LA Times on Xbox exclusives

There is an article in the Sunday LATimes Business section headlined, “Xbox Elicits Holiday Ho-Hums.”

I think you need to register to see the article: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-xbox20oct20,0,7070877.story?coll=la-headlines-business

I always wonder what the people outside my game-oriented peer group are thinking, but I am curious how they reached this conclusion: “There is plenty of buzz around ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City’ for Sony’s PlayStation 2 and, to a lesser extent, around ‘Metroid Prime’ for Nintendo’s GameCube. But there’s considerably less talk about ‘Splinter Cell,’ ‘Mech Assault’ and ‘Blinx: The Timesweeper’ – three marquee titles for Xbox this holiday.”

Well, on a purely anecdotal level (and buzz is pretty much an anecdotal property anyway), I’d have to agree with the LAT. I know lots of folks who are all aflutter over the prospect of playing Vice City and Metroid Prime, and I don’t sense the same level of anticipation for any XBox title (except possibly a little for Shenmue II).

Then again, I think there’s a good deal of buzz around the PC version of Splinter Cell.

Peter

Haha! Sorry to hijack this thread but I wanted to test out my new t-mobile sidekick. Thanks!

I don’t think Splinter Cell has much buzz at all. A lot of the fans of tactical games are writing it off as a Metal Gear Solid clone and the console fans just see it as another Rainbow Six game. Misconceptions maybe…but they’re contributing to the non-eventness of the title.

The LA Times is right. The upcoming games on everyone’s lips right now are Vice City, Metroid Prime and Zelda, though of course Zelda isn’t coming until 2003. Blinx is a non-event and Mech Assault is just another mech game for the majority of the game buying public, meaning they’re not paying attention to it.

–Dave

There was no buzz at all about Hitman 2 (particularly the console versions), yet near as I can tell it has turned into a hit.

If Ubi gets a good publicity campaign behind Splinter Cell I think it will do quite well. There’s also a lot of value (during the Christmas shopping season) in the Tom Clancy name, especially to non-savvy-game-purchasers.

We’ll see how many people actually buy Hitman 2. It’s likely to be a flash in the pan. A game like Metroid Prime or GTA3 or Gran Turismo 3 or Vice City, provided they’re good, are going to sell a lot more units throughout their lifetime. There’s a big difference between those first few weeks of sales and the next 11 months for most games. Super Mario Sunshine has remained a top seller for a month. If it continues like the rest of the games in the series (it’s already over 600,000 units), it’ll top a million by the end of 2002 and most likely 2 million by the end of 2003.

Games like Hitman 2/Splinter Cell, etc. are much less likely to have those kind of legs. Hitman 2 will probably be forgotten (if it isn’t already) by most people come November. Splinter Cell has a chance, but most people aren’t aware of it, especially in the mainstream. The mainstream knows there’s a new Mario game. They know about Metroid Prime. They know about Vice City (hell, 2 million of them have apparently pre-ordered that one). They probably won’t even hear about Splinter Cell until it’s released and even then it’s a crapshoot if they have any contact with it after that.

It’s coming to the PC too. That doesn’t help any. The biggest games are usually not ports across multiple systems. There seems to be the most crossover between Xbox owners and PC gamers. That usually means a simultaneous release on both those platforms will find the PC gamers buying the PC version first and foremost. That’s not going to help the Xbox game.

–Dave

Mech Assault is just another mech game for the majority of the game buying public, meaning they’re not paying attention to it.

I’d say the same thing about Metroid-- it’s another second tier Nintendo game. Zelda, maybe, but not Metroid. The fact that it’s being developed by Zoid and Jack et al at Retro in Texas, as a FPS game no less, gives it a gaming industry buzz that the general public could care less about.

Example:

Which brings us into September, a surprisingly strong month for Nintendo as a software company. Three of the company’s first-party offerings made the Top 10 best-selling games of the month list, according to various tracking services. No Xbox software, meanwhile, managed that feat. And yet, oddly enough, Microsoft’s hardware still outsold GameCube for the month, albeit just barely.

