E3 2017: Hopes and dreams

 

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Every June the electronic entertainment industry, primarily made up of video games and computers, come together to showcase all of their upcoming and latest projects at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3. It can be an exciting time for a gamer so here are a few things I am hoping to get attention at this year’s expo, and a few wild dream projects I will throw out just for fun. I will break it down by platform one at a time.

xbox

Microsoft:

Normally I really do not pay any attention to what they are doing. Until recently I never even owned an Xbox console. Now that I own both an original and a 360 I am starting to change my attitude towards the system. But that is not why I am interested in hearing what Microsoft has to say. There are a couple of things I want to hear about from Microsoft and I am fully expecting 1 of them to get a lot of attention, one will be wishful thinking and the other pie-in-the-sky not going to happen but I will suggest it anyways.

Scorpio

Whatever it turns out to be I am at least curious to learn more about it. I want to see form factor, learn about what exclusive features it will offer that the normal Xbox One doesn’t, beyond 4K, and I want to learn about the price and potential exclusive games, if any.

If the price is right, and the rest is to my liking, I might make Scorpio my entry point into the Xbox One family of gaming machines. Of course I am also cheap so I might go the S route or just spend my money elsewhere, who knows. All I do know is right now I am actually curious to see what Microsoft has to offer, and that is a first for me.

Windows

I want to learn more about how Microsoft intends to keep PC gamers sticking to the platform and helping it grow. I also want to learn more about their tablet future. I have a Windows laptop/tablet hybrid and I rarely, I mean hardly ever, almost never, use the tablet mode. I want to learn what they are going to do to make the tablet features of Windows more appealing to the masses so that Windows can continue to be healthy and maybe not disappear like Amiga.

Mobile

I do not want Microsoft to give up on mobile entirely but I want them to do it right. A dedicated Xbox tablet that can play Xbox specific content, but also have a mobile OS that is built from the ground up to function on a hand held type device, with the power of an Xbox might be worth checking out. Basically copy the Switch but with Xbox games. I know this won’t sell in the same numbers, but they can make it profitable if they meter their expectations and focus on what works and don’t make it an all-in-one machine.

VR

Microsoft has done nothing with VR in any meaningful way, I want to see them get into the arena in a big way so that VR can finally become a real success once and for all. I am like most, I am on the fence because VR is expensive, so if there was at least one more major player in the game it will go a long way in both bringing down costs and increasing the output of content.

Playstation-logo-colour

Sony:

Honestly I am not that excited about hearing what Sony has to offer other than announce some games and if at all possible try to talk about VR. In fact all I want to learn about is VR, a price drop and with some good bundles might be interesting, and at least 2 to 3 new, compelling games might go a long way. I know VR is struggling, but there are too many players with too much money invested for it to disappear entirely, it’s going to catch on eventually, but I think the cost is the biggest hindrance, always has been, so if more companies get involved and the ones in it double down it might have more of a shot. I want Sony to succeed because I have grown attached to the Playstation brand and even their non-gaming stuff has always been appealing to me.

I would also like for Sony to announce another PSP family of devices, something with more in common with the Switch maybe. Yes, Switch has changed the game and we all know that means others are going to look for any way they can to get in on that success, which I hope they do, having 1 device that doubles as a portable and home console is every gamers dream, or, at least it should be.

Nintendo Switch logo

Nintendo:

Games. That is all. Announce as many games as you can. I want Switch to succeed and for that to be a reality it needs as much variety as possible. They have already proven it will be a decent machine for fighting game enthusiasts like myself, not hard core like Playstation but certainly better than Wii U. They are also bringing more RPG games to the table than they have in several hardware generations, at least on the console side. I always figured it they truly merged their two divisions into one it would mean very big success for the company, as when you get down to it splitting the fanbase has always been their biggest weakness, now with a unified Nintendo fanbase, yes, we are unstopable and MS better pay attention as they keep splitting their fanbase between console, tablet, and PC.

6165-windowsSonynintendo-logoSega

The future:

I predict there will come a time when you have 3 companies doing three different things all catering to 3 different demographics. This is not so much a place a bet kind of prediction and not just wishful thinking, call it more an educated guess coupled with some strong hopes.

