Archive for January, 2010

The ‘MAG vs ME2’ Effect

This last week has seen the head-to-head launches of two distinctly different AAA titles. If you’re a gamer you know all of this already, don’t you? But for those less involved these are the games:

MAG (PS3) – Does what it says on the box art: Massive Action Game – an online only Multi-Player (MP)with up to 256 players online in the same game with no Single Player (SP) campaign/story.

MASS EFFECT 2 (Xbox 360) – A Sci-Fi Role Playing Game adventure in Single Player only.

What these two huge releases demonstrate is how gaming has changed in recent years – the polarity of SP and MP. Before the popularity of the online MP experience games used to rely on the quality of the SP story. Then as Xbox LIVE and Playstation Network have matured, multi-player is threatening to exterminate the need/importance of playing solo.

Take Modern Warfare 2 – with an SP campaign of less than 6 hours, it’s success comes from the desire to spend hours, days and weeks of involving combat to unlock all of your perks and gain Prestige after Prestige. MAG (similarily to SOCOM) expects you to devote yourself to teamwork and gaining objectives with your fellow gamers to get the most out of it. Whereas Mass Effect 2 is hoping you’ll become so immersed in the vast universe of Sam Shepard that hours will disappear without a thought of a MP Deathmatch.

Let’s see who ‘wins’ – from the sales (and popularity) of these titles in the coming weeks.

So will gaming becoming a pure multi-player experience in the future as less and less developers and publishers see the merits of spending time (and money) on the single player story? Especially when they seem to think most of us just speed through them while waiting for our mates to come online for a Team Deathmatch or 20.

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Any ol’ MacBook Pros, any ol’ Mac Pros…

OK now creative types, who doesn’t want an iPad? Will you be trading from your MacBook Pro? Or will this be a little essential must-have like the iPhone? Chances are a little of both. And knowing Apple as we all do, if the iPad takes off  they’ll keep on evolving. What chances of a larger screen version? I’d say odds-on. MacBooks already range from 13 to 17 inches after all.

So the new iPad at 10 inches measures in at around A4 size. Ah ha, you’re ahead of me. What odds for an iPad Pro A3? That’s got to be a hot possibility in the future. Then would you really want the old-fashioned tower of a MacBook Pro with a keyboard and mouse? Yes, you can get to use it with a 30 inch cinema display but wait…how about an iPad Pro A2? Ideal for large format graphic work and touch screen presentations. Now your thinking…

iPad – a joy pad for gamers?

Think about it. The iphone/ipod touch works very well as a handheld gaming console. The touchscreen controls ‘fit’ nicely in your hands. Sure they might sometimes seem a little fiddly but that’s more down to the game developers art than the device’s physical size. And the motion control sets it apart from all the other handhelds. Yes I’m talking to you Nintendo and Sony. So now it’s grown up into the iPad. With a near 10 inch screen, will the same mechanics work as well?

Personally, at the moment, I’m not sure. To demonstrate I suppose, you need to try holding your present laptop/netbook/macbook at the sides while pretending to use ‘imaginary’ touchscreen thumbsticks for half an hour to find out. Sure the iPad will weigh considerably less, but you get the idea. It’s going to be a little more cumbersome to play than it’s smaller cousins. It’s size making it more difficult to use those screen-corner thumbsticks over long periods of time. The opposite to how the bricky PSP became a little less comfortable to play on when it ‘shrank’ to the PSPGo. So will you play the iPad on a desk? Not with the present method of controls that most game apps use, especially the FPS variety. On your knees (I mean like you do with a laptop)? Possibly.

It will be interesting to see how games develop on it and if the control methods change to suit it’s larger size. Hey, maybe we’ll eventually get an iPlay controller that connects via Bluetooth for it? Or will you be able use the iPod touch/iPhone as a controller like Sony has tried to (and failed so far) with the PSP and your PS3? Hold on….Err….can someone get Mr Jobs on the line, I may have an idea…

Social Recruiting or Social Marketing?


Recently restaurant group Giraffe relaunched their website – http://www.giraffe.net/ – to much acclaim and deservedly so. The opening homepage reveals all manner of Social Marketing from the giraffe spouting it’s Twitterfeed to a whole page width of Flickr thumbnails. A Facebook link. Almost everything you’d find in “The Ideal Social Marketing and Website Guidebook”. The whole site seems to perfectly represent and reflect the brand and their values. The colour. The fun. The excitement.  Brilliant, you think. Bet the ‘careers’ section will make the most of Social Recruiting then?

Aaah. When you find and click through the Jobs navigation (hidden amongst Other Stuff header) you discover…the same kind of recruitment pages that most other hospitality/retailers offer. The giraffe doesn’t Tweet on about vacancies or what it’s like there. No photos of fun things like staff parties. No Facebook link. Only the same old, same old. The smiling team photo. The Job Description vacancy copy. And the apply by email link. Shame.

Gaming – why somethings haven’t changed

Has it really been 15 years since the launch of the original Playstation? My how things have changed in the world of gaming since then. The graphical leap of games at that point seemed amazing but compare how much it has evolved (and still is) with the latest generation of the Xbox360 and the PS3 today. Where it will go from here is a topic for another andsome blog in the future. Today is about something that hasn’t really changed at all – Game Packaging design.

Apart from the physical constraints of the actual boxes the overall ‘look’ and design of the packaging has remained the same. A surprise considering how much the content has developed. Look at the two Tekken covers – over a decade separates their origins yet they are basically identical in feel. Sure we all know that a ‘brand’ must be consistent but no change/developement in design or style? Worse still are the sporting franchises of EA – FIFA and Madden for example, apart from a number change and the latest ‘star’ face can you tell the difference in the last 5 years? Doubtful. And why couldn’t they experiment and evolve them? They’ll sell like hot cakes anyway so there is no need for such over familiarity to continue their sales success.

Book publishers don’t do this, so why do the videogame ones? How many reprints have there been of the Dan Brown Novels? Each time they’re given different cover designs to attract new readers – not just re-issued with the same old one. Surely it’s the same principle for games – with the casual market continuing to grow – surely it’s time to change.