Category Archives: E3

What can the MMO “console trend” do for us PC players?

So I ranted briefly in my last post on how The Elder Scrolls Online was pushed back to 2014 because of next-gen console availability. From a PC gamers point of view – and that’s where I am going to play my MMOs in the foreseeable future – that’s not the worst however that may come from the popular marriage between different systems in our favorite genre. The fact that consoles are becoming more and more like PCs doesn’t really change that.

gameonIn their most recent podcast episode, Chris from Game by Night / and Ferrel from Epic Slant Press discuss the impact of the “console MMO future” and they were so kind to invite me to have a chat about what we heard at E3 and also GW2’s event culture and overall status quo. On the topic of console MMOs, I mentioned on the podcast that I feel like PC gamers especially are going to get the shorter end of the stick. Before getting into that further, I’m posing the overall question of whether people really want to play MMOs on a console? Do they?

I can only speak for myself here, having grown up with home console systems; when I play MMOs, I rely on a lot more than just a keyboard (I don’t think the control aspect on consoles is as bad anymore as it used to be). There’s teamspeak, skype and raidcall running in my background. I have a second screen I can use to check quests or items while playing if need be. Functionality and access to networks like this are inseparable from MMO gameplay for me.

Then there are other potentially negative aspects, launch delays aside. To quote just a few of the more popular concerns currently discussed on TESO fan forums:

I’ve already stated several times my apprehension with this.
1. community split instead of forcing new MMO players to play on a PC and growing their market share.
2. Patches and content designed around the lowest common denominator. There are things that can’t be done on a console as they are on a PC so in essence each new system implemented in the game will have to work across all platforms. Meaning things will be dumbed down.[18#]

[…]but to segment the community and enable cross platform support will kill this game I’m afraid. One or all 3 platforms will suffer due to triple time required to design, Q&A, push, test and publish.[#10]

The implementation of a MMORPG on consoles means one of two things: unprecedented user interface innovation to retain game depth on a controller (unlikely), or simplifying the game.(#7)

[…]they’ll have to make every mechanic work in all environments, and remove/change the features that cannot be adapted. The risk of failure is certainly there. (#3)

Is this the future that we ‘re looking at for cross-platform MMOs: games designed around the lowest common denominator, split communities and sloppy ports and delays? It all sounds very gloomy and MMO players are certainly known for their pessimism. Still, given what complex undertakings MMOs are and the time that’s required to deliver a polished product on a hopefully successful launch, is there any benefit whatsoever to the PC gamer? I can only think of one: More people paying for MMOs means more money going back into the genre (which hopefully benefits all audiences equally).

There’s also the question of how much sense it makes to launch both PC and console versions simultaneously, as elaborated on by another forum user:

Development wise, if they really want to win all those console kiddies, it was way better to release a PC/Mac version of the game, improve it over several patch (it happens anyway), then release a more polished product to the console freaks. My reasoning is simple, PC gamers have a broader gaming experience while the console only players tend to buy and toss it in the drawer if the game doesn’t deliver from the start….console players just don’t have the patience to wait for patch after patch after patch.[#2]

ps2padOne of the big differences between console and PC audiences has always been the technical aspect: the willingness to put up with installs, patches and overall bugs and downtimes caused by individual Windows settings and different hardware. Console popularity stems from the “plug&play” model and this demography is happy to do without extra options and customizability, as long as crashing on the sofa and successfully logging in within the minute is a given. So can this future marriage between not only different platforms but target audiences end in anything but tears? I guess we will see.

Off the Chest: E3 console wars, more GW2 events and Rift going F2P


Summer has finally found its way to my place which is why this week was generally dedicated to sudden-heat-lethargy and watching E3 streams until late, late into the night. Morning really. And how much fun that was when my entire twitterverse was watching the big Sony reveal this last Tuesday “together” – booing (who cares about the PS Vita?), cheering and mostly snickering for good reason.

E3: Revival of the Console Wars

It wasn’t hard to leverage on Microsoft’s recent lapses in regard to their Xbox ONE policies and general marketing angle, but Sony literally crushed their direct competitor at this year’s E3 in the notable absence of a Nintendo conference, leaving out nothing and taking shameless stabs at what the vocal public conceived as MS’ greatest transgressions. Sharing and always-online DRM issues aside, MS seemed to try appeal to a surprisingly limited demography and didn’t blow anyone away hoping for at least some diversity in terms of game leads in upcoming launch titles – an oversight that led Spinks to coin the term “XBrone”. E3 female protagonist spotlights: MS: zero / Sony: two.


Transistor, feat. Squalla Leonheart

Sony started their two-hour press conference stating how their target audience were video gamers first and foremost. From there, everything was a well-orchestrated and calculated effort of showing why the PS4 was the more appealing (and affordable) product for a wider gaming audience – men, women, casuals, hardcores, offliners, onliners, indie game lovers. And that last point makes a lot of sense; who in their right mind would leave the rising indie game market to platforms like Steam without a fight?

Sony delivered a political masterpiece at this E3, quick and not so subtle. Yet, as pointed out in this interesting article on buzzfeed, some of the fanboyism stirred by the console staredown feels gravely out of proportion. It bears reading the fine-print in Sony’s press conference. The PS4 isn’t marketed the way it is because they’re trying to win the BFF contest. In the end, we’re dealing with companies looking to maximize profits or as the article states “Sony versus Microsoft is not good versus evil. It’s money versus money”. To believe the XBox ONE is “done” at this point would be naive as we’re only standing at the beginning of a years-to-come battle for market shares. All the while, Nintendo is smiling because they’re likely going to “win” again anyway.

All that said, if I was to buy a next-generation console, it would most definitely be the PS4. As a commenter at buzzfeed observed, the PS4 is positioning itself as a diverse platform with a spirit for art and smaller projects (need I say Journey?) while being more inclusive to mature titles. Also: Square-Enix and Last Guardian hoping!

GW2 goes Dragon Bash

ArenaNet continue their ludicrous speed of releasing new mini-content and sadly also their penchant for inconsistent quality. Between wacky Halloween and a rather sobering Lost Shores event, the great Living Story and back-to-more-Karkas Darksun Cove update, I find myself presented with a lot more of the same at Dragon Bash and horribly mislead by what sounded like such an exciting new addition to the game. More mighty dragons to shoot down from the sky  – more massive outdoor content? YES please! No?

This leads me to formulate the following GW2 events formula: a ton of achievements which can be finished in one or two days, more slightly frustrating arena-based minigames, random drops of something in a box, oh and back items and weapon skins! I can barely restrain myself. Also, dragon piñatas – now where have I heard that before?


Yeah, maybe not!

Rift entering the F2P scene

Trion have officially given their free-to-play debut this June 12th and much will yet be discussed about how well they’ve made the switch, implemented ingame shops and most importantly, just how much (or how) that changes the general direction of the game – because that was going so well before. Positive as I remain on this matter, I’d like to think that not all that much will change for Telara as we’ve also seen with other MMOs going F2P half-way through in the past (as opposed to MMOs actually designed around the concept).

Belghast is one of the first to comment on his “new” Rift experiences and a rather enthusiastic early adopter by the looks. No doubt there are right and wrong ways to realize F2P in MMOs and as someone who wants to see games like Rift survive rather than disappear from the face of the market, I hope more people will follow in his general footsteps.