I want Nintendo to throw everything into the Switch and just BE the handheld gamer kings with a machine you take with you but can also plug into the TV when you want. I have been asking for this ever since the Game Boy Player transformed by GameCube from a second rate Xbox wannabe into a true gaming masterpiece.

I want Sony to double down on the console space, pushing for the best VR and augmented reality experiences making themselves the premium gaming device for the game that wants a more solid experience than the basic, but steady, offerings of Nintendo.

As for Microsoft, I just want them to get out of hardware entirely and focus everything on making Windows the very best it can be so that PC gaming can live on. If these three companies each focus on doing their one thing and doing it very well, we will live in a gaming utopia where everyone gets what they want. Then Sega can continue to exist in the last area they still have some clout, the arcade scene, which is far from dead but not what it once was.

With everyone trying to fight for a piece of the pie, dividing the gamer base into smaller segments, it just causes much division, infighting, confusion, and so-called console wars. If Microsoft focused just on PC and conceded consoles to Sony, like Nintendo has, and Nintendo focuses entirely on handhelds and remains committed to their exiting of consoles, which I contend is what Switch is, then that leaves Sony alone in the living room, Nintendo alone in your backpack and Microsoft alone in the computer space and everyone wins. Okay maybe not entirely without some overlap but you still have competition, just more focused with each doing their own thing, but doing it better than ever. Since that scenario is not likely, I just want everyone to get the best games they can and not worry so much about what the other guys are doing. Competition is a good thing, but we do have too much overlap in some areas.

Does the Switch success actually hurt Nintendo?

Right now the entire internet, at least the segment of the internet that pays attention to video games, is paying close attention the Nintendo’s newest gadget, the Switch. I have to say since November when they first showed off what the Switch was capable of I have been taken in. Full disclaimer, I love Nintendo and I typically do buy their machines. But I can safely say my buying habits do reflect the larger gaming audience as a whole so I will use that as a measure to make my point.

Each subsequent home console generation from NES, to Game Cube, Nintendo seems to lose some of their market share. As I have previously pointed out, while their home console base has shrunken over the years, their overall base has grown, partly because they have continued to find success in their handheld divisions. They had 1 outlier, the Wii, which was the first time they not only increased sales, but surpassed their previous record holder, the NES. This was a big deal for the industry because it proved that Nintendo’s philosophy they weren’t competing directly with Sony or Microsoft could be true.

Here is where my question comes into play. I already assume the Switch will be a success because it combines the handheld market with the home console market, obviously that is part of the draw. The reason that could spell success is not because you can take the home console games on the go, that IS NOT a new concept there have been plenty of other systems that did just that. The first notable one was the Turbo Express which let gamers play their Turbografx-16 console games on the go. Then there was the Sega Game Gear which had a converter that allowed you to play Sega Master System games on the go. This was followed by two more portable home console devices from Sega, the CDX which was a sort of, portable Sega CD player, it could connect to a portable screen if you had one, and the Nomad a truly portable Sega Genesis complete with 6-button layout.

Then there is the reverse, which has many gamers also excited, playing portable games on the big screen. This has a big draw because hand held games tend to be reminiscent of retro or classic games. Typically handheld machines were running on last gen hardware or two gens back. The Game Boy was sort of NES hardware and was released during the NES lifespan, but it was black and white only and ran on a much smaller resolution, so compromises had to be made. Game Boy Advance, released at the same time as the Game Cube, PS2-era power, was basically running on SNES levels of power with slight tweaks. Even the Nintendo DS, released just before the Xbox 360-era, was running on essentially N64 hardware in portable mode. This is key because to keep costs down developers have had to make compromises. This means that mobile games running on Switch don’t have to be targeted towards lesser hardware, but they can be tweaked for the mobile experience. I suspect Switch will attract those typical mobile and handheld games that have made past Nintendo handhelds so popular among their target audience. But again playing mobile games, or handheld games, on the big TV is also not new.

