KOGBlog; So Much Stuff!

Oh dear, where do I even begin…

Well, I thought considering I didn’t want to skip ANY of these subjects, I thought I’d smack it all into one nice, neat little KOGBlog. So without further ado…

BIAS?! WHAT’S THAT?!

Ahh, Eurogamer. As always, you never cease to amaze me and frustrate me in equal measure.

Clearly not content to NOT report any good Nintendo news of late, it decided in a Podcast to talk about Nintendo; by effectively writing off the Wii U as “dead”. What can be done to save it? “Don’t know.” Well, excuse me for saying this, but ****ing DUH! If you think it’s dead, you haven’t given any thought to the remotest chance that it could be saved, right? I mean, the point of something being ‘dead’ is that there’s a finality to it. There is no coming back from death – no matter what Resident Evil or The Walking Dead would have you believe. So by starting with “The Wii U is dead”, you effectively answer the final question as,”Nothing, because it’s already too far gone!”

Some would say this is more a technicality of statement than an issue of journalistic integrity, but it’s not the first time Eurogamer – home of Digital Foundry – has dismissed Nintendo and the Wii U, and no doubt it won’t be the last time they do it either. But on the upside, they do like Nintendo games it seems. Just not enough to see a future in the hardware… that’s fine, just be honest about it.

SONY LOSES MONEY. AGAIN.

The last financial years little real estate sale was a welcome cash injection for a company which had posted four straight years of heavy losses.

But, it seems that wasn’t enough cash to restructure Sony, which is predicting an annual loss of $1.1 billion. Most of this is coming from the failing PC and TV arms, as well as lower forecasts for music and movies. In an unpredictable twist, however, the SCE department – the one responsible for the PlayStation – posted a $172 million profit, no doubt helped by a significantly outstanding year for the PlayStation 3, and healthy software sales. But it’s a minor saving grace when the rest of the company is bleeding money.

The end result is Sony are selling off the Vaio PC/Laptop arm, which is probably a smart move. The company is also restructuring their television arm to focus on 4k Television, and getting costs down. Now, call me pedantic here, but 4k is certainly not yet a viable market for anyone; the tools perhaps more useful for movies and/or HighDef Television, but 4k is right now many, many years away and Sony still won’t be able to guarantee that even IF the technology is assimilated into things by 2020, LG and Samsung in particular have beaten them on quality and price continually for many, many years. This is an arms race I question if Sony can really afford, having spent so much ‘winning’ the HD Media Format War.

And 5,000 job losses – 1,500 in Japan, the other 3,500 elsewhere. Nothing much more to say here than ‘Ouch!’.

How will the financial markets take the news of Sony’s return to big losses? Probably not very well. This said however, it’s interesting to note that Sony Computer Entertainment is profitable; even if it isn’t a big profit, and even if the arm is ‘only’ valued at $4.4 billion. And that’s good; because there may come a time, very soon, when Sony will need to spin SCE off from the company in order to not bring it down with the ship. And it will need to calculate that right; because SCE will need enough distance from the sinking ship not to be sucked down by the pull of the company attachment. All in all… think Nintendo is doomed? Sony is in even deeper doo-doo. And they’ll need to play this little game right, because if they don’t, the PlayStation brand might be up for sale… with Apple and Amazon looking for their ways into the home console market, there is a chance it might not be in Sony’s hands in ten years time…

EA MAKE BAD GAME. TRY TO STOP BAD RATINGS. FAILS.

EA pushed out a new Pay-Wall version of Dungeon Keeper.

It’s bad; truly awful in pretty much every single way. So don’t play it. It’ll break your heart to see what has happened to one of our most cherished gaming memories. However, the ratings on the Google Play store seemed suspiciously high. Was EA cheating by getting staff and/or family to give it good ratings? Was EA somehow falsifying something else? Or are you effectively asking people in-game to rate it, and ensuring only those willing to give you five stars are redirected to the ratings page? Turns out, the latter!

Yup, EA gives players two choices in the app; 1-4 stars or 5 stars. And if you choose the first one, it asks you to provide feedback and email it to them (at the users expense, it appears), with some reports even this feature was either broken or simply non-responsive at times. As shady dealings go, it’s a pretty shady one. EA have been trying to convince us that it really doesn’t deserve to be voted America’s Worst Company for a third consecutive year (an achievement which should immediately bar them from future wins; just give them the Lifetime Golden Poo for Being the Most Anti-Consumer Company Ever Created), but with Battlefield 4 still fresh in peoples minds, this awful clusternugget of fail in Dungeon Keeper and the ratings thing, EA are doing their damnest in the run-up to nominations to piss people off as much as they can.

