PlayStation 2 not quite what it was promised to be.
December 12, 2000 7:21 PM   Subscribe

PlayStation 2 not quite what it was promised to be. "Japanese have purchased about 3.5 million PlayStation 2s, but there are signs that sales have leveled off."

"Analysts had predicted a runaway success, but now they are forecasting Sony losses of more than $200 million on its game business in the year ending next March—its first such loss in years."
posted by Steven Den Beste (20 comments total)
Steven, I know you hate that chip, but I am aching to get my hands on this machine. My DVD player got stolen last year, and I have held out on replacing it cause I knew this box would make anything I bought redundant. It is true that most of the games currently available don't excite me much, but the magazines I buy have previews of games I know are going to rule. Metal Gear Solid 2 cannot come soon enough. If things are slowing down in Japan, it just means I can get one sooner than I had thought possible.
related: I went to the movies tonight, and I saw previews for the Final Fantasy* movie. I am still trying to figure out if the thing is live action or computer animated. The thing runs on a razors edge, and it is really difficult to tell. There were previews for Tomb Raider, which looks really fun, and a twisted preview for some CG movies voiced by Mike Myers that looked really disturbing. Cartoon proportions, with realistic face = children's nightmares.
*Can anyone explain Final Fantasy to me? I have never played, but I have observed. Is there any continuity between the various offerings? My wife is nuts for FFVIII, but has not played any of the others, so she is no help.
posted by thirteen at 12:12 AM on December 13, 2000

thirteen, the final fantasy site has some stuff on the making of it. There was also a pretty extensive article somewhere on Square's Hawaii set-up, but I don't remember where I saw that.

What movie did you see in which they showed those previews? D&D?

posted by gluechunk at 12:28 AM on December 13, 2000

My god that site has some cool stuff! Everyone shoufollow gluechunk's link.
It was indeed the D&D movie that had those previews. Since I had no expectations for the movie I was not disappointed. As a movie it was no worse than Excalibur, which I still like to watch on occasion.
There was a free e-mail machine in the lobby (General Cinema 14, for those in Chicago) that took pictures and recorded sound. I gave it a test run, but am suspicious. I can only figure that they are using it to collect active e-mail addresses. Has anyone encountered such a machine before? I neglected to look for a URL to post here
posted by thirteen at 12:42 AM on December 13, 2000


Another article that take no notion of console history. Every single console's initial games suck. Waste of time article.
posted by john at 1:20 AM on December 13, 2000

Take that back, john. I will have no dissing of "Altered Beast".
posted by Succa at 1:26 AM on December 13, 2000

Sorry, I had overplayed that game in the arcades by the time it game out for the Genesis.

There will always be a couple good games for the intial release, but "good" is so relative. I consider Madden and Tekken for the PS2 to be the winners here.

It's becoming the typcial anti-hype hype. It's so cool to diss the new thing. Is it time to diss N'sync again? Not that I will stop you in that case.
posted by john at 2:33 AM on December 13, 2000

I've had a Dreamcast for a while now, there have only recently been any games worth spending my hard earned cash on. It'll be a while before developers push the PS2 hardware to any extent and sequels of already successful games (MGS, Ridge Racer, Grand Turismo etc. etc.) will always sell since everyone knows what they're going to get. Remember the Playstation is now 5 years old, compare the games we considered groundbreaking in the early days to their equivalent now (the Ridge Racer series is a good example).
So, have patience thirteen, if you wait long enough the price will drop once the hype has died down and the consoles (or more importantly the games) don't sell in the huge numbers required for Sony to make a profit.
This could well happen sooner rather than later, the PS2 is reputedly difficult to program for (see the interview with Hideo Kojima in which increases development costs for games, prices out the smaller games companies and means that games take longer to produce (MGS2 has already been pushed back to late 2001). Sony may well want to push the PS2 out quicker to create a larger user base with which to encourage developers to write software.
posted by Markb at 4:06 AM on December 13, 2000

About Final Fantasy, it's a large rpg where each chapter has nothing to do with the one before it. I've played 5, 7, 8 and have seen 9. Each story is different, not playing off of the previous ones (or if so, it's done very lightly). The storylines in the FF series are really great, and in some cases the Character development comes along very nicely.

I think that all this talk about the PS2 being a bummer is a bit hasty. Like Mark said, it's only the first few months of the system's release. I don't think that anyone jumped through rings of fire over Gyromite when it was first released for the NES. Within a few years, you had top selling games from Konami, Capcom, and others. All those companies are still getting themselves adjusted to the system. Once Kojima comes out with MSG2, it'll give some of the other gaming companies an idea about where they can go with their games in terms of development techniques.

John does have a point. Mostly, the initial games that come out with a system do suck. When the Sega Genesis launched, the five games they had to offer were Super Thunder Blade, Tommy Lasorda Baseball, Last Battle, Super Space Harrier(I think), and some R-type game(not sure on that last one. Not the greatest assortment of games, but enough to get the ball rolling.

The GameCube is sure to do the same thing, save that Nintendo will spend the bulk of their time moving all their personally made games that won them fame for the NES over to the new system. Expect to see a GC Metroid, Zelda, Donkey Kong Universe, Super Mario 14 - The Trial of the Princess, and of course Pokemon Stadium Ultra.

posted by Cavatica at 4:46 AM on December 13, 2000

Hey! Are you mocking the greatest peripheral device in the history of gaming . . . Rob the Nintendo Robot?

