Xbox Boss on Crossplay

Gamespot has a wide ranging interview with Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, which included some remarks about cross platform play. He talks about Minecraft, and Sony’s unwillingness to play ball with Microsoft. I found this quote insightful:

“I think people look at [cross-play] and say is it better for gamers. If it’s better for gamers, I have a hard time thinking why we shouldn’t go do this, especially when you’re trying to make the gaming business a bigger business; grow it, get more games, create more opportunity,” he said. “Especially in the indie space, actually. If you’re creating an online indie game and you’re going to create five [shards] of your game–the Steam version, Xbox Live on PC, Xbox version, the PlayStation version, the Switch version creates hard matchmaking scenarios. We should help developers, not make their lives more difficult.”

At least the Xbox boss understands the fragmentation of the ecosystem. I used to think that crossplay was something of a Utopian dream. Why would any console maker willingly erode their brand strength? But that sort of thinking may be very last gen.

PlayStation VR at One Year

Over at PlayStation blog, Shawn Layden pens a paean to PlayStation VR on its first birthday. The chairman writes:

PlayStation VR was designed to open a doorway into thrilling and captivating new worlds that electrify our senses. We are confident that virtual reality is that next step in in the evolution of the videogame medium, with a collection of more than 100 gaming experiences designed to make your synapses fire, your heart race, and your muscles twitch.

I admit I was intrigued by the X-Wing simulation in Battlefront, but not inspired enough to spend the money for all the hardware. I could be wrong but I assume you want a PS4 Pro to run it smoothly. I’ve been dabbling in VR design for a few months now, so I’ll be buying some hardware eventually. For now the limited capabilities of Google Cardboard are enough for me.

Anyway, I can confirm this next bit:

With traditional videogame development, we can draw from nearly 40 years of experimentation, trial and error.

VR is a little bit different. Of course we’re still drawing from the long, proud history of traditional videogames development — but VR’s unique capabilities mean developing entirely different levels of artistry and engineering.

I’ve found an old and long post on Gamasutra about 20 Atari games. I’ll be posting about that in the future when I’ve had a chance to fully review the article. But for budding game designers, especially younger ones, it’s an education to dive into these ancient titles. I know I was surprised at how radical some of them were, even to today’s standards.

I bet you can sense the content pivot coming to this blog. More on that in a future post. And congrats to the PlayStation team on reaching one million PSVR units sold. This is a significant milestone. Thanks for reading.

BI makes a case for PS4 ownership

Business Insider lists 16 reasons why now is the perfect time to own a PS4:

Maybe you already have one? Over 60 million people already do, and that’s because it’s a great system: It’s fast and easy to use, it’s got great games, and it does lots of cool stuff!

Maybe you’re not convinced? That’s possible: $299 is a lot of money to drop. But that price includes more than the console — you’ll also get a great game like “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.”

When the big reveals were going on back in E3 2013, I was shocked at how inept Microsoft seemed to be with the XBox One, and how in tune Sony was to the obvious failures of the PS3. I’d argue that this round of the Console Wars-That-Never-End was lost and won at those respective press conferences.

I wonder where the PS4 will rank in terms of greatest consoles of all time.

Xbox Smartwatch prototype

A few days ago I came across an interesting blurb on Trusted Reviews about the Xbox Smartwatch. Apparently somebody has unearthed a prototype from the scrapped project. From the article:

Back in 2013 and 2014, there were fleeting rumours that Microsoft was working on smartwatch for gamers. It wasn’t a massive surprise; wearables were the hip thing back then, and all tech firms were keen to get a slice of the pie.

I barely remember this device. Though in light of how Microsoft fumbled with the Xbox One around the same time, it’s probably a good thing (for them) that they scrapped this project.

For your lazy Sunday reading, photos of the device and more details are at the link above.

SNES Classic Release Day

Did you manage to get a SNES Classic today? I didn’t either, but for a lack of trying. On Twitter I’ve seen some lucky folks make the midnight run for the emulator machine with 26 year old games. I really wish (but understand why not) Nintendo would open and release their classic consoles. Anyway, Nintendo has promised that they will make a good supply available for all. I’m dubious about that claim, but if you’re hoping for one this holiday season, maybe you won’t have to scalp.

