Someone Make This: This Vs That
Earlier this week, my wife took me shopping with her, and I got all sorts of patriotic. As Americans, we get to enjoy plethora choices of various goods.
Even in seeming oligopolies, like cereal, socks, or game consoles, there are many styles, flavors, and sizes for consumers to pick.
But having options doesn’t make the decision process any easier. Too often, I’ve grabbed Lucky Charms and should have grabbed Blueberry Muffin Tops.
Fortunately, there’s one source I can trust in all my decision-making processes: video games. Unfortunately, most other people do not trust video games. Instead, they turn to television personalities to help them make informed decisions.
It’s about time that someone combines the balanced mechanics of competitive gaming with the charm and pizzazz of attractive hosts. It’s time for This Vs That.
This Vs That takes two brands and decides once and for all which of the two is better. To explain this show, the age-old battle of Hanes vs Fruit of the Loom takes the spotlight.
When products are chosen, the first third of the show is spent collecting a sampling of all that the two brands offer: colors, styles, suggested use. After making a list of attributes that each sock has, the show moves to phase two.
In the second third of the show, a team of game developers have to decide what genre will work best for the sock battle and start building characters to represent each sock. Ideally, the characters will be balanced to represent a true battle. After building, testing, and readying a single stage from this game, the show returns to the hosts.
In the finale of the show, the hosts are given controls and pitted against each other. The winner of the game becomes the better consumer product.
Making It Fair
While the hosts will be present in the whole show, the rest of the team has to be blind to the products to make things fair.
In the first part, the socks are given markings for the hosts to figure out which is which, but the testing teams are not told which sock belongs to which brand. They just wear the socks and express their thoughts. When a good list of attributes are made about each pair of socks, the hosts take their findings over to the development team.
The developers are not given brand names. They may be told what the products are (i.e. clothing items), but for the most part, the developers go into their development blind. They are given an amount of characters to build, the attributes of these characters, and nothing else. The hosts may help in deciding what kind of genre or battleground should be chosen, but for the most part, the developers get to show off their ability to work under pressure without knowing what they are making.
Right before the game is finished, the developers are told which team represents which brand. After a quick renaming, the game is sent back to the hosts.
Finally, before the final battle, the hosts flip a coin to pick sides.
In this way, viewers can never watch the show and claim that it is biased to a specific brand.
The Filming Schedule
Each episode takes about 2 months to complete. In that time, two days are dedicated to the brand testing and final play. The rest of that time is dedicated to game development.
During this game development, specific stages of development are shown, and the developers are able to show off their talents while explaining the difficulty of making a game in such short time.
After 6 months of filming, 3 games are finished and ready to be shown as episodes. As the show gains a budget, other teams will be set up to build multiple games, allowing for more episodes within a year.
The most expensive (and possibly most lucrative) part of the show will be the development of a new HD console, capable of running any of the modern power-house games. The console will be built with a special attitude, controller, and entertainment options. Running for $200 at launch, the system is not trying to compete with PlayStation, Xbox, or Wii U. Instead, it is attempting to bring diversity to the gaming market with a fourth budget console.
When the console is powered up, it shows its unique flavor with a simple “You’re Welcome, World.” From there, the menu follows closer to the PlayStation model, with simplicity and subtlety as the dominating features. Games from the show will be free to download. However, those games will only be what was seen on the show: a single stage with limited characters.
For a heavier price of $20 a pop, a “finished” version of the games will be available at retail. When an game’s stage is finished for TV, the team gets to work on building a fully polished and functional game for commercial use. They can add stories, cinematics, more characters/stages, etc. Staying with the budget-console philosophy, the cheap new games will offer options to gamers who don’t want to shell out $60 each week for a new game.
However, by making the console HD and fully modern, third-party publishers can add their games to the shelving space. If the console producer takes a smaller royalty from the publishers, a manageable $50 price tag on new games will offer a nice amount of competition to the Big 3 consoles.
Naturally, since this console is made to be budget, the online functionality will be limited, and extra features, like web browsing, media storage, or Blu-ray. However, at its small entry price and with its direct ties to a television program, this console could have the potential to bring major revenue to the show’s network.
Who Should Make It
HBO – Recognizing great ideas from small producers seems to be HBO’s best feature. So many shows that have been ignored be other networks explode on HBO. Unfortunately, as HBO is a premium network, the visibility of This Vs That becomes severely limited. Still, if HBO wants to hire me to do this show, it need only email me!
Spike – As the only expanded-cable network that actually cares about video games, Spike has the potential to bring major visibility to this project. However, because of Spike’s ties to Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft, other programming may be hurt when Spike decides to enter the console battlefield.
G4 – While G4 has a huge audience of hardcore gamers, after the first season of This Vs That, the show will either be changed and revised until it becomes a dating game spin-off of Cheaters, or it will be cancelled and replaced by reruns of Cops.
This Vs That is more than an entertaining consumer-reports show. It is a new business plan. The company that adopts this does more than entertain the masses by allowing video games to choose which product is the best. It takes the first step to breaking down the console oligopoly.
Gaming needs someone to bring a cheap, comparable console to the market. Arguably, the Wii is the cheap console right now, but that is because it is part of last gen’s tech. When the Wii U launches, it will be pricey and hard for some families to swallow. If a PS3/Xbox 360 competitor hit the market at a cheaper price point than they offer, things would shake up.
When the Xbox 720 launches in 2013, there is little doubt that the console will cost somewhere in the $500-$800 range. If another next-gen console hit the shelves at $200, it wouldn’t destroy the new Xbox.
But it certainly would shake up the market in a way that benefits consumers.