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Candid lines from a teleprompter like "wow, this is pretty sweet".
June 6, 2012 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Microsoft at E3. "Microsoft’s new strategy is to pump and smear, like someone squeezing ketchup onto a hamburger bun. They plan to pump the Xbox full of more television, more movies, more music—and then smear all of that content around, across multiple devices. But Microsoft isn’t thinking about “why.” It’s pumping and smearing, pumping and smearing, in the deranged hope that the result will be a delicious hamburger, rather than a soggy mess."
posted by Sebmojo (77 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Edge calls it "one of the most contemptuous press conferences in E3 history"
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:34 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Like much technology pontification, this article is mostly bluster.

It sounds like the Microsoft demo mostly was, too.

For more hopeful and insightful cross-platform futurism, try the extra credits episode on transgaming.
posted by poe at 2:35 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


So what's the deal with this year's E3? I've been reading a lot of negative stuff on Reddit but can't figure out what the problem is.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:38 PM on June 6, 2012


Agreed. Microsoft should just give up on trying anything. I can't imagine what use SmartGlass would be , I'm really not looking forward to stupid things such as displaying your Skyrim map and paper doll on your iPad so you can move the map around or rearrange your inventory. Or letting a family play scrabble by displaying tiles on their smartphones. What a waste, just give up already Microsoft.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:38 PM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I agree that Microsoft's presser was terrible, but so is that analogy.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:43 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Heavens, Internet, how many times do I have to say this:

that press conference was aimed squarely at investors. Not the gaming press. Not gamers who follow them. Investors. Current and potential.

By that metric, I think it was a success.
posted by Tevin at 2:44 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The premise of those early Kinect presentations was that an advance in technology is, by itself, enough to spur something truly new in the video-game art form. Yet the industry has simply taken the new tool of Kinect and found ways to incorporate it into existing formulas. The Kinect proved not to be a creative force but merely an enhancing force, and those “enhancements” are dubious. The big-budget game industry right now is built to create only a few types of games, and no “breakthrough” technology can jar it out of that rut. It’s the overall development system that needs fixing, not the gadgetry.

This really seems like the argument worth discussing from this piece. If the big-budget studio gaming world can't think of anything more exciting to do with Kinect than "hey you" distractions (reminds me of the Nintendo DS's hateful "blow into the microphone" minigames), then console gaming needs to find a new development and business model in a hurry.
posted by RogerB at 2:47 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have beloved friends and colleagues, at Microsoft, who probably work on this technology.

I don't want to picture them pumping and smearing anything.
posted by spinifex23 at 2:48 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember Microsoft.
posted by run"monty at 2:48 PM on June 6, 2012


As someone who does not work for Microsoft but who does do user experience research on a variety of digital items, I can pretty confidently say this article is stupid. Users in the key money-making demographics really, really want device integration. I'm not talking about the quality of the presser here, just that Smart Glass (which is the Pump and Smear decried by the article) will be a welcome, winning feature to lots of people.

And as someone who likes games and has grown up with them since running them off DOS, I'm pretty confident that this will create some extremely interesting future gaming scenarios, thanks to the variability of input and output mechanics.
posted by hank_14 at 2:49 PM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've been reading a lot of negative stuff on Reddit but can't figure out what the problem is.

Me too,first it seems like people were mostly mad Usher appeared. Yesterday was all about how awsome Nintendo is and today is all about how terrible Nintendo is? What did Nintendo do? People were mad that SmartGlass proved Kinect was worthless, then mad because there is too much focus on Kinect ?

I think the problem with E3 is E3 watchers. I think a media center with games, music, netflix with voice integration for when I am in the room, and SmartGlass for when I am out and realize I forgot to DVR game of thrones will be fucking awesome.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:51 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Pump and smear." The first thing that comes to mind? Shotguns. The analogy works better that way, too.

Also, having listened to "Xbox turn off. Xbox. TURN OFF. XBOX. TURN OFF. XBOX. godDAMNit XBOX TURN OFF oh fuck it where's the controller" far too many times in my own living room, the prospect of voice-controlled channel surfing lacks appeal.
posted by gingerest at 2:52 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


As someone who does not work for Microsoft but who does do user experience research on a variety of digital items, I can pretty confidently say this article is stupid. Users in the key money-making demographics really, really want device integration. I'm not talking about the quality of the presser here, just that Smart Glass (which is the Pump and Smear decried by the article) will be a welcome, winning feature to lots of people.

