Welcome to another edition of the Game Ranter Banter. Five of our writers take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to give their opinions on some of the most compelling and controversial recent news stories of the game industry. This week, the Game Rant team discusses Netflix renting games, Sony's follow-up to the Xperia Play, the abundance of sequels this holiday, the longevity of the Kinect, and the continuing issues with Battlefield 3.
Our readers are as knowledgeable and opinionated as our own writers, so here is the place for all of you to discuss these stories as well as any others that may have piqued your interest throughout the week.
Just Do It Already!
I seriously have no idea what could be going on in the mind of the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings. If you looked in the dictionary for the definition of the word "silly," Hastings' picture would be right next to it. It couldn't be that hard of a decision to figure out whether you're going to go with the plan you originally created or take everything back and make sure you touch base on everything you were planning so your investors knew exactly what wasn't happening. That's great that you decided to cancel Qwikster, but when you make such a large announcement, I think it's wise to regard every aspect of your half-hearted plan sir.
From the figures in my latest post of Netflix's indecisiveness to go into the video game rental service, GameFly doesn't even have one million subscribers while Netflix already has over 20 million. If you asked a student in elementary student which is the larger number I'm pretty sure they'd pick Netflix every time. So what's the deal Hastings? How hard is it to choose whether or not you will offer a video game rental subscription service to Netflix customers? I'm sure it takes a few piles of cabbage to grow a library of games to send out, but with the amount of subscribers you already have, how could there be a doubt in your mind that you wouldn't make your money back or earn a profit?
From what I've heard, GameFly is really slow with their delivery, between 5-6 days, and I've always gotten my Netflix discs in the mail within 2-3 days max. Netflix could also offer cheaper prices than what GameFly offers with the amount of subscribers they already have and how many they would expect to upgrade to the service if made available. SO JUST DO IT ALREADY HASTINGS! You've basically hit rock bottom with your price increase and silly PR storm, so just introduce video gaming rental services and be done with it. What's the worst that could happen?
Another PlayStation Phone? Yes Please!
I'm going to admit, as an avid PS3 gamer I've had an interest in the Xperia Play (or PlayStation Phone) ever since it was announced. A smartphone that's truly dedicated to gaming - I was on board since the beginning, though unfortunately, carrier exclusivity prevented me from being able to acquire it. Now that I'm switching carriers I have the chance to pick the phone up, but one more hurdle remains: Ice Cream Sandwich support. My Nexus S is getting the latest Android update, but the Xperia Play will not.
Now that Sony has acquired Ericsson, they need to avoid Android fragmentation as much as possible. It's true, it is unavoidable, but Sony has to be able to reassure consumers that the next iteration of the PlayStation phone is future proof. With all of the new features Ice Cream Sandwich is bringing to the table, it would seem truly idiotic for me to drop my Nexus S so I can buy a phone that plays ports of Crash Bandicoot (no matter how much I love him).
If Sony is to succeed with the PlayStation phone then they need to take notes from Samsung's Nexus line. They've already got something special in the PlayStation suite, now if Sony brings the proper execution with Nextperia Play (a term I have coined that will be used from now on) then they we will truly have a PlayStation Phone worth purchasing.
Read our review of the Xperia Play. We like it.
It's Time for Something New
This may be the most hit-packed holiday games season ever. The 3's alone (Uncharted, Battlefield, Gears of War, Modern Warfare, Saints Row) will likely account for the lion's share of profits earned by their respective publishers this year. Add to that titles well past their third iteration (Forza Motorsport 4, Elder Scrolls 5, Assassin's Creed Revelations, Skyward Sword) and you'll have covered nearly every important console game of the season.
It's a staggering lineup, and I'm as excited as anyone to play many of those games, but at the same time I can't help but wonder: where are the new titles? Yes, there are a few scattered around the periphery, like The Gunstringer and next week's Lord of the Rings: War in the North (which gets by on the technicality that, though there are other LOTR games, Snowblind Studios didn't make them), but where is a completely fresh AAA game that can stand alongside the year's biggest titles?
There isn't one, and that's a shame. As gamers, we ferociously crave new experiences, but we're never going to get that next breakthrough title if publishers do nothing other than repeat what's come before. So enjoy the games on offer this season , I know I will. (We've even got some strategies to help maximize your playtime.) But honestly, wouldn't you like to play something new?
I Don't Need To Kinect, I Just Want To Have Some Fun
After spending more time with my Kinect this month than I have in that past year, I can't help but ask myself one question: do Kinect games need to offer more than gameplay? Since the device launched, I, like many other Kinect owners have been waiting to see a rich, compelling, and innovative game experience to use motion controls, but have had to make due with straightforward (albeit satisfying) games like Dance Central. Sega's Rise of Nightmares was the first game I played that attempted to use the Kinect as the means of immersing a player in a world of horror and dismemberment. My experience wasn't a great one, since the development team spent less time on creating satisfying gameplay, and more time on a story that went from contrived to downright ridiculous. If the team had spent a bit more time making their game a fun one to play, maybe the inevitable aches and pains following extended play sessions would seem worth it.
While Rise of Nightmares tried to inject story into motion gaming, straightforward action titles like Kinect Sports: Season Two and PowerUp Heroes put story aside in their attempt to get players laughing, active, and above all having fun. Even though I had high hopes for what the Kinect could bring, I'll be the first to say that I may have been wrong. A great story is a step in the right direction, but if the game isn't designed to make a person have fun standing up for hours on end, then success isn't a given. I may have been making serious demands a year or two ago, but I'm starting to think that casual games may be the ones to make the best use of Kinect. There go my dreams of flying a digital dragon.
After all of that waiting and arguing with Activision, Electronic Arts has finally delivered Battlefield 3 to the masses. Unfortunately it came with a price: with a slew of server outages on the Xbox 360, Online Pass difficulties, and the little issue of pirating, Battlefield 3 hasn’t had the start that fans have really wanted.
Here’s the thing EA: you knew that this was going to be one of the biggest releases you were going to have all year, and you just don’t seem prepared for it. If the Beta didn’t teach you anything, it should have at least given you the foresight to bolster servers, prep for double the numbers, and bunker down for the onslaught.
Battlefield 3 may have a superior multiplayer, a more robust experience for fans, and it may look real pretty but it just seems rushed when looking at it through the looking glass. All of the shinybits are incomparable when the experience is marred by inconsistencies.