February 13 – February 17

This week the PlayStation Vita takes its place on the podium in the U.S, Canada, Europe and just about everywhere that isn't Japan. It launches with a satisfying enough number of titles, though it's hard to pick any one particular standout, must-have game from the list. All things considered, it's a sleek piece of high-tech machinery that I essentially have no interest in whatsoever.

I'm not sure that I'm a Sony customer anymore. That's not a venomous declaration of unrepentant disdain, but rather a passionless analysis of what seems like my general purchasing trends. I still haven't agreed to their post-hack EULA, which means I've basically been separated from their online content for quite a while now, and to be honest there's been nothing enticing me to return to the fold. Maybe we've just gone our fundamentally different ways, in which case I wish Sony the best of luck on their losing-billions-of-dollars strategy, which seems questionable to me but I don't have an MBA so what do I know? The long and short is that I don't hate Sony or my PlayStation, I just don't really have any interest in them.

I'm not saying they couldn't win me back. Who knows, maybe in six months I'll be talking about what an ass I was not buying the Vita at the first opportunity. Things change pretty damn quick in this business, and I'm no longer in the game of assuming that the past has any real bearing on the future in this biz.

While we're briefly dancing around the topic of hacks, it's interesting to me the difference in reaction to Steam's ongoing and still developing November hacking as compared with Sony's. Is it that Steam has earned more of our goodwill in advance of leaving the backdoor open? Is it that we've realized that maybe the hackers are a lot better than we'd first suspected? Is it that we just lost interest in businesses that drop the ball on protecting our private info? A topic, perhaps, for a later date.

Anyway, Vita launch! Hooray?

PC
- Crusader Kings II
- Alan Wake (Steam)
- Dear Esther (Steam)

Xbox 360
- BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend
- Grand Slam Tennis 2
- UFC Undisputed 3
- Warp (XBLA)

PS3
- Grand Slam Tennis 2
- Twisted Metal
- UFC Undisputed 3
- BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend and Twisted Metal
- Worms Ultimate Mayhem (PSN)

Wii
- Rhythm Heaven Fever

PlayStation Vita
- PlayStation Vita First Edition Bundle
- Asphalt: Injection
- Ben 10 Galactic Racing
- BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend
- EA Sports FIFA Soccer
- F1 2011
- Little Deviants
- Lumines: Electronic Symphony
- Michael Jackson: The Experience HD
- Lumines: Electronic Symphony and Little Deviants
- Rayman Origins
- Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Nintendo 3DS
- Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
- Tales of the Abyss
- Tekken 3D Prime Edition
- iSpot Japan (eShop)

PSP
- Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom

Nintendo DS
- iSpot Japan (DSiWare)

Comments

What's the Game of the Week? How am I supposed to make a purchasing decision without your guidance?

While we're briefly dancing around the topic of hacks, it's interesting to me the difference in reaction to Steam's ongoing and still developing November hacking as compared with Sony's. Is it that Steam has earned more of our goodwill in advance of leaving the backdoor open? Is it that we've realized that maybe the hackers are a lot better than we'd first suspected? Is it that we just lost interest in businesses that drop the ball on protecting our private info? A topic, perhaps, for a later date.

And how does that reaction compare to that toward Microsoft and possibly EA's ongoing problems with accounts being hacked and used to buy thousands of dollars of FIFA DLC?

It seems now like Sony's mistake was that they shut down their service while they investigated the extent of the breach. So long as you pretend that everything's okay, so will everyone else.

Alien13z wrote:

What's the Game of the Week? How am I supposed to make a purchasing decision without your guidance?

See, the game of the week is $250 hardware. You should go buy it.

I still haven't agreed to their post-hack EULA, which means I've basically been separated from their online content for quite a while now, and to be honest there's been nothing enticing me to return to the fold.

I was under the impression that Microsoft's new EULA is exactly the same now as Sony's new EULA, so you agree to not sue them class-action, or you only play online on PC style platforms (such as PC, Mac, iPhone, Android.)

