Why I like the Wii-HD

29 06 2010

Well my PSPGo article was a hit with those that read it so I figured it was a good idea to go ahead and do another interesting hardware piece.  Partially because I found this fascinating and partially because Rogue Warrior didn’t get her yet so I can’t review it.  No this time out I am going to dig into why everyone hates the Wii HD all the sudden, if you’re thinking that that is weird because it doesn’t exist, read on to find out why.  In the mean time be sure to follow me on twitter @Zackysmack or email me at zackysmack@hotmail.com, and for me on the go listen to ‘The Zacky and Friends Know It All Show’ on iTunes or Podbean.

Wii HD

It's sort like this, only less shitty.

So the Wii HD was announced at E3 this year and in my opinion stood out with pretty great software and…..wait what you mean you didn’t see or read anything about the Wii HD?  I don’t see how that’s possible, I mean it was a big focus at the press conference; they announced a price point and everything.  Oh well I suppose it’s possible you heard it but its new name, The Playstation Move.  Yes folks the Playstation Move is the Wii HD, say what you want about new feature and better controls and all that nonsense but when you get right down to the core of it, it’s plain as day that the Move is an HD Wii.  It even comes with a collection of party games to show off the motion controls and features a game made up of Playstation mascots.  It’s everything you would expect from a company that is trying to make a product for a specific group of people.  Sony basically built a product that does everything people that wanted Wii HD were looking for, and everything have done makes perfect sense to position themselves to go head to head with the little white happy box, and indeed beyond what the Wii’s market is.  So that all makes sense but what doesn’t make sense is the sheer amount of negative backlash that Sony has gotten for it.

Kevin Butler

How can you hate this man?

Think about how insane this is for a few seconds, what have most people said over the last few years?  That the Wii is fun but boy it would be better if you could run it in HD and it had 1 to 1 motion control.  So Sony more or less listened and built a product that exactly fit that demographic, and they debut it at E3 this year with a lot of demos and show off moments.  The next week or so, was a bevy of opinions and articles that all said the Move didn’t impress because it was ‘Just a Wii HD’ and I sat as one very confused lad.  That was exactly what people wanted, they wanted a Wii HD with more precise controls, hell in the weeks leading to E3 I heard numerous predictions that a Wii HD would be announced and that it would be a hit.  People complained that you can’t show off Wii games at E3 because it was standard def and that made it hard to blow up the image.  So what was the problem, why was Sony’s product, that met every requirement people wanted, the bad guy here?

Let’s think about this for a second, are we really this fickle?  Have gamers really become so brand loyal that if one brand gives us what we wanted from another brand we just write it off as copying rather than embrace the gift we are given?  If a Wii HD had been announced would everyone have been saying that Nintendo was merely copying Sony and Microsoft?  I guess I just don’t understand why this door doesn’t swing both ways.

Door

See people are scared of this shit.

If Nintendo copy’s people then it’s just Nintendo brining themselves into this generation but if Sony or Microsoft copies Nintendo then there just trying to get money.  When did this double standard start?  Who knows but I am here to tell you why you should write Move off just yet so let’s get into that.

First off let’s dispel this notion that because Nintendo did it first they will always do it better.  I would ask anyone who reads this what their primary video game console of choice is, going out on a limb and saying PS3 or 360, or hell even the PC if you’re one of those freaks of nature.  Maybe at one point it was the Wii but it probably stopped.  Why is that I ask you?   Well there is a myriad of reasons why people stopped using their Wii’s as the primary console mostly because there wasn’t a look of consistently good games, the hardware in no way took advantage of current TV setups, and the controls for 90% of the games were a big giant semen and queep sandwich.  Mostly because they were never really 1 to 1 controls.

Motion Plus

Once again Nintendo gives simple guides for simple products for simple people.

