January 2, 2006

Next Generation Consoles – by GameQuest’s point of view

Posted in General, news & rumors, Press Reviews at 12:06 am by playstation3

With the launch of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 in 2005, Sony the current market leader, and Nintendo will both follow in 2006 there is sure to be fierce competition. All consoles promise amazing graphics, high fidelity audio, wireless networking support and a focus on multiplayer games. This year alone gamers are expected to spend approximately $12.8 billion on hardware and $19.3 billion on software according to Wedbush Morgan Securities.

Current Installed Base
Microsoft Xbox – 24 million
Nintendo Gamecube – 21.5 million
Sony PS2 – 83.2 million

Microsoft Xbox 360
Pointing out that Microsoft’s initial push to release their product was a important jump on the competition. Microsoft Expects to sell around three million units within the first 90 days of launch. However they have less games then were hoped for. In addition where was Halo for Xbox360? This game would obviously put more Xbox 360’s in the hands of gamers, looking at original Halo sales. Had it not been for lack of consoles for sale however the disparity in price was no help either. Seeing Xbox 360’s being sold from the $299 base price up to $1500 or more, including rather sleezy business tactics by Best Buy.

Sony Playstation 3
Master of the Market, Sony has consumed the video game market for the last two generations of video game consoles. Selling 150+ million Playstation consoles and holding relationships with many top video game console developers. Sonys new system boasts a DVD Drive that supports Blu-ray format, providing 54GB (11 1/2 times as much storage as a typical DVD-R) However this time could be tougher for Sony seeing ‘Microsoft’s aggressive push and their deep pockets’.

Nintendo Revolution
Responding to the Nintendo’s new sleek design, they said that despite that the console ‘lacks a hard drive or built in DVD player, it is expected to be priced lower then its rivals.’ With the addition of Nintendo’s virtual console, Revolution owners might be playing Mario Brothers and Chrono Trigger on their new consoles legally! While bringing so much history that is based on years of solid games, the Revolution does throw one interesting curve, the controller. While their will obviously be other controller options ‘some analysts worry the unusual device may confuse and scare of some gamers’, other controller possibilities (such as an original Nintendo controller) were announced during a press conference.

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Is PS3 very undefined?

Posted in General, Press Reviews at 12:04 am by playstation3

* PS3Updates *

According to Richard Huddy, European Developers Relations Manager for ATI, the Playstation 3, for all its technological advancements is just a bumbling mess in comparison to the Xbox 360.

Huddy, who worked on development of the Xbox 360, in an interview with Edge Magazine told the magazine that the Playstation 3 is basically a souped-up amalgamation of existing PC architecture without much consideration for making developers happy with its design. He questions Sony’s partnership with Nvidia, adding that the giant video game company chose to forego compromises in design, than compromises in hardware when it went with a customized version of Nvdia’s 7800GTX.

Interviewer: “You make it sound so unrefined!”

Huddy: “[Laughs.] Well, yeah, but the tragedy is that it is unrefined. There’s a lot brute force in there – I’d be the last person to admit it, but the truth is that the 7800GTX is a pretty powerful piece of hardware, but it’s not very elegant … Instead it’s been put together at the end of quite a complicated process.”

Huddy had fighting words for Sony. “Our GPUs instead are custom-designed components, and that’s one of the fundamental reasons why I think Xbox 360 technology is likely to outperform PlayStation 3 technology by a pretty healthy margin in the long run.”

Huddy might have a natural bias against the Playstation 3, having been involved in the Xbox 360 development process; and as an ATI employee, competing directly against Nvidia. Are his words truthful?

Fanatic’s review:

Eat my shoe

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December 26, 2005

PS3 Developer Kit is slow. Extremely slow.

Posted in General, Press Reviews at 8:16 am by playstation3

I found this on PS3Updates today:

Real-ps3-front

The current Playstation 3 developers kit is 10X slower than it should be according to an executive who spoke on condition of anonymity to BusinessWeek.

Sony’s next Playstation will feature high-definition DVD playback and a custom multi-core Cell processor.

According to the publication, Sony failed to deliver an upgraded graphics chip from Nvidia in Nov. to game developers.

“The graphics chip was supposed to be ready by November. But we’re still waiting,” the exec said.

Sony dazzled media and analysts at the 2005 Electronics Entertainment Expo in May on behavioral physics demonstrations using the Cell processor and Nvidia’s new RSX GPU.

However, the authenticity of the demonstrations where questioned after several pieces of footage looked like video playback rather than demonstrations produced on hardware.