One of the forehead-slapping moments in the article was the assertion that "no one will want to look at a map instead of watching TV." Turns out, though, that something like 28% of mobile usage is actually by people noodling around with their smartphones while watching their favorite shows. People looking up additional information about a show they're watching is one of those things I used to mock as a bad futurist use-case, something that only a marketer or an engineer would promote, but it turns out that people really want it.
posted by verb at 2:55 PM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


So what's the deal with this year's E3? I've been reading a lot of negative stuff on Reddit but can't figure out what the problem is.

1) There's been little actual gaming.

It's all been focused on social, entertainment, monetization and other contemptuous bullshit that doesn't involve gaming. "Entertainment" also isn't going to be available outside the US thanks to cross-region licensing and other bullshit restrictions. You know things are fucked when "Games" has been relegated to fourth in the list of tabs of the Xbox dash.

2) The sequel generation

Sequel, sequel, sequel, sequel.

When Ubisoft of all people have the most compelling new IP at a conference you know things are pretty fucked.

3) The next console generation false start

There is usually anywhere between five and six and a half years between console generations. We're sitting on year 7. Microsoft and Sony have no new consoles anywhere to be seen this year nor do they think they have to release new hardware. No announcement at E3 2012 means either TGS or E32K13 which means a PS4 maybe for Christmas 2013 in Japan and an extremely slim chance for Xbox 720 or what have you for that holiday season.

Instead we get another shit filled year of Kinect/Move shoehorned pieces of shit along with Zumba and Just Dance updates being the cutting edge of gaming.
posted by Talez at 2:56 PM on June 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


When Ubisoft of all people have the most compelling new IP at a conference you know things are pretty fucked.

I'm dying to get this just because there hasn't been a free-roaming game set in Chicago since Midtown freaking Madness.
posted by theodolite at 2:57 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a delicious hamburger, rather than a soggy mess.
posted by CynicalKnight at 3:00 PM on June 6, 2012


And what is the future of (Microsoft's) business?

The future... is JABBERWOCKY!

*cue applause*
posted by Slackermagee at 3:00 PM on June 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


Is it just ketchup or is there mustard smeared in too? I like mustard.
posted by Elmore at 3:00 PM on June 6, 2012


The next generation seems to be overdue, and Microsoft and Sony both seem to be treading water until then. The PS2 was released in 2000, and the original Xbox came out in 2001. The 360 came out four years later in 2005, followed by the PS3 in 2006. It's now 2012, and neither Microsoft nor Sony have even announced their new systems yet.
posted by MegoSteve at 3:05 PM on June 6, 2012


I think this is the important quote from the article:

Is this cause for distress? When you’re sitting in a huge auditorium and Microsoft’s vision of gaming feels like the whole world, yes it is. In the light of day, you realize there is still a community of independent developers who are doing the hard, risky work of experimenting with new forms and ideas. They are the wellspring of fresh perspective. E3 presents a distorted view of the games world—it’s the domain of the big studios, and it doesn’t give these smaller-scale creators their due.
posted by Pyry at 3:06 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The next generation seems to be overdue, and Microsoft and Sony both seem to be treading water until then. The PS2 was released in 2000, and the original Xbox came out in 2001. The 360 came out four years later in 2005, followed by the PS3 in 2006. It's now 2012, and neither Microsoft nor Sony have even announced their new systems yet.

It's very clear that the studios' A-teams are already working on launch games for the next system while everyone else treads water.
posted by EmGeeJay at 3:10 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is usually anywhere between five and six and a half years between console generations. We're sitting on year 7. Microsoft and Sony have no new consoles anywhere to be seen this year nor do they think they have to release new hardware. No announcement at E3 2012 means either TGS or E32K13 which means a PS4 maybe for Christmas 2013 in Japan and an extremely slim chance for Xbox 720 or what have you for that holiday season.

The next generation seems to be overdue, and Microsoft and Sony both seem to be treading water until then. The PS2 was released in 2000, and the original Xbox came out in 2001. The 360 came out four years later in 2005, followed by the PS3 in 2006. It's now 2012, and neither Microsoft nor Sony have even announced their new systems yet.

