The Bulletin

Flip-flops

Flip-Flop Weather

Nintendo and Apple look to the future while Microsoft backtracks.

By Sam Barsanti • June 24, 2013

The Bulletin is a roundup of a few game-related news stories from the previous week.

Microsoft celebrates summer by putting on a flashy open-toed sandal
Don Mattrick, flip-flopped

Don Mattrick, flip-flopped

It would have been interesting to listen in on the conversations happening at Microsoft’s headquarters during Sony’s spectacular E3 press conference a couple of weeks ago. “We’ve got this in the bag,” the Microsoft executives would say with a laugh, as they adjusted their top hats and puffed their cigars. “People are a little upset that buying used games for the Xbox One is going to be unnecessarily complicated, that they’ll have to jump through hoops to give a game to a friend, that the system needs to connect to the internet every 24 hours, and that it’s going to cost $500, but that’s all going to be fine. Sony will do all of the same stuff, and then nobody will have any reason to be mad at us. It’s a perfect plan!”

Of course, it didn’t work out like that. Sony smugly announced at E3 that the PlayStation 4 won’t have the elaborate restrictions of the Xbox One, and it will cost $100 less. It was such a definitive victory for Sony that it seemed like Microsoft would never recover and the massive tech company would soon shrivel up and die. But then something crazy happened: As we reported on Thursday, Microsoft listened to all of the negative feedback and decided to eliminate the stuff people didn’t like about the Xbox One (most of it, anyway). Namely, the console will not need to connect to the internet every day, and there won’t be any new, bizarre limitations on what you can do with the games you own. Good work, internet. You convinced a giant corporation that it was doing something stupid and saved video games from a bleak and restrictive future.

But at what cost? Not everyone is happy with Microsoft’s decision to flip-flop on its Xbox One policies, because no matter what basic human rights we’re keeping (I think “ability to buy used games” is somewhere on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs), we are losing a few features that sounded pretty cool. Gizmodo’s Kyle Wagner wrote a strongly worded article explaining why he thinks the Xbox One “just got way worse,” and it basically boils down to us losing the ability to trade and resell digital games. Wagner believes this and the used game restrictions would’ve made Xbone games cheaper, because publishers wouldn’t have to account for used sales in the initial price of a game. This seems like a particularly optimistic view of game studios and how much they love to take money from people, and I find it hard to believe that, after selling games for $60 for so many years, publishers would suddenly be OK with making less money (especially since Microsoft has already confirmed that the Xbox One games it publishes will cost $60).

Either way, it’s a moot point. Both upcoming game consoles will work a lot like the last ones did, much to the delight of GameStop, which said, “we applaud Microsoft for understanding consumers and the importance of the pre-owned market” in a statement posted on Joystiq. It’s an odd day when the internet and GameStop are on the same side of an issue, but such is the mess that Microsoft made. Also, that video where Microsoft’s Don Mattrick told people to buy an Xbox 360 if they don’t like the Xbox One’s internet requirements is even funnier now.

Nintendo goes free-to-play, will soon control all money
Steel Diver

Steel Diver

There’s a line in the Book Of Revelation that I think is relevant for today: “And lo, a red oval shall descend unto your coin purse, and it shall demand $1.99 in exchange for five Super Mushrooms.” It’s right after that part that talks about ordering pizza with your Xbox. In any case, Nintendo has fulfilled ancient prophecy by announcing that it will publish free-to-play games that include in-game microtransactions, as reported by IGN. The details are light for now, but we do know that the first free-to-play title from Nintendo will be some sort of sequel to Steel Diver, a submarine-based 3DS game that didn’t make much of a splash on its initial release. Nintendo doesn’t know exactly what its free-to-play model will look like yet, but it’s a pretty safe bet that we’ll eventually see the nickel-and-diming make its way into a more popular series if Steel Diver takes off. Exchanging coins for an extra life is already a staple of the Mario games, so it’s not such a big jump for Nintendo to ask players to cough up some actual coin.

