Hello Sony? It’s me, Common Sense

Hey there Sony, it’s your old friend common sense. Long time no see right? Well, listen, I know we haven’t talked much since you didn’t invite me to that 2006 E3 conference, and I’d love to reminisce about those times we hung out and you moved to the CD format and revolutionized the industry, or added a DVD player to your system and changed how a game console was viewed as the central home entertainment piece, but the truth is that I came here to talk about something serious.

I heard about your new patent you see. You know, the one that in only a couple of years could theoretically allow you to end the sale of used games by flagging them and preventing the discs from being used on other systems? The one that sent Gamestop’s stock tumbling down 5% at just the idea of it? You know the one right? You do? Oh great man. Great.

It’s just, I thought I should be the one to tell you it’s not a good idea. Take it from me that it just doesn’t make sense. I know you grind your teeth (a practice I also don’t advise) every time you think of the used game market and the money that Gamestop alone takes from it that you essentially don’t see a dime of, just like I know that it makes your blood boil to think of it as anything less than organized piracy. And hey, you don’t need to tell me that if all of those used game profits went back into yours, and the developer’s, pockets, then you could theoretically change the literal fortune of the industry either. Remember, this is your old pal common sense. I get that.

But you can’t honestly believe that you wield a position of unscrupulous power that would allow you to get away with this do you? You do understand that Microsoft and Nintendo (who at least call me for drinks once in a while…just saying) have equal or larger market shares worldwide to boast about , and used the entire last generation for the lone goal of making people forget the name Playstation was once synonymous with video games right? I mean, you know that actually implementing such an idea would only drive gamers to those systems in droves, and as they make the kind of profits you only dreamed about with this act precisely by not implementing it, you could only sit and watch as every loyalist you had jumps ship?

What are you thinking man? Do you believe that you somehow have enough exclusive titles that gamers will still stick with you through this? I got news for you pal, “Uncharted” and “God of War” don’t come out that often. Or maybe you think the massive fan support that the new kid on the block the “Ouya” generated with exactly the opposite kind of philosophy that you are proposing was just a fluke? Or that should Valve release the Steam Box it wouldn’t be the most anticipated console to hit the market in years? Did the Playstation Move, Home, the PSP and Vita, and Wonderbook somehow become amazing successes when I wasn’t paying attention, so you’re not worrying about the repercussions of your actions anymore?

Ok, that was harsh. I apologize.

I Mean, Just Because Someone Else Had It First Doesn’t Mean it Isn’t a Good Idea Right?

But really my point is this. You’ve changed Sony. You used to be cool. You brought people a system in the Playstation that for the first time got the kids who used to beat up other kids for playing video games, playing the same video games. You changed the world overnight by supporting “Final Fantasy VII”, and shaped a new generation of controller design with the Dualshock. You’ve given countless runaway and unwanted developers and properties homes and turned them into favorite sons. Hell, you invented the Playstation 2!

Yet look at you now. Drawing up papers that would screw over the little guy the world over so you can maintain your finger grip grasp on video game mountain, rather than lend a hand to consumers in greater need. You’d rather sink retail stores, and make gamers pay a premium on all titles they buy, and force parents to work harder to afford the games their kids want for their birthdays or Christmas, just so you can theoretically see profits grow without any creative effort on your part. Also, even just selling this technology to developers for their optional use as you’re rumored to do, doesn’t make this any better than peddling drugs rather than using them.

Maybe this whole idea is just a bluff, but let me tell you something most people know. Puffing up your chest to look bigger, doesn’t really make you bigger.

But hey, I don’t want this to be a fight between us Sony. I just want you to know, that I know, that you would never actually do something so monumentally stupid as attempting to ban the sale of used games. I know that, because should you go through with it, there won’t even be the need for a fight, because in every respect in which success in this industry is measured,  you will have lost right out of the gate.

How do I know that? Well, far be it for me to brag, but it is just common sense.


My first Kinect experience was underwhelming

Kinect Adventures.As part of this weekend’s festivities, Spike set up a gaming lounge in one of the suites at the Four Seasons with a couple different systems sporting current titles for our enjoyment. It’s a little odd to try to sit down and play some games with people you’ve literally just met, especially on a console. Console gaming, at least locally, is sort of an intimate affair. You’re right next to one another, can immediately see whether your teammate/opponent is doing well.

Kinect augments this experience tenfold, because suddenly you’re doing these really foolish things in order to control the game. I started on a game called “Kinect Adventures,” which had me jumping up and down and leaning left and right to control a small raft. The camera had a hard time nailing me down at times, and even when it did find me it was a little sluggish. The worst part, though, was that it took pictures of me in these ridiculous poses and then showed them to the room when I finished a run. I’m not a particularly bashful person, but literally no one was willing to give the game a shot after seeing that.

It seems like Kinect could be very cool for a young family or maybe in the right dorm room, but it’s definitely not something you should do with people you don’t know.


Is the Playstation Move everything it’s cracked up to be?

Playstation Move with players.The world’s had a little time to digest Sony’s Playstation Move and the speculation is in full swing. Some are saying that this will do again for gaming what the Wii did. Others think it’s just another Wii and because of that no one will buy it. I fall heavily in that second camp. Really, from everything I’ve seen this is Wii HD. The only reason it might succeed is that developers will actually make some content that can be marketed at hardcore players.

There’s a problem with that success model, though; it doesn’t grow. There’s no plan for bringing more people to gaming than ever before. That’s been done. Nintendo did it. If you think the grandmas and the grandpas and the sorority girls and the little kids Nintendo shows in its commercials want a Move and a Wii I think you’re crazy.

A lot of the demos have harped on the accuracy of the Move, but we haven’t really seen that pinpoint accuracy is a big deal to motion gaming’s primary market. It’s more about the fun of the game and whether it basically feels like you’re swinging a golf club or not. The whole appeal of the Wii is that the learning curve is minimal because it’s simple. It gives everyone a chance to play, even if they aren’t gamers. The Move’s level of accuracy might appeal to the hardcore fans, but serious titles scare away the Wii Tennis addicts.

The biggest problem I have with Move is that I have yet to see a truly ingenious “killer app.” As soon as someone can tell me what makes the Move more than a Wii with good graphics I’ll consider taking a sip of the kool-aid. Until then, color me skeptical.


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