Alright, now that you have digested Volume 1, it’s time for me to bring you FACTS vs. FICTION – Volume 2.
Busting up myths in the gaming world one by one until we get to the truth. Enjoy everybody.
FICTION: It was OK for Nintendo to not pack an AC adapter with the New 3DS.
FACT: It was STUPID for Nintendo to not pack an AC adapter with the New 3DS.
It goes back to what I said in Volume 1 about making new controllers standard by packing them in the box by default.
Max adoption will always come through pack-ins by default.
And for something as vital to a console like a power source, there’s no way that AC adapters should be optional.
ESPECIALLY for a system like the 3DS which drains power much faster than original DS did.
Seeing Nintendo’s supply obstacles lately it makes even LESS sense (if that’s possible) to do this. A buyer may be in the market for a New 3DS & Majora’s Mask who had resisted buying a 3DS so far. The buyer may now want the product due to built-up library & improved handheld but may pass on the purchase because the separate AC adapters are sold out in his/her store.
It’s an unnecessary barrier created simply because it wasn’t packed into the box by default.
I know Nintendo wants to cut unnecessary costs & save money as they weather the short-term storm for their long-term UNITY, but this is not the way to do it.
Physical instruction manuals? I’ll miss them but they can be cut without damaging the product.
Pulling out of Brazil due to the complicated import rules there? Not the best move at all & you need to find a way back into the territory, but I understand for the time being.
This though? NO. Flat NO. Unacceptable.
Get them AC adapters back into those New 3DS’s & quit eliminating potential purchases.
Just like I said to the FICTION that Gamepads should be removed from Wii U’s—they should NEVER be removed…
...neither should AC adapters be removed from New 3DS’s.
It must be forced into the package by default just like every controller Nintendo produces & made standard across the industry.
It’s just basic operating procedure. End of story.
FICTION: Nintendo needs to make new IP’s.
FACT: Nintendo makes “new IP’s” every generation.
First off, let’s stop talking like lawyers for a second. IP. Intellectual Property.
How about the word ‘Franchise’? How about the word ‘Series’? Sounds more natural & organic.
OK, now that we got that out of the way, let’s break down this long-standing myth.
Nintendo creates new series & franchises each & every generation.
They create “new IP’s” each & every generation. Yes, you heard me right.
Now they might not be series & franchises you appreciate or favor but they do create new series all the time along with their established ones.
*Sigh* Here we go. Another history lesson.
•After establishing the Game & Watch, Mario/Donkey Kong, Punch-Out!!, Excitebike, NES Sports, NES Zapper games, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus, Famicom Tantei Club (Famicom Detective Club), Nintendo Wars, Fire Emblem, Mother/Earthbound & Startropics series on the Arcade/Game & Watch/NES platforms...
...Nintendo added these franchises when they moved to the SNES & Game Boy era:
F-Zero, Pilotwings, Yoshi, Kirby, Wario, Wave Race, Super Scope games, Star Fox, Panel de Pon/Tetris Attack/Puzzle League, Picross, & of course Pokémon.
•They then added these franchises in the N64 & Game Boy Color era:
1080° Snowboarding, Super Smash Bros., Custom Robo, Sin & Punishment, & Animal Crossing.
•After that they added these franchises to the mix in the Gamecube & GBA era:
Kuririn, Golden Sun, Pikmin, The Legendary Starfy, Chibi-Robo, Rhythm Heaven, & bit Generations/Art Style.
•Then they added these franchises to their rich portfolio in the Wii & DS era:
Daigasso! Band Brothers/Jam with the Band, Nintendogs, Another Code/Trace Memory, Ouendan!/Elite Beat Agents, Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training/Brain Age, Big Brain Academy, Wii Sports/Play/Fit/Music/Party, Endless Ocean, Personal Trainer: Walking/Math/Cooking, CrossworDS, Fossil Fighters, Wagamama Fashion/Style Savvy, Tomodachi Collection/Life, Fluidity, Art Academy, & Xenoblade Chronicles.
•And so far they have added these franchises to their overgrown lineup in the Wii U & 3DS era:
Steel Diver, NES Remix, Pushmo, Dillon’s Rolling Western, & Bayonetta.
Keep in mind I’m just naming only newly introduced franchises with more than one game in the set.
The list gets even bigger if I name the one-offs Nintendo created.
We’ll leave out Game & Watch & Arcade titles since one-offs were the rule within the structures of these platforms.
•In the NES era, we got:
Devil World, Urban Champion, Clu Clu Land, Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, Mach Rider, The Mysterious Murasame Castle, & Famicom Mukashibanishi: Shin Onigashima.
•In the SNES & Game Boy era, we got:
Radar Mission, Solar Striker, Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru/For Frog the Bell Tolls, X, Joy Mech Fight, Stunt Race FX, Mole Mania, Marvelous: Another Treasure Island.
