Saturday, August 2, 2008

Far from the Madden crowd

I must admit I'm a bit of a gaming enthusiast, especially sports games. I've been playing for ten years now though sadly without ever mastering any game I've ever tried; my finger coordination just isn't fast enough to cope with any game at advanced/professional level. Despite my lack of talent I keep hoping that some day I'll stumble upon some magic formula that will enable me to step up a level and play as well as the average 13 year old. I've tried most of the sports available; FIFA, NHL, NBA, Cricket and most recently Madden (American football).

EA Sports' Madden 09 is due for imminent release and that causes an enormous media hype especially in the States. Today I decided to order it and discovered to my horror that it won't be available for PC this year and the message is clear - if you want to play sports games in the future you'd better invest in Xbox or Play Station or you can forget it. Of course it's not too expensive to go out and buy a console and continue playing but I feel frustrated at the whole issue.

How many electronic boxes do I have to buy every year to keep up with development? What's the life expectancy of each of these boxes/formats/programs? We've got lots of boxes, enormous tangles of cables and other electronic equipment around the house but have chosen not to invest in a games console since the computers have so far filled that role. I'll probably be forced to fork out in the end but only under protest.

Think of all the music and films you have. Vinyl LPs, audio cassettes, CDs, mp3 files, VHS, DVDs, mini DV cassettes etc etc. All of them requiring different players and virtually no compatibility anywhere. I've managed to convert lots of music to mp3 but when will that become obsolete? At times like these I can understand how some of my more technophobe friends feel. Whatever you buy will be out of date a couple of months after you've bought it. It certainly keeps the wheels of commerce in motion but I do wish we could have a bit of stability for a while.

Proprietary solutions are the headache. Can't we try and find audio and video formats that can be played by all devices? Games that can be played on all devices? The answer is sadly predictable - companies earn more money by shutting out each other. Your Play Station game is just as useless without a Play Station console as the old Betamax video format (remember that?) was useless without a Betamax player. You pay your money and take your choice but tough luck if you bet on the wrong format.

Will I buy Madden 09? Not at present anyway and maybe not at all. Problem is I suspect that my desire to keep playing sports games will be greater than my futile protest at market forces.

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