Some of you may view this as a cop-out, but rather than do a fairly common Game of the Year piece, I’m doing things a little differently. I’m going to run down a list of great games that I played this year. I’m not going to say that one was necessarily better than the other, but I hope this gives you some idea of the games that got me to believe that 2010 was a very good year for video game software.
Here we go:
Bayonetta (SEGA / Platinum Games for Xbox 360):
This may not be a popular pick, as the story is vapid and the characters can be interpreted by some as being offensive in their stereotypes, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t have fun playing Bayonetta this year. The game is accessible to players of all skill levels; novice players can pull off some incredible moves and combos with a little help from the AI while more seasoned players can use manual button presses and stick movement to achieve visceral grace on the screen. This is the Devil May Cry sequel that I’ve wanted since the first game, and although there isn’t a Dante sighting anywhere, the gameplay feels like the next evolutionary step in the stylish action genre. Personally, I also enjoyed the fan service paid to SEGA games from generations gone by, such as OutRun and Space Harrier. The mixture of J-Pop music and more classical choral arrangements turned some players off, but not me. You can add Bayonetta to your collection for about $20 right now, and if you missed out on it earlier this year, I do recommend at least giving it a whirl.
Major League Baseball 2K10 (2K Sports / Visual Concepts for Xbox 360):
Although it can be argued that MLB 10: The Show was still the better baseball game overall this year, MLB 2K10 gets credit for making the biggest improvements. The My Player mode was more fun (and more forgiving) than MLB 10‘s Road To The Show for creating and developing your own prospect. The presentation in MLB 2K10 was far more polished that that of its competition, including commentary that was more energetic, observant, and timely. Pertinent stat overlays and camera cuts made casual observers feel like they were watching actual televised contests. The bugs that all but ruined last year’s 2K baseball game are all but gone, and the final product feels much more polished and competitive. The game isn’t perfect, as stick-based pitching still had some issues and occasional baserunning gaffes still draw frustrated gasps… but the future for 2K’s baseball series once again looks bright and Sony will have to bring more to the table in 2011 than making casual changes if they wish to remain pennant winners with The Show. And, oh… pitchers and catchers report in just six weeks.
Pinball FX2 (Zen Studios for Xbox LIVE Arcade / Xbox 360) and Marvel Pinball (Zen Studios for PlayStation Store / PS3):
Zen Studios‘ gradual improvement in the pinball genre rapidly accelerated in 2010 with the release of Pinball FX2 for the Xbox 360. The ball physics in Pinball FX were akin to a ping-pong ball, as there didn’t seem to be much weight and the speed felt unrealistic. Combine that flaw with issues with weak early table designs, and the overall project felt like a wasted opportunity. With Pinball FX2, the table designs are much more inspired and Zen Studios has come pretty close to completely fixing the issues that I have with their ball physics engine. It doesn’t quite feel as realistic as 2009′s release of Pinball Hall of Fame, but many weaknesses are easy to overlook when you get into the spirit of social gaming. The introduction of metrics like Superscore and Wizard Score not only garner bragging rights, but also serve to quickly fill out empty Friends Lists. The more friends you have and the more tables that you play help to inflate your Wizard Score, which in turn unlocks Avatar Awards that aren’t so easy to obtain without having some skilled friends to help you out. My Friends List increased 400% thanks to Pinball FX2. Zen Studios kept the ball rolling by releasing Marvel Pinball shortly after Pinball FX2 came out. This ongoing series of tables, based in the Marvel Comics universe, introduces new challenges and ways to bolster your scoring metrics. PlayStation 3 owners got just the Marvel tables instead of the whole Pinball FX2 experience, but also got new metrics and Trophies, as well. If you’ve ever played a pinball machine and enjoyed the experience in your lifetime, you really do need to buy and support these games. You won’t be sorry.
