No I’m not mad, though I do have to admit that it’s almost impossible to be as stupid as Sega were when they released the Saturn (even if they made up for it with their Dreamcast).
Anyway, there seems to be more than a passing resemblance between the situation with the PS4 and Xbox One, and with the Playstation 1 (PSX) and the Saturn.
Here’s my list:
1. E3 1995. Sega announced that they would release a new console on September 2nd 1995 though to the annoyance of both retailers and consumers, secretly shipped the console the night before. In what has become known as one of the greatest stand ups, Sega famously touted the Saturn and its apparent affordability of $399. When Sony took the stage all that was said was something along the lines of “Sony Playstation. $299” to rapturous applause.
Similarities with the PS4 and Xbox One?
PS4 – $399
Xbox One $499
2. The Sega Saturn was notoriously difficult to develop for because late in the development stage having heard about the PSX’s capabilities, they decided to throw in another CPU to try and double its performance output. It turned out that only around 1 in 100 coders had the ability to fully utilise the dual CPU set up, meaning that it was too much bother to develop any games for. Sony’s Playstation on the other hand only had one single chip that was a lot easier to work with.
Similarities with the PS4 and Xbox One?
PS4 – Like the Xbox One, it will feature an x86 84 architecture instruction set, but Sony have learned from their lessons with the PS3 being quite difficult to develop for but giving the PS4 8GB GDDR5 unified memory taking this a step further.
3. Sega began to lose the plot as early as the Mega Drive/Genesis (what with their numerous add-ons).
Similarities with the PS4 and Xbox One?
PS4 concentrates on games, while the Xbox One seems to have a fascination with entertainment and the integration with its Kinect controller. Who cares about entertainment when the main reason we buy these things is to play games? If I wanted anything to do with any other form of entertainment I’d go online, use the smartphone or use my TV and Blu ray player. It’s safe to say Microsoft have lost the plot here. In this sense it actually has more in common with Philips CDi –
multimedia entertainment platform indeed!
4. As previously mentioned, Sega began strapping on as much as they could afford onto the Saturn to match the purported abilities of the PSX.
Similarities with the PS4 and Xbox One?
Microsoft basically cocked up big time when it first announced the Xbox One, leaving many gamers asking questions about the direction Microsoft was taking the Xbox brand. However after this they refused to reveal any more details about the machine until June 2013 (obviously having waited for what Sony would announce at E3 that same year). Following this obvious lack of preparation and thought on Microsoft’s part, they then discreetly started copying Sony’s PS4 overall model, first by denouncing their earlier intention to run hourly checks in order to play any games and the used game fiasco, but then by deciding to make the Xbox One region free. What’s also interesting is that the basic set up is fairly similar (on paper) to the PS4 including the RAM, but it’s pretty obvious Microsoft hadn’t given it as much thought as Sony had.
I wrote an article recently about regional lockouts and how in this internet age (where we can order goods from 1000 miles away) we should be allowed to purchase games from other territories. Well good news. It seems for the first time ever, console manufacturers have decided to allow their consoles to do just that for their major consoles – allow you to play games from other regions. It’s been nearly 30 years coming but they finally got there.
Now I do tell a small lie when I say it’s the first time one of the major consoles has been region free, because the original Xbox did allow gamers to play games from other regions, however it depended on whether the publisher allowed it. In most cases the publisher didn’t though there were a few exceptions like The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind for example.
Jason Venter, a self-professed “Nintendo fan” was given the chance to review a Sega game a few days ago. Now you may be thinking that what I am about to say relates to the bickering that took place between Nintendo and Sega all those years ago but you’d be wrong, because a Nintendo fan should know a classic for when they see one. In this case it’s obvious that he’d never touched the game before in his life.
Anyway I draw your attention to the abysmal review of Jet Set Radio on Xbox Live, PSN and PC Digital, in which he awarded the game 4.5 out of 10 simply because it didn’t live up to his modern standards (and while he didn’t say this in so many words you’d have to be blind to miss it).
Jet Set Radio was a revolutionary game first released on the Dreamcast in 2000 because it was the pioneer of cel-shaded computer graphics, which in turn created a massive spurt in the number of games that similarly exhibited it: XIII, Zelda: Wind Waker, Prince of Persia (2008). The list goes on.
In Venter’s review while it is true that JSR found prominence primarily because of its aesthetic design, to believe it won over its many fans on this point alone is foolish to say the very least. I’d go so far as to say it shows a great deal of ignorance on Venter’s part.
I say this because in retrospect it would be like giving Pac-man 4.5 for its “barren” landscapes (never mind that this was due to technical limitations at the time), Defender and Super Metroid (for it’s backtracking) should get 4.5 because “You may overshoot your intended destination, and that often means you must backtrack through hazardous territory so that you can make another attempt.”
Under Venter’s rationale Ikaruga, Darius and every other scrolling shooter for that matter, would similarly deserve 4.5 because “Until you memorize the stage layout in its entirety (along with the route your rivals follow), you don’t stand a chance.” Please note that those in quotation marks have been lifted directly from Venter’s actual review – I kid you not.
