Monday, July 17, 2006

The good, the bad and the mysterious

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 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 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 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.

"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.
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.
"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."

"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."
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:
"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, Eurogamer, GamePro, Business Week
Thanks to: AnanaG12, Codename Revolution, Codename Revolution, The Wiire, ,


Anonymous said...

I agree -- and I would also like to hear readers speculate on the cost of implementing such visualization (bearing in mind the cost of the DS's components).

dsss said...

You'll find the answer over here:

Put on the glasses. Simple, cheap and big effects.

Anonymous said...


That company ( specializes in converting 2D images into 3D images which could then be projected with a polarized projector (e.g. in an IMAX). Realize that in video games, the data is *already* in 3D and is flattened to 2D for display on a screen. The "" technology is useless for video games as far as I can tell.


Anonymous said...

That doesn’t look too good for Nintendo in Japan, if these ever translate into sales numbers in the future it seems that the combined sales of PS3 60GB and PS3 20GB will definitely surpass the Wii sales.

Ever since E3 they’ve all been jumping on the bandwagon with support. I just hope it’s not a repeat of GameCube when EA dropped support after poor sales of their initial launch titles.

I praying he is not talking about using light guns and light sabers against your friends, which just seems more sad then fun. Now if it was some form of virtual reality/3D projection that would be amazing but unlikely.

Shoxware Games said...

Nicolas Eypert simply meant, that the battle of the Wii-Motes is off screen! THAT'S ALL!

Can't we forget this VR, AR, 3D thing already? It WON'T HAPPEN!

Falafelkid said...

Hi Shoxware.

Nicolas Eypert simply meant, that the battle of the Wii-Motes is off screen! THAT'S ALL!

I am not sure that it´s really as simple as that. He said:

If they play together in split screens we can only say that the fight will not be only on screen (grins).

Sure, the movement would not only be on-screen, but why did he say fight? That really seems to suggest that in Red Steel two players could face one another, or at least attack one another directly while looking on-screen.

Shoxware Games said...

Besides... The data from Amazon Japan has nothing to do with pre-orders. The only thing it shows is how many people have subscribed to the respective console-newsletter!

Jarod said...

I'd be surprised if amazon represented more than 1 or 2% of the Japanese market so it's not terribly important how their pre-orders break down (especially since the PS3 has an actual date and price).

As for the Red Steel comments it sounds like plastic sword fighting with your buddies should you want to (again should you want to).

Fozzy said...

I really just think he meant the action will be so intense with 4 people swinging their Wii-motes with reckless abandon that you're likely to accidentally whack your friend in the face and start a fist fight.

I doubt they'd make a "real sword" attachment for actual dueling off-screen--unless they were foam or you and your buddy wear protective gear it'd hurt and I'm sure Nintendo wouldn't like to promote a game where you physically beat your friends up.

Anonymous said...

Sure, the movement would not only be on-screen, but why did he say fight? That really seems to suggest that in Red Steel two players could face one another, or at least attack one another directly while looking on-screen.
Have you never played a multiplayer game before? Especially fighting or shooting games. That stuff gets hardcore when you're just using normal controllers, can you imagine what it's going to be like when four people are in the same lounge swinging their shit around and getting physically involved in the game?

This is not any sort of hint at 3D projection. It's not going to happen. It's not going to happen. It would be cool, but, I repeat it's not going to happen. All he's saying is things will get mad hardcore when you've got four people sitting in the lounge, fighting each other in the game, and swinging the controller around and getting all hyper.

Anonymous said...

I really think the developer comments from Ubisoft just mean you can pretend to have a real sword fight in your living room using the WiiPointer, since you'll be slashing your remote at your buddies sitting next to you.

There isn't some crazy final secret. Think more realistic, simpler terms.

Anonymous said...

amazons graph shows how many newsletter are ordered

Andy Witmyer said...


Launch sales for the PS3 were going to be big no matter what. With an installed PS2 userbase that is extraordinarily higher than the GameCube, it's to be expected that the initial batch of PS3s would fly off the shelves. The question is -- once the launch hype wears off, can it sustain sales? Or will the legions of casual PS2 owners buy a Wii? I'm betting on the latter.


The quote made by Ubisoft isn't cryptic in the slightest. What he's saying is that when you have you and your buddies sitting around wielding and flailing around Wii-motes like guns and swords, it's going to look like you're really fighting - on-screen AND off-screen. I don't think it hints at anything more than a more visceral experience due to the special controller. In otherwords... no 3d.

used cisco said...

That doesn’t look too good for Nintendo in Japan, if these ever translate into sales numbers in the future it seems that the combined sales of PS3 60GB and PS3 20GB will definitely surpass the Wii sales."

I disagree. The PS3 is targetted at the hardcore gamers. These types are very quick to pre-order and understand the point in preordering.

The Wii is targetted at casual gamers, moms, dads, sisters, etc.
These types of people have never preordered game, nor would they ever. They are NOT early adopters and are not in a rush for the hot new game/toy. These preorders are very encouraging as it means there is also a substantial hardcore base interested in the Wii. This means that the Wii will sell to hardcore as well as casuals. The thing is that the potential casual market is far larger than the current hardcore market.

Tony Kaz said...