I dunno, maybe I'm in the minority or maybe it's just not what the console manufacturers want to hear, but I think games on current gen consoles still look pretty good. I'd just as soon not be forced to buy a new piece of hardware because the new game I want to play is going to require it.
posted by juv3nal at 3:11 PM on June 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think the problem with E3 is E3 watchers.

Eh, I think the problem with E3 is that it's a compulsory presser song-and-dance routine by big companies that are too entrenched in relatively conservative business practices to just blitz the audience with a bunch of neat, surprising game ideas. It's massaged, careful information disclosure put through an awkward hype machine that nobody really buys and padded with shit that has zero to do with being excited about gaming.

I've got nothing against Usher, but Usher is not a game I'm excited about playing and I don't know what the hell he's being hired for at a big gaming expo, etc.
posted by cortex at 3:11 PM on June 6, 2012


The latest humble indie bundle was fantastic. Journey, released a few months ago, was the most visually stunning game I've played in years, probably since Braid. Games are doing new and exciting things, but for some reason those aren't the games that get talked about loudly.

Similarly, the most exciting game platform for me is now iOS. Casual iOS games are reaching a level of intelligence and craft that knocks my socks off. The more engaging iOS games are gorgeous and complex - we're watching developers teach themselves about a thoroughly well-designed platform with a user interface that's never been explored before. Yet every year Apple talks about Infinity Blade or whatever it's called, that swipe-your-sword piece of generic crap, because for them games are a demo of graphic rendering rather than of exploring an art form.

I was hoping Nintendo would at least have a decent showing. Last year they did a pretty kickass job. But Sony and Microsoft aren't interesting developers, just interesting platform designers, and neither of them are as interesting right now as Apple, who didn't do E3 at all. So this year was disappointing, but not too surprising.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:14 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I just looked at my purchase records, and everything I've bought this year gamewise has come from an indie developer or publisher except for 2 JRPGs for the wife, one of which Nintendo released pretty much under protest. The industry's changed and the big guys just don't get it yet.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:17 PM on June 6, 2012


Correct me if I am wrong but hasn't E3 always been a trade fair for the industry? Why would anyone talk about game ideas. Microsoft wants to lets partner companies plans regarding what hardware they can expect and let execs see Usher on their company's dime.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:18 PM on June 6, 2012


Why don't they make Def Jam games any more? Because I would like a game where you can interrupt Usher in the middle of his warmed-over moonwalk special move by smashing his head into the windshield of a Cadillac Escalade to the beat of a Ghostface song.

I thought the first few paragraphs, about the personalities of the big three companies, were pretty good.
posted by box at 3:19 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Honestly, I just looked at my purchase records, and everything I've bought this year gamewise has come from an indie developer or publisher except for 2 JRPGs for the wife, one of which Nintendo released pretty much under protest. The industry's changed and the big guys just don't get it yet."

I have a Mac from 2009 and a middling laptop from 2010. Between the two of them I can play a lot of PC games from the past 10 years that I missed out on the first time around as well as all the new indie stuff (Minecraft, Jamestown, Bastion, Dungeons of Dredmor, Torchlight).

I have a Wii, but it's a Netflix box at this point.

My next console purchase will be an upgrade to a PC that's beefy enough to run current gen games and stuff a few years out. I really can't think of a single console exclusive released in the last year or two that has made me think this is anything but a good idea.
posted by Tevin at 3:20 PM on June 6, 2012


pumping and smearing, pumping and smearing

I am now sexually aroused.
posted by Trurl at 3:25 PM on June 6, 2012


Don't forget "squirting."
posted by entropicamericana at 3:35 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Part of the problem with expecting a new console generation is that technology just doesn't advance as fast anymore. The difference between the NES and the SNES was enormous. The difference between the SNES and the Nintendo 64 was pretty major as well. But the PS2 -> PS3 didn't enable any kind of new gaming, just the same thing with slightly better graphics really.

And while the PS1 and Saturn were pretty ugly, and the N64 looked better but required blurry textures the PS3 and Xbox 360 already look pretty nice.

Going to a new console "generation" isn't going to give you the same "jump" as from the NES to the SNES or even from Saturn to the Dreamcast.

