On the Switch Lifecycle

IGN reports on the recent Nintendo Investor call that the venerable game maker plans to keep the Switch around for longer than the 5-6 year window. Not a big shocker, given the huge success of their latest console. From the post:

“Up until now, the hardware lifecycle has trended at around five or six years, but it would be very interesting if we could prolong that life cycle, and I think you should be looking forward to that.”

Miyamoto also touched on plans for their “marketing strategy… to instill a desire to purchase Nintendo Switch among a wide consumer base” all around the world, citing the portability of the console as its “biggest attraction.”

That shouldn’t be a big problem for them. But I do wonder what that means for the 3DS platform. Some fourteen years ago one of my good friends observed they (Nintendo) “make handhelds now.” Meaning, of course, the handheld market was their only viable space to operate in. The Wii was the farthest thing from anybody’s mind in 2004 (remember Revolution?) but he had a point.

How will the Switch hold up against the next round of so-called “core” systems in the 2019-2020 cycle? The “play anywhere” mantra is going well for them, but as always the devil will be in the games. 2017 will go down in their history as one of the strongest years for first party games. What’s in the pipe beyond Metroid Prime 4 for the U.S. audience? I sense some more exclusivity coups coming in the future.

Anyway, we’ll see what happens. Enjoy your Valentine’s Day!

 

Kickstarter Look 40 Winks

After all these years, the Nintendo 64 is getting a new game: 40 Winks. Piko Interactive blew the dust off this abandoned GT Interactive project and put it up on Kickstarter. At the time of this writing, 40 Winks reached its first goal of $20,000, so it’s going to happen. Here’s a video about the beta by Glenn Plant (6 and a half minutes long):

Analysis

The Kickstarter description has a brief history of the game IP and GT Interactive’s woes, which I’ve come to be acquainted with during my journeys through game dev. But more on that in another entry. The press kit includes a Dreamcast stretch goal at $250,000, which I didn’t see on the Kickstarter page. The page says this is Piko’s first Kickstarter, but company head Eleazar Galindo Navarro has experience doing these. See the 4-in-1 SNES cart from 2014, for example. In any case, Piko is doing something right, since 40 Winks project already cleared +60% of its initial goal.

I have no idea what the costs will be for them to manufacture and distribute boxed N64 games. But they’ve been around for a while, so I’m assuming that they know what they’re doing. From a cost perspective, anyway. That said, I’m not overly enthused about going back to the n64 era in a 3D action platformer adventure. “Move over Mario…” is quite a high bar to clear. We shouldn’t discount the novelty of a brand new Nintendo 64 game though. Without knowing more about the dev team I can’t say if they’ll improve on the limitations of the system. Even if 40 Winks would have been a late stage release.

This New Year’s blog post lists an impressive array of abandoned catalogs, including Hasbro, Accolade, and Microprose. That’s quite a starter pack to get a niche publishing house going. I would love to see an updated Fields of Glory, if that IP is included in their acquisition.

Links to Piko Interactive and other stories are below, if you’re interested. Hat tip to NintendoLife for the original story.

Cancelled Games: Damage Inc. (Metallica)

Once upon a time, during the St. Anger era of that famous metal band, I caught a story on some outlet about a Metallica themed car combat game. Damage Inc seemed like a natural title for such a project. A short CGI trailer came with the St. Anger album, with a promise of a 2005 release date. That was the last I heard about it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the game never came out. Fast forward 15 years or so. Lo and behold, footage of this cancelled oddity is on YouTube. Check out this excellent video PtoPOnline about Damage Inc.:

At the time I scoffed at the idea. But the early build of the gameplay, now I wish it had come out. If the developer used the right Metallica tracks this might have become a cult classic.

The games that never come, eh?

Activision rakes in $4 Billion in Microtransactions

As reported on an investor call, Activision conducted over $4 Billion worth of microtransactions in 2017. From PC Gamer:

[W]hat’s really interesting (or potentially terrifying, depending on your perspective) is that more than half of that amount—over $4 billion—comes from in-game purchases. 

Looks like this business model isn’t going anywhere any time soon. But we’ve known that for a decade or so by now, right?

Hexcells

I saw a story about a new cryptography game coming out, and noted that the developer released a couple of sleeper hits, Hexcells and Squarecells. Since Hexcells was only $2.99 on Steam, I figured why not?

Bad mistake on my part. It’s a simple but addictive puzzler. I need more of these in my collection.

Changing the CEO Guard at Sony

As multiple sources reported a few days ago, Kaz Hirai announced he was stepping aside as CEO of Sony while remaining chairman of the company. Current CFO Kenichiro Yoshida will become CEO on April 1st. Ars Technica gives a clue as to what sort of direction we can expect for Sony going forward:

Yoshida made his mark on Sony by helping Hirai make tough calls to make major cuts to get the company on the right track. That effort is ongoing, so expect continuing changes with regards to both Sony’s tech and entertainment products.

As far as I know, the PlayStation brand has enjoyed a resurgence from the early PS3 era, but as the article notes Sony is still a far way from its halcyon days in 2000. Form the sounds of things Sony’s entertainment division should be getting nervous with a tough ax man now at the helm, and their smartphone division still remains in dire straits. What it all means for PlayStation and its future offerings, considering Yoshida considers all companies today “technology companies” is anybody’s guess.

I’m assuming we’re not going to get any successor handhelds to the Vita anytime soon. But the PS4 family is still five years old this coming fall, even with the 1.5 update, the customer base will be wanting new toys one day.