I was under the impression that Microsoft's new EULA is exactly the same now as Sony's new EULA, so you agree to not sue them class-action, or you only play online on PC style platforms (such as PC, Mac, iPhone, Android.)

Probably true. My comment wasn't "I didn't sign and by God I never will" so much as I've just never gone back to my PS3 and PSN since that whole thing.

While I still prefer the PS3 to the 360 as a console and media center (mostly because of the exclusives), I'm with you on completely not caring about the Vita. I think this is the make it or break it device for Sony in the handheld space - I'm curious to see how it does.

Oh, and Alan Wake PC and Dear Esther redesign are out this week, which is awesome.

Vita is out this week?? *rolls over and goes back to sleep...*

I've got a Vita on pre-order and am very excited for it. Sadly, most of the coverage I'm reading basically says "it's not an iPad so don't bother." I think comparing the iPad to the Vita is like comparing the Wii to the 360. Not in terms of power (though there is that too) but more in the sense that they're two very different platforms catering to different audiences. So much of the gaming press seems to believe that a dedicated hardcore portable market can't exist when tablets are around and I don't think that's the case. The 3DS' post price-cut success is already proving that. There's plenty of shallow timewaster titles I liked when I borrowed our office iPad and I'm probably splitting an iPad 3 with my girlfriend when they come out. But I believe there are plenty of hardcore gamers like me who also enjoy experiences with depth and complexity while not on the couch or in front of the PC.

Sure, the 3DS and Vita won't sell iPad numbers but something doesn't have to outsell Apple to be a winning product I think they both have a good chance at competing in their own market. Many in the press forget when they keep calling out what a failure the PSP was that it has in fact been very profitable for Sony and was a big success in the US for many years until the ridiculously easy way to steal games on it drove publishers away.

I liked the Vita when I played with it yesterday at the Sony Store; I don't see enough compelling launch stuff to get me to buy it right away, but a sale, or a really good title may change my mind.

I played with a Vita in-store at GAME last week. Though it is an impressive piece of technology, actually having one in hand cemented my view against buying one. There just wasn't anything about it that made me think that I would haul it about with me.

I suspect that the other issue is that they are launching with the iPad 3 casting a long shadow. I agree with Parallax that the 2 aren't in the same category as devices, but most people planning on dropping £400 to £700 on a new iPad aren't likely to have £300 for a Vita, game and memory card this month.

I've got a Vita on pre-order and am very excited for it. Sadly, most of the coverage I'm reading basically says "it's not an iPad so don't bother." I think comparing the iPad to the Vita is like comparing the Wii to the 360.

I think this is true in part, but I don't think as a general consumer point of view you can say they aren't in competition. If I'm consumer X and I'm interested in getting one portable machine, then whether directly or indirectly they are in competition. They may not be trying to achieve the same goals in the same way, but a lot of people may be making a choice between iPad, iPhone, Android and traditional gaming handheld with limited dollars to spend in one direction or the other.

I agree owning an iPad alone isn't a reason to not get the Vita or 3DS for that matter. However, there is something to the question of if you already have an iPad making a consumer decision about whether adding a Vita will add comparable value, and I do think a lot of people will be influenced by that.

Elysium wrote:

I think this is true in part, but I don't think as a general consumer point of view you can say they aren't in competition. If I'm consumer X and I'm interested in getting one portable machine, then whether directly or indirectly they are in competition. They may not be trying to achieve the same goals in the same way, but a lot of people may be making a choice between iPad, iPhone, Android and traditional gaming handheld with limited dollars to spend in one direction or the other.

I agree owning an iPad alone isn't a reason to not get the Vita or 3DS for that matter. However, there is something to the question of if you already have an iPad making a consumer decision about whether adding a Vita will add comparable value, and I do think a lot of people will be influenced by that.

