Michigan 2014 Thoughts

College football season is upon us, and there is no betterindifferent way to keep off the week than a Michigan preview. Brady Hoke is about to start season 4, and is seat wouldn’t be hotter if Mila Kunis was sitting on it in yoga pants. That will happen when your record declines each season, and the most recent one finishes with 6 losses in the final 8, and a 3–5 conference record. Add in the three victories that Michigan was dangerously close to losing, and Hoke is probably lucky to still be employed. The opinions on what Hoke must to do retain his job are split. The non-conference schedule is friendly outside of week 2 at Notre Dame, and one would assume that a winning conference record is a must. Some that tallies out to 8–4 before a bowl game for Hoke to keep his job. Eight wins seems about right. Nine would for sure see him back. Seven (again) probably wouldn’t unless it still included 4 conference wins and one of those was someone against Ohio St. Michigan has beat Ohio St. just one out of the last 10 games, and only two out of the last 13, so a win is worth a lot. Let’s briefly look at both sides of the ball


QB Devin Gardner is an enigma. He is entering his 5th season on the team, but thanks to a medical redshirt he has actually played in the four previous seasons. He was sparsely used in the first two, and was moved to WR in his third year, before moving back to QB late in the season when Denard Robinson got hurt. He was the started for all of last season until he himself got injured. Gardner is undoubtedly the only QB in college football entering this season having thrown at least 10 passes in the four previous seasons. But there is virtually no buzz around him. Preseason hype is usually overblown, and in this case almost no one is bragging about Gardner. That is a bad sign. The fact that Gardner is on his third offensive coordinator is unfortunate, but this is the kind of team that needs a veteran QB to step up, and at the moment, it’s hard to see Gardner being all that great. Michigan’s schedule is such that it could ride a great year by Gardner to 9 wins. More likely though, the loudest Michigan fans will be calling for Shane Morris by mid-October.

Gardner doesn’t have a ton to work with. Michigan’s running back core is full of second tier guys without much experience. The fact that none of them has singled themselves out significantly this summer is a bad sign. Be worried if Michigan hasn’t identified a #1 RB by the end of the Notre Dame game. Devin Funchess is the Jimmy Graham of college football, since no one can decide if he is a WR or a TE. Funchess will mostly play on the outside this year, so a full-on switch to WR before he is done in college is likely. He has enormous pressure on him in his third year. After him, experience is thin. Amaroah Darboh was supposed to be the #2 WR last seson before getting hurt and missing the year. Jehu Chesson stepped in and played pretty well. Both of these guys have potential to be solid contributors. Freshman Freddy Canteen enrolled early and turned heads in the spring. He will see a lot of time, but a true freshman WR not named A.J. Green or Julio Jones is probably not something to get excited about.

The offense line lost both tackles to the NFL draft. The starting lineup with consist of 3–5 new starters, including one true freshman, depending on how it all shakes out. This is not good. Hoke’s offensive line recruits haven’t panned out much, and even with two NFL draft picks, this was a problem spot last year. This could be very ugly if guys like Maguson, Braden and Kalis don’t live up to their hype.


Michigan has a long line of famous defensive backs. Blake Countess definitely looked like he was on his way there before missing almost all of his sophomore season with an injury. He was good, approaching great, and probably has to clear the bar of first team all-conference to satisfy expectations. Raymon Taylor emerged as a good player across from him, and hype train recruit Jabrill Peppers is getting Charles Woodson comparisons already. Peppers’ expectations are through the roof, and with Jourdan Lewis emerging as well, Michigan might have the best set of CBs in the country. Unfortunately they will be breaking in new starters at safety which would be a challenge.

Greg Mattison is a good to great defensive coordinator, and his decision to move Jake Ryan to MLB means he must think Ryan will thrive there. Ryan missed most of last season after being a monster two years ago. That breakout campaign seems like a decade ago and he needs to play well in the middle. There is experience all around him at LB, and mistake free play will be important.

If experience is the steak, and dominating play is the sizzle, then the defensive line is all steak, and no sizzle. Frank Clark didn’t live up to the hype last season, and Michigan again enters the season without a pass rusher to get excited about. Will Clark finally have the breakout season everyone is waiting for? The goal of defensive line is probably just to limit mistakes.


