On Potpourri and Potluck

Simply put: I’m fried. Normally I’d leave my post with that, a YouTube video and a smiley face and be on my way. Seriously, you do not know how close you were to getting another series of haikus. Let me tell you, I was really, really, really close to giving up this week. Somehow I found the strength to carry on. I think it’s the brief intermission to the opening salvo that was the first three months of the year that has finally caught up with me. With week after week of high-quality, block-busting games available to us, it was exhausting trying to keep up with everything. And the worst part is I could barely play any of them. I can only imagine how you, a truly enthusiastic gamer, must feel right now. Enjoy your respite; it wont be long until Madden 2011 is upon us and we get to do the same song and dance all over again. To celebrate this moment of relaxation, I’m not going to talk about video games.

I mean it, I’m not talking about video games. What? You don’t believe me?

I’m not going to talk about how the 3DS, while prematurely leaked, feels like a pat on the back after my rants about the DSi XL. Nintendo is notorious for their incremental upgrades on both software and hardware, especially in the handheld market. GameBoy Color, Advance, Advance SP, Micro, DS, DS Lite, DSi, DSi XL, and now 3DS? Who knows what will arrive in the next 12-18 months. I’m not discounting the advancements made by some of these devices, but did we really deserve such incremental upgrades and improvements year after year? Is that how we like to be treated as loyal consumers? Of course I’m not going to talk about how Nintendo will be able to leverage this new technology to its greatest potential with new Mario, Zelda and other notable first-party franchises to lure new and old gamers to spend their money on a new handheld device. I’m not going to talk about how all of this talk of a brand new Pokemon game built for the 3DS has me contemplating saving some money for the future, and I’m most certainly not going to mention the fact that I will be facing a moral dilemma when Pokemon Black/White comes out. When I’m told to only pick one – am I black, or white?

I’m not going to talk about how little I care about Respawn Entertainment right now. Yes, it is good to see that Mr. West and Zampella still have the drive to develop top-tier video games, but realistically how soon will we see any kind of progress from that studio? Maybe two years if we’re lucky. Until then there will be plenty of quality games to distract us while Activision continues to throw mud at West and Zampella and let Infinity Ward, and the Modern Warfare faithful get caught in the crossfire. After weeks of back and forth, I think it would be better for the industry as a whole if the next Call of Duty game did not shatter records as its predecessors did. I’m not looking for the staff of Treyarch or Activision to lose their jobs, but that everyone needs to have a piece of humble pie before the end of the year. After potentially gouging millions of gamers with the price of the Stimulus Package, Activision has raised their expectations for this fiscal quarter’s revenue. Instead of humble pie, Bobby Kotick and company will be doing things with hundred dollar bills that I most definitely cannot talk about on here. Consumers are told to vote with their wallets; now we will see what this round economic democracy will yield in the coming months. I’m not going to talk about the level of fear I have for the future of downloadable content. It is written on all our faces.

Oh, and I’m not going to talk about Gears of War 3 leaving the warmth and familiarity of November for a more reasonable launch window of April 2011. I get it, people spend more money around the traditional holiday season. More money spent means an opportunity for greater revenue, but video games aren’t released in a vacuum. Aside from the plethora of video games scheduled to be released between September and December, nearly every other product available is aggressively priced for your and my dollar. Specifically within the video game industry, there is typically a sharp increase in titles, regardless of quality, fighting for space on store shelves in those months. Common sense would suggest that if the end of the year is too crowded then the best policy would be to find a different release window that isn’t as hectic. It would seem common sense is a bit slow on the uptake, but there is a glimmer of progress. But let’s not talk about the successes of Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy XIII, God of War 3, Heavy Rain, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Sure, some of these games are noteworthy enough by the name on the front of the box, but if there’s little to no competition, doesn’t that increase the chances of financial prosperity? And yes, I’m well aware that Halo: Reach — and more importantly Project Natal — are taking up Microsoft’s spotlight this fall, but doesn’t it just make sense for every concerned party to give Gears of War 3 its own time to shine? But like I said, I’m not going to talk about release windows, Gears of War 3 and especially not Cliff Bleszinski.

Truth be told, it was a slow week. There wasn’t much to talk about that you probably haven’t already read or heard a dozen times. There’s no way this industry could keep up the pace set forth at the beginning of the year. Consider this the calm before the storm picks back up. We don’t have to talk about Madden being the beginning of the traditional release season. We don’t have to talk about expectations going into E3. We don’t have to discuss the dominating presence Project Natal and PlayStation Move will have this fall and winter. There’s plenty of time to get into how the industry is evolving, but the time is not now. I’m not going to talk about any of that.

This post is featured on Talking About Games.

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