•In the N64 & Game Boy Color era, we got:
Tetrisphere, Mischief Makers, & Doshin the Giant.
•In the Gamecube & GBA era, we got:
Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest, GiFTPiA, Geist, Drill Dozer, & Odama.
•In the Wii & DS era, we got:
Polarium, Electroplankton, Magnetica, Magical Starsign, Chousoujuu Mecha MG, Common Sense Training, Hotel Dusk: Room 215, Flash Focus, Master of Illusion, Number Battle, MaBoShi’s Arcade, Slide Adventure MAGKID, Captain Rainbow, Rock N’ Roll Climber, Soma Bringer, A Kappa’s Trail, Aura-Aura Climber, Eco Shooter: Plant 530, Photo Dojo, Spotto, Trajectile, X-Scape, Face Training, Grill-Off with Ultra Hand, FlingSmash, Snowpack Park, Line Attack Heroes, Zangeki no Reginleiv, Pandora’s Tower, The Last Story, & Kiki Trick.
•So far in the Wii U & 3DS era, we got:
Freakyforms Deluxe: Your Creations Alive!, Tokyo Crash Mobs, HarmoKnight, Fantasy Life, NintendoLand, SiNG Party, The Wonderful 101, Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., Splatoon, Project Guard, Project Giant Robot, & Devil’s Third.
If I add former 2nd party Rare to the mix, the list gets even longer.
R.C. Pro-Am, Battletoads, Killer Instinct, Banjo-Kazooie, GoldenEye 007, Jet Force Gemini, Perfect Dark, & Conker’s Bad Fur Day for a good sample.
And if I talk about how Nintendo made sub-series within many of its established series like Mario Kart, Mario Paint, Mario Party, Mario Tennis, Mario Golf, Mario Strikers, Paper Mario, Mario & Luigi, Mario vs. Donkey Kong, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, Mario Maker, New Super Mario Bros., Luigi’s Mansion, WarioWare, Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Konga, Super Princess Peach, Captain Toad, Yoshi puzzlers, Link’s Crossbow Training, Hyrule Warriors, Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland, Metroid Prime Pinball, Kirby experimentals, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, Pokémon Ranger, Pokémon Stadium/Colosseum, Pokémon Rumble, Pokémon Snap, Pokémon Pinball, Poképark, Pokkén Tournament…
…we’ll be here all day long!
PLEASE, no more talk about Nintendo not creating new ideas, series, or franchises.
PLEASE, no more talk about Nintendo not creating new IP’s.
Even within their established franchises they create new styles of gameplay but they’re always making new ideas…ALL. THE. TIME.
ENOUGH of this.
FICTION: Project Morpheus will be a success for Sony on the PS4.
FACT: Project Morpheus will be Sony’s Virtual Boy.
I laugh everytime I hear people go on & on about Oculus Rift & Project Morpheus. ESPECIALLY Project Morpheus.
It’s true that history repeats itself. And the reason that happens is because people refuse to learn from the mistakes of the past.
The one UNDISPUTED failure Nintendo made was this project called the Virtual Boy in 1995. There were so many reasons why this device utterly failed including unfinished polish on the technology, the weight of the device, understanding human habits & predilections. The concept of it was interesting but the device just wasn’t ready for prime time.
20 years later it STILL isn’t & DEFINITELY not as an accessory to the PS4.
Remember, we have whole legions of gamers who complained (and STILL complain) to no end about a Wiimote with its multi-faceted control styles including motion sensing. These are the same people who want “standard controllers”—even though, as I pointed out in Volume 1, those standards came from the same exact company who made that Wiimote.
These gamers don’t like change & that’s why they chose consoles like the PS4 in all its standardized glory.
What makes Sony think these gamers will accept something as non-standard as a Virtual Reality helmet?
They don’t even use the Move!
Who remembers the Sony 3D World campaign from a few years ago? In 2010, Sony wanted everybody to wear 3D glasses to see stereoscopic 3D Blu-ray movies & stereoscopic 3D PS3 games on their Sony 3D TVs.
First of all, those glasses were NOT cheap ($150?! What?!) & neither was buying that TV (even that smaller 24 inch PlayStation 3D Display was $500! GOD!).
Once the Nintendo 3DS entered the arena with glasses-free 3D, that sort of shut down all the 3D talk.
Outside of price, this is why it didn’t work. Glasses. Most likely the most unintrusive way of delivering the product but here’s the thing.
Even people who have to wear glasses hate wearing glasses. They put up with them because they need them to see clearly.
That’s why glasses-wearing Elton John had that procedure done with LASIK eye surgery. If it wasn’t so expensive & people were not worried about botches, more people would have it done.
It’s one thing to wear sunglasses for short spans of time either to look cool or more likely to block the sunlight from your eyes.
It’s another thing to have this hard thing squeezing on your nose, ears, & head for a sustained amount of time.
Besides, glasses leave those pinch-marks on your nose when you wear them too long.
