Don’t let a tech geek review a game console

I have a lot of respect for science and tech magazines and sites out there. I really do, but if they don’t have dedicated video game staff they should just steer away from them completely. In most cases these sources review the consoles as they would see computer hardware. This is the wrong approach, as it’s the games that really matter on any console, not the hardware they’re running on.

PopSci reviewed PSVita, the article that finally convinced me to throw up this post. We see problems arising just in the first sentence of the article.

“Okay, so: The obvious question here, in 2012, is “Is there any reason to buy a dedicated portable gaming system when I already have a smartphone?”

It’s not an obvious questions. It’s a stupid question. Smartphones are not wrestling with handheld game consoles. They’re two different sources of entertainment, and phones have the edge of being a necessity. You don’t buy iPhone to play games. If you do, I’d recommend you to check your priorities. You buy a handheld to play games, which in itself is not a necessity.

The first thing the writer goes in the article is what’s the hardware made of. Naturally these things we have to go through when reviewing a game console. It’s a necessary evil, but writing about them first? Practically no one cares whether or not not PSVita has quadcore processing unit or how much it has RAM. The first thing you do in this kind of review is to tell how it looks, what kind of impressions it gives and hot the controller, or the console in this case, feels in your hands. Is the D-Pad good, how’s the thumbstick and the face buttons and so on. The hardware is secondary. We, the customers, can’t do anything about it. As customers we care how good the controls feel.

“And Sony finally, thankfully makes it easy to download games over the air in addition to purchasing the little physical cards (which are all too easy to lose).”

Sigh, that’s why you have cases. PSVita has good cases, albeit a little bit too big when compared to the overall size of the game card. PSN downloads are relatively safe from screwing the customer over, unless they demand to be connected to the Internet if you want to play the game. You have to be a bumbling idiot to lose a game you paid 60€ for.

After that we get to read very short paragraph how the controls feel. Everything seems to be perfect, whatever that is as reviewer doesn’t elaborate what this good clicking is. Clicking like the original DS, or clicky like a mouse button? Even if the reviewer isn’t what he calls a hardcore gamer he could’ve done far better.

Then we get to hear what every tech freak always says about the DS; it has a shitty touch screen. Resistive touch screen in this regard is better, as with the pen the player has far superior point of accuracy. Capacitive touch screen is based on the finger wipe idea, which is inaccurate and doesn’t work for gaming that well, as you have to get around the idea of having the rest of the players’ hands on the screen. It’s a matter of opinion which one is better, as it’s more about how the touch screen function is utilised. Personally, I don’t play games on my smartphone, and if I do, it’s the last resort when my console’s battery’s dead.

“The buttons, screen size, and gaming-focused hardware make it, flat out, a better “serious” gaming device than I think it’s possible for a smartphone to be right now.”

A dedicated game console having better game related properties. What a surprise. There’s no reason to dwell into this paragraph deeper, as the reviewer doesn’t realize that he is stating something that’s self-evident.

Rest of the What’s Good part basically says “The OS is awesome and I find it intuitive unlike every other reviewer” and “Wow, these games look almost as good as their home console counterparts!”

The What’s Bad begins with “Pretty much everything that’s not literally playing games is disappointing.” Now, stop for a moment and reflect what was said. A dedicated machine for playing video games on the go, while away from home, doesn’t do much outside the video games. And that’s bad.

The rest of the section doesn’t contain any surprises. Short battery life, lacklustre design in the OS and the back touch panel are mentioned, but only the last one elaborated somewhat. And while the screen size has been admired throughout the article, the size overall size is criticized here. Good reviewer, you can’t have small console with a big screen, it’s physically impossible.

However, the reviewer does redeem himself in the Verdict, even if little. He does agree that all the Browser stuff and all that are just an extra, and that the machine a game machine. He does have good points, like how it’s stupid (from consumers’ perspective) that PSV only supports dedicated memory cards.

“The Vita is a games system, and it’s awesome at playing games.”

So, the system plays the games and not the player? To be honest, the battery life is still abysmal, around 4-5h according to the reviewer. It might be a handheld console, but it’s not a portable game console.

What this review lacks is quality in every respect. The reviewer might know a lot about the hardware, but everything else is lacking. He doesn’t even go any deeper into the hardware, a thing that this review could’ve done to make it slightly special. The review reminds me more of a intro to a proper review. It’s a good basis he could’ve start working on, so we could also blame the editor for letting this kind of article out.

I’m no reviewer, but if I can say with full confidence that neither is the author of the article.


It’ll take me another year to learn to write that year on paper. I won’t go on about MuvLuv this time thou, as we have to discuss why PSVita is failing even in Japan.

PS Vita sold 320 000 units on its first week, which is not a bad number. However, the second week it sold only 72 000 units. In comparison, Nintendo 3DS sales went from 370 000 to 210 000 during its two first weeks. This is not surprising. Both consoles pale in comparison how the GameBoy or the DS sold thou.
Sony always had a fluke when it came to console game markets. By all means and purposes, Sony is a computer firm and their main products are everything else than PlayStation. PlayStation came into the markets at a time when both big names were weak after the 16-bit console era. Seriously, if you didn’t notice afterwards (or during) how the quality of the games went down during SNES and MegaDrive, take a closer look. Games became more derivative and games were more clones of each other than the previous. When the PlayStation hit the scene, it got into the proper place where consumers were looking for an alternative, a cheap and accessible alternative.

