Thats right, we brought back Alex for a second round on questions. Including his recent trip to Leipzeg, thoughts about the PS3, the xbox 360, and the Wii.
Robert: So how have you been Alex since we last chatted? How was your trip to the Leipzeg Convention?
Alex: Hi Robert, I’m well thank you. Busy, but well. Leipzig was exhausting but encouraging from a business and entertainment standpoint. I was a Leipzig virgin so it was high time I jumped in. Good show and bigger than I was expecting though with a strange almost sedate lack of ‘buzz’ in the air. Kinda’ like E3 on Prozac…
Robert: Out of all the Gaming related conventions, Leipzeg is the one I am least familiar with. Could you explain what went on there during your visit and what makes it different then all the other conventions?
Alex: Sure, well I guess Leipzig is best described as the European E3. The show was conceived to be a little more business orientated than the circus that E3 has become and after seeing what has now happened to E3, it’s probably a good idea. With the severe downscaling of E3 I predict that Leipzig will suddenly get much bigger from here on in, but fear that it will get very frivolous very quickly. Not that I disapprove of that of course, it’s just that it was the publishers who complained that E3 was not geared enough towards the business user and then with the other hand was seen chucking out pens and T-shirts from the booths! I guess we wait and see, but at least I’m only an hour away from Germany instead of the crippling 14 hour trek to LA!
Robert: Let’s jump back a couple of months shall we? What were you expecting going into the week of E3?
Alex: Mayhem. Utter mayhem. Utter mayhem and backstabbing ‘one-up-manship’ from the big boys. Exactly what we got as it happens…
Robert: What were your initial impressions after each company’s press conference? Who did you feel had the best presentation?
Alex: Tough call this time no doubt. Last year everyone knew that Sony was showing little more than pre-rendered footage. Everyone knew they were being suckered, but no one really cared! We all watched with amazement at the promises that were made. Good for Sony I say. You gotta hand it to them, they know how to put on a good show, and when compared to the slightly rough around the edges reality offered by the 360 conference, Sony had it covered. This year Sony was in a very, very tough place. They knew they had to come clean, they knew that they needed to bring us all back down to earth with a bump and they knew that the PS3 price point would be a bitter pill to swallow. All things considered, you couldn’t help but be disappointed when compared to last year’s presentation but in reality it wasn’t THAT bad at all. At least we got real footage, real games and the real facts to chew on. Over at Nintendo, I was also left a little disappointed. Better than Sony sure, they always know how to raise a smile, but vital Wii release and pricing information was held back and this left a sour taste in the mouths of many. It was Microsoft who surprisingly stole the show. After last year’s lackluster performance, they were on red hot form this time over. Great games, solid announcements, Bill Gates and a Halo 3 trailer. Who could ask for more?!
Robert: Aside from Nintendo’s presentation at E3, has the name Wii sunk in with you yet? How excited are you about the Wii overall?
Alex: No, I’m still not warming to the name, but you know what, I’m not fixating on it either. It’s just not important in the grand scheme of things. I played Wii for the first time last month and think it shows great potential. It just makes you smile in the way that all videogames used to you know?! Saying that, there are still questions that will need answering in time. Graphics were noticeably disappointing compared to the next gen HD standard we’ve become accustomed to and we still need to see how the 3rd party titles fare, but overall it’s a breath of fresh air and I think will prove a very savvy move for the big N.
Robert: People felt that Microsoft would not leave a big impact with their E3 press conference, however that changed pretty quickly. How big of an impact did Microsoft leave on you after their press conference?
Alex: Again, like I said above I was surprised. Maybe it’s due to Sony setting the bar impossibly high after last year, I don’t know. Microsoft showed this year that they really mean business and weren’t afraid to get stuck in. The GTA announcement was huge and left many (Myself included) pretty stunned. There was no doubt that Sony was left playing catch up this year. I think overall, competition is healthy, but only if the competition is strong enough to rise to the game. This year, Microsoft emphatically showed that they were.
Robert: Obviously the biggest news to come from the Sony E3 press conference was the two pricing SKU’s for the PS3. How big of an issue do you think is this for Sony? How much of an impact do you think the price will have on European gamers?
Alex: Reading between the lines, I think Sony would have dearly liked to avoid going down this road. They were openly critical of the 2 separate 360 bundles, though decided to go down the same route. The only reason for this I believe is cost. The PS3 is a monster of a machine no doubt. For every console Sony sell they will initially lose a fair sum of money, so there really was a limit on how little they could afford to price the console at. The two price points are a reflection on this, stripping the machine down as much as possible in order to at least appear competitive when faced with an Xbox 360 and an HD-DVD player. It’s a disappointing move, if not a predictable and somewhat inevitable one. In Europe I imagine the early adopter will only care about the 60GB pack anyway, so I don’t think Sony need to worry too much about the 20GB version until next year…
Robert: You mentioned that you still keep your hand in writing and performing. Have you found anything news worthy about a possible return to the tube?
Alex: Indeed I do. Been a busy boy at JOYTECH over the last few months, leaving little time for anything else though. Interestingly however, about a month ago I got a call out of the blue from an old producer friend of mine who is now working in development for a major independent UK production company. He has a pitch for a new video game show which would bring back the Big Boy Barry character in a really innovative and amusing way. I had no idea he was even working on such a show, though the pitch was incredibly advanced. The show is being touted to broadcasters as we speak. Never say never, hopefully I’ll be able to share a little more next time!
Robert: Have you ever considered the idea of video pod casting? Tons of gaming sites have been hoping on that band wagon lately and it appears to be the way to go.
Alex: Yeah, it’s on our radar, I just need more hours in the day! I’ll be honest and admit that I’m not educated in this as much as I should be, so further research is needed. Don’t forget, JOYTECH are part of the massive Take-Two and we have a corporate and professional stance to keep. Anything we do would need to be classy and thus if we do it we need to take time and do it right. Good point though….
Robert: You’ve mentioned that you work in PR & communication’s manager for JOYTECH Europe. How does your job work when promoting 3rd parties accessories to sell?
Alex: Another interesting question. My role at JOYTECH is very organic and seems to change daily. In my primary position as PR & communications Manager, I am in charge of ensuring that JOYTECH products get reviewed, seen and talked about in the press. I speak to the UK gaming press daily and as we are the Headquarters for the entire company, I liaise with my European and North American counterparts regularly to ensure that we are all singing from the same song sheet. I deal with all forms of specialist and lifestyle press, along with online and other forms of media and am in charge of writing and supplying press releases, ensuring that all media gets sufficient samples and buying the biscuits for the office. Sometimes chocolate ones. As you can imagine, it keeps me busy…
Robert: What was the latest toy/gadget/accessory that you had to promote for your company? Want to tell us a bit about it?
Alex: Oh, the all new and VERY hot Xbox 360 Control Center 540C. Brand new, this puppy hits in October. It’s a HD compatible AV Switcher that allows you to connect your Xbox 360 and up to 5 additional sources of AV equipment to just one input on your TV or Hi-Fi. It features a proprietary connection for your 360, 4 independent component video inputs, a 6 port Ethernet LAN Hub and 4 digital Optical Inputs to name just a few! It’s also been designed to look just like your 360 and is a very tasty piece of kit. Go check it out at www.joytech.net. The press are currently liking this one a lot!
Robert: Since you continue to have your hand in gaming journalism, maybe you can tell us what is your current favorite game is and why? What do you think goes into making a great game?
Alex: I’m not playing a hell of a lot at the moment to be fair, but I’m LOVING Dead Rising. It has zombies, lots of zombies, need I say more?! Honestly, it appeals to my gaming preferences. I do think games are no longer games anymore, with too many trying to strive for “Interactive experiences”. This is all well and good, but sometimes I do like to switch off, pick up a cash register and use it to hammer a zombies head in. Bliss, and in that regard VERY old school! As said above, games are now becoming such a wide form of entertainment that it’s hard to say what exactly makes them great. The production values on say Grand Theft Auto are obviously off the scale. Does this make it a “better game” than say Street fighter or even Pac Man? I guess a great game should fulfill the job it sets out to do, whether that’s providing you with 5 minute chunks of fun like Loco Roco or days and months worth of adventuring like Oblivion.
Robert: Any games coming out in the future that you can hardly wait for?
Alex: Yep, Resident Evil 5. I’m a sucker for the series and just can’t wait. The new Mario Galaxy on Wii is also up there as Mario 64 is STILL my all time No: 1 title and both Gears of War for the 360 and Heavenly Sword for PS3 also look tasty. Should be quite a year ahead I think…
Robert: Alex I want to thank you for being a good sport. And before I let you go I wanted to give you a little A blast to the past. It has been over ten years since the first episode of BTV. Anything you want to say or comment about?
Alex: Man alive, isn’t YouTube amazing? Yeah, I’ve seen that before. I’m flattered and a little amazed actually that there are people out there who are willing to take their time and effort to post these videos. Even more amazing to think that someone has had that on videotape for a decade! Incredible. I actually believe I have the largest private collection of Gamesworld shows available. One day. I’ll get round to posting them all on YouTube so we can introduce a new generation to the show. Fantastic and as said, very touching!
Robert: Thank you for your time. Hopefully we can chat again soon and continue to dig deeper inside that head of yours.
Alex: No problem at all. Not sure you’d want to dig TOO much deeper though, you never know what you may find! Hope the site continues to prosper, and do feel free to contact me again!