Late Night Consoling

By Chris Remo, May 19, 2006 8:00pm PDT Well, a lot of mudslinging and speculation today. Prepare for pomposity!
  • PS3 Launch Details

    [ps3]

    Throughout the week, there have been numerous statements on the part of Sony executives, industry analysts, and game publishers giving various details and opinions about the upcoming PlayStation 3 launch. Here's a recap:

    - As far as how many games Sony is claiming will launch with the system, Sony Computer Entertainment America president Kaz Hirai stated that the total number may be as high as 15. Several games previously slated for PS3's November 17 launch are now scheduled for 2007. SCEE's David Reeves confirmed this week that Ninja Theory's Heavenly Sword, SCE Worldwide Studios Liverpool's Formula One, and Evolution Studios' MotorStorm will all be hitting the console next year. While a specific launch period was never announced for PS3's first EyeToy game, Reeves also noted that it too will be out next year, narrowing it down to a release by March 2007. Sony's SingStar, which it frequently showcases at press conferences, will be out this year, though likely not at the system's launch. Finally, as a bright spot amidst the news of delays, Insomniac's anticipated shooter Resistance: Fall of Man was confirmed as still on track for the system's launch.

    - Speaking to MCV, Sony Computer Entertainment UK's Ray Maguire stated that the dual-pricing configuration may not be in the cards for PS3 in the UK. "The lower-end 20Gb version of PlayStation 3 has no wi-fi, no HDMI and none of the other slots in it, so it's really a question of where we would position it," Maguire noted. "It's more likely that we will only launch the 60Gb version." That system would likely launch at GBP 425 in the UK, which at current exchange rates places it at the equivalent of about $800, $200 more than the $599 price point for that model in the US. Maguire did note that with several months until launch, plans have not yet been finalized. However, one decision that does seem final is that the UK will definitely not be using the store-bought online payment cards Sony showcased at E3, used to make purchases through Sony's online service without use of a credit card.

    - A few publishers were vocally critical of Sony's handling of third party PS3 development so far. Speaking to Bloomberg Japan, Sega of America president Simon Jeffery said, "A lot of developers have not gotten the kits,'' adding, "There certainly will not be a lot of titles available." THQ CEO Brian Farrel echoed Jeffery's comments, noting that the publisher was unable to make a PS3 version of its upcoming Sopranos game, as it "didn't have enough information" about the system. "It was too risky to do it," said Farrell. "It made no sense." Two other publishers, however, had a different view of the situation: #1 US publisher Electronic Arts and #2 US publisher Activision. EA president Paul Lee said simply, "We're happy with the development kits." Activision CEO Robert Kotick said, "While we may not have the final, final hardware, we know what the processor's capacity is. We have active development under way." Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot noted that the first PS3 games will not take full advantage of the system, but then neither did the first Xbox 360 games.

    - Analysis firm DFC intelligence took a pessimistic view this week of Sony's recently announced pricing scheme for PS3. "The video game business model has been to build an installed base of tens of millions of users in a very short-time frame," said a DFC report. "A key factor in this model is relatively low cost hardware." The firm postulated that while many will pay the asking price, Sony's overall audience will be much smaller than the previous mass audience it captured with PS2. DFC noted that Xbox 360 is seeing an increasingly strong library, particularly after last week's announcement of Grand Theft Auto IV launching simultaneously on the two systems, which makes it all the more crucial for Sony to differentiate its machine and justify its price. This could result in problems for the whole industry, not just Sony, DFC noted. "Unfortunately, there is a sinking feeling that things may have spun out of control for Sony and thus price cuts will be slow in coming," read the report. "While that may be good news for Microsoft and Nintendo it could spell rough times for publishers that have come to rely so much on Sonyâ s ability to build a huge market of devoted video game consumers."