For those of you that don’t know, 1 to 1 means that it responds directly to the motion you’re making instead of just responding to A motion.  So unless you’re playing Super Mario Galaxy 2 (which is the only game that really uses the motion plus to its fulliest) your average Wii game is simply looking for a motion of the controller going left to right, it doesn’t care how fast or far you go or what angle you take just that A motion was made in that direction.  1 to 1 is when the game will take into account how fast you went, how far you went, that sort of thing.  So the Wii doesn’t really do that, Move on the other hand (I guess that’s sort of a pun, maybe?) does do that, and when seeing the demos for Sorcery and The Fight it really becomes apparent.  In sorcery is your flailing to fast the spells are less accurate, in the fight a weak punch from you may just glance off the opponent which means you sort of have to actually pace yourself.  The point is that Move does do motion control better then the Wii does, who cares who did it first, the Ford Motor Company built the first mass produced U.S. car but that doesn’t stop people from buying Audi’s.  Worry about who does it better, otherwise we would all still be playing Wolfenstien games instead of enjoying Modern Warfare, or still be playing Mario and Zelda games instead of enjoying…..well pretty much still Zelda and Mario games I suppose.

In case you have been living under a rock for the last few years, or I guess are a Nintendo Fanboy, then you probably know that there aren’t a lot of really great Wii games out there.  Most of its shovelwear at best, and at worst a Brats game.

Bratz

Oh sorry my bad, 'Bratz'.

Sony has arguably the best lineup of exclusives today, and overall almost nothing in the of shovelwear, even if just the First Party titles are Move enabled along with the Move built games you are already talking about a better bunch of games at launch then Wii has after 4 goddamn years.  Just playing Heavy Rain with full motion controls and going through the agonizing ‘Open this slowly’ prompts should be enough to get your excited for that.  You combine those games with the actual feel of the controller and you should start to be getting a picture as to why the Move is a vastly improved Wii.  Keep in mind that as well as separate control schemes to titles like Killzone 3 and SOCOM 4 you get games like Sorcery and Heroes on the Move which are purpose built just to handle the Move controller.  So now you have the benefit of the PS3 power and online capabilities combine with the fun of motion control.

Cars and Chicks

Almost as deadly as hot chicks and cars.

If you think about it, the average shitty party game Wii thing that seems to sell so well, could just be a 20 dollar PSN title on PS3 instead of full disc based content, which for the families and *Shudder* casual gamers that play them I think would probably work out better.  That’s the real trick of it you see, because of the depth in development studio’s Sony has they can push out Eyepet for the kids, Sports Champion for the familes, Heroes on the Move for the younger players, SOCOM 4 for the hardcore, and Sorcery for everyone(although no one will admit playing it).  You’re talking about a depth of titles the Wii has never had, and will never have because Nintendo are such dicks to people that wanted to make games for them.  Often refusing to let 3rd parties use their tech before it comes, hence the reason Motion Plus had next to no games at launch.

Motion Plus

Except for shitty sports game and Red Steel 2.

‘Man this Wii game is great, too bad when I plug it into my 48 Inch TV it looks like if someone made hamburger out of Jack Black’s ass.’  Clearly I am paraphrasing here, but in general as much as Nintendo and there fan’s hate to admit it, HD is kind of what most people have now.  480P is all fine and dandy when it’s running through the proper cables with the software in the background to make it look nice on a HD setup (hence the reason I haven’t had to burn all my old DVD’s).  But for all intents and purposes the Wii has none of those things, so when the average family wants to play Warioware 900 or Mario Party 57 and hooks it into their nice living room Samsung TV it looks bad.  Is the gameplay still great?  Yeah sure it is but again whether you want to admit it or not games have to look good in order for our brains to accept them.  Metal Gear Solid still has great gameplay on the PS1, but put it in and try it out and you’re going to enjoy it less because of the visuals.

Metal Gear

Oh yeah thats so beautiful my eyes are bleeding.

My point is that great visuals can make a shitty game seem better, and bad visuals can make a great game seem worse, hence the existences of the now famous ‘It looks good for a Wii game’ excuse reviewers throw out there all the time.  Imagine a world where you didn’t need qualifiers for the visuals of games, imagine if you could hook your family friendly party to your TV and not have to worry about an image that’s about 2 feet wide being pulled to over 4 feet wide.  Again Nintendo knows there system works like shit when running in HD, most games do unless they have the necessary patches, but Nintendo can’t push those because they have no online portal or harddrive to push them to.  I am not saying that Mario isn’t fun because it’s not as pretty as Uncharted, I am saying that the experience of playing Mario is hurt because it looks like a pretty PS2 game.  If visuals weren’t important then we would still be playing the N64, but we aren’t are we?  We go back to those old games from time to time and play them for a while but we stop and then come back to what we have now, because really these games are better.   Every Wii game before and to come is going to have this problem, but again thanks to Move on Sony’s side you get the Wii HD experience.

