GWJ Conference Call Episode 132

Conference Call

Demigod, theHunter, Uniwar, Endgames, The Nefarious Digirati, Your Emails and more!

This week it's all hands on deck for a special conversation about how games end and what some of the best and worst are. We also spend some time listening to Cory and Julian tell us how they're absolutely not elitist. They were kind of snobs about it, though. If you want to submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

"Alpha" - (Workbench) - www.workbench-music.com - 0:46:26
"Cosmos" - (Workbench) - www.workbench-music.com - 1:13:04

Comments

Scaphism wrote:

You're asking me to spend $230 so I can play $1 or $5 games on it?

No one except Steve Jobs and his army of impossibly cool nerds is asking anything of the sort.

You can call me an asshat, or clueless, but not everyone has an itouch or iphone. The segment of the population that does is growing, but hardly ubiquitous.

I'm gonna call you "Betty." You damn well better call me "Al."

larrymadill wrote:

(well, maybe a few but not the majority) is buying a iPod Touch or iPhone just to play games on.

That's the crux of it. As a gaming platform it's too expensive - buying a vending machine so you can buy junk food (delicious and short lived). Instead you could be going out to dinner to eat (buying a traditional console or handheld game).

I don't think I missed the point - as I said earlier:

I wrote:

If you already own one[itouch or iphone], you'd have to be pretty stingy to not even try out some of the games.

I think we're quibbling about how deep market penetration is.

I am not going to buy one *just* to play games on it, and I already own an MP3 player that covers my needs perfectly well. What is there to push me past my initial resistance?
------------
I feel like I'm backing myself into a corner a bit. I'm not anti-apple or anti-iphone. I don't mind hearing about them, because it's clearly a market that's developing quickly and has a lot of promise.

The value proposition just doesn't work yet for me, and I don't think I'm the only one, and I think that's the point that's being lost. The original point in the email asked if iphone games were a bit over-represented because the "digerati" were disproportionately more likely to own iphones and buy games than their readership.
Maybe I have been left in the dust more quickly than I realized, but I'm still not convinced at this point Al/Demi.

larrymadill wrote:

In the meantime, check out episode 2 (I think) of "A Life Well-Wasted" .

Already caught that, was great, waiting for episode 3 to drop. That podcast has some great production values!

Lard wrote:

The other thing you guys didn't touch on while comparing the handhelds is while the DSi and PSP have nearly comparable purchase price rates to the iphone, you're not paying nearly $100 (in Canada at least, I'm not sure about the States) a month for a subscription bill on top of buying games for it.

$60-$75 in Canada, unless you want a data plan bigger than 2GB/month. And you're not paying it for the games, you're paying for mobile phone and internet service. We don't factor in our electricity and internet bills when discussing the merits of PC and console gaming, so I don't see what the iPhone's monthly plan has to do with its viability as a gaming platform.

Well I started this whole mess, but I only got a chance to listen to the podcast just now. Allow me to reap what I have sown.

1) Digirati - I really didn't mean it as an insult. I probably consider myself a "digirati". I just couldn't think of a more concise way of saying "person who is willing to spend what some might consider to be a lot of money on fancy gadgetry". I picked out Rabbit only because I (rightly or wrongly) see him as kind of on the edge of this spectrum, with the Kindle, having no problems buying a new DSI, etc. There is nothing wrong with this person - I was just making the point that this person is more likely to be a video-game podcaster than a video-game podcastee.

2) iPod Touch - I really hadn't considered it at all. I think Cory is right here in that while the iPod touch is expensive, I don't think it's out of the realm of affordability of the PSP. So it's a great counter-argument, in my mind. But what does it say about the Touch that it is NEVER mentioned in podcasts or discussions about iPhone games? The iPhone is being marketed, virally and otherwise, as the gaming platform, not the Touch. I think if Apple wanted to expand its gaming audience, pushing the Touch would be a great way to start.

3) The point of the e-mail - I really just wanted to cause a bit of reflection on where the iPhone is at as a gaming device and where it can go - not question the validity of the platform or whether we should be talking about iPhone games at all. Lard pretty much gets it when he says

Lard wrote:

I think the main gist of the question was "Is the iphone capable of becoming the market leader for handhelds or has it priced itself out of that market, and only available for those that can afford it? or Is the iphone pricing itself into a niche market?"

I think in this case, a comparison between the iphone and the PS3 is not unfair, in terms of price point, because how many gamers are going to get a handheld machine that is as prohibitively expensive as the iphone strictly for gaming?

muttonchop wrote:

$60-$75 in Canada, unless you want a data plan bigger than 2GB/month.