In 2000, Sony boasted aspects of the Playstation 2’s Emotion Engine processor that would allow developers to render human emotion through digital media. However the hype stopped dead when the console’s launch games failed to produce visuals close to what the company had initially demonstrated.

Sony and Microsoft have locked in a tussle over the power of their respective next-generation offerings.

Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios president Phil Harrison told Gameindustry.biz that the Xbox 360 is not and true HD console, citing its lack 1080p resolution and high-definition DVD playback.

* My Review *

When I was a game developer my life was a hell :)… I hope they are not asking those guys to work on such a slow platform. It must be fixed first.

December 22, 2005

Xbox, PSP, PS3 Games for the next future

Posted in General, news & rumors, Press Reviews at 11:56 am by playstation3

(from IGN)

December 20, 2005 – If you`ve been keeping up with the Japanese game scene over the past few months, you might have heard of a new game company called AQ Interactive. This publisher released one of Japan’s Xbox 360 launch titles, Tetris: the Grand Master Ace and went on to announce a few additional titles for platforms that include the Xbox 360 and PSP. But it wasn’t until today that we learned the true nature of the beast.

AQ held a press conference today in Tokyo to formally introduce itself. The company, whose name stands for Artistic Quality, opened its doors on 10/1 as a publisher for three group development studios, Artoon, Cavia and Feel Plus. Together, these companies are known for such properties as Blinx and Drakengard. Artoon is currently working with Mistwalker on Blue Dragon for the Xbox 360 while Feel Plus is doing the same for Lost Odyssey. All together, between the three studios, the publisher claims to have 350 staffers creating games.
While the three studios will continue to work with different publishers, a number of projects will come under the AQ publishing brand. In addition to the previously announced Onimyou Nikki for the PSP, the company is working on an original RPG for the portable. DS will be getting an adventure game and an edutainment title. PS2 will be getting a game based off a girl-oriented comic license.

Revolution is included in the list, making AQ one of the first 3rd parties to commit support for Nintendo’s new platform. The company is working on an original action title and a game based off a major comic license. Additional details were not provided at the press conference.

More details are known on the company’s plans for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Xbox 360, in addition to a previously announced mahjong game, will get a new Cavia-developed title called Bullet Witch. Set in 2013, the game tells the story of a desperate fight between man, who is on the verge of extinction, and demons. You play as a witch named Alicia. Although the game clearly features some fantasy elements, it actually takes place in a realistic world setting.

Bullet Witch is an action adventure with story sequences intermixed with gun fights and magic. The game promises to make full use of the Xbox 360`s visual capabilities for its enemies, including giant dragon-like demons. Development is currently at 40% with a Japanese release planned for Spring of 2006.

The next title announced by AQ is Vampire`s Rain, which is being developed at Artoon for the Xbox 360 but will also be released on the PS3. Artoon CEO Naoto Oshima, one of the creative forces in the creation of the Sonic The Hedgehog series, is working directly on this title and promises a game that makes vampires scary once again.

Vampire`s Rain takes place in a city in suburban Los Angeles, where vampires have been determined to reside. Players take control of a special operative called John Lloyd and, having entered the city, must wipe out the vampires. The game will make heavy use of rain. A trailer shown at the press conference displayed realistic lighting and water effects.

Artoon is working network features into this title. The game will feature some sort of gameplay system where players need to figure out who’s a vampire and what they would do if they themselves were a vampire. Online gameplay will involve competitive play of some form.

Vampire Rain is set for Japanese release next Winter. The game is far enough in development that Artoon was able to demonstrate a real time version at the press conference.

AQ also has a third Xbox 360 title in the works, Cry On. This one is a joint project between Mistwalker and Cavia. It turns out that Mistwalker founder Hironobu Sakaguchi is actually a share holder in AQ Interactive, and he appeared in person to announce the game.

The theme of Cry On is tears. Sakaguchi, in a classic Sakaguchi moment, pointed out to attendees that tears come not just from sadness, but from happiness and being moved as well. Players will take control of main character Sally in this action adventure, working through scenarios that promise an emotional response.

Cry On takes place in a world where people live amongst giant sand creatures. We mistakenly reported earlier that Sally fights these giants. In fact, she’s actually in the company of one of them, a creature named Bogle, and fights alongside it. Although normally tiny, Bogle can transform into a giant beast to fight. He’ll do so when Sally is in danger. The game promises to give players the perspective not just of Sally, but of Bogle as well.

