New Year's Resolutions For "The Big 3"
Everyone has New Year's resolutions, even mega-global corporations. To find out how Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo planned to "better themselves" in 2008, we hopped a plane to each corporate headquarters location and stuck our ear to the door of each New Year company meeting (no, really, they have those). We listened to the solemn pledge coming from each room, scribbled it down frantically, then headed back to the airport. After logging a gajillion flight hours and getting over the worst case of jet lag in human history, we are prepared to issue our findings to the general gaming public.
Once we heard their resolutions, we have to say...we agree entirely.
Sony: "We resolve to stick with one PlayStation 3 model for the whole year, keep our last few major exclusives, and continue fleshing out the PlayStation Network."
As they didn't believe they had one major issue that needs addressing - like Microsoft and Nintendo - Sony decided to focus on three smaller resolutions this year. But just because they're smaller doesn't make them any less important. We kinda understand the PS3 model-changing process, but they really can't do it again. If they want to drop the hardware price again, fine, but don't confuse consumers any further with a fifth model. More rumors are circulating that Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is coming to the Xbox 360, and that's relevant to Sony's second mini-resolution, which involves holding on to key exclusives. MGS4 is definitely one of them, but they've already lost the likes of Devil May Cry 4. Thankfully, there's no way they can ever lose Gran Turismo 5 (made by second-party Polyphony Digital), but we're just saying. Let's keep MGS4 and others like Final Fantasy XIII exclusive to the PS3. Those are bona fide and guaranteed system sellers.
Lastly, Sony really wants to continue the upgrading process for the PlayStation Network, and of course, PlayStation Home will go a long way towards achieving that goal. We also hope they plan to keep the service free, because if we have a service on par with Live but still free of charge and with Home included...well, that's a definite feather in Sony's cap. We heard each major executive recite the previously listed resolution, so we have faith they will stick to each vow.
Microsoft: "We will stop lying to our consumers and make a product that actually works."
Microsoft would've had a great year had it not been for the 360 reliability catastrophe (don't kid yourself; that's exactly what it was). After essentially lying through their teeth for a year and a half, claiming the 360 fell within the acceptable boundaries of a 2-4% defective rate, the top 5 retailers for the system reported a disastrous 33% defective ratio in the summer of 2007. The fallout still hasn't cleared up, and despite claims that they've addressed the problem, systems appear to keep coming back. GameStop was forced to stop offering their replacement guarantee on new 360 consoles, post offices were flooded with system returns, and consumers were just a mite miffed...to say the least. Microsoft's console remains, by far and away, the least reliable system out there and arguably the least reliable in gaming history. This being the case, every last Microsoft exec in the land stood up, raised their hand, and made an honest oath to never let it happen again.
Therefore, we might actually start seeing working consoles on the stands in GameStops, and the "Red Ring of Death" may soon become a thing of the past. Yes, we realize you probably don't know a single human being who is still on their first 360 (some are already onto their third and fourth), but it's all going to change in 2008 and beyond. Microsoft said so, and we believe them.
Nintendo: "We resolve to deliver our products to stores so people can buy them, and we resolve to actually make software for those products."
After storming out of the gate with the Wii in late 2006, Nintendo has fallen into the same exact trap they fell into last generation, only with the added frustration of difficult-to-find hardware. As usual, the Big "N" seems capable of delivering only one or two outstanding titles in any given year (it was Super Mario Galaxy and perhaps Metroid Prime 3: Corruption in 2007), and this severe lack of software is already starting to eat away at the console's lead. The latter part of 2007 was dominated by the likes of Halo 3, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Mass Effect, Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Heavenly Sword, Bioshock, Assassin's Creed, Rock Band, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and not a one was for the Wii. Furthermore, in looking at all the gigantic games of 2008, not a one of those on the radar is for the Wii: MGS4, DMC4, GTAIV, GT5, FFXIII, etc.
So Nintendo is going to take things up a notch to compete with all that, and we're happy to hear it. On top of which, they also resolved to make the Wii easier to find in stores; having consumers search high and low for a system during the launch was acceptable, but making them do it again a year later isn't. Hence, Nintendo has resolved to make more hardware and more software, plain and simple. Yay!
So there you have it. "The Big 3" have made their New Year's Resolutions, and we fully expect them to stand by their vows. We'll be checkin' up on ya to make sure you stick to them, guys!
1/1/2008 Ben Dutka