We Interrupt This Game

Jim Sterling:

You can’t count on a publisher to be original or inventive when it comes to our entertainment, but they always seem brilliantly innovative when it comes to selling us more crap. Sony is today’s bright little star, having patented a way to inject commercial breaks into your play sessions.

Sigh. As if the Dashboard ads on Xbox Live—a service I pay to use—weren’t enough.

What Would Video Game Characters Say about You?

This is a strange bit of commercial but perhaps the best one I’ve seen in a while.

Let's Get Ready To Rummmmbllllle (via Penny Arcade)

This E3 has been difficult to observe usefully from afar, because merely watching doesn’t convey the data it used to: so much of the offering is directly experiential. People are waving things, or they’re waving their arms in front of things, or they’re looking at magical screens that shit is popping right out of. It would be like if a person came out and started talking about chocolate, and then ate some chocolate, and then walked off stage. That is not data. There’s so much conjecture that whatever you come up with is almost hopelessly attenuated.

This is very true of what I’ve seen of E3 from here. Motion controllers, insanely expensive 3D setups for your living room, and other insanity are ruling the day.

There will be more posts on this—of course—but hardware aside, the games that are being revealed make me very interested in the next 12 months or so.

As a bonus, the comic from yesterday is quite vulgar but also quite funny, and is a very apt description of what the three major press conferences were like at E3.

(via Penny Arcade – Let’s Get Ready To Rummmmbllllle.)

Is “Confusinger” a Word?

Some of this information will be duplicated in my daily links post from del.icio.us tomorrow morning, but I find it irritating enough that I should say something about it.

What an… interesting day today in the format war between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray Disc. I found out about it via a Twitter post from Microsoft’s Major Nelson , and followed the bread crumb trail to find more information on the situation, because it didn’t make much sense at first. (Major Nelson linked to this Excite News story first).

Continue reading

They Make Me Question My Brand Loyalty. I’m Not Sure I Like That.

Behold! A look at what Microsoft is clearly missing out on with their online service right now!

I used to be OK with the fact that I was paying $50 per year for online console gaming. It costs money to run that kind of infrastructure, and to design the services that are so cohesive on a console like the Xbox or the 360. I get that; it’s cool.

It made sense, in a way. I even defended it a few times, because Xbox Live was unbelievably superior to the original PS2 online structure, and even the PlayStation Network when it debuted with the PS3. Those services were free, and they were horrible. Xbox Live cost some money, and it was really nice and did a lot of things very well.

But what am I looking at now as a customer?

Xbox Live still costs me $50 a year. Then, they charge me additional money for all kinds of download packs and other content that often isn’t worth the inflated costs they’re asking. You can’t play online against anyone for free, so I pretty much have to pay the money. I stare at advertisements (which are making MS money) all the time while I’m using this paid service. And they just announced that they are bringing over an exec from EA to be in charge of Live. Have you ever played an EA online-enabled game? I don’t want this guy in charge of my console online experience.

PlayStation network costs nothing. It’s free as long as you’ve ponied up the cash to buy a ridiculously expensive PS3. They’re beginning to host dedicated servers of their own to provide players with well-bandwidthed and non-client places to play, which eliminates lag and client-zero “cheating.” Their downloadable games are cheaper, and if Home is what the press made it sound after E3 this year, then I’m suddenly very interested in what Sony is doing from an online perspective. They don’t have a unified login system that works reliably (yet), and other key integration methods currently employed by Live just don’t exist on PS3, but I have a feeling that’s more of a temporary situation.

Really, the only thing that keeps me thinking that Live is better is the combination of its amazing integration on the system level and the completely Pavlovian draw of Achievements.

Realistically, Live needs to be free.