The Year In Review

The Year In Review
The Year of the Turtle

Dave Thomas | 27 Dec 2005 11:04
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Across the trenches from the battle-hardened Nintendo troops, a few scant feet of carpet away, the weary Sony warriors crouched in their own line.

I asked. Four hours to see a few minutes of PlayStation 3 promo footage.

And the lines inched forward like a parade of turtles.

The X Factor
I know you'd like me to say 2005 is the year of the Xbox 360. But I'm not going to do that. Because I think Nintendo WiFi at McDonalds is, frankly, bigger news than Microsoft's new console, as far as Q4 '05 business news is concerned.

But I wouldn't bet against Microsoft. In the strategic buildup of PR armaments, you have to look at who stockpiles what to get a sense of how things will go, as the war wears on. And Microsoft is definitely putting supplies in the bunker. In fact, they've spent a fair amount on the bunker, itself.

I suppose, when you consider Redmond dropped somewhere around $4 billion on the original Xbox, it's not that surprising that when asked, the MS PR people told me that they'd spent about $4 million on the new 360-themed E3 booth.

"But we'll use it for the next four or five years," said my source.

Exactly. If Microsoft gets out of the game businesses, it won't be until they've lost another $4 billion. And like Richard Pryor discovered in the classic '80s comedy, Brewster's Millions, it takes a long time and a lot of effort to spend a towering pile of cash.

This leaves me with a wait-and-see attitude about the 360. And other than a handful of game fans who would swear they bleed Xbox radioactive green if you cut them, most everyone else feels the same way I do. We need more than Kameo and Project Gotham Racing to change the game world. And so far, the world the 360 envisions is exactly like the current one, with a little TiVo and an expensive HDTV thrown in.

Nintendo, on the other hand, may be going through the biggest corporate freak out of all time; a core value questioning that will make New Coke seem like a smart move. Or, maybe they are the only sane console maker left in the game business. For now, it all comes down to whether or not you think hooking up wireless games for free in a McDonalds is the greatest thing since McGriddles, or whether this more along the lines of a tofu Big Mac.

Me, I see Nintendo in its experimental college phase. They're trying new things, testing the waters and seeing what feels good. Whether this fling with Mickey D's will last or end up as a funny story told over wine coolers to friends years later, we'll see. But for now, Nintendo seems to have a little bit of libido in an industry that has become almost puritan in its preservation of the status quo.

Hot Topic
The funniest thing that happened all year? Hot Coffee, of course. Oh, I'm sure Take 2's comptroller was weeping bitter tears onto the ledger books when Rockstar had to recall all those Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas discs that contained unlock-able acts of mild nastiness.

And I know there's nothing like oral sex to get would-be game censors all whipped up into a sexually repressed frenzy. I should probably be a little concerned about all this. But I just think it's funny, because it is funny.

It's mainly funny that anyone cares. It's funny that two crude, low poly characters pushing the limits of a game engine's collision detection system passes for sexual congress. Besides, if you want kids to not have sex, you should show them this game. When they are done throbbing on a few buttons, they will wonder what the fuss was all about. These impressionable youth, if they have anything in them that can still hold an imprint, will be left with the very strong feeling that grown ups are screwing with them again.

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