Wednesday, December 20, 2006

PS3´s full power to remain untapped forever, says Sony

Sony really deserves every single word of bad press they get at the moment, I have come to accept now. Why, you ask? Because their executives are rubbish at communicating their product.

Sony Computer Entertainment exec Phil Harrison recently went on record, saying that the PlayStation3 is so powerful that "nobody will ever use 100 percent of its capability."

While that might sound impressive at face value, it is undoubtedly the most ridiculous statement someone can make about a product like this (one that is both so expensive and cutting edge) and is sure to drive potential buyers towards either competitor.

Think about it. It is like saying that a hair dryer is really powerful, but will never actually work at full output capacity. You still have to pay plenty extra for that extra power, although it will go unused, of course. Mind you, Mr. Harrison would make an excellent hair dryer, with all the hot air coming out of him these days.

I think that Harrison should be fired for making such moronic statements at a crucial time for what essentially is a great product. And I would not be surprised to see that happen soon, too. After all, last time I called for Ken Kutaragi to be sacked - and remember what happened just over a week later?

Source: MTV
Thanks to: Slashdot, Ars Technica

Monday, December 18, 2006

Early Wii controller prototypes

NSider forum user Japtar10101 has uploaded a picture from Nikkei Business magazine, apparently showing some early Wii controller prototypes.

God knows how we would have used that star controller, if it was meant as the main controller, at all. If not, there might be some ideas in that photo that Nintendo will realise further down the road.

Source: Japtar10101

´Metal Gear Solid 4´ no longer PS3 exclusive?, part II

The latest and highly anticipated installment in the hit series ´Metal Gear Solid´ will not be PlayStation exclusive, industry insider Daniel Boutros claims. On his blog Noooz, he reveals that an Xbox360 version of MGS4 has been confirmed behind closed doors.

It's coming a few months later than the PS3 game, but it's happening folks.

This is said to be because publishers - including Konami - don't believe there'll be enough PS3s out there by the time the game hits because of the blu ray diode failure issues. (...)

This came pretty much from the horse's mouth, so you can count on this being legit.

This is the second time rumours about MGS4 going multiplatform surface. In late October, gaming magazine EGM wondered if the game was coming to Xbox360. I regard this as a likely scenario, especially since the PS3 is drastically lagging in sales and struggling to get past the million mark.

Consider this alongside the news that a PlayStation3 game must sell at least 500.000 units in order to break even, as Namco president Takeo Takasu told Bloomberg in late November.

According to various sources, Sony has managed to sell between 500.000 and 800.000 consoles by now. Economically speaking, publishing MGS4 exclusively on PS3 makes no sense whatsoever.

Although it should be noted that exclusivity in the games industry has always been a relative term. After all, ´MGS2: Substance´ was released on Xbox only one year after ´MGS2: Sons of Liberty´ came out for PS2. So the real question here is how soon will an Xbox360 version of MGS4 show?

Sources: Noooz, Bloomberg
Thanks to: Joystiq, Kotaku

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Wii hits two million mark

Sales of Nintendo´s Wii console have surpassed the two million mark, according to AMN´s Videogame Charts. Here are their current figures:

0,27m Japan
4,41m Americas
1,94m Others
6,62m in total

0,60m Japan
0,99m Americas
0,49m Others
2,08m in total

0,31m Japan
0,48m Americas
0,00m Others
0,79m in total

The other site playing the numbers game, NexGenWars, paints quite a different picture, particularly for the Xbox360:

8,60m in total

1,77m in total

0,46m in total

Even with the latter figures, Nintendo is not far away from having sold two million consoles. If they can sustain this pace, Nintendo has a real chance of becoming market leader by the summer. But, of course, it is too early to tell until all three consoles are readily available.

Sources: Videogame Charts, NexGenWars

Friday, December 15, 2006

Upgraded Wii to be released in spring?

Nintendo may be readying an upgraded Wii to be released in spring, which will cost $50 less and feature more colours, new rumours suggest.

eSports site GotFrag has apparently been given word by a store manager in a 'Toys "R" Us' outlet:

After talking to him a bit, the manager revealed a few things in light of the Wii consumer frenzy. He would go on to state that if they [the customers] would "just listen," they could get a "better system" in a few months.

