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Hi. I'm Mike. This isn't updated often.

Month: May 2009

Proud To Be Downloading: The Financial Conundrum For FUNimation and the DragonBall Franchise

I’m not here to attempt to sway your thoughts any which way on whether it’s OK to download licensed stuff. We all have our own well-formed opinions by this point, and whether or not they have the basis in any sort of professional experience or simply life experience, they can be hard to change once we get set in our ways. Instead, I’d like to share just a small dose of what kind of sentiments are out there, and what “the man” needs to do (has to do? should do? maybe should consider doing?) if they want to cement that sticky audience that will stand by their side, support their products, and make sure they actually have a business model going forward.

I suppose it’s kinda funny that the example I’m going with is the DragonBall franchise, and specifically that in North America as distributed by FUNimation.

Let’s ignore any and all thoughts I have about FUNimation as a company from my fan perspective. That is entirely irrelevant to this discussion. This is a business conversation, a new media conversation, and a marketing conversation… all things I have knowledge of and expertise in completely independent of my hobby/fandom.

I ran a quick search on Twitter this morning for “dbz” just to see what was out there. In addition to the pain of seeing such a huge audience and struggling with getting our site and podcast into their consciousness (insert Cartman “HOW do I REACH these KIDS…?!” quote here), I could clearly see the business side being discussed… without these kids even knowing they’re talking a little inside baseball. Here are just a few examples of what I saw:

@Ryan_Toro_69 DBZ season nine. Thirty bucks. 39 episodes. Final season…..WAT DO I DO?!?

@FHD210 Downloading Dragonball. Never saw that one, only DBZ and GT. And Cities of the Underworld: fascinating documentaries

@OnslaughtSix I am now awake! Dragonball finished, which is an amazing feat after how long I’ve been trying to download it. On to DBZ!

@iEgg Just got a sudden urge to watch the Android Saga in DBZ… <3 DBZ! LOL! Anyone know where I can watch it online free?

While it may be a small sample size that does not statistically speak of the entire population, I felt from a quick looksie-through that it was representative enough for the purposes of this discussion. Note how only one of the four was considering paying for the privilege of watching the series. The sense of entitlement is overwhelming, and is completely accurate to the overall aura you get browsing around the internet.

That’s not to say that FUNimation isn’t catering to those people. With announcements like the recent agreement with Toei Animation to stream new episodes of One Piece for free, and near-simultaneous with their Japanese broadcast (subtitled in English)… FUNimation has certainly been a leader in this field, and is throwing their weight around as one of the few remaining domestic anime juggernauts (which essentially equates to them and Viz) to get the times a-changin’.

FUNimation is certainly offering up a decent chunk of anime for free viewing via locations like their YouTube channel, but I’d argue that the DragonBall franchise is one series that they are not taking seriously. Perhaps CEO Gen Fukunaga’s age-old quote about making so much “Poke-money” off the series remains true, and they don’t need to address it. Perhaps Toei’s involvement makes it impossible to explore every avenue that needs exploration. Regardless, if the above Twitter quotes are any indication, fans want to watch the series, they want to watch it now, and if FUNimation isn’t there to provide this service, then the pirating will continue.

I’m not naive. I may not have any desire to get into the scene and find it thoroughly disgusting from top to bottom, but I know what’s out there. I know how many groups are subbing DragonBall Kai. I know that groups have taken Dragon Box masters and have released dual-audio MKVs with the original Japanese track and FUNimation’s English dub. I know about the custom subbing projects on the invite-only torrent trackers. Again, if FUNimation isn’t going to step in… the fans are going to take control of the property. It’s already near that point, and there will come a concrete point in time when FUNimation won’t be able to regain control.

At the end of the day, I have one main suggestion for FUNimation: give your fans more incentive to support you. Your Twitter account is a great start, but the responses I see are half-hearted pandering and senseless corporate-talk. Look at companies like United Airlines — they have even created their own (albeit silly) new phrase, “Twares” (think of them as something like “discount fares distributed via Twitter”), to provide an amazing incentive for that “sticky audience” to… well… stick around.

FUNimation is losing as much control over the DragonBall franchise as they are making money off the DBZ season boxsets. Their 15-year-old licensing nightmare with KidMark (now Lionsgate) is destroying their ability to capitalize on people wanting to go back and explore the rest of the series. Their lack of online, streaming episodes is driving people to go to inordinate lengths to sack away terabytes of digital pack-rat-ery.

