No. No, no, no. Nope.

Eurogamer told me that Mario Kart was 1080p/60fps.  Evidently it is not that. I don’t care in terms of resolution making a game better or worse, but if what you are trying to do is give a technical breakdown you should get it right.  And, when you are wrong, you shouldn’t blame another outlet for quoting your shit as the reason it is wrong. Let’s start here.

 

MK1080p

 

Ok, so according to Eurogamer at this point it is 1080p/60fps.  Digital Foundry doesn’t agree (and blames other sources).

 

mk2

 

What is highlighted is a link to Forbes. Forbes, who is quoting the Eurogamer link up above. What you see on Forbes is down below.

 

 

mk3

Want to source it yourself?

Pic number one.

Pic number two (highlighted text leading to…).

Pic number three.

________________________________________________

Let’s use more numbers to make it the most simple thing ever.

1. Eurogamer says MK8 is 1080p/60 fps

2. Eurogamer says it’s not 1080p and blames other outlets for saying it is 1080p/60fps

3. The link that Eurogamer provided is to a Forbes article citing the Eurogamer article that I put up top (because it was first).

 

Who knew!??!

 


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Driveclub rage. Driveclub apologist.

When word broke earlier today that PS+ was going to be required for the upgraded PS+ edition of Driveclub I definitely raised an eyebrow. I didn’t understand why. I thought it was pretty stupid. Then I shrugged my shoulders and thought “I guess i’ll just get the retail version then.”

Then I got on twitter and everyone is in a complete RAGE about it. I get that it’s stupid. I agree that it’s stupid. I could even see getting into a rage if there wasn’t a DRM free version.  But there is.  You can buy the full game digitally or on disc without being tied to PS+.  So why are people so upset?

The first reason, and this does make my blood boil quite a bit, is that Sony employees have actually gone back and erased posts made on forums like GAF stating that upgrading the game wouldn’t be tied to PS+ when you upgraded.  Now I understand that this was the case before the launch of the PS4, the game slipped to almost a year later and the entire structure of the game changed so it makes sense that the PS+ structure would also.  That does not excuse Sony for going back and trying to rewrite history.  If it had to change because the structure of the game changed, or the price of developing the game was much higher – BE HONEST WITH US.  You were caught red handed here and you can kiss a giant amount of the “for the gamer” goodwill goodbye.  That’s some shady shit.

That, however, is where my rage begins and ends.  I don’t have a problem with the Driveclub setup otherwise.

There are technically three versions of the game.  The PS+ edition. The digital retail version. The disc based retail version.  The digital and disc based retail versions will be $60 and have “extra content” according to this video. Also, according to that video the PS+ edition is free, and you can upgrade it piecemeal (buy a car here, a track there) or you can get all of the DLC in a bundle for $50.  If you buy that bundle you are tied to needing a PS+ account. The argument against this is “it’s unprecedented!”  I’m not sure that is true.  It’s potentially confusing and definitely stupid, but it’s not really out of line with other PS+ games.  Every PS+ game you get for free, no matter how much DLC you buy, you can’t play the game if your PS+ lapses.  That’s how the service has worked since day one.  If you got Assassin’s Creed 3 on PS+ and then bought the season pass and your PS+ lapses… you can’t play AC3 and your DLC is a waste.  If COD Ghosts ends up on PS+ (which isn’t out of the question given the poor sales) and you spend $60 on the season pass, and you let PS+ lapse, you can’t play the game.  That’s how PS+ works now, it’s how it worked at launch, and it seems to be how it will work going into the future.

It’s confusing because you think you are buying the full game for $50.  This is why I think it’s stupid.  I also think that your collective outrage will probably get this changed – which is good.  But there does seem to be a lot of confusion about how PS+ works and that this is somehow out of the ordinary.  It isn’t.  Whenever you buy DLC for a PS+ “free” game, it’s tied to PS+.  It doesn’t matter if it’s 99 cents or hundreds of dollars (which is easily achievable for LBP2 addicts).

The fact that it is confusing, despite the fact that this is how it’s always been, means Sony has a problem on its hands and if they are smart they will fix it. And I definitely get the outrage at Sony employees erasing posts. I just take umbrage with the fact that so many people were shocked by this setup and called it unprecedented.  Which was impossible to explain on twitter.  So bloggy blog blog it is.

Hopefully what I was trying to say is clearer now.  And Sony, you have some serious explaining and apologizing to do for that forum shit.

