Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

March 2017

You are browsing the archive for March 2017.

Gamestop Expects Shaky Supply of Switch for the Year

March 28, 2017

Say what you will about the Nintendo Switch, but it's not only selling well, but it's still selling well. Gamestop reports that, by and large, when a shipment is received it sells out within hours. That's unusual in and of itself, but it gets stranger: Gamestop expects this issue to continue through the remainder of the year.

It's the largest physical game-specific retailer on Earth, so it knows from where it speaks when it comes to issues of demand. It's been seeing gaming sales on the decline of late--with digital games becoming increasingly in vogue, buying physical games has less of an impact than it once did--seeing any kind of gains must be welcome.

Cruising Andromeda: My Time With the New Mass Effect

March 27, 2017

Recently, EA dropped the newest Mass Effect title, Mass Effect: Andromeda. Much of this week, I took a little time every day and saw just what was under the hood. While I was actually quite satisfied for the most part, some strange issues cropped up that left me more than a little cold.

Mass Effect: Andromeda starts 600 years after Mass Effect 2, and actually started just after that game, so you're playing a branch of Mass Effect that doesn't immediately follow Mass Effect 3. An interesting note, really, and one that makes it worth paying attention to.

Emulation Saves Two Classic Games

March 21, 2017

Depending on who you ask, emulation is one of two things: a great way to keep large numbers of classic games in one place readily, or a massive crime spree in the making. However, some are starting to wonder if there might not be a third answer: a way to save the classic games of the past. That recently got a new look as two classic games were preserved thanks to emulation.

The games in question were the Dreamcast port of Millennium Racer: Y2K Fighters--which was actually previously unheard of; only its PC version was widely released--as well as the unusual sequel to a fighting game that took advantage of Mortal Kombat's popularity, Primal Rage 2.

Millennium Racer's prospect was simple enough: a futuristic racer that was mostly ignored, despite the fact that it was geared to be in the vein of several much-better received titles like Wipeout and F-Zero X. Primal Rage 2, meanwhile, featured brawling dinosaurs battling for the future of post-apocalyptic Earth.

High Hopes: Nintendo Set to Ramp Up Switch Production

March 20, 2017

Though the launch of the Nintendo Switch hasn't been without its problems, there's no denying that sales have been brisk. Nintendo's expecting some very big things, though, and is already set to double Switch production for 2017, making sure there's no shortage of devices on hand to come.

Such a measure would put the Nintendo Switch on par with the Nintendo Wii, and give Nintendo the level of success that it likely needs. The doubling would ramp up production to 16 million units for the year, and given that Nintendo only sold 13.5 million Wii U systems--and the Wii sold 17 million in its first year-- during the entire four years it existed, that's a level of optimism that's unusual even for Nintendo.

Given that the Wii was released in the holiday season, it's going to be very difficult for the Switch to match the Wii's performance without that major potential sales boost. However, there's a point that helps here: the earliest word notes that the Switch sold around 1.5 million units in the first week, and Nintendo noted it was on track to ship two million by the end of March, though new reports suggest that number may not come off after all.

Even here, some early word from analysts noted a good chance of big sales; SuperData projected five million units sold through the end of 2017, and IHS suggested slightly lower sales of 4.4 million.

Everything Old is New Again at PAX East

March 14, 2017

The recently-concluded Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East event in Boston brought with it an odd, unexpected bit of theme. While there was no doubt that there were new items in attendance, there was also some unexpected touches of retro at the show, which proves that gamer history can pave the way for gamer future in a surprisingly large number of cases.

First, retro slasher made new again, and again in some cases, Friday the 13th got a whole new trailer. Updates about the release date were sadly not on hand, and the word about "early 2017" is still in place. Given that "early 2017" is technically less than three weeks away from being over--the second quarter starts April 1--that looks a bit in doubt.

Nintendo's Switch Bracing for Non-Gaming Apps' Arrival

March 13, 2017

It was probably, in retrospect, one of those things that's really only a matter of time away. New reports suggest that the Nintendo Switch is set to get a slate of non-gaming applications, which will come "in time" and include some of the usual suspects for gaming system non-gaming apps.

Reports note that Amazon, Netflix and Hulu are all in talks with Nintendo to bring out apps to the new system, and that should be a help going forward if Nintendo can get these apps in place with sufficient speed.

The Switch itself has already distinguished itself with both an excellent launch weekend and some positive reception from critics--though the acclaim hasn't been universal, the phrase "better than nothing" applies--but a few key features do seem to be absent as yet. The basics like Web browsing, video streaming, music and the like are out of the picture, but Nintendo is eager to rectify that as noted by Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, who noted:

"We built the Nintendo Switch to be a world-class gaming device, meaning we want you first and foremost to play games on the system and have an incredibly fun experience. We’re talking to a range of companies about other services, companies like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon — things that will come in time.

The Wii U: Less a Virtual Boy, More a Dreamcast?

March 7, 2017

Over the weekend I saw a great report from Ars Technica that did a post-mortem of sorts on the Wii U, which will soon be Nintendo's last generation console model thanks to the release of the Switch. This is a console that had a lot of problems, almost from day one, but there are those that believe this needs to be ranked more among the "good failures" like Dreamcast rather than the "bad failures" like the Virtual Boy. I find myself eagerly agreeing.

There were indeed many problems from the beginning. The Wii U tried valiantly to be innovative, a development that would have been hard coming off the Wii, a system also referred to by some as the "It Prints Money" system for its popularity and potential for fun. Sure, it had graphics that would have looked out of place on the systems before it--an original PlayStation had the edge on the Wii graphically in some cases--but considering how many people made a Wii part of a fitness regimen, it wasn't such a bad idea.

The Wii U, however, innovated in what turned out to be less than desirable directions.

My Terrible Luck with Indie Games

March 6, 2017

Normally I like to talk about the news when I handle End Game pieces, but today I figured I'd take the opportunity to talk about an issue fairly dear to my heart. It's about indie games, and why so many of them turn out godawful in the end.

I've tried quite a few indie games, mainly on Xbox One but also Xbox 360, over the last few years, and more often than not I've proven disappointed at the end. I've had some great times with indie games, make no mistake, but there have also been some serious problems.

For every Stardew Valley that I couldn't get enough of--I'm actually still playing my first farm, and it's almost approaching year five--there's been a Kill All Zombies that turned out to be nothing more than a poorly-scripted wreck where I shot everything in sight.

I was abundantly happy by the concept of Crypt of the Serpent King when I first heard about it--a first-person fantasy adventure in the vein of Skyrim?

Smithsonian Makes Another Push on Preserving Video Game History

March 1, 2017

It would be easy here to scoff at the notion of "video game history." After all, this is an industry that's basically only existed for about 40 years or so, give or take, and depending one where exactly you start counting forward from. In that time, however, we've seen a lot of big moves come and go, and an industry go from "things losers do in their parents' basement" to "things you can actually make a decent living doing." The Smithsonian, meanwhile, is making another step into the field, protecting the past of this still-young industry.

More specifically, it's come to the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, which has launched a new plan to preserve the history of video game developers. Known as the Videogame Pioneers Initiative, it's an effort to preserve gaming history with attention to oral histories, assorted documents, and similar matter.

The announcement of the new initiative came at the DICE Summit, which is one of the biggest such events for the game industry around.

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