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Buying Digital Games on Console: Why it fails

Let me start by saying that most of my concerns are centred around Australia and pricing. This may be the same all around the world but incase it is not, anyone that is reading this will know why.

I think a large amount of uproar regarding Xbox One's original policies centred around how games are purchased, traded in to stores and shared between friends. While the PC has taken great steps to enter the digital world with things like Steam and Origin, consoles are way behind in this regard.

I think a large reason for this is that pricing a digital version of a game is simply not competitive enough. In Australia to go into a store and buy a game the first day it came out you are spending anywhere from $69 from a large electronics chain to $119 from a smaller outlet. The same game will be $90 on Xbox Live or the Playstation store. Without the need of all the downsides of a physical copy from a financial perspective like shipping, cost of materials and the retailer's cut of game sale one has to ask why is the game still cheaper in stores.

I live 15 minutes from a major electronics store and spend the $69 to get it in a smaller space of time than it does to download and cheaper. Here lies the flaw of the Digital Download market for games on consoles, both companies now try to make the deal sweeter with free games on a monthly basis when you subscribe to their respective online services but that does nothing for a new AAA title that will not be on sales for months (possibly over a year later). On top of that when deals or sales expire the games return to a price that mirrors a day one price (Borderlands 2 is currently $30 more expensive on Xbox Live than it is in EB Games)

For the next generation of consoles this needs to be rectified. An obvious sense of value needs to be instilled in the gamers to make them stop purchasing physical copies and go digital. Even a consistent discount for paid subscribers of PS+ and XBL Gold might be enough to sway the masses.

Xbox One: Reveal Impressions

In my youth I started out as a Nintendo guy. I loved the Mario and Zelda games like crazy. To this day Ocarina of Time is my all time favourite game. My love for Nintendo died with the Wii as the company moved their gaze away from Gamers and moved into the casual market. I bare no grudge, doing what they were doing in the Game Cube days would have meant another console going down that line would have meant the end of Nintendo building hardware.

So, with that in mind, I moved on to the Xbox 360, the games were great. I could see all the consoles moving into a broader market with the internet and streaming films, music and TV but hey, I didn't care, they were still making a real push in games for gamers. Even when the Kinect came along I didn't bat an eyelid, a nice gimmick but not for me.

When Sony revealed their PS4 I must say I was impressed, not with the hardware or the slickness of the presentation, we all saw that coming, but with the focus squarely on games. Their attitude was almost, "yeah we stream videos and play Blu Ray and have great internet features but so what, everyone does." They focused on games showing off Watch Dogs, Destiny and others to just highlight this was a game device first and a media centre second. I was impressed but in the back of my head all I could think was, "I wonder what Microsoft are going to give us?"

After staying up in the wee hours in Perth Australia to see the Xbox One Reveal I must admit I when to sleep that night very empty. With all the fancy get up that the One has going for it, it seems to disappoint its core fans. It's easy to say that but lets break this down.

1. The TV applications- A strong link to Kinect 2.0 and its voice features the One allows you seemlessly change channels, scan TV guides and move from TV to Game to Dashboard to Internet Explorer with simple voice commands. These features sound cool I'm not gonna lie but come on lets face the facts here. I am sitting on the couch, writing this on my laptop while watching TV with my remote next to me with my smart phone in my pocket. You think I'm sighing that to change the channel or reading a text is such a drag and an inconvenience? NO! SO the arguement would be why?

2. NFL Partnership- : Live NFL on your Xbox coupled with PIP to review fantasy scores, progression, Skype interface to comment on results, bounce from Live NFL to Highlights with voice command and hand gestures. Again this all sounds pretty impressive but once again this does nothing for me and not just because I am an Australian who has as much interest in the NFL as I do watching Cauliflower steam. If this were say the Aussie Rules (which I love) or the Premier League (which I love even more) all of this means nothing to me. Again this links back into just how kitted out the average house is in the Western world all I need to do is plant my laptop on my lap and watch the big screen to do all of this. Smart glass has been touted as well with the connection between the Xbox and the TV but again this is nothing new or exciting in terms of being a GAMES Console.

3. The Games (or Lack there of): we were shown a few things at the reveal but I guess even saying it was a few is giving Microsoft a little too much credit. There was video of EA Sports FIFA and Madden, Remedy's Quantum Break, Forza 5 and COD Ghosts. The problem here was there was no gameplay, just videos. I remember the days of the PS2, GC and Xbox where we were shown hi res videos and had our minds blown, then we would go away and actually play these games and were left decieved about the lack of gloss from the previous videos. Microsoft seems to forget that this trick doesn't work any more, we need gameplay. You got a new controller (one of few major pluses to the new console by the way) so why not show it off, get it in someone's hands and use the bloody thing.