 

And after this, I move on…

After beating myself up over the last four days I made a promise to myself that starting Monday I would stop feeling sorry for myself and get back to working on the website. I wasn’t just feeling sorry for myself.  I felt sorry for Col. I felt sorry for the people who trusted me that I let down. I felt sorry for the people who donated money to the site wanting something different and getting more of the same – just in a different venue.

In general the response of people close to me has been positive. A few supporters of the site expressed their concerns but also believe we could learn and move past this. Friends offered similar advice. The fact that the one person who had the greatest reason to be upset with me, Col Rodgers, had forgiven me and we have since been friendly in email conversations was really important to me.  I wronged him, I apologized, he forgave me.  I hate myself for putting him through this but I can’t go back and change what happened. I can only learn and move forward, which is what I’m going to do. I’ve had people doubling down on what I said.  I don’t care. I talked to Col and I believe him. And beyond that, it’s none of our business.  We care how the game turns out, not speculation about the people involved.

The website (which may or may not get a name change – that topic has been up on the forums for 2 weeks, it’s not a reaction to this) is going forward.  We lost a few people over this.  One due to moral outrage, the other two due to fear of finding themselves in my position – receiving so much hate at once.  It made them nervous. I don’t blame them.  Any of them.  I understand completely being nervous and I understand completely not believing in my leadership after that fuck up.  I wish them all good luck in whatever they do next.  There are no hard feelings here.

The website was never going to be about hit pieces or anything like that.  The website isn’t even going to focus on leaks. The point of the website has always been about remaining independent. About looking at things from a consumer’s point of view.  We will discuss the value of things more than other sites will. We will try to bring a calm, rational approach to the explosions which happen daily instead of feeding into them.  When it comes down to individual people… that’s none of our business.  Why Amy Hennig left, why Stig left, why Col left…  unless they say something themselves, speculation on those things WILL NOT happen on this website.  It also won’t happen from me at all, be it on twitter, in conversation, or whatever.  I made that post without thinking.  I was trying to make a larger point and I glossed over people’s lives.  People’s lives!  That’s a huge fuck up.  If someone handed me my post to put on the website I would have handed it right back and said “There’s speculation there about things we don’t have any right to speculate about nor do we even need to know.”  I didn’t do that to myself in that GAF post and I’ve paid the price.

Actually, I paid more than the price.  I know I fucked up, I apologized, I’m trying to learn from it, the person I upset is ok with me….  but that didn’t stop me from going through a meat grinder for the last several days.  I was ok with it for the most part because I felt so shitty that I felt like I deserved it.  But now that some time has passed and I’ve gotten back up and dusted myself off I am ready to defend myself as well.  I won’t defend what I wrote in that post, I can’t, and nor do I want to.  But the people dancing on my grave – you were over the line. You thought that since I went over the line that it was ok for you to also. The GAF thread, cheered on by mods, celebrating my demise was disgusting. I made a mistake, I owned up to it, Col even posted in that thread that we were cool.  That didn’t stop anything.

There’s also the giant clamoring of trolls that are just disgusting in their attacks.  The thing about these guys is that most of them are Xbox fans (as stated in their twitter profiles) who hate me because they think that I create “FUD” about the Xbox.  They didn’t give a shit about Col.  All they cared was there was an opening to just pile on.  Death threats, abusive language towards me and my wife.  Just over and over and over and over and over.  I must have blocked 1000 people on twitter this weekend.  The comments in the post below this are but a mere taste of the shit I’ve dealt with all weekend.

People have asked me if anyone from GAF has reached out to me for my side of the story.  No, but nor did I expect them to.  GAF is an enormous forum that has a million fires they need to put out everyday and they don’t reach out to anyone they ban.  I wouldn’t expect it to be any different for myself.   While I do question the dancing on my grave that I feel some of the mods encouraged…  I feel no ill will towards GAF.  I made many great friends there.  I will continue to read there.  I won’t miss the leaks or stuff like that, they were fun but also made me nervous.  Honestly the thing I’m going to miss the most are the OT’s.  The Dark Souls OT was amazing, I felt like I was playing the game with 200 people.  I was hoping for the same thing with Dark Souls 2 on the PC in April.  I’m gonna miss that.  My time there is over – that’s that.  Time to move on.