So why bother? In fact, remember Microsoft lost money on the XBOXes they sold. Why on earth would they want to do that again if they don't have to?

My guess is the "next generation" of game consoles will just be a continuation of the current gen, but where you'll just get to play the games with better graphics if you buy the new hardware. And it will be expensive as Microsoft won't want to waste money promoting it.
I dunno, maybe I'm in the minority or maybe it's just not what the console manufacturers want to hear,
Are you kidding, it's great? Why would they want to release new hardware if they don't have too?
SmartGlass for when I am out and realize I forgot to DVR game of thrones will be fucking awesome.
The great thing about piracy is that you never have to worry about setting a DVR. That could be one reason why hard core tech fans don't care about new ways to get movies and music. They already have access to all of it on every device, for free Hell, you don't even need to be able to share your library between devices. Got a new device? Just pirate it twice!
posted by delmoi at 3:51 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Apple introduced this line for line the same, the fan boys would be all over it as the greatest thing since sliced bread.
posted by Muddler at 3:52 PM on June 6, 2012


Microsoft’s new strategy is to pump and smear

And then squirt.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:55 PM on June 6, 2012


(psst, bp, we're on page 32 of the secret M.A.C. "fanboi" playbook. try and keep up. ;) )
posted by entropicamericana at 3:57 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is a ridiculous, poorly-written article focused on sensationalism and it makes a lousy post.
posted by kbanas at 4:01 PM on June 6, 2012


So why bother? In fact, remember Microsoft lost money on the XBOXes they sold. Why on earth would they want to do that again if they don't have to?

I don't know that it's necessarily about wanting to, but more Mexican standoff/mutually assured destruction kind of reasons. If their competitors do a new box and they don't then they are going to lose market share even if the old box is perfectly adequate.
posted by juv3nal at 4:08 PM on June 6, 2012


Yet every year Apple talks about Infinity Blade or whatever it's called, that swipe-your-sword piece of generic crap, because for them games are a demo of graphic rendering rather than of exploring an art form.

For a number of gamers, particularly those who play first-person-shooters, raw performance is a driver of sales. As the FPS market seems to drive overall game software development (these make up most of the best-selling titles), Apple is probably just going where most players are and talking about what most players want. They've been slowly ramping up iOS with backend functionality over the years, perhaps with the idea to make a hardware and software distribution platform and community similar to Steam. 3D rendering performance is another selling point, and an important one to gamers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:20 PM on June 6, 2012


Man, I'm hungry for a hamburger.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:23 PM on June 6, 2012


The Last of Us
Watch_Dogs
Beyond
Dishonoured
Bioshock Infinite
Halo 4
Assassins Creed 3
XCOM reboot (the Firaxis one)
Tomb Raider reboot
Black Ops II
Medal of Honor Warfighter
Splinter Cell 6

Really, armchair analysts? None of these current gen titles are good enough for you? This is all horrible, terrible mainstream sequel crap with no value? Come on. I eat a refined diet of high brow indie games too, but I still want to play Halo and Assassins Creed and Splinter Cell. I like those games. So many negative comments in this thread. Look at all these cool things! The Last Of Us gameplay demo is compelling as all get out. Do you want to stab a man in the fucking face? Scale tall buildings, save earth from aliens, explore two separate dystopian steampunk future pasts? WELL YOU CAN DO ALL THESE THINGS. Do you have a secret, inappropriate love for Ellen Page? Because you are going to love the shit out of Beyond I tell you what. All this doom and gloom is uncalled for.

Orbis and Durango dev kits exist. People are making games. These are facts. Relax. There will be announcements next year. Mean time? See above.

Fucking armchair analysts. Christ.
posted by tracert at 4:26 PM on June 6, 2012


Pump up and smear.
Pump it up.
posted by Kabanos at 4:36 PM on June 6, 2012


Do you want to stab a man in the fucking face?

Finally--finally--video game technology (and artistry) has advanced to the point where I can pretend to stab men in the fucking face, save earth from aliens, and climb buildings.
posted by IjonTichy at 4:38 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, come on, don't be reductive. I was being funny. You really don't see any value in any of those games? I think the stuff Naughty Dog and Irrational are doing with narrative and AI companions both count as art.
posted by tracert at 4:43 PM on June 6, 2012


There was nary a mention of Zune, an existing Microsoft music and movie service, at the E3 event where Xbox Music was announced. But afterward, a Microsoft spokeswoman, Melissa Stewart, confirmed that the Zune brand is going away so Microsoft can use the better-known Xbox brand for its entertainment services, including its online video service. ...