Super Street Fighter IV (Capcom for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360):
Just about everyone knows that Street Fighter IV had some pretty major balancing issues when it came to fighters. Since Sagat has been my character of choice since Street Fighter Alpha, I lucked out with him being the tour de force that he was… but that was fixed in the discounted release of Super Street Fighter IV this year, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. New characters, new game modes, the addition (or return, if you want to be technical) of bonus stages, and much better character balance added up to the best fighting game that I’ve played in a long time. Super Street Fighter IV comes close to knocking off Street Fighter Alpha 3 as my favorite fighting game of all time, but my Glasses of Nostagia +2 keep Alpha 3 slightly ahead. Considering that the original (yet flawed) release was $60, this new and better release for $40 earns a spot on this list.
Split/Second (Disney Interactive / Blackrock Studios for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3):
Released in May of 2010, Split/Second was easy to overlook when you consider that another arcade racer (Activision‘s Blur) and one of the biggest-selling games of the year (Rockstar‘s Red Dead Redemption) were released during the same month. For those of you who glossed over it, shame on you. You missed one hell of a good time. Split/Second isn’t perfect, but it does what it sets out to do in delivering a white-knuckle experience with a lot of pyrotechnics and “Holy crap!” moments. While Blur relied more on weaponry (a la Mario Kart) and social networking to succeed, Split/Second enlisted the help of explosive-dropping tractor-trailers and missile-firing assault helicopters to go along with being able to trigger some huge, track-changing explosions and events to level the racing grid. I personally wasn’t a big fan of the vehicle handling at first, but as I played the game more and grew accustomed to how each vehicle drove and responded, I found a groove that I hadn’t found since Burnout Revenge. This one deserved a better fate on the sales charts.
X-Men Arcade (Konami for Xbox LIVE Arcade / Xbox 360 and PlayStation Store / PlayStation 3):
This isn’t a new game, but the fact that we finally got the chance to play X-Men Arcade at home for the first time ever was a big deal. The fact that you no longer have to insert buckets of tokens to hear Magneto call you an “X-Chicken” and that there are always players able to help you out online makes this $10 deal even sweeter. In addition to the domestic version of the game, players also get the slightly different Japanese version, which had power-ups which we never saw here in the States and made for a varied experience. Whether you spent tons of hours (and tokens) in arcades playing this game, or if you’re playing for the first time, X-Men Arcade is a beat-’em-up that reminds us of how things used to be. Welcome to die!
Bioshock 2 (2K Marin / Digital Extremes for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3):
I thought for a long time about whether or not to put this game on my list, as I’ve been occasionally critical of it this year… but the return trip to Rapture is one that I thought was worth taking, as long as it’s judged on its own merits instead of solely being compared to the original masterpiece. There’s a good story that’s told here about the strength of family bonds, and seeing new areas of Rapture was a treat. Although the repetitive level structure– Little Sister encounters followed by a Big Sister showdown– tended to hamper the overall experience, Bioshock 2 was one of the few games that I played from start to finish this year without allowing myself to be distracted. I actually played all the way through both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions. In addition to the main game, the release of the Minerva’s Den single-player add-on was perhaps the best DLC that I’ve ever played. It tells its own story and the twist at the end is surprising and satisfying. For a mere $20 at retail now (and $10 additional for Minerva’s Den), it’s not too much of a risk to add Bioshock 2 to your collection.