Apple does it again, adds controller support to next iOS update
iOS 7 iPhone

For the past decade or so, Apple has maintained a reputation as a company that is always on the bleeding edge of whatever’s cool. Before it released the iPod, you had to listen to music on enormous vinyl records or go to live performances called “concerts.” Before the iPad Mini, you could only check Twitter while sitting on the toilet with a slightly larger tablet computer. It was crazy. Well, it looks like Apple has come up with another great idea that will totally blow your mind: Using a controller to play video games. As announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference—and reported by Touch Arcade—the upcoming iOS 7 will introduce controller support for iPhones, iPads, and iPods. This initiative appears to be intended to ease the way for third-party developers, rather than signaling that Apple will make controllers of its own, but it’s still exciting news. I mean, imagine playing iPhone hits like Minecraft or XCOM: Enemy Unknown with a controller. It’s like we’re living in the future!

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  • Sam_Barsanti

    Also, from that Gizmodo post: 

    “We are literally standing in stasis, refusing to move forward, at the behest of those who are loudest and not ready for the future.”As someone who has to buy a lot of his games used due to not having any money, this really irritates me. There are plenty of ways Microsoft could’ve made this whole thing work without putting so many crazy limits on stuff. The people who didn’t like it shouldn’t be blamed when this is all Microsoft being stupidly over-confident.

    • His_Space_Holiness

      Yeah, I notice that a lot of cheering for the assumed future of gaming — everything downloaded! constant sharing! et cetera! — seems to assume that everyone will have lots of disposable income and a lightning-fast Internet connection. As someone who has neither, I’m less enthused. An all-download game market would essentially shut me out, and used disc-based games are vital to my pursuing what is already a pretty expensive hobby without breaking the bank. I worry that the medium is going to outpace a good chunk of its audience technologically.

      • Sam_Barsanti

        And it also seems telling that this is the attitude coming from a tech site, not a gaming site. In theory, the game sharing and all that sounded cool, but in practice, it would’ve been stupid and anti-consumer. 

        • Citric

          Having waded into the comments (though not very far into the comments) he said something about how most of his friends wouldn’t be affected by the various restrictions, so they’re not a big deal. That’s probably the best example of that tech site myopia, it doesn’t affect people who would be friends with a writer on a tech site, so they are complete non-issues why is everyone complaining?

      • Swampgas_Man

        As someone who lives in a small apartment and NOT an auditorium, the whole “Kinect and Voice control everything”, plus Big Brother’s always-on camera, frightened me off from the beginning.

        • http://www.twitter.com/wixostrix WixosTrix

          Just take it up.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/paul-kinsey,71501/ Paul Kinsey

        You know game downloads get cheaper after being on the market for a few months just like disks do, right?

        • His_Space_Holiness

          The issue there is the internet. Downloading a game just isn’t feasible right now for me, and for a lot of people.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/paul-kinsey,71501/ Paul Kinsey

          @His_Space_Holiness:disqus If you don’t mind me asking, is it a financial issue or a location issue? Everybody has different priorities obviously, but it seems strange to me to pay for a game system and games and not spring for high-speed internet if it’s available in your area.

        • beema

          Sometimes that’s true, but unless you’re referring to PC games, it’s generally not (unless something is really struggling to sell). Big console games stay pretty damn full priced, digital or not, for a while.

        • His_Space_Holiness

          It’s a bit of both. I live in an apartment with slow Internet service, and I can’t unilaterally upgrade. I’ll move somewhere with better options eventually, but not for the foreseeable future. As for cost, the system itself is a used PS3 I got a few years ago, and I buy games very rarely, getting the bulk of them as Christmas presents and the like. So I’m trying to be economical and pursue this hobby at the same time. Steam sales would be a big help, but the Internet issue comes into play again. So while I’m sure I personally will be able to adapt to an all-download model in the future, I’m not so sure about other people in similar situations.

