More Than You May Ever Want To Read About The Nintendo GameCube

If you’re at all interested in the video game business you’ll want to take a look at this article about the design and business decisions that went into Nintendo’s GameCube, from hardware decisions, software developer acquisitions, marketing campaigns, and the approach to multi-platform games.

This was said over 10 years ago, but man it seems poignant now.

On February 7th, 2001, former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi strongly criticized the industry for creating one game and then porting it to all three consoles.

“Now software companies are going multi-platform, running one game on lots of consoles, just to sell that little bit more. Even Sega. I can understand why the industry’s flowing this way, but, speaking for Nintendo, I can hardly welcome it,” said Yamauchi. ”When a user chooses a game, he always searches for something new and fun in a way he’s never seen before. If games on Nintendo machines are do-able on other companies’ consoles, then we’ll lose those users’ support. If we can’t succeed in separating ourselves, then we won’t win this battle. And that’s the reason why I’m not overjoyed about multi-platform tactics.”

IGN is full of videos comparing PS3 and Xbox 360 games. It’s beginning to happen with PS4 and Xbox One titles. Meanwhile, Wii-U is tanking.

We don’t have a used games crisis – we have a Gamestop crisis

The more I read about this stuff, how Microsoft is trying to get around retail, I don’t think that there’s a used game crisis. I think there’s a Gamestop crisis. Amazon also sells used games, but I don’t believe it’s as big a deal to them as it is to Gamestop.

Consider if, somehow, Gamestop was wiped from the planet. Who would cry? Would the used game problem still exist? Gamestop’s MO has been all about the use (abuse?) of the first-sale doctrine.

That puts Microsoft in a strange position because Gamestop is one of their biggest partners. I haven’t been to a Gamestop in years, but strangely they’re still around while other retailers in entertainment have faltered.

I don’t believe the Xbox One’s first DRM scheme was about eliminating used games and trading with friends. I think it was Microsoft trying to find a way to dry up Gamestop’s used-game business. But the market needs to decide to dry-up Gamestop to make it possible.

I don’t understand why people buy used games at $55. My gut says it’s fueled by teenagers who save for the latest games, trade them in for a paltry amount of credit, and then take $5 off the latest titles when they buy used. They’ll take any discount they can get.

Imagine if they waited a few months. Mass Effect 3 is at $20 right now. Would that be the case if new games didn’t have to compete with used games?

Used games are gross, too. They always smell like cigarettes. It’s worth $5 to me to not have someone else’s grossness in my home.

The new Xbox isn’t for you. It’s for everyone.

Jamin Warren makes the case for why Xbox One has a good chance:

I asked my girlfriend, who does not play games, what she thought about the Xbox One announcement. All of the Kinect bells and whistles and media features were attractive to her and she said they were incredibly appealing as a consumer, but not as a gamer. However, she added, “If I owned an XBox One, I’d probably be more likely to play games.”

If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is.

That’s a big “if.” If you don’t play games, why would you buy an Xbox One? So you can connect your TV to it? That’s like buying an aftermarket satellite receiver.

The strategy of trying to appeal to a more general audience appears to make sense, but isn’t that what Nintendo tried with the Wii?

Judging from what’s been announced, Xbox One represents everything that I hate about recent dashboard redesigns and Kinect gimmicks. I don’t want to “have a relationship with my TV.” I want to chill out on my couch and play good games on my Xbox.

And for all that other stuff I have an Apple TV.

Common Mistakes Made When Writing a Book in Microsoft Word

Below are some of the most common issues I see in documents sent to me to be formatted.

  1. Extra spaces or tabs used to create an indent for the first line of each paragraph
  2. Two or more paragraph breaks between paragraphs
  3. Two spaces between sentences instead of one
  4. Manual line breaks at the end of each line of text in a paragraph
  5. Two line breaks inserted at the end of a paragraph instead of a paragraph break
  6. Using tabs at the end of a paragraph to create a new paragraph
  7. Creating complex tables, charts, graphs at a page size larger than your book size
  8. Using only a paragraph break to create a scene break between paragraphs
  9. A series of paragraph breaks (created by hitting the enter key) to force text onto the next page

😱 – who does number 6?!

