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Damo Awards 2006*  

Hardware: Xbox 360

The Xbox 360 enjoyed its second year and titles continue to impress although the count is still a little on the weak side. The addition of 1080p output was a great bonus but one many people (myself included) can’t take advantage of without a HDMI cable and nobody seems entirely sure if the 360 can pump out a digital video signal (I doubt it).

On-line support is blooming although can get very expensive if you want all the extras for games you’ve already paid for – come on guys we put £40 down gives a few freebies!

The PlayStation 3 on the other hand is vapour ware here still in Europe and was notably absent from Japan’s premier Sony Building in Tokyo. Online the only people raving about it are those that were raving about it before it came out…

Nintendo’s Wii has been getting a lot of press for being fun (if tiring and occasionally dangerous to your environment) but with the console itself is effectively a reboxed GameCube which didn’t impress 5 years ago and the graphics look very dated on the couple of titles I’ve been able to see. With rumours of a more powerful unit doing the rounds and nothing stopping anyone producing a similar controller for the 360 or PS3 can Nintendo stay a contender or will they go the way of Sega?

With consoles traditionally being loss-leaders for the first few years perhaps Nintendo would have been better off producing controllers and software for the 360 and PS3.

Game: Oblivion

People often rave about how open-ended Grand Theft Auto is but lets be honest here – it isn’t a patch on Oblivion.

Like the aforementioned title you can follow the story or run off and do what you like. The difference here is that Oblivion is truly massive and is filled with interesting people, their stories and ultimately their sub-quests.

The graphics look absolutely gorgeous and show off the Xbox 360 very well – demands on the PC side are beyond what my desktop can deliver.

Surprise: Microsoft Office 2007

Microsoft took a brave step in reinventing the menu/tool bar that has been established for the last 10 years. Sure, the result isn’t a giant leap in terms of innovation but it is a joy to use and a big improvement over the older technology.

Importantly it shows a beacon of hope that there are people at Microsoft prepared to fundamentally change how people use their software for the better and not just deliver to developers (.NET, XML-HTTP).

Web site: YouTube

We were told repeatedly that this would be the year of high-definition yet despite large sales of HD ready equipment the content is still a bit thin on the ground (Sky HD, Xbox 360 and a smattering of HD titles). Sony hit another strike this year as another of their proprietary formats bombed – UMD video for the PSP – although sales of TV shows on Apple’s iTunes seem to indicate there is a market for tiny distinctly non-HD video.

The real winner on the video front has to be YouTube which goes on to show that whilst content is king there’s no reason you need to pay for it to be successful. Grainy, out of focus and copyright infringement seem the orders of the day but nobody cared – at least until a company worth suing brought them out (Google).

Communications: HTC

HTC phones and their branded variants have been popping up all over the web and in techies hands everywhere. Reviews are generally positive although I’m finding my TyTn sluggish in a couple of areas – something I hope the latest firmware will address.

Motorola meantime has been getting bad press over it’s Rokr variants.

Apple’s vapourware mobile phone continues to get insane coverage despite nobody having anything but speculation and rumours to go on. Cisco/LinkSys released an iPhone to which they own the trademark so I guess iChat Mobile is an option.

Web application: Google Reader

Google finally put it’s arse in gear and upgraded Google Reader to something not only usable but actually enjoyable to use. Now if only they could stream out the next 20 articles BEFORE I hit them so I don’t have to wait…

Rojo on the other hand deployed a screwed update and continually failed to pick up feeds complaining they were invalid or couldn’t be contacted despite other on-line tools were working just great. Bye.

With RSS becoming increasingly more popular something has to give and it’s news aggregation sites such as Slashdot and Digg which often reveal to you news you read several days ago and have already commented about at the original source.

[)amien

* Yeah okay, not a proper award ceremony but a useful ploy to group otherwise unrelated content into a single post.

8 responses  

  1. On the Wii side, I’d just like to correct you – hardware is a loss-leader for everyone except Nintendo. They’ve never sold a console at a loss, ever – so the 50,000 units that flet off the shelves just in the UK in 2 days all made them some element of profit, which is good news for them even ignoring the considerably higher tie ratio the Wii has had compared to both 360 and PS3.

    On why Nintendo needs to be in the hardware game, I’ll just refer you to this article

    And sure, someone could make a controller for 360 or PS3. Someone could make a touchscreen for PSP too, but they haven’t even though PSP is utterly tanking compared to the DS (unless you’re a fan of shovelware or less impressive remakes of games you’ve already played. LocoRoco being the one and only exception). There’s several reasons why neither Sony nor MS won’t be able to emulate the Wii with any huge success –

    1) Anything they make will be an add-on, thus the market won’t be there
    2) their target demographic is all wrong (traditional male 18-30 gamers). They’ve painted themselves into that corner and are unlikely to get out of it any time soon
    3) Actually using that kind of hardware well is pretty hard. It’s not something you can just jump on as an afterthought, which is why for a while on Wii the first-party games are likely to be the only ones that use it properly. Others will come in time, but it’s a culture shift of sorts that you can’t make late on in the game.

