits on fake goods (such as virtual currency and items) which have been lost in combat, missed in a late loot, or robbed in a way or another.