sony

All posts tagged sony

Tony Hawk 9: Proving Grounds for the PS2 has passed first submission! Hooray! Yeah yeah Halo 3 blah blah… Meanwhiles, I've been moved onto the next unannounced project, and was brought on full-time. Finally, I get a chance to be in game design from pre-production, and there's a heck of a lot of work to be wrassled.

While I did get a small breather, I realize that game designers are essentially busiest at the beginning and the end of the development cycle. First to make the stack of rules and concepts that will be made… then later on to corral the shards leftover by artists and engineers into a seemly, playable, lump of broken dreams. I'm just kidding, but you get the idea. In fact, it's extremely exciting to wrangle ideas to appeal both to our client, who's given us their IP, their baby, and our internal machinations for such games as go-for-broke developers. Learning exec speak, crafting proposals that we won't hate ourselves for later, "prototyping" UI ideas, and just trying to capture the essence of an IP I don't fully understand, these are the challenges I'm learning from everyday.

Meanwhiles in the rest of the world, you've probably seen the froth in the stock market when the Fed announced an interest rate cut of half a point. I was careful to avoid trying to jump in recklessly when I saw how that day rose on such weak volume, and since the rally it seems like the traders have lost much steam. Chances are, we'll see another rate cut by the end of the year. Helicopter Ben's strategy will be to pre-empt recessionary talk with offensive injections of liquidity. Stock markets will rally until the weight of a collapsing housing market pulls it down. I will try to profit from it all.

As Tokyo Game Show raged into the land of the rising yen, I tried to skim off of the abundant Dualshock 3's rumble rumors by buying Immersion Corp. (NYSE:IMMR) stock. It didn't pan out. I got in and got out with a 4% gain, never looked back. These kinds of speculative plays, while fun, are dangerous even for people who think they know everything in their own industry. Caveat investor.


So with what looks like a slow, struggling recovery, I may be wrong about the stock market's resilience. It wouldn't be the first time. To be honest, fancying myself a technical trader, I've never been very good at the buy-and-hold game. Accumulators probably had a ball with this dip. I took it as an oppotunity to accumulate high dividend stocks. I am no baller in this arena, and I will not play the rebound on a court I don't know. I'll remain cautious, and more importantly, I will not regret gains I might miss out on. That's my style, I'm stickin' to it.

After Nintendo's amazing financial statement came out, Sony follows up with equal aplomb… in the form of pompous bullshit. It's shocking that Sony CFO Kobuyuki Oneda said:

"Actually, because the number of units [of PS3] sold was not as high as we hoped, the loss was better than our original expectation,"

Ignoring the massive costs of R&D, support, and over-manufacturing, let's just think about the sheer illogicity of this spin. If I were the worlds ugliest hooker and had my legs spread on the street next to a bedpan with "five bucks a fuck" scratched into the rim, I'm less of a slut than the rest since no one would be taking me up on the offer.

Get real.

Meanwhile, I am trying very hard to find an Xbox 360 to buy, probably an elite. I've already pre-ordered Bioshock, and I'm just waiting to see if the system price drops on August 12th. This coming gaming season is going to be unmissable, and the raving reviews of the 300 HD-DVD makes my wallet suicidal.

We had a great movie summer this year, but after E3, it looks like we're going to have an even more amazing holiday season for games. Some the ones that really caught my eye:

Call of Duty 4
Echochrome
Mass Effect
Super Mario Galaxy
Boogie

Also amazing was the Wii Fit "game" that Nintendo introduced, causing me to seriously consider picking up more shares in their stock. Their ability to make disposable fads never ceases to amaze me. Or maybe I'm just so shaken by the prospect of Metroid Prime 3, Smash Bros. (this year!!!), and Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. But even more amazing was EA's admission that "we are boring people to death." Games like Boogie and EA Playground are spreading the crepuscular rays of hope that the industry's great heartless game factory has a human pulse.

And although I keep swearing not to, I can not help but criticise Sony once again for it's utter disrespect for gamers. Hot on the heels of Microsoft's announcement of an awesome retroactive 3-yr warranty for the 360, Sony decided to drop their own bomb. Playstation 3, the 60gb version, is shedding $100 off its tag. Brilliant right?

