#videogames

I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.
Markus “Notch” Persson, the creator of Minecraft, explaining why he sold his company and why he won’t be involved going forward — which, perhaps, shouldn’t be surprising at all.

As expected, Microsoft has announced the massive $2.5B acquisition. And good for them for saying they’ll continue to support all the platforms the game currently supports, including PlayStation, Android, and iOS (though, notably, Mojang itself seems to do quite a bit more hedging in their statement — saying, basically, everything is always subject to change). 

What I don’t understand is why people think this deal doesn’t make sense. It makes a ton of sense. Microsoft already has a history of doing this type of deal with Bungie amongst others. That deal made the Xbox. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that without Halo, the Xbox would have failed. 

But more importantly, I fully agree with John Lily’s take the other day: this is about access to the next generation of makers (developers, tinkerers, etc). More than once, I’ve been in a random place in a random part of the world and seen a kid glued to their phone playing Minecraft. 

That phone, of course, was not a Windows Phone. And it’s probably too much to hope that now it will be — that battle has long been fought and lost, even if Microsoft won’t admit it yet. But if Microsoft is thinking about this the right way, this should be about more than phones.

I’m just shocked they beat Lego, now the largest toy maker in the world, to this deal.

Kyle Russell:

While it’s nice to see a Nintendo release a faster version of its popular console with better controls, I can’t help be confused by how Nintendo chose to announce it. The New Nintendo 3DS is backwards compatible with older 3DS games, but it will also have its own exclusive titles. Is it supposed to be its own, new device, or not? If it is, I worry that Nintendo is shooting itself in the foot by not coming out with a bigger bang and a new name. This new device is an even smaller incremental jump than from the Wii to the Wii U, and anecdotally, most people I’ve asked over the last few years didn’t realize that those are two different systems.

Everything is just fine at Nintendo. Pay no attention to the weird repackaged half-product releases.

Sam Byford on Nintendo’s latest quarter:

Revenue was ¥74.7 billion ($731 million), an 8.4 percent decrease on the same period last year, for an overall net loss of ¥9.92 billion ($97.1 million). The 3DS handheld continued its decline, selling 820,000 units over the quarter compared to 1.4 million a year ago. Nintendo hasn’t altered its forecast of a ¥40 billion profit for fiscal 2014, and still predicts that it will sell 3.6 million Wii U consoles during the period.

It’s not just that Nintendo keeps losing money, it’s that they keep refusing to own up to the hardships and forecast accurately. Does anyone really believe the company is going to hit those Wii U sales goals?

Or more importantly, the profit goals? I mean, they now have three quarters to earn ¥50 billion because they are already ¥10 billion in the hole for the year…

Brian Windhorst looking into the notion that LeBron James may have a photographic memory:

"When we were growing up we used to play this fighting game on the Sega Genesis called Shaq Fu," says Brandon Weems, James’ lifelong friend. "LeBron was the only one who had memorized all the moves and so he’d win every time. We all thought he definitely was cheating."

I’m not sure which is more surprising: that LeBron memorized all the moves in Shaq Fu, or that LeBron was playing Shaq Fu at all.

Speaking of Apple and gaming, here’s Sean Heber:

Apple now has everything they need to disrupt the game console industry in a way that none of them see coming. I predict that we’ll see a new AppleTV update (and hardware) this fall along with a new app extension type for AirPlay. AirPlay will become about more than just streaming video to your AppleTV - instead that’ll simply be one of the things you can do with it. Apps (mostly games, I suspect) will be able to bundle an AirPlay extension inside - just like how apps can now bundle photo editing or sharing extensions as of iOS 8. The key difference is where the AirPlay extension app actually executes - instead of running on your device itself from within another host app, the AirPlay extension app will be automatically uploaded to whatever AppleTV you are currently AirPlaying with and will run directly on the AppleTV natively instead. This means no video streaming lag and minimal controller lag. Your iPhone would then turn into a generic game controller with onscreen controls or, if you have a physical shell controller attached to your iPhone, it activates that instead. The game controller inputs are then relayed to the AppleTV and thus to the AirPlay extension app using the new game controller forwarding feature.

This is a very interesting idea — apps as air(play)borne viruses that “infect” the Apple TV unit. It sounds almost crazy enough to be true.

Remember that while it’s stated to have no internal storage, the Apple TV (the hockey puck variety) does actually have 8 GB of memory. This would certainly be enough for any single app (of which games are almost always the largest) to fully reside temporarily, while playing. 

The wild card here in my mind, is the input. The long-rumored new Apple TV box has long been said to be built around some sort of new control paradigm. Will a “magic wand” or some other such controller work with these games as well? Or will there be something else? Or will it simply rely on an iPad/iPhone?

[via John Gruber]

Ben Thompson:

Over the last two generations of consoles, however, prices have actually risen, and today a Playstation 4 or Xbox One is nearly the same price as an average PC.

In some respects, this makes no sense: why hasn’t Moore’s law had the same impact on consoles as it has had on PCs? Moreover, when you consider that consoles now compete with a whole host of new time-wasters like phones, tablets, social networks, dramatically expanded TV offerings, the Internet, etc., it’s downright bizarre.

And:

Let me be very clear: this is a perfectly rational response by Microsoft, and a strategic disaster, all at the same time. The reason the Xbox existed in the first place was to give Microsoft a toe-hold in the living room. Over time the expectation was that the entertainment aspects of the console would make it appeal to not just gamers, but normal consumers as well. Instead, Microsoft has (understandably) been captured by gamers, and the only purpose their original strategic intent has served has been to make them less competitive with said gamers (the Xbox was more expensive and made different processing choices in order to accommodate the Kinect-centric entertainment focus). Meanwhile, no rational non-gamer will buy an Xbox One for $499 $399 in the face of sub-$100 alternatives like the Apple TV, Kindle Fire TV, or Roku.

Lots of great stuff here by Thompson. Much of this is exactly why I felt like this generation of consoles could be very troublesome for these companies. And yes, why I think Apple has a very real opening here (I may have just been off by a year).

Microsoft isn’t just doing the wrong thing, they’re doing the opposite of what they should be doing if they really want to own the living room.