That's not including the $7.50 access fee or the tax. I based my price off the $75 plan since 250 minutes don't necessarily go that far. So anyways, 93$. I exaggerated a bit for effect, mea culpa. Anyways, iPod Touch. Yeah.

Sorry for the crapstorm. Why do I make mommy and daddy cry?

Dysplastic wrote:

But what does it say about the Touch that it is NEVER mentioned in podcasts or discussions about iPhone games?

That the term "iPhone" is a better brand than "iPod Touch."

If you go back at and look at iPhone ads compared to iPod Touch ads, you'll see that Apple's been decidedly painting the Touch as a DS/PSP competitor. It's "the funnest" ever, remember?

This is really just arguing a semantical point, though, because when you get right down to it, Dysplastic is totally a jerk for calling people names. I think he should bake us cookies as an apology. And they have to be shaped like little Apple logos.

Dysplastic wrote:

2) iPod Touch - I really hadn't considered it at all. I think Cory is right here in that while the iPod touch is expensive, I don't think it's out of the realm of affordability of the PSP. So it's a great counter-argument, in my mind. But what does it say about the Touch that it is NEVER mentioned in podcasts or discussions about iPhone games? The iPhone is being marketed, virally and otherwise, as the gaming platform, not the Touch. I think if Apple wanted to expand its gaming audience, pushing the Touch would be a great way to start.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6WX7XGcRhk

muttonchop wrote:

We don't factor in our electricity and internet bills when discussing the merits of PC and console gaming, so I don't see what the iPhone's monthly plan has to do with its viability as a gaming platform.

Because the question was (more or less if I'm interpreting it right) "Is the iphone pricing itself out of the casual gaming market?"

So comparing a $75-93 monthly fee on iphone to no fee at all on other handhelds is perfectly legitimate.

Scaphism wrote:

A basic DSLite ($130) + Gamefly ($15/month for one game at a time) would give you 11.33 months of Gamefly for $300.
An itouch ($230) would leave you $70, enough to buy 14 $5 games.

So there you go, there's your price argument - except many of us already own our consoles/handhelds already, whereas the itouch is an additional expense at this point. If you already own one, you'd have to be pretty stingy to not even try out some of the games.

That seems one good way to look at it.

Here's another. For fairness, I'm going to use Amazon.com prices for all the hardware and software (except iPod games, of course).

To start, hardware:

  • iPod Touch (2nd gen, 8gb) - $215
  • PSP (3000 "Core") - $170
  • DSi (Black Matte) - $170

There's a $45 advantage for either of the dedicated handheld game systems. Neither includes any software (and the iPod has no games, either, I presume), so let's add some because I want to actually do something with the new toy. Fairly arbitrarily, I'll go with the top three games, according to Amazon, which should be reasonably reflective of what's out there. I have no idea if these games are cool, or hip, or with-it, or what-the-kids-are-doing-these-days, but Amazon says they're popular, so there we are.

According to Amazon, the top three games for the DS (with Amazon discounted prices) are

  1. Professor Layton and the Curious Village by Nintendo $24.99
  2. Pokemon Platinum by Nintendo $34.99
  3. New Super Mario Bros. by Nintendo $32.99
  4. Total: $93

Similarly, for the PSP, the top three games:

  1. Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow by Sony Computer Entertainment $14.98
  2. Resistance: Retribution by Sony Computer Entertainment $29.99
  3. God of War Chains of Olympus by Sony Computer Entertainment $19.99

Total: $65

For the iPod Touch, I thought I'd check the Apps top, conveniently it lists its "Top Paid Apps" right there on the main screen, and seven of the top ten apps are games (plus another one which is listed as "Entertainment," and I'm not sure what that really means) ... which actually says something. However, all seven of these were 99 cents. So, as to not stack things towards cheap downloads, I Googled and found a recent list of somebody arbitrary's "10 Best" games. Assuming these games are less meaty than PSP/DS games, I'll include all ten.

  1. Field Runners $2.99
  2. Flight Control $0.99
  3. Trism $2.99
  4. Frenzic $2.99
  5. Lux DLX $7.99
  6. Rolando $4.99
  7. Deep Green $7.99
  8. Galcon $2.99
  9. Texas Hold 'Em $4.99
  10. Wolfenstein 3D Classic $4.99
  11. Total: $44

So, my admittedly ignorant analysis suggests I can probably set myself up with a decent amount of portable entertainment for:

  • PSP: $235
  • iPod Touch: $259
  • DSi: $263

The PSP ranks as the least expensive option, but by the difference of about one game's price; hardly a landslide. So what does this serious-waste-of-time research tell me, the potential consumer who's last handheld game system was probably a Merlin? Nothing. Except, maybe, that I can enjoy games on the go on a number of platforms, today, and making price an issue is little more than a distractor.

