The UpStream

Nintendo Following Sony's Business Model, Hopefully Not Fate

posted Friday Oct 26, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Nintendo Following Sony's Business Model, Hopefully Not Fate

When Nintendo first introduced the WiiU at E3 2011, one of the things that seemed to surprise a lot of people was that the console would only support one new controller. While many industry insiders were surprised at the fact, I was surprised by their surprise. For me, it seemed obvious that only one controller would be allowed, since the addition of support for a second controller would mean increased hardware cost, probably pushing the console outside of the $300 sweet spot.

This year at E3 2012 we were treated to an update - two controllers per console. I knew what this meant - increased costs and, therefore, increased price. But then it hit - prices. $249 for the basic and $349 for the deluxe package could only mean one of two things: they found an efficiency to lower costs or they were going to sell the console at a loss in the hopes to get them out there. But Nintendo had just posted their first ever quarterly loss - only Sony has ever taken a loss on hardware after a massive loss. There was no way Nintendo would go the same way after seeing what has happened to Sony, right?

Wrong. Announced during this quarter's financial call, Nintendo will be taking a loss on sales of the WiiU in hopes of higher software sales. While it may seem crazy to follow in the failing footsteps of Sony, Nintendo does have a couple of things going for it. Nintendo has a unique, diverse and loyal group of customers. They also have a higher than average profit margin on software titles, considering so many titles are developed in-house, so there is no external costs. Add to that the availability of titles for digital download, meaning no packaging or production costs, also means higher profits, something Sony didn't really have going at the PS3's launch.

There is also a great collection of games available, as diverse as their customer base, including a large selection of titles for hardcore gamers, something lacking from the original Wii's launch. Will all of this translate into profitability for Nintendo upon the launch of the WiiU? Honestly, I have no idea, only time can tell on this one. As a Nintendo fan myself, with a collection including almost every console the company has ever sold, I certainly hope so, but we all wanted the DreamCast to succeed and it never stood a chance. At the end of the day, if Nintendo is going to take a loss on the console, they need to focus on software titles and not on the hardware itself, except to sell games. If they can position the console as the best way to play the best games, and encourage digital downloads to cut GameStop out of the equation, then they can make this happen.

Are you going to pick up a WiiU at launch, wait a little while for more titles to be added or pass on this generation of Nintendo console? Let us know in the comments.

G4 to Cancel Attack of the Show and X-Play, Switching Station's Focus

posted Friday Oct 26, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

G4 to Cancel Attack of the Show and X-Play, Switching Station's Focus

We said back when Adam Sessler and Kevin Pereira left G4 that the network would soon be facing a complete shutdown. Well, while others may have reported rumors of a potential demise of the gaming-centric TV station last month, as G4 struggles to compete with Spike, we knew this was a long time coming. It has been announced today that G4 is canceling X-Play, Attack of the Show and any other gaming programming. The network, currently run by NBCUniversal, has been telling its employees in various meetings throughout the day.

Losing two of their head talent in a matter of months wasn't a very good start for the station and everyone had a feeling that it just wouldn't be the same once they left, and they were right. Ratings have been down and there has been less and less gaming and tech news being given on the respective shows. As far as when the shows will actually be canned for good, we have learned that both AOTS and X-Play will be getting two-month long farewells, airing new, original episodes until the end of the year, at which point the shows will be terminated. It is expected that celebrities and G4 talent from the past will appear on-air during the send-off period.

Once that happens, the company will shift the focus to a GQ-esque channel lineup, focusing on a lifestyle network that appeals to the casual and modern male demographic. So there marks the ten-year run of two very nerd culture-focused shows that definitely brought to the mainstream life the things that most of you who read this publication or listen to our show have loved since you were kids. I'm just putting this out there, though: if Morgan Webb, Candance Bailey or Sara Underwood need a new place to work, we here at F5 Live would love to have you onboard. I'm just saying.

Rockstar Gives Us Artwork of GTA V Until Huge Reveal Next Week

posted Friday Oct 26, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Rockstar Gives Us Artwork of GTA V Until Huge Reveal Next Week

Rockstar Games let us in on a little bit of Grand Theft Auto news this week. Well, it was actually the first official artwork, but it still counts, right? The developer said that this was to hold us over until Monday, October 29th, when the company would have a "huge reveal" regarding the upcoming, highly-anticipated GTA V. I'm happy to see some more news about it because it was three years ago that we were hoping to see GTA V show up in 2010, and here we are almost in 2013.

Assuming the world doesn't end in less than sixty days, it's a pretty exciting thing to look forward to and it's about time we received a bit more about the title, considering Rockstar's been abnormally quiet about the game over the past year. Grand Theft Auto V will be on the cover of the December issue of Game Informer, and the magazine will also have a complete rundown of information straight from Rockstar's mouth. Because of this momentous occasion, Rockstar gave us the artwork, called "Pest Control," which given the image, leads us to believe a lot more mayhem and mischief is in store for our characters in the next iteration of GTA. Rockstar also said that there is a "lot of info coming next month," but has not eluded to the official street date for GTA V. We also don't know the release date of the magazine yet but Game Informer's Andy McNamara was able to speak on this and said,

And since people are asking, we should have the release date of the magazine available to you... worse case, Monday.

So there you have it. An image to tide us over, followed by a GTA-filled Game Informer and a huge reveal. I can't wait. Check out the slideshow we have after the break to see all of the screenshots we have of the game so far. Some of them are actually rendered in-game to give us a glimpse on what the game may look like. Of course, your mileage may vary.