If you don’t have a real need to wear them, you’re probably not going to wear them.
People usually take off their shoes when they come home to be comfortable. Women usually can’t wait to get out of their bras when they have worn them too long. The same goes for people wearing hats or belts or jewelry. Your body has to breathe & be unrestrained after awhile, to be free & natural. Glasses are no different.
And think about this. What about people who need to wear glasses being asked to put on another pair of glasses on top of the ones they already have? They can’t just take off the glasses they use to see clearly & put on the 3D ones instead because they won’t be able to see the game right. It’s awkward. Especially in a home setting where a home console would be located.
People like to unwind & relax when at home. These 3D glasses just make things tense.
But that’s just a pair of 3D sunglasses. What about a whole headset like Project Morpheus? A LOT more intrusive than simple glasses would be. This big overgrown Geordi LaForge visor held in by a head strap with a big pair of headphones on top.
First thought: How heavy is this device? Glasses are light. Visors like this are not.
Whatever irritation glasses may cause would be exponentially increased by something like this.
Second thought: How would this device destroy the orientation & equilibrium of the player? You can see through glasses even if they’re darkened. This visor would cut off your forward AND peripheral vision locking you into this game image shining point blank at your eyes. With the headphones also cutting off your hearing with the game sound, this player would be blind & deaf to the world directly outside of him/her.
Motion sickness. Vomit. Living room carpets. Not a pretty sight.
Third thought: How much is this thing gonna cost? If Sony couldn’t sell those 3D glasses for less than $150, YOU KNOW this thing ain’t gonna be cheap. Will it cost just as much as the PS4 itself? And if so, then what would be the point?
I have a fourth thought. Assuming we somehow got past these issues, we’re forgetting one important aspect:
What female would accept wearing a contraption that messes up her hairstyle? No, not all females are finicky about their hair but a great deal of them are. They don’t spend all that time at salons & hairdressers, all that effort using products to make their hair fuller/have more body just to let a videogame device flatten out their hair. I know videogaming still has the stereotype as a male activity but girls & women DO like playing videogames. You have to consider their habits & predilections if you want this to be a universally accepted device.
All these items I mentioned show that this type of technology still isn’t ready for prime time.
Just like with the Virtual Boy, Sony will make the mistake of ignoring human tendencies & inclinations.
They will be fighting their own audience who demands that things stay on “standard controllers”.
They will most certainly miss the mark on price.
And a fifth thought. If they have trouble adequately supporting a handheld console & home console at the same time, how are they going to produce for this peripheral?
They don’t do much for Move anymore now that they have entered the PS4 era.
Seeing Sony’s track record for supporting associate devices, PlayStation fans most likely just stick with that Nintendo-derived “standard controller” & ignore the tech hype campaign.
All of this assuming that the technology works as advertised in the first place.
In public gallerias & kiosks? Workable. In homes? Fiasco.
Sony needs to take the Red Pill on Project Morpheus.
If they do, they will see that the red comes from the body of the Virtual Boy.
FICTION: Crytek CEO: Graphics are 60% of the game.
FACT: Crytek CEO says he withheld employees’ pay in order to save the company.
Moral of the Tale – Gameplay comes before Graphics. Game comes before Video.
There’s a fundamental misunderstanding about what ‘Video Gaming’ is supposed to be.
It’s VERY clear that not everybody in this field is here for the same motivations.
Is it videoGAME? Or is it VIDEOgame? Which is it?
Cevat Yerli, the Chief Executive Officer of Crytek, spoke these words to X360 Magazine (now X-One Magazine) in its Issue 97 from April 2013 responding to a question about the importance of graphics to gameplay:
“People say that the graphics don’t matter,” says Yerli, “but play Crysis and tell me they don’t matter. It’s always been about graphics driving gameplay.”
“In Crysis 3 it’s the grass and the vegetation, the way the physics runs the grass interact and sways them in the wind. You can read when an AI enemy is running towards you just by observing the way the grass blades.”
“Graphics, whether it’s lighting or shadows, puts you in a different emotional context and drives the immersion.”
“And immersion is effectively the number one thing we can use to help you buy into the world.”
“The better the graphics, the better the physics, the better the sound design, the better the technical assets and production values are – paired with the art direction, making things look spectacular and stylistic is 60 per cent of the game.”
The interviewers of X360 Magazine wrote these words before that quote:
“When asked whether he feels better graphics mean better gameplay or not, his answer surprised us.
Why? Because finally, here’s someone using common sense to reach what is in our opinion the right answer to this question.”
Hmm, you think so, huh?
A little over a year later reports of Crytek staff not being paid on time OR not even being paid in months, Crytek staff walking out the company due to those missed payments, & potential bankruptcy rumors explaining those reported missed payments started popping up. Other reports of Crytek seeking out a new source of financing, cancelled games like Ryse 2, & studios being shut down like Crytek UK—the Rareware descendant once known as Free Radical Design of Timesplitters fame—also made headlines in that Summer of 2014.
Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli then spoke these words to Eurogamer in August 2014 when asked why staff went unpaid:
“You have two choices, right? Either you delay payments – again delay… it’s not that they didn’t get paid, they got delayed – delay payments and salvage the company. Or, you push your cash flow directly to the studios and you file for insolvency. Both options are really bad. So you have to make the better of two bad decisions”
So how did Crytek get into a situation where they had to withhold workers’ payments in order to salvage the company?
Maybe the sales shortfalls of Crysis 3 & Ryse: Son of Rome had something to do with it.
You know, those games produced under the philosophy that ‘Graphics are 60% of a Game’.
Crytek is a perfect example of the contingent of people in the videogame industry who have the wrong motivations for joining it.
Well, what else should we expect from a company that started out making tech demos & graphics engines?
That compound word “VideoGame” causes lots of confusion but let me see if I can clear it up for you.
Video is the adjective, the describing word, the assistant word of that phrase.
Game is the noun, the defining word, the central word of that phrase.
Both have importance but the Game part outweighs the Video part in what is MOST important.
Because quite simply, VideoGames are merely Games in Video form.
It shares the lineage with games such as Backgammon, Checkers, Chess, Go, Reversi/Othello, Mancala, Jacks, Petanque, Cricket, Tennis, Volleyball, Football (Soccer), Football (American Rugby), Basketball, Baseball, Hockey, Air Hockey, Foosball, Pinball, Pachinko, Connect Four, Battleship, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Candy Land, Clue, Monopoly, Hanafuda, Poker, Blackjack, Uno, Skip-Bo, & countless others.
So knowing that Video ASSISTS the Game, it should be clear that Graphics ASSIST the Gameplay.
That Crytek CEO would be closer to correct if he said that Gameplay is 60% of the game. Because what is MOST immersive is the ideas, the concepts structuring the playtime. Those stylized chess pieces are certainly fun to look at in all their unique shapes & sizes, the chessboard is really neat with its ‘alternating squares’ design.
But what makes Chess fun is the interplay of those chess pieces—why the Pawn can trap the King, why the Knight can sneak up on you with its ‘L’ shaped movements, how the Queen can fly across the board without equal, why the Bishops can make those diagonal attacks, why the Rook can protect the King in its Castle. The give & take between opponents both moving their pieces & strategizing over the next move aiming to stay 5 steps ahead. THAT’S what makes that game fun.
Gameplay ideas & concepts are what make ALL games fun.
I don’t see why Cevat Yerli made this crucial mistake seeing as he made the following remarks to Official XBox Magazine (Issue 97) in March 2013:
“We have been saying CryEngine 3 is next-gen ready for years now. The reason I’m saying that is – and this is before we knew the specs, because three years ago nobody knew – it’s impossible to go too far beyond what we say today is next gen because it would cost too much.”
“It would be prohibitively expensive to launch a next-gen console beyond what we say is next-gen,” Yerli asserted. “It would potentially be a death knell for at least one company.”
Little did he realize at the time he was talking about his own.
In 2012, while boasting that his company’s CryEngine 3 was way ahead of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4, mentioned that graphical realism will be playing a big focus in the next generation. That word ‘Realism’. That reveals the motivations of the ‘Video’ guys.
These VIDEO guys are trying to create a Second Reality. Game is just the backdrop, the background, the prop supporting this aim. They are not in the business of making games. They are in the business of creating Virtual Reality.
The First Reality can be hard to manipulate sometimes. You can’t fly like Superman. You get shot & you’ll probably die. Can’t just hide behind a covering & heal. Money is VERY hard to come by for most. You can’t remix gear & dungeon grind to build cash. Some mistakes are permanent & will follow you for the rest of your life. Can’t just hit the reset button or go back to the last save point to redo the scenario.
Like the movie title says “Reality Bites” so people want to create a NEW Reality that they can better shape & manipulate.
Every method of human escapism works on this principle but these guys are dead serious about creating a virtual world so much like our real one that you cannot tell the difference. That’s why photorealistic graphics are so important to them.
No room for abstraction for their type of immersion.
Naturalistic art direction is not just artistic choice, it’s part of their entire mission.
Question is if they’re so adamant about recreating realism why not just hire live actors & do computer generated special effects around them like the old Mortal Kombat games? The Crytek CEO already said it’s too costly going too far into the tech-specs race.
So why focus on graphics so hard?
No graphics engine you have can hold water against Reality. It has resolutions far beyond 1080p & 4K.
WAY too many little tiny details to accurately capture.
Why spend all this time & money rendering when you can just film & add effects later making it much cheaper & faster? It’s futile.
Uncanny Valley happens when you get close to the real thing but fall a few degrees short of 100%.