One of the things I’m not going to stand for is the complete re-writing of who I am or what I’ve done because I fucked up this one time.  I was wrong about Col, I admit that, and I take responsibility for that.  But that doesn’t change my entire past.  Nor am I the person who a lot of you think I am.   I posted 11 of the 15 Xbox One games on GAF weeks before E3.  No one at that point was accusing me of “FUD.”  I got a couple wrong – sorry about Hawken, Miles, and the jury is still out on LOL (I believe Phil Spencer recent mentioned MOBAS working on consoles).  But 11 correct, 1 wrong, 1 still up in the air.  I also posted a month before E3 that Insomniac, long time Sony loyalists, would be on stage with MS showing off an xbox one exclusive game.  Again – not “FUD.”  And again – I was correct.  I had been saying since March that the price of the PS4 was $399.  It was $399.  I posted about the Driveclub delay days before it was announced publicly.  I said that PS+ was going to be required to play online while other “insiders” (I really hate that term, I’m not inside anything) said it was not.

When CBOAT and others said the PS4 was coming out in October I said it wasn’t.  I broke the story about COD and BF4 being 720p on the Xbox One weeks before either company admitted it (I think this is when Kevin Dent started hating me as he INSISTED that BF4 was 1080p).  I also broke the story that the party system on the xbox one was in bad shape and a step backwards from the 360’s with a fairly detailed explanation why.  These events are why people who have heard of me recently, that love Microsoft, hate me.  Here’s the thing – I was right.  I can’t help it if the news about a certain company is bad.  I don’t make up the news, I deliver it.  And I wasn’t wrong.  People still come at me for the parties thing…  which is insane considering that Microsoft themselves said the whole purpose of the March patch was to fix the parties!

So this whole “He was just a lucky guesser” narrative that people who hate me want to create – it’s false.  Or, if it’s true, I’m the luckiest guesser in the history of the world.  I have been wrong about things in the past.  I thought that Mirror’s Edge was an Xbox One exclusive, I was wrong.  I’ve also been an idiot many times.  A few weeks back at 3:30 AM I drunkenly posted about Amazon buying the Xbox division.  I’m not backing off that assertion but my delivery was certainly awful.  Nintendo and now, reportedly, Facebook are also suitors.  That’s not to say MS is going to sell, but there are companies approaching them.  I’m fairly certain they are approaching Sony as well considering Sony’s overall health – but I haven’t heard that from anyone so I haven’t said anything about it.  It may end up being much ado about nothing. I was sharing what I heard.  My delivery was awful.  And, of course, the biggest mistake I made was dragging Col’s name through the mud.  I also apologize to Stig, as I did the same to him.  And even though I didn’t say anything negative, I speculated about Amy Hennig and Justin Richmond which was a mistake.  I’m learning from these mistakes and I’m owning up to these mistakes.  I fucked up and I truly am sorry.

Who I don’t apologize to is the thousands of people sending me shit like the pic below.  There are many of you that hate me and will always hate me.  That’s fine.  There are some  people I respect who lost respect for me and I hope to win it back someday.  And for those who stood with me and gave me support – I can’t thank you enough.  The picture below, though… this type of vile bullshit, I’m done with it.  I fucked up, I appologized to Col, Col and I are friendly now.  He got over it.  I learned from it.  You guys that want to just keep piling this shit on are wasting your time.  I’m learning from this and moving forward.

hate

 

It takes 2 seconds to block you and that’s all I’ll be doing.  This guy can have his hate filled limelight though.  The people who have been supportive have my undying loyalty. And I’m usually not a big quote type of guy, but a friend sent me this and this is exactly what I’m going to do.

“When you make a mistake, don’t look back at it long. Take the reason of the thing into your mind and then look forward. Mistakes are lessons of wisdom. The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.” -Hugh White

Why gaming journalism needs a kick in the ass

Up front I will admit that a good part of the reason I am writing this is because the indiegogo campaign for my site is in the final few days (it ends Thursday evening) and the more money we get the more we can accomplish right off the bat (and work has begun, which is why this blog is .wordpress again).  Even if the indiegogo campaign wasn’t happening this week or if I wasn’t trying to create a website I would still be writing about this.  The level of transparency in this industry is pretty much non-existent except in cases where the people involved aren’t smart enough to even try to cover their tracks.

Exhibit A: Andrea Rene works at The Escapist.   John Drake works at Harmonix.  They seem to be in a relationship if this tweet is taken literally.

johndraketweet.

Now they could just be friends.  I don’t know.  But they have a “relationship” which Towerfall evidently stresses.

Harmonix is working on a game called Fantasia: Music Evolved.  It was previewed at The Escapist today.  Take a look at who did the preview.

 

andreafantasia

How is this OK? On what planet is this OK? The thing about this that bums me out the most is that Jim Sterling has becomes one of the strongest independent voices in gaming and works at a site where things like this are permitted.  It’s insane.  It’s not unprecedented, however.