It’s hard to see this team being much better than last season. How they enter conference play will be a good indication. If they lose any game but the Notre Dame one, start looking at coaching resumes. When it’s all said and done, 7–5 (4–4) seems likely:

WeekOpponentPredictionChance of Winning
1Appalachian StateWHighly Likely
2@ Notre DameLUnlikely
3Miami (OH)WHighly Likely
5MinnesotaWHighly Likely
6@ RutgersWLikely
7Penn St.WToss Up
9@ Michigan StLUnlikely
11@ NorthwesternLUnlikely
14@ Ohio St.LHighly Unlikely

It’s impossible to see them beating Michigan St. anywhere, and even without Braxton Miller, Ohio St. on the road seems impossible, although a lot can change by then. The pivotal games on this schedule are Penn St., Indiana, Maryland and @Northwestern. Michigan almost certainly will lose one game to a team they should beat, and therefore losing at home to Maryland or Indiana will likely be that 5th loss that costs Hoke his job. Penn St. is too hard to predict because even though they have Christian Hackenberg they lost a lot elsewhere. Northwestern lost it’s top RB and WR, but could have a way to work around that by then. 4–0 over this stretch keeps Hoke employed. 2–2 or worse and he’s probably fired.

Michigan is still not close to returning to glory. Rich Rodriguez didn’t win national championships. He also didn’t “fit in”. Brady Hoke fits in, but he could be done after his 4th season. Jim Harbaugh isn’t coming back to college. Les Miles would probably laugh if Michigan called him now. There are zero other big names with Michigan ties. And at this point why would a high profile guy come here after Rodriguez and Hoke couldn’t make it work. If Hoke is gone, the guys on the list to replace him would not be glamorous. That being said, this is a huge season for the Michigan program.

Pygmy Reviews #44 – Movies

The Great Gatsby

One Line Description: A mysterious millionaire woos the married friend of his much poorer neighbor.

I have always been a big fan of Leonardo DiCaprio. The run he started in 2002 is pretty remarkable, but the hits haven’t been as great lately. This movie was junk, not because of Leo, just in general. Tobey McGuire has never been a favorite of mine, and even though this is based on a book, the story just feels so ‘blah’. The modern hip-hop soundtrack was actually a cool touch, and was more of a positive than I expected it to be. Hollywood went through a 5–10 year period were every movie was 90 minutes and out. Now the other end of the spectrum has been hit, where every movie scrape against the 2.5 hour mark. This is a perfect example of a movie that could have bee 30 minutes shorter, and as a result might have been a much better experience.

Meatballs (1979)

One Line Description: The hijinks of a wacky summer camp.

It’s hard to know if this was list of shame material, but upon viewing, it sure didn’t feel like it. This was Murray’s first starring role, and Ivan Reitman’s first movie, so there is some nostalgia to be hard here. The problem is that the supporting cast stinks, and the movie isn’t funny outside of a few Murray gags. It’s amazing to think that this movie spawned multiple sequels. For anyone of a later generation, this feels like the main influence behind Wet Hot American Summer, which thanks to it’s cast is a much superior movie. Murray wasn’t a nobody at the time, because of Saturday Night Live, but it’s easy to see where the stardom would come from shortly after this.

Broadcast News (1987)

One Line Description: The rise of two television news reporters and a female producer who cross paths on the way to varying levels of success.

This movie was nominated for 7 Oscars, including Best Picture, but it’s pretty hard to grasp why. It’s possible that this movie just feels so dated that it’s hard to appreciate. William Hurt, Albert Brooks and Holly Hunter play the three main roles. This was Hurt’s third straight Oscar nomination1. It was Brooks’ first and only, and Hunter’s first of four. This movie probably did more for her career than anyone, but it’s likely that the combination of her, Hurt and James L. Brooks at the helm that gained it a lot of recognition. Brooks had already won Oscars for Terms of Endearment four years earlier. This movie had a few good moments, but suffered from being a tad too long to maintain enjoyment throughout.

The Wolverine

One Line Description: X-Men member Wolverine goes to Japan to help an old friend.

It’s safe to say that playing Wolverine in the original X-Men put Hugh Jackman on the map. He is credited with being very talented due to his Broadway roots, but his filmography reads a little rough. At this point it’s hard to see his legacy being anything other than Wolverine. And unfortunately for that legacy, this movie stinks. A hair over two hours2, with no interesting characters, or any other X-Men tie-ins it seems. This movie feels like a million movies that have come before it, and like a lot of recent comic book movies, the lengthly CGI action sequences just don’t add anything anymore. They have been done to death to a point where if there isn’t some meat elsewhere the movie really fails. Wolverine was never a compelling enough lead character because he is such a jerk. But he is the perfect supporting guy. At least in the Orgins movie, there was the intrigue of learning how he became what he was, but this offers none of it. Easily the worst movie in the X-Men franchise so far.

Do the Right Thing (1989)

One Line Description: Racial tensions boil over on a hot day in Brooklyn.