And then Hirai tells us that that SKU of the PS3 is no longer in production. How disingenous can they get? If that kinda of bait-and-switch is what they think E3 is for (remember the original Killzone 2 trailer? See the latest in comparison), then they've truly lost their minds. And if they haven't, that would be even worse.

So 300 was amazing. The story and dialogue was predictably trite, but the shots were absolutely stunning, especially the long fight sequence in the first battle. Xstine went nuts over the painterly aspect of several shots, the ones that gave an illusion of no perspective points. I loved the claustrophobic set, complete with static props and painted backdrops.

The cherry topping it all was the total lack of political correctness. Asia! These terrorists are from ASIA! Promise! The film vomits patriotism, and makes no excuse for the need of violence to resolve all problems. While the speeches get long in the tooth, it provided ample ampules of adrenaline. So caricatured and comic it was that I don't seen how there can be a hang-up. I'm just surprised as an liberal an industry as Hollywood even let it reach the public.

As if timed by Zeus himself, God of War 2 comes out this week. Today in fact. In fact I don't know why I'm writing this and not picking up my pre-order from the store. I even prepared myself for this release by playing Golden Axe for the first time in a decade. I'm still a badass with the dwarf. While the AI is terrible, the game is still somehow fun, thanks to the visceral and unashamed action. Kinda like 300.

One last thing to check out is this jaw-dropping but heart-warming new game from the creators of Rag-doll Kung Fu. Most surprisingly, it's coming out for the PS3, not the Wii. While Sony's hodge-podge embrace of card-carrying "indie" developers hasn't impressed me yet, this one looks far more substantial than a Flash in the cell like Flow. Keep this up, and I might actually want a PS3. Provided it plays well. User-created content spawns more paupers than princes, and I've grown out of sandbox-style games. They're usually nothing but ludologized technology, and technology grows wearisome. Hurrah for LittleBigPlanet.

Yeah, ok, I'm finally done with the subject. It just feels so good to have seen this from miles away. The indulgence in criticism, vulturey I call it, really should be man's eighth sin. I've always felt the critical (and commerical) success of a console has always been linked to its controller. From the Atari 2600's emancipating joystick, to the NES' revolutionary gamepad, to Sega Genesis' sleek but uncomfortable three-button pad, to the classic SNES, to the alienating N64, to the re-classic PS pad, to the Buick-sized XBox controller that was slimmed to a successful "Japanese"-style precursor to its latest bit of perfection, and so forth.

So it comes as no surprise, then, as the sell through rate of PS3s declines on the black market and at retailers, Sony brazenly claims their SIXAXIS controller, an engineering marvel they claimed at E3 to have no gimmicks, had won an Emmy. They gloried in the announcement. They squirmed like a teenager rolling in a vat of oiled Maxims, and prematurely immaculated their product. A day later, they recanted, saying they had jumped the gun. The Emmy was given not to their SIXAXIS, rumbleless from the Immersion spat, but to the PS One controller, in conjunction with Nintendo. Ouch! Holy wax-affixed feathers, Batman!

On the bright side, video game publisher stocks took flight today. Pity I got knocked out of my Activision stop, but it was a high stop and I'm happy with the trade. I've been watching Sony stock too (SNE) but it seems like there is too much weakness, despite breaking out of its channel. But news about poor sell-thru, which isn't really news to anyone who's gone to Best Buy recently, cast a big glaring sun, daring them to rise higher on their borrowed wings.

In a downward spiral of serial debacles, Sony announced today that after the estimate of 4 million PS3 units by end of year was slashed down to 2 million, with launch seeing a paltry 100,000 units for Japan and 400,000 for the U.S., guess what? Japan, the heart of PS3 loyalty, is actually going to be getting 80,000 at launch. In completed unrelated news, end of year units for the Wii is expected to "handily" beat 6 million, with 1-2 million estimated ready to go at launch. Preliminary reports rumor 24-120 Wii's per Best Buy.

Let's step back from the numbers here. What the heck is Sony doing? Do they really want their plentiful holiday season preceded by plentiful consumer base exposure to their competitors? And their weapon against the monumental XBox Live is a petulant adaptation of XFire (for which support falls into the duties of individual developers), completely ignoring the necessity of the online community in the console world, a need PC gamers have taken for granted? Even the Wii Channels system is taking the Animal Crossing model to make gamers networked and personal. The story is quickly going from a Miracle on 34th St. to Great Expectations to Macbeth.

