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The Weekly Wrap – EA downplays consoles, AU goes R18+

Saturday, 23rd July 2011 10:02 GMT By Nathan Grayson

Did you hear? The Weekly Wrap gave birth! The miracle that is nature blighted this very column with a litter of little ones. But what happened is only half the story: here’s what it means.

Riccitiello: Consoles are just 40 percent of the industry

What happened: EA’s overlord of opinions (and, you know, Business Stuff) saw the writing on the wall. The industry entered its latest period of puberty a boy, and when it finally emerges, it’ll be Mothra. “Let’s be realistic,” he said. “Consoles used to be 80 percent of the industry as recently as 2000. Consoles today are 40 percent of the game industry, so what do we really have?”

What it means: Whether EA’s masterfully steering its ship through this storm or pulling a Titanic, Riccitiello at least has the right of it. Times are changing, and so is gaming. Hell, the Wii basically proved that the five-year hotrod race console cycle is going the way of the Dodo, so gamers are fooling themselves if they think the next Xbox and PS4 are going to charge in and save hardcore gaming from evolution’s brutal efficiency. Like it or not, survival-of-the-fittest rules the day. And as Riccitiello pointed out, iDevices crawled onto land, grew thumbs, and turned the gaming world on its head in the blink of an eye. Honestly, though, this doesn’t mean the industry’s output is getting better or worse; there’s just more of it. To quote a very wise man, “Game’s the same, just got more fierce.”

Well, assuming the hardcore sector continues to evolve apace. So it’s disconcerting to hear rumblings that Microsoft and Sony are hitting warpdrive on their new machines simply because Nintendo’s adding another member to its crazy, semi-dysfunctional console family. “I think it’s sending the message that the new transition is going to happen,” said Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. Our question: What new transition? This isn’t how the industry works anymore. Sure, we’re all for shiny graphics and quantum-giggleflop eyelash physics, but old habits die hard.

National R18+ category to be introduced in Australia

What happened: Australia’s ratings system finally grew up. There are still some kinks to work out, but at the national level, this thing’s a done deal. Now Australia will learn a shocking truth: Ubisoft’s Petz games aren’t the industry’s entire output. The actual figure’s closer to 65 percent.

What it means: This is an incredibly promising step forward. Years of setbacks made it seem like R18+ would always remain just out-of-reach, but what was once a daunting maze of red tape has now become refreshingly straightforward. Going forward, amendments to the reform guidelines must be considered, and then individual states will decide whether or not to accept the resulting set of guidelines. On the one hand, it’s taken far too many years to reach this point, but it’s still definitely a matter of better-late-than-never.

Granted, the move to roll the R18+ Katamari right over MA15+ is still kind of a slap in the face to the medium. Games aren’t limited to Dora the Explorer and Gears of War. There’s a middle ground, and removing options in the name of “clearer choice” for parents reeks of taking the easy way out. For now, it removes a roadblock between Australia and a real adult-centric sector of its gaming industry, but it’s also proof positive that there’s still plenty of work to be done.

The Darkness II moved from October to February 2012

What happened: We replaced all our burnt-out lightbulbs and bought adorable coats for our demon tentacles in preparation for the long, Darkness-less winter ahead. Yep, Jackie Estacado’s not-so-triumphant (unless you count waking up crucified in the world’s sketchiest hotel as “triumphant”) return has been delayed.

What it means: This, as per usual, is only the beginning. So long as the gaming industry continues to aim all its biggest guns at the fall shopping season, there will always be publishers that dive out of the way at the last second. In other words, expect more delays. A lot more. Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted 3, Skyrim, and their ilk have nothing to worry about, of course (except that they’re all releasing in, like, the same week), but games that have yet to master the subtle art of money printing will start dropping like flies. And then we’ll all still complain that there are too many games to play, but continue to whine that mobile and social games are killing our hobby.

Capcom cancels Megaman Legends 3

What happened: Mega Man Legends 3 was announced as a game for the fans, by the fans. Then it got canceled. Capcom blamed the fans. “Ruh-roh?” You don’t know the half of it, apparent talking dog mystery solver.

What it means: Foremost, the blue bomber’s seen far, far better days. First, Mega Man Universe fell into a development black hole and never emerged, and now Legends 3 is nothing but an ugly memory. The worst part? Capcom was finally trying to do something interesting with its robot-master-mashing mascot. After years of plodding sequels and spin-offs of spin-offs, Universe and Legends 3 attempted to carve out their own niches. Then Capcom mega-canned them. And now? Silence. When next we see Mega Man, it may actually be 200X.

Loving FemShep: BioWare’s first lady finally steps forward

What happened: Our own Brenna Hillier – now confirmed lion-tamer and suspected President – grilled BioWare about all things FemShep. If you read only one thing this week, make it this. (Unless you are currently looking at a sheet of paper that reads “Cut these wires to disable the bomb.”)