My PS3 Renaissance

250GB PS31

I haven’t been playing a lot this year, but all it took was me ordering another HDMI cable from Monoprice.

That’s how it started – me using my PS3 about 1000% more in the past week than I have in the past year. I only had two HDMI cables – one dedicated for the 360, another for the PS3. Then I got an AppleTV and used the PS3’s cable for that. I rarely used my PS3 after that.

But then Kevin sent me Uncharted 2 and suggested I get Playstation Plus, Sony’s version of XBOX Live, but you don’t need it to play online. It’s like buying in to Playstation Store sales and getting free games for the length of your subscription. Now I own almost every Resident Evil game. Now I can play Demon’s Souls, which I hear is good. But that stuff is on hold, because I’m still working through a backlog. Point is that I never not have something to play.

I know to many PS3 owners all this stuff is old news. It’s easy to see how much Sony is courting game players compared to Microsoft. Where Microsoft nickel and dimes you (MS points, ads on the dashboard, proprietary HDD), Sony doesn’t.

For example, here’s a quick table I came up with.

Xbox Live vs PSN
Feature Xbox Live Sony PSN
Dashboard covered with ads in yearly subscription Yes No
You can upgrade storage with standard 2.5 HDD No Yes
Free online play (that I never use) No Yes
Indie Game Selection Big Bigger

Sony, I believe, has realized its mistakes with the PS3. That’s why they’re going with X86 architecture with the PS4. That’s why they’re actively courting indie game developers.

But Playstation Plus put it over the top for me. Downloading gigs and gigs of stuff has been the main reason my PS3 has been on almost constantly since subscribing.

I still have a bunch of games I want to play on my 360, but I’m now catching up on the PS3 exclusives I missed. They’re good enough to overlook my complaints about the Dual Shock. And yes, the D-Pad is better on the Dual Shock than it is on the 360.

  1. Photo by pseudogil 

Stupid, Stupid xBox!!

Natbro on the failure of the Xbox ecosystem:

My gripe is that, as usual, Microsoft has jumped its own shark and is out stomping through the weeds planning and talking about far-flung future strategies in interactive television and original programming partnerships with big dying media companies when their core product, their home town is on fire, their soldiers, their developers, are tired and deserting, and their supply-lines are broken.

Microsoft has been trying to shove Kinect down everybody’s throat. Meanwhile, the idea of a Steam Box is very exciting. It shouldn’t have even gotten to that.

Why is Valve the biggest digital retailer of games on Windows? (Because Valve is easier to work with, they welcome the indies, and they don’t charge $10,000 just for the opportunity to develop for their platform.)

That’s what Microsoft should have been.

ZIp It Up and Zip It Out

Alex King:

It seems that many Exchange administrators decide to block emails with .zip file attachments. This it the digital equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I’ve wondered if this is an Exchange admin thing.

It’s the easiest thing to do since a lot of viruses come in through zip files. But zip is the most common compression format, so sending files to people gets complicated when a whole organization blocks the most common file format.

Admins can say to their users that they can use something like Mail Big File, or rename the extension, but I think it hurts your professionalism a bit when you have to explain “Oh, by the way, rename the file from file.notazip to and you’ll see the presentation I’ve prepared.” Not to mention the other person’s email server that could go “WAIT a second! .NOTAZIP is NOT a common extension!”

Don’t Organize Email / It Isn’t Their Fault

Over the Christmas season my father told me he wanted to take some time to organize his email. I replied, “Don’t. I think you’re wasting your time.”

I know we all went through the INBOX ZEROOOOEEEEE phase and we’re past folder-itis, so it’s no surprise that an IBM study has found that organizing email into endless folders isn’t the best use of your time. Just learn to search better.

My father and brother both organize email in this archaic way. So does nearly everyone in my office.

While those of us who learned to use email search might just have an Archive folder we search through, my father and brother create folders by company, by project…I’m not quite sure the method, but bottom line they both have a lot of folders and subfolders and probably even sub-subfolders and sub-sub-subfolders.

