Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Switch is Nintendo's last console

"Nintendo Switch. Starting to feel a little hype, not gonna lie."
That was me in October, following Nintendo's reveal of the upcoming console. I was perfectly fine with with the initial reveal of the Switch, feeling that glimmer of hope that, as an admitted Nintendo fangirl, I have grown all too familiar with. However, I am also familiar with disappointment.
The Wii U was an epic flop, so much so that recapping the ways in which the system fell short is unnecessary. And in all honesty, the Switch is what the Wii U should have been in the first place. The Switch gives players multiple ways to play without the limitations of its predecessor, offering a bridge between traditional gameplay on a TV and the on-the-go appeal of the 3DS. Unfortunately, the upcoming system is coming just a bit too late, and brings with it plenty of red flags of its own.
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The price is too high at $299, especially when you factor in that there will be no bundled game and the included Joy-Con grip will not charge the Joy-Con controllers - you'll need to buy that separately. In addition, the replacements and peripherals revealed for the console are also too high. A pair of replacement Joy-Con controllers will set you back $80, while individuals will cost $50. A replacement dock set is $90, and the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is $70. While the console itself feels overpriced, particularly when noting the absence of a bundled game, the replacements and the peripherals are almost shockingly expensive.
While the Wii U has been heavily criticized for coming out too strong and failing to maintain third party support and a healthy, consistent flow of games, Nintendo appears to be doing the exact opposite with the Switch in what is too drastic a pendulum swing. The lineup - both at launch and during its first year on the market - is concerning. At this point, the Nintendo Switch will be releasing with ten games in the US - Zelda: Breath of the Wild, 1-2-Switch, Just Dance 2017, Skylanders Imaginators, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+, I Am Setsuna, World of Goo, Little Inferno, Human Resource Machine, and Super Bomberman R. The two Nintendo launch titles are Zelda, which will be releasing simultaneously on the Switch and Wii U, and 1-2-Switch, which is a collection of mini-games that should have been bundled in with the console but will instead set you back $50 so that you can pretend to eat a hoagie or milk a cow while making awkward eye contact with your friends.
As of right now, Nintendo has fewer confirmed Switch games releasing in all of 2017 than the Wii U had at the time of its launch.
As of right now, Nintendo has fewer confirmed Switch games releasing in all of 2017 than the Wii U had at the time of its launch. While it's possible more will be revealed, this isn't the most comforting list to have in front of you with less than two months to launch - and, if there was going to be another large title launching alongside the console, I have to assume we would have heard something about it by this point. According to Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, this is intentional. Speaking with CNET, Fils-Aime stated that Nintendo has a "great ongoing march of content to motivate you to jump into the platform."
"Launch day is not the be-all and the end-all," Fils-Aime said. "It really is the steady pacing of content that continually reinforces for the people who bought into the platform why they made a smart choice, as well as what compels people who might be sitting on the sidelines to jump in."
However, it is questionable how long this content will last, even when released at a steady pace. In the 2017 state of the industry report issued by the Game Developers Conference, more than 4,500 developers answered a variety of questions - including what consoles they were currently developing for. Only 3% confirmed that they are currently developing for the Nintendo Switch, while 22% are developing for Xbox One/Scorpio, 27% are developing for PlayStation 4/Pro, 38% are developing for Smartphones and Tablets, and 53% are developing for PC/Mac. Fewer developers admitted to developing for the Switch than confirmed development for Apple TV.
The release schedule is hardly the biggest hurdle that the Switch faces. Prior to last week's detailed Switch presentation, I penned an editorial, laying out a list of must-haves for the console to be a sure success. Looking back, I realize I was too optimistic with what I had thought were simple expectations. While a strong launch and strong third party support were the first points I argued for - and, sadly, am unable to check off - I also argued that the Switch needs good battery life. If one of the major points is that it's a hybrid, with equal importance given to both docked and undocked play, then the battery has to reflect that. However, Nintendo has revealed that the battery on the Switch between charges will last 2.5 to 6.5 hours, depending on the game you are playing, with Breath of the Wild able to last three hours between charges. The one bonus here is that you can charge the Switch with a USB-C, and you are able to play while charging. However, unless you're carrying around a compatible power bank this will drastically limit the portability of the console.
Price for value is another issue. The Switch has 32GB of internal storage, making digital downloads very unattractive for gamers. While the console's storage can be expanded via micro SD card, a good SDXC card with a capacity of 256GB retails for up to $200, giving you less internal storage than a 500GB PlayStation 4 at a greater cost. While the portability does add value to the Switch, the above issue of battery life makes it a bit less appealing.
The truth is, Nintendo's consoles are what we put up with in order to access the games we want to play.
The Escapist's Steven Bogos shared his hands-on impressions of the Switch from PAX South, stating that the Switch, when viewed as a new handheld, is impressive enough to replace Nintendo's 3DS, but that as a home console "the Nintendo Switch is a bust."
"It's not as powerful as a PS4 (made obvious by the framerate issues I had on Breath of the Wild) which means that it's going to have the same third-party issues that the Nintendo always has," he added.
Bad timing and bad choices have led Nintendo to a pivotal moment. The gaming industry has always benefited from competition, but everything that we know of the Switch shows that Nintendo only appears to be competing with one company - itself. The Switch is too limited to replace smartphones and tablets, and it is far too weak and limited, in both its hardware and third party support, to be a true home console competitor. As much as I would love to see Nintendo succeed, I cannot shake the feeling that the Switch will be yet another hardware flop. Nintendo's value is not in its hardware, as the company is more interested in weird gimmicks than actual gamer-friendly home consoles. No, Nintendo's value is in its IPs - Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, Splatoon, METROID (cough, cough) - which are still gaming staples with the ability to captivate players. What these franchises deserve, more than anything, is a home worthy of them. The truth is, Nintendo's consoles are what we put up with in order to access the games we want to play.
Nintendo giving up on consoles and focusing on software is an idea I've tossed around for the past few years, particularly since the company began teasing the new console. "If this doesn't work, Nintendo should just focus on games," I'd say, and even the most stalwart of fans have struggled to argue against that point. While I love the 3DS, and can easily see Nintendo maintaining a strong presence in the portable gaming market, there is still so much untapped potential in franchises that have suffered by the lack of suitable hardware.
The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are both successful because they're more alike than they are different. The Wii U went a totally different way, and as a result was difficult for developers to create games for, and it appears that the same will likely be true for the Switch. But no one should count on the lights being turned off at Nintendo - the company just needs to "switch" to more energy efficient bulbs.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Nintendo Switch Won’t be Copied, but Only Expects 50 Million Lifetime Sales