Most likely the human brain has this effect to protect against fraud. It’s probably a natural self-defense mechanism against disease & poisons since Uncanny Valley creations seem dead-looking.
Squaresoft’s Final Fantasy: The Sprits Within from 2001 got this reaction when gamemakers forgot their role & got too caught up in Video realism. That’s why they had to merge as Square-Enix because of the movie’s failure.
People don’t want to see dead-looking eyes! Window to the soul & all that.
When you’re presenting computer-generated people as authentic people, the audience expects REAL people. If you don’t give them what they expected, you just pulled a FRAUD on them. Sort of like a transsexual woman trying to pass as a natural-born woman without telling the date about the ‘trans’ part. FAKE!!
It’s one thing when it’s abstract enough to be known for what it is.
Expressionistic cartoonish representations of people don’t cause problems because we’re not expecting actual people but an artistic rendition of them.
The cartoony yellow-colored Simpsons are accepted because their animated expressions realistically match how our emotions feel to us.
The near-realistic rendering of a Japanese woman from Cubo is rejected because her expressions seem fake & off-kilter as it tries to match our emotions.
See Cubo girl here: http://www.cubo.cc/creepygirl/
Naturalistic art design should be an artistic choice to support gameplay concepts.
Never should it be used to chase the futile ideal of 100% photorealism at all costs.
The Pikmin series uses realistic-looking backgrounds but keeps the playing characters cartoonish with naturalistic effects layered on top. No More Heroes has more realistically proportioned characters but everything has sort of a “drawn” comic book style look to it. Bayonetta 2 uses a real-like art style but everything is a little exaggerated & stylized to stay away from that FAKE-filled valley.
You can admire their ambition but this is a futile mission.
Crytek & the rest of the Video guys need to remember that at the end of the day this is not about Second Reality, it’s about GAMES.
It’s not VIDEOgaming. It’s videoGAMING.
Get your percentages right.
FICTION: Sony needs to cut all branches & just become a game company.
FACT: Sony is an Electronics & Media company at heart not a Game company. It would be the WORST thing they could do.
There is something I have come to understand observing companies & that is companies are ALWAYS connected in some way to their original business. No matter how companies evolve & expand, everything they do & every strategy they make is spiritually connected to their roots. The people in the company may not even recognize it themselves but they all draw from one original source.
Those who stray too far from their roots begin to fail as a company.
I’ll show you a couple of examples in the videogame world.
• The Nakamura Manufacturing Company AKA Namco started out in the children’s amusement business with horsey-rides on department store rooftops in the 1950s.
Naturally this led to train rides inside those same department stores for those same children by the 1960s.
And eventually these horses & trains led to car rides by the 1970s with a coin-op driving simulator simply called “Racer”.
It seems that the Nakamura Manufacturing Company has quite a thing going with coin-operated children’s amusement in shopping malls. It only made perfect sense for them to tag team with this new American company ironically called Atari to produce coin-operated amusement with a video screen.
There you see the natural transition of Namco into the video arcade business.
And it all lines up with their roots in children’s amusement.
That’s why Namco’s colorful cartoony Pac-Man, Galaxian/Galaga, Dig Dug, & Mappy were so successful.
Even Ridge Racer from years later makes sense because it lines up with the “rides” aspect of their roots.
Remember that 1970 driving simulator they had called “Racer”?
They were successful in arcade halls because they were successful in shopping malls. And this is also why they were able to transition into theme parks like Namco Namja Town. That same history with department stores/shopping malls.
Everything still ties with its roots no matter much they evolve as a company.
• T*HQ, Toy Head Quarters, was founded by the late Jack Friedman, a toymaker who once co-founded LJN, another toy company.
LJN was reversal of the initials for Norman J. Lewis whose toy company (Norman J. Lewis Associates) once employed Friedman as a sales representative.
Friedman had a knack for finding a hot property to attach his toy lines to & really hit it big when 1982’s E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial came out. Making merchandise for Thriller-era Michael Jackson brought him more success & it wasn’t very long before he ran across the WWF, the World Wrestling Federation—another phenomenon that struck fire in the 1980s.
Those big blocky Wrestling Superstars figures came from LJN.
MCA, Music Corporation of America, was in the midst of expanding its media empire & bought out LJN in 1985. In this expansion mindset, they had already been a prospector in the videogame field before the 1983 Crash. With kid-centric, toy-centric LJN in their portfolio, they thought they could find a way into this lucrative field. ESPECIALLY with this new 1980s phenomenon called the Nintendo Entertainment System.
LJN now added videogame publishing to their skill set.
LJN did in videogames what they did in toys. They looked for hot franchises or properties to latch onto & made their products. And that’s how we get 1987’s Jaws, 1987’s The Karate Kid (developed by Atlus!), 1988’s Major League Baseball (also developed by Atlus!),1989’s Friday the 13th (ALSO developed by Atlus!), 1989’s Back to the Future, 1989’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit (developed by Rare!), & 1990s A Nightmare on Elm Street (also developed by Rare!). The wrestling background comes forth once again with 1990’s WWF WrestleMania Challenge (ALSO developed by Rare!).
