Headlining the news in the gaming industry this week is Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata, who is in a bit of a sticky situation regarding the company’s sales.
A panel of journalists were asked what they would do in Iwata’s position, were they to prepare for E3 in June, considering the rumours of upcoming PlayStation and Xbox consoles. The overall opinion was that the controller itself was undermining the family gamer, as only one person can use it at a time, whilst the rest of the team wave their controllers about having fun. Secondly, considering the Wii U has ignored the trending lust for online gameplay, and “left GameCube on a hillside to die,” perhaps gamers need something which will satisfy the simpler needs before trying to compete with the “big guns”. Finally, Dan Hsu, Editor-in-Chief of GamesBeat, suggested that Nintendo ditch the Miis completely, as their failure as a games developer is in the limited “family friendly” line of attack. Only time will tell for Nintendo and the Wii franchise, but certainly some big sacrifices have to be made to keep up to standards.
Next up this week is the story of how Andrew Wilson, Senior Vice President at EA Sports, claims to have been successful with the FIFA franchise because it’s not Pro Evolution Soccer (PES). A few years ago, FIFA was the underdog of the football games, and fellow developers told Wilson to “copy [PES] and then you’ll win on marketing.” But instead he triumphed through all the uncertainty and doubt regarding the series as a future development, finally allowing “11 on 11 online play with 22 real humans around the globe,” just a dream at the time. Working back from the basics of control, the FIFA team developed a system which includes all team members, making “being a left back interesting”. Congratulations on FIFA’s success thus far.
GameStop, owners of Kongregate, and the recent company rivalling cheap video game outlets across the globe, have announced a “massively expanded” PC selection in-store and online. The company were accused by some for the downfall of GAME stores in the UK, and have begun to “take over” video game sales. Whilst both companies are owned by the same retailer, there is still competition between all of EB Games’ companies, and perhaps this increase in PC game availability will swing customers their way. It certainly is difficult to sell on second-hand PC games nowadays due to single-use activation codes, but the games are still in high demand, so maybe this was a very sensible move on their behalf.
Hands up who went out and bought a PlayStation Vita? Well if you happy gamers are interested, and don’t already know, the Vita is now capable of using Skype. How exciting is that? Skype will run as a background programme whilst you play, and then the user will be able to switch over to Skype once more. Also, you can flip between front and rear cameras at any time, much like the iPad 2’s Facetime. Manrique Brenes, Senior Director at Skype, says they “are taking another step towards [their] ultimate goal of making Skype video calling available on every platform … meeting the demands of existing PlayStation users to offer video on a gaming console.” This leap forward in mobile communication puts the Vita dangerously close to being names a phone, however PlayStation don’t feel any problems with this threat. And good for them.
Finally, it’s quite important to mention the revenue of our dear friend, Facebook. In Q1 this year (Q1 being the first monetary quarter of the year), 15% of Facebook’s revenue is down to Zynga, creators of networking games such as Cityville and Farmville. However, whilst this is quite large, it is actually a decline from 19% in 2011. Zynga have actually released their own website for those who don’t want to log in to their Facebook accounts to play, though the games still work via Facebook credits, which are what have saved Facebook, as 30% of Zynga’s revenue goes to Facebook. During Facebook’s revised registration statement, they commented: “If the use of Zynga games on our platform declines for these or other reasons, our financial results may be adversely affected.” So far it’s hard to tell what will become of the Facebook games, but Zynga will survive nonetheless.