Short-Takes: 3/8/13

Xbox 360's first exclusive movie, Pulp, launches today (video)

Simon Wu:

Here we go again. Little series here and there, all exclusives of online media groups as each tries to corral its little segment of space, hoping that it has the breakout hit. If I want to watch each of these series, must I subscribe to 10 different services? My rant about the increasing necessity of 16 separate monthly subscriptions aside, this is really Microsoft’s first news about Xbox following the PS4 announcement, and if anything it’s a symbolic statement not only of intent to continue to make Xbox more of a general entertainment service, but also that it is far ahead of Sony in this arena.

Max Gruber:

“Oh brother”, Charlie Brown says with a distraught sense of amazement, “How many more useless add-ons to their company record can Microsoft dish out at us? Are they just making things for people who had a brain transplant with a leprous moron who had cigarettes burned on him when he was young?”

Jonathan Tung:

First they gave us exclusive DLC. Then they gave us an exclusive TV series. Now we have a movie. What’s next, we get an exclusive TV channel as well? Oh wait, we have one already. Why do I get the feeling that Microsoft is only trying to casualize themselves even more and more? If they keep this up at this rate, they're going to alienate the core gamers that made them such a success to begin with.


... and this is Microsoft’s second big piece of news post-PS4, not addressing PS4 at all. Hubris? Just as I think that the console should cost $400 at the most, and preferably $300, because we are in the era of $200 tablets and smartphones, we are also in the era of cheap games and apps, which are very easy to develop and update. If Microsoft truly envisions the Xbox beating out not only Valve, but also Apple and Google in the living room, these guidelines need updating as well. This is why I’m excited that the man behind Windows NT is working at Xbox, and why the new Xbox is rumored to have x86 processor architecture. That way it can hook into the APIs and policies of the Windows Store.

Max Gruber:

While I see Valve really making itself known in the console market, if their intentions for making a walled garden are to be believed, I could really see Valve take the lead in the console “wars”. Since Valve took over the PC market by storm, I wouldn’t be surprised if they assume direct control of the console market. They have a lot of cards that tip in their favor, but I would say that it really boils down to the execution, and how they approach and implement things into the Steam Box.

Jonathan Tung:

When you proclaim to the media that you do not consider Valve to be a competitor in the console market, you fail to observe the fact that Steam happens to have almost the exact same number of users as Xbox Live (40 Million to be exact, as of January 6). Expect Don Mattick to eat his words when the Steambox comes out eventually (in Steam years).


Uhh. Pure business completely overrode any sort of creative vision behind this game, and once again we see the dark side of the industry laid bare. The continuing shifting of expectations and requests from higher-ups during the developing process absolutely killed the title, and I think it’s a true testament to the developers that the game wasn’t worse on arrival than it was. Some of the choices in the game of weapon mods and the like totally ripped away the original essence of the game, of minimal overhead and maximum exposure. I really can only wonder what the game would have looked like and sold if the original creative design had held. This also makes me very disappointed to see that EA thinks that success means forcing games through a funnel that robs them of originality and points them in the same direction.

Max Gruber:

Oh no! If one of our games doesn’t sell more than three million units, we have no choice but to axe it. All we care about is making money and coming up with little to no innovation in our games we publish. Sob sob sob. May I remind everyone why I hate EA? Because all they do is curbstomp companies to the ground and break them to their limits to the point that they become unrecognizable.

Jonathan Tung:

This is what happens when you decide to force a video game to use microtransactions AND turn it into a clone of Resident Gears of Duty Planet. That, and expect the whole thing to sell. EA has already done enough damage to their brand when they ruined the ending for Mass Effect 3, and I don’t know if EA somehow managed to top that with this mess, especially since Peter Moore is outright denying that Dead Space 4 was even cancelled to begin with. And on a related note....


I am very hard pressed to remember a time before when expectations and reality were ever farther from each other. Will Wright must be pulling his hair out at the colossal train wreck his vision has become when given over fully to EA. One does not need to connect to a server to play SimCity. The problem is that excited gamers can’t rally around anything, despite some attempts to boycott or protest. So EA will tragically muddle through this fiasco just as Activision did with Diablo III and we’ll be no closer to an end in sight for always-online. And what happens when those servers get repurposed or shut down? What if they go down? Does that mean that your game is magically not going to work? What if you’re going on a trip and just want to play? I feel like this is going to fuel piracy further, not combat it.

Jonathan Tung:

….This is what happens when you decide to turn a single player video game into one that constantly requires an always-online connection as means of DRM. Seriously, EA STILL hasn’t learned after the terrible fiasco that was Command & Conquer 4 and what happened to Blizzard when Diablo III came out. Word to the wise Peter Moore: You’re doing it wrong. Hire some smarter server technicians, and make sure you make the multiplayer COMPLETELY optional. Still, i have to give some props to Maxis for actually admitting to getting this fixed as quickly as possible, in addition to providing compensation in the form of a free video game. Hopefully it isn’t Dead Space 3.