God of War III (SCEA / Santa Monica Studio for PlayStation 3):
I know that I griped recently on Twitter about how I dislike puzzles in action games, but in spite of this complaint, God of War III is amazing. Although it follows the same general MO that the previous two games in the series did (huge start, inconsistent middle, big ending), there’s little argument that seeing Kratos in his visceral glory on the PlayStation 3 was one of the software highlights of 2010. The perilous and blood-pumping ascent of Mount Olympus at the beginning merely sets the stage for the crimson-stained adventure ahead. Yes, there are puzzles to be solved, but it’s an acceptable price to pay for what is the best action game on the PlayStation 3 platform this year. Prices are going down on this game, so save a little bit of that gift card allowance from the holidays and give in to vengeance. You’ll be glad you did.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (EA / Criterion Games for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii):
The “cool” factor attached to this game cannot be ignored. Actual police officers have come into my store to buy this game… seriously. It’s not a Burnout sequel, but it’s a re-imagining of the two Hot Pursuit games with Burnout gameplay tidbits mixed in. Being the racer and avoiding the police is fun, but where Hot Pursuit really earns its stripes for me is playing as the police and shutting down racers, Chase HQ-style. Shunting law-breaking speeders and flipping them over in a display of twisted metal and shards of broken glass is a satisfying feeling that I’ve rarely had in a racing game. Adding to the fun here is the addition of the Autolog feature, which not only pits you against level objectives, but also the best efforts of your friends for bragging rights. Hot Pursuit looks great, plays well, and is very addictive. I can’t wait to see what Criterion has in the works for its next release.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo for Wii):
Yes, the Wii is getting a mention on this list… and rightfully so. Super Mario Galaxy 2 might not be as ground-breaking as its 2007 predecessor, but that doesn’t diminish its value as an excellent game. Galaxy 2 gives players more of what made the original so great with imaginative level design, fair challenge, and stellar aesthetics. The addition of Yoshi figures significantly, as do some of Mario’s new abilities, such as creating clouds for platforms. In a year where it can be argued that Nintendo took a few steps backwards (*ahem* Metroid: Other M *ahem*), Super Mario Galaxy 2 was Nintendo’s crown jewel for the Wii in 2010 and seeing the game get little recognition from many gaming sites for end-of-year honors is disappointing and shameful. If 2011 is the last full year for the Wii before its inevitable replacement, both Super Mario Galaxy games can easily be considered among the best for Nintendo’s motion-control console.
And that’s the list. No numerical order here. Sure, there were arguably other great games that didn’t make my list– like Red Dead Redemption or Mass Effect 2, for example– but that’s the advantage of having your own list. My great games likely differ at least somewhat from yours, and that is more than fine. I didn’t even have room for Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, which I also thought was great. That signifies to me that 2010 was a great year for games, even if the industry didn’t have such a great year overall. I can’t wait to see what 2011 has in store, and if I can stick true to my goals for the New Year, I will be talking even more about them.
To all of you, I wish a Happy New Year. May 2011 be our best one yet.
To say that 2010 was another challenging year for me on a personal level would be a gross understatement. I’ve had health problems, been working in an uncomfortable environment, and am in a position where I’m barely getting by financially. I know that I’m still better off than many since I’m employed– which I am thankful for– but adjusting to certain aspects of my new life out here in Arizona has been an adventure.
One of the things that disappointed me the most this year was that I made lots of excuses for not being more active as a writer. I had a few opportunities to write or to take part in podcasts, but I allowed them all to fall through. Perhaps I was feeling overwhelmed or maybe I just wasn’t mentally ready to follow through on the notions and ideas that I’ve had swirling in my head… but I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to accomplish this year. I am grateful to those of you who have read what work I have put together; I’m sure that you can see that my passion for writing and for console gaming in general is still fiery and that won’t change. What I have to do is get away from saying “no” or “I can’t” and instead change my perspective on things.
That happens in 2011… with a little help from my friends and colleagues, I hope.
I have plans for Consoleation and beyond in the coming year. My goal is to contribute updates here at least 2-3 times per week. I’ve had ideas about themes, like PlayStation 2-sdays and at least a couple of reviews a month. Unfortunately, the PlayStation 2 just spun its last disc this past week, so that idea is on hold for now, but I’m working on other ideas. I plan to continue writing analysis posts about sales trends and infusing them with real-world observations. I can never be Michael Pachter, but I believe that I have strong opinions like he does and would love to someday have a voice somewhere as he does.
As you know, Consoleation is my own work, and while some content is graciously syndicated through my friends and colleagues at GameCritics, I’m hoping to branch out and begin writing for a gaming website. I won’t be actively looking until 2011 begins and my retail shifts get a little less hectic, but I think that the time has come to get my voice out there and work with a team of editors that can work with me to mold my work into something fantastic. This will be a difficult task, given my difficulty with maintaining focus at times, but the time for excuses is over. I’m going to be 39 years old in 2011, and 2011 marks a decade since I landed my first “official” reviewing gig. Life’s been hectic, and full of changes and challenges, but every year that I shy away from opportunities and possibilities is a year that I can’t get back. I see so many writers out there who publish piece after piece in spite of what life may throw at them, and I know that I can be among them. I believe that I’m talented enough and have what it takes to succeed– but I’ve been holding myself back for too long.