Game quality may have been hit-or-miss but they knew how to find that hot property.
Jack Friedman was known to be a low-tech kind of guy & was not comfortable with high-tech toys (like game consoles). He exited LJN in 1987 & planned to start a new toy company once he could gather the capital. It’s just as well anyway because MCA dropped LJN like a hot potato after the Entertech water gun scandals—realistic looking water guns being used by criminals & getting unwitting kids shot by police.
While LJN was being sold to a similar ‘hot properties’ publishing company called Acclaim in 1990, Friedman was ready to make his move.
TOY Head Quarters would be different. The focus is on TOY which is why there’s an asterisk separating the T from the HQ. But the spiritual successor to LJN had to accept that videogames were as beloved by kids as old-style toys were.
In 1994, T*HQ became THQ as they became entirely a videogame publisher & Jack Friedman left the following year.
Jack would try one more time to keep TOY as the focus as Jack founded Jakks Pacific.
Acclaim absorbed LJN entirely by 1995 & THQ moved into the 5th Generation still as a ‘hot properties’ videogame publisher.
Is it any surprise that THQ struck gold when they published those pro wrestling games? That legendary Nintendo 64 Quartet of WCW vs. nWo World Tour, WCW/nWo Revenge, WWF WrestleMania 2000, WWF No Mercy. Is it any surprise that Acclaim had similar success with WWF War Zone, WWF Attitude, & ECW Hardcore Revolution?
It’s that old LJN/wrestling connection powering both companies.
And is it any wonder that this success happens on the system of another toymaker called Nintendo?
But Sony’s PlayStation won the sales war that generation & THQ‘s lesser wrestling games on that system (2000’s WWF SmackDown!) would be where the company put its focus. This single move set the stage for THQ’s downfall.
Sony is not about toys. They look down on toys. They entered this business refusing to acknowledge ‘Videogaming’ preferring the term ‘Computer Entertainment’ instead.
Though Jack Friedman is long gone from the company, his spirit still lives on.
There’s a REASON why he separated the T from the HQ. Beware when the meaning gets lost in acronym.
THQ’s bread and butter was now its wrestling game license but in the 6th generation they would still stay true to the old LJN ‘hot properties’ kid-friendly mindset with games like Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Hot Wheels: Velocity X, SpongeBob SquarePants: Revenge of the Flying Dutchman, Scooby Doo! Night of 100 Frights, The Fairly OddParents: Shadow Showdown, & The Incredibles.
These games might continue the infamous LJN tradition of hit-or-miss games but there’s a toy-like youth focus still intact within the company. A legacy of its founder.
But THQ’s allegiance towards Sony & now Microsoft, two non-toy high-tech companies, in the 7th generation would unravel this piece of Jack Friedman’s toy-centric low-tech legacy. The PlayStation 3 & XBox 360 were all macho. They were all playing this “more horsepower!!” game. They were about making gaming “grow up” & get “hardcore”.
Everything had to be “Mature” or it’s “Kiddie”—I mean—“Casual”.
The people running THQ had long forgotten what those initials stood for.
Instead of publishing with focus on the very toy-like & lower-tech Wii, they wanted to gain favor with “the big boys” like a true wannabe. They wanted to beat out Activision & Electronics Arts as the biggest 3rd party game publisher in the world.
Those wrestling games which STILL drew from that N64 wrestling game Quartet were NEVER published with priority on the leading console of the 7th generation. And the UFC games weren’t published on Wii AT ALL. UFC, the new pro wrestling league (let’s call it what it is), was a natural transition for THQ but for some reason THQ thought that toymaker Nintendo wasn’t good enough for this game.
THQ had an identity crisis. They had a long legacy of youth-oriented hot properties but were somehow trying to become a “hardcore” game publisher. This schizo nature is what led them to producing uDraw for Wii & Homefront for PS3 & 360.
uDraw was a natural hit for Toy Head Quarters because it was a toy-like device on a toy-like console. But it was NOT a hit when they decided to bring uDraw to “the big boys”, “the real consoles” because these companies are not about toys.
uDraw calls back the heritage of LJN Video Art from 1987, an educational drawing console with coloring books, school lessons, & cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse.
When they embraced Wii properly (not that We Cheer nonsense) with uDraw, they prospered.
When they pushed “hardcore” nonsense like Homefront, they perished.
What do the initials stand for? What was the founder’s intent for this company?
If THQ remembered that ‘T’ stands for ‘Toy’ & that Jack Friedman always was focused on low-tech over high-tech, they would STILL be here latching onto those hot properties. If they got behind toymaker Nintendo properly, they could have still kept making steady guaranteed money on those hot properties.
They left their roots & they died.