In the mid-90’s Nintendo themselves first dabbled in putting portable games on the TV via the home console, they did is with the Super Game Boy cartridge that ran on SNES hardware. They perfected this in the Game Cube era with the Game Boy Player which ran the ENTIRE Game Boy library ranging from Game Boy, Game Boy Color and the then current Game Boy Advance. Sony has even found some limited success with this by putting TV outputs as an option on their PSP and PS Vita devices, especially if you look at the PS Vita TV. So putting portable games on the TV is nothing new, and taking the home console games on the go is nothing new, then what does excite people about the Switch?

This is where it gets messy for Nintendo. Most gamers are banking on the Switch being IT from now on. The belief is Nintendo will merge their portable and home console divisions into a single development platform, they have already stated this as having been done. The reason this is exciting is simple. If you look at a Nintendo release schedule in a given year, they make a TON of great games and attract a TON of great 3rd party and indie support. They do, just not on a single machine. If you divide their handheld and console into TWO machines, releasing separate games and having two divided release schedule you force gamers to make a choice, buy the less expensive, lower powered portable expecting it to have the games that will satisfy you. Another option that fewer people have been making, buy the home console machine for the grander experiences and sit through long periods of droughts with nothing to play. The third option, something fewer people do but what Nintendo really loved, buy both systems to get the entire library. This is key because typically, or traditionally that is, the portable games differed greatly enough from the console games you really had to chose which experience you preferred. Starting with Wii U Nintendo began merging the two libraries. First instead of releasing separate versions of some games, a home versions and a scaled down entirely different portable version, like Super Mario World vs. Super Mario Land, Donkey Kong Country vs. Donkey Kong Land, Kirby Adventure vs. Kirby’s Dreamland, etc. This time they gave you ONE game and released it on both systems. They did this with Super Smash Bros., NES Remix 1 and 2, Super Mario Maker, and a host of others. Another reason the Wii U failed was the library was too similar to the 3ds, which was selling much better and had far superior support. Super Mario 3D World didn’t really offer much different of an experience as Super Mario 3D Land.

So what happens if Switch just gets ALL the games going forward does that automatically mean it will get ALL the gamers going forward too? Here is my pause for concern. If you take this through logically it can mean only 1 thing. Nintendo has basically given up on the true home console market and doubled-down on the portable scene. Their hedging their bets on a dedicated portable machine that can connect to a TV. A few years ago I suggested Nintendo should just make a gaming tablet that used real buttons on the sides and could connect to a TV via HDMI out and I was called crazy for that. My logic was Nintendo’s consoles suffer from lack of releases because Nintendo cannot support two machines, they do not have the resources, money, man power, tools, etc, to do that. If they had all of their teams making all of their games for one system, then they will have the BEST software library in the world and could dominate the gaming industry. They did this twice before, the first time was with NES, they had 90 percent of the entire gaming market during those years. Granted the market was smaller and vastly different then, they dominated because they had so many great games on the system. It was beginning with SNES they had to split their attention between developing games for two machines. It wasn’t as noticable then because the Game Boy was basically just a watered down NES, they could get their summer interns to port NES games down to the Game Boy while sparing a smaller team here and there to pad the schedule with original games. If you look at the classic Game Boy library it really was just an NES port machine those first few years. Even if Super Mario Land was a truly original game, that was about it, and even that was very small scale compared to their console games. Also console games didn’t require as much of an investment to make.

