Game Over: The Losers of 2013

You charge too little and you charge too much for your games - and you want to own our living rooms? Here are the stumbles of the past 12 months

It's been a fantastic year for the games business but there are always winners and losers. Not losers that have been left face down in the gutter, unable to get up and fight another day, but those that have clearly fought against the tide in 2013. It's largely due to being unable to keep up with the pace of the video game business, where rapid evolution can leave the best companies short, forcing them to play catch-up when rivals and consumers have already moved on.

And it's not just single companies - there have been trends that should have thrived through 2013, but the intended audience has not warmed to developments, leaving the predictions of companies and industry commentators sounding hollow. These are the trends and companies that have slipped, tripped and stumbled their way through 2013, hoping next year they can start afresh.


There's still potential in the Ouya, no doubt. But Julie Urhman and her clunky mobile-to-console device got off to a bad start and it didn't really get any better. Developer toy and a curiosity, the Ouya has stumbled through similar problems as Microsoft - it hasn't really understood the demands of the independent developer and it has made far too many assumptions about its own audience. The terrible online ads with the vomiting gamer were simply bizarre, but refusing to acknowledge a funding system that was being exploited by greedy developers was just bad business. If you're going to allow your consumers to fund the product through Kickstarter, you have to also let them help shape the final offering. Ouya seems like a company that refuses to listen to feedback until it's too late.

"Ouya has stumbled through similar problems as Microsoft - it has made far too many assumptions about its own audience"

But the Ouya isn't the only microconsole on or close to market. If all are ultimately offering the same end result - mobile games on the big screen - how do they stand out? And does the audience actually want their mobile games on a big screen? The competition is fierce - easily accessible indie games with high production values, free-to-play MMOs, new consoles, cheaper old systems that still have a lot of performance in them and a healthy catalogue - now is not the time for unrefined content or half measures. The pricing would suggest they are not cheap enough, and with the Oculus Rift and CastAR fulfilling the experimental side of development and Valve's Steam Machine's the highest of high-end, there doesn't seem to be a place anymore for a cute novelty games device. The Gamestick, Ouya, GamePop and Mojo look to have missed their already narrow window of opportunity.

The Nintendo Wii U

Nintendo is fine. But the Wii U is over. It didn't really begin, to be fair. It's not going to sell 9 million units in this financial year as predicted by Satoru Iwata. Nintendo has its head in the sand. I will be surprised if the Wii U is in stores next Christmas, apart from knocking around the bargain bins and/or the retro sections, where delusional Nintendo fanboys refuse to accept the inevitable. Apart from a handful of games that are in Nintendo's own house there's nothing to wait for. And that myth that Nintendo games sell Nintendo consoles is clearly just that. It's a myth. Wind Waker HD, Pikmin and Mario may be great games but they haven't been system sellers.

The big question earlier in the year was whether new consoles from Microsoft and Sony would follow suit. They didn't; both have gotten off to a flying start past the two million mark. Over a year from release and the Wii U is shuffling along with no support from third parties. Again, the Nintendo faithful point to in-house development, but it's clearly not enough to shift units. Nintendo hasn't heard the advice to fast fail. This holiday season is the last roll of the dice - the bundles on offer are good value for money - but the system looks out of date sat next to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. To the consumer it's not clear what differentiates the Wii U. It looks cheaper, it has a tablet that's barely used and once again it's surrounded by those all too familiar cartoon faces. Nintendo preaches to the converted but the converted aren't enough to sustain the Wii U business.

I'll say it again to be clear; Nintendo is fine, but the Wii U is over.

Insomniac Games

Remember Fuse? Neither do we. Fuse was the exact opposite of Naughty Dog's The Last of Us. No hype, no excitement, no marketing support. New intellectual property from a well-established, skilled and much-loved game development team shouldn't have been this dead on arrival, yet Fuse flopped onto the market when no one was asking for it. The marketing department were so embarrassed they took the cover art and cut the heads off their main characters. Ouch.

