411 Games Fact or Fiction 5.22.14: Halo 5, Kinect-less Xbox One, More
Posted by Daniel Anderson on 05.22.2014
Has Microsoft spiked our interest in Halo 5? Will the XBox One close the sales gap with the PS4 by the end of the year? Is YouTube buying Twitch good for gamers? 411's Stephen Randle and Sean Garmer debate these topics and more!
Hello everyone and welcome to this week's edition of Fact or Fiction. As always, I am Daniel Anderson, and I hope everyone has had a good week. I want to take a second and thank Todd for filling in last week. I was visiting family out of town and had spotty internet access. Thank you, Todd, for taking time out of your week and filling in. Anyway, this week we have 411's Sean Garmer going up against Stephen Randle. Let's see what they have to say, shall we?
1.) The change in Xbox One's Kinect usage and price drop is due, at least partially, to new leadership in Microsoft's Xbox division.
Sean Garmer - Fact: This was going to happen anyway, but I do think Phil Spencer had a hand in all of this wonderful Xbox One news coming out all together. Microsoft deciding to come out with essentially another Xbox One SKU to compete with the PS4 goes along with Spencer's 'it's about the games" initiative. Obviously, it seems Microsoft wanted to see if Titanfall could lead to Xbox One outselling PS4 for a month, but it couldn't even outsell it's Xbox 360 counterpart in one month either. As a person that loves Harmonix, I feel bad for them because this really hurts the prospects of their upcoming Fantasia Kinect game. However, Xbox One needed good news and removing Kinect along with introducing Games for Gold for Xbox One and removing the pay wall for the entertainment apps was a terrific move. They are now on par with their competitor and there will be no more excuses for Microsoft if they can't make up ground on Sony.
Stephen Randle - Fact: I actually think that removing the Kinect and dropping the price would have happened eventually no matter who was in charge, because, no matter how they tried to spin it, the gap between Microsoft and Sony was clearly getting larger and larger and it was the obvious way to make an attempt to quickly change things around. But, the fact that it happened a mere six months into the XBOne's lifespan suggests a radical change in internal direction for the console, and that reflects the change in leadership. Clearly, the people in charge now aren't as interested in pushing a peripheral that has fringe appeal at best, and if it means they can knock a hundred bucks off the price of the console and more directly compete with the PS4, so much the better. I do feel bad for Harmonix's Fantasia: Music Evolved, because it looks like a good game that was relying on the presence of a Kinect in every unit, and now that won't be the case.
Score: 1 for 1 - I think that the change in leadership has a lot to do with this decision. I am happy that they decided to take that step, and will probably unplug my Kinect eventually, as long as there is not any amazing new games coming out for it.
2.) The Xbox One will see an improvement in the sales gap with the PS4 by the end of Q4 2014.
Sean Garmer - Fact: I firmly believe that once E3 hits and they get time to explain the whole introduction of the $399 Xbox One, Xbox One Games for Gold, and show off the upcoming games lineup. I think the Xbox 360 crowd that hasn't moved to PS4 yet, will go buy an Xbox One now because everything is on equal footing. Also, the "oh my god the Kinect is gonna spy on me" crowd can finally get over themselves too. If Microsoft lives up to their promise of showing off a bunch of games at E3, I don't see how Xbox One doesn't make up some of the ground on PS4 by Q4 2014.
Stephen Randle - Fact: It's what I said way, way back when the price points were announced. No matter what, a hundred bucks is a hundred bucks is a hundred bucks, no matter what extra peripheral you might be getting out of the deal. And hey, it turns out, consumers agreed. Now that the prices have equalized, Microsoft and Sony can compete more directly and I expect that the gap will grow slightly smaller by the end of the year, or at least it won't get any larger. However, to make any serious headway, Microsoft's going to have to have a really big exclusive to move console units by Christmas, because they already used one of their aces in the hole with Titanfall, and that didn't really change anything.
Score: 2 for 2 - I think this is going to cause people on the fence to consider the Xbox One a lot closer. It really comes down to exclusive games with the price points the same, and we are going to get a lot of info at E3 to see which console has the edge in exclusive games.
3.) Youtube buying Twitch for $1 billion will be good for gamers in the long run.
Sean Garmer - Fiction: Here's the difference between Twitch and Youtube (Google,) you have a lot more freedom with Twitch. Youtube may have a better system in place than Twitch and it will probably be easier for you to upload straight from the PS4. I just worry about Youtube beginning to put out more content restrictions if they have their biggest competitor tied up. I'm not somebody that streams games so I can't really comment on the ins and outs of what this could do. But I just like the spirit of competition and I see this as Google protecting itself.
Stephen Randle - Fact: Twitch is great, I love it, but the fact of the matter is, it does have flaws because it hasn't had serious dollars behind it to deal with things like, say, when Twitch Plays Pokemon or tens of thousands of people go to watch The International in July. Server load has always been the bane of Twitch's existence, and the thing that keeps it from being as good as it could be, especially now that it's expected to be a significant feature in both the PS4 and XBOne. Putting YouTube in its corner gives Twitch the resources to make serious improvements to their streaming capabilities, and anything that provides more reliable streaming services is a good thing for gamers looking to do just that.