This split wasn’t really noticeable until the N64 and Game Boy Pocket years. This was when Pokemon gave the Game Boy line a second life, remember Nintendo’s intention was for the Virtual Boy to replace the Game Boy, when that failed to take place they scrambled to double-down on saving the Game Boy to stay in business. Then N64 games took a much larger level of investment and a longer time and manpower commitment to get made. They were GRAND, they were large, epic masterpieces, for the time, that rivaled the games Sony and friends were making. The problem was they took so much effort to develop instead of having 7 teams working on 5 console games and 2 portable games, you had 2 teams working on 2 console games and 2 teams scrambling to work on 1 portable game. These numbers are not exactly literal, I don’t know the inner workings of Nintendo, but I DO know from reports at the time and talking to developers over the years, they did consolidate teams and if you read the end game credits you start to see proof of this. N64 was desperate for games so Nintendo handed out licenses to so many partners to help out, which is why you had Rare, Hudson and even Midway making games for Nintendo using their characters, they had no choice they were understaffed and over worked. Thing’s only slightly improved with the Game Cube, droughts were less common partly because Nintendo designed the Cube with their developers in mind, to make developing as easy as possible to streamline the process, they also purchased some new developers to pad the schedule and reached out to even more 3rd party partners to get Nintendo games made using their characters but made by other companies. This time they had Namco and Sega and even Square and Capcom helping out. This was even noticable on the portables when Nintendo handed their most prized IP, the Legend of Zelda, over to Capcom! This was all proof Nintendo couldn’t make enough games to support their systems by themselves.

The issue came about as console sales declined, they couldn’t continue justifying paying developers for support and as costs increased due to going HD and games becoming more complicated and advanced, developers had to be more cautious where they put their money. Again it takes even more resources to make games in HD than SD, even the same exact scope of a game, so that is where Switch comes in.

IF Nintendo can once again consolidate all of their teams to making games for just a single machine, effectively killing off the home console division and merging the two into a single portable first with TV play as an option, then they have succeeded in solving their BIGGEST issue, release droughts. Even now the Switch is seeing fewer games up front than Wii U did, it does have more games announced and in development then Wii U did during the same time frame and from the looks of it, many more 3rd party partners are on board. The key is portables sell better and are easier to develop for and don’t directly compete with the other home consoles, so this allows Nintendo do finesse developers to make games locked to a console, say an exclusive like SF5, because if the contract says console exclusive they could argue Switch is not a console it’s a portable, they have done this in the past, Sony and Microsoft have allowed their games to be released on Nintendo portables at times neither of them had portables in the market. Sony moved away from this once PSP and Vita came along, but even companies that never make games for the home console, still make games for the portable because 1, its cheaper, and 2, the sales potential, thus profit margin, is greater.

In the short term this could spell great success for Nintendo, a unified machine that does everything, gamers have been wanting this ever since PC gamers got their wish with the coveted gaming laptops and even the rise of gaming tablets. This is where the concern comes about, can Nintendo compete directly with Tablets and Laptops and Mobile Phones if say Sony decides to make PS5 a dedicated gaming tablet with multi media features, 4K output, and a Blu Ray disc support? History has indicated that in direct competition Nintendo handhelds do better than Sony while Sony consoles do better than Nintendo, but that is because Sony has ALL the 3rd party support while Nintendo just does well on their franchises and key 3rd party support while being cheaper. In a scenario where Sony had all their games on a machine that was equal parts home console, Playstation dominance, and equal parts portable, PSP tablet but with Playstation support, and instead of asking gamers to chose which machine to get, which they chose the Sony console and Nintendo portable, largely because the Sony portable mostly plays the same games as the console, this could backfire on Nintendo.

In direct head to head competition with hardware parity, 1 device that plays ALL the games no separate machines, and all the franchises land where they land, Sony wins because a dedicated gaming tablet that has Playstation controllers and Playstation level of games and Sony levels of multimedia, would KILL Nintendo because let’s face it, Nintendo survives on their franchises alone but they struggle to get 3rd party support. If Nintendo finds success with this model, Sony does have the resources to play the same game but this time could win. Here is why.

PSP struggled to take out DS despite having better hardware not because it was too expensive or the market just preferred Nintendo but BECAUSE the PSP library was not different enough than PS2. Even though it has a few select exclusives, basically every game on PSP is just a perfect or near perfect portable version of the same Sony Playstation home game. Basically what the Switch is but PSP had to also compete with PS2 and PS3 not just DS. DS was it’s own thing, it played entirely different games or different enough versions of franchises it would stand on its own. It didn’t directly compete with Wii, it complemented it. Switch replaces the home console basically putting all of their eggs in one basket. This could eliminate the edge that makes their portables so attractive. It already removed the SINGLE most attractive selling point, low cost of entry, because it is trying to be both a console and a portable.

