Fragmentation: A PC Gamer's Lament

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I'm a firm believer in the value of PC gaming. Undoubtedly, a gaming PC is more expensive than its console competitiors, but no console to come out yet has been able to adequately emulate the multifunctionality of a PC. Also, one only has to look atGamespot's comparison of Xbox 360, PS3, and PC graphicsfor proof that PC graphics generally far outpace those of their generation's consoles. Why, then, if they can offer a superior gaming experience, and can do far more than just play games, have PCs not caught on as the primary game system?

Fragmentation. Fragmentation is that thing that everyone was worried would happen to Android handsets, where a relatively open platform eventually gets so many competing programs with so many different protocols that consumer's are left totally unable to figure out what's necessary and what's not. Fragmentation isn't much of a problem for consoles. All Xbox 360 games run the same basic software, with the same types of files, on the same hardware. The same goes for Wii games or PS3 games. And network gaming is similarly simple, as every game connects via the same system (for the console, that is). PCs have been plagued with problems with standardization since they've become widespread...

Early on, in the days of Commodore systems, when every OEM had its own different operating system, games were fragmented. A PC game either ran on your Commodore, or on my Apple. There weren't any standards at all, because PCs were pretty new technology. Then came Windows, and PC games finally had a common

---Not Finished Yet

What's Next, Nintendo?

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OK, Nintendo, you're two biggest competitors are on your tail once again. Sony, props for the Wiimote clone. (Alright, the depth tracking ball and mildly motion-sensitive camera are cool additions, but nobody can deny that it's a clone.) Microsoft, way to try bucking the trend, but seriously, Windows and Office pretty much confirm what everyone knew. Innovation is not your thing, making it bigger and more powerful is. But back to Nintendo.

Nintendo, you're faltering. A few years ago you showed the world this amazing new console you called the "Revolution". Then, ever the innovator, you figured that the West could get used to a Japanese-named console, and changed the name to the "Wii". This "Wii" became an instant hit, earned itself a household name, and for the first year or so, doubled Microsoft's more of the same 360, and Sony's overpriced more of the same PS3. Kids, adults, grandparents, and girls (who, at this point, were a severe minority in the world of video games) joined on board. You reached new demographics and the ticker rose.

Let's figure why the Wii became a hit.

1.) No longer a thumb-twiddling device, mom! -- The Wii got a great reputation early on as a way to get people off the couch. While it wasn't the miracle exercise device many were hoping for, it delivered a pretty revolutionary promise.

2.) Who doesn't love a rebel? -- In a generation where Sony and Microsoft pushed pixels and framerate in our faces, Nintendo bucked the trend and gave people something to spend their money on other than statistics.

3.) Great early game lineup. -- Ever important, no matter what innovation you have. Haven't we seen from the success of the Nintendo 64 and the Playstation 2 that impetus is the big driver of sales? Massive sales of titles like Wii Sports (made better because it was free), Super Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, Mario Kart Wii, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl gave a great multiplayer experience to the Wii. Plus when Wii Fit came out, it seemed like Nintendo was finally delivering the exercise promise, and gave the Wii a second wind.

4.) Come aboard, everybody! -- As I mentioned before, the Wii delivered content to people who had never picked up a controller in their lives. Those new recruits to the world of video gaming pushed the Wii past that glass ceiling that Microsoft and Sony hit with the already gamers.

5.) Superb starting price. -- This ties back into the new demographics and the early impetus. The Playstation 3 opened with a price tag of a shocking $600. Microsoft made the Xbox 360 only a little less wallet-bitter with a standard Xbox opening at $400. At a cool $250, the Wii was, if not rock-bottom cheap, at least accessible. For $250, you can experiment in the world of video games. $600 is an investment.

So, what's wrong, Nintendo? You haven't released another stunner in a while, and the Wii charm is starting to slack. Now with the Kinect and Move, you've even lost your motion-sensitive edge! Also, what have you been doing with your price? I can pick up a PS3 for $250, down $350! An Xbox will only set me back $300, a nice $100 reduction! Yes, you are still the cheapest option, but it does seem stingy to drop only $50 in the many years the Wii has been out.

What do you need to do? Mobilize! Get together a game developer and your best talent (I know you have your geniuses up there) and develop another stellar title! You only have a few months before the Move and the Kinect get good lineups! If you can't drop prices, you need to increase demand!!

Get out there, Nintendo.

Watering Down the Flame of Pokemon

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Hello, I sorely hope that the people who will be reading this will be people who played Pokemon Blue, Yellow, and Gold, because only they will know what I mean.Pokemon has been getting watered down. Like a dying Charizard, the little drops of rain that Nintendo calls "progress" is making the once-beloved franchise lose its fire. Let's hearken back to the old days, when we had 150 (maybe 151, if you believed the rumors of Mew) Pokemon. I remember that i could know every single Pokemon in order, with their types, move sets, and where to catch them. Those are the days that I wished that Pokemon really existed. I remember hooking up my Game boy color with my friends to battle, and the excitement of catching Mewtwo. Fast forward about a half decade, and Gold, Silver, and Crystal come out. I know that I'm not alone when I say that these are THE defining Pokemon games for me. It seems like they gave you the most bang for your buck, for $10 you could get 251 Pokemon in two regions. This was progress, but not for the sake of a new title. This was progress for the sake of the consumer, the kids who were just starting Pokemon, and the jaded teenagers who needed a way back to being 9 years old. Moving another 5 years forward, and what do I see? Two more games staring back at me! Well, it couldn't be terrible, right? After all, could Pokemon have really climaxed at G/S/C? Yes, it could. Ruby and Sapphire were, let's face it, letdowns. Worse still, letdowns that killed my faith in the franchise. From the two games I lost interest. There simply wasn't anything left in the games that reality didn't have. Now, we have the creation of the world coming up, with a titanic clash here and there, and villains who come in shades of gray! This had to stop. Nintendo, however, could only relent for a little while. In a little eye in the storm, the heavens opened up and gave us technically-proficient Red and Blue. Sure, we could get a little pissed off about the exclusion of Yellow, but it's more or less excusable, considering it was a good decade since the fact. Relenting, however, was all Nintendo could do. Bills had to be payed, and that brought the weight of the list of new Pokemon up to 493, with Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. So long, faith. Pokemon has had a good run, but unless HeartGold and SoulSilver can revive the Heart and Soul of a generation long driven away from Nintendo's greed, Pokemon will be crushed under its own weight. Any thoughts? -Colonial Pikachu

PS3 has some disappointing graphics for a TV pauper

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I just got the PS3 Drake's Fortune bundle, but I gotta say, without an HDTV, the graphics on the PS3 can be a bit disappointing. Yes, I realize that I haven't really given the PS3 a fair shot, but it seems as if they made the graphics crap for everything but HDTVs, because my PS2 gave me better graphics on the same TV. It could just be the game though... Any comments? -ColonialPikachu