Tag Archives: Consoles

Tidbits for a Friday Post – Mammoths, Xboxes, and What is Next

A few items that I couldn’t really muster a full post… or much passion… about, but which I wanted to at least mention in passing so I could bring them up again in a year to see what happened.  That is one of my things.

EverQuest, What is Next?

I thought SOE must surely be trolling us.

I figured that they must have gone on some sort of bender after getting the MMORPG.com Best of Show Award at E3 with a game that almost nobody saw and which nobody can talk about. (Must be all the StoryBricks stuff, eh?)

Seemingly high and feeling cocky after those accolades, SOE announced that the final name for EverQuest Next would be… EverQuest Next!

Really?  Who was up watching TNG reruns at 3am and thought, “Hah, this will be great!”

But no, they seem serious. They have registered the domain and such.

I mean, I get it… sort of.  Or, at least I have been there.

When a project gets a code name and you use it a lot, it takes on a life of its own.  People within an organization will use internal code names for products for years after they shipped, much to the chagrin of marketing. (I have often been admonished by marketing over the years with phrases like, “Stop calling it that! That is not the name of the product!”)

Why not just go with what everybody is calling the product already, right?

But my own experience with many a badly named product makes me feel that, in the long term, sticking with EverQuest Next is going to be regretted.  To start with, what do you call the next game in the franchise?

Still, I went and made an EverQuest Next category for the blog.  I am sure we will be talking about it much more in the not-so-distant future, though I am trying not to pin artificial hopes and dreams on it quite yet.

Microsoft and Xbox One Policies

It was interesting to see how quickly Microsoft changed its mind on a number of the policies that made Sony so popular at E3.  Though, after the Adam Orth Twitter fiasco not too long ago, not to mention all the grumblings when this sort of thing was just rumors, one wonders why they needed to get that far in order to see the light.

Of course, some people are skeptical at this change of heart.  Microsoft isn’t as despised as Electronic Arts, but there are still trust issues.  I think that, for the most part, people don’t think Microsoft will shoot itself in the foot again on this issue any time soon.

So all that is left of the PlayStation 4 win at E3 is the $100 price premium for the Xbox One, which I suspect will become a non-issue in the absence of the other items.  The $100 gap seemed like a an obstacle when part of that list, but if that is all that stands between you and the next version Halo, it won’t seem like all that much.

More amusing to me though are the responses… of lack of responses… to this change of policy from some vocal individuals in the industry who were aggressively defending Microsoft’s initial plan.  One is already loudly proclaiming that consumer feedback had nothing at all to do with Microsoft’s retreat.  Keep on keeping on, man!

The Mammoth and The Art Department

There is a forum post up about revamping the industrial ships in EVE Online.  Industrials are the low end haulers that most players start out using. The plan is to try and give every ship of that class a viable role.

Not a bad idea.

Over the years CCP has added ships rather haphazardly at times, leaving some ships as second best at everything, so nobody bothers to fly them.  Lately CCP has been revisiting and revamping ship classes to try and create a place in the universe for everybody.  Last August it was mining barges.  Then it was frigates, then cruisers, then battlecruisers, and most recently battleships.

However, one of things mentioned in the industrial revamp post was a plan to swap the roles of two of the Minmatar haulers, the Mammoth and the Hoarder.  The Hoarder would become the largest capacity hauler while the Mammoth would be given some other task in life.

This was kind of a “WTF?” item in the middle of an otherwise sane… well, sane for CCP forum post in any case… discussion of a hauler revamp.  A lot of people out there, like myself, followed The Complete Miner’s Guide back in the day which recommended the Mammoth because it was the biggest hauler you could get into quickly.  The sausage-like Iteron V could haul more, but you needed Gallente Industrial V to fly it, which took more than a month to train.  The Mammoth could be yours in hours and, with further training and the right fit, could haul a jet can worth of ore, making it a nice fit for a miner.  The Mammoth became very popular.

My Mammoth and Retriever – September 2007

So people wanted to know why CCP would want to make everybody who flew a Mammoth for its capacity trade it out for a Hoarder.

The answer that came back was that the art department did not like the Mammoth model for purely aesthetic reasons.  They wanted the Horder model to be the main Minmatar hauler.  This lead to a lot of “But, I love the way the Mammoth looks!” replies to the thread (a few Hoarder fans chimed in as well, and I must admit that ship isn’t as ugly as I recalled) along with the perhaps more logical “Why would you screw some people over for this trivial reason?” argument.

In the end, the art team apparently wasn’t that invested in the change and let it drop in the face of some forum noise.  Pick your battles and all that.