GameCube hardware sales in September totaled nearly 168,000 units. Xbox sold 175,000 pieces. That brings life-to-date sales of GCN in the US up to 2.3 million versus 2.8 million Xbox sales. Sony’s unstoppable giant PlayStation 2, meanwhile, crushed figures of both systems in September, selling an additional 500,000 pieces of hardware. More than 11.3 million PS2s have sold in America since the console launched.

There is no way Metroid is going to do better than Mario-- the premiere Nintendo franchise since the early 80’s. It’s just not going to happen, Dave.

And when you factor in the amazing $199 Xbox deal that started Oct. 15 … and the upcoming publicity blitz for Xbox Live’s launch in November… it’s even less likely.

The only true blockbuster titles this xmas with name recognition in the Joe Sixpack crowd is GTA: Vice, and I guess the sports games. Which I could care less about, but those sales figures I posted seem to indicate they’re the bread and butter of console gaming these days…

Just wait and see. Super Metroid is a classic among classics in the US. The buzz on Metroid Prime is ultra positive. I can spin all the arguments around that the Xbox faithful use daily about how Mario is old/kiddie/etc. and Xbox has the “mature” games and use that to support Metroid. It’s obvious that Metroid Prime appeals to the same audience that loved Goldeneye or Perfect Dark on N64. It also appeals to the younger crowd and better yet, can SELL to them based on the T rating and the use of only aliens as the enemies. It’s a game that can cross over to both older fans and younger fans and the 4 million or whatever it sold on SNES is testament to that.

Like I said in another thread, you’ll get your wish. Microsoft will rule the game industry within 10 years and have a monopoly on everything. You’ll all be bitching that gaming sucks, console games will all have patches and you’ll go online to find a horde of griefers ruining any game you try to play. It’s inevitable that this industry will become so hit driven you won’t be able to find anything artistic anymore and gameplay will always take a backseat to flash. Just look at the Xbox lineup. It’s loaded with shallow gameplay and tons of flash. That’s what console gamers have to look forward to in 10 years. Then everyone will be pining for the good old days of Sega vs. Nintendo vs. Sony.

Microsoft is proof that you can buy any industry (and the people within it) if you’re willing to spend enough money to do it. Money hats for everyone.

–Dave

Ah, the Dave of DOOM we all know and love. Don’t get all offended this time, I just can’t pass up a chance to call you on the fire and brimstone bit.

Just look at the Xbox lineup. It’s loaded with shallow gameplay and tons of flash. That’s what console gamers have to look forward to in 10 years.

Hasn’t that been console gaming for the last 10 years? Why would I expect anything different?

Blinx is one of the Xbox’s marquee titles this christmas? Ouch.

Sony’s initial release of GTIII was only 98% complete. They had to replace it at their expense. The inital pressing of many Dreamcast games such as Hydro Thunder and Ready 2 Rumble had manufacturing problems that prevented them from working on some systems. Sega had to repress them and replace the defective disks at their expense. One of Konamis ESPN games had a broken frachise logic which prevented moving beyond the 5th year. They offered to replace the defective disc with a mail in.

If patching were possible in the console world, there would already be patches. Microsoft isn’t the exclusive manufacturer of buggy or incomplete code.

Why would that be Microsoft’s fault? Are Sony and Nintendo customers just nicer, sweeter people?

And Sony is some sort of warm family-run cooperative that makes games for you and would come over and help build you a barn? This industry already is hit-driven regardless of Microsoft’s success or lack therof.

The Xbox is inarguably better hardware and it had the best launch lineup in the history of the industry. It had more 4/5 star games in more genres than any other launch. It has more bad games than the NGC, but to brand its entire lineup as shallow is rediculous hyperbole.

Are you sure you’re not thinking of Cyberdine Systems that is supposed to become self-aware in the late '90s and start a war between humans and termintors bringing about mankind’s apocalypse? At the very least, you seem to regard Microsoft as some moral equivalent.

sorta OT, but why doesn’t MS just make a a GTA ripoff thats better than GTA. I mean get the people who made Midtown Madness to make a GTA game.

Could be cool.

etc

That’s a little like someone saying “The key to winning a baseball game is to have the most points by the end of the game.”