Infamous industry analyst Michael Pachter recently appeared in his regular video series the ‘Pachter Factor’, where he answers questions from fans about the gaming industry. In the latest episode, number 72, one of the questions that came up was related to the Nintendo Switch. Seeing that the system has had strong sales since it launched back in March, the person who asked the question to Pachter was wondering if this could entice either Sony or Microsoft to create their own hybrid devices, thus directly competing with the Switch.
Pachter immediately dismissed the idea of either company creating a hybrid system, noting that Sony has not found a lot of success in the portable market with the PSP and PS Vita both being trumped by their competitors. Microsoft has yet to release a portable system, and Pachter doesn’t expect them to make a move in that market anytime soon. He then shifted the focus to the beginning of the question where the Switch’s strong sales were mentioned.
Comparing the Switch to other handhelds, Pachter doesn’t expect it to do very well. His reason for this is viewpoint is the price, but he noted that it’s impossible to know until “supply and demand are in balance”. He pointed to Nintendo’s goal of selling 10 million Switch units this fiscal year, saying that “we’ll see”. Overall, he expects the Switch to sell about 50-70 million in its lifetime, but stands firm on the notion that price will ultimately be deciding factor:
“If they keep the price at $300, it will sell 50 (million). If they cut the price to $200 pretty quickly, it will sell 70 million. If they cut the price to $100, it will sell 90 million. But, at a price…everything is all based on supply and demand. If demand goes up, then price goes down. So, “success”, at $300 then there’s no way they’re selling more than 50 million—no chance."