"The marketing department were so embarrassed they took the cover art and cut the heads off their main characters"

A quick glance at the game shelves will show many third-person cover-based shooters. If we look at the Gears of War franchise, it's a series that squeezed out four iterations before Fuse was released. Gears is a series that, despite being incredibly popular, seemed by episode four to admit that the well had run dry. Judgement was a good game, but everything comes to a natural stop. So if the market leader has decided its time to take a break, what hope for an upstart with no differentiators like Fuse?

Was the game also a victim of EA's now defunct Partners programme? That doesn't really matter (note: EA insists that Partners is functioning as normal). If a studio is only as good as its last game then Insomniac is visibly limping from this release. Hopefully it can sweep Fuse under the carpet and use its next project - Xbox One exclusive Sunset Overdrive - to start afresh in the new generation.

Digital pricing

What a mess digital pricing is. On mobile formats, games are given away for free and even that's not a big enough incentive to play them. On consoles the opposite is happening - prices are ramped up above the RRP of a physical disc. And yet they must be selling because the prices haven't dropped. And then there's the ridiculous price of in-game items and other ways in which developers and publishers are monetising virtual content. From £32 for a supercar in a console racing game to £70 worth of extra lives in a simple mobile quiz game, there's no way in which this doesn't look greedy. To anyone outside of the industry (you know, the people that actually pay for stuff) it's messy, ill-thought out and looks like pure exploitation. That's why we'll continue to see stories in the press about kids spending obscene amounts on their parents' credit cards due to a lack of clarity.

"To anyone outside of the industry it's messy, ill-thought out and looks like pure exploitation"

But there's no real solution to this. Prices will always vary from product to product, format to format. What we have to do is continue to educate the consumer and patiently wait for the market to decide on what it wants to pay and what it finds acceptable. It might also help if we got rid of terms like 'whales', unless you're happy to associate a customer with something that is relentlessly hunted, slaughtered and chopped into pieces in order to maximise every penny.

For digital pricing to become more stable and less bewildering, the consumer will need to determine the price of the content, not the content makers. And they'll do that by voting with their wallets.

id Software

It's all over. id Software is an empty house. Hollenshead, Hooper and then the big one - John Carmack - all left the maker of Doom this year. It's perhaps inevitable that once a company sells up (and some might say sells out) to a publisher that the talent moves on once contracts are honoured. Carmack clearly believes VR is finally, really, the future of games. The exodus leaves behind some great software, no doubt, but it will never have the love and attention poured into it from the people that actually made it in the first place. And the same goes for Doom, a game that celebrated its 20th anniversary this month. Maybe time is up on that franchise too. There are certainly less dignified ways to go.


Microsoft is the easy target here and it has deserved every kick up the ass it's had since it first revealed a brand new games console by showing live sports and a TV quiz show. Its Xbox One showing at E3 was better, with a concentrated effort to put video games front and centre, but that only worked up until the point where Phil Spencer revealed the price. Then tumbleweed blew across the stage. And then the details came out about online connectivity and the company's digital policies, which were dragged over hot coals by the developers, the press and everyone else with an opinion. Then of course there was the backtracking, which made the company look like what it really was - making a lot of policies up as it went along. And then...

"Microsoft has had a risible year, mainly due to its own mismanagement and poor marketing"

Well, you get the picture. Microsoft has had a risible year, mainly due to its own mismanagement and poor marketing. The messages were not refined enough, the goals of the Xbox One too wide reaching at an early stage. It can't be everything to everyone. You can't own my living room - it's my living room. I might let the hardware in, but you have to turn off that snooping first. I'm not sure I'm happy with the enforced bundling of a camera staring at me, analysing my gameplay, ticking off a checklist of my children's viewing habits. Call me paranoid and maybe a little old fashioned, but I'd like a video games console to play damn good video games first and I'll decide on the entertainment options in my own time.

Microsoft assumed too much. It tried to tell the consumer what they wanted, what they will do with their Xbox One and how they will use it. Instead of presenting the hardware, the games and the features and letting the consumer adopt it as they see fit. Let's hope in 2014 it does a lot more listening and lot less telling.

