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A Sony-less world

December 30, 2006

I love reading Joystiq comments, something you’d know if you read the pamphlets to the right. Due to their size, they cover more views and opinions than your typical Nintendo site, which is refreshing. One such commenter — on what was probably the millionth negative PS3 post of yesterday (seriously, they should make a “badps3press” post tag) — chooses not to comment on the story and instead poses a question to the rest in light of Nintendo’s contrasting success: what would games be like if Wii dominated all?

A haunting inquiry. *chills*

Sony leaves a sour taste in the mouths of many, including the subservient rickshaw drivers i call Ryan and frisby (aka “bloggers”, writers); as well as half man/half fan Invisibleman. The mega corp comes off as cocky SOBs with their dick in their hand, waiting to drop it on your keyboards at any given moment. Sony came in swinging 12 years ago; they usurped Nintendo’s throne, made Miyamoto and crew the court jesters of the new kingdom and took Sonic to the guillotine. It was hideous, frightening, and a sign of the times.

Poor bastard...

The second coming of gaming in the mid-90s was a golden-winged, grey-bodied, rectangley horse Sony rode valliantly and arrogantly on the winds of change. It was an inevitable takeover, one Nintendo’s own demon dictator couldn’t impede. It was timely; it had to happen and they were the ones who did it. Hell, if i had done it i’d proudly be holding my junk, too. Not that i’m not…

PlayStation has pissed a lot of people off and made many enemies. Yours truly was even part of the lynch mob back in my younger, “Born in the USA” days of riots and protest. But let’s ponder for a second. A gaming world without Sony? A tall tale, but a fantasy worth fantasizing about for Sony haters of all creeds and colors in this age of bad news after band news after bad news after bad news after bad news. Yet, is it really?

This is about the hypothetical. Just imagine what it would be like, no more console king with a black heart and slick iron fist (the better to fist you with, my dear…). What do i think it would be like, realistically? A torn and tattered Sony will go off and make more pipe-like mp3 players and leave well enough alone in games. Devs will flock to 360 and there’ll be some small migration to Wii. Microsoft sees a spike in installed base, Wii continues on its “slow ride, take it easy” and cruises to the top. Many gamers and developers get lost in the shuffle. MS makes no move to be the definitive traditional platform, instead letting it all work itself out naturally. Their numbers rise, then dwindle.

Let’s get more hypothetical. Say Wii annihilates everybody, even – by some miracle – the Phantom *gasp*. Xbox 360 waltzes to its honorary grave at the Sega family plot. Sony retreats to build a funland of wondrous contraptions, an amusement park of failed product theme rides including the spinning UMDs and flow chart roller coasters. Parking starts at $599, entry is free for ages 18-34.

I see danger, Will Robinson (mmm, Velveeta). O, to live in a world whence Brain Age, Wii Baseball, and WarioWare tyrannizes the lives of the common man. How doth thou been forsaken by me, o Emperor? Imagine: the console war, fanboys, epic games; all gone, long forgotten and deeply buried by the conquest of Wii. Gamers like you and i will become peasants, begging and stealing and praying for the next Metroid, wishing it won’t fall victim to the new gen requisitions of the “New Casual Order” and becomes 30 second chunks of Prime-flavored Duck Hunt minigames, selling at premium price.

Moms will be the next fanboys and you will be on the fringes of gaming society, also known as the Game Boy crowd.

If Wii rules the world, in the extreme case, i expect this to happen: bite-sized gaming will be the new thing, casting the singular experience aside. Mario/Metroid/Zelda will become the most anticipated and scrutinized games because their now exclusive core-type nature, thereby eroding their legend and appeal. Hardcore gamers officially on the brink of extinction. Casual gamers number in the millions. A new age; a new industy entirely. I don’t think anyone presently on the internet would enjoy that. But it can happen. Not the only outcome, but a very probable one given the hypothetical curcumstances.