Sakaguchi himself is serving as producer and scenario writer on the title, and he promises a title that offers lots of freedom to players and also makes them think. Long-time musical partner Nobuo Uematsu is handling composition and says we can probably expect a vocal song to be included with the title. The game’s scenario is currently fifty percent complete, suggesting an early title, and one without a set release date at this point. AQ is putting some big funding behind this one, with a budget reportedly at 10 million dollars.

Finally, AQ made vague reference to a second PS3 title. The company is working on a major 3D game of some form, but that’s all the information that was provided.

My Review:

This * Cry On * game seems pretty exciting :) original, at least. What about vampires? Well… I’m sick of vampires. Please, stop it. We’ve playied TOO MANY VAMPIRES, game developers should evolve themselves.

The best Vampire game ever? Well… if a Half-Vampire is ok for you then try Castlevania: Simphony of the night for PS1. One of the best games ever, IMHO.

Also, Gun Fights and magic are an OLD, OLD, OLDER & OLD solution. Final Fantasy 7 (and the whole serie), Xeno Gears… they already owned it. Enormous demons? They had it, World of Warcraft has it… it’s not enough, damn it. Stop wasting money. Use them for relief, instead of making us more stupid.

Then, a reasonable critic could be… “you’ll have to see the story to tell”. Well, maybe. But they presented their game talking about guns, magic and enormous demons. This sounds OLD :)

December 11, 2005

PS3 Interviews on Playstation Magazine

Posted in General, news & rumors, Press Reviews at 9:10 pm by playstation3

I found out an interesting interview (by PSM, naturally) to a couple of Sony personalities.

Ladies and gentlemen, President and Chief Executive Officer Kaz Hiral and his Vice, Jack Tretton, unveiling all of their little secrets!


PSM: What do you say to the Playstation 2 owner that knows the PS3 is coming in 2005, and isn’t sure what that means for their current system?

Kaz Hirai: We’re into year five now with the Playstation 2 and we see a lot of life left in the Playstation 2 even after the Playstation 3 is launched. I think that a lot of publishers who were really not as aggressive in pursuing the older platform in terms of software support saw how the Playstation was in business for 10 years, so I think this time around you’re going to see a lot more titles coming out for the Playstation 2, certainly next year and even beyond, obviously from first party, but also third party community as well.

PSM: What ever happened with the PS2 HDD and the media software for it?

Kaz Hirai: A couple of things there. One, we felt that a lot of those uses were suited for a portable environment, so you see a lot of that on the Playstation Portable. By the nature of the portability of the product, you going to have more uses for things like showing photos to your friends and what have you. That, as well as, quite honestly, the ramp up and the number of units were able to get out of the hard drive and the software support unfortunately did not mean we were going to have a 1:1 tie ratio with the Playstation 2s we had out in the market. We also had the redesign to the slim model PS2 as well, so, what we’ve done, again, in realize that these are all good functions to have, and we’ve incorporated them into the Playstation Portable. I think it’s proven to be nice functionality that many people will take advantage of.

PSM: Can we expect more totally original titles on PSP in 2006?

Kaz Hirai: Yes. We certainly want to bring a lot of franchises to the PSP that are originally developed for that platform, but, at the same time, one of the things we want to accomplish with the Playstation Portable is to really expand the Playstation experience to the handheld enviroment. So both in terms of variations of existing franchises-Which, as you know, aren’t just simple ports; they’re using the same name but have completely different gameplay- we want to take advantage of the franchises we’ve built, but also being cognizant that you don’t establish a new platform by just relying on existing franchises and you do need to push the envelope with great original content, like, for example Pursuit Force.

PSM: Are you still committed to a spring launch for PS3?

Kaz Hirai: We are still strategizing over that, and we’ve not come to a decision yet as to whether we want to with Japan first, the same time, three territories at the same time. Those things we’re still looking at, and it’s obviously a decision that needs to be made with us weighting a variety of actors, including how many units we can ramp up to, what is the manufacturing capacity, but, more importantly, what kind of software lineup are we going to have between first- and third-party in any of the three territories that will get the product first, being Japan, Europe, and the U.S. Which territory has the flow of software, the lineup of software? That will factor into it as well. So, basically, in a nutshell, it’s too early to answer that question both from the manufacturing ramp up standpoint as well as the software lineup standpoint.

PSM: Can we sqush the rumors of PS3 slipping into 2007?

Kaz Hirai: [laughs] yes…unless we have no software, which I doubt very much, we’re still on track for a sping 2006 launch.

PSM: How much of an impact on PS3 will Microsoft’s head start with Xbox360- however long it may be-have?