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Latest comments (31)

Jakub Mikyska CEO, Grip Digital8 years ago
I remember when Fuse was called Overstrike and it was a much different game - full of Insomniac's signature humor and charm. I was already counting with buying it. And then it became Fuse - boring, bland, copycat and I couldn't care less.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
You have to love how he expects the Wii U to be off the market in 12 months, but he ignores the fact that the VIta selling considerably less worldwide this holiday.

Look, Nintendo has zero incentive to discontinue the Wii U. No one is arguing it's just waiting to take off, but it's ludicrous to suggest it would be discontinued. That could only damage Nintendo for the future. They're much better served holding out for GameCube level sales and releasing a new system in 2016.
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Anthony Gowland Director, Ant Workshop8 years ago
What we have to do is continue to educate the consumer and patiently wait for the market to decide on what it wants to pay and what it finds acceptable.
Candy Crush and Clash of Clans have been top of the grossing chart all year. How long are you going to wait before it dawns on you that maybe the consumer you're speaking on behalf of does actually find this acceptable?

Edit: also odd to say MS are a loser in the same article that you admit their console, like Sony's flew past the 2m sales mark.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Anthony Gowland on 26th December 2013 6:50pm

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Show all comments (31)
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
Nintendo HAS made some major mistakes with the console, but to write off the Wii U before 2014 has begin is a bit... overindulging in a fantasy scenario some in the industry seem to want to happen faster and faster these days. Granted, the US marketing teams need to be whipped a bit (some of those US ads are horrifically generic to the point of infomercial quality) and YES, the games need to appear before even those most vocal for the console just throw their hands up and scream.

I can say without any crystal ball gazing that some of the more major hyped titles won't help too many new users hop on board, as the media has been quite relentless at bashing around the console to the point where you can walk into a game store and hear a potential buyer say "I hear it's not such a good system" or words to that effect (which makes me think of the Wii days where people walked into the store to beg for a Wii because they were sold out everywhere).

Sure, Nintendo can fall back on 3DS sales and games if they need to get an EASY ego stroke, but they NEED a home console presence this generation (and into the foreseeable future) just so gamers who want that experience of a new Mario, Zelda and so forth and so on can get them on Nintendo's terms and not watered down or stripped into pay to play segments that work for mobile platforms fine, but not as true "evergreen" titles.

Can they do it alone? Nope. Third parties, a dedicated eShop for indies, taking some crazy chances and more all need to happen and soon. The Wii U isn't dead at all - but it is kind of hanging off that cliff by a branch and waiting for a lifeline, not a critic sized barrel to bash it spinning off screen...
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Richard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes8 years ago
The Wii-U's problem is its price, it's at a minimum $100 too expensive for being a kids toy. Gamecube numbers are well out of reach while the machine sits at $300. Digital pricing is set by policy as MSRP ; retail discounts it hence why digital is more expensive than retail. You're not going to see MIcrosoft or Sony undercutting retail any time soon - they need to sell their consoles through them. Microsoft's online policies were ravaged by the press and consumers, most Publishers and Developers supported it ; they should've stuck to their guns too (and would've had Sony not decided to pull a fast one).

I'd be a little weary of the flying start shown by Microsoft and Sony as well ; the fact that I could walk into Toys R Us, Target and Walmart on Christmas Eve and buy an XBox One is troubling. That they didn't have a PS4 probably has more to do with Sony's late launch abroad (shifting manufactured units elsewhere) than anything else. Course I didn't check Gamestop either.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Browne on 27th December 2013 12:04am

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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
Interesting that Microsoft and Nintendo are "losers", whilst it is Sony, by far, that is in the worst financial position, with huge shareholder pressure to break it up.

Nintendo have missed the boat of going digital. They have clung onto physical IP distribution most, even though it is silly. Xbox Live cost Microsoft a lot more to make and bring to market than the Xbox did. Can Nintendo make a similar commitment?

