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Monday, 26 November 2012

Can the Wii U be a success in the United Kingdom?

The Wii U has already been released in the United States and despite complaints that the system will be a failure, has sold 400,000 units in the 8 days it has been out. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, Wii U's predecessor, the Wii, has been the top seller in the console wars, with Xbox 360 second and PS3 trailing last.

Modern gaming is split into two sections nowadays - the "gamers games", which will involve either rehashes or sequels of classic games, or be general modern "hardcore games", such as Assassins Creed, Mass Effect, Dead Space, Bioshock, Portal, to name very few. The rehash games are often developed by Nintendo, such as Mario and Zelda, but third party companies like Sega and Capcom develop these too. The other section, are the "casual games". These games can be considered system sellers, as they are played by casual gamers. People who had no interest in video games ended up purchasing Xbox's or PS3's to play games like Call of Duty or Fifa (these games are well known to be inferior on the Wii due to the gimmicky controls and low-resolution graphics). These "casual gamers" usually have no intent on playing games like Bioshock or Mass Effect, as it was never their intention to play what can be considered proper video games. The "hardcore games" I am referring to are mostly on the Xbox and PS3 rather than the Wii, which was another way the Xbox and PS3 were sold as they owned the games.

In England, despite the Wii being sold more than the Xbox or PS3 due to the whole family appeal, a lot of people who play games in the country are the "casual gamers". Playing Fifa is like a religion to some, and is one of the only games some people will play for the console. It is considered embarassing to own a Wii in England as it's seen as the "baby" console due to family-friendly advertising and a glut of casual games on shelves. The nerds are often associated with the Wii as well as it owns the Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and other first party games, which is true - a lot of people who play these games played them when they were only first around in the 80's and 90's. Therefore, Nintendo has alienated the "casual gamer", who can be considered the main consumer of the industry.

Nintendo has vowed to "lure the hardcore gamer back" with the Wii U, and they have done this with less casual, family orientated adverts, and instead focuses on both the first party games, and the third party games, which are actually quite strong. For example, games like Mass Effect, Tekken, Batman, and Assassins Creed which used to be exclusive to the Xbox and PS3, are now on the Wii U. This could be crucial to help the Wii U sell units, as not only do they have their first party games, they now have the popular hardcore third party games.

The Wii U comes, as like every other console, a new console, and in true Nintendo fashion tries to stay as innovative as possible. It's not quite as futuristic as the motion controls of the Wii Remote, but the rise of tablet and mobile gaming may prove to be useful to Nintendo due to the Gamepads similarity.
As someone who has played it, I found the Gamepad to be comfortable, the screen to be a nifty, non-gimicky inclusion, as well as having a clear display. I believe the Gamepad is not something to be doubted just yet.

While the United States is more open about Nintendo gaming, and will possibly be even more so thanks to the inclusion of third party games, it's still going to be hard to convince the casual gamer of England to buy the Wii U. It's still not going to be the essential purchase for the gamer only interested in Fifa or Call of Duty. It certainly won't sell as well as the Wii did due to the lack of futuristic innovation and family appeal, but I disagree with the popular doubt (even supported by Nolan Bushnell, creator of Pong) that the Wii U will be the "end of an era" for Nintendo.

Friday, 20 January 2012

SOPA/PIPA gone for good?

As I write this, within the hour, the SOPA and PIPA bills have supposedly been "killed". To those thinking it's gone for good, the truth is that it has been "shelved indefinitely". Many different news websites and blogs may tell you otherwise, but as stated by Senate majority leader Harry Reid, the bill will be "postponed". Despite this, there is widespread belief that the bill is gone for good, and the internet is safe. But how sure of that can we be?

In recent weeks, the SOPA/PIPA bills have recieved a staggering amount of backlash and attention, more of my fellow students have posted their feelings about the bill on Facebook (which I found to be a good opportunity to share the blog article I wrote last month to inform more people), and have even threatend to riot if the bill is passed - an exaggeration we can all be sure of. Of course their parents won't be taking them to London to aid them in their 10-manned attempts of making a point. But the rages of teenagers are besides the point I wish to make today.

Actually, staying on the topic of raging teengers, hacktivist group "Anonymous", which for those who don't know is a group of internet hackers who attempt to bring down websites and organisations they don't agree with. Oh, they also like to appear as threatening as possible by using robotic voices in their video messages and wearing V for Vendetta masks at their public protests. Much of the internet supports Anonymous due to their motives as people who "speak for the internet", but many also see Anonymous as a bit of a joke, sometimes making threats which they can't even fulfill, and whose melodrama can make them seem almost embarassingly pathetic. However, after the deletion of popular filesharing website "Megauploads", Anonymous was able to momentarily bring down the US Governments website, while continuing to preach their message of internet users to "stand together" in the battle. Rightfully so, there has been much praise for the hacktivist group.

Those who know about the SOPA/PIPA bills also know about the fact that websites that have any kind of "copyrighted material" on their websites, will be taken down. On the 18th of Jan, websites such as Explosm, Minecraft, Reddit, and Mozilla did "Blackout protests", where users would find a message informing them of the SOPA/PIPA bills policies, instead of gaining any access to inside the website. A special mention goes to Wikipedia, where their blackout message was seen by 1.8million people, giving users more knowledge of the bills policies. The blackout was considered a huge success - a substantial amount of supporters for the bill backed down, and many believed that SOPA/PIPA were dead. But celebrations were short lived when the following day, "Megauploads", home to millions of music videos, tv shows, and downloadable files, was deleted by the US government. Naturally, rage and panic surged through the internet. Anonymous declared themselves as "no longer playing nice", and this was proved when they bought down the US governments website, while internet users realised that SOPA/PIPA was not down yet, and many others also realised that even though the bill hadn't yet passed, the government still had the power to take down websites for exaggerated copyright claims.

The deletion of Megauploads has been a hot topic since this morning, yet earlier this evening, there was the announcment that SOPA/PIPA had been shelved indefinitely. As this was big news, everyone seemed to interprete this in their own way. Many shared their belief that SOPA/PIPA were gone forever, and that this was a victory for the internet, however as stated earlier, this hopeful assumption is just not true.

Now, while SOPA/PIPA being shelved is certainly a brilliant step forward, we should all know that the battle is not over yet. It's been shelved indefinitely - it is not gone for good. Internet users should still keep a look out and be prepared - there is no way of knowing when the bills may come back. There have been rumours that the government may be able to make another version of the bills that both sides can agree on. But let's be realistic here - the government and the public can't agree on anything, and with any version of the bills created, there will be an aspect that people will be able to pick out, and thus the arguments shall rage on.

As previously mentioned, we can all take a sigh of relief for now. But remember this, it's not yet over. Keep knowledge of the bills and be prepared for any kind of mention that the bills may come back. We must make it known that we have not forgotten about the bills, and that we do not believe that it's gone for good. The government must know that we do not agree with this bill, and we do not want to see it passed. Carry on spreading your message, and be ready.