Nintendo at E3 2017: Predictions!

It’s only March but it feels like E3 is just around the corner.  I can’t help but find myself imagining what Nintendo’s E3 showing will be like, so I figured I’d jot down some of my predictions.  These aren’t in any particular order as I don’t find much enjoyment in “planning” shows. Here we go!:

  • Nintendo Switch paid online is detailed along with a start date for the “free trial”
  • ARMS releases in late May, but Nintendo talks future support
  • Splatoon 2 is given a release date, launches alongside the trial of the online companion app
  • Smash for Switch is confirmed and will be out in fall.  Releases alongside Bayo and Cloud Amiibo and supports the Gamecube Controller adapter via the dock.
  • Speaking of Gamecube, Virtual Console launches in summer with Gamecube and Wii support.  A Switch OS update allows the use of Wii remotes for Virtual Console titles. The Virtual Console name is abandoned in favor of the “Classics” branding
    • Nintendo will also offer a retail package for “Classics” that contains a bluetooth Gamecube controller and a selection of two to three Gamecube games.
  • Breath of the Wild DLC pack 1 is detailed and given a release date.  We also get a small teaser for pack 2.
  • Fire Emblem Warriors is given a concrete release date, Xenoblade 2 is still listed as “fall”.
  • The first big OS update for Switch is shown off.  It brings purchasable themes, support for certain controllers via bluetooth (Wii, re-release Gamecube), support for streaming apps, a web browser, and a proper activity log.
  • Retro’s secret project is shown off with a short trailer.  It’ll release in 2018.
  • Some other 2018 titles for Switch and 3DS are teased, including Pikmin and Animal Crossing.

 

As you can see, I have some high hopes for Nintendo at E3! What are your predictions?

— Burdmayn Out —

Xbox Game Pass has a big advantage over Playstation Now…

Let’s start things off by addressing the elephant in the room. This is not some fanboy flame war post that I whipped up to annoy Playstation owners.  I own both a PS4 and an Xbox One, and I want to see both consoles succeed.  You could certainly argue that Xbox needs more help in this regard, but I digress.

Both Microsoft and Sony recently showed their hand when it comes to their “next big thing” for buying digital games.  Sony has offered game streaming/rentals via their “Playstation Now”  streaming service for a few years now, but it was previously only for PS3 titles. At some point this year, that service will start to incorporate PS4 games as well. Xbox Game Pass will be Microsoft’s first foray into this kind of service and it looks to offer both Xbox One and Xbox 360 games.

On the surface, both services are very similiar.  They provide a large catalog of games to “rent” for a small monthly fee.  That fee provides access to any and all games available on the service at that time ALA services like Netflix.  Where the two differentiate, is how they handle said rentals.

Playstation Now is currently focused solely on streaming games.  Nothing is stored locally on your console, so the service cannot be used offline.  Xbox Game Pass on the other hand, operates by letting you download games on the service directly to your console.  You can then play said games offline for up to 30 days without “checking in” to prove that you either own them or subscribe to Xbox Game Pass.

Between the two services, Xbox Game Pass has a clear advantage over Playstation Now.  Downloading games will save you bandwidth every month, and it generally gives you a bit more freedom to continue playing sans internet.  However, I think the advantage becomes even greater when you factor in the “upgraded” consoles that both companies offer/will offer in the form of the PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio. Here’s how:

Both the PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio allow developers to optimize their games for the better hardware.  This can mean displaying in 4K, optimizing assets for 1080p, or a combination of the two. Quite simply, owning the upgraded hardware should get you better looking games.

As Xbox Game Pass allows you to fully download games that you rent through the service, gamers can take fully advantage of Project Scorpio-optimized titles. Sony’s streaming method for PSNow does not save anything locally, and as such your console cannot offer an “upgraded” experience.