We all know that the domestic anime industry needs an overhaul, and one that might not come in time to save it. I may be incredibly biased in my perception, but it seems to me like DragonBall goes above and beyond the “anime industry” and is simply a cartoon that people remember watching as kids, and want to re-experience. As much as the fandom side of me finds incredibly disgust with the DBZ season boxsets, they were exactly what the doctor ordered on the brick-and-mortar side. Unfortunately for FUNimation, brick-and-mortar grows increasingly irrelevant with each passing day.

I’d love to help ya’. Hit me up at @vegettoex. I’ll probably end up making baseless and impossible demands like re-calling all currently-existing DVD sets and replacing them with Dragon Box masters in an equally-appropriate price-per-episode ratio that the old sets used, not to mention hiring our own community to localize future English dub and video game scripts just so we can stop some of the information nightmare nonsense we live with every day… but hey… that’s a hardcore fan for ya’.

Across The Net: Daizenshuu EX Feedback

Over in my Twitter feed I occasionally share some of the more hilarious or enthralling comments I’ve seen about our podcast (and even just Daizenshuu EX as a site in general). I figured I would throw a few together in one place for easy reference.

With no real qualifying description on where the hate comes from, and yet being a member of our forum for over a year at that point, Adam / JAPPO wrote on 23 March 2008:

Ummm….. thanks?

(oh and yes I am. I hate daizex, for the record).

With a little bit of reasoning behind it (but not doing the additional reading to show that we do in fact agree with their statement), ShadowRaditz89 wrote on 12 April 2009:

I don’t like Daizex, they are too opinionated and refuse to acknowledge when they are wrong.

Toei Animation officialy lists it as an OVA. Because Daizex disregards this, I don’t acknowledge them as a reliable source.

With some snide-looking eyes, Amerowolf wrote on 10 February 2009:

Thanks to rachetcomand for the news tip, oh, and Daizex, but you know…MFG is better than those guys. >_>

Under fire from other IGN board members, pmc64 wrote on 07 April 2009:

i don’t have an account there. I don’t think anyone there likes the dub anyways. Haven’t you ever listened to the podcast? they loathe the dub.

With their head on straight, jjgp1112 responded:

Mike himself said that Dub fans make up a good amount of the board, and has a strict policy against acting like assholes toward Dub fans and Funi fans like how you do all the time.

In yet another example of people thinking what they want to think and hearing what they want to hear, King wrote on 09 March 2009:

I know Daizex will burst for anything that the japanese will pump out, even though the japanese kind of did the same thing like the U.S did…BUT IN JAPANESE VERSION.

Thankfully, Jacob was around and actually listened to what we said when he responded:

Not really. As the usual panel (plus!) explain in the latest podcast, just because it’s a Japanese production they won’t give it a pass. They’ll give DBE one viewing to be fair, just they did FUNi’s orange boxes and will Kai, but if the product is displeasing…

We smiled a bit when Brent contributed to a post on Bethesda’s Blog on 30 January 2009:

I listened to the MKast podcast while Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe was still in development, and I listen to Daizenshuu Ex’s and Major Nelson’s podcasts every-so-often.

We were a little confused when MDUNNER28 originally wrote this on 30 March 2009, but then they kept talking about our show with each subsequent post, so I suppose they learned to like us…?

Episode 170 of Daizenshuu EX is available. If you can get past the hosts’ goofy elitism, it’s a pretty good show.

Based on this comment (along with a few others) that vashkey made on 11 April 2009, Meri and I did a little aside on Episode #0174 of the podcast to once again re-iterate that just because something’s Japanese, it doesn’t mean it gets a free pass, it doesn’t mean we will automatically like it… and in fact, by the way… we aren’t completely in love with it. Once again, people hear and read what they want to hear and read.

It’s almost ironic though if you keep up with the daizex website. They bash the Funi remaster so much, but they’ve been praising Kai. I watched the first couple of episodes of the Funi remaster before watching Kai and alot of it is the same when it concerns cropping. In alot of scenes if not all Kai matches up the Funi remaster perfectly. Daizex’s predisposition is pretty obvious.

We were tickled with our description as “nifty” when Seleria wrote on 11 March 2007:

Hinode gave me a link to this nifty site called Daizenshuu EX, where there are scans of Dragon Ball artworks by other famous mangakas.

Over on the “Profile” page of Rumic World, Harley wrote:

this is a Dragon Ball site I browse through fairly often. I’m not a huge Dragon Ball fan, but I like to visit well made series-specific sites.