Demiurge wrote:

That the term "iPhone" is a better brand than "iPod Touch."

And "iTouch" just sounds ... wrong.

Sorry to detract from the iPhone/Pod wars.

OzymandiasAV wrote:
garion333 wrote:

Does Retronauts need Shane? I haven't listened in forever, but I was always sporadic about it based on topic.

I don't know if it needs Shane, but there seemed to be a definite lack of personality without Shane and Kohler and Sharkey chipping into the discussion. I think there may be some more personal stuff going on as well - from reading up on ToastyFrog/GameSpite, it looks like Parish is preparing for a wedding, which might explain why he was a little more somnambulent/distracted than usual.

I didn't realize Sharkey wasn't on. Soooooo that leaves Ray as the personality. God help us all.

I have an Ipod touch that was given to me as a gift, and all I use it for is gaming. I think it's an extraordinary platform, and one that has a great deal of potential.

That being said, I think it has a long way to go before the Iphone can match the DS or the PSP game for game. I don't have a problem paying thirty dollars for a good DS game, because the experience is worth it. I have seen nothing on the Iphone that would justify anything over ten dollars. Fortunately, they haven't been charging that much.

I don't mind listening to the discussion about the Iphone and the games for it. I do agree with the point that the DS and PSP are unfairly dismissed. Games like Jean D'arc and Patapon are heads and tails beyond anything available on the Iphone, and I think the issue is that there haven't been any games that you guys have preferred.

Still, it's been all kinds of fun reading the nuclear fallout over this issue.

Demiurge wrote:

That the term "iPhone" is a better brand than "iPod Touch."

If you go back at and look at iPhone ads compared to iPod Touch ads, you'll see that Apple's been decidedly painting the Touch as a DS/PSP competitor. It's "the funnest" ever, remember?

This is really just arguing a semantical point, though, because when you get right down to it, Dysplastic is totally a jerk for calling people names. I think he should bake us cookies as an apology. And they have to be shaped like little Apple logos. ;)

Touche. I don't watch TV commercials, so I totally missed that. I only know about what I hear - I know lots of people with an iPhone, and no one with an iPod touch. It just totally skipped my mind in terms of my way of thinking about the platform.
I can think of a few things I would do with little Apple logos - and cookies ain't one of them

Hey, I just wanted to ask a question about game endings.

What made Portal one of the better games in terms of game endings. People may start paying me out, but it'll be worth it to know what you think. The only thing I saw at the end was you defeating GLADOS then waking up from unconsciousness in the middle of a wreak labatory.

Who Needs Names wrote:

Hey, I just wanted to ask a question about game endings.

What made Portal one of the better games in terms of game endings. People may start paying me out, but it'll be worth it to know what you think. The only thing I saw at the end was you defeating GLADOS then waking up from unconsciousness in the middle of a wreak labatory.

"...I'm doing science, and I'm still alive..."

What made Portal one of the better games in terms of game endings. People may start paying me out, but it'll be worth it to know what you think.

Actually, I was thinking of the fight with GLaDOS.

"That thing you burned up isn't important to me. It's the fluid catalytic cracking unit. It made shoes for orphans. Nice job breaking it, hero."

"All your other friends couldn't come either because you don't have any other friends. Because of how unlikable you are. It says so here in your personnel file: Unlikable. Liked by no one. A bitter, unlikable loner whose passing shall not be mourned. 'Shall not be mourned.' That's exactly what it says. Very formal. Very official. It also says you were adopted. So that's funny, too."

"This isn't brave. It's murder. What did I ever do to you?"

"You think you're doing some damage? 2 + 2 is [static] 10. In base 4. I'm fine."

"I have your brain scanned and permanently backed up in case something happens to you. Which it's just about to. Don't believe me? Let me put you on. 'Hello!' That's you. That's how dumb you sound."

The ending of Portal would have been just as great without "Still Alive."

adam.greenbrier wrote:

The ending of Portal would have been just as great without "Still Alive."

True, but speaking as someone who had gone into total spoiler avoidance mode before playing (aside from hearing that it was awesome), that song was an amazing treat at the end of a short, amazing game. And totally unexpected.

'Hello!' That's you. That's how dumb you sound.

That was the best line ever. I had to quit playing because I was laughing so hard when I heard her say that. It was so funny to see this malevolent overlord get so completely petty. And the "Hello!" was this little high pitched cartoon voice too, it was just awesome.

Switchbreak wrote:
'Hello!' That's you. That's how dumb you sound.