Score: 2 for 3 - I think that there are benefits and drawbacks to Youtube buying Twitch. I think it will take time to see how it works out, but I try to be optimistic.
4.) The news coming out for Halo 5 (possible new main character?) has you interested in the direction the game is going on Xbox One.
Stephen Randle - Fiction: The only news that matters about Halo 5 is a release date. The Halo name has already sold millions of copies of this game whenever it shows its face, all anybody who's interested in the direction of the franchise is worried about is "when can I buy it"? I know there are probably people buying Halo for the story, but there are far more people who just want to buy it because they want to play Halo for its excellent multiplayer.
Sean Garmer - Fact: I love the HALO series, it is the only FPS that I play. So, I would have just been fine with the announcement of HALO 5, but the fact that their might be a new character immediately makes it more intriguing. I am totally interested in learning more about HALO 5, but i'm still leaning towards the PS4 for my first current gen system. So, even though I may not get to play HALO 5 until way after it comes out. I will be following any news on the game that I can because I love the series.
Score: 2 for 4 - I think this is a turning point for the Halo series. If they really are going to introduce a new main character, the game will either take off or fail. It could introduce a compelling new character, or introduce a character who just falls flat. Only time will tell.
5.) You will watch at least one match of the DOTA 2 International.
Stephen Randle - Fact: Well, let's see, I spent last week watching most of the American qualifiers, the weekend catching some of the Southeast Asia qualifiers, and I'm watching the Beyond The Summit "Chill Stream" for the Chinese qualifiers as I'm writing this. I've already warned Jeremy that I may, in fact, create a feature column introducing the contending teams for The International, because clearly I'm disgustingly addicted to this game. And I don't even play! So, yeah, I suspect I'll be watching several International matches. Possibly a few at the same time. I told you, I'm sick.
Sean Garmer - Fiction: Blizzard has me interested in MOBA's because of Heroes of the Storm, but I'm just not big on the "watching people play games" craze. Whether it be Mario Kart 8 or DOTA, I just don't find it that entertaining. I know Randle will be hooked on it, but I know nothing about DOTA and I'd rather just keep it that way.
Score: 2 for 5 - I will probably catch a few matches just to see how the games go. I do not play much DOTA 2, but I do enjoy watching competitive games played well by professional characters. That being said, I do think there is room for improvement when it comes to professional game announcing.
6.) You feel that the outcry over the lack of ability to create a gay character in Nintendo's Tomodochi Life was overblown.
Stephen Randle - Fact: It's not wrong to be upset, because Nintendo handed the entire thing as badly as they really could have, but quite frankly, it's the wrong hill to make this stand on. The whole kerfluffle about this came about because someone figured out how to use a bug in the game to have same-sex couples that Nintendo fixed because, you know, it was a bug in the game. Should the option have already existed? Sure, absolutely, I 100% support the ability to create same-sex relationships in any game in which it's possible to do so, and I'm all about raising awareness about the fact that this doesn't exist. But they didn't fix this bug in their game out of malice against same-sex relationships (at least, I hope not), and they (eventually) promised to learn from their mistakes. They fumbled the snap, so to speak, but I think they did the right thing in the end.
Sean Garmer - Fiction: It may be overblown in a sense because this is just a video game, but video games are big business nowadays and if you want to say that everyone is equal no matter what, you do need to give people the choice to make a gay character. I can see the controversy here because there's two sides of the fence to this. There are many parents that don't feel comfortable yet with exposing young children or their children in general, to gay acceptance. I'm sure Nintendo focus grouped this and probably found that the majority of folks don't want that to be in a game. I think Nintendo had an opportunity here to make a statement and say something about gay equality by allowing players to make a gay character if they so chose to do. But we have to remember that Nintendo tends to skew towards the conservative side when it comes to big issues and mature conversations. They probably felt the outcry would have been even bigger if it were the other way around and you could create a gay character. While I don't agree with Nintendo's decision, I can see why they made it.
Score: 2 for 6 - I think there are a lot of special interest groups that look for reasons to be offended. As Randle pointed out, Nintendo did not handle the situation well, but I think this was much made out of nothing.
Bonus Question: Still mentally on vacation. Feel free to talk about whatever you choose.
Stephen Randle - What's a vacation? Also, between Transistor, Watch_Dogs, and Skin Game all coming out over the same seven days, can anyone give me a couple hundred bucks so I don't have to decide between entertainment and food?
Sean Garmer - Go to listen to the 411 Games Zone official Video Game podcast "Cooperative Multiplayer" when you have a chance. Also, go download Child of Light because it is a terrific game.
That wraps up this week's edition of Fact or Fiction. Stephen and Sean went 2 for 6 disagreeing more then they agreed. As always, I will go ahead and talk about Co-operative Multiplayer. Here is last week's show, and I hope you will join us for the live broadcast:
I hope everyone has a good week, and until next week, happy gaming.