What's the better than Saturday morning cartoons you ask? Why the Game Ranter Banter of course! As always, five our writers have taken the time to share their thoughts on five of the hottest topics this week.
For this edition of the Game Ranter Banter, we'll be discussing the 3DS, Vita memory card pricing, Skyrim patches and the possible price of the Wii U. Got something to add? Join in on the conversation in the comments below!
Reversal of Fortune
Sony's Vita launches in Japan less than two weeks from now and the region-free system is sure to be imported by players all over the world, but that doesn't matter. The 3DS is here right now, and it's flying off those holiday store shelves. In fact, Nintendo just had one of its biggest Black Fridays ever, with 3DS sales up 325% from the beginning of the month.
When Mario Kart 7 releases this Sunday, Nintendo will have effectively sewn-up the dedicated handheld gaming market for North America. That doesn't mean the 3DS is "better" than Vita, but it's certainly going to sell more units.
The tactical error of missing holiday 2011, particularly at just the moment that 3DS is hitting its stride, is turning into a disaster for Sony. Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 are must-play games that will continue to drive 3DS sales throughout the season, contributing to an install base that could have been Sony's had things gone down differently. In the three short months that remain before Vita launches in North America, what can Sony do to turn the system's fortunes around?
In Tamriel, 1.2 < 1
Bethesda has been working hard since the release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to patch the game. Since it launched and millions of players jumped in, more headlines have focused on glitches and bugs than they have on intentional gameplay features. Unfortunately, the latest 1.2 patch made the game worse for a lot of players and Bethesda replied in kind.
"We’ve also realized that with the millions upon millions of people playing Skyrim, we need to treat our updates with greater care."
Some of the bugs and tweaks, and even things like the game's menu on the PC version, are a little too weak. A game as big as Skyrim is bound to have issues, but I'd like to think that when they game's ready for launch - they'll stop and let people play it to hammer out more bugs before releasing it. The advent of console updates through Xbox Live and PSN makes it too easy for games to come out broken and this is the one thing holding back Skyrim from being the ultimate game. I mean c'mon, I can't even hear people speak unless I stare in their faces up close, but I'm too focused looking at the dragons flying backwards.
Customer or Price: Only One Can Be Right
This past week, while speaking with Time Magazine, Reggie Fils-Aime dropped a few hints as to what type of price point Nintendo might be pursuing for the Wii U. In his response, Reggie stated that the Wii U is a completely different console than the Wii, and would be priced accordingly.
What this lead most gamers to believe was that, because the Wii U is for the hardcore it should be priced like a hardcore console. The only problem is those consoles that are comparable to the Wii U are now much cheaper.
By the time the Wii U releases, Microsoft will have unveiled their plans for the next Xbox and Sony should have hopefully revealed the PS4, and the disparity will unfortunately be the most evident. How can Nintendo ask gamers to spend $300+ on this generation’s machine (and Nintendo’s library) instead of spending perhaps an extra $100 and getting a far superior console?
Living Le Vita Loca
The PlayStation Vita is roughly two weeks away from launch in Japan, and within two months time North America will be faced with a similar situation. There is some serious appeal to gamers who want PS3-quality games on a portable gaming device, but a steep $250 price tag is certainly a roadblock for those without the financial reach. It's now also been revealed that you'll have to pay upwards of $120 for a memory card, an essential element for the Vita.
Memory is very inexpensive nowadays, but the Vita doesn't have any internal memory at all. This means that gamers will have to buy a memory card, and since the cheapest memory card (4GB) rings in at $25, you'll be adding at least that much cash to the final price of the Vita itself. Sony has tried to defend the cost of their memory cards, but even their reasons for the dramatic markup seem like bad excuses.
Sony will learn one way or another that they simply can't attempt to rip-off consumers this blatantly, and mistakes right out of the gate can be extremely costly — just look at the hardships that Nintendo has been through.
A Game of Thirds
This week, a Valve employee was reportedly spotted wearing a Half-Life 3 shirt at a developers conference. After a photo of this was mass-tweeted, fans clamored around what this could possibly mean: was the game really being made? Was it closer to reveal than we thought? Did the employee just have a good sense of humor?
I don't think it really matters.
Realistically, each Half-Life game has come out at a point where each new title (not expansion) had a new engine to help push the limits of what we thought games could do. Half-Life 1 was a graphical marvel. Half-Life 2 introduced the Source Engine and physics capabilities we couldn't fathom when it first came out. It only seems fitting that Half-Life 3 should be made on the successor of the Source Engine, which despite some fantastic upgrades is looking dated nowadays. News of the long-awaited third game is probably a year or two away - but there are absolutely no reasons as to why Valve wouldn't make it, so why worry about it? Let it be developed on an engine which can bring up the 'wow' factor, and leave it to Gabe's continued leadership over such a successful and beloved franchise.