That was the best line ever. I had to quit playing because I was laughing so hard when I heard her say that. It was so funny to see this malevolent overlord get so completely petty. And the "Hello!" was this little high pitched cartoon voice too, it was just awesome.

I played Portal over and over again just to hear GlaDOS talk, and I NEVER replay games.

I'll glob onto the Portal-love. I think it was Elysium that said that his son loves to watch him play that one. Ditto for me and my son. He's watched me play it through twice and has now begun his own game of Portal. GlaDOS tickles him to no end.

I think that Portal's the best example of a great game ending. Just a fantastic end-fight, the house coming down, and then sunlight and the ending song/credits. No convoluted cinematics. No strained hero-poser-moments. No "The End ?!" garbage. Superb.

I wasn't entirely sold on the 'waking up in the sunlight' aspect of the ending, but the combination of what Glados said during the boss fight and the credits song put it a fair notch above most games.

That said, I think the games I;ve played over the last year or two has set the bar fairly low for me. There haven't been many games where I've felt satisfied with the ending... assuming i've even stuck with them that far.

I'll give Rabbit some love here. Those emails were brutal, lol.

I'm new around here, and this was the first podcast I listened to. I downloaded Uniwar for my company issued iPhone. I have got nothing accomplished at work since. Thank you for ruining my productivity on a Friday afternoon. Lord knows I need something to break up the monotony of a desk job. Unfortunately now my phone's battery is dead. My boss is going to have my @ss on a silver platter if he tries to call me before the end of the day.

Demiurge wrote:

iPod. Touch.

Seriously, it's okay if you don't think the iPhone is a viable gaming platform, but stop bringing up subscription plans as a reason for its illegitimacy.

My problem is that an iPod Touch would still mean carrying around two devices. For me, the subscription plans for an iPhone do make it illegitimate because I'm almost always near a computer. In fact, I'm sitting at one right now. And it'd be silly to pay more for a data plan on my phone than I do for my apartment. I just want an iPod Touch that takes phone calls. That's all. Demi, make it so.

McChuck wrote:

My problem is that an iPod Touch would still mean carrying around two devices. For me, the subscription plans for an iPhone do make it illegitimate because I'm almost always near a computer. In fact, I'm sitting at one right now. And it'd be silly to pay more for a data plan on my phone than I do for my apartment. I just want an iPod Touch that takes phone calls. That's all. Demi, make it so.

iPod Touch + Skype app (free @ iTunes App Store) = McChuck's problems solved.

McChuck wrote:
Demiurge wrote:

iPod. Touch.

Seriously, it's okay if you don't think the iPhone is a viable gaming platform, but stop bringing up subscription plans as a reason for its illegitimacy.

My problem is that an iPod Touch would still mean carrying around two devices. For me, the subscription plans for an iPhone do make it illegitimate because I'm almost always near a computer. In fact, I'm sitting at one right now. And it'd be silly to pay more for a data plan on my phone than I do for my apartment. I just want an iPod Touch that takes phone calls. That's all. Demi, make it so.

So your cellphone plays DS and PSP games? What magical future is your phone from?

We've been reiterating the same point for 4 pages, the argument is over. Factoring in subscription plans is stupid, if you want to complain about price, base it off the iPod touch comparisons.

Demiurge wrote:

iPod Touch + Skype app (free @ iTunes App Store) = McChuck's problems solved.

I've thought about that but I want the phone part to have cell coverage, not sporadic bubbles of wifi coverage. But it's alright. I'm patient. It'll work itself out eventually.

Forbin wrote:

So your cellphone plays DS and PSP games? What magical future is your phone from?

We've been reiterating the same point for 4 pages, the argument is over. Factoring in subscription plans is stupid, if you want to complain about price, base it off the iPod touch comparisons.

Actually, my DS plays DS games. In my wish for a slightly less convergent iPhone, where did I mention that it should be more convergent and play DS and PSP games?

schmendrick wrote:

So, my admittedly ignorant analysis suggests I can probably set myself up with a decent amount of portable entertainment for:

  • PSP: $235
  • iPod Touch: $259
  • DSi: $263

The PSP ranks as the least expensive option, but by the difference of about one game's price; hardly a landslide. So what does this serious-waste-of-time research tell me, the potential consumer who's last handheld game system was probably a Merlin? Nothing. Except, maybe, that I can enjoy games on the go on a number of platforms, today, and making price an issue is little more than a distractor.

The issue is whether the iphone is prohibitively expensive.

As far as I'm concerned, it's the PS3 of mobile gaming. It may be sleek and high-tech, but it's far too expensive for its own good.

By my estimation, no one has made a comment about Rob's incest comment. Just sayin'.