Double or Nothing for Gears of Dead Space
Electronic arseholes, EA, have this week been in damage control following their unveiling at E3 of a Dead Space 3 which did not look very much like a Dead Space game, and certainly did not feature much at all in the way of the series’ titular space setting. The series, looking much like a generic mash-up of Lost Planet and Resident Evil 5, is part of EA’s bid to bolster sales over the five million mark, so that the series can finally become profitable.
According to EA sycophant, Frank Gibeau, the sales achieved thus far by Dead Space are insufficient, as: “ultimately you need to get to audience sizes of around five million to really continue to invest in an IP like Dead Space. Anything less than that and it becomes quite difficult financially given how expensive it is to make games and market them… We tried to open up the accessibility of the IP a little bit by adding a little bit more action, but not undermining the horror… So with the addition of co-op and taking it to a planet and mostly away from space… we’re pushing it in areas such as environment, co-op and at the same time we definitely do not want to piss off our fans by taking it too far from horror.”
It must be wondered whether EA executives are capable of perceiving how truly ridiculous their towing of the company line sounds as they impart their snivelling weasel words. EA’s watering down of Dead Space‘s horror DNA in favour of action served to slightly decrease the sales of Dead Space 2, and the lesson that Riccitiello et al. took away from this was that the game’s horror sensibilities needed to be diluted still further. If EA wished not to piss off their existing Dead Space fanbase, then they appear to have misfired something dreadful, as this interview seems to be almost calculated to do just that. Niche horror enthusiasts are hardly the most accommodating of audiences when it comes to mindlessly lapping up hopelessly compromised homogeneous experiences, so EA will have their work cut out for them in trying to fill all the holes with the fickle Call of Duty audience – but then it seems to be forever EA’s lot to chase that illusory Call of Duty dragon. At any rate, one looks forward to watching as EA bins the Dead Space series once Dead Space 3 fails to sell five million copies – because one is certain that EA were not lying when they held a gun to the head of that figurative bunny rabbit.
Nintendo Continue to Sour the Wii U’s Chances at Retail
Take-Two CEO, Strauss Zelnick, this week expressed his doubts about whether core games will sell on the Wii U, even as the Nintendo powers that be continued their post-E3 negative charm offensive. Shigeru Miyamoto has confirmed that Pikmin 3 will not feature online multiplayer despite the fact that the game features local multiplayer, the reason for this is that it would take too much effort for them to iron out the kinks caused by latency. Miyamoto explains that “in the situation of Pikmin, for example, since you would have lots of individual, small creatures, the Pikmin, whose every movement and location is going to be really important in the game, it would be very difficult to sync up over an internet connection. So I think what we’ve decided to do is focus on the single player and local multiplayer aspects, which are really fun. But unfortunately, no online multiplayer for Pikmin 3. But the co-op local multiplayer is really fun.” Perhaps Nintendo could ask Sony for some tips on how to internet?
Meanwhile, Reggie Fils-Aime has this week suggested that the Wii U’s low resolution controller tablet is eschewing multi-touch capability because it just would not feel right: “When we went through the building of this and, given some of the functionality, we thought that single-touch was a more appropriate option, especially when you’ve got other button configurations. Certainly there’s a cost to it. Again, we envision this as a controller that you’re putting in your hands and you’re doing a two-screen experience. The concept of putting it in your lap to do multi-touch for us just feels unwieldy.” From personal experience, one can indeed confirm that using the PS Vita’s pinch to zoom multi-touch functionality when looking at maps or surfing the web is literally hell, so Nintendo really dodged a bullet with that one. Nintendo are correct about one thing though, playing a Nintendo console which featured any kind of contemporary technology just would not feel right.
Zynga Buy the Farm
Finally, a positive story to round out the week is the seeming confirmation that interest in Facebook “gaming” is on the wane, and as a result Zynga’s stock has been heavily discounted. Zynga’s stock fell 11.8 percent to bellow five dollars on Tuesday, after analysis by Cowen & Co. that: “We believe that interest in Facebook-based gaming may have reached a negative inflection point, as more casual gamers migrate to mobile platforms.”
It has not been so very long since industry scuttlebutt suggested that Zynga might purchase EA outright (nothing of any value would have been lost in that transaction), but since those heady times the company’s price has crashed by nearly five billion dollars from its nine billion dollar peak of last year. Zynga’s active userbase dropped by 8.2 percent in May to 54.2 million, while Draw Something users declined by thirty percent. Sterne Agee analyst, Arvin Bhatia, concludes: “There just hasn’t been enough innovation recently for people to get excited about. There’s a novelty factor wearing off in social games. We see social gaming being around for a while, but the days of high growth are perhaps behind us.” If Nintendo ever wonder where their Wii U userbase is hiding at, perhaps someone could point out to them that they just left Zynga in their droves in search of new transitory baubles.