This holiday’s Harry Potter offering forgoes the Grand Theft Hogwarts/campus crawling adventure for something like third-person cover shooter, which I have heard alternately called “Order of the Marcus Fenix” or “Gears of Wand.” I am not without affection for Harry Potter, and I like Video Games, but I’ve only played a couple hours total of products set in the universe which I’m sure must strike them as odd. It’s just that they’ve never given me a game I want to play all the way through.
I think there is something to this new approach. I’m sure that makes me a bad person.
We’ve been on 1 vs 100 twice. It was fun both times, if a little disembodied and strange, and being in the booth surrounded by so much whirring human machinery - you’d have been shocked to see how busy they were in there - was a radical subversion of an ordinary day. Hearing that it’s been cancelled makes me genuinely sad.
The game had some cache with Teh Hardc0rz, but the thing that struck us when we were on the show was how far outside of Kansas we had gone. For the purposes of this metaphor, Kansas describes the metaphorical region where the traditional gaming enthusiast hails from. Looking at the mails that streamed in throughout the show, looking at the pictures that were sent in, and the tweets chirped, these people weren’t (in aggregate) our people.
There they were, families on couches, their dogs physically present: the elusive “mainstream gamer.” It was like seeing a real yeti. They had these yetis, or people, or whatever, and they were there connected and playing the game. These are the people Microsoft supposedly wants, the ones they’re trying at tremendous expense to snare with Kinect, except they are already here.
Xbox Live as a service is essentially a toll bridge, and as more functionality as emerged, additional toll bridges have been set up beyond the first one, creating “pay to pay” scenarios such as the one that governs Netflix. 1 vs 100 was such a sharp segue from that policy: a game, unlike anything you could buy, that expressed in an effortless way the value of a connected community. It personified that realm, which is to say it transformed it into people. Joy Ride, prior to its shift to both retail and Kinect, was another point in this continuum. It was good. They felt like the fruit of a living service.
I’ve heard all the reasons mentioned in the story on Kantorko for canceling the product - it wasn’t paying for itself, the licensor was turning the screws, that kind of stuff. That’s all pretty boring, not to mention ridiculous, and it’s really starting to look it’s someone’s job to stomp the tiny flowers that manage to pierce the asphalt over there.