Sports Champion

Looks a little better then Wii Sports resort.

To me this whole thing comes down to what kind of gamer you are, no I don’t mean casual, hardcore, family, etc.  Because quite frankly those bases are covered, no I mean are you brand loyal or someone who just wants the best?  My first console was an Atari, and it was great, but then I got NES because it was a better platform, then I switched to Sega because it was a better platform, then back to N64 because it was better, however I moved to PS1 because it offered better games, next up it was PS2, then XBOX, then PS3.  I jump around because I don’t care who makes my system, I care who gives me the best value.  If Microsoft builds a console that won’t shit all over itself and die, gets more than 3 good games, and offers more features then PS3, then I would happily buy that system, same goes for Nintendo.

Dreamcast

Except this thing, it was the only console that was too good.

I am not a Fanboy, I think I have said that a 1000 times over, what I am is someone who looks at things in the most objective way possible, by comparing each point and seeing what happens.  This article may come off as fanboyish because it’s extremely pro Sony but then again think about what I am telling you.  I am not trying to tell you the Move is anything but a Wii-HD, I am simply telling you that it’s not a bad thing.  The jump from one console generation to another is typically defined by the visuals and then the innovations in gameplay you can get from the upgrade to power.  Which is exactly what this is, the Move and Move games look better and they play better.  If that was motivation enough to jump from the Atari to the NES, to the SNES, to the N64, to the PS1, to the PS2, to the PS3 then why it is all the sudden no longer enough to get you excited.

This is the upgrade in hardware that everyone has wanted for years now, stop bickering and getting hung up on who did it first, just embrace the technology for what it is; a better overall experience for the gamer.  I hated Move, but now that I see it and can actually compare it to something, well I have to say I am won over and will be picking one up along with a copy of Sorcery and then figuring out how to make sure no one can ever see how stupid I look while playing it.  So just enjoy the Wii-HD for what it is; the Playstation move.

Sorcery

There is no way you can play this and not feel like a giant nerd.

Peace

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How Sony killed the PSP Go

16 06 2010

Hey everyone time again for an article and this time out it’s not a review.  Nope today I am celebrating the death of the PSP Go by going back and looking at why the platform failed in the first place.  As a proud Go owner I feel it’s my duty to inform everyone that the reason it bombed was not due to the hardware but due to Sony’s udder lack of understanding of the Digital market.  As always be sure to follow me on Twiter @Zackysmack, check out the podcast on podbean or by searching Zacky and Friends Knows It All on iTunes, and finally hit my email with any questions or comments zackysmack@hotmail.com.  Now let’s do it.

PSP Go

You're looking at what used to be the future.

1 year ago right around this time the PSP proud were buzzing around E3 because we were supposed to be getting a new PSP model announced, the PSP2.  There were leaked screen shots, and product designs to be seen heading in E3 and everyone was expecting to get an announcement of the new hardware.  Mid way through the Sony press conference they dropped their bomb, but it was pretty much just an UMDless PSP 3000.  A more portable version of their portable gaming device, people got excited because it was going to be a totally digital piece of hardware, which would really open up the whole idea of portable gaming, supposedly going head to head with the iPhone.  Then the bomb was dropped, a price tag of $250 and total price parity between disc’s in store and the content for download.  The excitement was low.

Boring

This baby is bored by the PSP Go.