A "better system?" As he would soon explain, Nintendo will be "relaunching" the Wii console sometime before or at the beginning of Spring 2007. The launch, which is said to see many different colors for the Wii system (as seen at E3), will also be accompanied by a hefty price drop from $250 to $200. (...)

Also note that it is undetermined if the "better system" statement includes technical upgrades to the Wii, as recent rumors have suggested.

While a DVD-enabled Wii has been confirmed for Japan, I seriously doubt that we will see an upgraded console for a reduced price so soon after launch. Also, a store manager would not be in on this, while the big news outlets appear to be clueless.

Perhaps there was some confusion here with Nintendo's recall of wrist straps. Most convincingly, though, I believe that Nintendo - still struggling to meet demands - will not burden itself with releasing more colours, further exaggerating the shortages for everyone who insists on matched accessories. And, finally, previous purchasers would surely feel cheated if they could have gotten a much better deal less than half a year later (remember the Xbox launch debacle).

Source: GotFrag
Thanks to: TheSmashMan

Thursday, December 14, 2006

European PS3 launch delayed further?

I have come across a new comment that gives rise to further speculation that Sony will delay the European launch of the PlayStation3 further. Speaking to The Associated Press (via Yahoo), Sony Corp. President Ryoji Chubachi made no mention of the March release date:

Sony also expects to meet its shipment target of 6 million PS3 ready by the end of the fiscal year ending March and will launch its next generation system in Europe as soon as possible, Chubachi said.

In early September, Sony pushed back the European launch from November 17th, naming March 2007 as the new date. Two months later, Phil Harrison declined to confirm that date, speaking to semi-official PlayStation blog Three Speech:

Given that all of our previous statements about launching in Europe simultaneously with the US and Japan turned out not to be the case, I would not like to make any definitive statements on that. It’s not my job to comment on hardware supply issues other than to say some very smart people are working very hard to catch up.

The blog later updated the story, quoting Sony officials as saying that the comments had been taken out of context.

A few days ago, though, Ken Kutaragi was quoted as saying that the European launch may be pushed back until May 2007. Again, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe responded to these fresh rumours, categorically ruling them out.

Now, Chubachi´s comments seem to give further credence to the console´s European launch being delayed beyond March.

I will go out on a limb here and state that Sony will not meet March. They might try to launch nevertheless, but I do not think they can rally more than 100.000 units. In my opinion, it would be wiser to delay again and have a sufficient shipment in place.

Also, consider that these delay rumours mostly came from SCEI, while SCEE did all the debunking. This is Sony Japan shafting Europe once again.

EDIT The good people at CVG are citing an anonymous source as saying that the European PS3 launch may even be delayed until September.

Sources: The Associated Press (via Yahoo), Three Speech

Friday, December 08, 2006

The wait is over

Thanks to the nice guys over at K-Videogames, the following ugly mugshot has now been made available on the internet. You might not be able to see it, but somewhere underneath that wild stubble is a happy smile.

Source: K-Videogames (German)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Get a Wii tomorrow - meet Falafelkid

Right now, I am going to have to apologize to all but my German-speaking readers, since this will be my first (and last) post in German. It relates to the only midnight sale of the Wii in Germany. So don´t you Americans or Japanese readers complain! You are playing Wii already ;)

Toys "R" Us hat für den späten Donnerstag eine "Wii night" mit Mitternachtsverkauf in ihrem Store in Köln-Holweide geplant. Vor allem soll eine ausreuchende Stückzahl verfügbar sein, um auch noch ein paar Kurzentschlossene zu bedienen.

Deutschlands erste Wii kommt zur Geisterstunde

Riesen Party für Nintendos Neue: Mit den beiden Comedy-Stars Erkan und Stefan startet TOYS“R“US in Köln die Wii Night. Nur hier gibt’s die begehrte Konsole nämlich schon ab Mitternacht

Köln, 04. Dezember 2006 – Sie ist klein, sie ist begehrt – sie ist hier noch nicht zu haben. Erst am 8. Dezember kommt die Nintendo Wii endlich auch nach Deutschland. Für alle Fans, die es nicht erwarten können, hat sich TOYS“R“US was ganz Besonderes überlegt: Schon in der Nacht von Donnerstag auf Freitag machen Erkan und Stefan im Kölner Store an der Bergisch-Gladbacher-Straße richtig Party. Zur Wii Night mit Star-Besetzung gehen die ersten Konsolen nämlich schon ab 24 Uhr über die Ladentheke. Früher ist die begehrte Wii in Deutschland wahrscheinlich nirgendwo zu haben. Nur bei TOYS“R“US in Köln gibt’s den exklusiven Nachtverkauf. Der Store in Holweide hat ausnahmsweise bis früh morgens geöffnet.