LG to Debut Open webOS TV at CES 2013

posted Thursday Oct 25, 2012 by Scott Ertz

LG to Debut Open webOS TV at CES 2013

When HP open sourced webOS, we all knew it had more to do with the charitable donation benefit of giving a $1.2 billion project to the web. That didn't stop us from wondering what might happen with the project after launching. The addition of Gram, a webOS professional team dedicated to bringing a more robust webOS to OEMs, it was clear HP didn't want it to just die.

This week the first hardware partner of Open webOS was revealed, and it is not what anyone would expect. In fact, it is a partner that is surprising and a form-factor that is even more unexpected. LG has teamed up with HP and Gram to produce the first ever webOS-powered smart television. Open webOS is replacing LG's own NetCast operating system, as well as the previously announced Google TV partnership. NetCast was unveiled at CES 2009, along with the original Palm Pre and webOS as a whole. While webOS has had various forms, as well as 3 master versions, NetCast hasn't really changed since launch.

Bringing webOS to a television is a bit of a challenge. Despite demand from the community, there has never been a Netflix app, official Pandora app, Yahoo!, CinemaNow or even a proper YouTube app since the original Pre. Though there is a Pandora app, even that isn't official, meaning there's a lot of work to be done. These apps are said to be in development in preparation for their debut on the LG television, and one can only hope we can see them in action on the existing webOS devices now that they exist.

The one remaining massive obstacle to overcome is the boot time. If you have ever interacted with a webOS phone, or any smartphone for that matter, you know it takes a while to boot up. It is one of the reasons the phones stay in hibernation most of the time instead of powering off all together. LG and Gram is going to have to work together to figure out how to fix this problem or the television is going to be a massive failure. They could always take the phone route and leave the processor running all the time so that the TV powers up quickly, but that would take a little more power.

We expect to see LG and HP figure out this hitch and we look forward to seeing Open webOS premiering on the big screen this January at CES 2013.

Barnes & Noble Gets Hacked In-Store

posted Wednesday Oct 24, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Barnes & Noble Gets Hacked In-Store

Color me impressed. Apparently, Barnes & Noble managed to get backed from inside their own stores - kind of. Hackers managed to collect and debit credit card information from in-store shoppers in 63 Barnes & Noble stores. The hackers entered the stores through the electronic PIN pads in front of the registers, collecting card numbers and PINs during purchases.

The company became aware of the issue a little over a month ago, yet kept the issue quiet from customers at the direction of the Justice Department. They hoped the FBI would have better luck identifying the perpetrators if they were unaware that the FBI was on to them. Now that the information has become public, the company has warned that any customer who had shopped at any of the affected stores should definitely change their PIN and check their accounts for unauthorized activity.

An official for the company, speaking on the condition of anonymity to protect the investigation, said,

We have acted at the direction of the U.S. government and they have specifically told us not to disclose it, and there we have complied.

The company has said that some customers have reported seeing unauthorized activity on their accounts already, but that most of that activity had already died down in the last few weeks. As part of the investigation, the company has removed all of the PIN pads from all of their stores. When asked if it had caused any problems, the official said,

Right now, we have no PIN pads in any stores and we are O.K. with that.

I would imagine that during a time like this, the company is going to spin it however they can so that they are not whining about the inconvenience to the daily operation of the stores, considering customers' financial information is out in the wild. That, and they are too busy dealing with the aftermath of this issue. According to Edward Schwartz, the chief security officer at RSA,

This is no small undertaking. An attack of this type involves many different phases of reconnaissance and multiple levels of exploitation.

It sounds like they are going to have a lot of work ahead of them and, hopefully, the research done will help prevent this kind of attack in the future.

Zynga Posts Quartly Loss, Fires Staff

posted Wednesday Oct 24, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Zynga Posts Quartly Loss, Fires Staff

It would appear that Zynga is trying to beat their employees to the punch and have started letting them go. In all, Zynga let go of 5% of their workforce yesterday, probably in a cost savings measure. It all stems from a rapid decline in profit, detailed in today's SEC filing for Quarter 3 2012. While their revenue numbers were up over estimates, the $316 million was not enough to keep them from losing almost $53 million for the quarter. This brings their total to $160 million in losses for the year so far.

This loss is the culmination of lackluster game announcements and copyright lawsuits, plus employees who need to be bribed to stay, though leaving may have been the better option. Even with all of these problems, somehow the market did not respond accordingly. In fact, the stock price went the other direction from last quarter, and went up. When your price is in the $2 price range, however, it isn't that big of a swing.

Zynga's CEO and founder, Mark Pincus, said in the investor release,

While the last several months have been challenging for us, Zynga remains well positioned to capitalize on the growth of social gaming.

We're implementing a number of steps to drive long-term growth and profitability. The successful launches of FarmVille 2 and ChefVille in the third quarter demonstrate that when we develop great games, our large player audience engages. It's more clear than ever that along with search, shop, and share, play is a fundamental pillar of the Internet, and Zynga continues to be the leader.

Maybe, at some point, their purchase of OMGPOP, or the possibly upcoming Draw Something TV show, will help them get back on track. They have their work cut out for them with EA gunning for them, plus Stan Lee's entry into mobile gaming.

What do you think? Can Zynga, the former kings of social gaming, turn it around and compete in the now fast-paced mobile and social gaming industry? Let us know in the comments section.

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