Check me out as I explain how to get the most from your Surface RT and a wireless controller dongle from Microsoft, video after the jump. (more…)
Yeah I know I’m a little late but it’s new to me! Angry Birds Rio is now (newly) available for Windows Phone 8 users and at only 99 cents it might just be worth your time. Find out after the jump. (more…)
In this episode of The Show Radio Podcast, Andrew talks about Microsoft’s recent change of heart with their Xbox One DRM policies. The people spoke and Microsoft listened.
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With 11 days remaining before the next Xbox is revealed to the world by Microsoft, I want to make one prediction a day and I will keep score, So hurry and get your bumbaclot reading after the jump! (more…)
Pax East is rocking! If you didn’t make it out this year no worries all it means is that next year will be even bigger. The floor is packed, well-ventilated and best of all there are plenty of games to play. (more…)
The PGR crew starts off the new year with an in-depth discussion about the 2013 line up of Video Games. (more…)
The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running is a Temple Run clone..a bad one. (more…)
I give you my top 3 gadgets of 2012 with a full detailed explanation.
3. Samsung Galaxy Note
2. PS Vita
1. Surface RT
Microsoft pulled off something very strange with the X-Box 360. Something quite special and positively unique: it didn’t piss anyone off. Not really anyway.
PlayStation vs. Microsoft pitiable fanboy patheticness aside, the X-Box 360 performed a veritable Houdini act by both being there (to the tune of roughly 70 Million sales worldwide and a very creditable 2nd place this generation) and also not there for everyone else. No matter what was owned or preferred, the Wii was omnipresent enough to be noticeable, whether for better or worse. The 360 though was a little like Switzerland, amicably standing by, picking up the odd shell from a PS3-headed attack, while making a metric ton of money.
Then the Kinect happened and everything went a bit Belgium (how’re these World War gags treating you?).
Suddenly Microsoft and its flagship bounty were facing a war on two fronts (they just keep on coming!). Its previously core audience were left disfranchised and more than a little peeved at the new casual mass-audience pandering capitulated by the fact that, outside of Halo 4, there have been few noticeable console exclusives this year. Added to that was the ire of the – rational – gaming press, commentators and fans predicated on Kinect’s, well…ghastly awfulness.
So where does this article’s fairly alarmist heading come from? Judging by the mass – very public – support for the Kinect and renewed emphasis on the casual, Microsoft are moving its big ol’ Box away from ‘video games console’ and towards the murky shadows of ‘mass-media entertainment device.’ “Moving forward, Xbox will go beyond the box to reach all new families of devices. Just as Xbox has grown to mean more than just games, it also is more than just a console’ said Microsoft’s chief Xbox marketing officer Yusuf Mehdi.
And that’s very silly indeed.
Case the First: Smart TVs
Technology is like a hyperactive child: it doesn’t stay still for very long. And like a hyperactive child, if you don’t give it any attention it’ll slap you about a bit. Or eat some glue. Televisions are that awful awful child.
It was only a few years ago that HDTVs were the shining heavenly light of the home-entertainment world and now they’re as notable as . Price cuts, new gizmos, bigger screens and BIGGER screens: they evolved quickly. Too quickly. Darwin cried at the majesty of it all.
The next step along the pokémon-esque chain of increasingly bigger beasts is ‘Smart TVs.’ Because what’s anything worth if it isn’t smart these days?
Smart TVs are the same as smart phones except you can’t call anyone (except from Skype…so kind of) and trying to take your photo in a bathroom mirror could result in serious injury. They have all the ‘apps’ – Netflix, facebook, twitter and all that dictatorly lot – available for free provided you have an Internet connection and effectively blend digital television with the web, creating the ultimate modern techy cocktail of unsocial pasty whiteness.
This is bad news for the X-Box.
The only dividing feature between the 360 and PS3 – and the one that undoubtedly pushed them ahead this generation – was its online capabilities. It worked, basically, and left Sony and Nintendo’s online offerings quivering in the dust, weighed down by the shackles of system updates and friend-codes. There was that thorny issue of subscription fees though. Returning to the point of ‘360 as oasis of peace’ thing we opened with today…this may be the one thorn in the side.