You better watch out . . . someone might drop a plastic pylon on you . . . . assuming they can manage to pick it up and the arms don't jam.
posted by alan at 6:57 AM on December 13, 2000

I've played Final Fantasy I (on the NES) and II (on the SNES, actually it's FF4 in Japan, but II and III were never released in the US). The story was great, but the world was significantly different. More like a traditional D&Dish world RPG, with swords and magic. No guns or new technology. FF2/4 had some 17th century technology with a twist: a boat that could fly around which was cool bc it used the SNES's mode 7 to distort the ground map to fly under you. Wow, at the time that was awesome.

I've also played FF Legend on the game boy (there were two sequels to that and another FF series), it had several worlds where you could get weapons ranging from swords to flamethrowers. Pretty neat.
posted by daveadams at 7:15 AM on December 13, 2000

Thirteen, I don't know where you got the idea that I "hate that chip".

Isn't it plausible that I could report bad news about something without having a personal opinion about that news?
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:48 AM on December 13, 2000

FFI had swords and magic and stuff, but it also had airships. (For the uninitiated, airships = ships that can fly.) Basically, you pick 4 generic heroes whose classes you pick and go beat things up. It introduced a lot of the major parts of the series, like moogles and chocobos and stuff.

FFII and III were pretty similar. There were some advances, but I have no idea what they were, since I've never played either one for any amount of time. I think I've played the opening to II...

FFIV (released as II in the US) kept up the D&D motif with knights and swords and mages. It was the first one with actual characters, as opposed to generic heroes who just went around and hit things. (II or III had actual characters, too, I think, but we didn't see those.)

FFV was more technologically advanced, with steam power and what not. There was a bigger selection of character classes and stuff, too. (I.e., knight, black mage, dragoon, etc.)

FFVI had a technological world powered with magic. Well, in certain parts. I've heard the rest of the world described as steam goth. It's also regarded by most series fanatics as the best.

FFVII was the first technological breakthrough. It's cyberpunk, there's no set classes (well, other than the obvious... it's not too far to go to think "Cloud, knight; Tifa, monk; Aeris, white mage"), and it was the first one that a lot of people saw. Plus guns. It had guns.

FFVIII took the technological theme and cranked the dial all the way to the right. It was missing quite a few of the Final Fantasy trademarks. I don't think I saw a moogle that entire game. It had a radically different magic system, too, which also had no set classes. (But, again, it's not too much of a jump to think "Squall, knight; Zell, monk; Irvine, archer.") It's also the first not to have an airship; instead, it's got some space shuttle thing. Plus more guns.

FFIX returns to the fantasy roots with set character classes, actual airships, and a lack of technology. It's still there, but it's moved back to the steam goth level of FFVI. Everyone fights with swords and daggers and rods and stuff now, too.

Well that was a fun little dissertation. FF has always been my favorite series, VI especially. FFVII was the main reason I bought a playstation.
posted by billybunny at 7:49 AM on December 13, 2000

Steven, I think thirteen's actually referring to the Rambus chip. You've mentioned here at least once that you would enjoy seeing the PS2 die a miserable, unprofitable death just to see the last real source of money for Rambus die off.

And, uh, you do kind of have a habit of gleefully posting the latest "Apple's going down!" news tidbits. I always find them to be interesting discussions, mind you, but you do tend to have a bias against bad technology.
posted by cCranium at 8:44 AM on December 13, 2000

Eep! Before anyone jumps down on me for associating Apple and bad technology in the same paragraph, I was referring to the Rambus in that last sentance. I need not your holy wars. :-)
posted by cCranium at 8:45 AM on December 13, 2000

Steven: What Mr. Cranium said.
I know 99% of what you post here is reported without bias, and I was not trying to give you a hard time. I always visit your links, and I think this thread has been great. Thanks to everyone for the information.
posted by thirteen at 9:50 AM on December 13, 2000

I think Sony is really anticipating the US market helping to open up the game development. Stuff like Madden and FIFA from EA is actually quite quite good. But it doesn't sell in Japan, where they like games about dancing(!). Gran Turismo 3 is going to be a test case, and from what I've seen so far, it will set the new standard. Patience. And the later North American launch only benefits us since developers now have almost a year more experience developing for the machine. Keeping my fingers crossed.
posted by jmcnally at 10:26 AM on December 13, 2000

I confess to despising Rambus, and indeed I confess that since the PS2 is the most successful market for RDRAM, its failure wouldn't bring tears to my eyes.

But in fact I wasn't thinking in those terms when I posted this link. I just thought it was something people would find interesting.

[As if they didn't have enough enemies, Rambus is now taking off after video card companies. I wonder what the lawyer-to-engineer ratio is at that company now.]
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:42 AM on December 13, 2000

Link to the creepy movie I mentioned earlier. Wait till you see this thing.
posted by thirteen at 10:56 AM on December 13, 2000

Ah, Shrek! I'm _so_ looking forward to that flick.
posted by cCranium at 11:10 AM on December 13, 2000

billybunny: (not that anyone is reading this thread anymore) FFII on the Famicom was sorta the precursor to the 'character-based' FFs--each character did their own thing, and you couldn't change it. FFIII for the Famicom was like FF5, where you could change character class on-the-fly, learn abilities and transfer them, etc. The characters are voiceless ciphers. ;)
posted by darukaru at 12:42 PM on December 13, 2000

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