I also want 2011 to be my first trip to E3. I’ve wanted to attend for years, but money, distance, and/or logistics always seemed to put up roadblocks. Now, I literally live one state to the east of California. Flights can’t possibly be as expensive as they were from my home in Massachusetts. The distance seems negotiable. I need to set up lodging and actually get in the door to some events, but I really think that this could be the year that I finally break my E3 drought and attend. It could be one of the most important events of my lifetime, and it’s been a dream of mine to be in the same building as so many influences and people that I genuinely look up to. I know it’s a whirlwind. I know you don’t sleep much and that it’s a wall-to-wall assault of the senses. I know that more than a few people don’t even enjoy it anymore. That’s not me. Sure, I may be tired afterwards– but to say that I actually got to go even once would be a tremendous honor in my eyes. So… attending E3 is a goal for me in 2011.
I am excited for the next year. Every new year is like wiping the slate clean, and I am going to work my hardest to ensure that 2011 is one of the best years for me as a writer ever. My motivation comes from a few places, and those of you who have been reading Consoleation are certainly at the top of that list. We may agree or disagree on certain topics, but the fact that you take the time to click on a link and read what I have to say is something that I don’t take lightly. I know that some of you who read this blog are people that inspire me personally, and that’s a tremendous honor. Some of my followers on Twitter– many of whom are writers themselves– have been offering their support of my new-found commitment and my goals for 2011.To all of them, I offer my sincerest thanks and admiration. Without them, and the work they do, I might not have had the desire to make these decisions at all.
I’m hoping to post at least once more before 2010 ends, if only to recap the year that was for me in gaming. I promise that I won’t make Kirby’s Epic Yarn a pick for Worst Game of the Year, just to get you to read. I will be giving credit where credit is due, and talking about some downloadable titles that renewed my faith in console gaming a bit… and that’s only a small part of what is on my mind. I don’t know if I’ll be doing any Game of the Year awards here, but that decision may depend on my available time to put the piece together.
I wish all of you and your loved ones and friends the safest and happiest of holiday seasons. May 2011 rock like no other year before it.
As we talk about almost every year at this time, the 2010 Video Game Awards are in the books… and I didn’t watch it. After having watched the show for the last two years, and with my karaoke job coinciding with the event, I was fine trying to follow the event via Twitter.
I didn’t miss much.
Sure, there were trailers galore… and next November was looking like a veritable gauntlet of software that nobody is going to have the money to be able to afford to run through. The awards themselves were a joke, as usual. Games won awards that weren’t even at retail before they were nominated. Super Mario Galaxy 2 wins the Wii Game of the Year, but apparently isn’t violent or “mature” enough to gain any consideration for the overall award. A music game wins a Best Soundtrack award, which is apparently different from a Best Score award. Halo: Reach was all but shut out, prompting conspiracy theorists to link this fact and Microsoft’s decision to nix their Gears of War 3 announcement at the event. The host (naturally) wins an award for his own work despite more deserving nominees. Neil Patrick Harris goes “gamer” and shoots a bunch of dancers. Stay classy!
The Video Game Awards are little more than made-up honors for show sponsors that drain what little credibility that the video game industry has in mainstream circles and serves to enforce the “dudebro” stereotype that’s been manifesting itself since the original Halo arrived nearly 9 years ago. The award nominations are allegedly finalized by a crack team of members from the gaming press corps… and we know how these people can’t be bought or influenced. “Angry” Joe Vargas has the right idea; there needs to be a more diverse group that makes up the VGA panel in order to even begin to lend credibility and substance to these “awards”. We need to get designers, PR people, and people from all walks of the industry to decide on nominees… not just reviewers who may or may not have an agenda or bias.