Jason Rubin, the President of THQ when it died & co-founder of Sony’s right-hand man Naughty Dog, said after THQ’s demise that Nintendo’s irrelevant as a hardware manufacturer in the console business.
Imagine that. A guy running a Toy HeadQuarters putting down a toymaker.
Is it any wonder why THQ died?
Meanwhile, Jakks Pacific is still here following Jack Friedman’s vision.
They still kept making toys, still leaned towards low-tech, still knew how to find that hot property. One such hot property is those official Nintendo toys they make.
It all comes full circle. Companies always come back to their roots.
So what do these two examples have to do with Sony?
Sony was founded as an electronics/media making company called the Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo or the Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation.
It all started with a radio repair shop in the aftermath of World War II’s devastation.
Radio is a form of media or communication. Radio devices are electronic instruments to operate that media.
This company MUST ALWAYS be rooted in the creation & advancement of electronics & media no matter what.
They created Japan’s first tape recorder, the Type-G. Tape is another form, another FORMAT of media. The recorder is the electronic device used to operate that tape media. And in building those electronic devices they naturally must build the components that make up those devices (like transistors). As the original name of the company says, it is an ENGINEERING corporation.
Sony is rooted in technology from the very beginning.
It’s no shock that a company that got their start with an audio medium like radio used Latin word ‘sonus’ AKA ‘sound’ as one of the inspirations for their new name ‘Sony’. It’s no shock that they move from audio media like radio into video media like television in the 1960s. It’s no shock that their globally successful music-playing portable transistor radios moved them into making record players & cassette players. It’s no shock that all this music background on their radios, cassette players, & record players led them to co-own a music recording company with Columbia Broadcasting System in 1968.
It’s no shock that these audio cassette tape makers moved on to making video cassette formats & players like Betamax in 1975. It’s no shock that this electronics/media making company made a brand new style of record disc (the Compact Disc) with fellow electronics/media company Phillips from Dutchland (Netherlands) in 1979. It’s no shock that this music-filled maker of the internationally successful portable transistor radios of the 1950s & 1960s created the internationally successful portable cassette player called the Walkman for the 1980s & 1990s.
AND it’s no shock that Sony who made the music-playing radios, records, cassettes & decided to own the record companies which put the music on those radio, records, cassettes…
…would one day make the TVs, VCRs, movie projectors & decide to own the TV & movie studios which put the TV shows & movies on those TVs, VCR, movie projectors.
It’s also no shock that such a behemoth of an electronics/media company would one day try to enter another business using electronics & media called videogaming.
However, there’s one major difference with this media versus the media Sony had been engaged in before. Videogaming is ACTIVE, INTERACTIVE while music, TV, & movie are PASSIVE. You just sit & listen to music. You just sit & watch TV or movies.
You have to PLAY the games. It makes sense why Sony would want to enter videogaming but it doesn’t make sense how Sony operates in this field.
Sony understands the Video but they don’t seem to understand the Game.
And the truth is that the ‘Video’ portion of ‘VideoGame’ is the assistant word, the describing word, the adjective.
‘Game’ is the central word, the defining word, the noun.
Plain & simple, Sony is just not a GAME company. They’re just not.
At their roots, they are Electronics & Media making company.
In general, they are a Technology Engineering company.
And GAME is not so married & dependent on tech to function.
Game is often low-tech like Tic-Tac-Toe or Charades or Jacks or Hide & Seek.
It’s a conceptual kind of thing really. It’s rooted in the mind & can be acted out pretty much with the body alone. At best the outside materials are props to enhance the concept like the multi-sided dice in Dungeons & Dragons or chess pieces in Chess.
Videogame is merely Game in Video form. The Video is another prop to enhance the concept of this Game.
The fun comes from the acting out of the game scenario.
Sony considers Video to be the centerpiece & Game as the prop.
That’s why a company like this was a prime candidate for the Multimedia movement of the early 1990s.
Sony has Many Media, Sony has Multiple Media.
Where the Multimedia tryhards like the Commodore CDTV, Phillips CD-i, Pioneer LaserActive, 3DO, & Apple Pippin failed, Sony would succeed.
The Multimedia movement sneered at the toy-like kid-friendly focus of videogame consoles anchored by the console savior Nintendo.
They were ashamed of it. It can’t be just about silly games. It has to be about movies, music, TV, shopping, & any other “respectable” function to reach the grown-ups.
Gaming takes a backseat to all the more respectable adult activities this device does.
One hallmark of this Multimedia craze was something called FMV, Full Motion Video.
Yep like you pretty much guessed—Interactive Movies. Pre-filmed narratives with minimal controller input.
You end up watching the “game” more than playing it.
Sound familiar to what’s going on today? Streaming indeed.
So who better to lead this movement than a technology engineering company who owns music studios & movie studios?
Sony would deliver what every Multimedia system & add-on—TurboGrafx CD, Sega CD, NeoGeo CD, Jaguar CD—could not.