Jack Tretton: I consider myself womewhat of a student of history, and while I don’t think that the past is ever any guarantee of the future, a couple of things I like to point out factually that clearly are indicative of what you can expect going forward. Number one, we’ve never been the first platform to market. When we original launched the Playstation, the Sega Saturn hit the market before we did and ultimately that didn’t help them prevail. The last time around with Playstation 2, the dreamcast hit the market first and ultimately that didn’t help them prevail. Number two, if you say that this generation really came down to a battle between us and Microsoft, we sold three million PS2s before it hit the shelves in the States and if you look at the score now, it’s 34 million for PS2 to roughly 14 million for Xbox. I think that, in Microsoft’s mind, that three million we sold was really paramount. As far as what it would take for a lead by Microsoft to be significant, I don’t think it’s a matter of time, but rather a matter of units.

PSM: How important to Sony is the idea of a simultaneous worldwide launch of Playstation 3?

Jack Tretton: I don’t think a consumer really cares whether or not if [the PS3] is available in another country before or after it’s available for them. Everybody wants a new platform as asoon as they can get their hands on it, and I guess selfishly every territory wants to be first, but I think ultimately what the consumers are going to be excited about is going to be the software content that’s available for it. The actual machine isn’t very exciting unless you have compelling software to put into it. Often times, the first territory the system launches in suffers from the weakest launch lineup because the other territories have that additional time to do development and really get more games available and make each game that much better in time to hit the launch window.

PSM: Are you confident that the final PS3 will deliver the quality of visuals seen in the E3 demos?

Kaz Hirai: Yes, and I think the proof will have to be in the pudding. Because no matter what I say here, people are going to try dispel that and be skeptical until they see what we bring in terms of the final product. I’m going to say it’s going to be just as exciting or even better than what people have seen, we will deliver, just as we have on the original Playstation. The Playstation 2, and most recently, the Playstation Portable.

Jack Tretton: We wouldn’t be making claims of what our platforms could do if we didn’t feel we could deliver on them. We’ve actually got three internal [PS3] titles that we’re working on at Sony Computer Entertainment America. On of them, WarHawk, is playable, and you can compare the graphics and see them live, and also with another one of our launch titles, a game from factor 5 called Lair, again live footage, that footage compares very favorablely to what was shown at E3 press conference. I think that, in the very near future, you’ll see some comparable gameplay footage that will really put those rumors[PS3 can’t be as powerful as we’re claiming it is] to bed.

PSM: There’s been a lot of speculation about downscaling the PS3 in order to keep the price of the system down-is this really happening?

Kaz Hirai: The specifications that were distributed at E3 are the only verison of the Playstation 3 that exists. I have not seem any revisions to that, certainly not any offical internal communication. (notes: SCEA has since clarified that it was never officially stated that the PS3 would serve as a full wireless router. The system will simply act as a basic hub for connecting other Ethernet devices via an existing connection to home wireless network.)

PSM: When will we get to play actual PS3 game on real PS3?

Kaz Hirai: It’s hard to say when at this point in time, but what I can say is as soon as we feel that the quality of the software is up to where we expect it to be, and that we’re confident of us being able to present that to everybody and have everybody go home with the impression that, yes, these guys are really pushing the envelope in terms of what they bring to gameplay, graphic quality, and everything else. If that takes longer, then again, people are going to be skeptical until the day we show that. If it take longer than a lot of people expect, and that cause more speculation, it is what it is. I don’t think it’s something we can do anything about until we come out with an exact showing of those games, and we’ll present those games just as soon as we’re good and ready to go.

PSM: How will the Playstation online experience change with the introduction of PS3?

Kaz Hirai: With the Playstation 3, you can expect to see a lot more of the freatures that make it exciting to be part of an online community, beyond just the gameplay. Wether it’s matchmaking or other community features, those are a integral part of being an oline community. We’re hard at work on integrating those functionalities, as well as other functionalities that people have come to expect, and even some new things that people will find very refreshing.

PSM: What about the talk from others at Sony that PS3 online will be just like PS2 online, more or less?
Kaz Hirai: I think that when people at SCEE or SCEA talk about keeping the oline model pretty much along the lines of what we have now[on PS2] what they’re actually saying is that they want to make sure that we maintain all of good business model points that we had in the open model and try to improve upon those with our third-party publishing partners.

PSM: Can you tell us anything about the pricing of the Playstation 3?

Kaz Hirai: pricing [of the system itself] is again something we’ll have to take a very close look at as we get closer and closer to launch. So at this point in time, it’s really difficult to say what the pricing structure is going to look like.