Yeah, I can totally appreciate that argument. It's just a shame most of the coverage I'm reading doesn't take that angle so much as says the Vita's going to bomb simply because iOS exists, in spite of the 3DS' evidence to the contrary. I'm fortunate enough to be in a position to have a decent amount of disposable income (and a smartphone paid for by my employer, though sadly it has to be a BlackBerry) so if the Vita tanks, it won't cause me much hardship. If I was one of the many people who have to choose one thing, I probably wouldn't have bought it at launch. Don't get me wrong, the 3DS may be doing well but both it and the Vita do have a tough road ahead for sure. I just don't think the hardcore market has "moved on" the way so many in the press like to profess with nothing but gut feelings as proof.

If a lot of good JRPG's start showing up on the Vita (especially Persona related ones) then I might give it a look...otherwise it's a big MEH from me.

I might have been interested in Tales of the Abyss, but I'm enjoying Resident Evil too much.

Is it that Steam has earned more of our goodwill in advance of leaving the backdoor open

I believe it's because Steam, to all accounts, adhered to best practices. Having security flaws is almost inevitable if you're exposing a large, complex service to the Internet.

Valve, unlike Sony, had defense in depth, and encrypted what they were supposed to encrypt. So even though the bad guys got through the outer barriers, it appears that the data they made off with (credit card info) hasn't been misused, so either they weren't looking for that stuff, or couldn't decrypt it. And they didn't get passwords, which means that people still foolish enough to use passwords in more than one place don't have a whole bunch of hassle to go through.

Sony's flaws were far more severe; all their internal code was written with the idea that the Playstation could be totally trusted. So as soon as the hackers cracked Sony's poor implementation of a standard encryption method, they were able to romp almost at will through Sony's internal networks, wreaking havoc. Sony had a thin outer shell and was totally vulnerable once the outer protection was breached, and THAT is what had/has people so pissed off. Valve had multiple layers of security, so when one failed, some data got out, but there was a safety net preventing the fall from being too severe.

Now, Valve does have a lot of goodwill, but I suspect that wouldn't immunize them if they'd really fouled up, and the technical people were saying so. But since we're saying that it looks like they did a good job, that goodwill easily covers the fairly minor gaffe.

3DS software sales are abysmal though.. so while Hardware is moving (but not exactly at a stellar rate) software hasnt been reflective of the units sold..

I would be SUPER concerned about that if I was Nintendo.

I'm also meh on the Vita. I don't use any of it's "features" on any of the older handhelds I have so I don't know what would suddenly change that behavior, and everything that looks sort of interesting on the launch list I own on another platform. I'll look at it again in six months or maybe pick up a used one.

I'll pick a game of the week for you:

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend

Old-school arcade fighting action at it's finest. IMHO, Calamity Trigger (it's predecessor) was better than the last version of Street Fighter, and beats Marvel vs. Capcom all hollow too.

We should toss a quick nod to Twisted Metal just because it used to be cool and I hope this will have at least some cool rubbed off on it.

Totally going to pick up UFC 3...after a couple weeks and it drops to $40. UFC 2009 was a good approximation with some annoyance, while UFC 2010 took a few steps forward and a few back. From what [/i]I've seen of 3, it looks all good, especially having the option to play either in arcade mode or in simulation mode. MMA fighting games are, to me, taking all the hotness that conventional fighters forgot around the PS2/GCN era.

And FYI....iPhone will kill 3DS and Vita, in case there was still any doubt. There might be a case to be made for either device, if:
* 3DS/Vita institutes integrated and awesome store
* awesome store allows independent and 3rd party devs to sell titles for less than $5
* devs feel good that have access to control prices and make frequent updates.

These are all necessary conditions for those products' success. Without them, we won't see 3DS or Vita on the market in xmas 2013 in any great numbers.