This presentation just missed the point entirely. This event was broadcast on TV and streamed live on the net through many major gaming sites. Simply put the presentation was not catered to this audience. You think that people tuned in to see if they could access Skype or Netflix with your voice? You think house wives were watching to see if they could scan their TV guide to see what soap opera is trending on Live? NO! This broadcast was for the fan base, GAMERS!!! So why the hell are we gonna want to know about multi media S**t? We want games! We want exclusives, we want old favourites but we also want new franchises to get us excited. We want exclusive content for Destiny, Watch Dogs, Splinter Cell and so on. They are now hyping E3 as the gaming conference for Gamers. NOT GOOD ENOUGH MICROSOFT!

There was always the worry about an Always Online console and I must admit, after the event they really never said that it wasn't (or that it was for that matter) in all fairness it was revealed not to be the case after the reveal but bloody hell boys, what were you thinking not to bring that up? With all the talk of Connection and Cloud gaming it seriously looked like it was an always online console and you were just afraid of backlash to say it. But I digress, it's not an always online console.

Now all is said and done we gamers are now left waiting for E3 to bring us what we really want, great new games from a new console that is there for games to be played on. The tech and the media features need to take a back seat. Kinect's non game features need to be put to the side and focus on the hardcore AAA games for Gamers. I was once Nintendo mad and moved on when they abandoned the true gamer. At this rate I will leave Microsoft to join Sony if I don't see a serious focus on games for Gamers. I can't stress this enough, So far the Xbox One has GUTTED me!

District 9- A Review

I was lucky enough last night to get into a preview screening of Neil Blomkamp's Distirct 9. Being a bit of a Sci-Fi nut I was excited but wasn't really sure what to expect, the early footage made it look like a doco style film while later trailers gave off the impression that it was more of a high brow Transformers. After seeing it I can say that it really is both, but don't fooled, unlike the new Transformers this film is good, nay, brilliant!

The story is set in the present day in the South African City of Johanesberg where these aliens have made a home for themselves in District 9, a human made area of land for the aliens (refered to in the film as Prawns) which over time has become a slum and a hive of criminal activity. The fils spends alot of the first hour focused on the Prawns and how they got to Earth and the treatment of them by the Multination National Union (MNU) who are entrusted with their safety. But they are really an arms company that only want the Prawns so they can use alien weaponry.

Things take a turn when the man entrusted to carry out evictions on the Prawns is infected with a black fluid that spurts from a canister. Over time he develops characteristics of the Prawns and soon fears that he will become one. MNU see a opportunity in all of this to harvest him and take his DNA to find a way to use the alien weaponry. He escapes and a man hunt occurs where the man puts his faith in one intelligent Prawn to turn him back into a full human.

I won't give too much more away all I say is that this is just the start of what is an intrigue and completely involving story. The casting of no major stars make you feel more connected with the characters and the CGI Prawns are compelling from the get go and you never feel like you are being faked. This is up there as one of the best films of the year and everyone should see it!

E3 in a Nutshell

Well the press conferences are over from the major Harware developers and we can now look back and reflect on what the offered this year at E3. The first cab off the rank was Microsoft who may have been the best show at E3 with some top titles that give you reason to boot up your 360 everyday. Then there was Nintendo and they were solid if you like your 'experiences' and not so much your actual fun games. And finally came Sony who paraded an array of new titles and advancements on the PSP. But here we are these are the good, the bad and the major gaffs of each show;

MICROSOFT:

The good: There were some great third party exclusives to come from the show especially Splinter Cell Conviction which has greatly changed since the last time it was seen at E3. On top of that Allen Wake made another appearance and now has a confirmed 2010 release, on top of this the Metal Gear Franchise is coming to the 360 with Raiden based game that is sure to get the fan boys stirred up. Halo:ODST was given another showing this year and looks as good as ever as well as the unveiling of another Halo game that leaves many questions as to what kind of game it will be.

The Bad: When 360 unveiled Project Natal, a motion sensing bar that measured all your movements in real time, there seemed to be some great potential in the technology then the team leader for the proect started talking. His best line was, " this isn't just movement from some preset waggle of the wrist" Nice shot Douche, would have been better had you weren't basically copying those waggling fiends Nintendo. If you want to piggyback the success of the company that's stealing your business the least you can do is keep your mouth shut about them.

The Gaff: They revealed Forza 3 and it looks great, as far as games go for this genre it looks top of the line. No wonder they gave it the tag of 'the racing game of the generation' but this would be a big no-no only hours later when Need For Speed Shift was unveiled which was also pretty and deep, ifact it looked exactly like Forza 3. Turns out the game of the generation is going to look like all the other racers for the next 2 years!