“Zune is a big investment for us,” Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman, said [in 2006], adding, “It’s a vision that will carry us forward for years.”
posted by Trurl at 4:52 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Down in the pleasure centre,
hell bent or heaven sent,
listen to the propaganda,
listen to the latest slander.
There's nothing underhand
that she wouldn't understand.

Pump it up until you can feel it.
Pump it up when you don't really need it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:58 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree that Microsoft's presser was terrible, but so is that analogy.

I thought so too. Comparing software (or is it content? or is it devices? or is it... what?) to a hamburger or a ketchup squeeze bottle and a soggy mess. Doesn't make any sense. Use your words, writer dude.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:58 PM on June 6, 2012


Talez - thanks for the list.
Hey! Square Enix! WTF Tomb Raider? You got another movie deal in the works you need a tie-in with?
More to the point: no "Thief 4"? Bastards! Dedicated following? Ripe for addons? original setting that would work as a cross-platform / movie sorta thing? All that could be expanded with Thief. Might've even given the Assassin's Creed series some serious competition.
posted by Zack_Replica at 4:59 PM on June 6, 2012


You really don't see any value in any of those games? I think the stuff Naughty Dog and Irrational are doing with narrative and AI companions both count as art.

Mainstream game development is just so... wearying. All but one of the games you listed involve shooting/stabbing people in the face. Some of them have other interesting qualities beyond shooting people in the face, but for some reason the face-shooting just absolutely has to be there. I'm not opposed to pretending to shoot people in the face, mind you, but at this point I've done it so very many times that it's hard to muster much enthusiasm for it anymore.

Also, Medal of Honor: Warfighter sounds like a parody.
posted by IjonTichy at 5:00 PM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fucking armchair analysts. Christ.

Yeah. Fucking armchair analysts. You entitled pieces of shit. Get in line for the next third person brofest over at your local Gamestop's midnight launch and be thankful that Activision/EA are only going to charge you $50/year for $80 value in DLC.

Fuck that shit. I'll be getting The Last of Us, Watch Dogs and Beyond the Dream because they seem to give a damn about genuinely advancing the genre but beyond that most of the crap coming up I couldn't give a toss about.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go watch the Orgarhythm trailer again and try to figure out just what the fuck is going on.
posted by Talez at 5:01 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't really care what Microsoft does with the Xbox 360, as the fan on mine is simply too loud to make anything enjoyable. It's about 8 years old, though - has this been improved?
posted by jimmythefish at 5:09 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Might've even given the Assassin's Creed series some serious competition.

If only. Assassin's Creed III set in colonial America looks like the dumbest goddamn thing ever.
posted by fleacircus at 5:15 PM on June 6, 2012


I know what would have saved Microsoft from the wrath of /v/ and /r/gaming. They should have brought Notch instead of Usher. Sony and Nintendo don't have Minecraft.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:20 PM on June 6, 2012


the fan on mine is simply too loud to make anything enjoyable. has this been improved?

Apparently, yes.

(Disclaimers: I work at Microsoft and have never used an XBox.)
posted by Slothrup at 5:23 PM on June 6, 2012


fleacircus: "Might've even given the Assassin's Creed series some serious competition.

If only. Assassin's Creed III set in colonial America looks like the dumbest goddamn thing ever.
"

But ACIII for the Vita? Starring a nuanced woman of color? Looks hela promising.
posted by ShawnStruck at 5:29 PM on June 6, 2012


This is some kind of insufferable Internet asshole benchmark thread, right?
posted by Artw at 5:32 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Having games written to work with multiple screens (big-screen + tablets) seems like it might be fun. But looking at the new Wii with the gaming tablet, I couldn't help thinking, why would anyone want to pay for a single use tablet?

The Microsoft approach makes a lot more sense. Let any tablet or even smart phone be used with the game. Each player could have his/her own personal visual control console for the game being played on the big screen.

So I disagree with the author. Then again he says "Kinect is now used for pointless gimmicks" about a platform that is very successful (they've sold 19 million). It is pretty expensive, so I don't think people are buying it for pointless gimmicks.