Sony could easily out do them, they already have years of developing mobile tech and making a truly dedicated gaming tablet, even higher priced say $399 or even $449, people would buy. I think a single Plystation device that doubles as a portable would sell more than a Nintendo device that does the same thing, when you consider how the Sony machine will get ALL of the games and Nintendo will just have their games and select partners. Nintendo’s portable machines would start selling less each generation and Nintendo loses the edge they had. This is of course assuming Sony follows up with a Switch-like device. I think Sony would do better to stick with home consoles and concede the portable market to Nintendo, a return of the favor Nintendo just handed them the home console market.

See with Nintendo, the other Japanese developer out of the home console space, Sony wins by default. Japanese gamers and console gamers that enjoy Japanese games have had to chose get the Sony machine first and pick up the Nintendo second down the road when price comes down, pick up the Nintendo machine first for the 1st party games and get the Sony machine for the 3rd party stuff later when price comes down, or do what MOST people do anyways, get the Sony console and Nintendo handheld. In a world where every gamer buys a Sony home console AND a Nintendo portable, Microsoft either loses or is forced to compete harder. Sony can handle Microsoft but in a world with a united Nintendo core base, 100-200 million strong die-hard loyalists, Sony would be facing trouble. So Nintendo needs to concede the console space to Sony and concentrate entirely on making Switch a TRUE 3DS successor and let the Wii U and console line rest in peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why to be excited for the Nintendo Switch

Just less than 2 weeks ago Nintendo dropped a bombshell on the entire gaming industry. They released a video that pretty much confirmed they are making the exact machine I have been begging them to make for over a decade, the exact machine I predicted they would make once I saw the Wii U. Okay they might have taken liberties with the concept but all I asked for was a powerful enough handheld console similar to DS that had TV output and could run semi-modern renditions of current games. Not only did they deliver on that they took it a step further.

The bottom line for those that don’t want to read a long article, is GAMES. This machine has the potential to have the strongest games line up for any Nintendo machine in years. Now read on for why I believe that if you dare.

But why am I so excited for a new Nintendo console if I have been so let down recently? For starters let me walk you back in time. I will keep this simple. In the early late 80’s there was no such thing as video games, there was only Nintendo. You invited friends over to play Nintendo, you went to the arcade to play next years Nintendo games, you watched Nintendo cartoons, ate Nintendo cereal, were duped into throwing away good money on the worst movie based on a video gamer simply because it had the name Nintendo on it. Then the world changed when Playstation came on the scene. Nintendo never faded away, contrary to popular belief they have actually increased market share and fan base every generation but they did it at a cost. The numbers don’t lie.

NES sold a whopping 90 million consoles world wide. Compare that to the less than stellar SNES, one of the most beloved and heralded as one of, of not THE greatest console of all time, barely sold over 55 million. You follow this up with the N64 selling a mere 33 million and the beloved, one of my favorites, the GameCube managed barely over 22 million and you get a picture Nintendo has been on the decline for years. Sure everyone points to the fluke that was the 100 million sales of the Wii as proof that wasn’t a case but then the mega flop that is Wii U died at a paltry 13 million and it took nearly 5 years to get there.

So what does that have to do with Switch?

Let’s wind the clock back one more time. The SNES barely sold 55 million units but in roughly that same time span the Game Boy sold an amazing 65 million units all on its own. Then while the N64 was barely pushing past 33 million the Game Boy color sold an impressive 45 million in the same time span. Along side the very small Game Cube user base was the very large GBA with a formidable 82 million units sold. Then there is the fluke years. Not only did Wii sell a phenomenal  100 million all on its own, it’s little brother the DS sold 155 million, besting even the world famous Playstation 2 for best selling dedicated gaming device, even if just barely. Why is that impressive? Because every hand held has had a 5 year lifespan, PS2 had a 13 year lifespan and PS1 had a 10 year lifespan. Oh and that failure that is Wii U and it’s pathetic, yes I said it pathetic, 13 million, well it’s counterpart has sold a respectable 62 million to date and it’s still going strong.