      • beema

        I’m pretty confused where any such optimism stems from. Have any of these people been paying attention to the behavior of major publishers for the past 5 years at all? It’s all about nickle and diming the consumer and taking away as much freedom as possible, in order to make up for their fossilized business models and skyrocketing development costs (and also greed). The most likely thing that will happen is that everything will continue in a downward spiral until the big publishers face a big crash. Meanwhile indie/crowdfunded and PC gaming will slowly flourish. The big pubs see them starting to flourish now and try to co-opt their practices in the most bastardized fucked up ways, and it’s not working.

    • Fluka

      Yarrrgh.  Gizmodo, why are you always so consistently WRONG?

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        Mrs. Mafia, Spacemonkey Jr. and I all went to Monster University this weekend, so with that fresh in my mind, I’ll speculate they run their servers on internet outrage.

      • Kyle O’Reilly

        Because WRONG makes me people disagree and people who disagree get angry, and those people click the link to leave a comment about why they’re angry and this puts money in the bank of Gawker Media.

        • Fluka

          Yuuuuuuuuuuuup.

      • Effigy_Power

        Hey, in the LOST universe it’d make a pretty great constant. So don’t knock it.

      • beema

        Because Gawker media. All of their sites are complete fucking garbage

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

         What befuddled me the most about that entire post is the very, very strongly felt sense of loss came from something that has never, not once, been signaled as a direction either Microsoft or third-party publishers planned to take digital distribution on the XBONE.
         I mean, sure.  The very moment digital game distribution is even mentioned, someone points over to Steam, always eerily and silently eating an ice cream cone right within earshot.
         But the simple existence of Steam is not an inference as to how the XBONE one will function.
         While I’m all for optimistic and wide-eyed speculation on what can be done with the future of gaming, accusing your detractors of being a group of aggressive Luddites who would sooner slay the prophet of future gaming than listen, based on no actual evidence of what Microsoft plans for the system, is a bit rich.

      • Sam_Barsanti

        And people seem to like Steam because of its crazy sales, but Steam also has competition. The XBONE wouldn’t, so why would game prices ever be as cheap as they are on Steam?

        • Swampgas_Man

          PS4 isn’t competition?

        • Sam_Barsanti

          @Swampgas_Man

          Sure, but that’s not what I mean. You can get downloadable PC games in tons of places. You’ll be able to get downloadable Xbox One games in one place.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          YES THIS. Steam is cool and all, but it wasn’t always cool. Valve seems like an extremely progressive company whereas Microsoft is most decidedly not. I really don’t get how anyone could have viewed the “must always be online” thing as a bonus. 

          But yeah, it was Microsoft wanting total control of all your games, which is generally a bad thing for consumers. If they really had good intentions with it, they would have realized that they needed to fucking sell people on how their restrictions would have helped them. 

        • Guajolotestyle

          “You can get downloadable PC games in tons of places. You’ll be able to get downloadable Xbox One games in one place.”

          With the original DRM, the Xbox One treated any install of a game as a digital install, whether it was bought digitally through the Xbox’s online store, or physically from WalMart, GameStop, Amazon, etc. If you bought a physical copy, you installed it to the HD and then put it away forever, with the Xbox giving you all the digital benefits of disc-less play, sharing (however that potentially worked out), and one-time resell of the license.

          Now that the disc has to be in the Xbox to play the game again, those digital rights are removed from physical copies. Microsoft WAS going to compete against all the game retailers, but DRM removal gave them back their digital monopoly.

          I have a fast, reliable internet connection, but I was still going to buy physical copies because the game downloads still take a long time. Plus, Amazon has had some decent deals on game pre-orders before, not to mention occasionally delivering a game a day before release. Because I want the disc-less play features more, I’ll be forgoing physical copies this console cycle unless Microsoft adds back some features in future patches.

          So yeah, for everyone who complained, please enjoy your Xbox 360 1/2.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        Steam works the way it does for 3 reasons:

        1) When it started, it was reviled. It needed to offer great deals in order to entice people to start using digital distribution.

        2) Now that digital distribution has gained in popularity, it has competition from other services, such as Gamefly, Green Man Gaming, Origin, etc.

