Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What's Wrong With Microsoft

So hopefully everyone knows the big news that came out of E3. Sony literally gave Microsoft the finger with their official unveiling of the Playstation 4, and it'll be rough for Microsoft to dig themselves out of the hole they dug for themselves. Judging from the complete lack of any real response from Microsoft at this point, they have no idea what to do at this point in time.

Where did Microsoft go wrong? Considering that the Xbox 360 currently has higher market share than the Playstation 3, Microsoft could have just maintained the status quo, put the price point of the One at $400, and probably kept cruising along. Instead, they released confusing messages about used games and requiring an Internet connection and then announced a price point of $500, hoping that flashing pictures of a new Halo game and realistic Call of Duty dogs would pull the wool over gamers' eyes.

Forbes called this one entirely correct. There was no reason for Microsoft to do any of this. So what was the motivation? I call greed. These past few years have shown a new Microsoft trying to push the bar on how far they can go on pricing. By allowing all of their products to be linked through a Microsoft account, Microsoft has a truly unique ability to be a part of every aspect of a family's day. Think about the products Microsoft has released: Windows Phone, Xbox and Kinect, Surface, Bing, Zune (but more importantly Zune Pass),, and of course the ever ubiquitous Windows and Office. These products cover everything from work and school to entertainment and social life.

What happened then is Microsoft got too ahead of themselves. They made the assumption that everyone would buy into this connected life with little to no regard for price or ease of use. Everyone was shocked when the price of the Surface was announced, yet it's still selling and there probably won't be a price cut anytime soon. That set a dangerous precedent for the Xbox One. When Microsoft did their on-campus unveiling of the One, I predicted a price point of $500 based on the pricing of the Surface alone. My other friends weren't expecting it to be more than $300, to keep it in line with 360 pricing and facilitate the jump to a new console with no backwards compatibility. I wasn't happy to be proven right.

So what can Microsoft do now? To be honest, any move they make now is just conceding that Sony completely outplayed them. It's going to be hard for them to lose face like that. Microsoft's current "take it or leave it" stance on their Xbox One policies reinforce that they're unwilling to try to make any corrections now. Unfortunately, this will probably come back to bite them later on. This unwillingness to budge is most likely going to give Sony the upper hand for the next 5 years or so until the next "next gen" console is released.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hex Kickstarter Ending!

Just a PSA that the Hex Kickstarter has less than 24 hours remaining on it! Get in on the awesome value-packed tiers while you still can. This digital TCG and MMO experience is looking to be the next big thing, and it's being released later this year!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Want ALL the [Digital?] TCGs!

When I think of TCG, I immediately think of Magic the Gathering. It was my introduction to TCGs, almost fifteen years ago. Since then I've been on again, off again, with my latest return about three years ago. There are also Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon, both of which are still popular today, as well as some lesser known TCGs.

But all of these are traditional physical card-based games. This past year has also seen two powerhouses tackling the digital trading card game, which is what I want to focus on in this article.

Those two games are Solforge and Hex. Both are Kickstarter projects. Both have great development teams. And both stand to break open the digital TCG genre.

Solforge is from Gary Games, the makers of Ascension, a deck building game that I also recommend taking a look at, and the legendary Richard Garfield. The Kickstarter ended last September, with a release slated later this year on PC and iOS, and a later release on Android. What's notable about it is that its cards evolve as you play them - each card has 3 levels, and as they level, they grow in power and ability. This is probably the first real foray into having cards change on the play. A demo is already publicly available for iPad, with the PC beta available to Kickstarter backers.

Hex is being made by Cryptozoic Entertainment, the company that brings you the WoW TCG. Their Kickstarter ends on Friday, so take a look if it sounds interesting. Hex is even more ambitious than Solforge, with transforming cards (similar to Solforge), card-specific equipment that changes a card's powers, and champions that have their own powers that can affect the board. Each card also tracks how it's been used, with achievements that unlock extended art and experience points that can level the card into a foil. With less than $200k to go until basically all backers receive early access to Alpha, we may be able to play this sometime this year as well.

I'm excited for both of these games, having backed both for some amount of money. Will these games be the push the digital TCG genre needs to establish itself over its mature physical older brother? Let me know your opinion in the comments! And I'll see you in game.


Hi all, Larry here. I'm glad that you're here to check things out. It's been a while since I've last done anything in the blogosphere, but this time I intend to stay for good.

What motivated me to come back? Well, as of two weeks ago, I have transitioned out of a traditional office/desk job and am now working on my own. I created this blog to be both a record of those adventures and as a way to keep up to date with what I am doing gaming-wise.

So without further ado, let the writing begin!