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Why I'll Pass on the Next "Beta" Generation of Consoles...

"We don't need no beta testing.  We don't need no bad controls."

When I was a child, my parents impressed upon me the importance of finishing what you started. Giving a homemade gift that was either halfassed or not completed was considered the height of rudeness.  And as an adult, I fully stand by this idea.

Which is why I've been somewhat nonplussed by the problems that unfinished technology seems to bring to the gaming (and technology in general) market.  When I was younger, one's hard earned money was to be spent on the highest quality product for the best price that lasts the longest.

Quality, value pricing, and longevity. It's like the Triforce of great technology!

Even though the Game Boy/Game Boy Color and SNES might have been considered "ancient" by our current standards of gaming, the majority of games that came out worked. When you pressed the button to jump, the character jumped.  The direction pad made the character move in the direction it was supposed to.  And the console?  It had a good long run to the point that by the end of the console's lifetime, developers were pretty comfortable with making games for it.

The only other console that really felt the same way was the Playstation 2, which beyond the SNES, is basically the King of Consoles.

I SAID CONSOLES! CONSOLES! NOT COSMOS!

According to Wikipedia:

"The PS2 is the best-selling console of all time, having reached over 150 million units sold as of January 31, 2011.[6][7] This milestone was reached 10 years and 11 months after the system was released in Japan on March 4, 2000. Further, Sony said it had 10,828 titles available for the system and that 1.52 billion PS2 titles had been sold since launch.[8] In late 2009, with developers creating new games and the console still selling steadily a decade after its original release, Sony stated that the life cycle of the PlayStation 2 will continue until demand ceases.[9] The console was succeeded by the PlayStation 3 in 2006."

Yes, you heard them right.  PS2 games were still being made, 3 years after the release of PS3 and there are a couple titles that are STILL being made, even though we have PS3.

Someone forgot to tell this to  technology companies.

But today, we have so many products and each one seems to have a faster and faster level of obsolescence with the obligatory gigantic price tag, and for what?  A product that promises to "improve" later on? So what is it with the madness of developing products that seem to be eternally "beta" (or below?) in quality?

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Sarah Perez of Read Write Web has some thoughts on the subject:

"The everyday consumer doesn't buy a product based on its "potential." They buy based on what works, what they can afford and what they're told is good.

Sadly, there's no way around the fact that companies have to rush to ship in order to have a chance at catching up to Apple's already dramatic lead here, but it's also the very thing that's causing these products to either fail, stagnate, or just barely hang on as the companies quickly try to ramp up behind-the-scenes.

Wouldn't it be great to see something finished, polished, complete, perfect and downright disruptive, from someone else besides Apple? I'd welcome the change, but even as Windows Phone-using, Android-loving, PlayBook-testing, iPad-owning gadget fan, I don't believe that day has arrived yet. What we have instead is a lot of spaghetti thrown against a wall, and some that will stick.

What will your next gadget be? Choose wisely, you have a lot of money riding on that bet."

Source: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archive/consumers_dont_want_prototypes_they_want_ipads.php

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This does not just apply to tablets, unfortunately. When the XBOX360 first came out, for example, there was a huge problem-THEY PUT THE PROCESSING UNIT NEXT TO THE HEAT SYNC.  And unfortunately, this led to the aptly-name "Red Ring Of Death."

....and then everyone died...well, not really, just the XBOX, but no one was really surprised about THAT one.

I don't know if I mentioned this, but when my husband first got his white XBOX 360, it red-ringed after maybe a month.  The replacement lasted about 6 months.  And it kept going on like that every so often and long before his "extra warranty" would run out, he'd be back, replacing it for another one.  Finally, he got so annoyed, that he ended up trading his 360 in for the newer version, and so far, it's been pretty good, because they finally MOVED THE DANG HEAT SYNC.

This is the kind of thing that keeps making me really afraid about the next generation of consoles and handhelds.  Remember when they released the "free sleeve grips and wrist straps" because people were throwing Wiimotes through their windows and TV screen?  Remember when they created the Wii Motion Plus and then decided to make you pay 30 or more bucks PER CONTROLLER to make it do what it WAS SUPPOSED TO DO WHEN IT WAS RELEASED?! 