GI: Your posting system ran amok!!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bruce Everiss on 27th December 2013 7:36am

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 8 years ago
If Gen8 wants to make f2p style revenue with f2p style games, they need access to the f2p audience. My personal observation is, f2p games seem to be successful, if they happen to run on platforms large amounts of people happen to have anyway, not $500 dedicated hardware purchases. My other observation would be successful f2p games being delivered as an ongoing service with ongoing development of the product. f2p does not compare to the console style of marketing where games are shipped to stores and then the sequel are made immediately.

That does not mean the combination of $60 games with microtransactions is doomed to fail. Look at the PC game Guild Wars 2. Having a full price game with microtransactions can work, current RPU there is around 50 (175M from five quarterly reports with the last official sales numbers from the publisher being 3.5 million units). But it does not come easy and it requires effort and support. We should not claim that what Forza and Ryse are trying will never work, because it will, just not in that clumsy and cheap fashion we are seeing now.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Nintendo have missed the boat of going digital. They have clung onto physical IP distribution most, even though it is silly.
Bruce, every Nintendo title is digitally released day and date with the physical SKU. And even some content is pushed to you automatically and only available digitally. Not sure I get what you are trying to say here.
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Art C. Jones Writer / Blogger 8 years ago
Playing Super Mario 3D World yesterday and boy is it amazing. It's the goodness and uniqueness that makes me love Nintendo all wrapped up in one amazing package.

Playing it yesterday gave me a moment where I realized how happy I am to have a WiiU and how truly excited I am for the 2014 games of Mario Kart and Smash Bros.

Is WiiU going to sell as many hardware units worldwide as MS or Sony? That looks like a crazy long-shot.
Is Nintendo going to pull the system off the market in 12 months? This is also crazy unlikely to happen...and unlike so many "analysts" I'm glad it won't. The gaming industry could use more games as good as Super Mario 3D World...LOTS more games ;).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Art C. Jones on 27th December 2013 4:52pm

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Richard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes8 years ago
You_should_be_grateful_they_are_willing_to_pay_your_salary instead of mourning_the_fact_that_they_actually_have_ownership_rights_over_the_software_they_purchase. Get this through your head.
I think your little rant was rather rude and ill-informed Andrea. Try to keep it civil.
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Sasha Yelesin Student 8 years ago
Don't forget the Wonderful 101. It's a Saturday morning cartoon with nonstop action, crazy set pieces, and boatloads of charm. It's a new IP with original gameplay and some of the most fun I've had in a game in a long time. How no one knows it exists is a mystery to me.
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Paolo Giunti Narrative Designer 8 years ago
Totally agree with Jakub

I remember seeing the first trailer of Fuse and suddenly wonder: "Wait... Is this what Overstrike has become?"
The Gameplay was, apparently, pretty solid, despite the restyling. But trading the colorful, cartoony, full of humor vibe that made Overstrike stand out for "yet another shooter" was a terribly poor call.
Like many, i also lost immediately any interest in the title.
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Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange8 years ago
Wii U over even though it has been selling really well during the holidays? Here's something more certain, the Vita TV is over.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
I dont know why the WiiU andNintendo get so much hate. There games score an average of between 8 and 10. I myself got a 3DS and boy am I loving it (except the online service). Doesnt have the visual fidelity of a VITA, but it has the games. Very fun and great games as a matter a fact. And its probably the best use of a 3D screen on any device or hardware. None invasive, conveniant, no extra accesories needed to view and can be turned on and off with a switch. Its a bit hard to look at especially for long periods of times. Thankfully it can be switched off. It doesnt make or break the gameplay for me. its just a nice little feature.

Nntendo has a lack of software. But then aagin I have a PS4 and while I dont regret buying it, it is also lacking software. I seem to be playing my PS3 a whole lot more. What Im saying is once the WiiU builds up its library of games it will sell more. And this christmas the I saw Nintendo sell alot of WiiU, 3DS and games.