The point is if you look at just the console side it does appear as though Nintedo has been on the decline for nearly 25 years. But the reality is they have actually INCREASED user base every successive generation or at the very least maintained their minimum of roughly 90 million the NES launched.

So if you combine the handheld and the console the numbers are now much larger. Early 1990’s SNES/GB total is 120 units sold, or user base size. That is an increase of 40 million from the NES. The next phase was GBC/N64 (you could toss in the Virtual Boy’s less than a million but lets not) you get a number closer to 88 million, barey a 2 million decline from NES and a respectable number when you consider the POWERHOUSE that was Playstation 1 and the intense competition from Game Gear, Nomad, CDX, Neo Geo Pocket, Game.com, and you see a picture where that minor decline was really just a hiccup. Now the next phase, combined numbers put Nintendo at a very good 105 million for the GBA/GameCube, and yes many people owned Game Boy Players and relied on GBA connectivity with their Game Cubes so now even those numbers look good. Wii+DS is an incredible 265 million! So yeah for the 3DS/Wii U to be sitting at ONLY 80 million combined, all things considered, that’s still a feat worth noting.

Okay but I still haven’t explained how that will affect the Switch. Because true believers, it is BOTH a handheld and a home console. Why is that impressive? Let’s go back in time once again, the last time I promise.

SNES is the template for what a healthy Nintendo console library looks like, you had RPG games, fighting games, kids games, platformer and puzzle games, action games, quest games, maze games, cartoon games, ninja and martial arts games, if a game was made there was a very good chance it was on the SNES. But things took a dip with N64. SNES had a library over over 700 games released retail, and another 20-30 or so unlicensed games released via shady methods. N64 tops out at 297, and half of those are sports games. Not at all an impressive library. Sure it had some heavy hitters like Goldeneye, Mario 64, Smash Bros. etc, but come on no good Mega Man games, no 2D Castlevania, no Street Fighter, only 2 RPG games that barely qualify as RPG games the machine was a wasteland devoid of the kinds of games that gamers were flocking to the Playstation to get. But wait not so fast, Nintendo ‘gamers’ were still buying oh I don’t a little game called Pokemon that helped push the sales over the top. Okay you see the point? Now let me really make it clear. Even when 3rd party companies were dismissing Nintendo’s console they were still making great games for the handhelds, even Microsoft has made games for the Nintendo handheld even during the time Xbox was killing the console division.

Now imagine this scenario. You bought a GameCube, you took it home and oh crap you realize there are only 15 or so games to choose from, most are made by Nintendo and all the games you were wanted from Capcom, Sega, Konami, Rare, etc, were just gone. But those games were showing up in respectable SNES quality ports and sequels, where SNES was still the gold standard for game design, especially 2D, and suddenly if you have GBA and a GameCube you have access to a really robust library. The problem is buying a $200 + console AND a $100-$200+ dollar handheld well that is damn expensive. Many gamers are then forced to chose, which to buy first. The issue is gamers  had to split their money up so they go for the best bang for their buck, which turns out to usually be the handheld. Now not every gamer is going to buy both machines, most people don’t have that kind of money. Oh they do but they get the Nintendo handheld and the Sony or Xbox console. Well here’s is the kicker, the Switch is both.

What does that mean again? Basically it means that if you are in the market for a new Nintendo machine but you can’t decide which to get, the console or the handheld you look at the games. In the case of Wii U and 3DS you see a very similar library between the two so you decide 3DS is the better choice. But some people hate tiny handheld screens and do prefer to play on the TV, well if 3DS had just had TV output there would be no need for Wii U to even exist. That is the amazing part of the Switch, it means that you just spend the, presumably, $250-$350 dollars ONCE on one machine and spend the rest of your money on games. Now instead of picking the handheld first and getting 3 games and then the console next year and getting 2 games, you just spend all that money on 7-8 games, an increase of easily 2-3 games based on cost alone. The issue with Nintendo and 3rd parties is on console the games don’t sell because most people buy a Nintendo console for the Nintendo games and the Sony or Xbox console for everything else, or they stick with PC and Nintendo handheld. So in this scenario Nintendo is creating that means gamers will have more money to spend on the Switch games, companies will sell more games and make more money, that translates to them supporting the system longer. That is why I am excited for it. Not just because yeah I will finally be able to play Pokemon on a TV instead of a tiny screen, or that I will be able to take Smash Bros. on the go but because I truly believe this thing will easily do combined Nintendo sales, which will garner combined Nintendo support which to me means easily 80 million happy Nintendo fans all united under one platform playing all the same games, something we haven’t experienced since the NES days, you know before there even was a Game Boy and a handheld division.

