Archive for May, 2009

Microsoft Pre-Show Thoughts

Rumors are popping up regarding a new Halo game (different than the previously announced Halo: ODST) to be unveiled tomorrow morning at Microsoft’s press conference. I don’t nerd out over Halo games (though I enjoy them well enough), but this will definitely be another tent pole in 360’s lineup going forward. I’m actually more interested in the people behind this new game – it seems it’s being developed by Microsoft’s internal Halo team (put together after the Bungie split). Will they use the Halo 3 engine? Will this be an indication of Microsoft’s 1st party development story going forward?

Even more exciting, it seems like Alan Wake will finally be unveiled in full. We’ve seen glimpses over the years (a new trailer alongside the theatrical release of Max Payne last year and a tech demonstration for Intel in 2006), but there’ve been few details released regarding the type of gameplay to expect. I’m hoping that will change tomorrow.

Excite and E3

I want to reiterate how awesome ExciteBots is – it is really flipping awesome. Excellent course design, great controls, ridiculous stunts… such a fun game. First month sales were (sadly) anemic, but that’s hardly unexpected after its stealth release. At 40 dollars ($50 with a wheel), I highly recommend.

So E3 starts Monday, and I’m pretty psyched about what we might see. Games like Mass Effect 2 and Assassin’s Creed 2 will no doubt impress (I enjoyed the first iterations of each franchise, and I think some polish will go a long way for both titles). I’m also pretty excited about Big 3’s press conferences. I don’t know if it’s the extra dose of pizzazz that’s been injected into this year’s show or what, but I’m expecting big things.

Nintendo in particular is a wildcard this year, and not just because it’s a known fact that they’re going to have awesome content. It could be a letdown (Wii Fit Plus looks like a lock for the show), or it could be ridiculously awesome (I’m hoping for a new Zelda with MotionPlus support).

Should be a fun ride.

Mirror’s Edge

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Mirror’s Edge. There was hardly a consensus among reviewers, and the game didn’t resonate with consumers from a sales perspective. That said, anecdotal evidence from various forums around the web was encouraging, as a number of users …

Mirrors Edge
This game is really, really good looking.

Mirror’s Edge is a fantastic game, and I honestly have trouble understanding why it wasn’t better received. Gameplay is unique and, shockingly, quite polished. First person platforming has rarely been implemented successfully – the Metroid Prime games are notable exceptions, but the acrobatics expected of the player in Mirror’s Edge are a step above even those RETRO’s classics.

I also enjoyed combat, which is one aspect of the game that drew the ire of the majority of critics. It isn’t perfect – some of the disarms are a little finicky, and I would’ve enjoyed using downed enemies as shields (it would have sped up the combat). Still, like the platforming, it’s very fresh and wholly satisfying.

The game was a little short, I guess, but I have trouble faulting it for that. Mirror’s Edge kept me on my toes throughout, and I’ll take a game that goes out on top over one that overstays its welcome.

NPD April 2009

NPD sales data for April is as follows:

Hardware Sales

Wii: 340k
360: 175k
PS3: 127k
PS2: 172k
NDS: 1.04m
PSP: 116k

Weekly Sales April 09

Points of Interest

  • Though Wii’s showing in April will probably raise a few eyebrows (“hey, maybe it really is a fad!”), 340k in April is a great figure. And Nintendo knows that. Still, they’ve actually “successed” themselves into an interesting spot. They have slowly (but surely) been increasing production to meet stellar worldwide demand over the past year and a half, but now that things are quieting down a little bit, they have a choice to make – do they decrease supply, which is potentially a costly maneuver, or do they offer more incentives to spur demand (such as dropping the price or bundling more software)? I’m sure they’re hoping that Wii MotionPlus will do the heavy lifting for them, but I’ll be surprised if it has a dramatic effect on hardware (though it will no doubt generate some buzz).
  • Sony is in a tight spot, no question. PS3 has been down year over year for the past 6 months, and there just isn’t much on the way that will reverse the trend. Further, they posted a significant financial loss in 2008. Interestingly, though, Sony predicts an increase sales over the next fiscal year, which flies in the face of how anemically PS3 has performed so far this year. That pretty much confirms that a price drop is in the cards, and I would bet that a PS3 redesign/slim model will be released within the next calendar year.
  • On the handheld front, Nintendo is undoubtedly pleased with DSi’s performance, though without a few months of data, it’s hard to really gauge where demand will settle. PSP, though, has underperformed lately, and rumors of a significant refresh couldn’t come at a better time. A downloadable-content-only approach would be interesting, though hints of a flash-based retail presence seem more reasonable.
  • 360 actually saw the most significant decrease of the 3 current gen consoles, but with PS3’s poor showing and Wii’s digression from sales impenetrability, that fact doesn’t really jump out at you on first glance. I don’t think Microsoft is (or should be concerned), but I’d wager they were hoping for a less significant drop.