The thing I feel Nintendo should work with is there online eSHOP. It looks like it was made in the 1980's. Its very inconveniant and way to restrictive in variouse ways. Its very inconveniant to have my account attached to the hardware, incase it is stolen, broken or I decide to exchange it , transfering your profile is a piece of work. I like the idea of simply deactivating your account from the unit and activating it with your profile information in what ever new piece of hardware you get. Instead if I deactivate it, It deletes my account with my entire account including funds and purchased licenses. And same thing if you happen to move to another country. If I move to another country and try using differant currency I cant. You cannot change the country your in. It sucks. Why cant the digital games cease to function if the hardware is deactivated from the account? In fact why cant my account be strapped on the SD card, so I simply remove the SD card with all my stuff on it. All i would have to do is deactivate the previose hardware and activate the new one to validate the licenses.

To put it bluntly, I dislike Nintendo's eSHOP user policies. Its so backwards, restrictive and inconveniant. Signing up was a pain too.

Other than that the games are good. no complaints about that here.

And just note I created my eshop account recently. I know little of the eSHOP, so i may be wrong in my statements. This is only my initial impression.
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises8 years ago
There's still hope for Wii U, right before Christmas their 32gb bundles went on sale for $249, bundled with either Mario or Zelda.

That's pretty tempting when you compare it to the $400 PS4 or the $500 Xbox One. Both of which have crappy launch titles and a BF4 that's too unstable to play, and sells a third of the game to you as Day 1 DLC. Really the only way that BF4 could have been worse, is if it made you install Origin on your console.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ Rick I don't disagree with your complaints, but at least on the usability side the eShop is great on Wii U. That's specifically for Wii U though. It's definitely difficult to navigate on 3DS.
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Axel Cushing Freelance Writer 8 years ago
I feel your pain on the 3DS eStore. It's like Nintendo is trying to come up with a way to balance out the gaming goodness by slapping the consumer with a sock full of sand. Even trying to get a game update was a bigger chore than I would experience on the PC. I'm curious to know if consumers in Japan have a similar outlook on this.
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Axel Cushing Freelance Writer 8 years ago
Microsoft's online policies were ravaged by the press and consumers, most Publishers and Developers supported it ; they should've stuck to their guns too (and would've had Sony not decided to pull a fast one).
As graceless as Andrea's comment was, she does have a point. The publishers and developers (or at least the execs at those companies) doubtlessly did support Microsoft's policies. It doesn't mean, however, that they were good or reasonable policies in the eyes of consumers. If they had been reasonable to the consumer, we wouldn't have seen the reaction that we did after Microsoft's initial launch event and again at E3. Remember Adam Orth? He assumed "everybody's already connected to the Internet all the time" and it ended up with him leaving Microsoft in disgrace, primarily because the attitude came across as disconnected from the rest of the world.

It's almost a mental blind spot that seems to affect a number of companies in the gaming industry. Publishers, in particular, seem to have this idea that they can make reality what they want it to be rather than look at it how it is. If consumers howl and cry, the publishers seem to say, then "let them eat cake." But reality has a way of making its presence known sooner or later. Consider Blizzard and Diablo III. Almost a year and a half of telling gamers how good and how important their "real money auction house" is, and they're finally saying that they're getting rid of it. From the EVP's perspective, it was probably perceived as "a feature that failed to provide sufficient additional monetization opportunities and persistent revenue stream." From the perspective of the consumer, it was a loathed and despised element of a game that was routinely abused by the very people it was supposed to stop.

There cannot be the assumption that gamers will just shut up and hand over their money without complaint whenever a company offers up a product. Not anymore. Right now, the average gamer is somebody who wants to be getting the most from his purchase insofar as his desires are concerned. He could care less if the publisher improves their profit margin. All he wants to do is make a sweet trick kill and ensure there are lots of city guards with knee injuries. If word gets out that the publisher is interfering with that, he will take his money elsewhere, leaving said publisher relying on the people that they suckered into adopting early to carry them through to the next quarter.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 8 years ago
If I may weigh in on the Diablo3 auction house, but I believe the core problem of that thing was its negative interaction with player progression and therefore player retention.

