#videogames

The reviews are starting to come in for Amazon’s new Fire TV and the consensus seems to be that it’s… okay.

People really like the voice search (but complain that it’s limited to Amazon and Hulu content). To anyone who has ever tried to search for anything using the Apple TV remote, this makes perfect sense. This is clearly how it should be done, especially if you have a product like Siri…

People also like the gaming functionality, though note that the controller feels cheap. Also something obvious for Apple to add to the Apple TV, though ideally with a much better controlling mechanism. 

Overall, sounds pretty “meh” to me. But at $99, I’ll probably pick up one just to try the gaming aspect.

I Think Facebook Got A Mike Trout-Like Deal On Oculus

I’ve been asked a number of times to expand on my quick thoughts the other day about the Facebook/Oculus deal. And because we clearly haven’t gotten enough opinions on the matter, why not?

To me, it’s pretty simple. Facebook is taking out an option on the future. And, in my view, it’s a pretty cheap option to boot. In some ways, it’s not unlike the deal the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim or whatever) just signed with Mike Trout.1

Yes, $2 billion is a lot of money. But it’s also roughly 1/8th of what Facebook just spent on WhatsApp. And it’s roughly 2x what the company spent on Instagram — and that has turned out pretty well so far. One of the better deals this decade, perhaps.2

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Natasha Lomas on how the numbers are shaping up so far in the gaming console space:

The thing is neither of these new generation console flagships is selling very well when compared with previous generations of flagship consoles. The console market appears to be shrinking significantly — and that’s evidently having a knock-on impact on games studios and game development.

At this relatively early stage the new generation stacks up as follows: Wii U at 6 million, XB1 at ~4 million and PS4 at 6 million: a total of ~16 million. So only around 244 million to go — just to perform as well as the last generation. But with game budgets increasing a flat console market isn’t a good thing. This new generation needs to be outselling the last, not looking like it’s going to have a really tough time shipping the same.

I hate to say “I told you so” …but, well, I did.

No, I don’t think so.

Microsoft’s UK marketing director Harvey Eagle, talking to Metro about the Xbox One price cut in the UK. The question asked if the price cut — just 94 days after launch — was an admission that the console isn’t selling well.

Eagle doesn’t think so. But he’s not sure. Why should he be sure? It’s only his job.

Meanwhile, while Microsoft has maintained that the Xbox One is selling as fast as the system can be made, Eagle told GameSpot: “We’re doing this because it will generate sales, absolutely.”

So, Microsoft isn’t cutting the price because it hasn’t been selling well in the UK. In fact, it has been selling as fast as possible. But this price cut is all about helping to generate more sales. Got it.

Business as usual.

Jon Irwin on the odd Nintendo’s announcements last week:

Their solution? Yet to be fully disclosed. But Iwata dripped tantalizing details that may well flourish into the next unforeseen sensation. In a landscape obsessed with wearable technology, Nintendo hopes to base this new health-centric vision on something called “non-wearables.” The term itself feels like a joke, the nonsensical feint of a sore loser sick of being bullied. Oh you drink water to stay alive? I’ll drink rocks! You breathe oxygen? Ha, I’m going to breathe paint fumes! The future is wearables, you say?… Non-wearables it is! Nintendo, once again, has decided to zag where everyone else thinks it should zig.

Unlike most folks, myself included, he’s bullish. I hope he’s right. I fear he’s not. This sounds like a whole lot of hand-waving to me — and not the Wiimote variety.

Sam Byford on Nintendo’s announcements last week:

If there’s one thing to learn from Satoru Iwata’s 12 years in charge, it’s that you can always count on Nintendo to surprise. At first glance, the company’s much-hyped strategy announcement today was mostly devoid of revelations — yes, Nintendo will develop smartphone apps that may or may not include small games; no, the company won’t be swayed from its conviction that its future lies in creating software for its own hardware, even when that hardware performs as badly as the Wii U has done. But CEO and president Iwata threw a curveball toward the end of his presentation when he announced plans to “take on the challenge of expanding into a new business area.” What followed was an explanation as equally inscrutable in English as it was in Japanese, but it might just be the first hint of Nintendo’s next big thing.

I read through all the coverage of this event and still cannot parse what the hell Nintendo is doing — or planning to do. It sounds like they’re thinking a lot about the connected health space, which is red hot right now and about to get hotter, but not via a wearable piece of technology but rather a “non-wearable”.

Sounds like vapor… ware? We’ll see.

Simpler Games, Simpler Times

Flappy Bird. Flappy. Fucking. Bird.

About a week ago, I was perusing the App Store as I normally do. Much to my surprise, I saw a new king atop the free app charts: Flappy Bird. This was odd to me because I usually feel like I’m paying enough attention to see an app’s rise in one way or another. But not here. The app seemingly rose from 0 to 60 overnight.

Even crazier: the same developer now controls three of the top ten spaces in the App Store with Flappy Bird at number one, Super Ball Juggling at number two, and Shuriken Block at number nine.

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