On their links page, Kanzentai wrote:

One of the best old school sites and it’s probably the only one left! This is one of my personal favorites because it has such unique information, and the largest DragonBall music database ever!

Hey… thanks, guys! 😛

All in all, it’s incredibly interesting to see the types of responses and comments that are out there (and the style in which they are written). Every single last bit of feedback should be taken to heart in some capacity, but when you have been doing this sort of stuff as long as we have been doing it, you start to recognize which ones are legit and constructive, which ones just didn’t do their homework, and which ones are just not worth your time. There are so many more that I have seen over the last eleven years, and I wish I could have saved more of them. I’m sure they’re still out there on the internet somewhere, and I’ll come across another batch for another blog entry at some point in the future.

HDTV Gaming and Lag: First Impressions

One of the things I was most excited about and terrified of in the move to the new house was finally having a current-generation TV and audio setup to go along with the now-current-generation video game consoles. Up until last month, I had been gaming on a (decently sized) SDTV with its built-in speakers. I was at least playing the 360 and PS3 through component cables, but it was 480i with crappy audio none-the-less.

But let’s take a step back, first.

While I have not kept up with anything in a formal sense, I consider myself as having a bit of a musical background. In addition to my deep love of music (as seen by lo-fidelity), I played saxophone back in elementary and middle school and even took private lessons for a couple years after that. I dropped it mid-high-school for a variety of reasons (I think I wanted to play ska music but didn’t know what it was I was looking for), but the background was enough to carry with me and give me a wonderful frame of context for years to come. I think I have a finely-tuned ear for music, an incredible sense of rhythm, and pretty decent hand/eye coordination… all offset by a horrific singing voice, but you can’t win ’em all.

So what was horrifying about the move to HDTV gaming with a new sound system? It was the A/V lag inherent in the new technology that frightened me away like a dog with its ears down and its tail between its legs. For someone who can tell if anything is off-beat by even the most minor of measurements in milliseconds, “looking forward” to lag does not seem to make much logical sense. I ended up going with the following items for our setup:

– Pioneer PDP-5020FD Kuro 50″ Plasma TV
– Sony STRDG920 7.1 A/V Receiver
– Polk Audio RM6750 Speaker Set (Center / 2 Front / 2 Surround / Subwoofer)

Between all the HDMI and component cables, speaker wire, and miscellaneous items I made sure to pick up ahead of time, we were able to put together a complete setup (with an additional two speakers coming at some point in the near future, and actually putting the surround speakers somewhere other than in front of the TV):

hdtv_lag_setup

I knew things would potentially be OK with games like Rock Band where there was a thorough lag calibration system in the game’s options, but that wasn’t what I was most worried about. I wanted to start with the very basics, and move up from there. The first thing I popped in was the Wii, and set its display to 16:9 and 480p. It was wonderful to finally see the system taking advantage of what it could do in a larger display format, and I salivated at the thought of finally being able to see things in games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl. However, like I said… let’s start with the basics. It’s Virtual Console and Super Mario Bros. time.

hdtv_lag_smb

I was very much let down by the fact that the Wii did not automatically adjust to display games in their 4:3 format, and instead stretched it out to fill the 16:9 display. While there are a variety of ways I could adjust this, I found that the most convenient was to switch the receiver to output in 480p (rather than the upscaled 1080p), which for whatever reason scaled it back to 4:3 progressive rather than 16:9 progressive (which the TV then recognized and added the gray pillar bars on the sides)… but that was OK. Display issues were the least of my worries, though, since I knew I could adjust those on the fly. I was most concerned about lag, and especially with games I knew as intimately well as the original Super Mario Bros. Everyone has games that they have grown up with and feel are almost an extension of their hands and fingertips. Muscle memory takes over, and you feel like you could play an entire world blindfolded if you absolutely had to.

This is where it starts to break down. While it may be imperceptible to those not as familiar with it, Super Mario Bros. actually felt sluggish and unresponsive. Mario still jumped when I pressed “A”, but there was just enough of that insignificantly minor delay that I was accidentally jumping into Goombas and missing a couple pixels on the edge of a staircase after a jump. It was as if someone stole half of a cookie from me; the love and enjoyment was still there, but I knew I was missing something that held it back from being a complete whole. This made me wonder if I wanted to bother playing any old games at all on the newer setup if they were not going to feel the same to me. Sure, you could go tinker around with things like the receiver’s A/V lag calibration, but that only helps with things like movies where it can delay them both to match each other without worrying about real-time controller inputs to actively display in real-time right back at the viewer (geeze, that’s a mouth-full).