Spike Lee! In one of his earlier films, Lee plays a main character in the sense that he is on screen a lot, and interacts with everyone, but he really doesn’t drive this movie. This is obviously a famous movie, and with the event in Ferguson, MO lately it feels very relevant again. Samuel L. Jackson has a small role, Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring from Breaking Bad) has a bigger one and it’s Rosie Perez’ first role. Danny Aiello is one of the main characters and got an Oscar nomination for his work. Lee got one for screenplay. John Tuturro and Martin Lawrence show up as well. This is by far the best of the five movies covered on this list. It feels completely valid today, and even the late–80s feel doesn’t take away from that. It’s easy to see where the tension is going to lead, and again it’s apropos to current events. The style feels very much in that of Spike Lee, and while the story isn’t tremendous, the execution is nearly perfect.

  1. He didn’t get another one for 18 years []
  2. Here we go again []

Lame Xbox One Updates

Major Nelson revealed some features of the latest Xbox One update. It continues to be abundantly clear that this machine was not designed with gaming being the first thing in mind. Nine months after launch, features like this are still being added:

Low battery notification: You asked for it, now a notification will pop up when your controller battery is getting low.

Well, it’s a good thing someone asked for it. No reason to include a feature that was on a previous system for like seven years. Remember also, that the ability to even see how much battery life is left on a controller was not even an option until a very recent Xbox One update. A few months ago, without warning a controller would just die, which is quite the problem when playing any sort of multiplayer game. Anyone who plays multiplayer games with any sort of regularity knows how important this feature would be. And yet, someone had to ask for the feature to be added.

Last seen time in Friends list: Direct from Xbox Feedback, the friends list will now show how long it’s been since a friend has been online. For example, “Last seen 20m ago: Forza Motorsport 5.”

Another minor feature that existed on the previous generation for most of it’s existence. More importantly, a minor feature that probably took almost no work to add.

Microsoft’s missteps with the Xbox One have been well documented to this point. The massive 180 they pulled after the initial announcement is forever going to be a part of Xbox lore. It’s clear that nine months in a majority of users are primarily gamers who use the system for other things as well. But it seems like Microsoft have an idea in their head that the system would primarily be used by non-gamers. That might still turn out to be true five years from now, but all the little mistakes along the way are hurting credibility. The lack of exciting game releases is not helping either.

The hardest of hardcore fans bought their Xbox Ones already. The more casual gamers are waiting for something (price drop, amazing exclusive title, some game changing feature) to take the plunge. People ask me if they should get one, or what my take is, and generally I tell them that the gaming experience is disappointing, and the graphics leap that is generally so drool inducing isn’t there this time around. It’s a great media center if you have Kinect and therefore voice commands. Otherwise the interface is clumsy and unintuitive, and overall just ‘meh’ experience.

It’s annoying that Microsoft is wasting time on features that should have been there from the beginning rather than focus on new and exciting things. Based on the tweets coming out of Gamescom last week, it sure feels like the Kinect is going to be completely irrelevant in a year. Those two things make it hard to see where the One is a big improvement over the 360, and that is not where things should be nine months in.

Summer 2014 TV

Without the podcast, TV doesn’t get discussed in the world of Berserk Hippo nearly enough anymore. Let’s rectify that with some thoughts on some more recent shows.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Although both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have been around for quite some time, there are no doubt people who haven’t ventured into the waters of this polictical satire and ridicule. Politics aside (and a person’s appreciation for this show is no doubt affected by personal politics) this is a hilarious look at current events from the week, and causes numerous laugh out loud moments from the host and the vignettes throughout. Oliver seems to strike the right balance between self deprecation and cockiness and touches on many different topics from both sides of the political fence. Being on HBO awards some freedom those on Comedy Central don’t have.

Drunk History

An inventive concept that may or may not still be funny 10 episodes from now, but at the moment, it’s gold (and has already produced 2 seasons totaling 18 episodes). The premise is that the creator of the show interviews someone with a strong historical knowledge of a particular subject, which the person then tells the story of, but the person with the knowledge is flat out wasted drunk. The cherry on top though, is that the entire story is acted out in a separately recorded video, complete with costumes, and generally with reconizable faces playing the roles (Laura Dern, Jack McBrayer, Johnny Knoxville, Martin Star, Jesse Plemons, Patton Oswalt and Jack Black have already showed up in season 2). The characters acting out the scenes even mouth the dialogue provided by the storyteller including all the mistakes, noises and slip-ups that are made. Anyone that enjoys silly humor and history will love this.


One of FX’s two new comedies, the pilot episode was rough, and smart people stayed away until episode 2. The show is finding it’s footing a bit, and the underappreciated Judy Greer is trying her best to make this one work. Nat Faxon plays her husband, and Brett Gelman, who was one of the few high points of the NBC show Go On, plays his friend. The premise is just a middle aged couple trying to keep the spark in their marriage as they muddle through life. Think a less funny TV version of This is 40. The show is somewhere between OK and Good at the moment, but has potential because Greer and Faxon have good chemistry.