In summary, Playstation Now has a clear opportunity to offer benefits for PS4 Pro owners.  Microsoft future-proofed Xbox Game Pass so that anyone who picks up Project Scorpio can benefit from optimized games.  The impetus is on Sony here to make Playstation Now more valuable to their customers, and I surely hope they take a lesson from their competition. My personal suggestions would be to either offer “normal” and “Pro” options for streaming games, or to copy Microsoft’s approach and allow PS4 games to be downloaded to your console.

— Burdmayn out–

The Nintendo’s NX needs to be different

With a stellar showing of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at E3, Nintendo has been back in the forefront of many a gamer’s mind. Though Nintendo has been extremely quiet when it comes to details for their new “NX” console, that hasn’t stopped the internet from speculating. I’ve read so many theories lately that I’m done trying to think of what Nintendo WILL do, now I’m going to demand what they should do!  I know that no one from Nintendo will ever read this, but that won’t stop me! So without further ado, here’s what I think the NX needs (and can) do to put Nintendo back in the spotlight.

  1. Switch back to a traditional controller:
    1. This one is pretty simple so I won’t spend a ton of time on it.  Nintendo had the chance with both the Wii and Wii-U to push nontraditional controllers.  There was demand at first, but now iPhones and iPads have nailed down the market for nontraditional controls. Move on Nintendo.
  2. Design NX to use cartridges (or some other kind of media besides discs):
    1. This gets a bit more complicated, but recent rumors on the internet have made me feel that this is the right way to go. Disc drives are bulky, and they aren’t fast enough to read larger games anymore.  That’s why both the PS4 and Xbox One require you to install disc-based games before you can play them. I don’t see Nintendo making a console that’s digital only, but I want them to stop using discs.  You hear that Nintendo?! Stop it!
  3. Don’t put a traditional HDD in the NX:
    1. On the same note as disc drives, traditional HDD’s are also bulky while flash memory is expensive.  I want to see the NX go the same route as the Wii-U in terms of memory.  Give me a console with 32 to 64GB of built in flash memory and let me buy an external HDD.  If games aren’t installing off of a disc we won’t need one anyway!
  4. Make the console small and affordable:
    1. This ties into the previous two points as a console without a disc drive or traditional HDD could definitely cut down on the size of the machine.  Even if the machine needs an external power supply (power brick) to do it, make the box small! This ties into my next point which is…
  5. Focus on games! Games games games!
    1. Both the PS4 and Xbox One are competing to be the end all be all entertainment box in our living rooms, the NX doesn’t need to join in.  Instead, focus those efforts on making tons of great (exclusive) games.  If the NX is a small device at a competitive price with tons of stellar exclusive games, it could definitely stand out.  Most families probably have at least 2 or 3 “smart” devices in their homes already, and hardcore gamers definitely do.  What those devices don’t have, are great Nintendo experiences that you can’t get anywhere else.

-Burdmayn out  *waddles slowly on the ground and lets you walk wayyyy too close to me before flying away at the last second*

 

Microsoft’s E3 messaging for hardware was on-point

After Microsoft’s E3 press conference on Monday, I’ve seen a ton of reactions. However, the one that seems to be most prevalent among gaming enthusiasts is that Microsoft killed the Xbox One S by announcing Scorpio 90 minutes later.

I couldn’t agree less with this sentiment, as I felt Phil Spencer and his team delivered a bit of marketing mastery with their stance on hardware this year.  Here’s why:

Microsoft started their conference by announcing the Xbox One S. The console looks great, and it seems to be an attempt to breathe new life into the Xbox One. If you pay attention to retailers right now, you’ll notice that this is Microsoft’s huge marketing push. If you don’t see the Xbox One S being advertised, chances are that you’ll see the new pricing for the original Xbox One instead.

Their next big announcement was the Xbox Design Lab. A website that allows you to fully customize the color scheme of an Xbox One controller for $80. The new controllers also offer expanded wireless range and support for Bluetooth. This is This ties in greatly to their final hardware announcement which was…

Project Scorpio. Which I felt had a message that was crystal-clear. For one, this was Microsoft addressing the leaked rumors that are all over the internet. They didn’t want speculation about how powerful the machine would be, they put their plans out for everyone to see.