On the upside, you can just go to Google Play via your PC or browser and rate it a one-star from there. Which is what most people are doing. Odd EA didn’t see THAT coming…

AMAZON BUY DOUBLE HELIX; MICROSOFT CONFUSED.

Yes, Amazon – they of dirt-cheap goods, drone delivery futures and general UK tax avoidance schemes – have bought Double Helix, developer of the actually-not-bad-at-all reboot of Killer Instinct.

This means that Double Helix are therefore no longer attached to Killer Instinct; Amazon are no doubt lining up some first-party studios for its own little console announcement (we’ll see how that pans out, but it may not be a bad idea for Amazon to have a few development studios anyway!), but Killer Instinct is not among them. So Microsoft now has to find a studio to take over Killer Instinct; design wise and technically.

Considering Killer Instinct was one of the XBox One’s best launch titles, you’d think Microsoft would have worked harder to keep them. Guess now.

NEW MICROSOFT CEO! SO WHO’S THE NEW EAD CO… OH.

Microsoft announced that Satya Nadella will be their new Chief Executive, following the departure of Steve Ballmer. It’s good to see some cultural diversity creep into Microsoft again!

However, that wasn’t the interesting development for most of us; it was that the Entertainment and Devices division of the company also got a new Chief Operator… in Stephan Elop. Now, if the name doesn’t ring any bells, he used to be the head of Nokia, before Microsoft bought it out last year. Elop is also the guy famous for telling the press, very plainly, that he saw no future in the devices division or in XBox, and said the first thing he’d do if he got the top job was sell them off along with other things like Bing.

Yes. That guy. And now, that guy is supposed to lead Microsoft EAD into the future with vision and confidence; vision and confidence that he has already professed to possess none of. It does seem to be the most asinine appointment; he’s also the chap who got Nokia into trouble in the first place, which paints an oddly bleak future for the XBox and related devices.

That said, someone did comment to me that perhaps Microsoft doesn’t believe in the XBox; and is hoping when they come to sell it off, Elop will become part of the package and jettison him without a big severance package?

Food for thought, anyway.

AND FINALLY… A NEW SONIC. HOO BOY…

Rounding up this blog post is Sonic Boom (oh, snap!).

Sonic reboots are ten-a-penny; every time the series gets a bit of a slap, Sega and Sonic Team try to shake things up. The series has had more facelifts and surgery than Joan Rivers, but has – for want of a better term – been moderately successful and entertaining, even when it’s been hopelessly awful, cynical and offensive. Sonic 2006 and Sonic Unleashed two very ready examples of the very lowest ebb of the Sonic series. And I’ve tried to love Sonic through all this. I REALLY have.

But the new Sonic puzzles me. Sonic Boom is light on details but seems to have Sonic, Tails, Amy and a ridiculously hulked-up Knuckles (following the Lance Armstrong school of training, maybe?) in a wild frontier, all seemingly now explorers and archaeologists, searching for something and generally running around not doing much *yet*. Early days no doubt for the reboot, one which is ONLY being aimed at the US and Europe, incidentally. Sonic Team are working separately on one for Japan. Sonic Boom is being handled by two actually-not-that-bad studios in Sonic Team’s absence. Which sounds good.

But it’s the style. It’s the change. Seeing Sonic and Tails with straps and scarves and all of them heavily bandaged up, grungy and gritty, doesn’t really do it for me. The series has always tried far too hard to somehow follow trends and be “for the kids”, without any actual plan on how to do that. So far, the designs themselves just look utterly bizarre and daft. And as fans proved on Twitter; Mario does it far, far better!

I’m sure some are eager to get back on board the Sonic Circle. But the redesign is just… off-putting to me. I know, I know, it’s about the GAMEPLAY. But when the game is a co-op based affair, and looks to be pretty much on-rails and without much to it, I’ve seen enough to feel like this time, I’d really rather not put myself through it. This time, I’d rather prefer to be pleasantly surprised.

I’m not sure it’ll happen. But hey, we’ll always have Sonic Adventure 2…

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