I decided to play another “old-school” game, but this time one that I was not as intimately familiar with. Would I even be able to tell if there was lag? If I had zero frame of reference, would I know any better? With all the hub-bub over the new release, and remembering the minor fanboy fiasco with HDTV lag issues when it first came out on Virtual Console, I decided to go back and play some more of the original Punch-Out on NES. I had only briefly played the game as a child, and even though it had been sitting on my Wii for months upon months, I had still only briefly played it and therefore had no memories to compare it to. How would it fare?

hdtv_lag_punchout

Well, I did the best I have ever done in the game. I made it up to King Hippo and could not honestly tell if there were lag issues. I am sure beyond all reasonable doubt that there were delays in the movements due to input lag… but coming into it completely fresh, I could not tell the difference. It felt like an entirely normal gaming experience to me, and one that I enjoyed to its fullest. Was my brain compensating for the lag, but making the entire process transparent to me since there was that lack of a frame of reference?

I have since played plenty of other games, both of an old and newer generation. I put an entire day into Pure on PS3, and while it may be due to the customizations and general control style of those types of games, my ATV felt as it should. Playing as Jigglypuff in Brawl felt normal… but then again, it’s a slow character, and the Wii was playing in its standard 16:9 / 480p. Street Fighter IV and Soul Calibur IV felt completely normal, as well… and those are faster games that we expect to have and demand pixel-perfect responses from. I still have a problem even with games like Rock Band, though; while the calibration options are supremely impressive, it does not change the fact that you are not actually playing the songs in real-time. When the drum solo bits come up, what plays through the speakers is not at the same moment as when you hit the drum pads (it is delayed by just a few milliseconds)… which in addition to making you look and sound like a complete spaz of a drummer, it can throw off your rhythm by leaps and bounds.

I still have a lot to learn about these types of setups and the best customizations to make. The Wii’s settings in conjunction with the type of upscaling the receiver is doing seem to have an effect on the input lag. I continue to learn more about the TV’s options and its different modes, so I may be able to customize things a little more to reduce lag (it looks like the “Game” display mode does nothing more than adjust colors and brightness, but when used in conjunction with another switch it may turn off things like noise reduction that affect display lag).

Instances like this make my yearn for the days of old when we hooked up a RF switcher to the TV (uphill both ways in snow)… and we liked it. Technological advancements like this are common place in all hobbies and everyday life processes, and it pains me to think that I am getting grumpy over them. While the ends may justify the means (having an impressive, enthralling, and engaging gaming experience), it reminds me of other hobbies like AMVs where the necessary preparation effort and time-sink are enough to deter me from even getting started, despite loving the end product.

Maybe having a retro setup is the way to go…?

hdtv_lag_oldsetup

That doesn’t change the fact that I will be picking up more older games via download services like Virtual Console and XBLA than I will old NES cartridges (though, incidentally, I do have the NES hooked up to an even smaller TV in our finished basement). Will the lag be non-existent to me in games I have never played? Will I be able to optimize things better as I go along and learn more about the setup I’ve purchased? Can we just go back to the 1980s, please?

No Phone, No Cable… Living Just Fine

I just saw this report over on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website talking about the cancellation/removal of land-line phones in favor of cell-phone-only service. We are apparently at a point where one-in-five American homes have removed their plain ol’ telephone service in favor of exclusively using cell phones. The wife and I have been this way since 2004 when we moved into our first apartment, and continue to be this way in the new house. In addition to that, we also canceled our cable television service shortly before moving, and continue to operate with no traditional television service.

You know what? Things are just fine.

In terms of telephone service, it makes complete sense to abandon the land lines. While the quality of cell phone calls still leaves a lot to be desired, it suffices more than enough for my phone conversation purposes, which typically do not last longer than one minute unless I am calling my parents. If I am on the road or otherwise out and cannot be reached, my simply not answering the phone is exactly the same thing as someone calling me and not being home to pick up the phone. Combine that with text messages that completely replace voice mail in terms of disseminating tiny bits of information in quick, easily-digestible form… well, you’ve got a winner.