 

Albert Penello “leads planning for the Xbox One” according to his twitter bio.  Arthur Gies is the reviews editor at Polygon (who got $750,000 from MS to make a documentary, though this does not prove collusion at all, business and editorial tend to stay separate).  Last fall this twitter exchange happened.

Gies

So this is a high level employee asking two media figures about “what’s going on today” because Gies and Sessler had been vague-tweeting all night about being pissed off about something. What we found out later, through Sessler’s videos, was that they were mad about having to go to a Sony event, on the other side of the country, to review certain games.  Arthur didn’t seem to think that asking Albert for his email or a DM to talk about Playstation business was any sort of conflict of interest.  Or did he?  The tweet was deleted shortly afterwards.  “GAF being GAF” though.  The drama is somehow your fault, of course.

And that leads us to Ryan McCaffrey, the “Xbox guru-in chief at IGN” according to his twitter, openly soliciting for the job of E3 host this year to Phil Spencer (@xboxP3) of Microsoft. 

 

ryan

Doug Bradley here seems to understand that this is… weird.  The slight amount of credit I can give to this is that Ryan works in the Xbox department at IGN which doesn’t try to present itself as objective.  But, seriously?

The latter two happened a few months ago or more.  The Andrea Rene thing *just* happened.  This problem isn’t going away.  Spread the news of this stuff.  I don’t care if you mention me or my site or whatever.  We deserve better than this.

If you do happen to want to donate to a site that is going to do things differently, take a look here.

As far as we’ve ever heard none of these people were even told that this behavior wasn’t OK. Maybe it happened behind the scenes, maybe not.

Transparency – we want it.

 

 

Why crowdfunding? Why now?

As I hope all of you know by now, I am running an Indiegogo campaign to fund a fully functioning videogame website.  There seems to be a fair amount of interest in it and the funding got off to a wonderful start but has since flatlined.  That was expected as this is how things like this tend to go.  My job is to figure out ways to get more boosts along the way. This isn’t something I’m particularly strong at but my skill is irrelevant.  It’s what must be done since I chose to go the route of crowd funding.

So, why did I decide to go the route of crowd funding? I’ve been outspoken on the Doddcast about how crowd funding is an unsustainable model because there is basically no guarantees that your money will be used as the creators say it will be.  Things change…. not to mention the entire thing is breeding grounds for scam artists.  There’s also the matter of the people who have their heart in the right place but just do not have the talent to pull off what they hoped to accomplish.

I decided to go the route of crowdfunding because I had two choices to make near the end of 2013.  My wife and I just had an absolutely terrible year.  Her wedding makeup business had failed, costing us thousands (and drying up credit).  I reached a breaking point at my job where it was clearly time to leave (though I was hamstrung by needing the health insurance it provided).  My wife’s sister was murdered in a murder/suicide by her husband.  My wife also had to get carpal tunnel surgery, stopping her from working for weeks (as a makeup artist).  I felt a great need to get my wife away from Connecticut, where we lived, because of a lot of this strife.  She also has a very contentious relationship with certain family members which culminated with her getting roughed up by one a few weeks before we were to leave.  That court case is still outstanding so I’m not sure how much I should say.  Let’s just leave it at “I need to get my wife out of here” was a thought that I never strayed from.

I also wanted to start a gaming website.  This is something that I’ve talked about doing seriously for the last couple years with my wife.  The hope was that at some point she would make more money (we both made equally shitty amounts of money every year) which would allow me to take a chance on it.  I’ve made other sites over the years, while also working a fulltime job, and it just isn’t sustainable.  Videogame news is extremely timely.  If tomorrow at 10am it breaks that GTA V is coming to next-gen systems and is 1080p on one console and 720p on another and I write about it at 6pm after I get home from work I might as well not write about it at all.  News has to be timely.  I’ve outlined on the site that I’m not going to play the normal rules of a videogame website, and that includes not forcing reviews at embargos (if we can make it comfortably, awesome, if not… the review goes up when it’s done, it’s not rushed to get more hits).  But if I took that same philosophy with news the site would be completely irrelevant.  I want the website to be a place where you can trust the reporting on news, where there are editorials that make you think, and the reviews are well thought out and not rushed to meet a deadline (which ends up in 10/10s for games that are totally broken).