Yes I am excited for the Switch, and based on the Pokemon Go craze I imagine many people the world over will be too once they learn what it truly is.

Which one to get, PS4, Steam Machine, or Wii U?

I was reading a digital verses physical argument on a popular gaming website that I frequent the other day. Since I am taking some business classes at school I thought I would write up a whole perspective on what I think was not best for the consumer but best for business because what is best for business usually ends up benefiting the consumer down the road anyways. I won’t get into that argument instead I wanted to use that as a lead up into something else entirely, but somewhat related.

Recently Nintendo announced they are shutting down the WiFi Connect, the online service that is required to play Nintendo DS and Wii games on the internet. It got me to thinking how often this must happen. Now I am all for having digital copies of my media, I prefer to have everything in one place on one device it’s convenient. What I don’t like is the Cloud, or streaming or digital stores. I don’t buy many movies on iTunes or any of the other services but I do rip my own DVD’s to my hard drive and have them available at the click of a mouse instead of having to shuffle all those discs around. I like having a big collection of DVD cases on the shelf too but there comes a time when its just simpler to put it all on a hard drive and be done with it.

The most current gaming console I own in a Playstation 3. Part of that is because Nintendo lost my interest when they came out at E3 and made a big fuss about Wii Fit and forgot that there were real gamers out there buying their machine too. I won’t dig up all the reasons I ended up hating the stupid Wii and getting out of console gaming for nearly five years as a result. Instead I will present my reasons for wanting to get a new gaming system and what each one I am interested in has to offer.

I am not going to do the whole bullet point list instead I am just going to tackle this head on. Let me be frank, I am a gamer not a fanboy. I got a Playstation and an N64 on the exact same day and I have been gaming on my PC since the Atari 1200 days. I got a Sega Genesis for my 12th birthday after going through a long period of being an NES kid. That is not to say I don’t have my biases or preferences just that I am not a cheerleader for a company and their product, if it is a good product I buy it if not I move onto something else. So far the PS3 has been a pretty good machine and it inspired me to go back and buy a used PS2 and revisit some games I missed being a GameCube gamer back in the day.

As always I am not in the position to buy every gaming machine around so I have to decide which one to get first and which one to wait to hit the clearance bin. As much as I grew to despite the Wii it did have a good start and some worth while hits sprinkled around all the crap. Due to that and my long history of Nintendo gaming I always have to put their newest console on my want list even if it falls off sooner or latter.

As of right now the Wii U is appealing to me because it does have a few good games, Super Mario 3D World looks amazing, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze has me replaying all the old DK games, New Super Mario Bros U and New Super Luigi U both look like fun games I could play and unlike most Nintendo fans I haven’t cared for Legend of Zelda in years but Hyrule Warriors has me seriously interested in the franchise again, imaging a Zelda game that keeps the fun parts (the world, the combat, the characters) and removes the boring stuff (the cut scenes you can’t skip, the endless side quests, the running in circles back tracking to every last place just to find that one small detail you missed), and there are two pretty good looking Sonic the Hedgehog games one that is out and one that will be here next year.

The problem is that’s pretty much it, besides a few decent Wii games I might pick up for the backwards compatibility, there is nothing else to get excited about on Wii U. I am not interested in another Mario Kart, I liked the SNES one and played a couple others here and there but I was never big fan anyways. I hate Mario sports games (or sports games in general) and so those are not interesting to me. I liked Smash Bros. Melee but the stuff I liked about it has not been carried over to the newer ones so there is no reason to get excited about that. Not to mention I prefer *real* fighting games which despite what the Nintendo faithful claim Smash is *not* a real fighting game.

