ScattershotsShawn Drotar

Posted on June 15th, 2009 in Gaming, Xbox 360, PC Gaming, Playstation 3, News, Opinion by Shawn Drotar

What’s on my mind after a long weekend:

  • Right after his big reveal as the cover athlete for NBA Live 10, Dwight Howard immediately went out and choked away the Orlando Magic’s entire series by exposing his Achilles’ heel yet again in Game 4. The center they call “Superman” in Orlando clearly has his kryptonite - the free-throw line. Up three points at home with 11 seconds left to play for a 2-2 series tie and all the momentum in the NBA Finals, Howard botched two more free throws (he went 6-for-14 from the line on this night). Had he hit even one more over the course of the night, the Lakers almost certainly lose the game and this series isn’t over. Instead, as the Magic helplessly watched their leader clank both attempts, the Magic went poof and disappeared, their hearts ripped from them as they succumbed to the Lakers in overtime in Game 4 and didn’t have enough left even challenge the Lakers and keep them from decisively winning their 15th NBA title on the Magic’s home floor. People talk about the “Madden Curse”, but usually, they have to wait more than a few hours for it to kick in. Looks like there’s a new sheriff (or would that be wizard?) in town…
  • The Detroit Red Wings also lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on their home ice after once holding a 2-0 lead in the series. This pleases me greatly.
  • Joystiq has an interesting story about a 1 vs. 100 “Season Pass” that’s appearing in menus of the beta. Right now, it doesn’t do anything, but I’d bet that it’ll be a product for Silver Xbox Live members (which is anybody with a Internet-connected Xbox 360 that doesn’t pay $50 a year for the full Gold service); something they can purchase to let them participate in the well-constructed online game that’s earning raves in beta and tempt them into purchasing a Gold membership. If that’s the case, it’s a smart move - 1 vs. 100 is nearly a perfect introduction to online gaming, and with the opportunity to win real-life prizes, it’s likely to be tempting to play every week. In the beta, there have been crowds of nearly 100,000 people playing simultaneously, and as a captive audience, the game’s “commercial breaks” are bound to attract serious attention from advertisers. Forget Halo, 1 vs. 100 - as crazy as it sounds - might soon become Microsoft’s greatest gold mine.
  • Speaking of gold mines, Activision may may thinking of adding some sort of monthly fee for the next installment of Call of Duty. It seems likely, given Activision honcho Bobby Kotick’s comments, that at some point Activision will try to add some sort of subscription to the game; something that might allow earlier access to maps or weapons or what have you. My guess - unfortunately - is that it would succeed at some level, but it also might have unintended consequences; namely chasing a portion of the first-person-shooter crowd back towards the flailing PC. Quite frankly, there are more than a few talented modders out there, and while gamers certainly aren’t afraid to spend on their hobby, they’re bound to draw the line somewhere - in fact, simple math says they’ll have to.
  • EA Sports is set to increase their post-consumer earnings as well, but what they earn in cash may risk costing them in goodwill. Even after watching EA earn scorn from the gaming community after their original foray into microtransactions with The Godfather, EA Sports’ NCAA Football 10 team is undeterred, adding shortcuts/cheats/”boosts” for the game’s primary long-term gameplay mode, Dynasty. Gamespot’s always-reliable Brian Ekberg has the cringe-inducing scoop. Being able to purchase “boosts” in other EA Sports games - namely Tiger Woods PGA Tour - is nothing new, but in NCAA Football 10, these purchases will impact online play, namely, the well-received Online Dynasty mode introduced last year. Now, we’re on a slippery slope (and expect more pontification from me on this page and topic soon enough, so brace yourselves). Off-line additions are all well and good - hey, if you want to burn your cash to save time or effort, what do I care? But when it impacts online play, then basically, EA Sports is selling two products - the game for $60 and the souped-up game that gives you a clear competitive advantage over more thrifty gamers for $72.50. For the moment, I’ll offer only a simple line from Jason Bateman’s character in last summer’s film Hancock: “Not OK.”

One Response to 'Scattershots'

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  1. JBHuskers said,

    on June 20th, 2009 at 10:42 am

    - It’s interesting to see Infinity Ward immediately come out and state that we’re not going to charge for COD. They are looking to make this game the biggest launch in history. As much as COD4 got old and annoying, they fixed a lot of things when Treyarch did WAW. I will definitely give MW2 a roll when it comes out 11.10.09

    - As for 1 vs. 100, I’m a 360 owner since November 2008, and this has been the single most enjoyable 360 experience I’ve witnessed. It helps that I’m a huge gameshow fanatic way back to my elementary days of watching Concentration with Trebeck in the morning before The Price is Right, and then reruns all afternoon on USA of Press Your Luck, Scrabble, Tic Tac Dough when I’d be at my Grandma’s in the summer. I’m still a huge gameshow fanatic to this day with new and old. Hopefully this paves the way for more.

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