Monthly HW April 09

Top 20 Overall Software Sales

  1. Wii Fit (Wii) – 471k
  2. Pokemon Platinum (NDS) – 433k
  3. Mario Kart (Wii) – 210k
  4. Wii Play (Wii) – 170k
  5. The Godfather II (360) – 155k
  6. Resident Evil 5 (360) – 122k
  7. New Super Mario Bros (NDS) – 119k
  8. Mario Kart (NDS) – 112k
  9. Guitar Hero Aerosmith (360) – 110k
  10. The Godfather II (PS3) – 91k
  11. Guitar Hero Metallica (360)
  12. Mario and Sonic: Olympic Games (NDS)
  13. Rhythm Heaven (NDS)
  14. MLB ‘09: The Show (PS3)
  15. Prof. Layton and the Curious Village (NDS)
  16. Resident Evil 5 (PS3)
  17. Call of Duty: World at War (360)
  18. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (NDS)
  19. Guitar Hero Metallica (PS2)
  20. MLB 2k9 (PS3)

YOY April 09  Aggregate HW April 09  Sales Trends April 09

Top 10 Wii

  1. WII WII FIT    NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  2. WII MARIO KART W/ WHEEL    NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  3. WII WII PLAY W/ REMOTE    NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  4. WII LEGO STAR WARS: COMPLETE SAGA    LUCASARTS
  5. WII GUITAR HERO METALLICA    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
  6. WII GUITAR HERO AEROSMITH*    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
  7. WII GOLD’S GYM CARDIO WORKOUT    UBISOFT
  8. WII LINK’S CROSSBOW TRAINING    NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  9. WII MARIO AND SONIC: OLYMPIC GAMES    SEGA OF AMERICA
  10. WII GUITAR HERO WORLD TOUR*    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD

Top 10 Xbox 360

  1. 360 THE GODFATHER II    ELECTRONIC ARTS
  2. 360 RESIDENT EVIL 5*    CAPCOM USA
  3. 360 GUITAR HERO AEROSMITH*    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
  4. 360 GUITAR HERO METALLICA    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
  5. 360 CALL OF DUTY: WORLD AT WAR*    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
  6. 360 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL 2K9    TAKE 2 INTERACTIVE
  7. 360 HALO 3*    MICROSOFT
  8. 360 HALO WARS*    MICROSOFT
  9. 360 CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK: ASSUAULT ON DARK ATHENA   ATARI
  10. 360 X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD

Top 10 PlayStation 3

  1. PS3 THE GODFATHER II    ELECTRONIC ARTS
  2. PS3 MLB ‘09: THE SHOW    SONY
  3. PS3 RESIDENT EVIL 5*    CAPCOM USA
  4. PS3 KILLZONE 2    SONY
  5. PS3 GUITAR HERO METALLICA    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
  6. PS3 GUITAR HERO AEROSMITH*    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
  7. PS3 CALL OF DUTY: WORLD AT WAR    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
  8. PS3 X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
  9. PS3 SOUL CALIBUR IV*    NAMCO BANDAI GAMES OF AMERICA
  10. PS3 VALKYRIA CHRONICLES    SEGA OF AMERICA

Top 10 PlayStation 2

  1. PS2 GUITAR HERO METALLICA    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
  2. PS2 MLB ‘09: THE SHOW    SONY
  3. PS2 NARUTO: ULTIMATE NINJA 4    NAMCO BANDAI GAMES OF AMERICA
  4. PS2 GUITAR HERO AEROSMITH*    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
  5. PS2 NBA 2K9    TAKE 2 INTERACTIVE
  6. PS2 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL 2K9    TAKE 2 INTERACTIVE
  7. PS2 GRAND THEFT AUTO: SAN ANDREAS    TAKE 2 INTERACTIVE
  8. PS2 WWE SMACKDOWN VS RAW 2009    THQ
  9. PS2 RESIDENT EVIL 4*    CAPCOM USA
  10. PS2 MONSTERS VS. ALIENS    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD

Top 10 Game Boy Advance

  1. GBA PRINCESS NATASHA: STUDENT SECRET AGENT    DESTINATION SOFTWARE INC.
  2. GBA ASTEROIDS/PONG/YARS    DESTINATION SOFTWARE INC.
  3. GBA UNO/FREEFALL    DESTINATION SOFTWARE INC.
  4. GBA BOARD GAME CLASSICS    DESTINATION SOFTWARE INC.
  5. GBA VAN HELSING    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
  6. GBA GAUNTLET/RAMPART    DESTINATION SOFTWARE INC.
  7. GBA SPYHUNTER/SUPERSPRINT    DESTINATION SOFTWARE INC.
  8. GBA PUPPY LUV: SPA & RESORT    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
  9. GBA UNO 52    DESTINATION SOFTWARE INC.
  10. GBA VALUE GAME BUNDLE 14.99    MULTIPLE VIDEO GAME MANUFACTURER