While one Alternative kills, it may open window for a Final Extra, or perhaps even for an Altered Fable

Sony really knew how the console market runs. They managed to get a good amount of loyal customers during the first PlayStation era from Nintendo and Sega. The PlayStation 2 basically created the Japanese DVD market overnight. It was the cheapest DVD player at the time, and with PlayStation 3’s Blu-Ray Sony wished to replicate the same success. Same with PSP and UMD format. However, at some point Sony forgot to make a game console. PSVita has no new format to introduce, not that it matters really. It has loads of gadgets in it that people don’t really seek in a handheld console. It sells lower price than 3DS originally, but it just doesn’t have games to drive it, and that what matters the most.

The writer at Forbes doesn’t really know what he is talking about. He claims that Amazon Kindle Fire is with direct competition with PSVita, much like how cellphones once were in direct competition with GameBoy Advance. We know that this isn’t so. People do not purchase Kindle or iPad to play games; they buy them to read books and use them in more utilitary manner. While the writer believes that Japan is the last place for portable gaming, his belief is wrong. We just need a good portable console with proper games as a driving force. No console succeeded without games. He argues that the portable console market may now have entered an age of permanent, slowly accelerating decline. This can be said of the video game industry as a whole, but portable gaming isn’t dying; it’s in a crevice where both Nintendo and Sony has thrown it into.

I was going to agree with him that the general consumer doesn’t care for 40h+ games, but then went and used the word “casual gamer.” The general consumer has always been into more arcade game experience than computer game role playing epics. Console gamers especially have always been looking for more console games rather than another Doom clone.

So, the reasons why PSVita isn’t selling is as follows; it doesn’t have games to drive it, the pricing is a bit iffy and having a 3G connection in a game console makes very little sense. The PSVita game cards look nifty thou, even if the packaging is horrible piece of garbage.
Most of all it’s the lack of proper games, and the disinterest that it creates in customers. Developers should emphasize the games that people play in their consoles rather than every other functionality. While I know it’s somewhat ironic me to say that it’s stupid to buy a console to run home media, I’ll still say it. So, Daironeri, buy that LG BD player rather than PS3.
If and when PSVita gets some good games that are made for hand held gaming, then it’ll pick up.

Happy new year for all my readers. Enjoy the snow if you have that. Just let me take some more of this good, sweet medicine…

The industry’s devalueing their products

There has been a lot of talks about computer games losing their manuals and including a PDF file in the installation disc or the like. However, now it seems like PSVita games as well are dumping the manuals. This diminishes the overall value of the video games.

I own the collector’s edition of Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventure computer MMORPG. I’ve never played the game as I got the whole package second hand, but I bought the package because it has extremely good bonuses: music soundtrack, a cloth map, an artbook and a huge box to boot. It’s one of those games I bought simply because of the extras, but then again, I paid 3€ for it.
If games are to lose their manuals, I fully expect to pay less than 40€ for them. Printing a manual is costly, but putting one up really isn’t. If they’re really just going to put a PDF file to the disc, they’re devaluing themselves. Manuals have been an important part of the video game industry since the beginning. They’ve been essential to the experience since the Odyssey, where the rules and methods of gameplay had to be read from the manual. In the Atari days manuals had comics and stories with them, and PC games usually had some sort of copy protection that you had to crack with the manual. Even the NES Startropics’ manual had this page you had to dip in water in order to find an answer to an in-game question, thou this page was a separate letter in PAL region. Most fighting games list the character moves in the manual, and this was essential in the time when games didn’t list the moves in Pause menu. Special mention has to be given to the King of Fighters Maximum Impact that came with full colour booklet that not only listed the moves, but every characters’ backstory. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you do a manual.

Most customers want a full fledged colour manual that matters. It’s part of the video game package as a whole, and with every game that comes with a lacking manual makes the customer feel like they’ve been cheated. It’s the same thing with the new DVD cases that have holes; it makes it all feel cheap. Actually, what I’ve heard most people who get these environmentally more friendly cases throw them away and buy new ones that properly protect the contents. What they could do is to make the cases smaller. DVD keepcases are oversized anyway, they could improve the CD jewelcases to be more durable and use them. I have to say that the BD cases SONY has been putting out are very good in this regard, slimming down the thickness and height, but keeping the value high.

However, the Nintendo DS, Sony PSP and PSVita cases are just far too big, especially the European DS cases. They could be more like the VHS cases; snappy fit, not too much empty space and compact. These three consoles are supposed to be portable in the end, so a portable case for the games would seem like a good idea, but this point has been missed. Also, they’ve missed the point of having manuals it seems.

From left to right with upper row first; BD, Japanese GameCube, generic DVD, GameBoy protection box, PAL DS, Japanese Sega Saturn, PSP, Japanese SNES box, MegaDrive case and rental NES case (basically a large VHS case)

I have to say that I love SEGA for having plastic cases for MegaDrive games. It gives the games more value. I can take a NES or SNES games without their cases, it doesn’t really matter. I can always get a VHS case for them. But MegaDrive games? It just feels wrong not to have the plastic case with them. It adds value to the game itself. Same thing with manuals. If a game doesn’t come with a manual, it has far less value overall. Cardboard boxes still feel cheap no matter what. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a new box for my loose games, but that would take a) a lot of room b) I don’t have a lot room. Racketboy has these neat multipurpose boxes, that seem to be modified VHS cases.

Losing the manuals from new games is a great loss most people won’t even notice. If you ask any video game hobbyist that lived in the 80’s about manuals, they usually have some fond memories of them and how awesome it was to read through them. Manuals have been underused for more than a decade now, and it shows. We are in need something like what Atari did back in the day, packing music tapes and comics with their games without resorting to these limited edition bullcrap we’re having today.
You want customers to buy your video game? Give it more value. Make a great box filled with extras.

Look at that stuff EXCEED packed with the PSP Ys games. Now that’s some value if I ever so one