Second, tying into the previous announcements, this was their chance to make sure people aren’t afraid to invest in the Xbox brand. Phil Spencer’s let everyone know that all current Xbox One games/accessories will work with Scorpio. Customize a controller, buy a discounted Xbox One or pre-order the Xbox One S, Scorpio won’t make you ditch all your games/accessories when you’re ready to upgrade.

So with all that being said, I reiterate that I couldn’t disagree more with people who think Microsoft had terrible messaging.  For those that are interested in Xbox, the message was loud and clear, come to Xbox and you won’t get left behind.

 

  • Burdmayn out *Flaps invisible wings*

Penny Pinching with Consoles 101:

Lesson 1: Console online memberships

I wanted to start off this series with an intro to the most basic way to save money on console games, free games and discounts through memberships.  Both the Playstation 4 and Xbox One offer yearly memberships (in both monthly and yearly flavors) that will allow you to play your games online.

Now if you’re new to consoles, you’re probably wondering why you would need to pay extra money just to play your games online.  Well… besides the addition of new features, most of your money here goes towards to the hardware and services that allow your online games to work… online.  Both Microsoft and Sony have realized that the idea of paying for memberships supporting hardware and services you can’t see isn’t very appealing. So they both decided to add some extra value.  Here’s how things work.

Xbox One/360 – Games with Gold

  • Microsoft’s online membership is Xbox Live Gold, they have a variant called Xbox Live Silver, but it doesn’t really get you anything
  •  If you subscribe to Xbox Live Gold (59.99/year or 9.99/month) you’ll get 4 free games per month.
    • The free games are distributed as:
      • 2 Xbox One games
      • 2 Xbox 360 games
    • As the Xbox One supports certain Xbox 360 games through backwards compatibility, Xbox One owners can play all 4 free games each month

 

Playstation 3/4/Vita – Playstation Plus

  • Sony’s online membership is Playstation Plus.  It’s a bit different in that you only need it to play games online on Playstation 4.  Playstation 3 and Vita owners can play games online without Playstation Plus
  • If you subscribe to Playstation Plus (49.99/year or 9.99/month) you’ll get 6 free games per month
    • The free games are distributed as:
      • 2 Playstation 4 games
      • 2 Playstation 3 games
      • 2 Playstation Vita games
    • As the three current Playstation consoles don’t share games.  Your 2 Playstation games are locked to the console that they are listed for.
      • That being said, there’s a small loophole to the above statement. Sony has a “cross-buy” feature that they allow developers to use. This feature works as follows:
        • If Developer X makes a game Y for both Playstation 4 and Playstation 3, the title would normally be listed as two separate games.
        • With “cross-buy”, Developer X can give you both versions of game Y for the price of buying just one version
      • So… If a Playstation 3 game supports cross-buy with the Playstation 4 version, your Playstation Plus copy of that game will give you the Playstation 4 version as well.

 

In addition to all of the free game benefits mentioned above, both Xbox Live Gold and Playstation Plus offer exclusive discounts for subscribers. These discounts vary by day/week/month but it’s a great way to buy new games at a discount when you’re tired of playing what you got for free.

So… That’s a lot of information!  Which is why this is lesson one of many, but I hope you enjoyed the read and possibly learned something! If you have any questions or comments, leave them below!

  • Burdmayn out *flapping noises*

 

My take on Starfox Zero

Hello all!

Starfox Zero is out in the US today, so I thought I would write my take on the game.  This is a unique scenario because I haven’t played the game yet, nor do I plan to in the near future.

Why?  Well… after treading reviews it seems that people are divided into two camps for Starfox Zero, those who love it and those who hate it. The dividing line being the control method that Nintendo chose for the game.

All I really wanted to say is this: I respect the people who are defending this game. The controls may be a bit non-traditional, but it seems like they’re nothing that you won’t get used to over time.  Starfox is the type of game that you’re supposed to play through over and over to perfect your score, so the joy really comes out of mastery here.