That’s a little like someone saying “The key to winning a baseball game is to have the most points by the end of the game.”

Or the Tom Chick counter-strike argument. It’s just a mod! There’s nothing special or influential about it! In fact, anyone could create counter-strike with Valve’s support! <lumberg>Yeah.</lumberg>

Blinx is one of the Xbox’s marquee titles this christmas? Ouch.

It’s no worse than the screwy Oddworld being a marquee launch title. Or that nutty Animal Crossing being a marquee Nintendo title, for that matter. Not that it is; I’m just saying.

Oh yeah. Like the Angels beat the Giants in game 2. Anyway, I might as well just buy a PS2 to play GTA VC.

BTW if Mafia can be made, I’m sure there’s some developer at MS thats thinking “We can make a GTA3 xbox game.” Meaning, I don’t think GTA 3 VC is exactly rocket science to make. Not saying its easy, but I dont see MS trying to duplicate this game. THIS game is the only reason to buy a PS2 imo (at least for me). Maybe get a license thats popular and turn it into GTA3 like… make a Matrix game with guns, vehicles and hacking shit, voila… Xbox GTA3!

etc

I’m with Dave on everything in this thread so far. No one knows about Splinter Cell; no one cares about Blinx. My brother’s what I’d call a non-gamer-gamer. The kind of guy who owns a system (PS2), buys a new EA franchise sports game each year, a new Tony Hawk game, and that’s about it. He wants Vice City.

Metroid’s not gonna beat Vice City (in sales), but it’s got the hype too. Mario was pretty “blah”, and certainly some reviews pointed that out, but it’s still sold quite well. I can’t imagine less than similar success for Metroid.

The only factor I can’t really give a good guess for is Xbox Live!, if people care a lot or not at all. I’ll try it, but I don’t know what to think about it’s potential.

Through all of this though, even if MS has the worst holiday season of the three, I don’t think they’re just gonna pack up and go home. Thats’ where I disagree with the LA Times implications. MS is commited at least through Xbox 2 as I see it*, if the Xbox is just a small step towards eventual success I’m still happy with my investment and the games it’s brought me so far.

*of course I’m not in the industry in any way, so I’m sure plenty of you have all sorts of insider information whenever any of this kind of speculation is discussed. But this thread is all about what the public thinks, and it’s the public that buys the games based on their perceptions.

I’m generally a supporter of Xbox (at least as much as any other console), but I’ll completely agree that their holiday lineup is a little weak. At least in terms of mass-market sales, anyway.

Brute Force got pushed into next year, and so did Midtown Madness 3, Panzer Dragoon Orta, Knights of the Old Republic, Crimson Skies, and I think even Ninja Gaiden was an Xmas release back at E3 (not sure on that one). If two or three of those had made this Xmas, they’d have had a brighter lineup.

I have to wonder about DOA Xtreme Beach Vollyball. It could be controversial enough to garner some mainstream press - mostly negative - but “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” The press attention on Vice City may have died down by then (December).

Vice City is Sony’s ace in the hole. It’s the gotta-have-it title that will sell millions in the first month and prompt PS2 sales this holiday season. Without it, their holiday lineup is about as starless as the Xbox’s. But that’s kind of a moot point, because it’ll be out in a week. ;)

Metroid. Hmm. Hardcore gamers are psyched, but I’m unconvinced it’s going to fly off shelves beyond the first few weeks. Certainly Mario Sunshine has sold less than anticipated, and you’ve just gotta wonder if Joe Q. Public who didn’t play games until he bought a Playstation six years ago gives a crap about Metroid. Nintendo’s Xmas was similarly hurt by Zelda bumping into next year. They’re sort of in the same boat as Microsoft. There will be a few quality exclusives there, but the trick will be convincing the public that they’ve gotta have 'em.

Last years Christmas lineup looked better, and back then the Xbox lobby kept saying Christmas 2002 would be Microsoft’s year. Looks like we may have to push “the real battle” back to 2003.

Christ, I wouldn’t even call Splinter Cell an Xbox “exclusive”, it’s hitting everything. The Xbox version only gets a month before it hits PC, in early December. We’re probably all going to want the PC version anyway.