Then what? Cooking Mama can only take you so far, and developers who wanted what PS3 and 360 promised are plumb outta luck, left to follow suit and cash in on the minigame craze. Why bother with traditional adventures when you can’t beat Nintendo on their own turf and there’s a profitable fad going on? Eventually the fad dies off like all fads do, and there’s a renewed interest in the HD Era. Not nessecarily because of HD, but for that ol’ timey videogaming. You can’t go to Nintendo with that request because their checks aint bouncing yet. Gotta wait 5 years, y’all. Maybe more now that they’re alone again and nobody’s rushin’.

They’s Japanese, actually. Not Russian. Get it?… *pa-rum pum*

Afterwards, Nintendo will probably achieve what they wanted, which is getting new gamers accustomed to playing so they can play with the old gamers and increase the audience. Once that happens, the market that once was will be a microcosm of the new market. Halo fever and the thirst for Final Fantasies and other big franchises in their old form will reawaken, born a new life. Wii will be flooded with half-games more suited to a DS, overshadowing the few big games it does have. A relapse occurs. Gamers want more choice, a new system. Sony and Microsoft have a purpose again. Somewhere on a Mexican beach, Peter Moore and Kaz Hirai look at each other and smile. The cycle turns.

I expect Wii dominance to happen, but only in the sense of marketshare. Hardcore gamers aren’t the last of a breed, casual gamers aren’t immune to metamorphosis. Should Wii take number 1, the impact it will have may indirectly benefit the competitors and their traditional style of play by making huge epics of storytelling, visual decadence and complexity a sought-after rarity. For people like me who bought a Wii console on launch day, the “casual games effect” can already be felt. No company can dictate the future verbatim and no system will cure every itch.

Sony, there’s room for you at this inn. You can stay.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. rashadlogic permalink
    December 30, 2006 6:33 pm

    This is by far the best blog you ever wrote.

    True, I think all the game systems have a position in the market that jas affect each other one way or another.

    I think Playstation made all the other systems to get on their “grind” and upgrade themselves to be better [which it look like it worked in a way].

    The only thing is, Sony f’d up their chance on the launch and still haven’t even hit 1 million sales yet and Wii has already hit triple the amount of systems they sold.

    *Also, people in Europe STILL haven;t gotten their PS3’s yet. This has pissed alot of people off over there.

  2. frisby permalink
    December 30, 2006 7:15 pm

    Competition is a great thing. If Nintendo had won the last Console War maybe Sony would have had a Wii of there own. Everyone, EVERYONE is kicking Sony when they are down because thats what they did to Nintendo. While everyone seems to take sides here I am only focusing on the decision I made on my next console purchase.

    The Game Cube was an after thought for me. I bought mine well after it was presumed dead for $50 off of the frycook at Mr Burger. I had played enough games on my PS2 to know I really wanted something different, and Game Cube games, sorry Nintendo games are different from what the mainstream games for PS2 where.

    Let me lay this drawn out metaphor.

    You wear your pimp clothes to the club, your chill cloths to work/school, and your workout clothes, presumably, to work out.

    By your scenario here Rollin you are saying we would only wear one style of clothing for everything.

    You mentioned in a comment you played Splinter Cell on Wii and my first thought was “Why?”

    That is a game that would be better played on 360 or PS3. I know you ain’t got those but come on. I have issues playing Zelda on Wii because it is a traditional control scheme kind of game with a few Wii control empowerments. It’s the same reason Trauma Center would suck on a 360/PS3

    So yeah, basically some games rock on Wii and some bounce slow on the dick.

    Right now everyone is pointing out the “Next Gen Doesn’t Start Until..blah blah blah” Sony propaganda that was Nintendo not too long ago. These are the checks and balances of the gaming industry.

    Mac and Windows for example. Both have pro’s, bit have con’s. I do the same shit for the most part on both and I have to say Mac does some stuff better and so does the PC.

    I am not a fanboy, I am indifferent. Until I can muster up the cash to buy a 360 or…a PS3, I won’t play games that I know would be better with a traditional controller. I will play the games I like and I know will be presented well with the control scheme at hand. I do miss my PS2 from time to time.

    But then again I don’t have as much time in my life for games as I would like. So for now Rollin, I will play mirco games on my Wii and enjoy having a good time while the Wii still has its “Newness” about it. In a few years it will feel dated and then PS3’s will be more affordable.

