videogames

When Google announced its new Nexus line of products, I was most excited about the Nexus Player. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Google succeeded in creating a breakthrough product. Yet anyway.

Ars Technica has a great review which you can read here. The summary:

Unfortunately for Google’s living room ambitions, the Nexus Player isn’t very good. Despite the company’s experience with Google TV, the Nexus Player and Android TV are first-gen products with lots of first-gen problems. The hardware/software combo flops on many of the basics—such as playing video smoothly—and doesn’t deliver on any of the compelling experiences “Android on your TV” would seem able to provide. Apps and games are presumably supposed to be the big differentiator here from the Chromecast and Apple TV, but the Play Store interface is clunky and, instead of 1.4 million Android apps, you get access to about 70. It’s also pretty buggy.

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The conventional wisdom is not to invest in videogames because of its hit-driven nature. Only a handful make money and it’s difficult to predict which will. A company that produced a successful game may never produce another. Like a music band that’s a one hit wonder.

Videogame companies typically make a bad investment, because you want to invest in a repeatable business model. Not luck.

The traditional console games industry has combated that with franchises. Gamers who love a game will remember the brand and are more likely to buy the sequel. Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Madden, etc. are all examples of this.

Unfortunately, this strategy does not appear to work for mobile, casual games. Casual games, by definition, have simple gameplay. Is it possible for a sequel to feel fresh and new, yet still have the same simple gameplay?

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Can videogames be a sport?  There’s an article about the subject at The Verge that’s so-so reading, but this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  In my younger days, I was a decent Virtua Fighter player, having won a national tournament in the US.  (That sounds better than it actually is, because the best US players are merely average in Japan and Korea, the meccas of Virtua Fighter players.)

I argue that videogames can and should be considered sports; but there are also fundamental reasons why it may never be an Olympic-worthy one.

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The console platform wars are basically down to two: Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4 (PS4).  This year, Microsoft and Sony both put on a solid show.  Unlike last year, Microsoft talked games, games and more games.  Ironically, Sony was the one who talked about other media, but it also did a good job showing off games in the pipeline.

Who impressed more?  Let’s take a quick pulse around the web — these are the websites that won the SEO game on a Google search for “Who won E3?”

Forbes

Today was very much a continuation of the narrative — Sony swaggering forward, Microsoft putting itself together. There’s still room for things to change as we move forward to the holiday season, but it’s palpably clear where the momentum is…Sony wins E3, by a nose.

Sony 1, Microsoft 0

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Quick recap: Sony and Microsoft launched their next generation consoles late last year. The Playstation 4 is outpacing Microsoft’s Xbox One by millions and that gap is widening, partly because the Xbox One is $100 more expensive than the Playstation 4. So Microsoft just announced a version without Kinect to match the Playstation 4 in price.

I like my Playstation 4 and am planning to purchase an Xbox One. I still am, with Kinect, but less enthusiastically now.

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