Since my wife and I took our entire savings to move across the country (and live off of while looking for more income) the only way that I was going to be able to start a website was with outside money.  I wouldn’t even know how to broker a deal for $750,000 from Microsoft even if I wanted to (I don’t).  The only thing that made sense was crowdfunding.  The very crowdfunding I’ve never been a fan of.  After several more weeks of prep I swallowed my pride and posted the Indiegogo.  It also puts me in the position of needing to self promote which I’m terrible at.

What I’m not terrible at, however, is writing.  Well, my Grammar needs work, and hopefully a team of other writers will fix my mistakes, but I feel like I can convey my thoughts on subjects through the written word pretty well.  I am also a strong leader.  It can be debated what effect #PS4NoDRM had but the biggest thing I took away from it personally is that I know how to lead people.  I honestly did not know that before then.  I had help, of course.  BallerPhD, especially, was with me every step of the way.  As was gofreak.  As were 100s of people volunteering their time.  The size of that operation and amount of work that went into it would probably be surprising to most people.  I know I didn’t expect it.  I went from making a post to leading a few dozen people in the matter of hours, while thousands of others helped get the message out.  I did interviews all day and night.  I was even in the Wall Street Journal (it’s a newspaper, ask your dad).

I don’t have any doubts about my ability to pull this website off.  What I do have doubts about are what kind of money I will have to start and how long I can stretch it.  Many people have come forward over the last couple weeks to help with the website for free, which is absolutely amazing.  We are going to launch in a much stronger position than I ever imagined.  The biggest question is how long will the money last and is it sustainable?  The more money the longer we have to figure that out and make sure it is.

Many of you may be wondering what I get out of this.  The answer is, honestly, not much – monetarily – but I do get to follow a dream.  The site isn’t going to make me money.  I hope it can generate enough to pay its own bills (hosting, etc) and pay my bills (half of rent, utilities) but I don’t plan on taking a “salary.”  If we have extra money I will use it to pay the people helping me.  I will also use it to get more top-tier help.  People like Greg Sewart, who not only has a storied past as a great gaming journalist but has family history in the racing world.  I would love to pay him a small amount to be “the racing game guy.”  He would be the best in the business.  I have a lot of ideas like this.  They cost money, however.

As for my personal life, my wife has about 40 hours left in a real estate course and then she needs to pass a test.  We moved to southern Utah because she has a cousin out here in real estate making amazing amounts of money because this part of the country is expanding while the northeast is contracting.  The cost of living in southern Utah is also absurdly cheaper than the east coast.  We went from $1100 for a one bedroom to $750 for a two bedroom (the second being the Dodd Scientifics office).  Gas is almost a dollar cheaper a gallon out here!  Food is much less expensive (except for turkey, for some reason, and I love me some turkey).  The idea was to move out here so she could get into real estate, we are close enough to Las Vegas (1.5 hours) for her to still work for makeup brands, and things were cheap enough that I could give making this website a go.  Everything I make with the website will go back into making the website better.  At some point, if it takes off, sure – I will take a salary.  And hopefully everyone on the staff will be paid as well.  But that’s the endgame, not the short game.  The short game is I am not making money.  To be honest… this feels completely uncomfortable.  I’ve been working since I was 15.  Now, at 36, I am bringing in no income.  I’m working hard, of course, but no income.  I hope you can handle that, dangerwife.  

I have pretty much given up on the idea of making the goal. Maybe that is pessimistic, maybe it’s realistic – I don’t really know.  I should be doing a google hangout with Boogie (aka Francis) the youtuber-extraordinaire sometime soon that should get about 50k views.  Hopefully I can be persuasive.  I know that, by nature, I’m not.  Not when it comes to me.  I can convince friends to buy any videogame on the planet to the point that people say “____ should just pay you” because of how persuasive I can be.  The problem is that I feel absolutely disgusting being that way about myself.

I do know I have 300 followers on the @doddsci twitter and about 50 contributors… so there are a bunch of you that are watching but haven’t yet leaped.  Go cheap.  $5.  A buck.  Anything helps move the bar.  Get drunk and pull a credit card out and spend way more than you should.  Basically, pretend I’m a Ubisoft game.  Oh, burn.  AC4 was dope though.  Getting back to my point, I’m about halfway through this and I am making headway.  I’m looking into creating the private forums for funders shortly so I can bounce ideas off of them.  Most things are up for debate, including the name of the site.  I also hope that the hangout with Boogie is successful and that I can convince some of you guys that while I’m not a sure bet, I’m a safe bet.  Even if I fail spectacularly and Kevin Dent dances on my grave, I’m not going anywhere.  I will never stop writing about games, whether it’s a crappy blog, a forum, or a well run website.  And my god does this industry need a well run website.