    Overall they are games. I like to have fun. So I will regardless of who made the console I am playing on at the time.

  3. frisby permalink
    December 30, 2006 7:24 pm

    sorry Roll. I read over you r article again and realized I tried to make the same point. Great write. Now if only Iman would write something…

  4. frisby permalink
    December 30, 2006 7:28 pm

    “Gotta wait 5 years, y’all. Maybe more now that they’re alone again and nobody’s rushin’.”

    Maybe less because their console is so cheap and quicly dated they will make and Imitation PS3 or even batter as additional hardware upgrade console rememnicent of the Sega CD!!!

  5. December 30, 2006 7:53 pm

    Dammit, that was one amazing article.

    I agreed that competition is important to the market. Without it, we probably wouldn’t have seen some amazing games and some amazing systems. Hell, we’d probably still be playing with graphics of an N64/PS1 level.

  6. frisby permalink
    December 30, 2006 9:09 pm

    Also I am too lazy to be a rickshaw driver.

  7. rashadlogic permalink
    December 31, 2006 12:09 am

    >You mentioned in a comment you played Splinter Cell on Wii and my first thought was “Why?”

    Yeah, Splinter Cell sucked major balls on the Wii.

  8. rashadlogic permalink
    December 31, 2006 12:09 am

    I also heard alot of the FPS games are going to suck on the Wii since it implemented the new controller scheme.

    Have you ever considered that there might be more con’s than pro’s of the new Wii controller?

  9. December 31, 2006 1:19 am

    In theory FPS should kick ass on Wii. With the D pads location for toggling weapons and the obvios piont and shoot advantage, they should rock.

    I hear bad things about Red Steel that would make me believe the controls could suck.

    The controls disadvantages will show on traditional games. Thats why fusing the Wii with your 360 is probably the best route to take.

  10. December 31, 2006 7:12 am

    I think, that like all games consoles, the Wii just needs a bit of time to mature. Give it another year or so and we’ll probably start seeing good quality shooters for Wii as developers get more experience developing for the Wii-mote.

    I’m certain developers will learn from their mistakes with Red Steel and Splinter Cell.

  11. Sum0 permalink
    January 1, 2007 4:03 pm

    Fascinating post, this. As with a lot of things, you can get so worked up about the details that you miss the big picture… That as the Wii continues its rise, it might well shed the hardcore gamers in favour of simpler, more popularist games that entertain the masses but leave us wanting more. I’m glad I have a gaming PC.

    I think the Wii will have some killer FPSes. Why did I enjoy Halo or Goldeneye? Not because of the controls, but because of everything else. Why do I enjoy Call of Duty 3 on the Wii? It’s not that great a game: it’s basically a rehash of the last two CoDs, but amazingly, it’s still fun /because of the controls/. (I can’t speak for Red Steel, haven’t had a chance to play it.) Melee punching, jerking the nunchuck to switch weapon or reload, and the obvious pointing and shooting are a little weird but ultimately pretty satisfying.

    So, my dodgy, oversimplified, but possibly correct prediction is: make a good FPS, add Wii controls, and you have a great FPS.

  12. January 1, 2007 7:50 pm

    I don’t drive a fucking rickshaw, bitch. And I’m not a Sony Hater, despite what it says on my profile here (yes I know I should change it but frankly I couldn’t be bothered). I have a PS2, and my PS1 holds a venerable spot in my closet of old and unused junk. Sony won me over despite my undying love for the SNES, but I think they’ve fallen into the trap Nintendo set for themselves in the mid 90s. Their arrogance at being in the number 1 spot eventually led to their downfall, and now Sony’s in the same position.

    Whether or not they’ll be able to weather it better than the big N did is for history, and bloggers, to decide.

  13. Linxdev permalink
    January 1, 2007 9:53 pm

    On this issue with controls in regards with FPS I think that maybe time will i
    smooth it out. I’m having a hard time figuring out Wii boxing. Sometimes a slight movement and a punch is thrown. I see the same in Zelda. One I swing the sword once it sometimes goes twice. With a button mash you get an exact event. Not so with the Wii controller. I’m not bashing the controls I just think that time will smooth out this and make them even better.