Everything else on Wii U can be found elsewhere or isn’t worth paying what they are asking for. Right now Wii U needs to come down at least $100 bucks before I will consider it and still needs a few more games. I have no interest in Bayonetta 2 as I never liked the first one that much. What does that leave me X? No thanks not interested when I could play the vastly superior Lost Planet games already.

What about getting a PS4? Well I am still interested in this machine even though the launch hype has died down some. What makes me interested in the PS4 is simple, despite their difficulties getting PS3 off the ground they still managed to end up having the best games around three console generations in a row. My interest in PS4 isn’t so much what is out now as it is the potential. I know that eventually there will be a new Castlevania game, a new Mortal Kombat, a new Street Fighter, a new Final Fantasy, a new… the list goes on and on of new games that I expect will make their way onto PS4, games that I thoroughly enjoyed on PS3.

I also am still somewhat interested in some of the games that have been announced, despite being fewer of them than on Wii U, the few there are at least have me more interested than just reliving the past, again. One thing Sony does best is pushing the envelope and giving gamers *new* experiences mixed with sequels of the games we grew up with. Nintendo is a one trick pony, its all Nostalgia all day long with them. BUT if you actually compare side by side, Playstation has more vintage and classic games than Nintendo. I am not trying to bash Nintendo but go back to NES and all the best franchises not made by Nintendo turn up in new iterations on Sony machines not Nintendo machines.

In fact on pure nostalgia Sony beats Nintendo every time, Mario and Donkey Kong is about all Nintendo has for classic franchises still going, Zelda is floating around but that series is such a mess I can’t even pretend to get excited for a new Zelda game anymore. Just a quick browse on the Sony PS4 website I already see plenty of games to really get excited about, not to mention I am still dying to get my hands on Watch Dogs and let’s be honest even if I get a Wii U I won’t be playing that game on that console. While I do like the media features of Playstation to me those are just extras not even a deciding factor for me. Still Sony sold more consoles in three months than Nintendo did in a little over a year, to me that says which one is going to get the support and as a gamer I go where the games are and Wii U is seriously lacking in games right now.

Then there is the Steam Machine. Now here is where I am really torn. I want to get a new dedicated gaming console that much is sure, and I am in desperate need to upgrade my severely outdated gaming PC. A Steam Machine kind of sorta kill two birds with one stone. It is both a super powerful gaming PC and a dedicated gaming console. I already have Steam on my PC which I enjoy very much.

The library of games is second to none. Now I do still have a PS3 which I will keep getting games for and eventually PS Now once it launches, if it turns out worth getting anyways. Some would say get a gaming console and a PC or just get all of them but as money is an issue I can’t do that. I DO need to get a new PC anyways so that money is not coming out of my gaming fund but if I get a Steam Machine and it satisfies my console needs that is just more money for games and less spent on getting two new machines. Also it has the same advantages as gaming PC’s already enjoy, minus one minor detail but that’s not important to my decision.

Before I wrap this up let me say Xbox is not now nor has it ever been an option for me. I don’t play online competitive games and I don’t care for Halo one bit and the best games on Xbox are also on PC, at least with PS4 there are console exclusives with Xbox its pretty much all on PC anyways with a few rare exceptions that aren’t usually compelling enough to me to justify the machine.

Since I game on the PC anyways my consoles are usually for the games I can’t get on PC which usually forces me to get Nintendo and PS both. After the mess that was Wii I am reluctant to ever buy a new Nintendo machine ever again. So far I have never been burned with Sony so there is one more reason to remain excited for the latest and greatest gaming machine from Sony.

In the end I will likely get a Wii U down the road used and pick up a PS4 either this year for my birthday or for Christmas if not sooner. I am still in the market for a new portable gaming device as well but that is an entirely different article.

This is not an evaluation of the gaming market and this is not a what you should buy, this is just my personal views on which gaming device I am considering. I wish I could just buy them all but at a consumer on a limited budget I have to try to be practical. Also as a gamer I can’t just sit back and keep replaying old NES games on my emulators either. Stay Cool.