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Buy or Sell: Oculus Rift, E3, Digital Sharing, Wii U

by on March 31, 2014
 

Alright boys and girls, we’ve got another edition of Buy or Sell coming at you, as Josh Boykin and Sean Garmer sit down to debate a couple of topics, ranging from mobile gaming to the Oculus Rift.

So let’s get to it!

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1.       No good can come out of Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR.

Josh Boykin: Sell. I get it, the whole world’s frustrated and angry with the purchase, and from an ideological standpoint, I agree with the anger. Hell, I even wrote this charming piece about all the great things we can do with Facebook VR! I think the general feeling about Kickstarter is that it’s supposed to give creators a level of independence, and for Oculus to sell out to one of the tech companies that gamers tend to dislike the most especially hurts. But opening up the scope of Oculus-based technology could have tons of great benefits for more than just gamers. I’m not saying I’m thrilled about the prospects, but I won’t say that no good can come of the development.

Sean Garmer: Sell. I don’t like that Facebook bought Oculus because I generally don’t like Corporations outside of gaming coming in and becoming the big boss. Now the makers of Oculus have different people to answer to, Facebook could also potentially be able to refuse certain types of games being playable with the headsets or they could speed up development cycles and cause games to be rushed out as well.

But I do think there are a few good things I can see coming out of this. Facebook now provides Oculus makers extra incentive to test out things with the device they may not have been able to do before, because they now have a lot more money to play with in their coffers. Facebook being involved means they may focus on making Oculus more user friendly and be able to make a casual market campaign that could cause the VR headsets to explode like The Wii did for motion gaming. I do think Facebook being involved with Oculus will drive the price down for the Sony VR and potentially the Microsoft VR headsets because Facebook knows they can’t price casual gamers out of the market. So, it will force Microsoft and Sony to rethink their pricing model or at least attempt to offer more features in order to justify a higher price. There is still a lot we don’t know about all this VR stuff and what Facebook plans to do with Oculus. I don’t want to be a negative nancy until we know all the details. Don’t be surprised if this announcement causes Sony and Microsoft to announce PS4 and XB1 bundles that carry a higher price tag with the headsets included. Sony would have to take a bigger loss on it though, because they would have to include the PS4 camera with their bundles as well.

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2.       The release of GBA titles on the Wii U Virtual Console will improve hardware sales.

Josh Boykin: Sell. GBA titles are good, but they’re designed for mobile gaming. Even games like Advance Wars aren’t going to inspire me to buy a $250 system. Do I think they could increase sales of the already-successful 3DS and sales in its digital marketplace, though? Absolutely.

Sean Garmer. Sell. I don’t really think anyone that goes out to a store and buys a Wii U is saying “Oh yeah I bought this because now I can play some GBA games.” If Nintendo had announced their own Nintendo NOW service, THAT, would improve hardware sales. I have fond memories of playing games on my GBA way back when, but the virtual console is a feature of the Wii U that I think you have to research and find. Kids growing up now don’t care about the old games for the most part, it is their parents that might fiddle around with Wii U, stumble upon Virtual Console, and find out they can play older games from their youth on the system. I think focusing games on the Wii U tablet and making that important has the potential to sell the system much more than some GBA games do. I think it is cool for hardcore gamers that already have a Wii U to be able to play games like Golden Sun and Metroid Fusion again, but I don’t think it is going to be a reason console sales improve. Console sales will improve when big hits like Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 8 come bundled with the system.

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3.       You are genuinely excited about Project Morpheus.

Josh Boykin: Buy. Sony knows that they’ve got ground to make up from the last gen, and the sales lead on the PS4 is giving them a great start. But I think they also understand that they’re going to need to differentiate themselves from Microsoft in the long run, and Morpheus may be the way for them to do it. I’m not putting all of my chips on its development, but I’m excited to see what they’ll do with the technology.

Sean Garmer: Sell. I have never been big on 3D Movies, 3D TV, or even the stuff we’ve seen with Oculus Rift. When I was a kid I do remember going to a few 3D movies and enjoying them because things popped out of the screen. But until I can actually play a demo for myself or they make a game that I HAVE TO PLAY on it, I’m not going to be excited for it. Plus, I need to get a PS4 first before I start even thinking about Project Morpheus. I think all this VR stuff is a neat idea and it very well could be the “next big thing” in gaming, but I really wasn’t a big fan of motion control gaming either. I liked playing Dance Central on my Kinect (before I had to take it back to pay my electric bill) and I enjoyed getting to play games with my dad for the first time ever on The Wii. When it came to big games like Smash Bros, Metroid, Legend of Zelda, and even Mario Galaxy, I just wish I had a regular controller to play them with instead of the Wii Mote. So, I think I’m going to be the same way about all of this VR stuff including Project Morpheus until we know more about it and what developers will be able to do to make their games a unique experience we have to play on the VR platform.

