Tech industry new year’s resolutions

Come the end of the year there’s two things you can always count on. First, all facets of the media will be teeming with lists. Lists of the best whatever from the past year. Lists predicting the best whatevers of the year to come. There’s much to be done toward the end of the year and lists present an easy and fun option both to the producer and the consumer.

The second inevitability is that people will make promises to themselves and those close to them about the ways in which their behaviour will improve during the incoming year, as though the sun that rises on January 1 is especially imbued with some hopeful potential-freeing energy and is different from the sun that casts a bitter resentful gloom over April 27.

So in the spirit of such arbitrary conventions, here’s a list of resolutions that probably should be taken up by our biggest games and tech companies.

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A very retail Christmas

This may be one of the very last years that retail stores play a big part in pushing holiday software, and so it may also be one of the last years of ludicrous undercutting ‘sales’ at stores packed with old people, price-drops, surprise bundles, crazy outdoor advertising and a copy of GoldenEye under every tree (OK so there was only ever one year for that, but damn I wish every holiday season since was as exciting).

So what will be waiting in the stores for holiday shoppers? Plenty of great multi-platform games hit retail this month and next, including Assassin’s Creed III, WWE 13, Call of Duty Black Ops II, Hitman Absolution, Far Cry 3 and Need for Speed Most Wanted. The big three hardware companies will obviously be looking to leverage these games on their own console but they’ll be paying particular attention to pushing their own exclusive software as well.

Of course there’s nothing to say a lot of people won’t be recieving gifts of awesome games that released earlier in the year or even in years previous, but it’s the new stuff that will be getting the biggest marketing push. So here’s a look at the games coming out this month and next month, as well as a look at the latest available models and bundles of each company’s hardware that will be available in stores this holiday shopping season.

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Nintendo’s troll trouble

Any major hardware release is preceded by a period of speculative analysis – predictions of the quality and specifications of the final product based only on whatever details are available. While much of the Wii U analysis follows familiar trends – either caution or approval following each one of the breadcrumbs of information falling from Nintendo’s hand – a bizarre amount seems to be fiercely negative and often incompatible with the details given by the console’s manufacturer.

Every analyst is entitled to a point of view, and there is certainly some negative Wii U stuff floating around that makes a fair point. However it’s worrisome that so much of the nonsensical stuff comes from mainstream news sources, which will make up many consumers’  primary source of info on the new console. So with that in mind, here’s a few of the more extreme arguments I’ve seen in the last few weeks, and why I think they’re bogus.

Finalised Wii U hardware. Image courtesy of GameReactor.

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What Nintendo’s 3DS might tell us about Wii U

With only a day and a bit to go until we finally get some solid details on the Wii U launch plans, this might be the final opportunity for some optimistic speculation. Everybody expects at least launch dates, price and an idea of launch titles, and many are hopeful for online service details and a look ahead at the future of some of the big N’s major franchises. However Nintendo has a history of defying both expectations and the dreams of hopeful fans, so rather than try to predict what may be on show at the event I’m taking a look at the company’s last major piece of hardware to see what hints it may hold to their direction with Wii U.

Social integration

We know Nintendo’s looking to tie gamers together and drive discussion with an integrated social network it likens to a Facebook specifically for games, called Miiverse. Hopefully we’ll get further details soon, but considering the approach of recent 3DS games might shed some light.

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Software review: Dropbox


There was once a time, I assume, where one’s level and kind of productivity was limited by geography. Today, for example, I’m taking a trip from Melbourne to Bendigo. It’s easy to imagine a pre-internet time where such a trip would separate me from my work and my more productive hobbies, making for a large chunk of totally fruitless time spent on public transport with only a newspaper or book or other people to keep my mind occupied.

This is today however, and today we are blessed with advancements in the field of mobile productivity including the Dropbox suite of cloud-storage applications. Today, by the time I reach Bendigo, I hope to have written, edited and published a full review of this software.

I’m still at home now, having begun this review in the plain jane Windows notepad on my laptop. The Dropbox Windows application is always open, embedding its icon alongside ‘my documents’ in all the contexts one would expect. Uploading any file is literally as simple as creating, saving or moving a file would be in any other situation. Anything you place or save in the Dropbox drive (2 gigabytes with a free account) is sent straight to the cloud for retreival on any of your devices. Such is the fate of the words I am writing now.

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E3 wrap: The hardware / software divide

The show’s over folks. For another year we’ve been filled with all the new videogame media we can handle and all the sugary-sweet corporate friend-talk we can stomach. Over two posts I’ll be taking a look at several aspects of this year’s E3. It isn’t a blow-by-blow – that kind of analysis is best left to those actually at the show – but a consideration of the major happenings of the show against their greater industry context.

Secondary screen scramble

Everyone knew that Nintendo’s new home console was packing a secondary screen as one of its main selling points. I speculated last week that Sony might make an attempt to utilize the communications between their handheld Vita and the PS3 in order to cut Nintendo off from future software and feature exclusivity (although I noted Sony was likely to do this only in a very conservative way. There’s a lot of heat on them to be consistent right now). The surprise was Microsoft’s announcement of Xbox ‘Smart Glass’.

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E3 speculation machine day 3: Sony

With the Electronic Entertainment Expo kicking off next week, console gamers are looking to Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony to make big announcements and hyberbolic claims about the experiences they’ll be bringing us in the year to come. Over three days I’ll be taking a look at what the ‘Big Three’ are likely to have in store.

It may be a long shot, but Sony has a chance to launch a big pre-emptive strike against Nintendo this E3. It would mean resorting to blatantly leeching off Nintendo’s creativity though, so I don’t know if Sony would go for it …

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