Post E3 no one really knew what to make of the device, it seemed like an attack on platforms like Steam and iTunes but without a price advantage to going digital download it was becoming a hard thing to merchandise.  The only way to look at it was paying twice as much for a device that’s only real advantage was a slightly longer battery and better LCD screen.  So now is when you expect marketing to come in and make it all better.  But no instead marketing decided to run almost no ads for the device and instead focus on the PS3 Slim, which was probably the smarter idea.  Also this new more expensive hardware was going to launch around the same time as Uncharted 2, Ratchet and Clank Future, Modern Warfare 2, and Assassins Creed II.  There was one big push for the Go and that was Gran Turismo PSP, so in Sony’s infinite wisdom they released a regular PSP entertainment pack which included a PSP-3000, Gran Turismo PSP, a memory stick pro, and a voucher for The Italian Job, for $200, which was $50 less than just the Go.  So with all these games, hardware, and SKU’s launching at the same time it would be suicide to launch a niche platform against it all, so being the smart and level headed individuals that  Sony is they pushed back the Go until after Christmas….just kidding they fucking launched it head on into a wall of bullets.  I believe it had about 50,000 units sold in the U.S. in the first month, which is terrible, the Dreamcast did better than that; hell the goddamn Virtual Boy probably did better than that.

Virtual Boy

100,000+ Units in the first month folks, and it activly tried to injure you.

Probably the worst part was the launch lineup and the way the PSN Store worked in conjunction with the release of games.  Look at it like this, when do games release?  Tuesday of course, when did the PSN update at that time?  Thursday of course.  So you, for your extra $150, had to wait an additional 2 days to get your games then the people who got them in physical stores.  This is if the game was even going to available for download.  Steam an iTunes do a simple setup, you put your content up for free and they take a percentage of the sales profit, Sony on the other hand makes you pay to host your content on a per Gig basis.  So as a publisher you would have to pay a massive fee to put your 2gb PSP game on the store for optimistically 20,000 people to download.  Essentially they made it impossible to turn a profit for 3rd party publishers, which meant that launch day was made up entirely of Sony published games, cutting roughly 60% of the games right out of the market.  An example would be Dissidia Final Fantasy, which sold roughly 2 million worldwide, none of which were on the Go because it wasn’t available.  That was the big post launch title for the Go, and you couldn’t play it on the Go, fantastic.

Dissidia

Kind of a big deal.

I believe somewhere into the second month, the Go was being outsold by the PS2 in most regions.  Sony attempted a re-launch around January and that fell flat too, mostly because no matter how you sell it, it was still twice the price for arguably less advantage.  Soon after the relaunch failed rumors already began about a PSP2 coming, and consumer interest continued to drop for the hardware.

I myself purchased one at launch; because I believed then what I believe now, the hardware itself is really good.  It handles better then a regular PSP, it was easier to use, the battery lasts longer, and it’s generally more convenient then a standard PSP.  Also, the big one is that the screen works on the Go, even when the room has light in it unlike the 3000.  The problem was never the hardware, that’s the best part of it, the problem has been in Sony’s management of the platform, the reason this thing failed was Sony’s decisions overall.

Gran Turismo

How do you lanch new hardware against this?

You cannot ask your consumers to pay the same price to download something off the store as they would to buy it in a store.  The simple convenience of not carrying a disc around is not enough, because it costs nothing to sell something to me over the PSN, it’s just bits of data being downloaded; in other countries I can understand it because your connections are limited but here in the U.S. you can suck bandwidth to your heart’s content.  Take a look at Steam, when they have an older game that no one is playing anymore they give you free play for a weekend to entice you to buy, or they discount it 80%, and they can do that because it’s still straight 20% profit for them.  Ever notice the $1 Steam sales, when they did that for TF2 it saw 1000% increase in sales, a 1000%, that’s not a typo, and that was consistent for 3 days.  Sony never did that, the best you got from them was 1 game a week discounted by maybe 50%, and even then it was still 2 days late to the store copy or a game that wasn’t worth buying even at that price.  There is a used market for UMD games and that serves the same purpose as discounts on PSN, but sense Sony never game discounts I would regularly walk into a GameStop and see a game I wanted for like 7 bucks and then be reminded that it was still 20 bucks new on the PSN Store.  This is not good marketing Sony, this is horrible, and this is how you guarantee to kill your platform.  Let’s not forget there is no effort to build an online PSP community either, most of the best friend PSN features are not accessible on the platform, so pushing a Wi-Fi ready pocket device is kinda pointless.

PSP with friends.

As close to a PSP community as it gets.