That being said, people on the other side of the fence aren’t wrong for not liking the controls.  Video games are a hobby, and to most people they’re supposed to be about fun above all else.  If I pick up a game and don’t enjoy myself right from the start, I’m much more likely to stop playing it in favor of something that’s fun from the start. It’s like saying a TV show doesn’t get “great” until the second or third season. While one person may be willing to endure things up until that point, another might give up entirely in favor of getting the most out of their time.

So in the end, that’s why I won’t be picking up Starfox today.  I’m sure that if I played the game I would grow to love it after a few hours, but I’d rather spend those few hours enjoying something else right from the start. *cough* Ratchet and Clank *cough*

 

  • Burdmayn out *flies away and gets stuck in a tree*

PS4K (NEO) reactions

With the internet up-in-arms about Playstation’s NEO project, I wanted to write down my thoughts on the matter. Here’s the original article from GiantBomb if you haven’t read it already. I’ll be pulling quotes as key-points from the article and adding my opinions. Here we go!

“No price was provided, but previous reports indicate that the NEO would sell at $399.”

I think this could be the perfect entry point for this new console. Release a new, more powerful SKU at the price point of the original console and drop the price of the old.  Whether people buy NEO or the PS4, Sony wins out.  I’m personally expecting a PS4 price drop to $250, which means we could see Black Friday deals for that price along with games, or $200 for just the console.

“Starting in October, every PS4 game is required to ship with both a “Base Mode” which will run on the currently available PS4 and a “NEO Mode” for use on the new console.”

I personally love this idea, but I think part of it depends on what move Microsoft makes next.  Some people seem worried that the NEO will mean games aren’t optimized for the vanilla PS4. I think developers would be insane to optimize a game for one console, while essentially ignoring the two others that have much larger user-bases.

“The NEO will also support 4K image output, but games themselves are not required to be 4K native.”

I think this is a smart move on Sony’s part to keep the PS4 relevant. At the very least, this will let enthusiasts watch 4K content through PS4. I honestly don’t expect to see it much, or at all, in games.

“The NEO will not supplant the current PS4, but will exist alongside of it and use the same user environment. The PS4 and NEO will use the same PSN store, connect to the same online communities, and offer the same user experience, so expect to see the same cross media bar that you’re used to. Players will be able to retain all of the purchases they made on the PS4.”

This, this, one thousand times this. Sony would be insane to abandon the 40 million strong user-base they have on the PS4.  This statement alone makes me believe that (NEO) will really just be meant for tech-heads who want the best for their money without jumping over to PC gaming.

“Sony seems committed to keeping the NEO and the original PS4 player bases connected. As such, there will be no NEO-only games, and Sony will not let developers separate NEO users from original PS4 players while playing on PSN.”

This is probably my favorite part of this whole leak.  No NEO-only games means that vanilla PS4 will be around for at least another few years. There’s also a bit in this quote about how any differences in games should not apply to multiplayer.  Hopefully that bit is true, because devs would definitely get some heat for creating multiplayer advantages on the NEO.

 

All in all, I’m very excited about the idea of NEO.  If we start getting consoles that are upgraded every two to three years, it’ll ideally take at least one or two upgrade cycles before they stop treating the “original” model as the standard.  By that time, you would potentially be looking at a four to six year-old console that would traditionally be replaced by an entirely new concept.

I personally think that this move could let Sony keep themselves relevant in the hardware space.  Instead of the PS3 to PS4 jump that people normally expect, console generations can blend together without a hard-stop that leaves content from the old generation behind.

Now the only thing left to wonder is whether or not they’ll wait till E3 to do a reveal.  I think Microsoft’s handling of the Xbox One is the prime example of what not to do in this scenario.  If Sony pretends like these leaks didn’t happen and declines to comment, this could be the beginning and the end of their new concept all at once.

 

  • Burdmayn out *bird noises**wings flapping*