I think Nintendo needs to rethink their "channels" philosophy if they want to focus more on digital downloads, first. After the twenty ambassador games on the 3DS, I'm already yearning for some sort of folders or organization structure. Or maybe channels with sub-channels or something, so I can click on GBA Channel and get my 10 ambassador games for GBA.

Malor wrote:
Is it that Steam has earned more of our goodwill in advance of leaving the backdoor open

I believe it's because Steam, to all accounts, adhered to best practices. Having security flaws is almost inevitable if you're exposing a large, complex service to the Internet.

Valve, unlike Sony, had defense in depth, and encrypted what they were supposed to encrypt. So even though the bad guys got through the outer barriers, it appears that the data they made off with (credit card info) hasn't been misused, so either they weren't looking for that stuff, or couldn't decrypt it. And they didn't get passwords, which means that people still foolish enough to use passwords in more than one place don't have a whole bunch of hassle to go through.

Sony's flaws were far more severe; all their internal code was written with the idea that the Playstation could be totally trusted. So as soon as the hackers cracked Sony's poor implementation of a standard encryption method, they were able to romp almost at will through Sony's internal networks, wreaking havoc. Sony had a thin outer shell and was totally vulnerable once the outer protection was breached, and THAT is what had/has people so pissed off. Valve had multiple layers of security, so when one failed, some data got out, but there was a safety net preventing the fall from being too severe.

Now, Valve does have a lot of goodwill, but I suspect that wouldn't immunize them if they'd really fouled up, and the technical people were saying so. But since we're saying that it looks like they did a good job, that goodwill easily covers the fairly minor gaffe.

Yeah, from the outside looking in it seems like Sony left the back door open, while Valve came home to find the back door ripped off the hinges and thrown onto the lawn. And a giant mutant moth watching movies in the living room.

Anyway, I'm another one who doesn't really care about the Vita, just as I have never cared about any Sony hardware at launch. In a year or two when there a handful of games I want and then that one game rolls around that I'm dying to play, that's when I'll get the Vita, exactly the same way every piece of Sony hardware wound up in my home.

ccesarano wrote:

I think Nintendo needs to rethink their "channels" philosophy if they want to focus more on digital downloads, first. After the twenty ambassador games on the 3DS, I'm already yearning for some sort of folders or organization structure. Or maybe channels with sub-channels or something, so I can click on GBA Channel and get my 10 ambassador games for GBA.

Before the Wii came out, I thought this was going to be a thing. I thought Nintendo even said it was going to be a thing. Then it was never a thing, and I was sad. I agree, it needs to be a thing. People should start a huge grassroots movement to make this a thing. Project Organization Thing!

PC
- Crusader Kings II

So psyched! There will be medieval mayhem on the morrow, oh yes there will! I cannot wait to see what a crop of in-bred lecherous drunkard imbeciles I get to run the family kingdom!

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

But I believe there are plenty of hardcore gamers like me who also enjoy experiences with depth and complexity while not on the couch or in front of the PC.

This is what it really comes down to, isn't it? The vita is a gamble on just that, but what I think you're seeing from the folk who aren't giving it a chance is that there isn't. Looking at my own life, I just can't see myself playing a deep and complex game on a packed bus or waiting at the doctor's office, and I think that a lot of industry folk probably feel the same way. Does that translate to there actually being a lack of a market, or are the commentators just translating their own experience to the whole market? I suspect software sales numbers will tell.

Alien13z wrote:

What's the Game of the Week? How am I supposed to make a purchasing decision without your guidance?

ME3 demo.

Ok well consider me at the other end of the popular opinion about the PS Vita. I'm just waiting here, cash in hand, anticipating the Vita's release probably like no other console in history. It's actually been paid for for months!