I don't have any Microsoft gaming products, but this Smartglass looks promising.
posted by eye of newt at 5:47 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Having games written to work with multiple screens (big-screen + tablets) seems like it might be fun.

It's been done, with things like the Dreamcast VMU and the GameCube/GameBoy Advance Link Cable (if I understand what you're describing correctly). There have been some neat experiments, and some good ideas, but nothing much further advanced from the Kinect 'Hey, over there!' thing.
posted by box at 6:06 PM on June 6, 2012


(FWIW, I don't think the VMU and Link Cable were the first examples, but I can't think of any antecedents right now.)
posted by box at 6:16 PM on June 6, 2012


For anybody badmouthing Kinect: In Dance Central 3 you will time travel and battle dance crime. Your argument is invalid.
posted by kmz at 6:19 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Was that the plot of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker?
posted by box at 6:25 PM on June 6, 2012


No that was finding out if Annie was OK. Was she ever OK? Is she OK, Annie?
posted by Talez at 6:39 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


For a number of gamers, particularly those who play first-person-shooters, raw performance is a driver of sales. As the FPS market seems to drive overall game software development (these make up most of the best-selling titles), Apple is probably just going where most players are and talking about what most players want.
I kind of agree with Blazecock Pileon here (shocking I know).

I know this is probably heresy, but I don't really give a crap about video games in general anymore. However, I did get Angry Birds on my cellphone just to see what it was about, and it actually turned out to be pretty fun. The new Angry Birds: Space is actually pretty fun, but there are a few levels that are kind of choppy on my current phone.

So, if a new phone is coming out, I might came about the performance playing games I already like playing. But I don't really care if there is some "innovative" new paradigms in game play or whatever.

Actually, I'm kind of the "kind" of gamer that's probably ruining gaming from the perspective of fanboys, although I don't spend enough on games for anyone to actually try to cater to me. The main driver in purchasing games for me is just nostalgia for games I really had fun playing when I was a kid or in highschool or something. I was totally psyched for the new Starcraft and bought that. And a couple of years ago I bought a gameboy SP and a top-down Zelda game for it (the Minish Cap)
Having games written to work with multiple screens (big-screen + tablets) seems like it might be fun.
That's actually the premise behind the Wii U. I actually watched This video from Nintendo the other day. It was mostly a talk by (I'm pretty sure) Satoru Iwata, who's Japanese accent is kind of fun to listen too. They also had this "quirky" sketch about some guy playing a zombie game and then using the social features to get help in dealing with a boss.

Anyway, I think if that's going to work, it will have to be an Integrated platform like the Wii U. If you rely on standard cellphones, it's like, you won't know if a person will have an iPhone, or android device. There could be problems with iPhone app store (on android you could load an APK directly from your game system over USB). Plus there are privacy issues as well, although most people might not worry about them. Since you can't be sure if everyone will have a compatible device, you can't make the phone UI a principle component of the game. Plus, to be honest I think phones kind of suck for traditional games due to the lack of buttons. If you use the touch screen, your thumbs cover up the action! It's lame.

With the Wii U, though you'll know everyone will have a Wii U controller, and when they use it they'll have the same game controls as when they play on the screen.

But who knows, there are obviously lots of things I have no interest or even think sound annoying that sell really well. And cellphone integration might be a feature everyone thinks sounds cool but no one ultimately uses

(Kind of like Siri, which people mainly use for things that phones have been able to do by voice forever)
posted by delmoi at 6:43 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I watched the entire Microsoft conference, and the whole thing was just embarrassing. I don't really have an issue with any of the games they showed individually. The problem was that every one was so similar that they blurred together into an endless mess of pointless dismemberment. I consider myself a fan of shooters, but each demo went on far too long and showcased the same casual violence and quicktime-event cinematics. I'm still not convinced it wasn't some kind of Clockwork Orange-style aversion therapy.
posted by Tubalcain at 7:00 PM on June 6, 2012


Just that Smart Glass (which is the Pump and Smear decried by the article) will be a welcome, winning feature to lots of people.
...
People looking up additional information about a show they're watching is one of those things I used to mock as a bad futurist use-case, something that only a marketer or an engineer would promote, but it turns out that people really want

Yeah, Smart Glass is innovative technology that does for the Living Room experience what Facebook pulled off with their Graph API. It's big. Microsoft has a fairly dominant position with the XBox and XBox Live services, and they're going to use it to push into a new market, because that's what they do.

