Welcome to the one hundred and fourth edition of RPGamer's Currents Column!
Another Monday and it's back to the weekly grind. I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend. El Cinco De Mayo was last Tuesday, and I'm sure more than a few of you used that as an excuse to cut loose a little, and I don't blame you. My holiday was equally fun, not because of spirited drinking but because I finally picked up an Xbox 360. I actually got that Halo 3/Fable 2 Bundle that I mentioned in last week's column. I have to say so that it's far so good. My first big RPG is definitely going to be Mass Effect. Now is as good a time as any to catch up on a huge 360 backlog.
Well anyway, last week was a little lack luster in terms of news, blame everyone gearing up for the real news at E3 a few weeks away. With that said, I still did manage to find a few interesting stories.
And now, on to the NEWS!
In a recent interview with Nikkei Electronics Asia, Sony chairman Howard Stringer discussed the future expansion of the PlayStation Network on the PlayStation 3 and beyond. Concerning the PS3, Stringer says:
"We developed brand new, absolutely incredible technology for the PlayStation 3 (PS3), but the cost was high. We've adopted a slightly different approach now, and are evolving the PS3 into a platform for Web services"
It would seem that Stringer understands the current trends in what internet savvy consumers want and is thankfully shifting Sony's business models to adapt. He even says that:
"Customers today want to be able to freely access content via the Internet, information technology. This requirement represents a threat to our content business, and to existing frameworks for rights management. I don't see that we have any choice, though. We have to create a sanctuary which provides customers an environment for their enjoyment. That is how we can change a threat to the content business into an opportunity. "
As Stringer puts it, this means that Sony is transitioning to a more open system with more possibilities for growth and content.
As for the Playstation Network itself, Stinger goes on to say:
"Next we will be expanding the PlayStation Network to hardware other than the PS3, because the number of PS3 units sold puts a limit on the scale of the network possible. Sony has a vertical structure for each product line, an organizational structure that resists change, so it will take time to achieve this network growth. However, a large number of employees share my opinion on this."
This could mean that future Sony products, like the Walkman and the Sony Erickson phones, may have built in hooks to access music, videos, and small games from the PSN store. This even lends a bit more credibility to PSN-dependent devices actually appearing in the near future like the rumored PSP Go!. This all sounds very reminiscent of Microsoft's Live Anywhere ambitions. With Sony's large breadth of products and its integration of the XcrossMediaBar (XMB) into many of its consumer electronic devices, Sony may be able to out do Microsoft in terms of integration. At the very least, I am happy to continually see the PlayStation Network improving and expanding.
It would appear that Apple is preparing a new gaming initiative as it has recently hired several former game industry veterans. One such veteran is Richard Teversham, the former senior director for insights and strategy in the Xbox business in Europe and a 15 year veteran of Microsoft. The company has also recently hired the creator of the Nintendo GameCube's graphic processor, Bob Drebin. These are very interesting people to hire since both men have extensive industry experience in both hardware and marketing.
A lot of tech media is greatly speculating what the defection of Teversham from Microsoft means for Apple. Could the company be designing a new console? Unlikely, but it does point to Apple pushing the iPhone and iPod Touch even further as a gaming platform. Apple is also more likely to seriously take on the kind of casual gaming market that the Nintendo DS thrives on rather than trying to become the next PSP or Xbox. Teversham's experiences and strong relationships with publishers and producers would be a strong asset for whatever Apple decides to do with its platform.
The iPhone has really taken mobile gaming to new heights to Apple's App Store. I often hear friends and gaming journalists rave about the latest hot iPhone game. It only seemed like a matter of time before Apple expanded on it even further. Especially if rumors of a new iPhone and a large touchscreen tablet like device come to fruition some time in June. Now if only I could afford the data plan on one of those things.
That will do it for this week's column. The coming weeks are sure to be interesting as I get ready for E3. I am also excited to see what Apple has to show right after E3 at its own event. Well, both of those events are a few weeks away, so no need to get too excited just yet. Oh, and I hope everyone enjoyed Star Trek on opening weekend. Did everyone like it? I'll be watching it this Friday.
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