As for television, it is equally fine without it. We have enough things to keep us busy after the move that we have no time to just sit around and mindlessly watch television, anyway. Once things settle back down a little bit (which they are already beginning to do), we still have more than enough viewable-passive-media to keep us entertained until the ends of time without needing to obtain anything else. Throw video games into the mix, and I have a hard time understanding why I would ever actually need cable service on my television. In fact, the word “television” does not accurately describe that 50″ Kuro in my living room now, since everything from that to the “old TV” to the computer monitors are really nothing more than display surfaces of varying sizes and aged technology. Whether it’s a video game, a DVD, a Blu-ray, episodes downloaded online and burned to DVD+RW for viewing on the PS3 or 360… all of these display surfaces act in exactly the same way without needing to pay someone to be constantly broadcasting a live signal to them which I have no interest in tuning into, anyway.

I will admit there is a strange sort of “learning curve” to not being able to just sit down, hit a power button, and expect an in-progress video. Everything must be manually initiated. In the long run, I prefer this. Beyond the cost savings, I find that I gain precious minutes here and there that might otherwise be spent mindlessly flipping channels before realizing there is nothing to watch and starting up some other activity. Now-a-days, I just go right into whatever that “something else” would have been.

I’m constantly reminded of that Seinfeld episode where Kramer wants to cancel his mail. Can we do that, yet?

Quick Plug: lo-fidelity episode 20

We typically don’t plug things on our other websites unless they warrant it, and this is one of those cases.

Jeff and I do a bi-weekly podcast called lo-fidelity where we review music, discuss music, give a top five every week, etc. It’s a really good show, and I encourage all of you to check it out. It’s understandable if that’s not your thing, though… but you still might want to check out episode 20. We reviewed the new album, Dawn Metropolis, by Anamanaguchi. They are what would be considered a “chip-tune” band; that is, they use hacked NES hardware (and a Game Boy in one track) to create new music. We also interviewed Peter Berkman from the band. We wrapped up the episode with our top five video game songs.

So go on, video game music lovers. Until we get our shiz back in order and all three get together in the same room with microphones again, check out episode 20 of lo-fidelity and indulge in a little gaming love in podcast form.

Two Quick Movie Reviews

Hey, everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything up over here. As you can probably guess, the move to the new house has put a temporary slowdown on updates across the board for me. I’ve put a couple quick things up over on vgconvos, and I was able to record episode 20 of lo-fidelity with Jeff, but everything else is still settling back down into normalcy.

Making it even worse was coming down with a cold over the weekend. However, my sickness benefits you, because it gives me something to blog about. See… when I’m sick, I like to watch terrible movies. There’s nothing more comfortable to me while blowing my nose and drinking endless glasses of water than curling up on the couch with a cat and denying myself the privilege of watching something genuinely worthwhile. Yesterday, those two movies were Hancock and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

These will not be long, in-depth, helpful reviews. Remember my state of mind while watching them.

Hancock was interesting for half of its length. Once the big “plot twist” comes in (and is literally thrown through the wall of a house), it immediately becomes garbage. Similar to the most recent Hulk movie where I found Banner a more interesting character wandering around South America trying to keep himself under control (rather than Hulk-ing out and smashing things), I found Hancock a much more interesting character trying to deal with his public image and vices. The same could be said about characters like Batman, and in more recent American comic book film cash-ins, Iron Man. The faults and demons of these characters are far more interesting than the BANG ZOOM CRASH aspects. Sure, coming around the same time as Iron Man and having a superhero with a drinking problem is a little strange, but Tony wasn’t flying through the sky drunk dropping cars on buildings. All in all, it wasn’t a terrible movie, but lost its purpose and soul by going the flash route midway. As one last point, I would like to say that all children in this movie (especially the very first one you see, and the main child throughout the rest of the movie) were terrible actors beyond belief.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was almost entirely garbage, on the other hand. I wish I remembered more about the “first” (well, prior) movie, but I saw it in theaters when it came out, and I have a difficult time remembering anything about movies I’ve seen, anyway. I know comic fans had a problem with Galactus being a giant space cloud, but knowing next to nothing about the series, I found it an acceptable change (unlike “the giant squid”, where I have problems with both the original and movie-changed ending). The overall story, however, was laughable. The acting was only acceptable, with Jessica Alba being exceptionally terrible, yet again. The cheese factor goes above and beyond comical to ridiculous with scenes like the bachelor party dancing (do kids think this stuff is funny, ‘cuz I sure don’t…?). I would like to say more about the movie, but despite seeing it less than 24 hours ago, I am already forgetting nearly everything about it.

I certainly don’t regret watching either movie. They were the perfect type of ridiculous (if not “stupid”) popcorn action movies I look for when I’m sick and need to take my mind off of just how terrible I feel. What about you all? Have you seen either movie and have some thoughts you’d like to share? How about things you like to do when you’re sick?

