Today at E3 Microsoft previewed the upcoming fall Xbox Live update. And what changes there will be.
The interface is obviously moving towards more of a Mac/Vista look and feel. Gamercards are still around as will your gamerscore, but my first question is what will happen to all of those 1000’s of Microsoft points I spent on Themes and Gamerpics??? Well Microsoft has guaranteed that themes are compatible with the new look, but no word yet on gamerpics.
Next they are going the Wii route by introducing avatars that can potentially be included in upcoming game titles as well as more community feel by viewing your friends avatars vs. a list and the ability to collaborate with up to 8 friends in a community space that allows for full collaboration.
I am not sure how I feel about the avatar introduction. I was really onboard with the concept of gamerscore, but I DO NOT want my Xbox experience to be like the Mii experience on the Wii. I am about the games and not about building an avatar or having that avatar appear in my games (Not a casual gaming fan). Yes let’s have Halo with Avatars… Please no. If I wanted that I would join Habbo or any of the other Avatar based reality systems.
More news to come, but again I am concerned about how the money I have spent to date migrates to the new plaform. I guess we will wait and see.
Screen capture of the new Xbox Live interface for the Fall of 08
I confirmed today that I will be attending the 2008 Game Developer Conference February 18-22 in San Francisco.
I am very excited about attending as outside of the networking and expo portion the key areas that I am interested in are the business and management topics of “Make the Community Part of Halo” and advertising and games.
The “Make the Community Part of Halo” discussions are very key as it talks about the bungie.net experience and how they worked to make community an integral part of the game itself.
I have worked with Microsoft Game Studios, Ensemble Studios and of course Electronic Arts on the Skate and NFS ProStreet titles fall along the same lines. So if you are attending the event let me know and we will schedule some time to sync during the conference.
One of the best features that the Xbox team introduced was tying in-game achievements to a publically viewable profile. What this allowed was for you as a gamer to start building gaming “equity” over time that could then be shared and compared with your friends and others in the gaming community. This small detail has caused me to forgo the PS3 and only play the Wii with my son as I have been focused on increasing my gamerscore and pushing myself as a game enthusiast.
With that said, yesterday marked the passing of the 30,0000 gamerscore plateau. It took 135 days to go from 20,000K to 30,000K with an average gain of 74 points per day. So I thought I would take a moment and archive some fun facts since I started gaming on the 360 oh so many moons ago.
1) Consecutive Days Played Streak – 72
2) Retail Titles Completed – 11
3) World Gamerscore Ranking – 3734
4) World Achievement Ranking – 3398
5) Largest single day achievement gain – 39
6) Most points in a day – 1200
7) Completion Percentage (0 score games removed) – 53%
8) Total Games Retail(61)/Arcade (27) Owned – 88
Here is a breakdown of the top five games played by days played:
1) NHL2k7 – 55
2) DW Gundam – 53
3) Halo3 – 48
4) Lego Star Wars II – 45
5) Gears of War – 22
Moving forward I am going to put an end to my gamerscore addiction and start playing the titles that I enjoy as I have a stack of games that are waiting to be played and enjoyed. Mass Effect, The Orange Box, Rainbow 6 Vegas, FEAR, and COD4 Multiplayer.
I have and will always be a gamer to some degree. My focus is just shifting a bit :)
While flying to San Francisco today I read an article that got me thinking… It discussed the fact that it is inevitable that a unified gaming platform is coming. It referenced past examples of commodification (when an item that previously was not a commodity becomes one). The primary example was the cell phone and how it started as a status symbol and they were expensive and all they allowed you do was make calls. Now they are small, play music, record video and for the most part are no longer status symbols… essentially a commodity.
History shows that technology always becomes commodified and follows similar life cycle patterns. This is now happening with gaming consoles. Gaming consoles today do more than the market wants or needs. Now they serve as your media hub for movies, pictures, the web, etc… Once you reach the point in a products lifeccle where you are positioning more features than the market needs you begin to commoditize your offering.
The current splits between systems also greatly impact publishers as they have to decide whether they are going to release a title across the major first party systems or go with a proprietary system and receive additional compensation. This model is counter productive in some ways as additional resources are utilized not in the creation or enhancement of the gaming experience but to ensure the game ports to the specific format. Also there is more content being released that is not necessarily competing directly with other titles on other systems. This in turn dilutes the publishers efforts as they are not receiving the type of market penetration that is conducive to larger profit margins.
In esssence these factors will lead to the inevitable which is a one-console future. The article stated that this would not occur because we want one but because the market cannot sustain itself. What would happen if this were the case? You would see a drop in hardware cost and an increase in manufacturers as this would de-emphasizes the importance of the hardware (Think TV’s in recent years) and allows game publishers with 100% market penetration which would lead to cheaper games as publishers would not have to split resources between two versions of the same game. This would also create more of a channel approach to distribution.
What are your thoughts? Is a unified console a reality? Can the market continue to sustain the current fragmentation? If it were based on the current generation consoles I would call it the WiS360… or the PSWii60.
Being the avid Xbox gamer and achievement points connoisseur that I am it may come as a surprise that we recently acquired a Wii. Granted it is for my son and I will not be giving up my Xbox anytime soon, but the direction Nintendo is going with the product and the market they are serving does warrant attention.
The image of my 5 year old son coming down the stairs dripping from sweat after playing Wii boxing is one I will not forget anytime soon. I definitely approve of activities that require physical interaction over button mashing, at least for my son :). The kids also like the concept of the Mii. A Mii is essentially you represented in various Wii games. My 3 year old daughter laughs hysterically each time we pick up and shake a Mii around the screen.
The fact that you can play Nintendo Gamecube games is also a big plus. Titles like Mario Cart and other kid friendly titles give me as a parent a level of comfort around the titles that I expose my kids to. I would recommend the Wii for anyone who is a casual gamer or has young ones in the household. For your Bioshocks, Halo’s and Gears of War, I would stick with the Xbox as the console of choice.