  • Naka's New Studio

    Rumors have been swirling for months that legendary Sega designer Yuji Naka had quit his employer and founded his own studio, and now Idle Thumbs offers a confirmation based on a Japanese press release from Sega. Naka's new company is named Prope, and will be partially funded by Sega. With him will be going ten members of Sonic Team, with which Naka formerly worked.

    Sega will have first publishing rights to any Prope games. It is unknown what current projects are in the works from the studio. Several rumors have surfaced recently that Naka is developing a sequel to cult favorite NiGHTS Into Dreams (SAT) for Wii. Most recently, Electronic Gaming Monthly reported the rumor in its latest issue, though a specific platform was not noted.

  • Nintendo's Yarnton Blasts Sony

    [nintendo]

    Nintendo UK's David Yarnton may be spending a bit too much time with diehard Nintendo loyalists online. Speaking to trade publication MCV, Yarnton claims Sony "didn't innovate, they copied," resulting in the company's recent removal of its controller's rumble feature. Yarnton's implication is likely that the feature's removal is directly connected to Sony's ongoing legal battles with haptic technology provider Immersion. The Nintendo UK executive also took a potshot at Sony's Phil Harrison, suggesting that Harrison may have displayed hypocrisy by previously downplaying the then-named Revolution controller, with Sony later implementing similar technology into its PlayStation 3. Yarnton followed this up with a rather cringe-inducing claim: "I donâ t know what their decision making process is but I think if you look back, any innovation that has come in gameplay has come from us."

  • Sony's Reeves: People Will Buy PS3 Even Without Games

    [ps3]

    It's a great day for hubris on the part of European console executives, I guess. Speaking to Computer and Video Games, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe CEO David Reeves had high expectations for PS3's launch despite any hitches it may potentially have. PS3 would sell millions even if it had no games, he claimed. "We have built up a certain brand equity over time since the launch of PlayStation in 1995 and PS2 in 2000 that the first five million are going to buy it, whatever it is, even [if] it didn't have games," said Reeves.

  • The Final Countdown (to DS Lite)

    [ds]

    While North America has known when it will be getting Nintendo's updated DS Lite for a few weeks now, Europe has been in the dark about its own release dates and price points for the machine. According to trade publication MCV, that will change on Monday, May 22. That's right, folks, a rumor announcing an announcement. But hey, if you were wondering, you know?

    In terms of more specific, yet equally unconfirmed, rumor, a potential date and price of June 23 and 150 Euro have been floating around various European news outlets. Take that as you will.

  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    Gamasutra has an incredibly fascinating interview with several executives of Tose Software, one of the best-kept secretes in game development. The company has created over a thousand games across almost every system since 1979, but willingly and actively strives to keep its name off of credits and game boxes, sometimes going so far as to have staffers use false names. All of its games are done for external publishers, who are credited for the games' development; for example, many Square Enix titles have in fact been developed by Tose, as well as those for numerous other major Japanese publishers. Nintendo's recent Super Princess Peach (DS) was in fact a Tose product. Tose's Starfy series is the first case in the company's history it has owned any part of the properties it develops; the franchise is co-owned by Nintendo and Tose. Tose is currently trying to establish itself among publishers in US and Europe, but is having some trouble as despite its enormous portfolio, few people have actually heard of the company. You have likely played Tose games without knowing it.

    Planet GameCube chats with Nintendo EAD's Takashi Tezuka, currently supervising all Nintendo-developed Wii games, in an interview that's surprisingly informative (for a Nintendo interview, anyway).

    Gaming-Age has an interview with Epic's CliffyB, talking about Gears of War and...well, a bunch of other stuff.

    Probably the last day of new E3 previews today. If you're interested, check that out at Game Informer, GameSpot, Eurogamer, IGN, GameSpy, and surely others. And hey, if you missed ours, here it is.

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Mortal Kombat for the Super Nintendo. "Awful, Blood-less version with unresponsive controls and ridiculous fatalitys" (submitted by dalmiroy2k)

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