I work for a software company developing "10-foot user interfaces", software apps that combine smart TV with mobile devices.

This kind of interactivity is going to be HUGE, even if people don't realize they want it yet. The iPad isn't an office device, it's a couch device.

One of the biggest problems with developing apps that bridge the TV/mobile barrier is connecting the two devices. Pairing codes, QR codes, Shazam-style audio fingerprinting, text messages... these are all clever approaches to the problem, but they all boil down to messy hacks. If MS develops an API and makes it available for any developer to use to connect TV shows with mobile apps, it will be on the level of Facebook's API.

I'm not really sure how I feel about that. I grew up in the dark ages of the 90s, between the Apple II days and now, and I know how Microsoft can abuse any monopoly position they achieve. But this really is innovative tech they're working on, so good for them.
posted by formless at 7:15 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I use PlexApp which is basically a Mac Mini hooked up to my television with an interface for all my television, movies, NetFlix, etc.

I used to use an Apple Remote to control the experience and it was horrible. For several years, I've used the wonderful PlexApp for the iPad which gives you access to my entire library, with movie descriptions, related movies, posters and a whole lot of things. So the television plays whatever I'm watching and I can browse my library without interrupting the experience, while simultaneously accessing information about what I'm watching.

It turned my media center from a man cave, nerd dream to something accessible and enjoyable by non-nerds overnight. The experience is seamless.

Whether or not Microsoft can pull this off or not is irrelevant, this is the way things are going and I'm surprised by the backlash.
posted by geoff. at 8:20 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


verb: Turns out, though, that something like 28% of mobile usage is actually by people noodling around with their smartphones while watching their favorite shows. People looking up additional information about a show they're watching is one of those things I used to mock as a bad futurist use-case, something that only a marketer or an engineer would promote, but it turns out that people really want it.

The question is, are we sure these people want to learn more about the show they're watching, or are they just emailing their friends, surfing the web, playing a game, etc.? Because I know that when I'm watching Mad Men and I'm on my phone, I'm not busy looking up what Don's wearing, and I don't think I'd like to know. It may well be different for different genres but I don't see this 'show metadata' idea necessarily being universal, and I haven't seen any research yet to suggest that it is.
posted by adrianhon at 8:28 PM on June 6, 2012


My first thought when I heard about Smart Glass:

"Sweet, too bad it will hardly ever be implemented."

My second though:

"Sweet zombie Jesus, if they open this up to fans we could see some amazing fan-generated content."

I haven't seen anything to change my mind on that yet.
posted by Tevin at 8:41 PM on June 6, 2012


I am a bit worried it will just turn into another pipe for advertising. Some shows, like House, I look up every disease and medical term, I used to have to pause the show and it ended up taking me two hours to watch an episode.Even if there is no extra content something like this is going to be a huge boon for content streamers like netflix, being able to search and browse netflix on a tablet and have the content pop up on your TV will make the process so much more streamlined. Trying to browse through all the streaming crap my DVD player supports is an excercise in frustration and leads to hacks like the netflix instant queue.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:59 PM on June 6, 2012


This is what I've learned about E3 over the years: I learn nothing about the games I'm interested in at E3. I used to be excited to go. Now I spend a few hours walking the floor and touching nothing. Today I wandered both halls twice and my favorite thing was the museum. Total nostalgia thing.

But I'm not saying that I'm wishing for my halcyon days of Sega Master System gaming, there's a shit ton of games I want to play in the next year, and most of them were on the floor ready to go. Some of them only had hour long lines. It's just hard to get a good feel for a game I'll be playing at home on my couch, possibly in my underwear, while being assaulted with dubstep and having some handler behind you asking you how cool it is.

Bleh.

