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Entries in iOS (6)


Console Innovation Is Past Due

The AP posted this story today outlining the state of the video game industry - and from looking at the list things aren't going so well. Company after company, from EA to Microsoft to Nintendo to Sony, are showing decreased revenues and/or losses from core video game products and services.

I'm far from a financial or industry expert, but it seems to me that the industry (particularly the console gaming industry) has been milking the cash cows of the current platforms for far too long and it's starting to catch up with them. The Wii, PS3 and XBOX 360 are very old by video game standards and the games themselves are starting be hamstrung by their aging technology. And most people who were ever going to buy one of these consoles has probably already done so - new products like the XBOX 360 Kinect notwithstanding.

But the software companies can't lay all the blame on the consoles either. I've gone on at length about my disappointments with EA, but they aren't the only company dropping the ball. Take-Two Interactive pushed back the release of BioShock Infinite from October 2012 to the end of February 2013 and took a 6% hit in stock price. And Activision Blizzard Inc. is showing lower revenue for their games as well - which isn't surprising considering their yearly Call of Duty releases are practically indistinguishable from each other.

Add all of this to the fact that games on platforms like the new iPad are increasingly more beautiful and engaging, and the console/traditional video game industry looks like it's in trouble. I understand why in a down-economy companies like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo decided to stick with the current consoles and only make iterative improvements. But if they want to succeed in the future, the time to come up with some real innovation is now.


What the F is Going On With EA?

As an avid Battlefield 3 player, I often blame a lot of that game's shortcomings on the game studio that made it, DICE. And while DICE is far from blameless, one gets the feeling after a while that EA is equally culpable. Especially when it comes to networked (multiplayer) gameplay.

After having many issues (especially connection issues) EA pulled it's iOS version of Battlefield, "Battlefield 3: Aftershock," from the iOS App Store and permanently suspended development on it. Then yesterday they announced that they pulled another game, "The Simpsons: Tapped Out," from the App Store so they could "limit the game's server capacity...and address connectivity and lag time issues."

In some respects, this is a good thing. They're addressing issues their customers are having and are working to fix things. In fact, I wish they were half so responsive to Battlefield 3 players as they seem to be with iOS gamers. But why on earth is this happening in the first place?

EA is the king-daddy of video game companies. They're the guys who do Madden. They're the guys who, when Steve Jobs wanted a game developer to show off his new iOS devices, stepped up and made the big splash. They're the video game company that every major brand - from the NFL to, well, The Simpsons - wants to work with. So why don't their technological capabilities back up the games they release?

I can't believe it's because they're incapable. While I freely acknowledge networking thousands upon thousands of iPad gamers together across the globe to play a game against each other via the Internet isn't an easy thing to do, they must know how to do it. In fact, they seem to be able to do it with smaller number of users. It's just that they can't keep up with demand.

Which means it comes down to biting off more than you can chew. They definitely couldn't meet demand with the launch of Battlefield 3 (on PC, XBOX 360 and PS3) and with this Simpsons iOS announcement, a pattern is developing. EA needs to learn that spending a bit more time and launching a game with a bullet proof user experience is more important than being first to market, or making a big splash with a big-name title that never works right.

While it sucks if you bought Battlefield 3: Aftershock thinking you were going to get a great iOS multiplayer experience, it's actually a positive thing that they scrapped it. Hopefully they focused those resources back on games that need the help. And I can only hope that in the future they invest in the infrastructure they need before they launch the great games that they make.


Video Games at CES 2012: The Giant Underwhelm

CES 2012 - the Consumer Electronics Showcase - has come and gone. And while the show is now (for the most part) not about new product announcements or big news anymore, I was still very interested to see what video game related stuff there might be. I wasn't expecting Microsoft to announce the next generation gaming console or for Sony to announce some major innovation with the PS3, but I was hoping for something more than what was being shown. Anything related to console gaming seemed like an afterthought, and the only cool thing I saw gaming-wise had to do with Apple's iOS (iPhones, iPod Touch and iPads). Which isn't really surprising I suppose.

On the Microsoft show floor there was an XBOX section (pictured above) with a couple of product marketers and ten games being shown off. There was also a few Kinect booths showing off some Kinect stuff, but it really wasn't anything that you couldn't experience by going to your local Best Buy and trying out Kinect or a first person shooter there. Many of the games (if not all of them) have been out for a while now, and while I suppose Gears of War 3 or Batman Arkham City does show off the best of what the 360 can do, it would have been (and was) much more impressive in 2009.

At Sony it was much of the same (shown below), with only five games on display for the PS3 and not much else. It definitely feels like the current generation of consoles are at the end of their product cycle, and while Sony's public statements contradict that (at least for the PS3) it's hard to get excited about the future of the current generation of consoles.

The one cool gaming related thing I saw this year at CES (cool enough at least to stop and talk to the exhibitor about) was the iCade Mobile from Ion Audio. It's a simple game controller for an iPhone or iPod Touch that works with up to 100 games currently (though more will be added). It kind of turns your iPod Touch into the form factor of PSP, and for kids who play a lot of games on their (or their parents) iOS device I can see how it might be fun to have. Check out my post about it at Modern Day Dad.

If CES 2012 is any indication, it looks like video gamers are going to have to be content with their current consoles and devices for the time being. Then again, Microsoft is kind of being cagey about their future announcements and could (in theory) make a big splash at E3 in June, which would turn a bleak future in to something pretty exciting. Here's hoping that happens.


$1.74 Billion Spent On Video Game Content? That's a Lot of Microsoft Points.

Image via DICE Designer @ChristinaCoffin

Someone once said that the guy that invented money was smart, but the guy that invented the poker chip was a genius. I suppose the same could be said for Microsoft Points, Facebook Credits, Wii Points and all the rest because according to a recent report, in Q2 2011 consumers spent more on video game content than they did buying physical video and PC game software. "Content" seems to be defined as anything except physical games, including in-game content, game downloads (including mobile games like on on your iPhone), game rentals and everything else.

To me it's a staggering number, and indicative of where the industry is headed. A few years ago I don't even think I'd heard of the term "DLC," but now if I love a game I won't think twice about spending 1,200 Microsoft Points on new maps. And iPhone and iPad games? What's a couple of bucks if I can get a few good hours out of it (or, more importantly, if it will distract my kids for 15 minutes).

"It adds up" is apparently an understatement.

Consumers spent additional $1.74 billion on video game content in Q2 []


Game Center is My Biggest Disappointment on the iPhone

(No. "Thor" is not my Game Center nickname.)

Game Center is Apple's take on a "social gaming network." It keeps track of most all of the games I play on any iOS device (iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch), showing me my high scores and giving me achievements for different in-game challenges I've completed. On some games it will connect me with someone else (a friend or otherwise) so that I can play with them. It will also compare my scores to players all over the world, including my Game Center friends.

Wait. Game Center friends?

That's my problem.

Click to read more ...