Double Agent
Numbers are scary - September 30, 2000 - Andrew Kaufmann

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this column are those of the participants and the moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the GIA. There is coarse language and potentially offensive material afoot. Inspect every inch of every wall if you plan to find toothpaste. Don't say we didn't warn you.

I hope everyone is having a majestically enjoyable weekend thus far. Show your deck and play your hand, don't remain idle on the remains of a lost empire. The ship will sink and the waves will crash but the plane will soar.


Economics, and why gamers shouldn't think about it

AK, I was just reading a press release about Sony marketing the PS2 starting in October and I began to think to myself, Why? I mean why show off this hot new product when the only people that have a chance of getting the console are people that preordered it months ago and have paid in full already. I know it is good business sense to market a new product, but it doesnt make sense (to me) to market a product that the target audience will not be able to buy. Now, how do I plan on getting my ps2 without having preordered it? My mom works at the store I'm getting it, maybe I have a chance, maybe they will still laugh at me, but they aren't taking preorders so thats my last hope.

PS Heres a quote from one of my engineering professors: "Its possible to go through school and get your degree without getting one answer correct."

When I first read your question, I said to myself, "huh. The boy raises a good question. Or he might be a girl. In fact, she might be a really attractive girl. And I think I read somewhere that there are currently more females than males on the planet. So the odds are in my favor!" I continued thinking for quite a while, but then got sleepy so I thought I'd better start thinking about your question. Which prompted me to get confused again.

The first phrase that popped into my mind is supply and demand. Of course, that doesn't really fit in this situation, does it? Well, it might. Demand is currently high for the systems, but not necessarily to "crazed" levels of high, like Furby or Beanie Babies. Furby got massive publicity not because it was an amazingly revolutionary toy, but because people were in stores stabbing each other trying to get one for their kid.

If Sony can make the Playstation 2 the craze of this Christmas season, there's a good chance that momentum will carry quite a ways into the new year and possibly convince trendy people to buy one, just because its trendy.

I have no idea if this is some actual economic principle, because I'm a computer science and English major and we don't like to think about these things. I think I have a headache now.

A simple choice


Dragon Quest VII, Final Fantasy IX, Lunar 2.

Pick one.

-Agent X "if i had to buy just one, i'd go with lunar 2"

Mmm. As I walk along the Trail of Decisions with you as my trusty Sidekick Agent X, I fear I must shove you into the Alligator Pit of Disagreement and travel alone along the Path of Righteous Correctness.

I think FF9 is going to be far better than both of the others. Or is far better, based on reviews I've read. Dragon Quest VII is proving to be, if nothing else, very long. If that's a good thing, then it'll be a big winner. And Lunar 2 probably has charm out the wazoo, like the Silver Star Story, but I think the modern FFs have been better than SSS, and I think the trend will continue.

Where oh where will Square go?

Everyone seems to be talking about what system Square will develop for, whats your take on this upcoming next gen console war?

Dictator Darrel

I actually don't see any reason to think Square will develop for any one system. I think they're liking the PS2, since they said FFX and XI will be for it, but outside of that I think they might just touch all the bases and see how it goes. Either that, or just go where the numbers are. No use developing for a Nintendo system that doesn't exist yet, right? For now, I see them mostly on the PS2. But once the X-Box and Gamecube come out, all bets are off.

The PS2


I definitely know why people who sat through Sony's PS2 press conference are bitching - it was touted as no less than the second coming. Sony doesn't just plan on being part of "the broadband revolution," they plan on *causing* it. So when word hits the streets that they can't even ship enough of the damn things to be anywhere near meeting demand, people are going to be skeptical about any kind of "revolution."

The truly scary figure wasn't the shipping of only 500K at launch, but only 3 million by the end of 2001. Both Xbox and Gamecube are slated to launch by then, and 3 mil isn't exactly a massive army of owners. Even the DC managed 2 mil by the PS2's launch, and everyone (myself included) is predicting its doom.

Add in Konami's blatantly public support of the Xbox and Square's eventual need for every human being to sign up for PlayOnline so they can afford to make movies and you have the PS2 looking less and less like the exclusive tech leap it was once thought to be.

-Ed M.
GIA Agent

Only 3 million units is an interesting revelation. That probably won't cut it, if you ask me. Not unless Microsoft and Nintendo have the same production issues, which is doubtful. I think Sony needs to capitalize on the possibility of a craze, and if they can't meet demand by the summer (not meeting the demand around Christmastime is expected and even acceptable, I'd say), then that will hurt their plans to rule the known universe.

And amount of units sold affects developer support. Such a revelation could cause companies to shift alliances. We'll have to see.


Hey AK

I've thought of a great idea for a new game. It combines strategy battles, a complex and deep story, and above all, little white candies. It's the sequel to Final Fantasy Tactics ...

Final Fantasy Tic Tacs.


What I do to get a letter printed.

On a more serious note, there's something that might help the image of video games in North America - arcade games, or rather, their absence. I ride a ferry about twice a month, one that takes around 500 passengers per sailing(broad guess). In every ferry terminal, there are arcade games, and they're basically all the same - mindlessly violent. That wouldn't be too bad, but they're also bloody annoying, sound-wise, with 'music' that loops every five to ten seconds and irritating sound effects to boot. Of course, everyone in the room can hear them, and once you get on the ferry, they're still there, in full force.

To the person who has never experienced games on computer or console, these arcade games, these things that deny you the ability to think while you wait for your ferry, define what video games are for you. Not exactly a positive image, is it? I sometimes see little kids whining to their parents to let them play video games, and of course Mommy isn't going to let them because the things are driving her insane. When the kids ask for a PS2 for Christmas, is she likely to change her mind?

I've had fun with arcade games in the past - notably Street Fighter 2 and The Simpsons ... but I imagine that a good three quarters of the people who come across arcade games are repulsed by them. All the negativity in the media about games is reinforced, and that simply can't help.

Just a thought.


Tic tacs. Hooboy. We can do without that. Anyway, the arcade thing is something I had never considered before. There are very few sizable arcardes around here, and at those the big attention-drawers are usually the big booth-type ones, such as the car racers or the motorcycle one where you actually lean or the snowboarding one where you're on a snowboard or the football one where the retired Lawrence Taylor actually plants the crown of his helmet into your unsuspecting kidney.

At restaurants and other small venues, though, I do usually see an arcade unit or two, generally a classic shoot 'em up, a simple car racer, and a pinball machine. The parents I see with their kids usually lead them to the car racer, and a good time is had by all until the kid cries because he accidentally ran over a cat and refuses to drive until he turns 38.

Perception is a big deal, though, and if people's first impressions ARE in arcades, then their perception is likely to be a negative one. My only question is whether or not those first impressions really are in arcades, these days. In days gone by, yes, but today? I'm not sure. Not only that, a large part of the videogame audience, especially in shoot 'em ups and sports, is the late high school to college aged crowd, where the parental opinion is negligable.

Closing Comments:

The weekend half over already? Say it ain't so! And say something in an email! That you send to me! Right now! Peace.

-Andrew Kaufmann

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