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U.S. Army combat veteran. OIF 06-08. Forward Observer. Purple Heart recipient. Husband. Father. Gamer. Writer. YouTuber.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

PlayStation 4: Price and Execution

These are the two aspects that will be huge, at least for me.

A whole lot of promises and the idea that this streamlined architecture saved Sony a ton of money on research and development costs which in turn will allow for a not-so-monstrous launch price.

However, to maximize the potential of the PlayStation 4 philosophy, a Vita is necessary. I fully expect a $200 Vita price tag by the time PlayStation 4 is released, but geez.

The launch of the PlayStation 3 was so abysmal that my preferred progression got all messed up. I was totally content with Sony until PS3 came around with the infamous "you'll need two jobs to pay for it and you'll do it because you want it so bad!" philosophy.

I mean, I was in Iraq when PlayStation 3 dropped and was gone for the next 15 months, so I could've afforded it, but to have it sent to Iraq would have been totally pointless. By the time I got back, I got caught up in the Xbox 360 hype that the rest of North America was caught up in, was medically discharged due to injuries received impacting my ability to perform my duties in a combat arms MOS of the U.S. Army, and have been on a low fixed income ever since.

I'm trying to find ways to generate more revenue. I've got AdSense on a blog, I've recently started doing YouTube again after my partnership with Machinima went sour on a separate channel (went sour for a lot of people in the past few months), I've started contributing to GamesBeat which allows you to link your AdSense there, as well. Trying to get my foot in the door of this industry, basically. It's not easy and there are no conveniently laid out paths to success.

Wow, rant much. Anyway, here was my system progression from birth till now:

NES
SNES
PS
PS2
Xbox 360
PS4?

I love - I ABSOUTELY LOVE - the idea of taking ALL of my favorite games of all time (FFVII, FFIX, Xenogears, etc. - I wonder if the PSN version of Chrono Trigger will have its notoriously long loading times sped up on the PS4) is incredibly enticing.

The Share feature is okay... but they kind of forgot that commentary is just as if not more important than the gameplay, depending on the game and content you are trying to create. Uploading raw gameplay will only be good for... well, I dunno. Showing people how you beat a boss or something, I suppose. But with no editing? How dull. It's such an elementary approach. The importance of capture cards and general editing will not be dismissed. I guess people who just wanna upload clips to YouTube so all of 12 people will ever see it will enjoy the Share feature, but everyone else won't make much use of it unless it's a genuinely funny or entertaining clip. They failed to mention how this Share feature would interact with online multiplayer, though I can't imagine it wouldn't work properly.

I recently got in to PC gaming to some extent. XFX Radeon HD 7770, i5-3570 (no k, don't really need to OC beyond that my No-K OC can already do), 8 GB RAM, not bad. But I'll be using it for exclusives only. I'm a console gamer at heart, always have been - though my favorite games are old enough to where they can be easily emulated on my laptop with an i5-3210m and Intel HD 4000. Just saying.

Point is, getting in to PC gaming required me to get up to speed on what goes in to a PC. With this knowledge, I understand the power of the PS4 and where the power is coming from. It definitely has me excited, but as much as I love Sony's legacy aside from the awkward missteps taken by the PS3, I can't yet dedicate myself to the PlayStation cause even with the prospect of having all of my favorite games of all time easily accessible no matter where I am at any given time (assuming I have the correct device in hand).

And I'm the kind of sentimental secret nerd that is relaxed by listening to '90s era Nobuo Uematsu on Spotify. I mean, I love the offer on the table. I really do! The pricing and execution will be everything, at least to me and probably everyone else who has limited funds and things like a wife and newborn child to provide for.

The bottom line is that some people have to make a choice for an entire console generation and they need to stick to it because that is what circumstances demand. I'm ready to be won over by Sony. I want them to sweep me up in their next-gen awesomeness. Now all we can do is wait for Microsoft to unveil their master plan. The power of what many perceive as home court advantage cannot be underestimated and Microsoft does have a lot of North American momentum heading in to the next generation.

The competition for our dollars will be greater than ever. It's 2013, and it's a great time to be a gamer.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Something to keep in mind heading in to next-gen

PlayStation 4 is likely to be announced at the PlayStation Meeting taking place in New York City at 6 PM EST tonight. We probably won't see a release date (November 2013?) or price range for various models ($399-$499?) but we're definitely most likely probably in all likelihood going to see some gameplay.

I do not expect to be blown away by the graphics of next-gen and neither should you.


Take Ubisoft's Watch Dogs, for example. An epic gameplay video came out of E3 2012 and it was only later confirmed that this title would be making its way to next-gen consoles (as well as PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360). You can tell that it looks better than what's currently available on consoles, but when compared to PC, I can't say that I'm totally blown away like the jump from SD to HD, or 16-bit to 32-bit.