NINTENDO:

The Good: Mario! I would end it there but there was so much Mario to go around that it was possibly the only highlight of the press junket for Nintendo. A four player Mario Bros. game that seemed like a heap of fun for the Wii. A new Mario RPG for the DS which is just the right amount of cooky to work perfectly and then there is the best news of the Nintendo show, Super Mario Galaxy 2. Its been a while since a Mario game has had direct sequel and there is no better game of this generation on the Wii to get a sequel, you know except Zelda. Another tid bit that looked cool was the new Metroid game that leaves enough to make you think that there maybe some life in the Wii for actual gamers. That was until...

The Bad: Every other gamer game unveiled for the Wii, Red Steel 2 is unveiled, look if the first game was poor we don't want another serve of it. Then there was the Conduit and Dead Space, The conduit looked really bad and Dead Space for the Wii seemed like a cheap cash in. All in all the goal of Nintendo to let everyone play is working because all the games are so dumbed down that a three year old could whip an experienced gamers backside which is not as much fun as it sounds.

The Gaff: Iwata's little speach was more infuriating than enlightening, as he highlighted that they want all types of gamers all the while being oblivious to the fact that he is losing real gamers. Then he tops it with a new vitality sensor that essentially measures your pulse then he doesn't unveil any games or programs to go with it. It was truely the dumbest idea of the show.

SONY:

The Good: There new exclusive titles were impressive to say the least FF14 (you heard me right) GT5, God of War 3 and even ModNation looked cool. Then there was the PSP Go that was already known prior to the show but was still cool none the less and had some really top titles that may just make me buy a new PSP Go. The new online stuff was tops as well and even there prototype for a new motion controller seemed pretty cool. And unlike Mirosoft they didn't bite the Nintendo hand they stole from.

The Bad: There was not too much bad things to come from this show, if there was a gripe it would be that it was the only show that produced there figures almost in full and to be honest we all know that all the companies are doing well and don't need to hear it for a half hour.

The Gaff: Again they didn't do too bad in this department, but then again there gaff came before the show with half there big announcements were leaked a week out from the show so the excitement was tempered to a degree, especially the PSP Go announcement which was met lukewarmly due to everyone knowing about it.

If there was a gripe show wide it was that most companies are moving in the motion sensing game where the products being released are dumbed down so everyone can play them. This does alienate the experienced gamers as games are being made easier and the more complicated games are taking aback seat. Luckily only Nintendo seem to be at an advanced enough stage to actually alienate real gamers.

Good Evening, Fellow Level Grubbers

I was pondering a while ago why I even bother writing blogs. I mean no one reads them and they are hardly anything thought provoking in them so as to draw a comment out of anyone. But I came to the conclusion only a few hours ago as to why I bother with this time consuming exercise and yto honest it is really quite simple, level ups.

I know what you are thinking, why should I care as the levels really don't mean anything. They don't give you any rewards or bonuses, it's just another number on the board. To a large extent that is true but the levels me a sense of accomplishment whether that is false or otherwise. But there is slightly more to this than just levels. You see I also has a self indulgent prat side to me, because I am a guy that likes to blabber on about bugger all purely because I can. So why am I so open about this? Why do I keep writing in this manner? Well I am almost positive that I am only talking to myself and that this blog is simply more points in the bag leading to another level up.

Til next time avid readers!

What was the Game of 2008?

Believe it or not every year I have a long hard think about what was the best game and film of the year. The film category for me this year was simple, The Dark Knight, it ticked all the boxes it was long, entertaining but at the same time have a deep and engrossing ollection of characters. The game of the year is not so simple, you see games are in a way more of a guilty pleasure than film as games be purely judged of the enjoyment you take from any given game.

What I mean by this is that Fallout 3 was a brilliant game but I had more fun playing the rather low brow Saints Row 2. No one could argue that in many areas Fallout 3 was a much better game than Saints Row 2 but at the end of the day committing insurance fraud for ridiculously large sums of money was more fun than killing mutant rats in a disaster zne for next to no bottle caps. In the end I just have to give the award to a game that took up most of my time this year and that was FIFA 09!

Now I know it isn't the prettiest game or the most innovative one, infact you could argue that it was even a full update on the previous FIFA 08. But at the end of the day from the day I bought it to just a half hour ago I have played it everyday using all of its modes to get the most out of my football experience. Just for the record other contenders for my Game of the Year were Gears 2, GTA IV and Saints Row 2. Man was this a year for sequels or what?

Superbowl Test For The Office

Most people come Superbowl Sunday will have their football caps on shouting for either the Steelers or the Cardinals. Being an aussie I really don't care all that much about, except for the fact that former Geelong Cat Ben Graham is now the Punter for the Cardinals, my attention will be on The Office hour long ep that airs immediately following the Superbowl.