        3) Valve is not a public-traded company beholden to shareholders. It can do whatever the fuck it wants.

        2) and 3) do not apply to Microsoft and the Xbone/Xbox180. Digital game retail on the console would effectively be a monopoly. There’s no reason for Microsoft to price competitively.

        • George_Liquor

          Steam also allows the user to download games to multiple systems across multiple platforms; something MS most certainly does not. 

        • CrabNaga

          And another reason people love Steam nowadays: they have to. Considering it’s the de facto arbiter of game sales these days (except for those others you mentioned), the impact it has on the PC gamer’s mind is pretty similar to the impact buying an Xbox 360 has on a console gamer’s mind: you want it to succeed, and if it has competition you want that competition to die. 

          In Steam’s case, it’s potentially an even more dire scenario: if Steam were to peter out and shut down their servers, millions of gamers would simply lose the games they purchased. Compare that to how console gaming is (and apparently will be next generation as well), and even if the Xbone flops, you’ll still be able to enjoy your Halo V while regretful tears carve rivulets through the Cheeto dust caked onto your cheeks.

          That being said, Steam rules and everything else sucks!

        • Citric

          I’ve always figured that Steam works because its main competition from the outset was not other services, but piracy. People pirate because it’s cheap and easy, and if they claim anything else they’re basically lying. Steam works because even if it still costs some money it’s still cheap, and that nominal fee lets you use a service that’s way easier than piracy.

        • ChicaneryTheYounger

          Let’s not give Origin too much credit, they’re not quite at viable alternative level. Or reading without moving their lips level.

        • exant

          I’ve never seen sales as why my friends or me started using Steam. True, we all hated it when it came out, when I was in high school and didn’t have high-speed internet. Then we all left to go to separate cities for college and needed a way to play video games together. Back then, multiplayer games were this patchwork of different server systems and joining the same server for the same game often took a significant amount of work. 

          But Steam has this “Join Game” feature which was why we finally fell in love with it. If we all bought the game on Steam, we could all easily join each other’s games. Now Steam has become the only chat client I ever use, and it’s still how I play games with friends.

          I’ve bought a few games off of Green Man and Origin, but they just can’t compete with the network externalities that Steam has built with its established social system.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          @exant:disqus: Steam sales were the reason I started using Steam, but you’re right to point out that Steam has a slew of useful social features, multiplayer features, and other tools that make it worth using. I see competing services more as digital storefronts than as full-fledged gaming platforms.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          Steam is definitely the strongest of the DRM-style “Whoops, I locked you out of your entire game library! What do you mean, your internet is down?” systems, and the only one I use because the insane sales make it worth putting up with.

          But I’m certainly glad the PC also affords me access to GOG and the Humble Bundles, which give me the change to actually own my games without strings attached, which isn’t something you’d likely ever see in a console downloadable marketplace.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus: Steam has an offline mode. It can be buggy, but it’s there.

        • http://www.facebook.com/andy.tuttle.79 Andy Tuttle

          I’ve become very partial to GOG recently. The user interface isn’t as cool or easy to navigate as Steam’s is, but their sales are just as good and there’s no DRM; plus a greater library of older PC games.

          I still use Steam a lot, don’t get me wrong, but I am finding myself checking GOG first more often than Steam when I want to purchase a game digitally.

        • valondar

          @facebook-100000164287028:disqus @paraclete_pizza:disqus I despise that element of steam (and honestly I guess I’m still a bit ticked that people are angry at Origin for similar reasons yet steam’s DRM gets a pass because everyone likes them), I’d agree gog is a much better service… but man, steam’s prices, they’re SO competitive, even when it comes to sales I’m likely to spend more buying a game on gog.

          Also gog has its summer sale on, I’m checking in weekly (and I got Torchlight for free at the start of it), I think I may pick up the Wing Commander games.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/paul-kinsey,71501/ Paul Kinsey

          @George_Liquor:disqus Except Microsoft was going to let you play your games from any system where you could log onto your account and share access with your 10 person “family.” Not anymore though.

