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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Nintendo: For The Win

Nintendo: For The Win

"Kong returns

Disclaimer: I am not a Nintendo fan. Of all Nintendo systems, I only owned the NES, GBA, and briefly, the SNES. The N64 was a subject of my humor and the GameCube earned immediate contempt for its storage format and the vastly inadequate memory cards it came with (it took 3 or 4 to save a season of Madden with rosters on release). Regular readers of the site will have no doubt read many of my scathing comments about the Revolution controller design.

Consider that in the past year, oil has doubled in price to hit and maintain historic highs. Except for handhelds, game sales have slumped across the board, even in the industry console darling PlayStation 2. The DOW Jones Industrial Average remained flat throughout 2005, with the S&P and NASDAQ barely keeping pace with inflation. At the end of that same year, Microsoft released the most expensive console yet, and one that sold out but is plagued by continuing supply shortages. In Japan, as usual, an American-made (or rather, American-designed) product has flopped. Like countless other American companies, Microsoft has faced a stiff, impenetrable and informal wall of Japanese nationalism which clings stubbornly to a Japanese product. In short, one of the three key markets for the Xbox 360 is denied.

Sony, meanwhile, faces its own problems. Rumors abound of a five hundred dollar PlayStation 3. That’s enough Benjamins to get your hands on a beater car or pay a month’s rent in most American cities not called San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York. It passes that psychological barrier of being half a thousand dollars, and even in these days of raging trade and budget deficits that devalue the dollar, a grand is nothing to sneeze at. There’s a reason that prices like $99.95 are more popular than $100, though that five cents is trivial.

Moreover, gamers are dissatisfied. Though game review scores live in their own little world of the 60-90% range (with everything below being reserved for Daikatana and Mortyr), last year was not a banner year either for game sales or game awards. Nothing blew us away, there was no equivalent of a Grand Theft Auto, a StarCraft, a Quake or even a Call of Duty. Well, there was Call of Duty 2, but it was a sequel, like just about every other major title, and gamers have shown their displeasure with sequels. According to release lists for most major publishers, this coming year will be little different – more sequels!" [more]

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