My response to this is that Pachter is a bit off by trying to compare the Switch to other handhelds. I’ve emphasized this many times in the past—the Switch is a home console first-and-foremost. Nintendo itself classifies the Switch as a home console with the functionality to be transformed into a portable device. As a result, any comparisons that should be made needs to be against other home platforms, whether they be from Nintendo or its competitors.
On that note, if the Switch does sell 50 million like Pachter thinks it will, then that would basically tie it with the SNES as the third-best selling Nintendo home console ever. If the Switch hits 70 million, then that would put it higher than the original Nintendo Entertainment System, taking the second best-selling spot. In order to become the true best-selling Nintendo home console, the Switch would have to surpass the Wii’s massive achievement of over 100 million units sold. Some analysts have actually predicted that the Switch will actually do just so, but we’re just going to have to wait and see how it turns out.
As Pachter mentioned, trying to make a prediction right now is kind of difficult. The Switch is only a half-year old at this point, which is still far too early to determine its long-term success. Right now, it’s factually proven that the system is performing much better than the Wii U. Nintendo currently lists Switch lifetime sales at 4.7 million as of June 2017. It’s now the middle of August, so there’s a good chance that the Switch is somewhere in the realm of 5 million at this point. If Nintendo really does hit or even surpass its goal of selling 10 million units by March 2018, then the Switch would already match the Wii U’s lifetime sales of 14 million, which it took four years to amass.
While it’s currently impossible to predict how well the Switch will sell, it’s at least notable that Nintendo is pleased with its performance so far. Nvidia, who built the custom Tegra processor inside the Switch, is also pleased with the system’s strong sales. Even Sony has acknowledged that the Switch has been doing very well so far. All-in-all, things are looking pretty decent for the Switch in its current state, but we’ll just have to wait and see what the future really holds.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Top 50 horror films

The Shining
The Thing (1982)
The Mist
Antichrist
Silence of the Lambs
The Exorcist
The Omen (1976)
Let the Right One In
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Silent Hill
Alien
The Descent
In the Mouth of Madness
The Ring
Triangle
The Cell
Thirst
The Evil Dead
Psycho (1960)
Christine
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
House on Haunted Hill (1999)
Event Horizon
Sleepy Hollow
The Re-Animator
Insidious
Eden Lake
Creepshow
Creepshow 2
The Fly (1986)
28 Weeks Later
[REC]
[REC 2]
Martyrs
Misery
The Wicker Man (1973)
The Devil’s Backbone
A Serbian Film
Hellraiser
Cronos
Skeleton Key
The Orphanage
Inside
Day of the Dead (1985)
Saw
Cabin by the Lake
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Ghost Ship
The Hitcher (1986)

Top 50 Films of the 90s

1. Goodfellas
2. The Shawshank Redemption
3. Neon Genesis Evangelion end of Evangelion
4. Ninja Scroll
5. Ghost in the Shell
6. Macross Plus
7. The Matrix
8. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
9. Jurassic Park
10. Saving Private Ryan
11. Reservoir Dogs
12. The Silence of the Lambs
13. Fight Club
14. Leon: The Professional
15. Heat
16. Forrest Gump
17. Braveheart
18. The Lion King
19. Toy Story
20. Beauty and the Beast
21. The Lion King
22. Aladdin
23. Princess Mononoke
24. Unforgiven
25. American Beauty
26. Trainspotting
27. Good Will Hunting
28.Fargo
29. Eyes Wide Shut
30. Independence Day
31. The Nightmare Before Christmas
32. The Fugitive
33. Batman Returns
34. Dazed and Confused
35. 10 Things I Hate About You
36. Clueless
37. Titanic
38. Romeo + Juliet
39. Goldeneye
40.. Leon: The Professional
41. Richard III
42. Tomorrow Never Dies
43. Rushmore
44. Wayne's World
45. Austin Powers; International Man of Mystery
46. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
47. Sling Blade
48. Wayne's World 2
49. The Fifth Element
50. A Few Good Men