Even if they had to take over Nintendo to do it.
Yeah, Nintendo had a moment of weakness & actually got a little caught up in this craze themselves.
They had a CD add-on too called the Nintendo Play Station for their SNES.
But Nintendo was fortunate enough to have a sense of self-ownership, control, & remembrance of their roots as a PLAY company.
They reneged on the contract & escaped Sony’s trap (then entered another one that would give us those horrible FMV-centric CD-i Zeldas).
Sony turned this add-on into a full-fledged Multimedia system now named PlayStation to shift the direction of the “childish industry” they had ignored for nearly 20 years.
It’s not Videogaming anymore. It’s Computer Entertainment, right Sony?
You think it’s a coincidence that the co-creator of the CD had CD’s as the media format running the PlayStation 1?
You think it’s a coincidence that the one of the key members of the DVD Forum had DVD’s as the media format running the PlayStation 2?
You think it’s a coincidence that the one of the key members of the Blu-ray Disc Association had Blu-rays as the media format running the PlayStation 3?
You think it’s a coincidence that the sole creator of the Universal Media Disc had UMD as the media format running the PlayStation Portable?
For Sony, these moves are actually in line with their roots as an Electronics & Media maker. Yes, media forms, media FORMATS. Problem is are they necessarily for gaming?
Maybe Sony’s electronics/media roots were a disadvantage against Nintendo’s playing/gaming roots in the battles of DS vs. PSP & Wii vs. PS3.
It’s very odd to me that Sony didn’t make a new media format for either the PlayStation Vita or the PlayStation 4 knowing their history. Digital distribution is not their style as shown by the PSPgo’s failure. They MUST engineer physical products.
The digital internet has DESTROYED them as a company on many fronts.
Their long-time music empire built off those old transistor radios was wrecked when Napster & the Gang came along. Apple put the finishing blow on them when they pushed their digital iTunes over Sony’s physical CD’s & their portable iPod over Sony’s portable Walkman. It was so bad that Sony tried to stop the bleeding by sabotaging people’s computers with rootkits.
Tower Records is long dead. Now Wu-Tang puts up surprise albums with one copy made to reap maximum payout.
Sony’s talk about “PlayStation 5” being an entirely digital distribution platform is surrender. There IS no PS5 if it’s not physical.
EA has Origin. Ubisoft has uPlay. What would they need you for if they already have their own digital distribution services?
They already lost their music to digital, they’re already struggling to keep their Blu-ray discs from being devalued by NetFlix & the bootleg. Sony is not a digital services company. They are an Electronics & Media MAKING company.
An ENGINEERING company from the ROOTS.
Which is why it is ALSO alarming that they seem to be shedding each & every one of their electronics & media manufacturing branches one by one. Selling off computers & tablets, spinning off TVs, selling off smartphones. They’re in RETREAT & are in a most likely irreversible downward spiral. But somehow they think pinning the entire company on the PlayStation division, Sony Computer Entertainment, is going to save them from destruction. It’s an easy mistake to make.
Game consoles are a type of electronics & a type of media. But you’re not a GAME company, Sony.
And this business, videogaming, is about GAMING in VIDEO form not the other way around. Don’t let those Multimedia lies fool you.
It will be the worst mistake Sony has ever made.
Sony can’t even uphold a handheld console & home console at the same time effectively. Vita is dead & so is Vita TV. Even though you ARE engineering with Project Morpheus, you couldn’t get Move to move. And like I said your audience wants “standard controllers”. You can’t Nintendo your way out of this mess because these are not your roots.
You have NEVER truly beaten Nintendo at its own game.
Sony Computer Entertainment has only survived thanks to the efforts of the rebellious 3rd parties who support PlayStation to shun Nintendo.
Sony Computer Entertainment can only make profit with record sales.
When interferers like money-packed Microsoft get involved & those 3rd parties shift loyalties, Sony Computer Entertainment spends loads of money & loses loads of it too.
Unlike Nintendo, Sony Computer Entertainment CANNOT survive much less thrive on its homegrown 1st party/2nd party efforts.
And when things go bad for Sony Computer Entertainment in scenarios like these, the other branches in Sony Corporation can subsidize & cover the PlayStation department’s shortfalls.
What happens when there are not enough other branches to cover PlayStation’s shortfalls?
I tell you what it means: The Death of the PlayStation. The Death of Sony Computer Entertainment.
And if Sony Corporation expected this division to bolster the entire company, it could also mean The Death of the Sony Corporation as well. At the very least, the shrinking of it.
I hope these many paragraphs cleared it up for you.
You must always remember your roots.
You must always remember where you come from.
Videogaming started as one of many rings on Sony’s fingers.
Now it’s a ring around Sony’s neck.
A company that strays too far from its roots dies.
I hope the people running Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo AKA Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation remember what those words stand for before it’s too late.
More to come in Volume 3...
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