This week I'm getting:

- PlayStation Vita First Ed.
(includes Little Deviants & Uncharted Golden Abyss)
- BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend
- Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
- Wipeout 2048
- ModNation Racers
- Hot Shots Golf
- Super Stardust Delta (PSN)

(by the way mr. Sands, many of those are missing from your list for this week)

and I've even already got money down for the following

- Ridge Raaaceeer
- MLB 12
- Street Fighter X Tekken

And if it were not for the fact that I already own them on other consoles, I would also get Rayman Origins and Lumines. I can't justify spending another 35-40 on each.

Compare that list to my 3DS, for which I owned only Street Fighter 3DS for what seemed like ages, and I think the Vita has a solid launch lineup with the only real fault being that they are all sequels. I know I'm overspending but at the same time I did get a great deal on many of them: most were $24.99 early preorder specials and Little Deviants and Uncharted I get for free with the console (a special deal Best Buy had). The way I see it, all in all it will still be cheaper than that 32gb iPad 2 I bought last year!

249.99$ I think is a great price for this handheld. It's cheaper than most iThings and does gaming much better and the prospect of "Crossplay" and "Remote play" is very exciting to me.

Dysplastic wrote:
Parallax Abstraction wrote:

But I believe there are plenty of hardcore gamers like me who also enjoy experiences with depth and complexity while not on the couch or in front of the PC.

This is what it really comes down to, isn't it? The vita is a gamble on just that, but what I think you're seeing from the folk who aren't giving it a chance is that there isn't. Looking at my own life, I just can't see myself playing a deep and complex game on a packed bus or waiting at the doctor's office, and I think that a lot of industry folk probably feel the same way. Does that translate to there actually being a lack of a market, or are the commentators just translating their own experience to the whole market? I suspect software sales numbers will tell.

Honestly, I do believe there's a lot of commentators translating their own experiences to the whole market. Having followed the gaming press very closely for years, I can safely say that when it comes to predictions of the communities they speak to, they are pretty much useless. The gaming press largely laughed at iOS gaming when it was just starting out and look where it is now. The gaming press thought the DS and the Wii were jokes when they were announced, yet the DS is still the best selling portable system of all-time, as is the Wii for a home system. When a press industry idolises Michael Pachter, you know they aren't bearers of the crystal ball.

You are correct though in that the numbers on both hardware and software will tell the real story. I wrote a post on my blog tonight detailing why I think there is still a market for hardcore portable gaming and why I decided to put my money down on the Vita. I fully admit I may find out in a few months that I just pissed away $250. I don't think that's going to end up being the case though. The fashion trend that is fuelling the current unsustainable growth curve of iOS I do believe is causing a reality distortion field in the press and that while the 3DS and Vita will never outsell the iPad, they can and will find substantial success catering to the hardcore that still ultimately drive this industry forward.

tboon wrote:

PC
- Crusader Kings II

So psyched! There will be medieval mayhem on the morrow, oh yes there will! I cannot wait to see what a crop of in-bred lecherous drunkard imbeciles I get to run the family kingdom!

This is what yall should be discussing. Vita shmita.

I'm psyched for Rhthm Heaven Fever. Or rather, my daughter is psyched for it and I'm looking forward to giving it to her for Valentines day.

Oh who am I kidding. I'm eager to play it too. Every so often that quirky, J-pop sensibility appeals to me.

Weird thing, though, I preordered it on Amazon and they said it came out yesterday (sometimes Japanese titles don't obey the Tuesday rule), but there were none in stock. I hope they ship my copy. Otherwise, I'll have to hit up a gamestop to pick this one up instead.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

But I believe there are plenty of hardcore gamers like me who also enjoy experiences with depth and complexity while not on the couch or in front of the PC.

The really interesting assumption there is that one cannot "enjoy experiences with depth and complexity" on an iOS/android device, which only serves to remind me that you don't have one. That's not meant as nose-up snobbery; the fact of the matter is that there are few things you can do on a console handheld that you can't also do on a smartphone (twitch games with lots of inputs being that one significant thing that I can think of).

