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Star Trek MMO is in the Works

Holy crap, a Star Trek MMO!

Cryptic Studios™, a leading independent developer and publisher of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), announced today that it has secured the global rights to develop and publish Star Trek® Online, a massively multiplayer online game based on the legendary Star Trek franchise, from CBS Consumer Products.

Cryptic will unveil the first Star Trek Online gameplay footage as well as details about this highly anticipated MMO at the annual Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas on Sunday, August 10, 2008. Trek fans from around the globe can also view the event live via webcast at www.startrekonline.com.

E3 Predictions Part 2: Xbox 360 Price Cut Won’t Help Sales

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An astute reader of this site (Okay fine, Hello aceattorney from Xboxcheaterwatch) read my original predictions post from yesterday and brought up a few interesting points.

He started off with my lack of mention of any price cuts. As you can tell by the title of this post, I don’t think they matter all that much. Consider why a console would cut its price. The main factors are stagnant sales and/or the need to cut price in the face of a competitors price cut.

Sony isn’t going to be cutting the price of the PS3 at all as confirmed today by their CFO. Sony could be lying, but why would they need to cut the price of the PS3 now with easily the best game of the year in Metal Gear Solid 4? The value of the PS3 at $399 considering the Blu Ray player, media capabilities, and library as a total package sits today as the best bang for your buck in a console. Plus, the numbers don’t lie. The PS3 is doing just fine in terms of sales against the Xbox 360.

The Nintendo Wii is still selling like hot cakes on the backing of such titles as Wii Fit and Mario Kart. Almost two years later, I still don’t think I have seen one in a store just perusing through. A price cut for them makes almost no sense at this point.

We’ve all on the other hand by now seen the all but confirmed rumors of Microsoft’s price cut (thank you retail circulars). When you make the claim you have the best library of next gen games and the best online console gaming service; you would think the sales numbers would be heavily in your favor. Yet, they’re not. A price cut will help sales only marginally as the cut to $299 in of itself isn’t really all that significant. The Xbox 360 has four main issues none of which are addressed by a price cut.

1. The library is stagnant. As a gamer, what exclusives have you done for me lately? Sure, Halo 3 was great but that was almost a year ago now which might as well be ten years ago in this industry. Where are the next good exclusive games? Forget sequels and games that can’t live up to the hype and promise (Sorry Denis). Show me substance. Where you at on that Microsoft?

2. Xbox 360 is undeniably stuck in yesterday. The next gen format war loss for HD-DVD still looms large even though Microsoft didn’t officially back one format over another. The use of a plain ol’ DVD will as time goes on this generation become a bigger and bigger problem for 360 games. I’m not even sure there’s a viable solution for this problem for at least another year because the last thing you would want to do is launch a blu ray player internally or externally that ends up costing more than a PS3 (and let’s face it MS, you are severely guilty of your overpriced accessories).

3. Xbox live made a lot of nice strides this generation, but Sony is catching up online. No spring update to speak of and no news on a fall update to this point. There’s a lot Xbox live is missing, where is it? How do you skip an entire update time window and make no statement? Where is the conference chat, inter-game party ability, and the web browser? Where’s netflix and IPTV? I don’t want to hear the tired excuse of “If we work on that, we won’t be able to work on other cool stuff”. Sony is catching up in terms of services and quality of service, and most of it is free. Put up or shut up time for the live team.

4. The overall direction of the brand and the new leadership regime is extremely suspect. I made point of this yesterday. Motion controls? Home clones? This sounds like the strategy Electronic Arts used to use when they were the laughingstock of the industry. Yet at the same time, many of these same executives have made the move to MS. A ton of people and companies who made the Xbox what it was have left the division or company altogether. A long list including former front man Peter Moore, Bungie, Shane Kim, and Jeff Bell (oh noes!). Who is Don Mattrick and where is he?

A price cut solves none of these issues. A price cut helps propel sales a little but without the substance to back it up what is the point? You’ll see a slight bleep in the increase of sales post announcement and it will be spun as a major success by PR but is it really? Maybe Microsoft has something up their sleeves worth showing at E3 and maybe they don’t. But a price cut doesn’t address any of fundamental issues that are plaguing the console at this point in time. This price cut was extremely overdue to begin with and it’s just not that significant to change the game. It’s just temporarily plugging one hole on what now appears to be a sinking ship.

E3 Predictions

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Every one else does one of these, so why not me? E3 sits 4 days away from the opening festivities and it’s time to shoot the breeze with uber predictions of winners and losers.