Here was a fun one, when  I bought my PSP Go I had to do a firmware upate before I could turn it on, but I didn’t have wireless, well that’s okay Zack just do it through the handy iTunes(if user friendliness is dialed back by about 2000)esq software to do it.   Ha ha voice in my head you lose this round, because you can’t do firmware updates over a corded internet connection, no you can only do them wirelessly.  So okay no problem I will do it at work tomorrow, sucks I have to wait 48 hours to play my new system but whatever I’ll deal, so next day at work I fire it up again, and am promptly told that it can’t handle the encryption at work, okay fuck I’ll go to Menomonie’s own Acoustic café they have unprotected wireless and chili soup two things I love.  I connect to wireless, and start the firmware download, my Go then informs me that it isn’t plugged in and cannot risk running out of power mid download(you know in case it take 9 fucking hours to download a 12mg file) so it won’t do it.  At this point I was ready to take it back and just get the Gran Turismo PSP pack like any sane human would have done.  But no I was committed to seeing the main screen of my $250 piece of hardware within 4 days of buying it.  So next day, back to the Café with power and over my lunch I did the update (about 2 minutes in case you’re wondering) and shortly after that I saw the launch screen and could play, it was fantastic, and listening to Patapon made it all worth it but I couldn’t help but wonder if others would have been so proud (Read: Stupid) and actually got it working.  The answer was of course ‘no they didn’t’, they hated it and either never used it, told people to never use it, or took it back and got one of the 5 more attractive PSP-3000 deals.

Licking PSP

A much more attractive offer.

Finally the last big mistake they made was the free game deals; it’s usually good to offer some free games up with new hardware to make it more attractive.  The Go works perfectly for this because you just email them a code after they register and they get a free 20 dollar game and you (Sony) have no cost because it’s all digital.  Europe and Japan, which I remind you is where the Go sells pretty well actually, got very attractive offers with Little Big Planet, Motorstorm, Gran Turismo, and Assassin’s Creed.  Europe also got three vouchers to redownload games they already owned on UMD discs.  So what did the U.S. get?  Why we got a free code for Rock Band Unplugged, I still have that code and if anyone wants it let me know I will send it to you.  All this did was once again prove that SCEA completely misunderstands their customers wants.  Now as time has gone on Sony has offered up several offers to people in exchange for buying a PSP Go, and they have all been really good but they have all been to new consumers.  I know that you don’t give free things to people that already own it, you give it to new consumers, but trust me on this one Sony it really really really jades your customers when 3 months after something launches you get nothing and all the new people who jump on the bandwagon later in the game get 3-5 free games.  It’s a fucking rip off and it really pisses off your core buyers.  I know it pissed me off a ton, and really made me apprehensive to the idea of buying more shit from you.

The worst part is that Sony freely says the reason they give such great deals now is it costs them nothing to give those deals to people, this demonstrates that they clearly understand this whole digital download thing.  But gloriously missed the point of it all, you don’t use it as a way to irritate your current owners by pandering to new ones, no you use it as a way to keep people buying more stuff.  I had to cancel my Steam account because it was fucking impossible for me to turn it on and not at least buy 1 $5 game.  Now Sony is saying that ‘The PSP Go experiment failed’ and that ‘We really learned how much consumers love their physical media.’   Again goddamnit you idiots that wasn’t the problem, the Go didn’t fail because people love UMD disks too much, it failed because you utterly missed the point of digital downloads.  This really could have been a cool thing, a digital only handheld, putting all the money in the pocket of the devs and publishers and out of the hands of GameStop.  As it is Sony repeatedly tripped over their own idiot tongue to an almost humorous point and squandered every advantage that they could have gained.  Now on the verge of a PSP2 launch you really have to wonder if Sony will go back to discs or not.  Digital is the future, maybe not this year but eventually that’s where it’s going, for handhelds at least, Apple already proved that it works for handhelds and Steam proved it works for PC’s.  Sony really could have been the spearhead for this and tried to get some market from Nintendo back, but they didn’t, instead they pushed a device out to its death.

Slaughtered by other software and hardware at launched, forced to compete with its own much more attractive brother, and finally replaced by a true successor in the PSP2.  I love this little engine that could but with the possibility of new hardware soon and Sony bullheadedly refusing to give you any incentive to buy it, I can’t even recommend it anymore.  Buy a PSP-3000 or wait for the 2, but for now have a moment of silence for what could have been, the PSP Go, for now it is truly dead.

NO GO

Goodbye Go.

Peace.