Aside from platform exclusives, I'm really not sure what you get out of the Vita/3DS. If there are a lot of exclusives that you want, that's a compelling reason to purchase one, but without that... iOS (and I'm assuming android, though I can't speak from experience) scratches an awful lot of game itch, both light and fluffy and heavier stuff.

Dysplastic wrote:
Parallax Abstraction wrote:

But I believe there are plenty of hardcore gamers like me who also enjoy experiences with depth and complexity while not on the couch or in front of the PC.

This is what it really comes down to, isn't it? The vita is a gamble on just that, but what I think you're seeing from the folk who aren't giving it a chance is that there isn't. Looking at my own life, I just can't see myself playing a deep and complex game on a packed bus or waiting at the doctor's office, and I think that a lot of industry folk probably feel the same way. Does that translate to there actually being a lack of a market, or are the commentators just translating their own experience to the whole market? I suspect software sales numbers will tell.

I've played my 3DS on the train between Philly and my town, myself, even though there's only about 10 or 15 minutes of game time available. While in some ways it works best with a game like Mario Kart, I've also found that it is no different than opening a book and reading it for 10 or 15 minutes on the train. Something which plenty of people have no problem with, and a medium of entertainment that is certainly more involved than Angry Birds.

I think even deep games can have that pick-up-and-play nature to them, even if it breaks immersion. Especially as a lot of portable developers keep this in mind. Metroid: Fusion had a LOT more save points than Super Metroid specifically because it was a portable offering. Resident Evil: Revelations is broken up into episodic chunks to provide the player with more breaks, as well as a few other design choices that make it easy for a player to say "Okay, this is where I'm closing the lid and putting it to sleep".

The real disadvantage is the battery life, truth told. Nintendo should have released a USB attachment so you can charge it via the computer if need be, or some other device. It would be more convenient and even increase the portability of the machine.

TheGameguru wrote:

3DS software sales are abysmal though.. so while Hardware is moving (but not exactly at a stellar rate) software hasnt been reflective of the units sold..

I would be SUPER concerned about that if I was Nintendo.

Not all software performance is abysmal. In fact, their big holiday titles seemed to do quite well for themselves, selling mutliple millions worldwide by the new year:

More than five million copies of 3DS platformer Super Mario 3D Land have been sold worldwide since its launch in November, Nintendo has announced.

It means Mario's 3DS debut is the first game to cross the five million barrier, though figures released alongside Nintendo's latest financial results show Mario Kart 7 isn't far behind. The kart racer, which has been number one in Japan for five of the last six weeks, ended the year on 4.5 million.

I'd say January wasn't bad for Nintendo's software in Japan, either:

Leading the pack was Mario Kart 7, with sales of 388,760 units between December 26 and January 29, according to Enterbrain data passed along by Andriasang.

In second was Capcom's Monster Hunter Tri G, with sales of 319,037, ahead of Super Mario 3D Land, which sold 298,529 units during the month. All three have now sold in excess of a million copies in Japan alone.

01. Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo, 3DS)
02. Monster Hunter Tri G (Capcom, 3DS)
03. Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo, 3DS)
04. Armored Core V (From Software, PS3)
05. Resident Evil Revelations (Capcom, 3DS)
06. Musou Orochi 2 (Tecmo Koei, PS3)
07. Inazuma Eleven Go (Level-5, 3DS)

How is holding the top 3 slots and 5 of the top 7 (no more in 10) slots in a month abysmal? Yes, in NA, only Mario Kart 7 made the npd top 10 in January, which probably puts it at selling .5 million in Japan and NA alone. Then again, January in NA, everything performed abysmally.

I couldn't be less interested in the Vita. The whole thing just seems gimmicky and the memory pricing is insulting. I have nothing against Sony (I enjoy my PS3 and my Sony television) but I really don't see the appeal of this handheld.

What I AM interested in is Crusader Kings 2, but alas there is no Mac version. We Mac owners are a terribly oppressed group sometimes.