What an odd way to be bringing 2016 to a close – though, the way things have gone this year, perhaps it’s no surprise. During the last generation of consoles, we were led to believe that AAA RPGs were dead and that consumers had all but moved away from them – of course, you should tell that to Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian. Perhaps consumers wanted RPGs all along but with one caveat – quality ones. As for wearables, they were to be the savior, and if not that, then the next frontier for electronics makers to conquer. Everybody had to have a wearable and now, tech makers can’t exit the business fast enough.
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Fitbit to buy Pebble
Consolidation takes place when there are no profits
Pebble, the small smartwatch start-up, is going bye bye thanks to a purchase from Fitbit. It’s no surprise that they’ve been struggling to match Apple and others but the sale value of $40 million, which doesn’t even include their debt, is a slap in the face to the team’s vision from just two years and surely not how they saw their company ending.
I’ve made it no secret that I thought Pebble was utter shit. I have nothing but respect for the people who worked there and hope them nothing but the best but as someone with a taste for finer electronics in life (sorry Netbook and $75 smartphone fans), I always found Pebble two steps away from a 90’s Happy Meal toy.
But my own personal taste aside, this is yet another sign of how fast the wearable industry is consolidating. I’ve written before how Android Wear is nearly dead and just this week, Motorola announced that they have no plans for new watches next year (initially they had stated that there were no plans for just 2016) and now another wearable maker is going belly up.
Sure Pebble didn’t run Android Wear but it goes to show how challenging this market is – a market that two years ago was the next “not to miss” market. One which saw everybody scrambling to get to with anything they could that would go on your wrist and track anything and everything.
This pretty much leaves wearables to Fitbit, Samsung, and Apple but I doubt there’s room for all three players either. Fitbit bough Pebble in hopes of bringing more functionality to their devices but it’s a hell of a lot easier for Apple and Samsung to incorporate fitness capabilities than for Fitbit to incorporate additional functionalities.
Even for Samsung, this is a big challenge since they don’t have access to the core of Android Wear, hence why a majority of their watches run Tizen, which also doesn’t integrate into the Android or iOS ecosystem. And so only one company remains to truly tackle wearables unless Google starts to make wearables as well.
We should also remember 2016 as the year Microsoft killed their wearable but these days one seldom realizes when MS announced a product and kills it. Tip of the hat to Sony for realizing earlier than Motorola, LG, and others that wearables would be a doomed product category and exited before taking unnecessary losses.
The Last Guardian
Much like Final Fantasy XV, The Last Guardian was originally announced for PS3, only to have it continuously delayed until it made more sense to release it on the next console – PS4. Like FF15, even then, the game continued to get delayed till finally this week when gamers were able to get the long sought after RPG in their hands.
From what I’ve read on the Twitterspehere, people are enjoying the game and sales have exceeded Sony’s initial projections but it makes me wonder if, somewhere within Sony, there is some resentment towards Square-Enix. After all, FF15 was suppose to arrive in late September. Hell, Square, along with the Kinda Funny Gang, put together an entire (and quite elaborate) event dubbed Uncovered: Final Fantasy which centered around unveiling more content for the game, including the anime series and movie that take place around the game’s timeline, leading to the night’s finale which was the game’s release date.
Of course FF15 would be delayed one more time and instead arrived one week prior to The Last Guardian. Seeing how both titles are RPGs, I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if people made the decision to purchase one over the other instead of plunking down $120 for both titles and if I had to take a guess, more people went towards the title that was bigger, arrived earlier, and had much more fanfare to it.
Hopefully in the grand arch of the game, FF15’s later release date holds a minimal impact on The Last Guardian – a game that deserves to be played. On the other end of things, two big RPGs on PlayStation within a week of each other? Now that’s worth celebrating and putting down $120.