There is good news, bad news and some very mysterious comments to ponder. Well, let´s hear the bad news first.
1.) The bad
Amazon Japan has published the following graph, showing current pre-orders for Wii, 60GB PS3 and 20GB PS3, respectively.
Punchjump have commented on the graph as follows:
The overseas retail division of Amazon.com has published a graph that represents customer interest in each platform, with the 60GB PS3 edging out the Wii. The 20GB PS3 was the least popular among customers.
In addition, Amazon Japan is allowing customers to pre-order an array of software for both the PS3 and Wii. The U.S. division is currently allowing pre-orders for select PS3 and Wii titles.
While Amazon Japan's customer data represents a stonger interest in PS3 over Wii, recent magazine surveys in Japan indicate the opposite, with many in favor of Wii's game selection and lower price point.
I have filed a media request with Amazon.com to check if they already have any similar data (though it appears they are not yet taking preorders). However, as the article rightly points out, there were plenty of consumer polls (most notably by Famitsu) that suggested the opposite to the above graph. Well, wait and see.
2.) The good
On the developer front, there were positive news. Eurogamer published a video interview with THQ president and CEO Brian Farrell. Sister site Games Industry.biz has summed up the interview:
"We love the Wii - it's all about having fun, right? Games are about having fun and sometimes this industry takes itself a bit too seriously," Farrell said. "If you watch people with that Wii controller, it's just fun to play with.And if that wasn´t enough, Eurogamer also spoke to Jeff Brown, corporate communications VP at Electronic Arts, who believes that Wii could come in first.
"A lot of our properties, like Cars and Spongebob and others, really map well... Potentially even wrestling - I can think of a lot of great things to do with the controller for that product as well," he added.
"Everybody's saying that the Nintendo Wii is so unique that it's going to be the second system people buy, meaning if you own a 360 or a PS3, you'll probably also buy a Nintendo Wii."So EA´s full support is pretty much up for grabs. Unusually clear words, there. However, Brown also wanted to defuse widespread concerns of Sony pricing themselves out of the market with the PS3:
"The funny thing is, some people say that discursively, like it's some sort of dig at Nintendo - and what they don't get is that if you're second on everybody's system, you're first overall."
Brown also revealed that EA plans to offer the Wii more support than it did the GameCube. "This is not a business plan, but there are a lot of people at EA who are walking around whispering: '40 / 40 / 20 per cent'," he said. EA has already pledged six titles to Nintendo's next-generation format, and Brown says that interest in the console internally has gone up after it received a spectacular welcome at E3.
"One of the things that we noticed after E3 is we thought, you know, we're going to support Nintendo, they've got an extraordinarily loyal base of consumers all over the world, and we had a number of games we planned to make for Nintendo Wii. That said, we were very surprised by the level of enthusiasm we saw at E3 and subsequently for the Wii," he told Eurogamer. (...) "I don't want to be indiscreet, but the truth is EA is most committed to the platform with the biggest installed base."
"Everybody writes these big stories like 'Oh my God, what will this mean? Will they stumble for the next for years, can they recover?' When Sony first put out the PlayStation 2 there were hardware shortages, and some manufacturing glitches, and everybody was like 'Can they recover?'," he told us.
3.) The mysterious
Finally, we have some weird comments from Nicolas Eypert, creative director of Ubisoft's Red Steel. He gave GamePro a very cryptic answer when aked about the shooter´s multiplayer functions:
In Red Steel, you'll have up to four players [in the multiplayer mode]. If they play together in split screens we can only say that the fight will not be only on screen (grins).
Concerning the [multiplayer] gameplay, we will reveal more later in the development process. We must ask you to be patient.
Now, I am sure that this comment makes a lot of people remember what Miyamoto told Business Week in November 2005:
It's convenient to make games that are played on TVs. But I always wanted to have a custom-sized screen that wasn't the typical four-cornered cathode-ray-tube TV. I've always thought that games would eventually break free of the confines of a TV screen to fill an entire room. But I would rather not say anything more about that.
I am assuming that the bad news and the good news cancel each other out. So let´s talk a little about that weird comment above. Read alongside Miyamoto´s comment, do you notice a recurring theme? Perhaps there is one. But it´s important to remember that what they would be hinting at (if they really were hinting at something here) could be nothing short of some kind of implemementation of Augmented Reality, in my mind.
Now, I have always made it quite clear that I believe such a technology is ready to be implemented in a videogame console today and, as such, it´s definitely a possibility. My research has shown this. However, I have also always maintained that it´s not likely to be implemented. Not because of the cost of AR or the current state of research. My reasons for believing it´s unlikely we will be seeing an AR console next-generation are twofold.
First of all, for simplicity´s sake. Nintendo wants to keep their console simple and accessible to new consumers. Headgear scares people. And while it is possible to implement AR in a non-threatening way, we should acknowledge that it´s a challenge.
Secondly, AR would be totally wild, crazy and way out. Nintendo have tried to push a similar technology with the Virtual Boy and failed. No Nintendo rep ever seems to mention this piece of hardware anymore. It´s not referred to on any official Nintendo site I know of. So this venture is a bit of an embarrassment for the company. On the other hand, forcing a controller like the Wiimote on both the industry and consumers is as bold a move as any.
I hope you see that it´s quite a complex issue. There are no logistical or technological obstacles to implementing such a technology this coming generation. And the two reasons that stand in the way of an AR-enabled Wii can be worked around. Yet I just cannot get myself to imagine a practical way of implementing it. So, in conclusion, my response to the developer comment above is what I have always said about this issue: It´s possible, but not likely.
I will leave you with some further reading (i.e. past posts from this blog) on the subject:
Why 3D projection makes sense (February 2006)
The price of the future (June 2005)
Augmented reality is reality already (June 2005)
Not virtual, but augmented reality? (June 2005)
What I would like to know from you guys is this: What do you think could be the practical upshot of Eypert´s comments? Would it have to involve visualizing content (as I believe) or are there any ways of fighting one another off-screen without added visualizations? Think sound, perhaps. After all, each Wiimote has its own speaker.
EDIT I stand corrected on two counts: Firstly, it appears that the graph published by Amazon Japan related only to people signing up for email alerts concerning the product. That changes the impact of the graph to some extent. Thanks to everyone who pointed out my mistake.
Secondly, there actually is an official Virtual Boy site, courtesy of the good people at Nintendo Co. Ltd. It´s not much, but it´s there.
Source: Amazon Japan, Punchjump, Eurogamer, Games Industry.biz, Eurogamer, GamePro, Business Week
Thanks to: AnanaG12, Codename Revolution, Codename Revolution, The Wiire, ,