I think there are other subtle and not so subtle clues that the Wii will provide some form of 3D by the promo videos already released such as the 1st Rayman preview (released at E3 2006) with the kids and Gramps on the couch and Rayman, butterflies, bombs,etc... jumping out of the screen. Also the Wii promo video that came out when they changed the name from Revolution with the jumping "i" that shoots towards the screen, etc... E3 2005 Iwata said they would be giving clues that could be pieced together to figure out the secrets. Previous statements along the way, (including mentioning that another secret EVEN BIGGER than the remote still lies ahead, plus video clues all point to this. I'm not talking Nintendo ON, but simple and easy on the eyes glasses like those listed above only make sense. This rumor goes back over a year:
and I think there is some merit behind it.

majic12 said...

yeah since the remotes are motion sensitive you have more incentive to physically knock your friends and their respective remotes around, to mess up their game, especially if they are trying to shoot at your character on screen. Thats all he means, has nothing to do with technoglgy or final secrets, even though that would be cool.

ian said...

As far as the graphs go, meh,nothing really to affect anything except make sony fanbois hearts flutter.

As for the Red Steel game, hmmm, i got to say my mind drifted to AR but quickly came back to earth when i realised that i could simply be pushing my mates(vice-versa) wiimotes out of sensor range therefore giving me an advantage in the battles. This could lead to much hardcore bundles in my house, thats where this guys grin comes from.
Still, with such ambiguous comments made by Ubi, i guess it can only make our minds wander a bit to any possibility. For now though i will stick with living-room bundles, heh.

Anonymous said...

The amazon site does not mean anything, because they have gathered the orders! Now think : People, who do preorder a PS3 are hardcore fans or rich people, but not the average. Therefore we must wait until you can buy the machines on the street market. The Wii and the PS3 will be like DS and PSP ! A powerful expensive machine (PSP) and an innovative cool machine (DS) ! And who did win ? Nintendo ! It will happen again, because the Wii is only the DS for the TV ! Nintendo will bring games like nintendogs or Brain Academy, and with this strategy they are going to conquer the market. Look at the Wii , look at his style, do you recognize the similiarities to the DS lite?? Yes ? Because this is the new Nintendo strategy = clean and noble structures for everyone to buy ! (Like Ipod) ! Dont believe to any statistics or graphics, just look to the DS and you will see the upcoming story of the Wii !!

Anonymous said...

Following up on what "tony kaz" said above.....: don't forget those pictures of the Ubisoft developers with the Wiimotes looking around the room as they pointed it everywhere.


Anonymous said...

I'm thinking lazer tag with the wiimotes, they'd easily be able to recognize each other, the 6k would easily store a hit or miss. Reenable your ability to shoot when you get near the sensor bar, it tallies who sjpt you onto the screen by reading the info stored in your controller. Real life fps. :)

frank said...

that bar graph shouldn't scare nintendo too much, after all, they aren't targeting the hardcore gamer that orders stuff months in advance, they're targetng the people who don't play games

Anonymous said...

Big hype marketing vise - smaller in reality...this seems to be Nintendo's strategy for some time now.

So I would go for the usage of "sound" like some people stated here. I would even go further and say that this time, wii will see/feel what surround sound really mean to gaming experiments.

I've no doubt that this Wii-generation is just a steping-stone, a test from Nintendo's part for something much bigger. All comapny's strives to make their platform better in any directions, whether its in graphic or gameplay department, I just feel that Nintendo already have some of those in hands but will rather implement in relation to if Wii-generation will be sucessful or not. And that both Sony and Microsoft are watching carefully what this industry innovator does in comming next 5 to 10 years. I indicate to Sony's innovative implementation of the tilt-fuction to their dual shock gamepad. I'm not saying that Nintendo's hand are undirty. Take a look what they did after ArcadeLive. The point is that everybody steal ideas from eachother. But Nintendo just do it in somehow - better way.

ehem...I see that I was of topic now..sorry



Anonymous said...

Force feedback. There.

Grandmaster B said...

I believe all he means by fighting is the type of friendly rivalry. You fight on the screen and you argue etc who is better off the screen.

I believe thats all the context is.

Anonymous said...

About Force Feedback -- that's the one feature that would

(A) completely do it for me, and
(B) that probably no one would understand until they had it in their hands.

It also matches well with the Goro Abe quote pointed out earlier by dsss: Everyone loves Nintendo and don't want to ruin the big surprise.

But I'm not sure that it matches with Perrin Kaplan's post-E3 "hardcore gamers to keep an eye on Nintendo"...


Anonymous said...

Oh and by force feedback, I don't meant "rumble". I mean directional force feedback as in...:


pi said...

Next Wii day is at lest 3/11/2006


EA - Need for speed : carbon (Wii)
will comeing 3/11/2006

... If it's lunch title Wii launch date is 3/11/06.
... If not Wii lunch befor that.

ian said...

Nibris have a publisher for Sadness. (best mr. burns) Excellent.

Anonymous said...

thank you falafelkid. excellent write-up.

and i think just about everyone on this blog knows where i stand on this issue... nobody will say it except for me. i'm the lone fool, and i'm fine with that.

we will definately see 3d visuals from wii.

ahhhhh that feels good to say.

-"superfan" tactics.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with grandmaster b above. People are taking it out of context. He simply meant that you would get so into the game that a fight would break out in real life between friends.