Admittedly, their launch list looks like the strongest of the three so far, but it's almost as if they were actively sowing the seeds of confusion and disappointment into their product. From PR snafus to logistics drama, we're seeing a lot of weakness as they strut and fret their hour on the stage. Though people who find the whole console war debate irrelevant would say the market is robust enough for them all, and the industry stands to gain no matter who is the victor, if they're wrong, there is no doubt that Sony has its hands furthest down the cookie jar.

Despite growing apprehension in the currently overbought market, I recently bought a good chunk of Nintendo stock, something I should have done a long time ago. Even with a soft landing, the economy isn't too supporting of the PS3 price point, nor an alinear jump in game sales (yes I know it's cyclic). I think very soon, the industry will realize that huge budgets net huge revenues, but huge profit margin is what ultimately counts. As it stands, only the Big N seems to be on that terra firma. Looking at how game stocks did this past year, shareholders agree that "next-gen" is just bluster, signifying nothing. Show me the money.

TJ writes:

One of my superiors is hellbent on getting a PS3. He mostly just wants it for the Blue Ray thing that it comes with, since current Blue Ray players are supposedly $1K, and the PS3 is gonna be $600.

I was telling him I'd bring my Wii over when he has his PS3 and we'd see who got the better deal.

-TJ

There's been alot of talk about the coming forced evolution to HD. I'd like to clarify for readers what the real deal with Blu-Ray is at the moment.

  • Blu-Ray stores more data than HD-DVD by packing information in a smaller space, and is named for the narrow blue laser used to read the disc. Actually, both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD use blue lasers.
  • Blu-Ray stores about twice as much as HD-DVD, theoretically. In actuality, since Blu-Ray is expensive to manufacture and license, most Blu-Ray media will be encoded with MPEG-4 instead of the improved VC-1 codec, essentially making HD-DVD a superior choice pricewise.
  • Blu-Ray discs have not yet hit dual-layered dual-sided formats yet, which HD-DVD has, so practically, HD-DVDs hold more at the moment.
  • Blu-Ray has better sound encoding.
  • As it stands, copy-protection standardization on Blu-Rays is up in the air, and the Sony/Warner Bros. discs may not (and don't with the latest PC Blu-Ray drives) play movies from other publishers. They also require an HDMI output or the Blu-Ray players will output at a severely downsized image resolution.
  • Even if Blu-Ray problems are solved, how likely are we going to see studios release one $150 3-disc set, instead of three $60 separate sets? Did we see anything more than extras added when DVDs upped capacity?

Basically, just because Sony says $1000 for a Blu-Ray player, a price they made up, makes the PS3 a good deal, doesn't make it so. Games will be a better factor in determining the worth of the PS3, which today had its price knocked down a bit in Japan and for the Japanese base machines only. Conclusion? Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is like choosing between a blond and a brunette. Regardless of which one we have, we all know which one is better.

E3 pics are up!

Most of the big news probably slaps you in the face at each and every game site, so I'm going to stick with impressions and hands-ons, and leave headlines out of this. Overall, this E3 was probably the best one I've been to, with less focus on graphics and more focus on gameplay overall, with the exceptions of the two you-know-whos. Booth babe quality wasn't bad even with clothing restrictions, and watching Fatal1ty bring some wannabe to the brink of tears on the The Longest Yard conversion to Quake4 had me and Xstine laughing our asses off.

So without further ado…

Microsoft Impressions:
Xbox 360 games continue to look better, and I continue to think about getting one. Games look as a they should on a $400 system. Gears of War looked phenomenal of course, but Huxley was surprisingly fun too considering the amount of lag this FPS MMO had, and I was dukin' it with a roundtable of over 30 people. And its framerate was still a SIGHT better than the Crysis engine game, which when not in that Siberia known as the 10-minute loading screen, was trying to impress us with spring-collision driven foliage bending nonsense at a blistering 4 fps. 3D benchmarks are a FAR CRY from being games, please.
Still, Lumines on XBox Live and the announcement of Windows Vista allowing PC and console gamers to meet in sweet swiss bliss gave the system the edge. In Peter Moore's own words, why buy a PS3 when yyou can get both a Wii and a 360 for the same money? As much as I hate the guy, he's right as rain.
Oh yes, Viva PiƱata looks rad (see pic), and besides some framerate problems, has got real style. Good job Rare… finally…
7/10