I’m starting to think that either I’ve finally grown up or that the gaming industry just doesn’t care about “dinosaurs” like me. Either way, the VGAs symbolize a lot of what’s gone wrong with video games over the last five years. The industry thinks that it’s bigger than it really is and that it’s almost bulletproof, although many in the business who lost jobs during this console generation would dispute that. Rather than let consumers decide what is best for them, the industry has decided to take the reins and tell us what we want.
- We don’t want to play games alone and feel the need to always play with friends.
- We just want to shoot and kill people. No blood and no death equals no sale.
- We are content to spend more for games that give us less content than a generation ago or publishers will mysteriously go broke.
- We don’t want complete games or games that work properly since post-release patches fix everything.
- We would much rather pay $5 after release for a multiplayer mode that’s on the disc. Again, publishers going broke.
- We will replace our consoles that stop working after a year of normal use because, you know, stuff breaks.
- The idea of a “girl gamer” is a myth; games are for boys.
I can sit here and type over a thousand words about how the industry is pursuing courses of action that will forever ruin it, but nobody pays attention. After all, I’m no Michael Pachter. I don’t have a business degree and I don’t go around saying controversial things just because the gaming press gives me license to do so. I’m a relic who just doesn’t have it in him to adapt to this “new” gaming culture. I grow tired of having to senselessly kill things just because that’s what the industry thinks that we all want to play. The higher cost of gaming is taking its financial toll, even though I still work in gaming retail… and when I do buy a game, it’s buggy and generally requires a patch right away. (And it’s worse on the PlayStation 3 thanks to its forced installs and updates.) Gaming is about Call of Duty XIV and Final Fantasy XXVII, while new ideas are cast aside and reboots of IPs that old gamers like me find intrguing are criminally awful. (See Splatterhouse.) Thankfully there were a couple of downloadable games that came out late in Q4 this year that seemed to turn back current trends; Pinball FX2 and Pac-Man Championship Edition DX are not violent and cannot be “beaten”; anyone can play these games and they require skill, strategy, and (in Pinball FX2‘s case) endurance from players in order for them to succeed. Unfortunately, these games are outliers to the current trend, and I doubt that we’ll be seeing a pattern shift anytime soon… even with the critical acclaim that both games have gotten.
Perhaps I’m just old enough now to have my viewpoint clouded by how things used to be, rather than seeing things as they are without comparison. Maybe if I didn’t have over three decades of history playing video games, I wouldn’t know any different and would probably be a lot less vocal in my complaints. I’d see the VGAs for what they are rather than what they should be. I’d just go along with what the industry says I should do, because I wouldn’t know any other way. Unfortunately, that’s not reality. The reality is that there’s a widening rift that separates the industry and myself over the form of entertainment that I love. I used to foolishly think that the industry cared about what I thought, even if that was just an illusion to foster loyalty and trust… but that illusion has been slowly fading, just like the industry’s popularity bubble has been doing.
Since NPD stopped sharing its domestic sales figures with the press (and therefore the general public), it’s very difficult to pinpoint numbers and interpret larger trends. Over at NeoGAF, fellow armchair analysts have taken the time to sift through press releases and have posted what available information that’s been released regarding November’s sales numbers. I’m going to borrow from that data to forge a bit of analysis.
Looking at hardware, the Nintendo DS looks to have finished on top, moving about 1.5 million units in November across all SKUs. This number was undoubtedly fueled at least somewhat by the release of several special edition bundles, most notably Nintendo’s limited red DSi bundle with Mario Kart DS that commemorated the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. The DS platform keeps on selling, and this is good news for Nintendo leading up to the release of the 3DS in March 2011. The Nintendo DS brand still resonates strongly with children and young adults, mainly due to its portability and its flagship IPs including Mario and Pokemon. I am expecting December sales of the platform to trend slightly downward, but still remain strong as many units will be bought as gifts through the remainder of the holiday shopping season.