Now I have never hidden the fact that I am a huge fan of the Office but at the same time I must ait that I am a little worried. This season has been a little hit and miss to say the least with highlights like The surplus and Crime Aid going hand in hand with the average Business Trip and Prince Family Paper. Had this been last year I would be much more comfortable, I love this show but I know how TV Networks and believe me when I say this Sunday has to go well. The average veiwership of a post superbowl program is above 40 million viewers so whatever is shown on Sunday night alot of people will be tuning in.

Now I've come to know that the episodes that the office advertise earlier than most on their website are usually brilliant (the last being the hilarious Customer Survey) I still can't help but feel that this ep is truely make or break. A negative response to it on a national stage could mean a lower rating for the rest of the season, something a show that gets 9 million a week can't afford to have happen to it.

That said on the flip side a truely funny episode could catapault The Office into another zone of ratings success. Make no mistake about it, this is the Office's foot in the door to the big time, lets hope it can live up to expectations.

What is the Movie of theYear?

Every year I pick a movie of the year that stands out above all to me. Only one of these films was ever give the best picture oscar (which was The Departed in 2006) but they are all great movies in their own right. So it begs the question as 2008 slowly draws to a close, what is this year's best movie?

I have seen over 20 movies at the cinema this year and only few have disappointed me, Smart People was the movie I was most disappointed by as my hopes weren't high for Death Race or Super hero Movie (they were both awful by the way!). But there were three standouts this year that have my attention as candidates for film of the year. The first is Juno, for those in the states this flm of coarse came out last year but to us in Australia this a 2008 film. This film was made by Jason Reitman, the director of my 2005 film of the year Thank You For Smoking, and t is so funny and quirky and charming. Everyone in the film is brilliant and the script is very sharp, a really great film that everyone should see.

My second film is Iron Man, now this film is not as smart or as original as Juno but it is just alot of fun. Robert Downey Jr. makes this film as Tony Stark/Ironman as he brings a charisma and a humour to the role that most young Hollywood actors never could. Don't except any oscars for this one but it is alot of fun!

Finally and currently the front runner is The Dark Knight. You see I love all of Christopher Nolan's films from Memento to The prestige , they are all brilliant. So needless to say I was expecting alot of The Dark Knight and most films that I lift up to that lfty standard tend to disappoint me. But this film surpassed all my expectations and kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, largely because I got an entirely different film to what I was expecting and I mean that in the best way possible.

You what? I think if nothing else comes along The Dark will be my film of the year. Nuff said!

Season After Season

Something has crossed my mind from time to time about TV shows and when they start going down hill. Then the thoughts that crossed my mind was whether shows are actually losing it or are we, as an audience, expecting more from a show as the years go by. This came to me when I was watching season 5 of The Office and thought that the previous seasons were funnier, not that it is bad now because it is still good, just not as funny as its former self. I then proceeded to watch me DVD's of the other seasons. It hit me that it wasn't any funnier than this season it was just that back then the whole style was new and the show seemed fresh.

At this point I was sure that the whole concept was all in my head and that the show just wasn't as fresh any more because the formula hadn't changed. So what I was really craving was something new from the show after all these years. But to be honest now realizing this I am not sure that I want anything different to what I am already getting from this. Because when I realized I wanted somehing different it hit me that most how that go for change end up becoming worse because the audience misses what a show once was. For me the best example is House. I loved House but always felt a change in some way would benefit the show and really mix things up. The answer to this was for the producers to get whole new crew for house and limit the old crew to cameos in each episode. I find myself now wishing for a return to the old ways.

So what does this blog say about long running TV shows? well basically if you have spent years working with the same formula and style don't change it, the audience may feel that past seasons were better but in the end the show stil stands on its own and will keep most of its audience. While changing things up can diminish what makes a show great.

So if you happen to be reading this, reply back and tell me what you think about this issue. Am I right, am I making this a little too simple or is just complete nonsense, let me know.

No one does REAL Reviews

I have become addicted to reviewing my favourite shows online. I guess because it is easy and I love to write and critically judge the things I enjoy. Almost as a response to how I feel about any given episode. This enjoyment I get made me want to see what other people were writing and I must say I was disappointed.

You see when I think of review I think of a small recap of the episode, my reaction to certain events and the critically judge whether the show was funny or sad or whatever then compare it to previous episodes. So that is how I choose to write my reviews but sadly I seem to be one of the few. most reviews play out a bit like this, "oh my god that was my favourite ep ever. The thing with the stuff was so funny everyone has to watch it!" Think that but lengthened out to make the 100 word limit.

If anyone disagrees with this observation please let me know and give me examples of how I am wrong. But I must say I hope there are more people out there like me who take their time and make some really insightful and enjoyable reviews.

Til next time...

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