Hey man, ya got some change?  

The Xbox One isn’t (IMO) the better system, and other bloggity-blog type stuff

Several days ago I wrote that I believed the Xbox One was the better system right this second and conveyed what I thought was a rather interesting history of the industry’s perception of the consoles pre-launch and, what I thought, was a rather scathing takedown of the Xbox One. It wasn’t meant to be mean-spirited.  I do like the system.  It does have great games.  But my issue is that everything it does well it also messes up.  It has a great stable of downloadable games with Powerstar Golf, Crimson Dragon, Halo: Spartan Assault, and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.  The problem is that each of these games are overpriced, and all but Max have protracted leveling systems designed to get you to spend money on microtransactions so you can level up faster.  This is something I find insidious in a free game – it’s downright disgusting in a $15 or $20 game.

The same can be applied to Forza which I called the best game of the launch.  On the track it is.  The fact that it has $50 of DLC already, an extremely long grind that begs you on every screen to hit Y to level faster (ie spend money), and has less than half the content of Forza 4 is not ok.  In the piece I was trying to play off of these opposites.  I even did it in the title which was described many times as “clickbait” but it wasn’t.  The point of the title is that the Xbox One is the better system but it isn’t.  It’s an enigma.  A system with a better lineup of games (subjectively, of course) and an OS with more functionality (that’s a clusterfuck to get around with a controller) that suffers because every good decision Microsoft made they made an equally bad decision along with it.

Some people got what I was going for.  Many didn’t.  Boogie (aka francis) retweeted it which was awesome in terms of traffic (plus I’m a huge fan of his so the fact that he thought it was worth retweeting was amazing to me) but that also brought with it atleast 200 tweets directed at me with extreme anger based off the title alone.  Sony fanboys are crazy.  I know the irony in me saying that, being that I am literally crazy (and a Sony fanboy), but goddamn people – chill the hell out.  Someone also posted it on N4G which was cool but again this brought with it console warriors who didn’t get what I was saying at all.

I struggled with this.  Was it my fault? Did I not make my points clearly enough? Is the problem that some people are just too dumb to understand what I’m trying to say?  I don’t know.  Probably both.  As a writer I’m always trying to improve and will never stop. I want to bend words to my will. It’s psychotic in a way… but I do accept that what I wanted to achieve and what I actually put out there may not have matched up.  I also tend to write to my audience, which in my guestimation, is about 200 folks who have a decent grasp on how I view the videogame world from my writing and podcast so they go into my articles with that knowledge. If you got linked in from Boogie or N4G you don’t have that. I need to become a better writer so both groups get it. And, yes, some of you are just too stupid to understand things. That’s ok. I’m too stupid in many, many, subjects to understand things. I also need an editor in the worst way.

In other news my wife and I are moving out of this apartment in less than a week.  Moving is stressful. Holy shit it’s stressful. We don’t leave then though… we will spend a week with my folks and then we are actually going on a vacation that was setup long before we ever knew we were moving.  We were going to leave for Utah (our destination) the day after we get back but due to some domestic violence and court dates that’s been pushed back at least a week from then.  I will explain this in further detail in a future podcast.  Just know my wife is fine, I wasn’t there (so no… I wasn’t involved), we really just want it to be over and get the fuck out of here.

Speaking of podcasts… I have the files for three of them that I need to edit and put up.  This is part laziness and part just being so overwhelmed by the move and all of this other shit and editing can be a bit frustrating if you aren’t in the mood for it so I keep putting it off.  Don’t be surprised, however, if one day there’s three new podcasts on iTunes or whatever you use.  I will edit them!  They are also archived on YouTube somewhere.  Ask @richgrisham about that.

I have a lot of thoughts about stuff like PS Now (P snow?), 6v6 Titanfall (simmer the fuck down, internet.  Balance > player count), and other topics.  I may write about them if I get stuff packed.  If not I have one more podcast with Rich before I go dark for what may end up being about a month. When I come back I hope to have a plan for a new website – we’ll see.  That last article getting such backlash from people who didn’t even understand it made me wonder if I even want to be a part of this industry or if I should keep it as a hobby.  But since I’m moving I don’t have a job… and, well, I need a job. So maybe making a website that fails will be that job.  USA! USA! Other Countries Also!  Other Countries Also!

Those of you who sent me notes saying you enjoyed my last piece – thank you. I needed that positivity. It meant a lot. Also, the PS4 isn’t perfect by a longshot either. There’s a lot of work to do, Microsoft/Sony. Get to it.

 

The Xbox One is the better system currently… why is it losing?