Xbox 360 License Transfer Issues – Resolved

That was a pretty easy fix. My Xbox 360 license transfer issues have been resolved, and it legitimately took nothing more than a simple phone call.

I received a follow-up voice message two days later, as promised, letting me know that the license transfer was still being worked on, but it would be resolved soon and to give them a call back if I had any questions. Later on that day, I received an e-mail letting me know that the transfer was complete. To fully resolve the outstanding issue, however, I would have to go through a manual re-downloading process of each and every individual item purchased while the hard drive was being used on the previous hardware. It was an easy process, if not time consuming. Your “Download History” in “Account Management” is painless to go through, so I sat with a drink and went through one-by-one re-“downloading” each item. I place “downloading” in quotes because the download immediately jumps from 0% or 1% all the way up to 100%, since it is only updating the license on the downloaded content, rather than fully re-acquiring said content.

After going through this process, all Rock Band DLC was accessible even when the ethernet cable was unplugged. Good job, Microsoft.

Now if only we didn’t have this pesky problem called “DRM” that made it impossible to use the things you thought you paid for but really only paid for a license to use at the sole discretion of the overlord company…

Price of iPhone Games Not Necessarily the Issue

While eating lunch today, I stumbled across an article on MSNBC called “Will the people pay for quality iPhone games?” It was an interesting question, and one I often wonder about both for myself and for the gaming public as a whole. We have heard Andrew say a few times on the podcast that he simply cannot imagine spending “that kind” (any kind?) of money for games on that type of platform. Meanwhile, Jeff and I tap away at things like wurdle.

In the article, Andrew Stein, director of mobile business development for PopCap, says:

We need to be cognizant of some of the competitive pressures, but at the same time our games offer huge value to the consumer. We’re not interested in devaluing the brand by pricing it at 99 cents. It is a premium experience. We do invest a lot in our products. We take the time and do it right.

I can somewhat get behind and understand the logic of that kind of statement. It can be incredibly tough from a development standpoint to put any type of time and energy into a product and then be “forced” to “devalue” the product just to “compete” (though one could argue that any of those words and their possible negative connotations could be replaced with ones with positive connotations such as “given the opportunity” to “undercut” the competition so they can “showcase their talent and gain a leadership foothold”). While plenty of terrible games are made, I would not imagine trying to take anything away from a genuine product with geniune effort. I understand the balancing act that needs to happen, and it seems like PopCap does, as well.

However, then we get a quote from Steve Palley, who MSNBC lists as “founder of iDevice game-review site SlideToPlay.com and former Editorial Guru for Vivendi Games Mobile”.

We want better, more expensive games, but not enough people are willing to pay for them to make them profitable. It sucks. For now, the main use case for the majority of people who buy iPhone and iTouch games is the one-to-five minute ‘gameplay snack.’ They want novelties and amusements, not gameplay.

I am horribly confused by this statement. For someone coming from a game development background in some capacity (being employed by Vivendi) and now a part of the general enthusiast press, this seems to contradict itself. We just heard from one person in game development that they want to create these expansive environment and gameplay experiences, which Palley backs up… but then goes on to say that it is simply not what people want.

If that’s not what people want, why on Earth are you wasting your time, effort, and ultimately money to produce something that no-one wants?

We have had a similar situation on another handheld platform, which goes against everything that was anticipated. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (a new game in a well-established, always-high-selling franchise) is having trouble pulling in the numbers on the Nintendo DS, one of the best-selling systems in the history of the industry with a ridiculously large installed-base throughout the world.

An incredibly well-reviewed game from a multi-million-selling franchise on arguably the most successful system in the history of the industry with a highly-visible advertising campaign is having trouble selling? What’s going on here…?!

Analyst Michael Patcher has popped up a lot in gaming blogs and news stories as of late, so while I feel slightly ridiculous bringing these points up again if you have already read them, I promise you that it all pulls back to the bigger question in the end. Patcher states in a later Gamasutra article:

… “we can’t say that Take-Two made a bad game or marketed it poorly,” he says. “Instead, they created an M-rated game for a largely E and T audience, and those DS owners who are legally allowed to buy an M-rated game are not particularly interested.”

While things may change over time (as Take-Two insists they will, with Chinatown Wars having long-legs), for the time being it appears Take-Two made a great game for the wrong market.

I don’t see any difference from iPhone game developers making huge, immersive, “expensive” games… for an audience that just wants to play a Tetris clone for thirty seconds.

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