The Xbox 360 platform ranked second in November sales, with a projected number of 1.37 million units sold across all SKUs. This is pretty much in line with what I expected; Microsoft has been dominant in the fourth quarter of 2010 and the Xbox 360 has performed well above sales expectations all year. It’s no secret that Kinect has been a major influence on sales in November; it was the best-selling accessory last month and demand is increasing as supplies have become limited. Supplies of the 250GB Xbox 360 “S” hardware have become seriously constrained; in fact, Microsoft has warned several retailers not to expect replenishment of this item for the rest of 2010. That leaves a window of about three weeks of tight supply, and that could bode negatively for sales of the platform in December. 4GB models are still available in most locations, but having to pay what amounts to a $30 penalty to have to buy the hardware and the 250GB hard drive a la carte is leaving a sour taste in the mouths of consumers. The one saving grace for Microsoft in this case is that hype and demand for Kinect will likely continue to drive demand for the Xbox 360 platform well into the first quarter of next year, leaving time for the re-routing of hardware to markets that need it to satisfy demand in early 2011.
Nintendo’s Wii platform came in third overall, moving about 1.27 million units. November marks the sixth straight month that the Wii has been outsold by the Xbox 360 in the United States, which is the longest such “losing” streak for Nintendo since the Wii debuted four years ago. The good news for Nintendo is that Wii sales for November were about 1% higher than last year, which is an improvement compared to the past few months when sales had been down versus the same time period a year ago. It can be argued that the numbers for November show that Nintendo is weathering the Kinect storm and managing to hold its own with a platform that’s come under serious fire from analysts of late. While the “Wii bubble” is deflating, the platform is still a sales force to be reckoned with. What’s more, the Wii had two of the ten best-selling games in November in Just Dance 2 and Donkey Kong Country Returns. There’s also a chance that the Wii could move back ahead of the Xbox 360 this month, thanks to the 360′s tight supply and Nintendo’s release of Super Mario All-Stars at a budget price. Outside of this month, however, I expect Wii sales to resume its pattern of gradual decline and I also believe that E3 in 2011 could very well unveil Nintendo’s next console. (Yes, I’m calling my shot now.)
Bringing up the rear for November sales is the PlayStation 3, which has had a fairly disappointing sales year. Only 530,000 units were reportedly sold last month, meaning that the platform was beaten soundly by its competition. That’s despite an attractive holiday bundle with two free games and another bundle with the PlayStation Move Sports Champions set. The buzz for the PlayStation 3 has been all but absent for a lot of 2010… and when it has been there (for PlayStation Move, for example), it’s been short-lived and succeeded by something else. December should be at least a little better for the PS3, given that Gran Turismo 5 will have the entire month with which it can sell units. From there, the first quarter of 2011 has the potential to be strong for Sony with Little Big Planet 2 (January) and Killzone 3 (February). We’ll see if 2011 may finally be the long-awaited “Year of the PS3″.
Turning to software, seeing Call of Duty: Black Ops at the top of the list for sales should surprise nobody. The fact that Black Ops already ranks #7 on the all-time best-selling games list after less than one month is astounding. Across all platforms, Black Ops moved 8.4 million units in November. That’s a staggering number. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood also broke the million mark in November, selling 1.14 million units to rank second. Just Dance 2 for the Wii was third, followed by Madden NFL 11 and Fable III. Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii finished just outside of the Top 5, but its sales of over 430,000 units is pretty impressive given how late in the month that the game arrived at retail. According to various reports, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit barely outsold Gran Turismo 5 as both games finished in the 7th and 8th spots, respectively. NBA 2K11 was 9th, and Wii Fit Plus rounded out the Top 10.
November was a successful month for console video game sales. Microsoft, Nintendo, Activision, and UbiSoft were the big winners, and the Xbox 360 continued its run of dominance that’s spanned a good portion of this year. Before this month’s analysis comes to a close, let’s make some hardware predictions for December:
- Nintendo DS: Although I see a slight decline from November’s numbers, I think that the DS will continue to sell based on its lower price point, wide variety of affordable software, and its continued brand strength with kids. 3DS looms in the Ides of March, but are consumers really paying attention yet? I don’t think so.