That $60 annual fee has been widely ridiculed (especially by PS3 owners) but the reasoning behind it was predicated on two key points: (1) you were paying for a superior experience and (2) you were paying for more than just videogames. The experience was superior true, but that may not be the case next generation as ‘Case the Second’ explores. For point 2, X-Box live subscriptions gave access to all sorts of web-based goodies and Microsoft execs have spent the last five years ramming that idea down the throats of anyone too slow to run away. But – and this is a big but, like Oprah big – everything offered is now, or is soon to be, offered on Smart TVs. For free. Not to mention everywhere else. And while they may be expensive now just remember: TVs are stupid children and devalue like their mother’s love; babies are adorable, toddlers are annoying and kids are plain hateful.
So where does that leave X-Box Live? Microsoft have made a huge effort to emphasise the importance of it being a subscription based experience due to its para-video game offerings. However, in a changing increasingly sedentary world where your TVs can do everything X-Box live can do while also cleaning your toenails, what’s the point in it? While there is the minutest possibility that Microsoft could do a u-turn and initiate a free online service, we’ll have to search the skys for flying pigs first. On a fiscal and reputation ground it’s a ridiculous notion.
Which leads us to:
Case the Second: The Times They Are A’ Changing
There was this thing called the Wii-U released recently. And like most of everything in the modern world (except socks maybe, but give them time) it can go online. Unlike the Wii and its mentally deficient, Sunday-morning-special blathering attempt at online functionality, the Wii-U’s capabilities have been very well received. The Miiverse and it’s twitter-esque communication system, clean user-friendly interfaces, fast loading times and NO FRIEND CODES: Nintendo have pulled out all the stops to make their new generation one that, y’know, is actually relevant.
While Sony’s newest offering is still shrouded in shadow, it’s clear that the big companies are learning from past mistakes. Understandably then, the level of online quality will, or at least should, be a far more improved and universal thing.
So will the next X-box (imaginatively rumoured to be called ‘X-box in an Apple-y move) be able to claim web-based dominion? Time will be, as always, the telling factor. The way the cards are being set up though, it seems only a subtle breeze will blow them down.
Case the Third: Video Games are Ridiculous
We’ve already covered the increasingly ludicrous expense of video game development but it’s a relevant issue here too. The next X-box is rumoured (and almost definitely will because logic) to have a state-of-the-art blu-ray player, graphical processor and more cores that a greengrocers (fruit jokes: it’s all kicking off this week!) And this all very, very, upsettingly, ridiculously, mind-boggingly, pants-soilingly expensive. Sony will, of course, follow suit and the result is likely to be an amorphous, homogenous grey blob of conflictive video game video game-ness.
Such a vast and incessant wave of expense is likely to push the Wii-U and the PC, platforms on which development is cheaper because of dated (or at least withheld) technology and greater freedom respectively, into the fiscal limelight. Let’s paint a picture: Nintendo commits to it’s promise of a greater hardcore experience while keeping costs down/ Microsoft blows up in expense due to technological demands in conjunction with a continued focus on the Kinect and its…stuff. It’s a specific way of reading the predicament granted, but given some thought it’s more than plausible.
Concluding the Issue: An Amicable Back-Track
What this long, ambling and largely blithering article has tried to point out is that, unless they’re careful, Microsoft could dig itself a very deep whole with no way of getting out save a blunt toothbrush. The 360 gambled heavily on the online market and came out king of the castle. Next generation though every device can and will implement a robust online infrastructure; even the 3DS can access Netflix but that doesn’t make it special. The influence of spiraling costs and increasingly singularising technology is going to push the big three uncomfortably close together, like fat guys in an elevator (accept maybe Nintendo…because Nintendo). What matters now is: how are Sony and Microsoft going to identify themselves? Committed fans will always abide by brand-loyalty, that’s banked, but how are these media giants going to pull in fresh meat? History has proven – the PS2′s rampant success to the PS3′s dithering meekness – that past achievements have as much influence as a wet fish and if Microsoft continue down the line of ‘online casual Kinect-iness,’ they could find themselves with a whole basket of the festering buggers.
As fans of video games and its oftentimes ridiculous industry, we should all wish every device the very best of luck. As it stands, the X-Box may need a few pairs of crossed fingers on its side.
I ditched my iPad and Nexus 7 for the new Microsoft Surface tablet. Find out why.