I have never been a fan of Microsoft as an entity.  I don’t like the way they operate.  I feel like their hierarchy is antithetical to getting good work done. I think they are brazen, they are often playing catch up (Zune? Surface? Windows Phone?).  This doesn’t mean that I hate every product they’ve ever made and to be fair there are very few huge corporations that I like, including Sony.  Windows is like an every-other-edition thing for me win 95 was great, win xp was great, win 7 is still great – the others, not so much.  I loved the OG Xbox.  Hell, I loved the original controller THE DUKE (it wasn’t in all caps but it should have been).  I loved the Xbox 360 until the Kinect came out which was the start of a pretty huge shift in the company that had them tumbling downhill until sometime this summer when they decided there was more money to be made in actual videogames and started 180ing all of their decisions.  Here we are at the start of 2014 and I honestly feel like the Xbox One is the stronger console right now.  Yes, it has less power.  Yes, it costs too much.  But it has more games, both retail and smaller digital offerings, it has more OS functions, it even has a far better video editor.  If money is no object, the Xbox One will give you more entertainment even if most of it is at a lesser image quality.

So what happened?  Well, Microsoft pissed a lot people off, they came in at too high of a price point, and if you buy a system for a launch lineup you are certifiably nuts.  So, you can stop reading now if you want.  Those are the factors that we all know are causing Microsoft to lose market share in places it once stood tall (namely Western Europe and North America). I don’t think most of this is up for debate but has anyone ever asked why?  If you do, you’ll get a bunch of PR answers that don’t say anything but lucky for me I’m friendly with a few developers who have painted a picture of what has gone wrong and why.

Before the February reveal of the PS4 the industry as a whole felt like Microsoft was going to hit the ground running this gen with an amazing machine.  Microsoft had been going around selling publishers on the entire concept of this machine that would become the center of the living room.  It would connect videogames with TV.  It would always be online.  It would help publishers recoup or even block used game sales.  It was known it was going to have 8gbs of ram.  The general thinking was that it would be easier to develop for and it had this grand vision.  Major publishers bought into the vision.

At this point we’ve all read stories about how the February reveal scared the crap out of Microsoft but what I’ve just recently learned is that it shook the industry as a whole.  If you go back and watch it you will see Mark Cerny even point out that they were very coy when talking to developers about what they wanted out of a system.  Sony’s approach of a developer-friendly machine was brilliant but what I think most of us didn’t know is that most developers didn’t know this until February.  All of a sudden all of these vague  conversations they were having with Sony which they brushed off thinking that Sony was going to do what Sony always does… make a convoluted and very custom piece of silicone.  When asked for specifics even from huge publishers like EA and Activision, Sony was extremely tight-lipped about what they had planned.  There were some third parties they were open with, for sure, but as a whole the industry felt like the PS4 was just floating in the ether and Microsoft had this amazing vision that they had gone on tour selling for the entire prior year.

After the February reveal Microsoft, and the rest of the industry, knew that the Xbox One wasn’t going to be the most powerful system.  It wasn’t going to be the easiest system to develop for.  There was still belief in Microsoft’s overall approach though.  As things started to leak out about always online Microsoft committed what, in hindsight, was its biggest blunder.  When Adam Orth took to twitter to defend the concept of an always-online system, while also insulting a large section of the United States, there was a huge uproar.  What Microsoft took away from this was that people were offended about his comments about people who don’t live in cities.  If they really paid attention they would have realized that the entire uproar was about the system being always online. This misreading of the situation led them to what may go down as one of the worst unveilings of a console ever.  When Microsoft execs got up on stage in May and talked TV TV SPORTS TV and how everything was digital and the answers their PR guys and execs like Phil Harrison gave conflicted with each other and the entire thing sunk Microsoft’s entire vision.  You have one chance to make a first impression and Microsoft blew it in a historically bad fashion.  If they read the Orth situation correctly this could have turned out completely differently.

The bigger publishers were starting to get nervous before the Microsoft reveal when Microsoft delayed the unveiling from April to May and the tools they were giving developers were far behind what Sony had provided publishers after Cerny blew their doors off in February.  Companies that had started to put all of their eggs in the Microsoft basket were quickly recalculating resources. The reveal debacle was the final nail in the coffin. When just 4 months earlier the entire industry felt like Microsoft was going to dominate this generation Sony had become the front-runner by a country mile.  This was backed up after Sony laid the smackdown to Microsoft over their anti-consumer policies while revealing that their more powerful machine was also $100 cheaper at E3. Preorder numbers in the week following E3 were as high as 9 to 1 in territories that Microsoft won easily the prior generation.