The amount of progress you can achieve by farming D3 on the highest difficulty with the most efficient run you can think of for 50h can be undone by spending 1. That is not a good ratio. But personally, I did not hate it and neither did my friends. Additionally, the meta gameplay and high level builds started to exclusively rely on items which you had to buy, since there was effectively a 0% chance of getting the equipment any other way. At the same time making the D3 equivalent of stock trading your endgame, is not attractive to the player, even if it is a highly efficient way to progress in the game in terms of money and items. There comes a point where you realize that if investment banking is neither your job, nor your hobby, it is also not your preferred type of game. Blizzard's reaction to the entire loots system dilemma (which was focus of updates before), is not to remove an unwanted feature, it was redesigning a core system of the game and removing an attached way of monetizing.

This is a difference to MIcrosoft, which did not look at the issue people had with their proposed system. There was no salvaging the good aspects, there was just full panic mode reversal and people leaving their jobs. There was also the issue of comparing a console requiring an internet connection with devices which have an internet connection built into them. For a technology company that is not good enough. Too much PR and no technical wizardry.

The same goes for Microsoft and microtransactions. Turn10 came out this year basically saying "look guys, we are not under an evil spell of corporate overlords, we were just too naive to do it right". Which is once more a Microsoft problem in my opinion. Microsoft would never allow launch games to ship with horrible graphics running at ten frames per second. Because they know this will paint the console in a bad picture at a moment when every nuance needs to be right. Allowing the console to launch with this type of clumsy microtransactions hurt the platform and Microsoft will require better guidelines.

The idea of placing a camera having an open microphone into every household even after the NSA scandal is something for the ages really. The desperation with which Microsoft want people to embrace the Kincet is beyond my understanding. Neither people watching TV, not people playing games need that thing and even the company which started the whole motion gaming thing has moved on. Why does this still exist?
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Nick Wofford Hobbyist 8 years ago
Some people wanted the console that did what the original X1 did. People like me are now stuck with "new" consoles that come with all of the same features as last-gen, with pretty graphics. Yay.

Kinect exists for the same reason Wii Sports and Nintendoland exist. It's there to make owners of the system dependent on it. I know people who complained about Kinect for months before release, but then stated that they couldn't go back to using a remote for relaxed viewing. That's the goal. Make the consumers too dependent on the tech so they can't switch to something that doesn't have it.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd8 years ago
It's lucky that the author reiterates that "Nintendo are fine", because otherwise their assessment of the reasons for the Wii U's struggles might come across as rather shabby wallowing in their own prejudices.

The assumptions that Nintendo are unaware of the Wii U's problems and that brand fatigue is causing the first party games for the system to struggle are baseless. But then the same criticisms have been levelled at pretty much every Nintendo hardware release since the N64 at the first possible opportunity. There is a perverse eagerness to see the industry's greatest standard bearer for quality knocked off their perch in some quarters.
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Nick Wofford Hobbyist 8 years ago
I could've had a shared digital library with 9 of my friends and family, where only one of us needed to buy the game for all of us to play it. Totally not possible without online checks. I could've had cheaper pricing on digital titles, and the publishers need not fear that I'm just selling my username to shell out games to people. Totally not possible without online checks.

The only issue the original X1 had was that the check was every day. Once every 2 weeks would've worked fine. (Steam does it once a month, which very few people seem to know)
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 8 years ago
Wii U over? Come on, you can do better than that. You should have had a picture of Iwata holding a Wii U in hand next to an Alien with the caption "Game Over Man, Game Over".

I don't think the Wii U will be pulled from shelves as early as next year but it's almost a certainty at this point that they will end up in third this gen. I say that not just because of the way they have sold(or haven't sold as it were) over the last year. I also say it because, if both the XB1 and PS4 haven't already outsold total Wii U life time sales by today(December 30th) I have a hunch that it won't take more than a few more months for both to do so respectively. Especially considering that Titanfall(XB1), Second Son(PS4) and Destiny(both) will all probably be huge system sellers for them when they launch over the next two quarters. The Wii U will continue to chug along but, despite their continued first party games I don't think they are going to make much of an impact until they get another price drop.

