Some weekend reading
Posted at 21:39 on 30th May 2008 - permalink

I’ve read a number of interesting articles recently, some of which cover topics which I was going to explore in more depth, effectively saving me the effort.

First up, Tadhg Kelly reacts to the news from Microsoft that the Xbox Live Arcade service is to start de-listing games based on low review scores and conversion rates. I agree that this is an idiotic decision, which fails to address problems built into the system’s interface and which could over time lead to a ‘brain drain’ as publishers focus their efforts on increasingly attractive channels elsewhere (WiiWare, PSN, Steam, Gametap, etc.).’s Rob Fahey writes about Nintendo Europe’s continual stock shortages. I moaned about Mario Kart Wii being out of stock everywhere the other week – now it appears that Wii Fit has bombed out of the charts simply because NoE can’t get enough stock.

Fahey cites previous products which have run afoul of these issues, including Wii Play (which disappeared for months, only to return a few months ago in massive quantities, which retailers were able to sell at a premium, in the light of the ridiculous prices the game/controller bundle had commanded on eBay in the interim), as well as the Wii console itself. I’d add Gamecube Resident Evil 4 to that list (which Nintendo published in Europe, and underestimated demand for by a vast margin). If Nintendo even tried to take Europe seriously, heads would have rolled a long time ago at NoE.

By way of balance, here’s a rather long and self-congratulatory article by Sean Malstrom which draws a distinction between Nintendo’s strategy under Iwata and what the wider industry has labelled ‘casual games’ – it’s not about dumbing down, but rather carefully encouraging consumers to try more complex things. The excessive length aside, Malstrom makes a convincing argument, and I would hope to see more third parties take these views on board when planning future Wii releases.

The most interesting place to be right now is in games that offer an extra layer of depth and engagement, to give the players who bought Wii Sports, Wii Play (and in many cases Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games) a bunk up to the next tier. (The phenomenon of games being needlessly cut down and simplified could be applied to LostWinds, but it’s by no means the worst offender.)

Finally, something from the obscenely talented and witty Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw about gaming webcomics (which I’m jiggered if I can find a way to link to directly, but this should find it – UPDATE: Yahtzee has now filmed this for ZP – it’s utterly glorious). I’ve avoided talking about or even linking to any gaming webcomics on this site because they all fail as comics and have nothing to do with games. I genuinely believe that they’re making games worse by spoon-feeding dubious opinions to thousands of impressionable kids who don’t have the attention spans to read something without pictures, gratuitous uses of the word ‘fuck’ and constant pandering to a sense of fraternity with their fellow ‘gamers’. Ctrl+Alt+Del is by far the worst offender on all counts.

(And really finally, Bill Harris’s Friday Links serves up another bumper helping of fascinating “Believe it or Not!”-esque content sent in by readers. A regular feature that I heartily endorse subscribing to.)



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