Top 10 Nintendo DS

  1. NDS POKEMON PLATINUM VERSION    NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  2. NDS NEW SUPER MARIO BROS    NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  3. NDS MARIO KART DS    NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  4. NDS MARIO AND SONIC: OLYMPIC GAMES    SEGA OF AMERICA
  5. NDS RHYTHM HEAVEN    NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  6. NDS PROFESSOR LAYTON AND THE CURIOUS VILLAGE    NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  7. NDS GRAND THEFT AUTO: CHINATOWN WARS    TAKE 2 INTERACTIVE
  8. NDS GARDENING MAMA    MAJESCO
  9. NDS LEGO STAR WARS: COMPLETE SAGA    LUCASARTS
  10. NDS MONSTERS VS. ALIENS    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD

Top 10 PSP

  1. PSP MORTAL KOMBAT: UNCHAINED    MIDWAY
  2. PSP MLB ‘09: THE SHOW    SONY
  3. PSP FLATOUT: HEAD ON    WARNER INTERACTIVE
  4. PSP RESISTANCE: RETRIBUTION    SONY
  5. PSP GOD OF WAR: CHAINS OF OLYMPUS    SONY
  6. PSP CASTLEVANIA: THE DRACULA X CHRONICLES    KONAMI DIGITAL ENT.
  7. PSP IRON MAN    SEGA OF AMERICA
  8. PSP METAL GEAR SOLID: PORTABLE OPS PLUS    KONAMI DIGITAL ENT.
  9. PSP SILENT HILL ORIGINS    KONAMI DIGITAL ENT.
  10. PSP GRAND THEFT AUTO: LIBERTY CITY STORIES    TAKE 2 INTERACTIVE

Top 10 Portable Games Overall

  1. NDS POKEMON PLATINUM VERSION    NDS     NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  2. NDS NEW SUPER MARIO BROS    NDS     NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  3. NDS MARIO KART DS    NDS     NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  4. NDS MARIO AND SONIC: OLYMPIC GAMES    NDS     SEGA OF AMERICA
  5. NDS RHYTHM HEAVEN    NDS     NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  6. NDS PROFESSOR LAYTON AND THE CURIOUS VILLAGE    NDS     NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  7. NDS GRAND THEFT AUTO: CHINATOWN WARS    NDS     TAKE 2 INTERACTIVE
  8. NDS GARDENING MAMA    NDS     MAJESCO
  9. NDS LEGO STAR WARS: COMPLETE SAGA    NDS     LUCASARTS
  10. NDS MONSTERS VS. ALIENS    NDS     ACTIVISION BLIZZARD

Top 10 Accessories

  1. 360 LIVE 1600 POINT GAME CARD    MICROSOFT
  2. WII NUNCHUK CONTROLLER    NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  3. WII REMOTE CONTROLLER W/ JACKET    NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  4. PS3 DUALSHOCK 3 WIRELESS CONTROLLER    SONY
  5. 360 LIVE 3 MONTH GOLD CARD    MICROSOFT
  6. 360 LIVE 1 MONTH GOLD CARD    MICROSOFT
  7. 360 HEADSET    MICROSOFT
  8. 360 GUITAR HERO 2 XPLORER CONTROLLER    ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
  9. WII WHEEL GRIP    NINTENDO OF AMERICA
  10. WII REMOTE CONTROLLER    NINTENDO OF AMERICA

(source: Wired)

Predictions: April 2009

NPD video game sales data for April 2009 will be released this Thursday. (Note: April is tracked as a 4 week month, whereas March was tracked as a 5 week month. All % calculations will be done using weekly sales rates.)

Predictions

Format: “Total Hardware” (“Weekly Hardware” | “% change of weekly sales over March”)

Wii: 520k ( 130k | +8.15% )
360: 240k ( 60k | –9.09% )
PS3: 160k ( 40k | –8.26% )
PS2: 100k ( 25k | +11.61% )
NDS: 880k ( 220k | +95.38% )
PSP: 120k ( 30k | –10.71% )

Notes regarding my predictions:

  • NDS will see a large upswing in sales thanks to the release of DSi.
  • Other platforms should experience the usual April drop, except for Wii and PS2 which should grow a marginal amount compared to March thanks to Easter holiday (which was in April this year).

Actual sales data from The NPD Group will be released on Thursday, May 14th after market close (4:00 PM).

Excitebots: Trick Racing

So… I haven’t updated in while. Why? Excitebots: Trick Racing, that’s why. The game has owned me for the past couple of weeks, and with some S rankings still to go in Super Excite mode, I’ve got a lot left on my plate.

I commented in December that Excite Truck was an overlooked gem that companies should be looking at for inspiration. Little did I know that Monster Games, creators of the first game, had a new, tasty dose of excite cooking in the kitchen.

There are few games that I’d offer my full recommendation, but Excitebots is honestly too awesome for anyone to ignore. It looks good, controls really well, packs a lot of content, and sports a solid online mode. And more than anything, it’s just ridiculously fun. Give it a go.