While Microsoft deserves to be on the list for all of their earlier XB1 transgressions the system is still selling remarkably well considering it's $500 price tag(in my opinion thats another transgression). But that could just be all the launch hype. I believe the system will really hit it's stride once they get their first price drop. In the meantime, lets hope Microsoft learned several hard lessons this year and doesn't repeat the same mistakes next year.

As for Fuse, I haven't actually played it yet. But Sunset Overdrive looked cool in the reveal. I'm counting on Insomnia to make it another one of their steller hits. Then we can all look back on Fuse as an off year.
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Nick Wofford Hobbyist 8 years ago
I don't think digital sharing is any different than physical sharing today. I know that I'm playing a copy of AC4 that 4 other people have beaten, and I won't be the last in that chain of free gameplay either. Digital sharing wouldn't have cut sales by 90% because sales are already affected by sharing.

And that username thing is a very real concern with digital that requires online checks. What's to stop me from just giving my Steam username and password to everyone on IGN or Kotaku, and then playing the games too? Online checks that would bust me as soon as more than 1 person was using the same account.

And digital checks are why Steam can work its magic on price models. If I (the developer) can release my game without fear of resell, then I don't need to make as much on the initial purchase to see the same profit in sales. The reason people have to pay $60 for a retail game (other than stupidly inflated budgets) is that the developers need to get money to account for the purchaser, and all of his friends that aren't paying to play the game.

You can charge $60 for the purchase and let multiple people play it, or charge $20 for each copy and let the cheapskates wait for a flash sale (which are common). Anyone who likes Steam would rather have the second option. It's time for consoles to accept that.
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Joonas Laakso Production Lead, Next Games8 years ago
Re: Nintendo:

Nobody is saying that the Wii U is a "bad" system in any way, or that the games are bad. They're not. But the buying public faced with a choice of which system to get just doesn't care. It's perceptually too close to the original Wii - people just don't understand why they would buy the same console again. Which is weird because the Wii U is much more different from the Wii than the X1 or the PS4 are to the previous models, but since it's an image/perception issue, rationality doesn't come into the equation. Or perhaps it's the "weirdness" factor: they're not doing a great job communicating how it's different and why you should care. Marketing fail, essentially.

Quite likely those same much-loved Nintendo original games are a big part of the problem; people have played so many Zeldas and Marios that they're just not that into doing that all over again. (Pokemon being the one big exception.) It makes sense, really: you want to get a new experience when you're shelling out for a new console. I'm not one for generalization, but to me it speaks volumes that as a hardcore gamer I haven't turned on my Wii U in well over six months.
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Nick Wofford Hobbyist 8 years ago
The Steam client does not work indefinitely in offline mode. That is something that I alluded to when I said that "(Steam does it once a month, which very few people seem to know)." Steam has DRM built into the client. That's a fact. And piracy is absolutely not responsible for low prices on the PC. Developers would never lower prices to try and get into a price war with free, pirated material. They lower the price because they don't need to make as much money on the copies since only one person is playing the game. Guaranteed.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 8 years ago
Well, technically, Steam's Offline Mode is so very broken. The fact that Steam requires credentials to be downloaded (and those credentials expire in anything from a few days to a few weeks, requiring new ones to be downloaded) is unintentional. It does work as a form of online-check-DRM, but it's not supposed to.

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Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 2nd January 2014 11:16am

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Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments8 years ago
@morville AFAIK that's out of date, and since fixed.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 8 years ago
Oh? In what sense is it out of date and fixed? Is Offline mode now working properly? I've heard of people sharing libraries with friends/family, and then going Offline and playing games, but assumed Offline mode was still generally broken. :)
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 8 years ago
Hah! You're right. I actually caught that thread before RPS posted it, and before the November 4th update saying it's fixed. Hence my missing the necro-update, and my confusion. Sweet. :D
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Charles Herold Wii Games Guide, about.com8 years ago
Yes, Wii U sales are disappointing. And they will probably continue to be disappointing. But analysts are predicting that the console will wind up selling about like the Game Cube did. So unless you can show me that the Game Cube wasn't on any store shelves two years after its launch, I'd have to say that you are talking utter jibberish.
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