What it means: BioWare may have seemed a bit cagey about initial promotional materials forcing FemShep out of the spotlight, into a Mass Effect relay, and to the other side of the universe, but it made a good point: without social media, FemShep’s rise to prominence probably wouldn’t have been possible. Yes, the “18 percent of everyone who plays Mass Effect plays it with a female character” stat was disappointing, but things are looking up. BioWare’s made a few missteps with non-heterosexual-male-centric content in the past, but it’s also been quick to dust itself off and turn things around. Here’s hoping future marketing for BioWare games in general – not just Mass Effect – continues down this path. Also, BioWare, if you’re reading: Elcor Shepard. Please, at least consider the possibilities. The wonderful, wonderful possibilities.

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14 Comments

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  1. Telepathic.Geometry

    Man, I am afraid for and of the future of console gaming. Change is coming. Clouds, and mobile gaming, and the hint of a console mass extinction or whatever is gonna happen. And maybe, for the first time ever, I won’t buy Nintendo hardware. My console world is finally in genuine revolution, and I am fearful.

    /buys canned foods

    /cowers in bunker

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Hunam

    I know more than a few people who would happily stop gaming all together if consoles died. They like a nice pad, the ease of use and the big TV. PC and mobile stuff just isn’t for them at all and I can see the industry shunning them at some point which is a shame.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Telepathic.Geometry

    Oh, sorry, nice write up guys. Appreciate it.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. chriswhaaat

    elcor shepard? yes please

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Noodlemanny

    Well the extinction of consoles isn’t all bad. In fact you could definitely say there are some big pluses. No more exclusives(or at least at much). Not to mention generation restrictions wont be as much of an issue (“). But then you have the issue of with pc you’r not completely sure if the stuff will actually work, but with consoles you have more ‘security’ because they spend significant amounts of money making sure stuff works. But this is all stuff you probs already know so I’ll just stop talking.

    I wonder what kind of generation Wii U will be. For that matter what gen was the original Wii? It wasn’t exactly next gen. What about PSV?

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Noodlemanny

    WAIT WHAT 18+ TO BE ADDED IN AUSTRALIA? Finally, took they’re fucking time. Just about (more than) every other man, women and child wanted it and yet nothing changed.

    Probably take another 20 years for them to get it integrated and properly working.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. TheWulf

    @5 – Exclusives still happen. I still frown at Apple’s exclusivity shenanigans. I don’t like Apple hardware, it’s too 1984 (read up on the battery rootkit disaster and you’ll see what I mean), so I have an Android tablet and I’m pleased with it. Though one or two of my favourite apps have been locked into exclusivity deals with Apple.

    Hopefully every iDevice will end up with malware by the end of the year, so people will come to their senses and drop Apple like a bad habit. :P (Again, read up on the battery rootkit disaster. Yes, I am enjoying my schadenfreude here.)

    Here, for those curious, I’ll do the searching…

    http://www.gmanews.tv/story/227252/technology/researcher-macs-prone-to-hacking-via-battery

    Yes. A hacked Mac can be told to explode remotely. Still feel so great about that iPhone/iPad? Some form of vulnerability will be discovered for those, shortly. This sort of thing happens to Apple less than Microsoft, but when Apple drops the ball they drop it far, far more severely. In the history of PC hacks there hasn’t been any way for a hacker to force my computer to explode. Same goes for Android.

    I really couldn’t trust Apple as far as I could throw them.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. DSB

    I don’t know if old habits die that hard. We eradicated the casette tape and the Betamax pretty efficiently. It just depends on who has the better concept.

    I don’t think the next generation is going to be mobile, and there is certainly an irony in looking back at how consoles have gone from big blocks to small blocks to big blocks yet again.

    At this point it’s up for grabs, but whoever comes up with a mobile console that can do the same as a block is onto a winner.

    @7 That’s fairly cheap schadenfreude at that.

    That’s a bit like pointing out the fact that a hacker can just as easily fry your computer. It hardly means that every 5 year old will be able to do it, or that the people who could, would bother to put in all that work just to make some guys Macbook smoke. Not exactly a silent killer.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Christopher Jack

    @7, I truly dislike Apple & all that they stand for but you seem to hate them on a more personal level with a fiery passion.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Clupula

    I know I’m among those who, if consoles stopped being made, would just stop gaming. I don’t want a portable and I don’t want to play on a PC.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Christopher Jack

    @10, What if you were offered a console-like experience on a PC for a reasonable price?

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Phoenixblight

    It will Happen eventually that consoles will be portable and don’t think that they will be restricted to the small screens they will get to a point where you can plug and play them anywhere much like the PSP to the Big screen just with lot more capabilities and tie them in with Cloud gaming type service. It will be much like with Netflix on everything, all you need is an internet connection to support it. THis won’t be next gen but over the next 10 to 20 years.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Telepathic.Geometry

    I could see me playing on a tablet in the worst case scenario, but somehow, that feels like a bleak future. I’d miss my Marios and Zeldas, my Uncharteds and Rezs, my Demon’s Souls and Bioshocks.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. DSB

    You’re missing the point. Nobody’s talking about switching to tablets. They’re talking about cramming fully functional consoles into them, so you’d have the option of bringing them with you, as well as hooking them up to a monitor.

    #14 3 years ago