I mean, we're already seeing this with the Wii U and the 3DS.  Technology that generally comes out an exorbitant price but looks somewhat half-done and within a couple of months the lackluster sales show it for what it really is-a lot of glitz without very much substance (kind of like all those processed foods they keep trying to sell us at the store).  Sure, we get a lot of publicity and people buzzing about it on their Facebook pages, but generally the reality is less than expected.  And the worst part?  The price tag goes up and up, suckering people into buying inferior products that really aren't much better than prototypes and beta software.

All work and no gaming makes Jack want to TAKE AN AXE TO HIS CONSOLE  AND THE JERKWAD WHO SOLD IT TO HIM!!!!

And what about the PS3 hacktastic month of fail?  Even though we've been on the internet for years and know pretty dang well about the fact that once you put something online, it's vulnerable to attacks by nasty hackers, apparently Sony did not take this into consideration when they developed their console to hook up to a network and go online.  And that's not even beginning to talk about how much of an energy hog the PS3 is on your monthly PG&E bill.  According to the PG&E guy who came over awhile back as part of PG&E's program to lower low-income properties monthly energy expenses, you can run an XBOX and a Wii for hours without a significant spike in your energy bill, but a PS3 will quadruple your energy expenditure if you leave it on for just a couple hours.  Imagine my shock when I heard that!

Who cares if your PS3 was rendered almost as useless as a paperweight? Well, at least your energy bill was only 20 bucks that month!  It's the small things, really.

When the DS first came out, I thought, "Ok, that's kind of cool," but I still waited a number of years because I knew it wasn't ready yet.  Then the DS Lite came out and I was in love with the simple shape and ease of use that it inspired in the gamer.  That and the brighter screen sealed my purchase (it helped that they were doing a limited edition Zelda release). The truth be told, Nintendo took the DS and basically did what they forgot to do for the Wii.  They started out simple without any bells and whistles (take a look at the graceful simplicity of launch titles like Polarium, for example), but they WORKED and gosh darn it but they were FUN.  Of course, as games continued to be released, they found ways to put touch screen integration into the game in a more seamless way (remember Okamiden, Hotel Dusk and Elite Beat Agents?  each of these games were perfectly matched for the DS's touch screen).

Toad is watching you.....as you frivolously spend your money on crap.

When the DSi came out, I was basically like, ".....Seriously guys?"

The DSi is basically the 3DS prototype, only without the 3D.  It feels and acts a lot like a prototype too (the only reason I know this is because I had one for a short time- it was turned in by a coworker who found it on the ground at the park and I figured out where the kid who owned it went to school because of all the pictures in the system, and then was able to return it to the school to the principal, who recognized the pictures and called the kid's mom so that she could come pick it up).  While there is access to the DSWare store and the camera editing abilities, generally these are apps that are done far better by most Apple products.  Once again, Nintendo is trying too hard to tack on random stuff to "match up" with other technology markets that are releasing polished, finished products, and it shows.

Apparently, if you look at 3DS screens too long, your face will stick this way.

And the 3DS so far has not really interested me, because other than being really expensive and generally having more expensive games that I generally won't even play in 3D ANYWAY, there is really no reason to get it.

Ocarina of Time, you say?  I have it right here, on the N64, where it works just fine.

Link to the Past, you say?  My SNES is still plugging along, and it's only a little younger than *I* am-that's pretty dang impressive for a piece of "outdated" technology.

Oh, what?  Tetris?  You see, I stil have my GBA SP, and I can play Gameboy and GBA games whenever I want.

And sure, there are games that I'd love to play for DS that have not been localized yet, and my seething resentment at the fact that Nintendo seems to love to shut down production on pretty much every previous incarnation of their console/handhelds once they jump to something new and more lucrative, but that's for another blog.

In conclusion, I guess what I'm trying to say here is that in regards to crappy beta BS and unfinished prototype designs being sold as "finished products," my answer is a resounding

BUT!

As for my belief that companies have the capacity to understand this fact and decide to work on creating more quality products (including both console, handheld and software) that are fully finished before releasing them to the public, I say:

And honestly?  I think it's up to us, the gamers and gaming fans, who need to take a stand and say,

"NO MORE BS UNFINISHED PRODUCTS AT BS HIGH PRICES!"

Of course, if you want to give me your beta prototype for free, I'm totally up for that. ;)

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So, any thoughts, gripes, complaints, rants, or nods of agreement?

I await your responses as always! :)

 

 

 

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