As for the MS presser, I love my Xbox360 and controlling it from my iOS device would be awesome. I wasn't sold on the Kinect until I got one for my kid. The thing is, Microsoft is following a counter-Nintendo strategy with the 360. They've gotten rid of most of their developers and now rely on third parties to make games. And while those developers are stocking a pretty impressive library of games on a device that is only MS's second attempt at a gaming console, Microsoft is adding every possible feature you could want from a set top box. They do this by throwing every wild idea they have at it. The Xbox360 is a pretty revolutionary device and has had Sony playing catch up since its release.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:10 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


As an aside, on the delay of next generation consoles, it is quite clear that they are blocked by memory technology development. If and when the HMC memory is far enough along to provide the bandwidth/density/power, we will see the upgrade cycle commence and new game consoles.

(it's possible the issue is a desire to have clarity on the fate of media format -- replacing with download [even paged/cached instead of downloaded in entirety as today], but large scale increases in bandwidth are going to take significantly longer than I think they can wait.)
posted by rr at 9:35 PM on June 6, 2012


Kinect + modern hardware + wireless goggles + wireless power gloves + multidirectional treadmill. The only reason we don't have mindblowing in-home virtual reality right now is because the decision-makers don't understand that the Virtual Boy was a flop because it was a piece of shit. Now we have the tech to make it work.
posted by Skwirl at 10:31 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Will someone at least admit that the direction the Kinect is going in just isn't up to snuff? I mean really, do something really neat/unique with this piece of technology you've created, don't let it fall by the wayside.

I was disappointed by Microsoft's E3 conference too, but I'm not an investor, just a gamer. So what I have to say means very little. Still they should have given a little more love to their fans instead of doing the same thing as last year, and the year before that. But what do I know anyway.

E3 is still fun to watch; especially the embarrassing bits. (I'm looking at you Ubisoft)
posted by PipRuss at 10:38 PM on June 6, 2012


My buddy Max summed up E3 the best when he said the prevailing theme of this year's conference was not "What is that?" but "Why is that?".
posted by GilloD at 11:41 PM on June 6, 2012


So what's the deal with this year's E3? I've been reading a lot of negative stuff on Reddit but can't figure out what the problem is.

Its Comdex'd out and turned into a zombie. Nobody is willing to let go yet.
posted by infini at 1:01 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the big-budget studio gaming world can't think of anything more exciting to do with Kinect than "hey you" distractions

Now hear me out. A port of Ocarina of Time (make it happen) where every time Navi says, 'Hey, listen!' you swat her out of the air. It will sell like hot cakes.

DLC: 'Well, excuuuuse me, Princess' command to turn down a quest?

posted by ersatz at 5:29 AM on June 7, 2012


My favorite game that I purchased this year was Dominion. It's endlessly replayable, has infinite configurations of strategy, socialization with people I actually want to be social with, and (perhaps most importantly) short with a definite beginning and end of each match that can be played in about 30 minutes. Regardless of how much of a rut video games are in at the moment (although I don't think that's entirely true: AAA games barely matter to me due to a huge back catalog of well designed classics and constant great releases from independents, casual studios, and freeware from aspiring designers) we're in a golden age of the board game. If the never ending monetizing and gimmicky control systems displayed at E3 this year have you depressed then I recommend trying to find a game night in your neighborhood. There's bound to be something that you'll love to play.
posted by codacorolla at 10:05 AM on June 7, 2012


I don't know that it's necessarily about wanting to, but more Mexican standoff/mutually assured destruction kind of reasons. If their competitors do a new box and they don't then they are going to lose market share even if the old box is perfectly adequate.
Yeah, but that's the thing. Their competitors aren't doing it either. So why would they. And in a game theory sense, it's not really a standoff, because if you "put your gun down", and they shoot, you can still come back and shoot them too. You're not dead, just out of a lot of money.

And as I said, it's not all that clear to me that the next generation of game systems will even be that much of a jump in technology. The Jump from the NES to the SNES was enormous in terms of the kinds of games you could play. And, obviously, when it came out the old generation was totally dominated in terms of sales. So putting out would crush the competition if they didn't follow up. Now, it's not as clear that would happen. So it isn't as obvious that it would even be worth it.

And, since they're still able to milk the cash cow, why stop? The game industry is still growing, bu a lot of it's in social games and cellphone games, I don't know what the growth numbers are like for home consoles.
posted by delmoi at 10:32 AM on June 9, 2012


Xbox 720 document leak reveals $299 console with Kinect 2 for 2013, Kinect Glasses project
posted by the_artificer at 1:44 PM on June 17, 2012


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