Und damit die Zeit bis Mitternacht schnell vorüber geht, stehen im Shop vorher schon acht Konsolen zum Austoben parat. Wer vorm Ausprobieren sehen will, wie’s richtig funktioniert, schaut einfach Erkan und Stefan beim Gamen zu. Die beiden duellieren sich ab 22 Uhr zu coolen Sounds auf der Wii-Bühne. Nach zwei Stunden gibt’s dann zum offiziellen Verkaufsstart endlich für alle eine eigene Konsole – zumindest so lange der Vorrat reicht.

Aus allen Stores in Deutschland hat TOYS“R“US zusätzliche Konsolen für die Kölner Wii Night abgezweigt. Ob’s für alle Fans reichen wird? „Beim Verkaufsstart in New York haben die Leute bis zu 40 Stunden vor den Shops auf die ersten Konsolen gewartet“, so Helmut Hort, stellvertretender Geschäftsführer von TOYS“R“US in Deutschland. Sollte der Hype um die neue Spaßbox hier genauso groß sein, wird’s eng in Köln. „Dann müssen wir sehen, ob’s reicht. Mehr Konsolen auf einem Fleck wird’s vor Weihnachten aber auch in anderen Geschäften nicht geben.“

Toys "R" Us hat mir gegenüber auch gesagt, dass man bei dem Event schon für die zweite Lieferung vorbestellen kann - und die Konsole dann garantiert noch vor Weihnachten bekommt.

Eine Anfahrtsskizze gibt es hier. Ich werde auch vor Ort sein und meine eigene Konsole eintüten. Wer noch schnell eine haben möchte, kann sie hier sicherlich bekommen. Viel Glück.

Source: Toys "R" Us

Friday, December 01, 2006

BREAKING NEWS: PS3 is Sony's last console, says analyst

Ken Kutaragi's promotion was already understood as a plot to remove him from daily PlayStation business. Now, analysts believe that this restructuring is the fist sign of Sony abandoning the PlayStation hardware altogether.

The Financial Times reports:

Analysts said that Mr Hirai´s promotion to a global role at SCE could mark a critical shift in management thinking, with Sony changing its emphasis so that the current generation of games console will be its last as a hardware manufacturer.

"The appointment of Hirai could be the start of a shift from hardware to software," said Yuta Sakurai, an analyst at Nomura. "I cannot now imagine a PlayStation4."

Mr Sakurai said that Mr Hirai´s new global portfolio puts a predominantly software-focused manager in charge of the company, adding that SCE´s future would be shaped by Mr Hirai´s relationship with Phil Harrison, the president of SCE´s worldwide studios.

Analysts argue that while Mr Kutaragi, a brilliant engineer, was the right man to run SCE as a hardware powerhouse, Sony may now see better opportunities as a pure maker of games.

Now, I am sure we all agree that this view ("I cannot now imagine a PlayStation4") appears to be somewhat rash, even given the ´annus horibilis´ Sony has experienced with the PlayStation3. This may be one lone analyst´s interpretation of the SCE shakeup.

At the same time, bear in mind that this was part of an FT article and the newspaper is perhaps the most reputable business daily in Europe. And considering that Sony´s share price dropped further (while Nintendo gained a remarkable 4% the same day), it is certainly a theory worth considering.

EDIT After Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter called Sakurai´s suggestion "foolish" - while Sony´s US spokesperson Dave Karraker offered only a lacklustre rebuttal - SCEE´s Vice President of Technology, Paul Holman, has apparently gone all out on the issue.

Australian lifestyle and technology magazine Smarthouse quotes him as saying that there will be a PS4, but not until at least 2010. Further, and more immediately, Sony seems to toy with the idea of copying the Wiimote:
Sony will introduce a series of firmware upgrades that will give the PS3 more media centre capability while allowing for the introduction of third party applications and hardware "Such as interactive controllers" similar to the Nintendo Wii he said.

Source: The Financial Times