    On Halo, that game got me back into consoles ever since I gave my nephews my N64 and playstation. My father bought and Xbox at SAM’s club and it came with Halo. The ability to drive vehicles was something I never experienced in an FPS. From that moment own I was hooked back on. 3 weeks after paying his console I bought the same kit at SAM’s. I now have a GC, PS2, PS1, Xbox, Wii, PSP, and DS. I like the variety I got on the PS2 but would never pay $600 for a console. The Wii drummed up enough interest in me and was priced right that I bought it. I’m pleasantly surprised. MY main motivation was Virtual Console. Please Nintendo do not let me down and keep good hits coming (Mario Kart 64)

  14. January 2, 2007 2:53 am

    Good article… but Frisby also brushed on a topic that needs more pondering around here: the spare time to dedicate to video games seems to be shrinking!

    I thought this used to be a personal problem of mine due to increased responsibilities as one grows old, but I’ve noticed the same tendency in my nephews, who are pre-teens: it seems that more and more, people are having a lot less spare time.

    Did Nintendo figure this out before Sony and MicroSoft and switched gears to concentrate on a system better suited for mini games?

    Me? I’ll be playing more and more micro games in my consoles and epic games in my micro…

  15. January 3, 2007 1:55 am


    Fris and Ryan: Happy New Gen!

    Easy chaps, i was bein whimsical. Dontcha see? This article’s got more whimsy than i know what to do with. I didn’t mean to implicatively call y’all biased or anything that serious — it’s the anti-Sony Joystiq heads with pitchforks i was throwing my voice at, with their “Yar har har, Sony… ye’ll die a dog’s death” brouhaha. I wrote this hopped up on goofballs, hence the colorfulness. As for the rickshaw, if you guys don’t carry me, i goes nowhere.

    The migration of large games to the handheld format is something that happened about a year ago. Microgames going the other way is something new with Wii, Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Bite-sized gaming will flourish, but i think it won’t last very long or in great capacity. If it gets too big what’s gonna happen, are major publishers gonna take the collective of beloved franchises and transform them into themed Sudoku puzzles?

    I don’t see this movement having legs if it gets to the point of saturation. On the other side, playing in chunks is very convenient. That’s why most big games come segmented by missions or stages. As long as developers can keep their long games interesting – with accomodations (quicksaves) – for busybodies who take leaves from their adventures regularly, or keep their games short and sweet (a good 7-12 hours) with some extendability through multiplayer or online, big games have a place as well as the Cooking Mamas of the world.

    The idea i tried to get at was there needs to be a balance of old & new, big & small, flashy & low-key, fleshed out & quick fix.

    [PS– I got Splinter Cell as a gift, mates. Controls can frustrate, but i like the series and i deal with it for the story and the stealth at $0 paid. On the flip, i bought Battalion Wars, Gunstar Super, Chibi-Robo and Geist earlier for 40 bucks total and you may agree those are all wise investments.]

  16. Leon permalink
    January 3, 2007 7:49 am

    I thought you were being serious for a second there.

  17. January 3, 2007 12:20 pm

    The problem is that of how many five-minute-long sessions you can put into each type of hardware: I can get five to ten five-minute-long sessions on a portable on any given day, but only one or two ten-minute-long sessions on a console at the end or beginning of each day, since I don’t take the console with me to work.

    Hence, my console has become the home for quickies, and my portable that of RPGs or Strategy games.

  18. Linxdev permalink
    January 3, 2007 7:00 pm

    If I could get my Sudoku addiction under control I could use my DS Lite for some games like Mana. I spend too much time in Brain Age and Gridmaster

  19. January 3, 2007 7:49 pm

    Ok ok I really do pull a rickshaw, but in between shifts I play cooking mama. sweet.

    On the flip side, I agree that there ought to be a balance, but its so hard to achieve that balance when the markets decide what games will or will not flourish. Xbox live has taken a step at encouraging indie game devs to put their games out there, but the other two companies shuld also follow suit.

    The more platforms are offered to more budding game devs, the more variety we’ll all see, and that can only be a good thing.

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