Nintendo Impressions:
As fanatical as the gaming media has been so far about the Wii, I have a huge complaint. I never got to play the damn thing since the line of lines, the sweat-infused meta-line that wrapped itself around the vortex of Nintendo's creative navel, was so entangled that I had not the ken to locate its extradimensional entry point. Dammit Nintendo, you spoke of playing is believing, but put your new console in the furthest reaches of E3's 9th circle of hell. My heart wept for a chance to play Super Smash Bros Brawl, but my melatonin begged for just one more day of sunlight.
Still, just watching the announcers playing Wii Sonic on the big screen by just tilting the controller left and right filled me with an instinctual, pheromonal kind of parasymptomatic gravitation back to West Hall over and over. Instead, I settled for some DS games, like Magnetica (aka Zuma) and Brain Training. Why is Sudoku so damn addicting.
8/10

Sony Impressions:
Let's forget about the price for a second, and the feature trickery. Do the games look good? Well, as you can see in the photos, their setup at E3 was still running on a bunch of dev kits, but at the moment it looks good. Not $200 good, mind you, but good. Warhawk wasn't very fun, but had that impressive kind of fluidity and SFX density that reminded me of great Dreamcast rail shooters. Madden looked godawful, honestly, with horribly overdone fur/grass. Heavenly Sword looked pretty good, like a PC version of Devil May Cry, although pixilated self-shadowing and jerky animation need work.
The booth area was pretty packed, and people were cheering like mad at the Final Fantasy trailers, but the actual wait time to get into the private showings was about 5 minutes. There will definitely be a market for PS3, evidenced my the throngs of people in the Singstar booth and the Country Karaoke Revolution game. The PSP, btw, went the way of the N-Gage.

4/10

PC Impressions:
I was pleasantly surprised. Hellgate: London continues to look great, and although the avatars are ugly, the gameplay is smooth and addicting just to even watch. The Conan MMORPG was graphically beautiful, especially the horse animations, but it seems like there was stuff being killed only when I looked away. Boring.
Xstine and I are both excited about Neverwinter Nights 2, and eye-rolly about World of Warcraft's expansion and its new Dranei Alliance race. NCSoft held a pretty exciting Guild Wars: Factions tournament with Koreans slaughtering Koreans, but nothing was nearly as exciting as THIS…..


8/10

Finally, some of the coolest things we saw there were these two toys:

So the news is out. Sony Playstation 3 will be out November 17th at a cost that could buy you two hot hookers for three hot hours. And if you're the kinda swank who shells out extra for greek lessons, you'd be able to get a REAL PS3.

That's correct, there are two versions of the PS3, the poor rich man's edition, and the rich man's edition. The first is for people who somehow can cough up $499 for a 20GB version, but not $599 for the 60GB version. The $599 version includes Wifi, HDMI outputs, memory/SD slots, and rumble… which renders the other version impotent for all intents and purposes. It's like shelling out for $499 for a lady of the night and having her tell ya she ain't going to do it standing. Or sitting. Or even with YOUR dick. Heck she ain't even got a hole.

But that's not the announcement that bothered me, no sirree boob. Here's the shocker. Remember the boomerang? Well, it went flying out the window, and has flown back stripped of all original innovations, but dripping in the blood of victimized Wii. They've gone back to using the original controller design, except with bluetooth and… MOTION SENSING! Who didn't see that coming? Who didn't expect Sony to fake an orgasm and deem it the performance of the night? Oh, that's right, gamer virgins. Of which only 6 out of 10 Americans still are.

Sigh. Honestly, their plagarism would be a lot less shameful if it was implemented with a modicum of creativity. I mean, the controller only detects tilt while in motion! I call shenanigans! And I mean the urethra burning type!

When you compare this brilliant Tetris DS ad to the latest PSP marketing campaign BOMBS, and lemme see, I'm thinking of the grafitti, the lewd billboards, and the ad in the train station daring people to take a suicidal leap, you've got to wonder if Hollywood's disillusionment with the UMD is driving Sony eggheads to the brink of madness, desperately clawing for a memetic comeback that resonates with their own self-imagined aura of the ultra-hip. I'm not fuckin' biting.

I tell ya what I AM biting tho, and it's a wonderful mix of ante-whitetrashery and geek-to-righthand-congressionals. And it looks a little somethin' like this: