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VScalar Blog

GameSpot: Losing Credibility Since 2005

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I've been a long time member (first under Vector Scalar, then my current VScalar). I've always appreciated GameSpot's features and reviews as well as their journalistic integtrity. Not anymore.

I saw the writing on the wall with the move to a more publisher-freindly .5 increment rating system (less room for shades of grey). the latest reviewer firing debacle is simply the icing on the cake. While i should probably wait to find out the real story, I don't feel like giving GS the benefit of the doubt. They've burned that much credibility.

I know it doesn't mean much since I've stopped being as active as I once was, but I've decided to drastically cut back my time here. I will also refrain from filling out surveys for GS advertisers or Gamer's instinct, as well as installing adblock for Firefox (just for this site).

Goodbye, unbiased GameSpot, former internet home to gamers. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Wow, has it been that long?

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I don't come here nearly as often as I did (that should be obvious). The two main reasons are the great games that I don't have enought time to play and Joystiq/Kotaku/ArsTechnica. Ever since I checked those blogsites out, I've been hooked on the up to the minute information, usually a day or two ahead of GS (if not more). System Wars lost its hold on me as well, since you can only ignore asshats for so long before it wears you down.

I seem to be playing my 360 every night-mainly Halo 3 but some arcarde games too. Before that it was Forza 2, Bioshock, and Shivering Isles. I keep meaning to finish Dead Rising, Saint's Row, Command & Conquer 3, and Rainbow Six: Vegas, but I can't seem to find enough hours in the day to shoehorn all of this gaming goodness into my life. This is definitely the best time to be a gamer in terms of quantity of quality games, and the 360 is the place to be. It sucks in terms of having to master time management, though.

I can't even remember when I last touched my Wii (groan-how else can I put it?). I still haven't finished Twilight Princess and my other Wii titles are kinda boring now. I do need to get new Wii games (Metroid Prime: Corruption, Wario Ware Smooth Moves, and Super Paper Mario are on my short list of to buy soon). My PC still gets occasional love, mainly for Civ IV: Beyond the Sword. I can't remember the last time I played Guild Wars (a past favorite) or any other game.

I am still amazed that SONY suits can't read the writing on the wall. I appreciate the new $400 price tag, but at the expense of BC? What happened to all that smack talk they were laying down on the 360 for software emulation? The new price leader won't even be able to do that-SONY just self-owned. Personally, I still have my PS2 (even though I don't play it), but BC is important to me because I usually trade in the last gen SONY console for the next one. I also don't have an infininite amount of space in my entertainment center, and the PS3 lineup is 'Teh Suck' without BC.

In the future, I'm looking forward to Mass Effect, which is my only MUST BUY title coming up. After that I need to decide between The Orange Box (Portal looks sweet, and I loved HL2 on the PC but hate kb/m) and Call of Duty 4 (played in the Beta and loved it). $$$ is the main limiting factor: I have enough to cover 2 of these 3 games before Christmas, so that means I have to decide and hope that Santa brings gifts to 35 year olds.

Well, here's to hoping your gamin life is as rich and meaningful as mine is. I'm signing off now to play some Civ IV BTS (my wife has the TV this a.m.), so gl and Happy Hunting!

/s Vector Scalar

Of Forza 2 and Fallout (and Dangerous Waters)

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Wow, this summer is turning out to be about catching up. I scored a compliation of the 3 good Fallout games (1,2 and Tactics) for less than $20, and picked up Dangerous Waters in the Naval Strategy Pack on Steam during their big sale. $15.00 for 4 games I've been eyeing since my old Mac IIsi crapped out and I couldn't play Harpoon anymore. I'm still warming up to Dangerous Waters, but in about 20-30 hours I should be over the learning curve (yay old-school 570 page manuals!!!). My cup runneth over.

I'm also still slogging through Forza bit-by-bit. I decided I wanted to beat career mode before I went online, but I'm rethinking that. I'm still n level 36 and find myself having to look at career mode as almost a chore. Maybe I need a break for a few days.

I jumped back into Gears for old times' sake, but my mind is still made up-I'll get back into it when the new maps are free. Until then, i can live with Halo 2 for my online FPS fix. Of course, that willo leave me about 3 weeks until Halo 3 comes out, but I can't think of any better way to spend my free time.

For the more immediate future, I'm looking forward to Wing Commander on XBL tomorrow. I'll finally use the extra points I had after buying Shivering Isles. It should be an amusing diversion from Fallout and Forza!

Eating your Skittles,

/s Vector Scalar

Halo 3 Beta DTs

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#shivers#

I can't believe it is over. I had hoped that Bungie would at least leave up the stats, but no joy there. What can I do to relive the glory of riding a mongoose into a mancannon only to splatter some poor unworthy fool with my slideways landing? How can I touch that perfect trifecta of 2 spike grenade sticks followed by an assassination defending territory 5 crouching above the pipe while the red team crawled in blithely? Where can I experience the adrenaline rush of a standoff across a shielddoor playing ?shotty-snipers and trying to fake out the enemy? What can soothe my withdrawls from cutting people down with the Spartan Laser as they mancannoned to the middle of Valhalla?

You got me hooked, Bungie. NOW GIVE ME THE FIX!

Like many others, I'll probably get back into Halo 2 to pass the time.

#shivers#

...but it is soooo cold.......

Recipe for a PS3 Turnaround

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I was in System Wars tonight (as usual, a guilty pleasure), and someone created a thread asking what we would do to turn around the PS3 if we were a major executive at SONY.  I thought I'd share my response on my blog as well:

*long winded*

First, Axe BR. It adds too much cost and I don't think it is a justifiable expense. Make it an add-on like the 360. This would be very painful, but so is surgery.

Second push the Cell much harder in other products (SONY or other manufacturers)-with economies of scale costs go down. Even if you're raising the manufacturing costs for your other products you can recoup over time.

Third use these savings to drop the price to compete more directly with the 360 ($350/$450 seems close enough to me).

Fourth charge for PSN, but undercut MS (maybe $30/year). Use the $$$ you rake in to further reduce losses/console while expanding capacity & capability.

Fifth reign in your PR department. Foot-in-mouth disease won't turn off 'normal' consumers immediately, but there is a trickle effect if you lose the support of hardcore gamers. It won't happen over night, but I think we can all agree it has been happening.

Sixth court developers like you want to marry them. You need them more than they need you in a 3-way console race (4-way counting PCs). Let them know they're important and give them the best development tools you can possibly create.

Seventh decide what you want to do with the PSP. I'd kill it and swallow the losses, but if you want to keep it going then make a pack in bundle ($599 for the premium PS3 + PSP). Leverage one to help the other and vice versa. Call it the 'total gaming solution' pack.

Eighth leverage your HDTV products with a rebate. I'm thinking "Buy a total gaming pack and any SONY HDTV and get a $100 rebate." Better yet, make it a coupon for 2 games, a game and a controller, or 2 controllers (or whatever).

Ninth find some way to get out of the trap you're in re: LINUX. Sure its cool for consumers, but can you imagine what the Pirates will be able to do in 6-12 months? Everything above is predicated on recouping costs over time which can't be done if your software revenues are in a death spiral.

*finger cramp*

Wow, this was actually fun.  GJ, TC.

A Tale of Two Launches, GS Zelda Review Madness, and Tracking Wiis in the Wild

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I can't say I'm much surprised by the lackluster PS3 launch. A day late and a dollar short, even eBayers are giving up on the PS3. Can SONY screw things up even more? First they don't even meet their 'revised revision lanuch shipments', then their B/C plan goes awry. Next, it turns out that you need an update out of the box in order to go online, the first in a string of quick fix patches. Then it turns out that instead of upconverting native 720p games to 1080i or 1080p, they are downscaled to 480p. To make matters even worse, they hype over Resistance, Fall of Man was misplaced as it failed to acheive AAA status here at GS. To top it off, the past few days have seen PS3s go onsold on eBay because the MSRP reserve hadn't been met! I don't blame SONY for launchday violence, but just about everything else is egg on their collective corporate faces (and just cause for disgruntled shareholder lawsuits).

The Wii, on the other hand, was an unqualified success. Despite wrist-strap issues (I particularly like the video of the guy playing Wii sports in his dorm and wiping out a table of drinks when his Wiimote goes flying), the Wii was and remains a seriously hot-ticket item this holiday season. I have a friend who managed to get one on launch day (with no wating in line, no less) and he is amazed. He can't tear himself away from Wii Sports, or Zelda: TP. The thing is, he isn't a gamer (his g/f's son is, apparently). Unlike the PS3, Wii eBay prices stayed high, with units going for $350-500 (or more bundled with games and extras).

That just makes this next topic so *groan* unbearable for me. Zelda: TP had been hyped AAA in GS System Wars, strongly and consistently, for months. Very few predicted a FLOP and they were generally laughed at. Then it happened: Jeff Gerstmann dropped his infamous 8.8. Cows laughed in relief, sheep were owned, and even many lemmings such as myself were left stratching our heads, dumbfounded. I guess it can always happen to any game, but I never expected Twilight Princess to flop. Flop, however, it did. The news hit System Wars hard, with a few sheep posting suicidally. Threats of a mass exodus were issued. 'Teh LameSpot" and "XboxSpot" were some of the more civilized of derogatory names hurled at our hosts. Madness, I say, MADNESS! I'll be honest, my respect for many sheep went down that night, and for many cows, it went up. R:FOM got the same flop treatment (8.6, the highest PS3 game so far, beaten by 4 360 launch titles), but the cows didn't go south like the sheep did. "Bah Bah" became "Wah Wah" in the space of a few short minutes.

Of course, immature fanboy madness didn't stop me from searching for a Wii in the wilds, so to speak. I had heard rumors on System Wars of a special BestBuy allotment being held for 17 December. There was even a digital photo of the employee newsletter telling them how to handle the situation. I woke up at 4 am that Sunday morning almost giggling with glee that I would have the drop on all the other poor suckers in my area who didn't wait for a week and a half just for an unannounced Wii release. At just about 5 am I rolled up to the nearest BestBuy (Utopia Planitia is quite a commute)...to find 21 people in front of me. DAMNATION! Apparently the newsletter had leaked to the local TV station the night before and lots of people were in line. To make a long story short, I was 3rd loser in line.:cry:

Well, i guess I can get one in the New Year.

flair
Until then, this is your observant servant signing off!
/flair

Gears for GOTY and Headset Problems (Grrrr)

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I've been playing Gears since the 8th (the collector's edition came in a day late to the local GameCrazy). I've beaten the campaign once and played online a bit and all I can say is WOW. This game is definitely GOTY material. The only thing close IMO is Oblivion, but I choose Gears. We'll have to wait and see about LoZ:TP, but Gears is so good I don't mind waiting to get a Wii until next May or so.

I had some headset problems related to the last autoupdate, I think. It was strange. I couldn't record voice messages and I assumed my headset was dead since I got no noise via headset and no speach icon ingame. I called 1-800-4MY-XBOX and went through their canned and live troubleshooting. They determined it was a hardware issue and the mic was out of warranty. Oh well, I dropped another $20 on a new headset. Same problem! I called back P.O.'d, and they tried again. This time we tried to send a Private Chat Invite, and it said that Family Controls restricted this. I went to family controls and was unable to change them since there are no child accounts on my 360.

Finally, an XBL support specialist stepped me through deleting the autoupdate temp files and that restored the headset functionality. I'm out $20 more, have a redundant headset, and got booted from too many games to count for not having a working mic for 3 days. Grrrrr! Well, at least I can play now.

Well, that's all for now: I've got to go play some more of strongest of the 2006 GOTY contenders!

Phantasy Star Universe Demo

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I played it a bit over the weekend, and I have to say that I wasn't that impressed. I'll probably play a few more hours before the cutoff (midnight 18 Oct.), but I can't see my way clear to pay another $10/month over what I pay yearly for Live! Hermits always bash about paying for XBL, and I see their point, but rationalize it as not having to pay for any other subscriptions. Heck, I think paying for WoW on a recurring basis sucks (I prefer GW for my MMO thrills).

I would much rather pay for download levels, extra chapters, etc. than a recurring fee per month on top of XBL costs. It just seems too much to justify, IMO.

Your thoughts?

Level 21!

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Finally-I made it to level 21 (damn glitch)!

Now if only SONY would stop sucking.....

Nintendo's Missed Opportunities

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First off, let me say that I believe that the Wii is worth the price. That being said, Nintendo missed 2 major opportunities with their pricing strategy. First they overpriced the console with a forced bundle in the US. Second, they disregarded their own good advice regarding the price of titles.

If Nintendo would have released the Wii at $199 they would probably have walked away with the sales championship crown this holiday and for the forseeable future. Unfortunately, with the $250 price tag they are within spitting distance of the 360. I understand the point that a 'packin' is added value, but what about choice and what about those parents who don't understand that? It isn't obvious to me that gamers will pick the Wii over the Core 360, nor does it seem likely that non-gamers will pick up the slack this early in the game. I can see that dropping the game and the price would likely be taking a step backwards in value, but it is easier to sell on price when there is a significant difference. LoZ: TP with the Wii will equal the Core 360 in price.

If Nintendo had announced first party games at $35 or $40 permanently, they would have set an example for the industry that would likely have made serious problems for their rivals in the long term. Remember when Satoru Iwata slammed unhealthy software pricing cycles? His argument was that if you come in high then reduce price after 6 or 9 months that consumers will begin to expect that and wait. He railed against this 'unhealthy product cycle' and rightly so. Mr. Iwata said that the best policy is to appropriately price lower and stick to it for a lot longer. Too bad Nintendo wasted this opportunity to execute on this valid idea.

Think about this: if the Wii was $199 with no games and the games were $35-$40 dollars with no discount for 18-24 months, would Nintendo make more $$$ in the long run? I think so. Unfortunately that was a road not taken and it might mean that Nintendo takes second place this generation. That is an improvement, but they likely could have won competing on price and innovation.

Microsoft's decisions are looking more and more prescient as time goes by.  They have a significantly better chance of winning it all now than they did a week ago.
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