video games

Gaining Experience

Looking at the prevailing stories of the last few days, there is a trend that emerges fairly quickly: learning from the past. In this post, three stories of how three different companies are hoping to use the lessons in the past to strengthen the present and secure their future.

Sony Ericsson

With Xperia, its new model of devices and branding, Sony Ericsson is hoping to capture some of the smartphone market. Some, however, think they have already failed. Comparing it to the N-gage, Jim Sterling says that “[Destructoid has]  a review of the N-Gage coming this week. Sorry, I meant to say Xperia.” CVG and  Eurogamer echo similar sentiments. (All three link back to the work of Frank Cifaldi on Gamasutra.) The major pull quote from all of the posts seem to be what Sony Ericsson’s Dom Neil-Dwyer said in response to a question from Frank Cifaldi.

You’re marketing a smartphone with video game buttons, targeted to video game players. If your market research shows there is a need for this type of device, why didn’t that work for Nokia with the N-Gage?

Because it wasn’t a smartphone, and it wasn’t a phone first. As you can see from the design of [the Xperia Play], when you hold it in portrait it’s a smartphone. It’s not a game device that you can make some phone calls on, it’s a smartphone. When you’ve got the game keys hidden and you’re just holding it like that, people wouldn’t know what it is, but obviously when you pop it open it’s a great gaming device.

The people that are going to be buying this are looking for something new. There’s just a sea of touchscreen devices out there and they’re looking for something cool. So that’s the type of consumer that we’re looking for. I bumped into someone here at E3 that had one and they’re exactly the type of person we’re targeting, which is a very cool, young person that wants something different, right? And that’s basically our target audience.

Ignoring the comparison to the N-gage, boxieblue over on TechWrench reminds us of two other attempts to do the same thing: Spice Mobile and Lenovo i909. If you are wondering why you have never heard of either of those company’s services and devices, it’s because they didn’t catch on in their test markets. Forget the mainstream, those both died before making it out of public testing. Is Xperia the next to succumb to the same fate?

Capcom

Talked of in numerous podcasts, blogs and news stories, the inclusion of a save system that automatically and permanently saves data in Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D has drawn ire to the company from many places. Within a day of many reviews coming out, the company quickly jumped to answer the accusation that they were trying to prevent used-game sales. Saying “Secondhand game sales were not a factor in this development decision” to GiantBomb and “[the] game’s value at second hand in the UK is not affected by whether or not the game can have its data reset”  to MCV.

Yet, EB Games Australia pulled it before release, HMV [UK entertainment franchise] refuses trade-ins and GameStop flipped its own decision overnight against trading in saying “Upon further review of the process with our publisher partner, Capcom, GameStop will resume taking trades on the game effective Wednesday, June 29.” reports IGN. Given those attitudes and responses, one begins to wonder if Capcom will include this “feature” in any future products.

Microsoft, Games Division 

With Halo: Combat Evolved, Microsoft, via the work of Bungie, had a smash hit on their hands. That was 2001. Now, a decade later, Bungie has broken off from Microsoft, started an indie game “launch platform” while Microsoft is trying yet again to cash in on the franchise with Halo 4. Speaking to MCV, Microsoft UK’s Xbox & Entertainment director Stephen McGill, said “One of the key things with Halo 4 is going back to what made it amazing for people playing the first Halo.”

What of the other franchises? What of the Call of Duty and Gears of War series games? Well, McGill has an answer for that too. “It’s different to Gears of War, it’s different to Call of Duty. So it stands alongside them.” It can’t be fatigue if everyone else is doing it, right?