These pre-order numbers led to them reversing many of their decisions in what are now referred to as 180s.  There were certain things that Microsoft just could not 180 on, however.  There was no time to make the system more powerful.  It was going to take them a long time to change many of their policies that developers considered unfriendly.  It also had to erase the stigma that the bad first impression left.  Meanwhile companies like EA who signed massive deals with Microsoft including Titanfall and exclusive FIFA content were starting to publicly state they were “platform agnostic” because they saw the trajectory of each console.  In many ways the publishers still haven’t caught up with the idea that the PS4 is the frontrunner.  Many of the multiplatform ports at launch had the least effort put into the PS4 version, but because the tools were more advanced and the system was more powerful those versions still shined on the platform.

It hasn’t been a complete home run for Sony, however.  Microsoft has a better launch-window lineup.  While I enjoyed Killzone and loved Knack, Forza alone beats both, Dead Rising 3 isn’t perfect but it’s very, very fun.  Ryse is also more fun than reviewers gave it credit for.  Beyond that, which is strange considering Sony’s huge indie initiative, when it comes to downloadable games the PS4 has been pretty barren.  Resogun was amazing, Super Motherload was fantastic but a very niche game and the rest has been, honestly, crap.  Or old.  1080p Flower is cool, I guess, but the Xbox One has Killer Instinct, Peggle 2, Powerstar Golf (Sony, WHERE IS HOT SHOTS?  YOU ALWAYS LAUNCH WITH HOT SHOTS GOLF!), Halo: Spartan Assault, Max: Curse of Brotherhood and Crimson Dragon.  It also has a UI that has interesting TV functionality, the ability to multitask, and voice controls that actually work.  It’s a great system.

The problem with it, however, is that it is still a Microsoft system.  So many decisions have been made about this machine from executives who don’t know the first thing about gaming that it’s a mess.  It has 3 OS’s, it’s underpowered, the Kinect is essential yet it still doesn’t have games; and while the voice detection is great the gesture control is flaky… and even worse it’s just plain slow.  They could have accomplished everything amazing about the Kinect with a $10 microphone array.  Also, when you look at the games almost all of them have a fatal flaw.  I wondered how Microsoft could afford to make a game as complex as Forza 5 as a launch title because obviously launch is when there are literally the least amount of consoles that there ever will be in the console’s life cycle.  The answer that Microsoft came up with was to have much fewer tracks, much fewer cars, add a longer leveling up curve and add microtransactions for the currency, and to release a $50 DLC pack on day one.  They knew they couldn’t sell 5 million copies of the game so instead they decided to milk their most hardcore fans for every penny they have.

This translates over to many games.  Ryse, Halo: Spartan Assault, Powerstar Golf, and Crimson Dragon all have XP/currency systems with microtransactions attached. The amount the MT’s affect the grind curve of the game varies from barely (Ryse) to a ton (Powerstar Golf).  So if you ignore that the Xbox One costs $100 more, that almost all of their downloadable games are now $20, and that their entire first party lineup has been rejiggered to try to extract microtransactions out of you….  you have the superior system.  That’s the entire shame here!  If these games were crap, if the UI functions were bloatware, if this system sucked it would be so much easier to just write it off.  That’s not the case though.  Nearly everyone who owns a Xbox One is extremely happy with it because it is, despite ALL of these faults, a great system.

I recorded a podcast several weeks before the launch titled “Why the Xbox One will fail” and my main premise is that while the 180s were needed that what it did was turn the Xbox One into a weaker version of the PS4.  This was slightly off the mark as the UI functionality is much cooler than I figured, but I do still think this will the Xbox One’s undoing.  The power gap is going to get wider, not shorter, slow-moving publishers will be going into 2014 with the PS4 at the top of their list instead of the Xbox One like they had the year before.  The future is much brighter for the PS4.  But right now, right this second frozen in time, Microsoft has the better system.  What led them to this position will make for a great book one day.

Microsoft is currently replacing people wholesale in the Xbox department.  Sony proved that doing this can turn a division around completely (the story behind the PS3 launch is likely to be just as much a disaster).  Hiring folks like Chris Charla and Jeff Rubenstein shows me that Microsoft are getting people who know games.  Really, every decision they’ve made since a week after E3 has been good.  The problem is everything they are stuck with from prior to then.  I really love this system and hope to see MS keep pumping out good content for it.  They just need to stop being Microsoft.

And Sony, you need to release some damn games.