        • George_Liquor

          Under the planned system, you could lend a game to another person only once, and only after he or she had been a part of your friends list for 30 days. Alternatively, you could sign on to Live using your own credentials to download & install the game on the friend’s XBone, but that account can only be active on one console at a time, and you would still have to wait for the game to download or install from disc. I fail to see how any of that convolution is an improvement over simply taking the game to a friend’s house.

          Let’s not forget that the XBone has no backwards-compatibility either, even for games downloaded from Live. I hate white-knighting Steam & Sony because they have their own problems, but Steam (and other services like GoG) has an extensive back-catalog of old games recompiled to run on modern computers, and Sony is at least kicking around the idea of streaming older Playstation titles from their cloud. 

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/paul-kinsey,71501/ Paul Kinsey

        “…based on no actual evidence of what Microsoft plans for the system…”

        That was my big complaint about all the XBone hysteria. Most of the stuff people were upset about was worst case scenario stuff that Microsoft never actually said they were doing. Unless you don’t have consistent internet for the daily check-in, I didn’t really see a reason to freak out about their plans. At the very least consumers could have waited to see how things would actually work with a real live system instead of turning into a collective Chicken Little.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

             I meant concerning game prices, which was one of the main points Wagner insisted people lost out on by “bullying” Microsoft into reversing their stance.
             The company was incapable of articulating anything coherent, much less positive about their DRM policy.  I suspect that is in no small way why the reaction was overwhelmingly skeptical as opposed to being humbled that the XBOX was deigning to offer people to ride with them into the world of tomorrow. 

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      And after reading that quoted sentence, I am literally standing in a pool of my own vomit.

      • Effigy_Power

        Nice to have a pool on a hot summer’s day.

        • Swampgas_Man

          O suuuure, look a Mr. Megabucks and his fancy pool!

    • Citric

      I think the big problem with Wagner’s defense of Microsoft is that even if the great things he envisioned happened, it was not communicated through Microsoft itself. They rolled their plan out with no indication of how consumers would benefit, and were then surprised that consumers didn’t bite. If Microsoft promised cheaper games (for one of Wagner’s assumptions), people might have got on board, but there was no indication that they had any intention of doing that.

      All we got was sharing being overly complicated and badly communicated, and things like 24 hour check-in which nobody sane wants.

    • CivilizationHasFailed

      Refuse to click the link because that article screams “PAGE HIT AD MONEY BITCHES” with its contrarian stance and shitty argument.

  • DrFlimFlam

    These new consoles are still a stark reminder that they want you to buy the same games you already own with a new coat of paint. Also games that are forever tied to a dead device and can’t be brought through but will sure be available again on a new device never to be tied to an anchor of old tech again.

    Until the next system.

    Someone needs to figure this out. It’s a problem with gaming that no one wants to address because it costs money, but our hobby is basically a current generation hobby only, because if your ancient system breaks and you can’t fix it you better hope someone else can.

    • exant

      People have figured it out, just not in a legal or terribly convenient way. If you have a PC, an internet connection, and lose morals, you can basically play any console or arcade game ever made before the 360 or PS3 (and maybe even those, I haven’t checked). If you have a lot of time (really, a lot of time), you might even be able to play them on the couch with a controller.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        If you wanted to do a fancier setup you could, but it really doesn’t take much time or effort to play an emulator on a tv. Not much more effort beyond setting up the emulator in the first place. 

        • exant

          I want to make a media/arcade game PC for my living room. D&D: Shadows over Mystara is so much damn fun with friends even over Skype that I want to do it in person on my couch. It sounds like it’s easier now than it was when I tried it back in college.

        • Citric

          Setting up an emulator has become a massive pain ever since people have gone to a plug-in setup, especially on the more complicated games. Once, I wanted to play FFIX at my parents’ house, and it took an hour of wrangling to get it to work, and the setup didn’t work for anything else.