- Nintendo Wii: I’m going out on a bit of a limb here by saying that the Wii will finally leapfrog the Xbox 360 after a 6-month losing streak. My confidence is driven by two factors. First, supplies of Xbox 360 hardware– specifically the 250GB models– are extremely tight… so consumers who want to buy one can’t find them. The release of Super Mario All-Stars for $30 gives consumers a solid value and Wii availability is high. Add the continued availability of the limited edition red Wii (with New Super Mario Bros. included), and that might add up to a Wii victory.
- Xbox 360: Sales will still be strong, given that Kinect is one of the hottest items this month, but limited supply of hardware is going to hurt Microsoft here. If supply constraints somehow loosen before Christmas, Microsoft could still beat out Nintendo here– but I’m not betting on this to happen. January of 2011 could be even more interesting.
- PlayStation 3: The PS3 will finish 2010 on the same notes of disappointment and under-achievement that it began the year on. Gran Turismo 5 may help, but mediocre sales in December could translate to plentiful supplies of hardware early next year when some important and potentially big software hits retail.
That’s all for this month. I’m going to try to put together a list of predictions for 2011 soon to close out what’s been a remarkable year for the console gaming industry in many ways. In the meantime, your feedback and comments are always welcome. Feel free to chat me up on Twitter, as well.
Have a happy and safe holiday season, and thanks for reading Consoleation. Look for more consistent updates and content once the holiday shopping season ebbs and my schedule returns to normal.
I know that it’s been some time since I’ve written. Working in video game retail, you can probably guess that the last few weeks have been pretty crazy… and this trend will continue through the rest of 2010. I’m still pretty active on Twitter, as it’s much easier to react or speak in 140 characters than it is to organize my thoughts into coherent blog entries. Once the hustle and bustle of the fourth quarter ends, I’ll be able to write a bit more and keep updating here more frequently.
Having said that, there are a couple of things that I feel the need to react to:
The first thing is a Gamasutra piece that contains some quotes from EA Games’ Frank Gibeau. Gibeau is quoted in the piece as saying that single-player games are “finished”. It’s funny to me how the desire to play a game alone is now perceived by the industry to be some sort of cancer that needs curing. It’s obvious that the single-player model doesn’t appeal to the industry any longer because it’s far easier to produce DLC for multiplayer functionality. Yeah… we’ll see how well this new direction bodes for EA when Dead Space 2– a sequel to a 2008 game that was an excellent single-player experience– force-feeds its fans a multiplayer mode that really didn’t blow me away when playing the beta a couple of months ago. It’s Bioshock 2 all over again as players are given something that the industry seems to think that they want.
Don’t feed me the lines about focus groups or e-mail suggestions stating the contrary, because I just don’t buy it. The console gaming industry, by way of its trends and poor decisions over the course of this console generation, has cost itself the benefit of the doubt. The fact is that redirecting resources to a multiplayer mode takes resources away from the single-player campaign. I will be very curious to see if Dead Space 2 is another Bioshock 2 situation next month. Don’t be surprised if it is.
Lastly, can we please stop giving Michael Pachter vehicles within the gaming press to spread his blatant trolling? In the course of the past few days, Pachter has said that handheld gaming is fading, the PSP2 (which hasn’t even been officially unveiled yet) will flop, and that multiplayer games need to start charging players some sort of subscription fee. Yeah, I’m pretty much convinced now that Pachter has put aside any sort of professionalism or credibility and instead is just talking to hear himself talk and try to draw attention to himself. I don’t care if this man has a Master’s in Business or not; he’s seceded from doing his job– which is analysis– and now seems to thrive on uttering baseless “predictions” which only exist to drum up controversy. It’s bad enough that GameTrailers gives this man face time via a regular show. The rest of the gaming press should be intelligent enough to know that Pachter’s utterings aren’t “news” at all. I understand that there’s this constant need to generate news stories and generate hits for gaming websites out there, but the amount of coverage that this man (undeservedly) gets is not only mind-boggling… but also genuinely disappointing and shameful.
I can’t wait to get back to writing more regularly, but I just had to cover these two topics– even at 6am before hitting the sack. My passion still burns, even if the time to appropriately convey that passion isn’t as plentiful as it’s been earlier in 2010. I have a lot to say, and I hope that you’re not only willing to read it… but react to it, as well.