Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Assorted E3/Next Gen Stuff

I’m really grinding down on these E3 columns, but I have one more to come. Then I’ll be sick of writing about it and you’ll be sick of reading about it (if you’re not already).

Here are a few assorted notes before then. One, it appears that the Final Fantasy trailer I saw at Gamer’s Hell was mislabeled. It’s listed as “Final Fantasy XII PS3 E32005 trailer cam” in the movies/trailers section. However, several people e-mailed and said that they think that’s the PS2 trailer for FFXII.

One, that’s embarrassing. Fortunately, I embarrass myself all the time. I’m the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon of embarrassment. And even if it’s a PS2 trailer, it was one of the most cinematic, beautifully created game trailers I’ve ever seen, and I’ll gladly pull the PS2 out of the dust and hook it back up one more time, because the Final Fantasy series deserves that kind of respect.

Two, I’ve seen some details of the Xbox 360 demos running at E3. They were running on alpha hardware that is (allegedly) only about 25-35% of the power of the final unit (because the custom CPU’s aren’t in this version of the dev kit). That’s interesting, and if true, bodes well for the final product, because I thought quite a few of the Xbox 360 in-game footage looked excellent.

Here’s also a link to a detailed analysis of the Xbox 360 hardware:

In PS3 news, here’s an excerpt from a Gamespot article
Today, Japanese Web site Impress PC Watch reported that SCE has told its business partners that the PS3 will be under 40,000 yen ($370) at launch. The news has spurred speculation that the company might launch the machine with the same price it set for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2. Both machines were priced at 39,800 yen ($368) when they launched in 1994 and 2000, respectively.

That’s interesting. If Microsoft believes this, it will pressure them to come out no higher than $349, maybe even lower. That’s good for us. I can’t stress this enough—if Sony comes out at $449 or higher, they are in big trouble in the U.S. And this machine is fundamentally different than PS1 or PS2, because it's being positioned as a convergence device.

Here’s why I think this may become an issue. Ken Kutaragi, president of Sony Computer Entertainment (and as an aside, why does Microsoft’s J. Allard feel compelled to make himself look like Michael Stipe? Do we need that?), gave an interview to Impress PC Watch and here’s a highlight
(article here:
"The PlayStation [3] is not a game machine. We've never once called it a game machine," stated Kutaragi at the beginning of his latest interview.

Ooh, that’s bad, bad news, Ken. See, we tend to buy game machines. We tend not to buy TIVO/HD-DVD/SACD/MICROWAVES/BLENDERS. And if you want to charge us an extra $200 for a bunch of crap that we don’t want, it’s going to suck for you.

That’s the kind of comment someone usually makes when they’re trying to justify a higher price for a product. So the comment from SCE to its business partners is not in the same vein as the comment Kutaragi made to Gamespot. And, in all likelihood, Sony’s strategy isn’t final at this point, and neither is Microsoft’s. The level of competition is going to make both companies eat some money so that their consoles are more attractive to consumers.

Great news, boys—here’s a fork.

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