          I’m hoping that my PS2 can survive until I have enough money for a PC that can handle PS2 emulation. I’ve only ever tried the Front Mission 5 fan translation, but my PC was choking hard on it.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    Ahem.

    XBOX 180

    It needed to be said. Carry on.

    (BTW, re: the header image – Holy flip flops, Batman!)

    • The_Helmaroc_King

      “XBOX 180″ – Every video game site ever, including these jerks.

      • Effigy_Power

        Sneering and sniping is all these cynical people are capable of, it makes me sick. ^_^

  • duwease

    Heh, Nintendo *already* allows you to exchange money for an extra… *reads article* … DAMMIT SAM

  • Kyle O’Reilly

    Polygon shat their undies over the ‘third party controllers coming to apple devices’ news but to me that sounds like either a gimmick or a soon to be mess of an attempt to break into AAA games by Apple.

    I can see their strategy forming in the shadows, develop a way for anyone to use their iPad or iPhone  to connect to HD TVs wirelessly and then you have a portable console with a controller.  Except it would have shittier specs than a Vita.

    My wife recently got an iPad Mini and this was the first iOS device I had access to in years so I started doing research on all the great iPad games I must have missed.  Turns out, other than some interesting casual indie games like Hundreds and Ridiculous Fishing, there really weren’t any.  Deep down there were some lite-RTS and strategy style games but they had mixed reviews and poor visibility.  iOS just doesn’t support hardcore games and I don’t see a controller changing that.

    • George_Liquor

      I’d have to agree with Polygon. To me, the idea of using an iPad or similar device to play touch screen games one moment, and controller-based games on an HDTV the next is pretty enticing. The Vita’s a fine gaming platform, but its hardware specs have already been eclipsed by current iOS & Android devices. Its only real benefit comes from its on-board physical controls. 

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        I agree with you excepting one thing; the Vita and Apple devices tend to publish very different kinds of games.
           While I may be in the minority, I do enjoy the ‘bite-sized’ versions of console games that come to the Vita but don’t really get made for iOS.

        • George_Liquor

          Well sure, but at least in part, that’s because touch controls just don’t work for the kinds of games typically released on the Vita. I’ve downloaded a couple ‘traditional’ games that use virtual D-pads or whatever, and they’re nigh-unplayable without physical controls. Removing that limitation opens the door for a wider variety of games to appear on iOS. 

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          I think playing a shooter on the iPad is the activity slated for the games and leisure block of my daily schedule should there be a hell.
             You may be very right, and I hope you are, but I still think each system caters to a different audience.
             I was hesitant to bring up the distinction in my original post, because stratifying gamer types is gross.
             But either way, I hope there will be support for pre-existing games.  I’d like to play the 3D FF4 on the teevee.

      • Asinus

        Specs on game-specific devices are kind of meaningless when comparing to multi-function devices. I mean, even when desktop processors were crushing 68000s and Z80s, they still couldn’t do side scrolling nearly as well as a Genesis. I know it’s not a 1:1 comparison with the iphone/vita relationship, but phones do have a lot of other crap to do in the background. 

        • George_Liquor

          Not nearly enough to have a significant impact on foreground processes. People shit on iOS’ lack of ‘true multitasking’ a lot, but it is specifically optimized to limit the impact background processes can have on the CPU, as well as battery life. 

          The Vita’s not a single-task game console either, at least not in the sense that it could be compared to a Sega Genesis. The Vita runs a fully multitasking mobile OS that Sony has even considered porting to smart phones & tablets. 

      • http://www.twitter.com/wixostrix WixosTrix

        You can attach an Xbox 360 or any other PC controller to a Windows 8 tablet and play PC games today. You can even install Steam.

        • beema

          Yeah, but then you’d have to use a Windows 8 tablet for some reason. Also, by “PC games” I’m assuming you don’t mean any big releases. I don’t think a tablet could run Bioshock Infinite very well, could it?

          • http://www.twitter.com/wixostrix WixosTrix

            Razer actually makes gaming PCs, including tablets: http://bit.ly/razer-edge

            I have not actually used one, but they’ve been well received.

