[NOTE: NextGen copy edited by PogoWolf for length]
#10 – The Non-Elite Elite
Instead of cutting costs, Microsoft kept the same expensive hardware design and then added even more features and jacked up the price. Now, for only $20 shy of the price of a PlayStation 3 you could own a wireless-less, HD-DVD-less system with a larger hard drive and that thunderous Xbox 360 fan noise.
It was an ELITE system. It was supposed to be top of the line ‘limited’ edition for those that wanted a ‘rare’ 360. it’s marketed to the game collectors. Not a Blunder in this respect at least. Besides, M$ did drop the price and pack in 2 games for bundle packs on the other systems.
#9 – This Heading Guaranteed 100% Free of Wii Puns
Nintendo sold 3+ million Wii’s this year. Analysts said it is just a fad.
Now an analyst has revealed a price for Nintendo’s commercial conservatism: $1.3 billion lost this holiday due to Wii shortages. Damn, that stings.
Nintendo should have listened to the Blogs. WE where all saying that the Wii was going to sell like hot cakes. Now, I firmly believe the shortage is artificial, and most likely for a good reason. Nintendo needs time for the 3rd Parties to create some good games for the weird control scheme.
#8 – We’ve Got a SKU Just for You! [Or PS3 owners.. you got SKU'd]
Remember when the two Xbox 360 models were announced back in 2005? All the pissing and moaning about two models with different specifications – the Xbox 360 Premium with a hard drive and wireless controllers and the emasculated Xbox 360 Core. Phil Harrison famously said of Sony’s PlayStation 3 plans, “I think we wouldn’t take that [multiple SKU] strategy. We wouldn’t create confusion”.
To help consumers sort out the different PS3 models, we’ve created this handy chart:
#7 – Surprise! Zombies! [Or Yes, 360 degrees of shame]
The corporate VP of Microsoft Game Studios, Shane Kim, had a secret. Each morning he chuckled quietly to himself, knowing it would make a huge splash at E3 in 2007. Then a Game Informer interview ruined it. You can’t really improve on the original, so just read for yourself:
Kim: I think one of the most important, subtle announcements at the Xbox 360 briefing is that Resident Evil is coming to Xbox 360. Yes, it’s from Capcom, who’s been a great supporter of us.
GI: But we knew that two years ago.
#6 – Sony Exec Offers to Buy PS3s
In his January 2007 interview with Electronic Gaming Monthly, it most certainly did not. In response to reports of PlayStation 3 systems sitting unsold on store shelves, Tretton famously replied: “If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that’s been on shelves for more than five minutes, I’ll give you 1200 bucks for it.” If people on the street can see that the systems aren’t moving, then Tretton should have known as well. Still, his ill-timed boast isn’t unique – it’s merely part of the larger hubristic posture Sony has assumed for far too long.
#5 – Alone Against the Empire
Right before the Game Developers Conference keynote, one of the most prominent videogame blogs, Kotaku, published a rumor about an as-yet-unannounced PlayStation 3 online service dubbed PlayStation Home. Kotaku attempted to verify the details but Sony refused to comment. Further, Sony requested – then demanded – that Kotaku not publish the story. Kotaku published their information anyway, with appropriate journalistic caveats. In response, Sony sent an email blackballing Kotaku.
Kotaku published that too.
#4 – Game Over Gerstmann
When a big-budget game gets a negative review on a site plastered with adverts for said game and the reviewer is subsequently sacked, you can’t really be faulted for initially thinking the events are all related.
Which is all to say, we don’t know for sure how much Jeff Gerstmann’s Kane & Lynch review figured into his late November firing. Granted, it did look a mite bit suspicious. The Kane & Lynch promotion that Eidos had purchased on GameSpot – decorating the margins of the site with Kane & Lynch graphics – ended just after the news broke that Gerstmann was fired. Then CNet, the parent company for GameSpot, hurt its own credibility by issuing uninformative non-denial denials for almost a whole week. In the meantime, websites and forums worked overtime generating rumors, unflattering GIFs, and raw nerd rage.
We all know it was about the money from the ads coming into the web site. Reviewers should be able to call the kettle black if it’s black. Though I’m still betting the Eidos people will be walking around with their thumbs up there butts wondering why Kane & Lynch is selling just about as well as the last Tomb Raider.
#3 – It’s Just a Toy Guitar and Some Music
The Wii GH3 port, by Vicarious Visions, claimed to have Dolby Pro Logic II audio output and, at the very least, stereo sound but in fact was neither. It was plain mono. Don’t you think someone in testing would have noticed?
Then there’s Rock Band. The hardware EA did manage to ship, during the holidays, had guitars marred by “an imperfection with the strum bar,”
OMG!? a game with bugs?! Holy mother of all that’s good and pure the Amish using electricity now! But still $170 for Rock Band and getting a hosed Guitar can’t be cool and mono for GH3? That’s just funny.
#2 – We Already Bought All the Good Ones, Right? [Or Thank God!]
Powerful men like John Riccitiello, chief executive of Electronic Arts, have their fingers on the pulse of the industry. If big moves are afoot, you can bet that they know about them well in advance. So when Riccitiello oversees EA’s acquisition of BioWare and Pandemic for $855 million and later says the industry has “been largely picked” for mergers, you can take that wisdom to the bank.
After all, a man like Riccitiello wouldn’t say something like that just three days before the announcement of an $18.9 billion merger between his company’s biggest rival and the company that publishes the game with more paying subscribers than Sweden has citizens. No way he’d get caught off guard like that.
And number one…
#1 – Red Ink of Death
With a year’s headstart and exclusive hits like Gears of War, Microsoft started 2007 looking every bit the confident market leader they’d longed to be since 2001. Beneath that sanguine exterior, however, lurked a horrible, horrible truth: “Things break.”
So said Microsoft’s Peter “Antoinnette” Moore of increasingly prevalent Xbox 360 hardware failure – known colloquially as the Red Ring of Death – in a May 2007 in an interview with Mike Antonucci of The Mercury News. Within two months Microsoft publicly acknowledged finding several design flaws which were killing systems and took a $1 billion charge to extend consumer warranties. That charge alone cut Microsoft’s profit for the quarter by 25%.
A chastened Microsoft now says it has its problems sorted. We’ll see.
And the first NES has problems, and the SNES, and the Genesis, and the PS1. .and the PS2.. AND the PS3.. AND the XBox.. AND everything else yeah..it was a blunder, but it happens. I wouldn’t say it was the #1 blunder. I would still leave that to Sony.