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International Hobo on Tour – July 2011

E3 Thought Translator

Nintendo gathered a lot of buzz for their new Wii U console, with its tablet-esque controller, while Sony had its new portable, the PS Vita and Microsoft continued to push Kinect. You’ve heard what they were saying, but what were they thinking…

PSVita Sony said: “Sorry about the security breach (our bad!), but look at our funky new super-high performance replacement for the PSP, the PlayStation Vita! Not only is it a flashy handheld console, ideally suited to take on our rivals, but it will sync with the cloud so you can transfer your games between the Vita and your PS3. Neat, huh?”

While Sony is thinking: “Damn, Nintendo are moving first on the next generation of consoles? We haven’t even decided which direction to jump on our PS4 yet, and  it doesn’t seem likely our new handheld is going to beat out the DS... Nintendo only need to sell another 5 million to pass our PS2 record and become the biggest selling console of all time. And the privacy scandal… just what we needed right now. Frankly, Microsoft having slightly outsold us in the home console market scarcely matters at the moment next to the rather worrying question of how we’re going to regain ground in the hardware market. Anyone got any ideas? Can we copy Nintendo's concept but do it better...?”

Kinect Microsoft said:Kinect! Kinect! It’s fun! It’s new(ish!) It’s doing great, having sold five times as many units as the PlayStation EyeToy! Kinect! Kinect! Oh, and don’t forget, we have Halo 4 with a new developer, but don’t get too excited because we’re not really going to show you anything yet. Don’t forget Kinect! Kinect!”

While Microsoft is thinking: “What the hell do we do now? Can’t risk launching a new console without a really solid direction, and unless the gamers start taking a real interest in Kinect this new controller concept will only take us so far. We’ll look really stupid launching a motion controller at this point – we could rip off Nintendo’s new idea, but surely Sony plans to do that already. At least Sony didn’t announce a home console this year, that buys us some time… it’s not like we need to worry about Vita. We need a really solid idea by next year – any suggestions?”

WiiU Nintendo said:The Wii U – it’s what everyone wants but just doesn’t know it yet! It’s a motion controller… it’s a conventional controller… it’s an ipad… it’s a camera and a microphone all in one! How much would you pay for a console controller like this? No wait, don’t answer yet, because you can’t buy them separately anyway. What you can do is play on your home console as if it was a handheld – neat, eh? So now that our newly upgraded Wii console can finally display graphics in high definition, you won’t have to see them because you’ll be using the 6.2 inch screen on the Wii U instead! Aren’t we awesome!”

While Nintendo is thinking: “Did they swallow it, do you think? We desperately need something to regain the momentum we had with the Wii, and our best bet is stealing an idea from Apple. Maybe we can win the teen gamers over with the possibility of being able to keep playing on the console even after their parents have turfed them off the big screen TV. At least we're still in the driving seat for hardware, and it doesn't look as if our rivals will come up with anything better than our iipad... Fingers crossed, anyway. By the way, has anyone seen the stock prices…?”

Disclaimer: ihobo disavows any claims to the accuracy of its thought translation software.


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Wow, I had no idea you could be this snarky. Very entertaining post.

I wish the hardware race would just end. I was already sick of it when the first console I ever owned stopped having games made for it. You don't need new hardware to make better games. You could make new games on the Super Nintendo that would put everything coming out now to shame. But by always focusing on newer graphics, the actual software doesn't need to evolve so much. Interface changes are better because they actually affect how we play, but interfaces change too quickly these days for anyone to get around to doing anything good with them.

You raise a good point Mory.

I wonder if the issue here is graphics though? Or is it perhaps that there seems to be a tendendency among game developers to build everything from scratch? At least that is my naive - outsiders - view.

There doesn't seem to be the same evolution of the software for game platforms that I have observed in general platforms such as OS X.

In support of your point Apple seems to think the same way. Rather than trumpeting hardware changes to the iPad they more or less maintain people shouldn't care what's inside - only what it does.


Mory: I have my snarky moments! Particularly when it comes to E3. :)

The thing with the hardware race is that there's a lot of money in retail - both for those that make it, and those that sell it. So the manufacturers have to keep coming up with new equipment to sell, or all that cashflow grinds to a halt.

It would be great if we could just settle on a standard and be done with this - I particularly want this with respect to operating systems, since I don't see that we have anything to gain from constant updating. But it isn't going to happen while there's money to be made.

It's the same with cars - they used to build them to last. Then they realised there'd be a lot more money if the cars were built to last fifteen years instead of fifty. As with much of contemporary society, the market is a powerful voice that is difficult to ignore.

Best wishes!

Matt: with Apple, I realised I would have to stop updating my iphone because Apple have a vested interest in my iphone getting slower and slower until I'm forced to upgrade. I'm sure the performance was a lot better than this when I bought it! ;)

While Apple probably do want you to upgrade I don't think there's a lot of evidence that this is how they roll. I think they prefer to get you to upgrade because newer products are much better.

As an example of what I mean: in general newer versions of OSX often ran faster on old hardware than their predecessors. I was able to run OSX 10.4 Tiger acceptably on a machine from 1999 (2 years before OSX 10.0 was actually launched!)

My own iPhone 3G has gotten slower and slower over time and my own guess is that it's related to shortcomings in the flash drive rather than the software per se.

But.. who really knows? I'll conceded what you say is possible :)


Matt: I don't think Apple are doing it purposefully, so much as it's a fringe benefit of their continuous upgrade programme that it screws over older users and eventually forces them to upgrade. :p

I was at a presentation of the XNA-plus-Kinect-package for PC by a MS sales person and it seemed to go really well for MS. The (barcamp) crowd got all enthusiastic about it - including myself :) Could there be a potential for some drastic shift in the hobbyist DIY market? best!

translucy: thanks for sharing that! It strikes me that if Kinect really does make the grade, it should appear on the PC market as well, so this is a good sign that Microsoft haven't backed a lame horse. I am interested to see how far they can take it.

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