      • beema

        You should go to Dave & Buster’s. Apparently their new big thing is you can play stupid phone games on big screens. Because using my entire body to play Angry Birds is what I’ve always dreamed of.

    • DrFlimFlam

      There are certainly lots of hardcore games out there if you’re willing to look. They can be hard to find because of the saturation of casual stuff, and the breadth and depth doesn’t equal a good console or the PC of course, but it’s there.

    • exant

      I thought the same thing once I got an iPad. But beyond a handful of actually interesting indie games like Sword & Sworcery or Year Walk, I’ve been disappointed. 99% of the iOS games market is awful microtransaction Farmville knockoffs.

    • beema

      This made me think of the OUYA. The type of games it will have are essentially those that an ipad would run, I think.

  • The_Tender_Vigilante

    As someone who enjoys gaming but doesnt at all understand the tech end of things, and now seeing Microsoft walk back their dubious “advancements” in the way games are consumed, the real question to me is what is this “next gen” of consoles really offering?  The graphics appear to be marginally better, and i will assume the same goes for the processing speeds.  However, I’ve yet to see anything other than a few fancier bells and whistles to try and convince me that this is really a “next gen” advancement.  Can anyone tell me what obstacles/limitations for game designers exist with the current generation of consoles and how the new generation will significantly improve that?  Will console designers truly have a number of new and improved tools to create their game and tell their stories?  Is there something more I should expect from the “next gen” of games other than marginally shinier graphics and faster load and processing times?

    • DrFlimFlam

      I actually like the selling point, despite my snark above. It’s all about being able to do more. More NPCs, more buildings with actual innards, more stuff going on when you’re playing. The problem is that while this stuff makes  immersive and deep gaming experiences, it doesn’t necessarily sell the next generation as well as previous generations have, where we were still getting some big boosts.

      The dismissive way both major third-party-supported consoles treat the previous generation is what upsets me. BC is always kind of overvalued, but when the generational gap continues to narrow like it does, previous generations feel less and less archaic. I’m not even asking for perfect BC; I’m just asking for the last generation to not be so quickly forgotten. Gives me kind of a backup system. But no one wants to do this.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        Along with better resolutions (maybe games can finally run at 1080lol), this is the big one. Although it will make game production costs go way up, so games will have to sell a shitload in order to be successful, and I really don’t think that’s a good way for the industry to be heading.

      • The_Tender_Vigilante

        Thats an interesting point, but i wonder how much these tools will be utilized by designers.  The position of developers of AAA titles seems to be that they are becoming less and less financially viable because of (a) their expense, (b) the encroachment of cheaper and more casual games, and (c) the diminished sales due (allegedly) to the operation of the secondary market.  I would be very interested to know, in general, how healthy the big budget game market really is.    If its as bleak as many studios make out, one would suspect that the new tools will, unfortunately, be used very sparingly due to production costs.

    • ChicaneryTheYounger

      They got more Flops.

    • caspiancomic

       Funnily/tragically enough, the only real answer I was able to come up with to these questions was related to the new generations’ cavalcade of “social” elements. The PS4 is getting a dedicated “look at me!” button built right into the controller, and apparently on the Bone people can Skype you while you’re in the middle of fighting off hoards of undead, just in case you wanted someone backseat gaming you without having the decency to be within striking distance. But if you, like me, tend to play engaging, immersive, long-form games that require long periods of meditative focus, you probably won’t give three shits about these features.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        To be fair, the share button is kind of a cool idea. I love looking at my friend’s screenshots on steam, so I can definitely see the appeal. The whole skype while gaming thing is dumb though, and I hate it.

  • exant

    It makes sense that Apple is planning support for controllers because the touchscreen is a terrible control scheme for arcade games. It’s inaccurate, provides no tactile feedback, and even in its best game implementations, is basically a gimmick.

    Take my opinion with a grain of salt, because I spend a lot of money on mechanical keyboards and fancy mouses. I like to feel things go “clicky clicky”.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      The lack of haptic feedback from using a touchscreen is the number one reason why I haven’t switched to using a smartphone yet, despite the fact that my sister has a spare iPhone lying around.

