Sunday Thoughts: 21/12/08

This was going to be a story about alcohol, I even had a snappy subheading all lined up, but upon checking my press releases this morning, apparently there’s a problem with the economy. Whilst here at the ivory encrusted TSA Towers (TM) we’re positively rolling in £50 notes, it appears Lair developers Factor 5 haven’t been so lucky.  Sure, Lair was a huge disaster, but if the state of videogaming is so bad that jobs are lost based on one title it’s a sad state of affairs, and whilst there’s still lots of fun to be had discussing games, it’s clear that it’s not just list-price obsessed high street retailers and car manufacturers that are feeling the pinch this Christmas.  This, of course, is in addition to the Haze guys, Free Radical Design, also losing out.

We do feel for those guys, despite some of the humour we bandy about.  These are people’s jobs.  These people have houses to pay for, families to feed, Ferraris to keep topped up with petrol; it seems these days that unless you’re working on Madden chances are you’ll be unwrapping your P45 this Christmas, not a big fat bonus.  This could have gone into a rant about how the American public are completely reluctant to spend $50 on anything but known franchises, making the publishers scared to finance anything but sure-fire annual hits, but then we remembered EA were apparently struggling with the Need for Speed franchise too, which came as a big a shock as anything this week.

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But, still, the games industry rolls on, with rumours that we’ll hear the first official news of the new Xbox at the next E3, hopefully with PC-smashing graphics and some kind of revolutionary twist, and not to be outdone, Sony will come back with a pair of cardboard 3D glasses so that all our games will play in just two colours and some things will look a little bit closer than others.  We can already see the PSN filling up with shovelware to promote the new peripheral, just like the crap that launched alongside the PlayStation Eye.  Either that or Sony will have whored out every single franchise just to make sure Sackboy has somewhere new to run and jump amongst.

I kid.  Well, not really.  We’ve moaned loads recently about the state of PlayStation, especially in this country, but that’s probably because we’re so wrapped up with the day-to-day runnings of the system – I spoke to someone last week about the R2D2 error in Home (or whatever it is) and he just shrugged, saying he’ll just “try it next week instead”.  The average Geoff on the street doesn’t care about “day zero” one iota, most probably doesn’t even realise SCEE update the Store on a Thursday, or have sold badly against the 360 in some obscure US state for 5 days in November, and although our readership grows daily here, it’s still a tiny percentage of the real world.

So, when Need for Speed Undercover hits the shelves, most won’t know the framerate’s shot to pieces and the controls stink like shit, and probably won’t realise when they’ve played it for an hour either.  And plenty won’t realise that most of the early reviews for the new Tomb Raider were allegedly ‘skewed’ in the publisher’s favour, and won’t care anyway.  Naturally, we assume our readers are intelligent enough to sift through the rumours and news and make their own minds up, but most PS3 gamers won’t keep up with sites like TSA on a daily basis because they don’t really care enough about the insides of the industry and just want to play the next blockbuster that rolls around.  I know, I’ve seen them in GAME deciding between Iron Man and Jericho.

Where’s this going?  Not sure, I’d have been much happier rambling about alcohol.  Next week, then, eh?

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