Friday, January 12, 2007

Armed Assault (Operation Flashpoint 2) DEMO is out!

This news is late, but you can download the DEMO now.

The original, Operation Flashpoint, was my 2nd favorite game of all time.

#1 would be Neverwinter Nights playing Persistent Worlds I DMed.

#2 would be Operation Flashpoint playing on 10sq kilometer islands, getting in any vehicle, land, sea or air based, and having no "special toughness" ... bullets KILLED. And the AI couldn't tell who you were. You were just another soldier. Plus the Editor that was a snap to use made for GREAT fun. Neverwinter Nights had the whole editor thing going too.

So here's to hoping that this game lives up to the original.

Edit: Sucker's out in Europe. Here's a great review.

Supreme Commander has my Supreme Interest

Finally, a Single-Player / Skirmish Mode hands-on review/preview is up.

I'm a beta tester, and I must say that the online system Gas Powered Games has come up with sucks hairy donkey balls, complete with scrotum bumps and folds. It's just aweful. I have played exactly one game all the way through, being thwarted by connection issues (either trying TO connect, or trying to STAY connected) 70% of the time, and other players 25% of the time.

So I'm largely looking forward to the AI, once again. That part seems to be good, but I can't beta test it as beta testers must fight each other - no skirmish mode for us.

I hope Supreme Commander overcomes its flaws, none of which are gameplay, but everything to do with playing online.

PS3, XBOX 360, Wii - not a weak console showing?

Why It's a Weak Console Generation:
My good friend, Kevin in Virginia, told me that this was the weakest console launch in history. His premise was that the XBOX 360 and PS3 really offered very little that was new to gamers, just increased graphics. PSX brought us 3d games - that was new. The NES brought us something new. But even though he can see this, he thinks the Wii offers us nothing new.

But he doesn't like the Wii.

Why It's Not a Weak Console Generation:
I'd point out that new consoles are selling as history dictactes. While he has a point as to the lack of innovation of Sony and Microsoft's products (PS3 Blu-Ray, another format like UMD? At least I like the specifications but what does increased storage at slower read times really offer games?) his arguement falls flat on its face when concerning the Wii. The fucker has gained awards from pundits who usually don't play games.

But Kevin doesn't like the Wii. That's okay, my cousin, Paul, isn't rushing out to buy one, either. They're both single males who enjoy multiplayer games.

How We Can Tell Sony is Losing:
This article/blog has enough historical statistics that give us a roadmap as to what Sony will have to do to overcome the XBOX 360. The SNES overtook the Genesis' two year lead, but it took a lot of doing. If Sony can't keep up with these monthly sales figures, the PS3 is in trouble.

I'll quote liberally...

Why the PS3 is Not a Sure Thing:
"Make no mistake, even coming off a record number of sales with the PS2, Sony has a very hard road ahead of it. No company in the history of gaming has won three generations in a row. Usual paths to downfall include pride and arrogance. Nintendo at one point had over 90% market share, only to drop to just 60% the following generation and lose the lead to Sony the next at roughly 30%. The gaming industry is one of the toughest to compete in. What may seem obvious years later could have been a great idea at the time."

"There are never clear answers as to what hardware will eventually win, but one thing is universal: if you fail to sell your game console you will lose. More importantly, if you fail to sell it in the first twelve months after the launch holiday, you will lose. This is even more compounded if you are not out before your primary competition."

What Sony Has To Do to Win:
"In order to pull this off, Sony will have to sell more systems than their competitors during the next twelve months. To determine how many they will have to sell, we will look at a bit of history and make a few educated guesses."

"So, at the end of the day, Sony will likely have to sell 14+ million systems during 2007. Figuring that 5 million are likely to sell with ease during the holiday rush in 2007 (October, November and December) and one million will sell with ease at the European launch of the PS3 in March, that leaves Sony with 8 million to sell in the remaining nine months. That is approximately 900,000 units per month. Europe is historically slower to pick up new consoles at their launch price, instead preferring to wait for price reductions - thus we will estimate a bit lower for sales each month for 2007 for Europe.

The likely monthly sales differential between the territories that will allow Sony to succeed is

300,000 Japan
300,000 US
200,000 Europe"

"How soon will we be able to tell? Realistically, not until early 2008. But, we should start getting an idea shortly. If Japanese weekly sales show less than 50,000 systems sold per week consistently through the first 3 months of 2007, Sony is in trouble. If the US shows less than 200,000 systems sold per month for the first three months of 2007, Sony is in trouble. Europe is all but impossible to track externally, so we unfortunately will be unable to determine results based on Europe at this time."

Why the PS3 Price Point Could/Will Kill It:
"...Unfortunately history does not currently take into account Sony’s price point on the PS3. Will consumers be able to afford or choose to afford the high price, or will they opt instead for the Xbox360 and/or Wii. On this point history does provide a limited amount of guidance.

Back in April of 2004 Microsoft dropped the price of the Original Xbox by $50 to $150. This put them at a $30 price advantage to Sony’s $180 for the PS2. In the US, Microsoft capitalised on this by having their first month ever to beat Sony in monthly sales in the US. The following month Microsoft all but equaled Sony’s sales in the US. It wasn’t until the month after that when Sony reduced the PS2 price to $150 that they briefly took back the lead. For the rest of that year they were neck and neck on sales. All of this while it is clear that Sony was leading overall in quantity and quality of game releases on its platform and had not yet hit the saturation point.

If a $30 price difference can even the playing field between the definitive leader and a distant second place, what will a $100 price difference do? What will happen if Microsoft drops the price of the Xbox360 by an additional $50 and Sony is unable to match them?"

$50? What about a $300 versus $500 price tag, or a $250 one as the Wii enjoys (while making a profit, not taking a loss)?

"Can Sony sell 800,000 systems a month right now?
Can Sony win with a $100+ price difference with its nearest competitor?
Will history repeat itself?"

My answer is simple and quick: No, Sony can't, no they won't, and the PS3 is already doomed. Doomed to die like the Saturn or limp on like the GameCube, I'm not sure, but it's doomed. That's my prediction.

The PS3 already has units just sitting in Worst Buys and Cities of Circuits, Targets and Wally Worlds. Read the 'net - look at the pictures. People can't just walk up to a $600 behemouth and say "Hey, I'll buy that!" anymore than a $600 el-cheapo computer.

The only real battle is exactly as Bill Gates called it -- between the XBOX 360 and the Wii.

Think this generation is disinteresting? Probably for multiplayer afficianados with computers like Kevin and my cousin, Paul. What do motion-sensative, pointer controls do for them that they absolutely must have? Well since the Wii has no MMORPGs and no online games yet -- NOTHING!

But that doesn't alter reality.