I suppose as time goes on, more and more people will become aware of PC gaming and how it relates to console development. I'm definitely not saying PC gaming is better than console gaming because of graphics or whatever. I'm just saying, when viewing the next-gen gameplay that we will probably be seeing tonight, don't expect anything too crazy.

Keep your hopes reasonable. Don't break your own heart and stuff.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

#PlayStation2013. Sony's time to shine?

About 3 weeks ago, on January 31, 2013, Sony uploaded a video to YouTube that has sparked unfathomable buzz heading in to the PlayStation Meeting on February 20. That's tomorrow, people. Tomorrow, PlayStation 4 *should* be announced.


I have spent the entirety of this hardware generation on the Xbox 360. I've played a few games on the PlayStation 3 here and there but never owned the system. I can't say I regret it.

I grew up on the Super Nintendo and original PlayStation. I will never... EVER - do you hear me? - NEVER EVER EVER stop playing the games I love on those systems. It's not just nostalgia, though I admit that I have a ton of older video game music on Spotify and listening to the main theme of Final Fantasy VII takes me to a happy place.

PlayStation 2 has sold a whopping 153.68 million units and reigns supreme as the top selling console of all time. The Nintendo DS has sold 154.33 million units, but you know what I'm saying. The PS2 was a phenomenon. PlayStation 2 up in the ride and is that Lorenzo-kitted? I don't really like rap either, but still.

PlayStation 3. What happened?


It wasn't for lack of great exclusives or raw hardware power. Microsoft's Xbox 360 dropped 5 days off a full year earlier than the PlayStation 3 and everyone got cozy with the new hotness. Especially in North America.


North America - Europe - Japan - Rest of World - Global
Sales from left to right, courtesy of VGChartz

As you can see, the PlayStation 3 sold 1.41 million units less than the Xbox 360 in total but was outsold by Microsoft's console by an absurd 16.28 million units here in North America. That's a telling figure. To me, it suggests that the full year that Microsoft had on Sony was time enough to establish a devoted fan base for the system, but first year global sales for the Xbox 360 came in at just under 6 million units whereas the PlayStation 3 sold just over 6 million units.

So what the hell does this all mean? Obviously, the Xbox 360 sold very well in the North America but was outsold by the PlayStation 3 everywhere else. That is the only concrete data you can extrapolate from that because there are so many variables to consider. Marketing, pricing, first impressions, games, included hardware, etc.

The main event of Sony's PlayStation Meeting tomorrow is the likely announcement of the PlayStation 4. We will most likely not be told anything about a release date or pricing. Why? Because Sony wants to see what Microsoft is bringing to the table before they show their entire hand. Plus, I'm not sure even Sony knows how much the PS4 will be launching at.


Here are the things Sony needs to get right this time around:


1) E3 2006. Sony CEO Kaz Hirai comes up on stage and tells us the PlayStation 3 is going to set us back $599 for the 60GB version and $499 for 20GB. Remember, the Xbox 360 was already available for $399. I realize you're trying to make up for research and development costs and all that, but this is the nature of the business you are in. You want people to buy your product, don't put an absurd sticker price on it.

2) With a new generation comes new controllers. No one cared about the Sixaxis. Make the controller all-PlayStation and make other companies want to emulate YOU.

3) Shortly after launch, PlayStation 3 had a plethora of available models to choose from. Roll out a strong lineup and stick to it for a while. You ever stood in GameStop for a few minutes and just listen to the dumb questions people ask? "Does this play my old games? Can I go on the internet with this? How many controllers come with it? What games do I get?" Most consumers are too lazy and stupid (sorry, but it's true) to do their own 60 seconds worth of research, so make it as easy as possible for them.

4) If you're going to show games tomorrow, lay on the next-generation coating as thick as possible. Let people say "so THIS is what next-gen console gaming is going to look like". First impressions are everything. First impressions from PlayStation 3 was "this costs a lot more than the Xbox 360 and even though the PS3 may be technically superior, I can't really tell the difference, so hell with it". Don't make that mistake again. Sony needs to show that they are the face of next-gen consoles.

5) While was using that terrible headset that comes with the Xbox 360 to chat with each other, PlayStation 3 choose to pretty much ignore that entire aspect of online gaming. The new PlayStation 4 controller appears to be rectifying the issue, but it's still worth mentioning because it was a big deal for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

6) The launch lineup needs to not be all sports games and maybe 2 other titles worth a second look. For real. It's 2013. Hit the ground running or just slam face first in to it. It's your choice, Sony.

7) Sony is already making great strides in improving PlayStation Network and I'm sure this progress will continue with the PS4.