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4.       Digital sharing of Xbox One games is still something you’re interested in.

Josh Boykin: Buy. As the prevalence of digital purchases increases (but the cost of digital titles doesn’t decrease), I miss the ability to share games with my friends/family after I’m done playing them. If Microsoft puts the idea of digital game sharing back on the table, they’ll give me a new reason to actually think about buying an Xbox One.

Sean Garmer: Buy. I thought this was one of the cool features of the Xbox One when they announced all of the DRM stuff. Not that I personally knew anyone that was going to buy a XB1, but I could perhaps get some of my friends or family to buy the system just on this feature alone. We could now save money on buying games, or at least coordinate which games we wanted to buy. So that eventually we could just share the games with each other and play them that way. Sure, it hurts the developers and I don’t want to do that, but realistically most people don’t have $250 or so bucks to buy 4 games that all come out in one week or over a several week period. I probably buy maybe 2 or 3 games a year at the $60 price tag because it is just too much with all the other real life expenses I have. So, I think the family sharing thing would be a cool way to sell the Xbox One to people. I’d very much like to see how Microsoft could implement it without having to use any of the other more controversial DRM features they were going to introduce originally with the Xbox One.

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5.       Nintendo needs to make a  huge splash at E3 if it plans to keep up with the console race.

Josh Boykin: Sell. E3’s a great event, and everyone will be shining the spotlight on gaming during June because of it. But the influence of the conference seems to be waning as big companies have held their own showcases outside of E3. Last year, Nintendo didn’t even hold its own E3 conference, instead just hosting a Nintendo Direct during the week of the show…if they don’t have something to show soon though, they may have a real issue.

Sean Garmer: Sell. Of course they do, but I wonder if Nintendo even cares at this point? I think Nintendo feels their franchises will sell consoles and software no matter what the graphical fidelity of their system is. The Wii U is still a system that can be sold to families with games that anyone of any age can play. While Sony has adult games and Microsoft is trying to take over your living room, Nintendo just keeps chugging along keeping their millions close to the vest and making the games they always make. Plus, they are still the portable gaming kings and until Pokemon, Mario, Zelda, and their core franchises stop selling they don’t have to worry about things long term. I think Nintendo just needs to announce some interesting new IP’s coming to Wii U and 3DS and make their first party games faster. It seems like there is always this HUGE wait between core franchises from Nintendo. If you don’t have a lot of third party support, you have to compensate for that. Unless Nintendo announces their own VR headset or a new system, their isn’t much of a “huge splash” they can really make. I think their biggest thing is consistency with their games, continue to market to families, and make the tablet controller important in their games as well. It is very possible that Nintendo surprises the hell out of all of us at E3, but if they were making a new system or VR type thing it would have leaked by now. This year, Nintendo will continue their status quo and perhaps next year we will get whatever the new 3DS is going to be. Unless they announce it this year, they can’t wait 3 or 4 years down the line and bring out a new major console or they will just fall behind again when the new next generation consoles come out.

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6.       You take mobile gaming seriously.

Josh Boykin: Buy. I’m actually one of the big mobile gaming converts; I own an iPod touch and an Android phone specifically so I can get my hands on whichever mobile games I’m interested in. Though I’m still not interested in playing giant, 20-hour games on my cell phone, games like Infinity Blade, Threes, QuizRPG, and even the Injustice mobile companion app have proven that there’s a real market and place for mobile gaming. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops in the future.

Sean Garmer: Sell. I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 and all I would need to do to play games on it, is buy a bigger SD card for it, (I’m still using the standard 16GB card with mine, which only really gives you close 10GB you can use and most of my phone is filled with entertainment apps and pictures of my family.) But honestly, I have a 3DS for my portable gaming fix. I have no need to or care at all to play games on my phone. I love using my phone to listen to podcasts, watch videos, listen to music, and all that, but not play games. I just don’t think phone games are all that great. I’d rather go buy a PS VITA or buy a game on my 3DS than pay $5, $10, $15 to play a good game on my phone. And I just recently started playing my first free to play game ever, (Hearthstone, I love that game,) a few weeks ago on my PC. I’ve never been a big PC gamer and when I look at my phone I just don’t think “game machine.” I think about sending a picture of something silly my daughter did to my wife or grandma, or posting something on facebook, or watching WWE Network. So, when they announce games for IOS or Android i just go, what else is coming out this week?

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