PSM: There some concern about PS3 being priced out of the reach of everyone but the hardcore early adopters. Is this valid?

Kai Hirai: I woud say that our past performance is the best indication of our future performance, and for at least three platforms, I think we have been bringing an excellent value to consumers, but also providing them with cuttingedge technology. I go back to less than a year ago when people looked at the PSP, and I got questions like “wow, this thing is great, but what do you think? $500?” and I said, “well, the proof is in the pudding: we’ve done Playstation and Playstation 2 at an affordable price,” and people just said “yeah, right!” response. But we went out there with a $249 value pack, and I think people were pleasantly surprised. I not saying, therefore, that the PS3 is going to be $249, $299, whatever, but I think we have pretty good history of providing value for what we bring to the consumers.

December 8, 2005

Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD – Warren Lieberfab Speaks

Posted in General, news & rumors, Press Reviews at 4:45 pm by playstation3

Source: PS3Updates -> Next-Gen.biz

warren_lieberfarb_1208.jpg

In an extraordinary speech, Warner Home Video president Warren Lieberfarb has hit out at Sony over its tactics in winning the next generation war between Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

Speaking at the Perspectives in European Video conference, he addressed Sony’s battle to bring its Blu-ray format, used in Playstation 3, to prominence.

He said movie studios are being drawn into the war between console manufacturers, against their will, and not necessarily in their interest. He said, “If I put Blu-ray in Playstation and I don’t license it to Microsoft for Xbox 360 and I get all the studios to only publish in PlayStation 3, I’ll beat Microsoft in the next-generation games market. We’ve been sucked into PlayStation 3 versus Xbox 360.”

He went on, “Hollywood blew it. They got duped. They could have created the format that optimized their creative interests. It looks like we lost, because there are six studios supporting Blu-ray and only three supporting HD-DVD. But you know, there’s always surprises.”

‘Samurai’ Sony

He said, “If you ever read ‘The Art of War,’ you will see all of Sony’s moves, including taking all its enemies in the same tent and then leaving them empty-handed. These are things that they have done historically.”

He also said: “They did the same thing to Matsuhita and Betamax, they did the same thing to Matsushita on compact disc, they did the same thing to Matsushita on the digital video camcorder. They compete like samurai. It isn’t the way we compete in the West.”

Lieberfarb, who is in Microsoft’s anti Blu-ray camp, urged the industry to embrace HD-DVD. “Convergence is here, everything is digital, the Internet is going to deliver video, you are going to want to pass information from one device to another and HD-DVD versus Blu-ray is really the first battle in the issue of who controls the home.”

My Review: 

Interesting point of view. In facts, the console war strongly affectes the home video market , and IMHO they have got a very relevant position in the result of this gigantic competition. Imagine if the last breaking movie won’t come out in a format your console can’t read… If you own a PS3 and you can’t view everything you like on it you’ll be disappointed.
Let’s see what’s coming next..

November 27, 2005

Playstation 3: Reality Synthesizer?

Posted in General, news & rumors, Press Reviews, Uncategorized at 11:29 am by playstation3

(Source: IGN)

[…]

 Sony has opted for a more Nintendo-like role for the WPC Expo, having a presence through a key note speech given by Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi. At the keynote, Kutaragi discussed the PS3 and how it will help to create a digital future.

Today’s new buzzword, introduced by Kutaragi during his speech, is “Reality Synthesis.” Kutaragi used this term (he said it in English) to describe what he feels is the core of the Playstation 3: “creating a real time world in real time.”

Kutaragi also tossed out many of the concepts Sony’s been using in tandem with the Playstation 3 since the start, from home servers to interconnected CELL processors. The CELL will allow for multiple streams of noise-free high definition video with a wide dynamic range and high frame rate. Using a home server featuring multiple CELL processors, you’ll be able to download contents from the internet using high speed connections and up convert it in real time before playing on the PS3. And so on….

[…]

Review:

I don’t know exactly why, but I missed this article from IGN :)  

 “creating a real time world in real time.”

This horrifies me. We already have a real time world in real time. What should we do with a digital one? Will ps3 allow us to eat pizza and spaghetti and enjoy them as real ones? Or will we have sex through a Playstation 3?

Why doesn’t Mr. Kutaragi just say “our games will tell incredible, original, exciting stories merged with an incredible graphical context” more than “we’ll create a virtual world”?

That’s what I hate about japanese (but, let’s say it, worldwide) videogames business. A lot of technology to hypnotize us, but few interest in making our souls a little richer.

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