There are plenty of ups and downs in the world of gaming: stock value, console popularity, release dates, and the current status of the PlayStation network. Let's see who's riding that rocky road in the industry this week.
Tokyo Game Show Stock Market Insanity
Earlier this month, the Tokyo Game Show demonstrated that Japan is experiencing many of the same gaming trends that we've been seeing in North America. So-called "social" gaming made a big splash at the show, as did smartphone gaming. Stockholders in Japan are as enamored of these new trends as they are here, despite the fact that free-to-play social games rely on a very small percentage of players for their revenue and that only a tiny number of smartphone app games make a healthy profit.
So what happened to Japan's traditional game companies during the show? Almost all of them lost stock value on the Tokyo exchange, with Nintendo, Square Enix, and NAMCO Bandai suffering the most harm. Sony was an exception to the rule, getting a lot of attention from the announcements around the PS Vita. Interestingly, niche companies such as Nihon Falcom and Marvelous Entertainment did fairly well on the market during the show, possibly because their investors are more likely to be fans of their titles rather than simply people looking to make a buck.
The entire Japanese market experienced a major stock downslide after the show, and though things are stabilizing, if I were running a game company right now, I'd stick to being privately-owned. Perhaps games in general would be better if companies only had to worry about making a profit off sales rather than pleasing fickle shareholders.
Nintendo 3DS Too Confusing for Consumers?
There's been a fair bit of talk around the 'Net about a study on the awareness and perception of the Nintendo 3DS. Unfortunately for those of us who enjoy the 3D display on the device, 28% of 3DS owners surveyed said that the 3D effect detracted from the gameplay experience compared to 22% who said it improved gameplay. Interestingly, only 13% of 3DS owners reported that they played with the 3D effect turned off. I'm not sure what to think of the 9% of respondents who dislike gaming with the 3D effect, yet keep it on anyway. Did they miss the very obvious slider that says "3D" on it?
There have been some misunderstandings about the survey results, however, with some reports stating that 28% of 3DS owners don't know that the 3D display on the 3DS can be viewed without graphics. That is untrue; fortunately gamers aren't quite that oblivious. The actual survey result is that 28% of people who are aware of the existence of the 3DS are unaware that the device doesn't
require glasses. That makes more sense, and shows that Nintendo needs to do more mainstream advertisement on glasses-free 3D. Perhaps more Wii-style advertisements of happy families on white couches viewing 3D without glasses are in order?
Selling Wiis Could Get You Sued
One of these days, somebody needs to get ahold of the wacky patent lawsuit situation in the United States. A company called UltimatePointer supposedly holds a patent on a, "method for controlling movement of a computer display cursor based on a point-of-aim of a pointing device," a rather vague patent if I ever heard one. Of course, UltimatePointer is using this patent to sue Nintendo and a ton of companies that have sold the Nintendo Wii, as if these companies were somehow complicit in patent infringement. Unfortunately, it isn't just the likes of GameStop, Best Buy, and Walmart that have been caught up in the lawsuit. UltimatePointer is going after the small fry, too.
One particular unfortunate small retailer is on the lawsuit list despite having sold a grand total of twelve Nintendo Wiis, most of them secondhand. Industry watchers suspect that this retailer was targeted due to being located in Texas, which has laws that are conducive to the sort of "patent troll" lawsuit that UltimatePointer is conducting. Small, independent game retailers are already an endangered species in the USA, and it's very unfortunate to see one swept up into a frivolous lawsuit it probably can't afford to fight.
By Becky Cunningham
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*