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Most Talked about game

A lot of exciting things have happened in the games industry since 2013. That time has seen the mobile game space rise to maturity; it's seen Sony return to console dominance with PS4, and Nintendo bounce from its greatest heights to its lowest ebb.
And yet one thing has stayed consistent throughout that entire four-year period. Through it all, Grand Theft Auto V has steadily, unstoppably continued to sell huge numbers every single week. In 2017 so far, it's the best-selling game in the UK; in the United States it charts in fourth place.
Previous entries in the Grand Theft Auto series were, of course, landmark titles in their own right - both culturally and commercially. Their content sparked controversy and, from the point when the series shifted into an extraordinary open world with Grand Theft Auto 3, their enormous sales pushed them into a mainstream consciousness that had generally glossed over videogames up to that point. Grand Theft Auto came to be the series that defined perceptions of games in the 2000s, perhaps even more so than Mario or Sonic had done in the 1990s.
"Never before has there been a game like GTAV, which has served as a touchstone for an entire era of gaming"
Grand Theft Auto V, however, has quietly gone beyond that and become something even more. I say quietly, because it's not necessarily something that you see if you're an ordinary game consumer. For most of us, Grand Theft Auto V was a game - a really great, beautifully made, fantastic game - that we played for a pretty long time a few years ago. We've moved on, though sometimes it comes up in conversation, or you see a really crazy stunt video on YouTube; it's part of gamer consciousness, but arguably no more than a number of other superb games of the same era.
Yet unlike all those other games, GTAV keeps on selling. People keep walking into shops and buying it; 340,000 copies in the UK alone this year. The only way to explain those sales is to assume that they are representative of GTAV being purchased along with, or soon after, the upgrades being made by many consumers to next-gen consoles or higher spec PCs. Far more than its predecessors, the game has become a cultural touchstone - something that you simply buy by default along with a new game system.
Of course, individual game consoles have had must-own games before; how many people bought Halo with the original Xbox, or Mario 64 with the Nintendo 64? Never before, however, has there been a game like GTAV, which has served as a touchstone for an entire era of gaming. The closest point of comparison I can think of is something like The Matrix, which was the go-to DVD for people buying new DVD players in the late 1990s, or Blade Runner's Directors' Cut, which served a similar role for Blu-Ray. Nothing before now in the realm of videogames comes close.
"Something we don't know, however, is what people are actually doing with those new copies of GTAV"
Something we don't know, however, is what people are actually doing with those new copies of GTAV; the huge question is whether they're buying them for the game's excellent single-player experience, or whether they're diving into GTA Online. The online game has been a runaway success for publisher Take Two, and has definitely helped to prolong the longevity of GTAV, but it's hard to quantify just how much it has to do with the continued strong sales of the game itself.
That question is important, because if people are primarily buying GTAV as an online game, it makes it a little easier to categorise that success. In that case, it would belong alongside titles like League of Legends, World of Warcraft or Destiny; enormous, sprawling games that suck up years upon years of players' attention.
From a commercial standpoint, the industry is still a little unsure what these games are or what to do about them; they are behemoths on the landscape that everyone else needs to navigate around, but while many people share an intuition that they collapse revenues for other games in the same genre, it's not entirely clear as yet what influence they really have on everything else on the market. If GTAV fits in with those titles, albeit on a level of its own to some degree, then it makes sense; it fits a pattern.
"GTAV became embedded in our collective consciousness until it was The Game You Buy When You Finally Get A PS4"
My sense, however, is that GTAV is something entirely different. It's not quite, as Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick rather bombastically claimed at E3, that there are no "other titles... clustered around GTA from a quality point of view." GTAV is a brilliant game, but it's hard to support the claim that there's nothing else out there of similar quality.
Rather, it's that GTAV has struck a series of notes perfectly, stitching together a combination of elements each of which is executed flawlessly and which combined to make a game that is memorable, replayable, funny, challenging, and - vitally in this era - a never-ending source of entertaining video clips for YouTube or Twitch. Almost every aspect of GTAV is good, but there's no single part you can point to and say, "this is why this is the game that defines an era." The magic lies in the sum, not the individual parts.
And perhaps it's something more than even that; perhaps GTAV isn't just the right game, it's also a game that's appeared at the right time.
Think of the average age of a game consumer, which is well into the thirties at this point. Think of how games have come to be a part of our cultural conversation; no longer in a dismissive way, but as a field of genuine interest, a source of inspiration for other media, a topic of watercooler conversation. Think too of how videogames have begun to inform the aesthetics of the world, from the gloss of Marvel's movies to the more obvious homages of Wreck-It Ralph or (god help us) Pixels. Somehow they've even managed to rope Spielberg into adapting inexplicably popular execrable teenage gamer fanfiction novel Ready Player One. Games are embedded as part of the world's culture and, more importantly, part of how we talk about that culture.
GTAV arrived, in stunning, endlessly discussable, endlessly uploadable form right at the moment when that transition was being completed. There's no way to quantify this, but I'll wager GTAV holds a special record that'll never go in Guinness' book. I'll wager it's the most talked-about game of all time. Not because of controversy or scandal; it's a game that's just been talked about in conversation after conversation, four years of discussing stunts and jokes and achievements and easter eggs, until the game became embedded in our collective consciousness until it was The Game You Buy When You Finally Get A PS4.
There's never been a game that occupied a place in the public consciousness quite like GTAV; but now that such a place exists for games in our collective cultural consciousness, perhaps it won't be very long before more fantastic games roll up to take on similar roles.