    360 continues to interest me very little. The only thing that draws me to it is the HD output (now I have a TV to take advantage of it), and I’ve yet to see many ‘must have’ games even a year on. Dead Rising looks good, Gears of War looks interesting if a little uninventive and with a little too much “American Machismo in a Can”. No other games that I can’t already play on the PC interest me. I don’t have enough time to play to want to compare scores with people on XBox Live. It’s a nice machine, but I think MS has wasted the lead they had over PS3 – there just haven’t been enough ‘buy me, buy me!!’ games in the time they’ve had and if they’re not careful, PS3 will mop the floor with them in 2007. Wii is just playing it’s own game and for me, that’s far more interesting.

    SteveDecember 29th, 2006
  2. I’m very much in the Wii camp as well.

    While it is very true that the graphics of the Wii cannot compare to the 360 or PS3, Nintendo have dared to do something a little different and to be frank, this is just the sort of change the the market needs.

    Over the last few years, gaming has started to become more and more a niche market. Most of the games on the 360 are geared towards a very hardcore audience, there are very few that have mass appeal. The likes of Gears of War and Halo only apply to a certain demographic and this will never change. The Wii on the otherhand, is designed to open up gaming to a larger audience and in my mind, this is a very good thing.

    During Christmas, I took my Wii down to my parents. I don’t think my Mum (who is in her late fifties) has ever enjoyed a game on a console before, but she loved Wii Sports (specifically tennis). She even managed to do reasonably well!

    I think that in the next few years, we will see the 360 and PS3 fighting their own little battle whilst in the side wings, the Wii will be gaining greater support and an even larger audience.

    P.S. The Wii also support the more traditional gamer… Zelda Rocks.

    BazlurganDecember 30th, 2006
  3. Oh, Viva Pinata looks interesting too just because of the fact that it’s doing something no-one else is on 360. Other than that it’s wall-to-wall guns, sport or soft porn (DOA). Hmm, wonder which audience that’s after? :)

    To be honest I’d rather have fun with the Wii now while I wait and see what PS3 does. I regretted not having a PS2 late in its life when the likes of We Love Katmari, Guitar Hero and Okami were about so who knows.

    SteveDecember 30th, 2006
  4. Yeah I know what you guys are saying about the Wii and I’m sure it’s fun – I just don’t know if it has the longevity or those people who aren’t normally gamers but enjoy playing on it (mum, gran) would actually enjoy it enough to go out and buy one and the titles.

    With the limited availability at the moment it’s hard to tell.

    I still stand by the fact that graphics form an important part of the experience. Many games I used to play in my youth for hours on end just don’t hold the attraction these days – they need to look great as well as play great to form an atmospheric experience for me.

    I think it’s easier/more likely for Microsoft or a third party to bring out a Wii style control system for the 360 than it is for Nintendo to produce a more powerful Wii.

    If you want to invite me round to show me just how fun the Wii is you’ve got my number ;-)

    [)amien

    Damien GuardDecember 30th, 2006
  5. You’re obviously a shallow gamer ;) Which is precisely the market MS & Sony are looking for – the typical equivalent of the Hollywood blockbuster moviegoers. That’s fine and all, it’s just rather superficial.

    As you saw from my blog, I thoroughly enjoyed played a game with 8-year old graphics last night. It made my eyes hurt to begin with, but soon enough I didn’t notice anymore. The same goes for great graphics – at first I’ll be impressed, but very soon I’ll become blase about them and it’ll be all about the gameplay. With the need to up the ante on graphics all the time sucking down millions of dollars and therefore seriously reducing the amount of risk-taking in the industry, I personally think it’s gone too far.

    Both the Wii and the DS are the antithesis of the accepted norm, and the DS has done spectacularly well at it, despite being the performance underdog. Whilst I seriously doubt the Wii will give 360 and PS3 the same drubbing DS has given PSP, I think Nintendo are on to something. I personally don’t give a rats arse if Wii is less powerful than 360 – that’s really not the point of it at all (and people who complain that it’s less powerful have missed this point entirely). The point is that by getting rid of the tech arms race on the platform, therefore halting the budget bloat, and bundling interesting control options right in there in every console, it makes making it much, much easier to experiment with new ideas. And by God the games industry needs new ideas.

    I don’t have a Wii yet but Lee does, and it’s a lot of fun. If you’re too attached to your graphics preconceptions you’ll probably hate it though ;)

    steveDecember 31st, 2006
  6. Wow, go for the personal attacks!

    Happy 2007.

    Damien GuardJanuary 1st, 2007
  7. Sorry, it wasn’t meant to sound personal, it was meant to be toungue-in-cheek but I guess I was in too much of a hurry to refine it enough :/

    When I finally get my Wii you can judge for yourself anyway. Happy new year!

    steveJanuary 1st, 2007
  8. Ouch…

    Calm down you two… I don’t want to break up a fight!

    BazlurganJanuary 1st, 2007

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