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Worth Reading: 11/16/12

A few thoughts on Wii U just days from its launch, pondering the impact of YouTube broadcasters on games writers, and your regular assortment of games, articles, and random links.

Whether Wii U connects with an audience outside the Nintendo faithful remains the big question.
Whether Wii U connects with an audience outside the Nintendo faithful remains the big question.

We’re just days away from the Wii U launch, and much about the platform remains unclear. The online features are being rushed to completion, resulting in the delay of TVii into, at least, December, and a promised patch to introduce Miiverse, the eShop, and other features, remains in limbo, as of this writing. Whether the Miiverse ends up moving the needle will mean little to Wii U’s success.

Thanks to a shipping snafu, I might not have a chance to bring my Wii U with me over Thanksgiving. Wii was a huge hit with my parents and friends, and I was hoping to use them as outside-the-bubble barometer of this machine’s appeal. I’ve given up on declaring whether or not a Nintendo-made machine is going to be a mainstream success or not, since the last decade has seen Nintendo manage to succeed against all odds (DS, Wii) and weirdly flop when seemingly destined for triumph (3DS).

In any case, Wii U won’t be a flop in the literal sense, it’s just a matter of whether it’s perceived as such after Wii’s pop culture phenomenon. If Wii U ends up GameCube-like, appealing to a devoted Nintendo audience and not much more, that will hardly be enough to keep shareholders happy, and increase the demand for Nintendo and Apple to find harmony on iOS or something equally crazy. Nintendo won't change its ways until it absolutely has to, though.

The armchair analysis, ultimately, means very little. Nintendo continues to produce quality games, and I will both buy and play them. If that’s all Wii U amounts to, I’ll be getting of hours out of it.

Hey, You Should Play This

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Here’s an experiment: take a game usually self-sold on your website and make the whole thing available for free on Newgrounds. You earn money when people play on Newgrounds, making the site itself a form of DRM. That’s what Magical Time Bean did with Soulcaster, and if you like what you’ve played, you can pick up the sequel for only a few bucks on the company’s website. It’s free-to-play without sacrificing the developer’s need to make money, even if the amount of money the developer’s making is a fraction per unit. The parallels to music and Spotify are interesting.

And You Should Read This, Too

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One of the more interesting challenges facing future games writers will be rise of YouTube broadcasters. Blogging leveled the playing field of games writing to an extent, even if it didn’t allow that many people to make a living doing it. It remains to be see if enough amateur broadcasters can make money that it becomes a career pipeline for folks. Hell, part of the reason I started doing Spookin’ With Scoops from my apartment is because I wanted to have a better sense of how streaming works, what it’s like to talk on your own, and to engage directly with an audience.

Inspired by montages of no-scope sniper kills, Tom first armed himself with a capture card four years ago - going through several false starts before hitting the big-time when he knuckled down with The Syndicate Project. "At the time there were maybe a few hundred other people doing it on YouTube - because it was pretty expensive," he explains. "You had to get a recording device that was in Standard Definition. There was a guy called Shaun Hutchinson, also known as Hutch, and he didn't just post these sniper kills just as kills - he did a commentary over it. He talked about his life and gameplay. You'd learn about who he was - you'd grow a personality around him. You'd become a fan of who he is, and what he stands for. I still look up to him to this day."

If You Click It, It Will Play

I Don’t Know About This Kickstarter Thing, But These Projects Seem Pretty Cool

Valve Just Launched Greenlight, So Here’s Some Games That Don’t Look Terrible

Wii U Launches on Sunday, And People Are Writing About It

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+