I’ve been told I am way too critical by a few people in the industry and that my writings are misleading. So I am going to try a new approach and start with the positive. Although I don’t know per say who is going to come ahead at the end of the day some things within the industry now are just a given. And they’re sort of positive, I guess.

Nintendo will continue to count its dollars on the biggest gamble/payoff ever in the history of the industry even if all its remaining software titles are the latest cheerleading game. Reggie could come on stage next week and say our biggest holiday title is a horse racing sim and start to strip and Wii sales won’t bat an eyelash. I actually do think when Nintendo takes the stage they’ll pound their own chests regarding sales for a good long while and in typical Nintendo fashion rehash the next iteration of a first party franchise or two and go forward. When the formula sure as hell isn’t broken, why try and fix it? “Winning” E3 isn’t what keeps their brass awake at night. In fact, I am not sure why Nintendo bothers to show up. Probably because everyone else is and they’ll try to shock and awe the industry.

The most interesting battle is obviously between Microsoft and Sony. As you’ll recall now 6+ months ago on this site I said this would be Sony’s year and thus far it has been. Metal Gear Solid 4 is the game of the generation and I don’t see anything on the horizon that is really going to change that.

There’s a simple philosophy in business, competition, sports, and even life. Don’t be a reactionary, make stuff happen yourself. Losers react to what comes at them by emulation. Winners are emulated. What I see out of Microsoft in easy to find rumors is as reactionary as it gets. Waggle motes and a home clone. I hope for their sake, it’s all untrue. If it is, it’s pretty embarrassing.

The last thing you want to do as a product is to lose and compromise the identity you’ve spent so much money and time on building. I have news for the folks at Microsoft if true: You are NOT Nintendo. Your audience which is over 10 million strong does not give a crap about motion controls. Motion controls are not going to entice a new audience (in this case let’s face it, young children) to ask mom and dad for a 360 this holiday. The Xbox has become pretty stagnant thus far in 2008 and it’s a sequels rush come the holiday. I am really excited for is Fable 2 and that’s mostly because I love Peter Molyneux’s vision and think on a console from this generation his original vision of Fable is achievable. Gears 2 has to this point looked too much like Gears 1 for my taste. I’m not sold on either Too Human or Banjo. Maybe the Bungie crew will announce Halo 4, but who knows.

Sony has a bunch of momentum coming into E3. But, still have a lot to prove during next week’s show that his holiday they will have a sustainable lineup. I’d like to see Killzone 2, Little Big Planet, GT5, Socom, and a slew of other games. Plus, Blu ray has caught on as the de facto next gen movie format so there is a lot of value in a PS3. Especially if they drop the price on the hardware. I am interested to see how Home is shaping up after all this time and if Sony really was able to pull off the lofty expectations they created a year ago.

I predict Nintendo to have a pretty even keel E3, nothing all that shocking will be announced at this point. Microsoft I think has punched themselves out and need some new IP to revitalize the software lineup. Sony is now in a position to offer the most interesting games and features of all three consoles and should they capitalize on it, will be in the driver’s seat easily for the foreseeable future.

(A quick aside, it’s pretty sad to think that the once mighty show that captivated such a wide audience and so many people now has its vitality and use in question. The short story is that the ESA has proven their incompetence over the last two years with the new E3 and a lot of companies who once showed up to E3 have pulled out. Add to that the draconian rules in place (which you PR companies now use as a crutch as an excuse to restrict access even though it’s obvious it’s nearly total bullshit) and you have the glitz and glamor turned into what a lot of people view as a pretty boring show. But anyway, I’ll have a lot more to say about that once it’s over next week.)

Win 100 Horror DVDs Courtesy of Dead Space

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That above you is what the EA Dead Space team considers to be the top 100 horror DVDs of all time. (Speaking of, did you guys see the rumors of Dead Space having a lot of roots in System Shock?). You there can win said DVDs via their sweep stakes at http://deadspace.ea.com/sweepstakes .

Some of the highlights in their collection include some of my personal favorites such as Serenity, A Clockwork Orange, and the Saw trilogy!

Keep an eye out here at 2Op over the next week as there is some show in Los Angeles you may or may not have heard of before regarding video games or something. I should hopefully have more from Dead Space and a slew of other game titles then!

PrizeFighter Conference Call in 30 minutes

2Op will be on the hook with Don King, Larry Holmes, and 2K sports regarding Prizefighter. I hope to find out why the demo was delayed and other info about the online portion of the game. Keep it locked here at 10 AM for the live blog.

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