Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 07.08.04

Hello, and welcome to the wonderful world of Thank God It’s Thursday! Bryan Berg here to bring you the latest and greatest in the gaming world. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot that applies today.

Last week’s news-free report was pretty successful. I thought it was a good effort, and so did a lot of other people. Thanks for letting me know! It’s nice to know that you can get around an utter lack of news by addressing something relevant.

As for today, there’s a lack of news, but there’s enough to warrant an actual news section, consisting entirely of a visit from a dear friend of mine…

Iwata Speaks!
What Matt Wong is to the Gamer’s Hangover, Satoru Iwata is to Thank God It’s Thursday. Mr. Iwata, the president of Nintendo, has been the savior of many a TGIT column. Through his brute honesty, we can gain greater insight as to what’s REALLY happening in the Nintendo world, let alone the industry in general. And while this interview is a week old, it’s still new to 411! This interview was posted to IGN who, of course, left the piece completely void of any opinion. So, we delve into the twisted mind of Mr. Satoru Iwata. Iwata’s claims are in italics, and my responses aren’t…

Nintendo struggled in the first half of 2003, but sales improved during the holidays. Replace “during the holidays” with “after the GameCube price cut” and you have a more applicable description of 2003 for Nintendo.

Sony’s PSX is “not a game machine but a home electronic appliance”. Yeah. Everybody knows that. That’s why Sony markets it as a home electronic appliance and not a game machine.

And now, we get to the good stuff…

The number of gamers will decrease if the game industry keeps going the way it’s going. Iwata’s first stumble of the day is a pretty careless one. Why would the amount of gamers decrease if population increases, the buying power of young people increases, and games are targeted toward all facets of society rather than specific niches? If anything, the number of gamers will increase exponentially with the next generation of system development. Or maybe Iwata’s just thinking about Nintendo’s future console audience (rimshot)…

Software should be developed so that everybody can understand it, rather than just certain groups of people. In other words, Iwata assumes that children and adults want the same things out of gaming and, therefore, can play the same games to get to that point. And this, perhaps, is the most significant reason why the GameCube never took off the way Nintendo planned. While kids loved the more charming Nintendo titles, adults clamored for GTA-style games – and got them elsewhere. It’s as if Nintendo never expected their core fanbase – the people who were raised on the original NES – to grow up. In essence, they would salivate over the latest Mario game the same way a 10-year old would. Obviously, it doesn’t work that way, and nobody gets it but Nintendo. Sad.

A Sony online golf game didn’t sell as well as the offline version; therefore, online play isn’t desirable by gamers. Iwata doesn’t specify which game he’s talking about, and it doesn’t really matter anyway. At this early stage in online gaming, this comparison is apples and oranges. It’s like comparing Final Fantasy XI to Final Fantasy X and saying that simply because people didn’t shell out the extra $50 for the HDD, FFX is the superior game and, by extension, the HDD should be discontinued, along with online play on PS2. In a word, ridiculous.

Iwata also questions the feasibility of Internet connections for some console owners, which is a decent argument, but not exactly grounded in reality. The average console owner has Internet access in the home. It’s not as if they market these consoles to hoodlums or something, like Iwata would have you believe. Again, it seems like Iwata is trying to rationalize his unfounded belief that online play is the Devil. Would he be saying this if, say, Mario Golf Online did good numbers, but not as good as ordinary Mario Golf? Not likely.

Game development costs are escalating to the point where game development may not be profitable. This one, I agree with wholeheartedly. I can’t remember who did it or even where the link is, but one of the Kliq wrote a piece not too long ago about how there are too many bad games out there today, and how the average modern game is a cash-in attempt that is not thought out at all. This is totally true. There are so many terrible games taking up space on video game shelves. Come to think of it, there always have been. But the way the industry has changed, the average game is a multi-million dollar affair that needs to sell a LOT of units for the developers to break even. In short, there’s no point in making a game unless the people behind it are assured that it will sell well. This is why we see so many sequels, movie-based games, and sports titles out there. And perhaps this is why Nintendo is so content to put out Mario game after Mario game and Zelda game after Zelda game rather than create new characters and game premises. Do you really blame them?

Leave it to Iwata to cast a black cloud over the state of gaming. He does it SO well. And hopefully he does it more often from now on!

Quick Hits
There actually aren’t any. Told you this was a slow news week!

News Reports
Alex Williams – 411MAX: News News Revolution. AW rightfully takes Sony to task for taking its time with its “More Than A Game System” PSP, which now stands a good chance of missing its projected release date. Alex sees what others (read: Sony) don’t see, which is a great thing.
Man, that’s lame. Its like if Nintendo released several of their old games like Excite Bike on other systems and charged $20 for EACH ONE…wait…

Cory Laflin – Gamer’s Hangover News Report. I’m not even touching the Yankees stuff. But everybody should thank ESPN for one thing – the First and Ten line that now appears on every football broadcast and in every football video game. For once, an original idea that benefits the viewer! What a concept.
I really should have seen it coming when Disney bought them. I mean, really, has anything good come from Disney since Walt hit the freezer?

Misha – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Video Games. Misha gives well-deserved props to Greece for winning the Euro Cup, which NOBODY called a month ago. Just wait for the Euro Cup Diner to come to your area (HA!)…
Unlike IGN, however, the tabloid back pages have no compunctions about administering a good kicking to a poorly performing team, and it’s this that gets to me. Not because they’re slagging off the sportsmen/women, but because they do it ALL THE DAMN TIME.

Alex Lucard – Retrograding Mailbag. Alex’s “final” mailbag is a good one, as usual. You’d be surprised how many people got mad at his FFVII column. Never say that the man doesn’t move people.
And I agree with the FUCK YOU statement.

Alex Williams – Duel Masters: Sempai Legends (GBA). Final Score: 4.5

A.J. Angeloni – Xevious (GBA). Final Score: 6.0

Michael Donahoe – Driv3r (Playstation 2). Final Score: 5.5

Michael Donahoe – Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay (X-Box). Final Score: 8.0

Liquidcross – Mega Man Battle Network 4: Red Sun & Blue Moon (GBA). Final Score: 9.0

Commentary of the Week
I’ve got something in mind, but it’s not going to be ready until next week. Don’t kill me. I’m not in the business of half-assing columns here – you guys should know that by now.

To give a sort of preview, it’s got to do with the defining games of each system. In other words, the one game you think of when you think of a given system. And rather than go with the easy choices, we’ll see what more obscure titles we can come up with. And by obscure, I mean not obvious.

As always, any ideas are welcome. As well as any ideas for how to get rid of the SpyWare that AdAware doesn’t seem to be able to detect, but is most certainly present and is cutting into my quality computer/column-writing time.

That about wraps it up for this week. Tune in next week (and every day in between), and pray for news!! Thanks for reading. See you next week!