I’m not so sure it’s strictly because they’re old school. Us Mac people have the built in Mail app, and even indie software, like Sparrow, let us search by subject, from, to, and other fields right from the upper-right search field.

But a lot of people don’t use My father and brother use Outlook. Outlook taught them that the best way to find email is to have a meticulous organizational system, because Outlook is a mess.

Use Outlook to manage Hotmail Live Windows Mail Express ME messages1

Take a close look at that screenshot. There are four text fields, three of them for search, one of those for searching email, and that one only searches the inbox. Outlook users don’t get the cool Spotlight-like search operators we do. They get this.

Don’t blame your co-workers for bad email practices. They work with what they’re given.

  1. Photo by osakasteve used under a Creative Commons License

Entertainment Ecosystems

My brother’s girlfriend bought him an Apple TV for Christmas. He brought it over yesterday so I could try it. It was wonderful.

Over the years he purchased a lot of TV Shows through iTunes, including The Wire and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. With his iTunes login credentials I was able to watch all the episodes of Sunny I haven’t seen without having to go to bittorrent. Sunny episodes aren’t available on Hulu and Netflix and for good reason…it’s a good show that’s worth more than a slice of subscription revenue.

Also during this time I did a review of monthly expenses I had in 2011. I thought of Netflix and did the math. If you’re on the default plan you’re spending roughly $200 a year on Netflix streaming and 2 DVDs at a time. I end up using Netflix passively. I only look forward to a few new releases and the shows I end up watching are ones I’ve already seen.

So I pay $200 a year to channel surf on Netflix and watch Twilight Zone episodes. Is Netflix really worth $200 a year to me? With this in mind I reduced the plan I’m on to a single disc at a time with streaming.

But then I started thinking what if I were to drop Netflix entirely and just rent what I wanted to actually see rather than use a queue and feel obligated to watch movies all the time. For sake of argument, I’d rent a single movie every weekend, and at current digital rental prices it would cost roughly $20 a month…okay—more than Netflix.

The lazy tax is in effect here.

The format war between DVD and BluRay is over. DVD’s ubiquity won. It’s now physical versus digital. Eventually digital will win, but if you want the new releases over the Internet you can either wait for Netflix to catch up or just go with the number of services that offer them digitally. If you buy videos, about every five years you’re asked to choose between the current format and the up and comer. But now, in the digital world, it’s between iTunes, Zune, Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, VUDU, the Sony store on PS3, and a bunch of others.

You end up having to choose your entertainment ecosystem.

If you have an iTunes account the choice is simple. You get your music that way anyway,1 so just rent movies from iTunes. Sony and Microsoft have similar offerings available on their consoles, and from what I can tell they’re about the same prices everywhere. It ends up being about what’s already connected to your TV and where you’ve already made your purchases.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Netflix eventually adds a la carte movie streaming and purchasing to support new releases. Netflix has an advantage because they’re hardware agnostic—it’s available on all the things you already connect to your TV. But what Netflix gets wrong is that they forego the sense of collection like many subscription services do. Netflix never feels like it’s yours. Meanwhile the Apple TV does feel like you own the content, even though it’s pretty much the same technology.

…on the other hand, some things aren’t worth spending $20 to own when they’re available the same way over Netflix.


  1. Even if you don’t get your music this way, but manage it in iTunes, it still makes sense if you use iTunes Match…despite its bugginess. 

The Lazy Tax

Good points on Games on Demand on Xbox Live. Games served on demand always cost more than the physical disc, and installing them requires hard drives that you can’t just buy OEM—all just so you don’t have to move your ass and to prop up retail.

I actually prefer having the physical disc, not just because they’re cheaper but because I have the ability to resell it, lend it out, or get rid of it somehow after I’m done with it.1 All stuff that isn’t in the best interest of Microsoft or game developers.

  1. By the way, I HIGHLY recommend to do this kind of stuff. Before the winter break I picked up Alan Wake and Fallout New Vegas used for $10 each. Each of these came out at $60 last year. As of this writing Fallout New Vegas is $40 on demand and Alan Wake is $30 on demand. I don’t think I’ve played a single game that is worth paying the $60 launch price.