I previously wrote about the SNES Classic and its game selection here. A piece of cool game history is included.

Left Alive Announcement

Hot on the heels that Dark Horse Comics is publishing a compendium of Yoji Shinkawa’s Metal Gear Solid art, comes the surprise news that Square-Enix is making a survival action game called Left Alive. This game features the artwork of the Konami veteran. See the teaser below:

There’s a host of Final Fantasy vets involved with this project as well. As one of my good friends said when we viewed the teaser, “I’m intrigued but I want to see the gameplay.”

He’s wise to be skeptical, of course. But this looks promising, and it’s nice to see Shinkawa’s distinctive artwork featured prominently on the website.

Square-Enix Surprise: FFIX on PS4

Square-Enix surprised everyone with a PS4-ified version of Final Fantasy IX at TGS this year. I played through most of the game while I was in college, but never managed to finish it. I don’t know if I have it in me to try again, but I do have some fond memories. Zidane, Vivi, “Dagger,” and of course Steiner were memorable characters. A last hurrah for the trad-FF games on the original PlayStation, it originally came out in 2000 as the PlayStation 1 was winding down and PS2 was busy taking over the world.

If you have a PS4 you can download it now. Kudos to Square-Enix for bringing back a classic and making it available right at the announcement.

Best-Selling Nintendo Games: GameCube, Wii, Switch

The last two days we’ve looked at the best-sellers for the PlayStation and Xbox brands, and now we’ll take a look at the best-selling games for Nintendo. I’m going to look at the GameCube through Switch years, to keep things consistent with the other companies. As before, I’m using Wikipedia here so that the information may be suspect. I just want a general idea of how titles performed. I’m going to list the top 10 per console, and remember, Wikipedia uses a criterion of one million shipped copies world wide for a game to appear on its best-seller pages.

GameCube

1. Super Smash Bros. Melee (7.09 million)
2. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (7 million)
3. Super Mario Sunshine (6.31 million)
4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (4.07 million)
5. Luigi’s Mansion (3.6 million)
6. Animal Crossing (3.15 million)
7. Metroid Prime (2.82 million)
8. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle (2.56 million)
9. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (2.25 million)
10. Mario Party 4 (2.21 million)

Wii

1. Wii Sports (82.81 million)
2. Mario Kart Wii (36.95 million)
3. Wii Sports Resort (33.04 million)
4. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (30.05 million)
5. Wii Play (28.02 million)
6. Wii Fit (22.67 million)
7. Wii Fit Plus (21.12 million)
8. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (13.21 million)
9. Super Mario Galaxy (12.75 million)
10. Wii Party (9.28 million)

Wii U

1. Mario Kart 8 (8.35 million)
2. New Super Mario Bros. U (5.71 million)
3. Super Mario 3D World (5.65 million)
4. Super Smash Bros Wii U (5.24 million)
5. Nintendo Land (5.18 million)
6. Splatoon (4.83 million)
7. Super Mario Maker (3.96 million)
8. New Super Luigi U (2.97 million)
9. Wind Waker HD (2.21 million)
10. Mario Party 10 (2.11 million)

Switch

1. Breath of the Wild (3.92 million)
2. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (3.54 million)
3. 1-2-Switch (1.22 million)
4. Arms (1.18 million)
5. Splatoon 2 (1.10 million)

First things first: the Wii was a force of nature. 82 million copies of Wii Sports sold over the lifespan of the system (2006 to 2012). I don’t care if the game was a pack-in. For what Wii Sports was, Nintendo had a smash hit there with historic proportions. And consider how much that title must have cost to develop over the 265 million dollar Grand Theft Auto V project.

Beyond that, is there a single non-Nintendo IP on that list besides Sonic Adventure? Way back in 2002. Seems to confirm the general wisdom that Nintendo consoles are for Nintendo games, only. I don’t have a deeper analysis than that. But I note that the Switch appears to be doing much better than the Wii U did at least based on the first six months of its life cycle.

