Booze, Baseball, and another "B"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sticks and stones....

If you're reading this blog, there's a good chance that you know the trailer for Metal Gear Solid: Guns of the Patriots is now available. I haven't said much about it for a few reasons. One of those reasons being I can't really wait for this game, so the less I think about it, the better.

Anyway, over at GamesIndustry.biz, they've got an article with a response to the trailer from Peter Moore, the Xbox VP. I really like Peter Moore, I think that he's a good guy, and pretty smart. He tried to make the Dreamcast work here in the US, and he was involved with a lot of programs that should have helped get the system going and get it much more popular than it ended up being. That being said, he's really selling out regarding his comments on the MGS4 trailer and the PS3. He knocks not only the system, but the game itself!

Quoting Moore from the article:

"Cell processor or not, when I look at the technical specs, I don't see anything that concerns me overly from a performance point of view. Quite frankly, having the ability to move first in this space, I think, provides us with the opportunity for a huge advantage."

"If we look at the capabilities of the Xbox 360 from a technical aspect, and we lay against it the capabilities from a technical aspect of the PS3, everybody that works at a technical level that I respect says... It's a wash," he continued. "It really is. Both companies have incredibly powerful machines, and it will be about what the developers can do with them."

"Gamers are a very smart bunch, and gamers who still haven't seen a PS3 or seen one played, will make the determination. The English expression is, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. Having videos, having characters in videos... The fact that they feel the need to have Snake tell you that it's powerful, that could be seen as a sign of worry, or weakness, potentially,

I very much agree with his point that what's most important is what developers can do with the system. I've been saying this for many, many years. Take the N64 vs. PlayStation debate; the N64 blew the PS out of the water in terms of on-paper specs, however even the best N64 games couldn't hold a candle to the top PS games.

Where Mr. Moore and I disagree is when he tries to say that by rushing their console to market, the Xbox 360 becomes the console to own. Further, that Sony and Konami are worried about the 360 versus the PS3, and that they show this by having Snake say that the system is the most powerful. Mr. Moore and I very much disagree here.

If I wanted to play the fanboy card (I'm a Sega fanboy, not Sony, thank you very much), I could say "show me anything from the 360 that comes even close to the MGS4 video." You couldn't and it would be a waste of time to try.

However, I'll play the Uncle Jason card, and say that I've seen a lot of consoles come and go, and the one constant that I have seen is that being first to market does not at all guarantee your success. You want examples? Try: the Atari Jaguar, the Sega Game Gear (color portable), Atari Lynx, Sega Dreamcast, and the Virtual Boy. These systems were the first of their kind (Lynx and Game Gear could be seen as competing, so I would be fine if you wanted to take one off the list), and they did not end up coming out on top. In fact, most of them bombed.

For Mr. Moore to say that the 360 is going to rock just because it's coming out first, that's not just a poorly informed statement, but it's also a rush to judgment. How about addressing the pricing structure of the system, its games, and accessories? I have yet to talk to anyone who is looking forward to a 20% increase in the price of a new game, much less paying $400 to get the console, when there are no "must-own" launch titles. How about addressing the issue that because MS is rushing the 360 to get it out first, they're foregoing higher capacity HD-DVD or Blu-Ray technology, which could leave gamers out in the cold a year or so on down the road? How about addressing the fact that the multiple system bundles is going to cause confusion at retail, making the sales more difficult to get? As much as people would like to think that these new systems sell themselves, that's not always the case.

I'm highly anticipating seeing the new systems in action, and being able to make an informed decision on which of them is worth a purchase. For Mr. Moore, a game-industry pro whom I respect, to go and say that the PS3 is not going to be outstanding because one of videogaming's oldest and coolest characters says that the system is going to rock, that's poor word choice, and I think a sign of just the opposite of what he said. Sony knows the system is going to rock, and now they've got Xbox on their toes, wondering if they can compete.

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