I have high hopes for PlayStation 4


If they want to be really awesome, they'll launch with a Final Fantasy VII or Final Fantasy IX HD remaster that is exclusive to Sony consoles. THAT WOULD DRIVE SALES, I GUARANTEE IT. But that will probably never happen because it's what fans actually want and it's not really up to Sony. I'm just saying, it'd be nice...

#PlayStation2013


A release date and pricing options will likely not be available at tomorrow's PlayStation Meeting. For all we know, there won't even be any hands-on models for people to mess with. We'll see. Oh, and I expect they'll announce a price drop for the PS Vita, settling around $199. Long overdue.

I'm excited and you should be, too. These are exciting times.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Pay more, get faster internet!" It's not that simple

I live in Maine. For most of us up here, our internet speeds are just plain crap. Here's an example of what my connection looks like with no one else in the house online. This is not a joke.


Yeah. That's supposed to be a 3 MBPS download (I've never seen it spike above 605 KBPS; usually it's around 350 KBPS) and a 768 KBPS upload. This costs $35.99/month.

Now take a look at what my ISP offers for my area. By the way, this is the only ISP in town.


Apparently, I have the Standard plan. Looks like all I have to do is pay $14 more a month for Ultra, right? Simple as that, right? Too easy, right? Yeah, no, wrong. Just because an ISP offers you something on the website doesn't mean you can get it in your area.


Circled in blue is my neck of the woods. The fastest speed you can get here (and yes, this is a residential area, not a log cabin in the middle of nowhere) is what I already have. And just to rub it in, my ISP also offers this on their website:


Mmm... Fiber... MAY AS WELL NOT EVEN EXIST.

TL;DR - If you're fortunate enough to live in an area with fast and fairly priced internet, congratulations. But if you are one of those people who sit around on Xbox Live or PlayStation Network or Steam or whatever and die because someone other than you lags about from time to time and your comeback is "well, just get a better internet connection", you are an idiot. It very likely has nothing to do with that person being "poor" and everything to do with location, location, location.

Deal with it.

Man dies saving son in a snowmobile accident

I woke up this morning to find a tweet from the Bangor Daily News with a link to a story that deserves national recognition. If you click the link, you will be taken to it.

Keith Ryan Jr. had his 9 year old son Aden Ryan sitting in front of him on a snowmobile when apparently the "throttle stuck and it just took off".

Just before the vehicle went airborne and crashed into a brook, Keith Ryan Jr. grabbed his son and threw him from the snowmobile. In doing so, he saved his son's life. Both were wearing helmets.

I never met Keith. I don't know who he is or what he does other than what I read in the article. But I do know that his actions deserve to be recognized. Not by exploiting a grieving son and family for ratings, but by bringing attention to the fact that, as sad as this is, there are still good people and more specifically good parents in the world.

It raises a few questions, but one I will address is "why snowmobile?" Personally, I don't bother. I've lived in Maine most of my life and can't stand snow and ice and all this winter nonsense. But a lot of people do enjoy it and if you die doing what you enjoy, who is anyone else to question it? He was doing a perfectly normal recreational activity with his children and tragedy struck. It happens. It's terribly unfortunate, but things happen.

The news is full of bad people doing bad things. Could we change the tune for a moment? This is a story the nation needs to be aware of.

I greatly commend Keith Ryan Jr.'s actions as a man and as a father. My condolences to the Ryan family.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bungie unveils Destiny

Finally.

I could go on and on about all of the amazing things that Bungie showed today, but there are already plenty of great write-ups from sites like IGN and Polygon, not to mention Adam Sessler's YouTube video over at Rev3Games, that cover those aspects in great detail. I want to quickly talk about a couple of things that I'm pretty excited about in regards to Destiny.

 

1) It may not be released in 2013 and I don't really care if it is. I want Bungie to take their time and produce the most polished product they can. I expect a release date some time in the first half of 2014. 

2) Destiny will not be released on PC. It will be coming to next-gen Sony and Microsoft consoles. Will Xbox players be able to mix it up with PlayStation folk? The safe bet is yes, but nothing has been confirmed at this time. Oh, and no subscription fee is AMAZING! But how about micro-transactions? No word as of yet but it would seem reasonable to assume they will be a major revenue source for Destiny. However, I have full confidence in Bungie that they will not turn it in to a Pay2Win pile of crap. 

3) An open, persistent, incredibly vast "shared" world. Class based. Factions. You can only play as humans, which I don't mind. Competitive multiplayer. Science fiction. A 10 year journey. And so much more. How can you not be excited for Destiny? 

4) I love a good story. There is no doubt in my mind that Destiny will immerse us in a rich and vibrant galaxy of lore and I can't wait to get in to it!

5) One thing to be very mindful of. We haven't seen much actual gameplay yet so all we have at this time are promises. The gaming industry is full of false hopes and shattered dreams...

 

Halo is often referred to as our generation's Star Wars...

Destiny just might be something we have never experienced before.