Best-Selling Games on PlayStation 1-4

I was surprised at some of these best selling titles for the PlayStation brand. Ever since I finished FFVII I’ve needed another old game to fill the gap. Out of curiosity, I started looking at the best seller lists on Wikipedia (I know…) to see if there were any titles I might pick up. Like I said, I had no idea some of the titles would be on there (Harry Potter, really?)

It would seem on the basis of this list that GTA has been a force of nature in its many sequels. Beyond that, it’s all Gran Turismo and Square offerings, and of course Metal Gear Solid takes its place on the pantheon. Yes, it’s Wikipedia and yes the data is probably shoddy, but it’s still interesting to see how tastes have evolved over the last 20 years or so. Here are the top 10s from each era:

PlayStation One

1. Gran Turismo (10,850,000)
2. Final Fantasy VII (9,800,000)
3. Gran Turismo 2 (9,370,000)
4. Tekken 3 (8,300,000)
5. Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone (8,000,000)
6. Tomb Raider (7,100,000)
7. Final Fantasy VIII (7,000,000)
8. Crash Bandicoot (6,820,000)
9. Tomb Raider II (6,800,000)
10. Metal Gear Solid (6,000,000)

PlayStation 2

1. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (17.33 million)
2. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (14.89 milion)
3. Gran Turismo 4 (11.76 million)
4. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (9.61 million)
5. Grand Theft Auto III (7.9 million)
6. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (7 million)
7. Final Fantasy X (6.6 million)
8. Tekken 5 (6 million)
9. Final Fantasy XII (5.2 million)
10. Kingdom Hearts (4.78 million)

PlayStation 3

1. Grand Theft Auto V (21.3 million)
2. Gran Turismo 5 (11.94 milion)
3. Battlfield 3 (8 million)
4. The Last of Us (7 million)
5. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (6.6 million)
6. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (6.5 million)
7. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (6 million)
8. Batman: Arkham City (5.49 million)
9. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (5.35 million)
10. God of War III (5.2 million)

PlayStation 4

1. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (8.7 milion)
2. Horizon Zero Dawn (3.4 million)
3. FIFA 17 (2.5 million)
4. Killzone Shadow Fall (2.1 million)
5. Bloodborne (2 million)
6. Driveclub (2 million)
7. Street Fighter V (1.4 million)
8. Grand Theft Auto V (1.3 million)
9. Dragon Quest XI (1.3 million)
10. Battlefield 1 (1.1 million)

Nintendo Switch Analysis Update

Time for another look at how the Nintendo Switch is doing in the markets. Bloomberg reports that Nintendo beat analyst’s prediction for the second quarter by a large margin. The company reported an operating profit of 16.2 billion yen ($145 million). The analysts predicted 10.6 billion yen. Bloomberg quoted an analyst as follows: “The reason profit beat estimates is of course the Switch,” said Keiichi Kozera, an analyst at Tachibana Securities Co.’ No kidding Kozera. But what does this mean for the overall numbers in terms of hardware?

Nintendo sold an estimated 1.97 million Switches during the quarter. Add that to the 2.97 million sold in the first month, and we’re close to 5 million consoles. Way back on release night, I mentioned that the Nintendo was anticipating shipping 5 million units this year. It would appear they were right, and they remain on target for shipping 10 million units this financial year (note that I’m using “units sold” and “units shipped” synonmyously here. I probably shouldn’t but what the hey I’m not a journalist). In other words, the Big N is doing quite well so far.

On the software front, NintendoLife reports that 13.6 million units have been sold globally. That’s a decent number against 5 million consoles sold, assuming the 5 million units are in homes and not sitting on retailing shelves somewhere (hint: they’re probably not). Zelda still leads the pack with 3.92 million sales, with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe a close second at 3.54 million. I wonder what 3rd party is looking like, but as far as I know there has not been any major third party release yet.

The Switch is looking more like it’s a huge hit for the company. Though I still believe they should invest in open retro consoles as a viable option. Fanboys can dream, right? And if you didn’t look at my old post, I predicted 30 million consoles sold throughout its lifetime. Analysts predicted 55 million. If Nintendo can keep this pace up over six years, we all might have been wrong.