Jester (twice) and Nosy Gamer (and now Funky Bacon) have relevant quotes, links, and discussions about this issue and the overall proposed industrial changes, if you are interested.

My world view is a lot less complex.  I like the Mammoth model and don’t really want to have to swap out three rigged Mammoths for no good reason.

On the other hand, it wouldn’t actually put me out that much if I had to.  So, whatever.

Xbox One – What’s in a Name?

When it comes to the recently announced Xbox One, I am not the target audience, having no desire to get another gaming console.  That is all going to pass me by.  Gaming middle age and such.

But I have to admit, when it comes to naming,  I’m with that clerk.  Shouldn’t “one” be the first in line?  Isn’t that what we could reasonably call the original Xbox?

I get the all-in-one entertainment center symbolism and such, having paid at least a little attention to the announcement.  But still, you know some parent somewhere is going to disappoint their child by coming home with an original Xbox they got off Craig’s List for “really cheap.”

Sony will never has this problem with the PlayStation 4.

Side Notes About Used Games

There has been a bit of a controversial breeze blowing through the console news, with the rumor being that Microsoft will be putting an end to the used game market with their next generation console by simply not allowing it to play used games.

Used games and piracy are the two things that keep some big game publishing execs up at night building enormous castles in the sky with all the wealth that could be theirs if only they could be rid of these meddlesome practices.

Not that I am unsympathetic to people whose software is being pirated.  I work in software as well, and it irks.

But with the threat of a final solution to the used game problem potentially on the horizon, it was extremely refreshing to hear somebody from EA come out and say that the used games market is not 100% evil.

Basically, in their view, used games have helped prop up the traditional retail channel for the last few years, which is still an important source of game sales.

Oh, and the fact that people who buy new games can then turn around and trade them in for credit increases the likelihood that they will then buy another new game.  So the used games market might actually be boosting new game sales, at least in certain segments of the market.

Using Used to sell New

Using Used to sell New

But they still want to kill the used market because… despite the above… they still hate it and can’t stop telling themselves that every used game sale would have been a new game sale if not for that damn gray market.

At the other end of the equation there is GameStop, a company that pretty much depends on used games to stay open.  They are upset.

No surprise there.

And they have some numbers that say some gamers won’t buy Microsoft’s icky new console if it doesn’t support used games.  And while I cannot speak to the validity of their poll, they are probably right to be worried.  The end of the used game market probably means the end of GameStop in the medium-to-long term.

And GameFly too, while we’re at it.  All those game rentals would have been new game sales, right?

Microsoft dreams of having control over things in the way that Steam does.  And they have been headed that way with things like direct purchases through XBLA.  Of course, Steam itself is in a bit of a fix in Europe, where the European High Court ruled that digital content should be transferable.  The concept of used might not be going away… and Microsoft throwing in against used will probably just inflame the issue in Europe.  They like Microsoft even less than most people here do.

And I expect typical Microsoft avarice when it comes to pricing, at least initially, which will stoke people’s ire even more so.  Steam thrives in part because of their massive sales, which rope in the buyers who didn’t have to have a given game on day one for list price.  Will Microsoft relent on the $60 price tag for games when there is no used market?  I bet not.

My only solace in all of this is that it does not impact me for the most part.

While we have two consoles, a Wii and a PlayStation 3, but I doubt that we will be jumping on the next generation.  I have been a PC gamer since 1983… wow, 30 years… and will likely remain so.  Our PS3 is mostly used to play Blu-Ray movies and stream Netflix, and our Wii hasn’t been on in months.

And, even when we were playing consoles more, I was not a big spender in the used game market.

Once in a while I would buy a used game from GameStop.

But I do not buy used games to save money or to stick it to the publisher.  I buy them because a given game I want simple isn’t available new any more.

Quite a while back I wanted Tetris for the Nintendo DS.  However, it was no longer being published and so was simply not available new.  It was even hard to find used.  GameStop had a copy for me, for which I paid nearly list price.  And not a penny of that went to Nintendo.  But not because I wouldn’t have given them the money.  However, I am sure that would lump me in with those killing single player games in the eyes of some.

Likewise, I had to go looking for a copy of Civilization II in order to be able to play it on Windows 7 64-bit.  The used market was the only choice.  The same went for Mario Kart Double Dash, a Game Cube game my daughter and I wanted to play on the Wii.

Of course, with another aspect of the next console generation… doing away with backward compatibility… the out of print game issue won’t rear its head any time soon.  Still, at some point, unless we go completely to digital distribution, there will games that have had their production run and are no longer available.

So where do used games sit in your world view?