I'm a Human Inbox

Monday, November 07, 2005

Matt Casamassina Responds to Mark Rein

[Media: Article]

I've posted earlier about the panel where Epic Game's VP, Mark Rein said that the major innovation in games will be graphics, and only graphics. If you take a look at the picture from that post, Matt Casamassina is the one on the far right in the green jacket. Matt is the editor for IGN's Gamecube channel, so it was really interesting to see how he felt about that discussion. I'm sure he had a lot he would have liked to have said.

So if you'd like to see what Matt said, click on the link that says "Matt's Response".

Hey Matt,
I just watched the video clip of the panel at IGN Live. Didn't you just want to slap Mark from Epic Games?? Graphics are everything? I think anybody that has the nerve to say that knows nothing about gameplay. I believe all rational gamers have finally come to Nintendo's view that great graphics alone do not make a game special. And his criticism of the Revolution without even trying it out yet was downright laughable. You could easily deduce that he was speaking with a lack-of-knowledge state of mind about Nintendo's next-gen console when he didn't even know that Nintendo had announced any games

Matt's ResponseSince I received about 1.2 million e-mails on this subject, I figured it'd be a smart move to address in today's mailbag. I'm actually surprised so many people downloaded that thing. A couple of preemptive strikes for people who watched it or are planning to do so: first, I was severely hung over that morning and struggling not to collapse -- I'm not proud of the fact, but there it is. Second, you can download the entire video if you're an IGN Insider and you'll get roughly 40 more minutes of back and forth between Mark and the rest of the panel members, including myself. I was slightly disappointed to see some of my comments cut from our all-access video because I called him a graphics whore, a label traditionally reserved for myself, so that was a bit ironic.

Clearly Mark pissed off quite a few Nintendo fans with his comments on the IGN Live panel. I don't think he was expecting so many diehard Nintendo fans in the audience, either. For some odd reason, IGN's got a pretty big Nintendo fanbase. But I digress.

My opinion of Mark hasn't changed and I can understand where he's coming from. He's a smart guy who has clearly done well for himself and he's got some great games to back up his outspoken opinions. Do I agree with everything he said? Not by a long shot, no. My biggest beef with his beliefs wasn't his claim that better graphics will be the big innovation of next-generation games and that this improvement should be enough. I think he more or less said what so many of us are thinking, but are either unwilling or afraid to admit. I mean, the promise of high-definition clarity and improved visuals are easily the biggest factors determining my excitement for the arrival of Xbox 360. I haven't seen a single 360 game that has me excited for other reasons, including Gears of War, and I'm not entirely sure this is something that Mark should be celebrating.

My only beef with Mark's comments is his dismissal of the Revolution controller as anything other than a gimmick, and on top of that his acceptance of the 360/PS3 pads, which have made virtually no innovations, as adequate. Actually, he loves the 360 controller. And you know, as far as conventional pads go, it's fantastic. However -- and call this an epiphany if you want -- the potential of the Revolution controller has really opened my eyes to just how archaic today's traditional pads are. Think about it. Even the best dual-analog control setup in a console FPS is a poor substitute for a keyboard and mouse. I would think that he of all people would be embracing a controller that has the potential to duplicate or possibly even improve upon the keyboard and mouse configuration. But instead, he's hung up on graphics to the point where everything surrounding them has become secondary, and I just don't share that view. However, given that Gears of War remains one of the most widely anticipated games, based on IGN traffic results, there are apparently quite a few gamers who are just fine with Epic's direction.

So many Nintendo fans took issue with Mark's comment that Revolution will get a lot of gimmicky games. And you know, this is actually a statement that I agree with. I think some developers are going to fart out quick, thoughtless games that make use of the controller in a fundamentally retarded manner, and that's just an unavoidable drawback to the device. On the other hand, though, I think Revolution will also see some truly pioneering games. And most importantly, if Nintendo really delivers on the controller's potential, the device may by comparison make playing traditional games on 360 and PS3 feel downright archaic. That, to me, would be the ultimate irony: 360 and PS3 software with cutting edge graphics and fundamentally dated and limited controls, at least when shown next to Revolution.

All in all, Mark Rein is a very close minded individual who unfortunately has been extremely successful in his chosen business model. I think that he is clearly wrong, and it would be easy to prove him so, but he does have a couple of good points, especially ones that most people don't want to make. But I think that the clue to the Revolution lies in the successes of the Nintendo DS. For about 8 months, the DS was a gimmick and it was laughable. But take a look at the library of games and how people are looking at it now. The DS has a fantastic library, it is much more interesting than the PSP, it's cheaper and everybody is talking about it.

I'll let you in on a little secret. If I were to buy a new system within the next month, it wouldn't be the Xbox 360, it'd be the Nintendo DS. Stick those graphics up your ass Mark Rein.