So we must ask ourselves: how can we honestly take guys like Jason Venter and the media outlets like GameSpot that they represent seriously? The simple answer is that you can’t, but what you can do instead is to head over to other websites like Eurogamer or perhaps IGN where their reviews aren’t quite so ridiculous as to lose all credibility.
We all like to read about an end of an era (though this largely depends on which side you’re from).
I’m actually talking about the end of the high street videogaming vendor. I don’t know if many of you remember the old days of Electronics Boutique but with recent news that Game is about to go into administration and Electronic Arts’ worrying statement about their views on how Game should proceed, it does appear that videogame vendors will become a thing of the past.
To further compound the situation, Microsoft have recently implied that the next generation of Xbox console will no longer feature an optical disc drive; instead having games downloaded onto some form of portable card.
I have to admit that I have always wondered why the games industry continued to use discs as a format, because they are so easy to break and even easier to scratch. From the Philips CD-i and Sega’s Mega-CD through to the Playstation and so forth, the industry has continued to embrace the format set about by the ‘Compact Disc’. Even Sega’s Dreamcast (which used a proprietary GD-ROM disc format) attempted to create something different, but still nevertheless retained the ‘disc’ as its main format of choice.
The reason why I say this is because I was (and still am) a massive fan of cartridges due mainly to the fact that they had no mechanical nor moving parts, and were merely an extension of the console’s built-in architecture once you slotted them home. Discs were only adopted because they had far greater storage capacity which meant that companies like Squaresoft could populate their worlds with FMV sequences and other lazy drivel. They were also preferred because they were cheaper to produce then cartridges.
However we now seem to have come back full circle for as cheap and as affordable as discs now are to produce, not only do they not have the storage capacity for future generations of game console (Xbox 720 or PS4), but are just too unwieldy and cumbersome for today’s gamers. Strange thing here is that the cards that the next Xbox console will purportedly use will have more than a passing resemblance to the cartridges of old (I’ll let you think about what I mean by that).
Anyway back to the subject. Game vendors. I remember the old days of going to Electronics Boutique and the day they eventually bought and took over Game – one of their main rivals. Some time later, the owners decided to do away with the EB corporate branding and instead adopted Game as their brand identity. To my knowledge it had something to do with licensing the name of EB (which was a separate U.S company) over here in the UK which had eventually run its course (though correct me if I’m wrong here but I can’t be arsed to search on Wikipedia for the details).
When the original Xbox was released, Microsoft once made a claim that all games would be downloaded thereby making the purchase of discs from high street vendors obsolete. I remember hearing Nintendo’s reaction to this as being one of absurdity, however it seems now like the cogs have already been set in motion. Nintendo already came around to the idea of downloadable content with the Wii, though you’d never hear them admit that Microsoft was correct in its prediction. You have to remember that it was Sega’s Dreamcast that got Microsoft thinking in this way, for the DC was the first mainstream console to have internet connectivity from the word ‘Go’.
Anyway I have to admit that I will not be sad when Game finally gives up the ghost, for they have been a thorn in the side of many developers and publishers over the years. I talk mainly about the fact that vendors like Game would often buy back games from their customers at a fraction of the price, but would sell them on second-hand for much higher. The issue here of course was that none of the money they obtained from the sale of second-hand goods would ever go back to the guys and girls who developed the game, instead going into Game’s coffers. Well that’s Karma for you I guess.
Game in dire straights: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-03-09-game-has-two-weeks-to-turn-its-fortunes-around
Next Xbox will not have a disc drive: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-03-09-next-xbox-wont-have-a-disc-drive-report
EA’s statement on Game on Feb 2nd 2012: http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/gaming/news/a363470/ea-concerned-about-financial-state-of-game.html
According to CNN here we have it. Some of you may remember a time way back when Apple played the underdog against the huge hulking giant of a corporation known affectionately as M$. It was a time of harsh cynicism towards Microsoft from consumers, corporations and governments when it had become the number one player in the market.
We are on the precipice of something major and indeed a total reversal of roles, for it is now Microsoft acting as underdogs. It was inevitable that this would occur because Apple have far too much going for them; fingers in too many special pies. They are like an unstoppable juggernaut in motion.
But if you think today marks a sudden change in fortunes then think again, because Apple has been steadily making ground for quite a while now.
I recently went back at my copy of Millwood Brown’s ‘Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands’, and you can see that Apple had already beaten Microsoft to 3rd place. Microsoft had 0% change in brand value since the previous year whilst Apple had 32%, so you do the math.
I was at a class not too long ago talking about this very subject. Each student was asked which company they thought represented the most valuable brand with companies flying around right left and centre. Strangely not a single one of them mentioned Apple even though Apple was the first one that entered my mind – at which point I had given them my contribution. It entered my mind for the sole reason that the brand is just simply too good even to naysayers. The branding, designs and innovations that take place are very impressive, and it’s a wonder they don’t mess up (here’s hoping lol).
You will hardly ever see a time when the Japanese go crazy for foreign hardware, Apple being the only exception – they don’t take too kindly to someone infringing on homegrown tech you see. Rightly so because they tend to be of inferior quality with the exception of Apple it seems.
Only one word springs to mind and one that I have already used: Inevitability.
Very soon the iPad will be available to buy here in the UK and elsewhere – the final nail in Goliath’s coffin and the last of a million nails before it.