      • George_Liquor
        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          That is exactly what I’ve been waiting for my entire life, thank you. I do have some concerns about how durable this kind of touchscreen would be, but it’s good news that this technology is out there now.

  • Thomas Crane

    I was kind of hoping that Microsoft would wait to relent. I could have lived my dream of everyone I know getting a PS4. Instead people are going to buy the XBox One just cuz.

    • Effigy_Power

      One must always call it XBone. If you call it XBox One, you might summon it.

    • MrTusks

      Yeah I’m going with the Xbone because all my gaming friends are doing it without question, and I don’t want to cut them off. They didn’t even think about it, even before MS decided to backtrack on things. And then they didn’t even seem excited about it, but resigned themselves to it like it was a foregone conclusion. When they excitedly told be about the rollbacks I bit my tongue and decided not to talk about how the PS4 still looks better.

      • ToddG

        Yeah, I was surprised that Microsoft did not also announce the XBone would now be $400.

  • zebbart

    I was so hoping the “Nintendo…free to play…microtransactions” story was going to be about emulations of the entire NES, SNES, and maybe N64 libraries on WiiU. And maybe it still can be – I would definitely get a WiiU this Christmas for my family (if it still exists then) if it gave us access to those libraries, and would surely end up dropping a good bit on microtransactions if say the games played and saved exactly like original for free but at-will save states (which I have become addicted to in emulators) cost ten cents a pop. Or if you could get upgraded graphics for the $5 or $10 they cost on the Wii Store now and every time you played the original for free it showed you what it looked like, I’m sure my kids would force me to buy the upgrades. Add in some Game Genie like cheats and we’d probably end up paying more for the old games that we refuse to rebuy for $5 or $10 now.

  • dickwhitmansampler

    Great, does this mean if we complain more, that we can get an XboxOne that won’t transmit my every move to advertisers and the NSA?

    • ToddG

      No, because that would involve confirming that it was going to do that, as opposed to just being ABLE to do it and why would we have it do that of course it won’t.

  • Fishbulb

    Fucking shill.

  • MJS

    This whole debacle came about because Microsoft (like many other tech companies) vastly over-estimated how desperate people were to enter the “digital future,” and most of this “backlash to the backlash” is coming from like-minded people within the tech intelligentsia that might be a little out of touch with the common consumer.

    The one and only reason that people are supposed to be enticed by the “digital future” is that it’s supposed to be more convenient, but Microsoft did little to make that “future” sound remotely “convenient.”  In fact, their muti-point list of rules regarding how people can use the games they supposedly own sounded significantly less convenient compared to the current system of “stop at a store on the way home from work, buy a damn game, and then play the thing.”  That might fly in the PC market, which is mostly composed of people who are tech savy enough to build expensive gaming rigs, but the people who buy consoles are generally looking for a much more streamlined approach to entertainment

    Pretty much the only other argument for the “digital future” is to help content holders make more money by exerting more control over what people do to their wares, to which the most people rightly came forward and said “fuck you, if you can’t make money with the current system it’s not my fucking problem.”  

    Netflix made the same basic mistake when it tried to forcefully divorce itself from the “discs in the mail” system that made them rich in the first place.  The moral of both stories is that a migration into the “digital future” is something you’re going to have to lure customers into, not try to prod them.  And when you consider that even music CDs seem to sell in pretty large quantities, that’s not going to be anywhere near as fast a process as a lot of these companies and tech writers want it to be, and they’re just going to have to live with that.

  • beema

    Kyle Wager sounds like a fucking retard. Really, he thinks that not having to deal with used games will make them sell for cheaper? Well that sure explains why games are still $60 on EA’s Origin — a storefront directly controlled by the publisher with no production costs or middlemen to take a cut. Yeah, sure, publishers will sell games for cheaper because they feel like being fair. That will NEVER FUCKING HAPPEN EVER.