You’re The Worst

The other new FX comedy, this one features Aya Cash, who some may recognize from season 2 of The Newsroom, and Chris Greene, and English actor from parts unknown. Cash and Greene are too pretty awful people who meet at a wedding, hook-up, and then enter a relationship after hitting it off in their own way. Both of them are incredibly awkward, and bad at their jobs1, and seemingly even worse at life, yet go well together. Not only does it seem like the kind of thing that has been done to death, but it’s hard to see where this show goes because it’s not very deep so far. It’s not horrible, and has enough raunchy moments to make it entertaining, but it’s worse than Married.

(What about?)

  • No The Leftovers, sounded too depressing.
  • No The Strain, ew, no thanks.
  • No Tyrant, bad reviews and no buzz = bye-bye
  • Not caught up on Masters of Sex or The Bridge, but nice starts so far.
  1. But like most TV shows, they still don’t seem to have any money issues []

All-Female Ghostbusters

Rumors have been circulating that Paul Feig (creator of Freaks and Geeks, director of Bridesmaids) is toying with an idea of an all-female reboot of Ghostbusters. There are two ways to go about this, one is a straight reboot where there are female equivalents of existing characters, and a second where there is a lot more freedom taken. Molly Lambert of Grantland took a stab at the former. Here are some thoughts on both varieties, including thoughts on Lambert’s choices.

Straight Reboot

Peter Venkman (Bill Murray)

Lambert went with Tina Fey, and had alternate suggestions of Lizzy Caplan and Kathryn Hahn. Hahn is great but not nearly a big enough star. The problem with Fey is that she tends to play too self-deprecating of characters, and Venkman was always someone overconfident and cocky. Caplan isn’t a horrible choice for this, but someone like Sarah Silverman brings a much higher level of cockiness. It’s hard to see her playing basically a lead in a movie this big though. That’s why Amy Poehler makes all sorts of sense. She possesses a bit of more cockiness than Fey brings and could pull this off.

The Choice: Amy Poehler

Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd)

Lambert went with Melissa McCarthy because it’s unlikely this movie get’s made without McCarthy. But she seems a bit over the top for this role, as does backup choice Rebel Wilson. Fey or Caplan make stupid amounts of sense here. Smart and confident, but still a big dork. Both are capable of playing that role. But teaming Fey with Poehler as the one-two punch seems like a huge no brainer.

The Choice: Tina Fey

Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis)

Lambert nailed this one. Kristen Wiig makes all sorts of sense here. Mindy Kaling and Chelsea Peretti were the backup choices. Kaling has too much history of playing ditzes. Peretti is great, but her kind of swagger fits more with Venkman than the straight man needed here. Lena Dunham would actually be a good choice here as well. But Wiig is just too perfect.

The Choice: Kristen Wiig

Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson)

Lambert went off the deep end a bit here with Wanda Sykes. This makes so little sense for so many reasons. Zeddemore is a low-key, cool guy. Sykes is as loud and crazy as it gets. She might be a good option for a more off-the-rails reboot but this just makes so little sense here. If a main goal is to diversify from the all-white cast, Kaling is probably at least considered here. Rashida Jones brings some of that too though, and is both cool and subtly funny. Emma Stone might fit this bill as well.

The Choice: Rashida Jones

Other Characters

Lambert reversed the roles of other characters, such as Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and suggested James Franco for that role. Possibly the best bit of fake casting done in this piece. Kristen Schaal as Lewis Tulley (Rick Moranis) is right there though. This might be a place to insert McCarthy though.

Modified Reboot

The cast should be relatively close in age, and so the quartet above (Poehler, Fey, Jones, Wiig) works pretty well. But this movie doesn’t get made without involving Melissa McCarthy. But when doing a non-traditional reboot, things can get creative. Maybe a 5-man team makes more sense.

Let’s say that Fey Poehler are friends who are into supernatural things. The discover that ghosts are real. They decide to convince their scientist friend Wiig to create some ghost catching equipment. They quickly find themselves overwhelmed with work and bring in McCarthy, who brings her roomate Rebel Wilson along. Boom. $100M opening weekend.

Broken Lizard to Try TV

Super Troopers remains one of my all-time favorite movies1. When Broken Lizard released Club Dread in 2004, it was a massive disappointment. Beerfest then came out in 2006 and was somewhere in between before 2009’s The Slammin’ Salmon was just downright awful. The rumors starting flying last fall that Super Troopers 2 was on the way, but who knows how that will turn out. 14 years in between sequels in a long time to keep the magic. Bad Boys pulled off a sequel 8 years after, but it helped that Will Smith was probably the biggest movie star on the planet at the time.

In the meantime though, Variety is reporting that the group is working on a sitcom for TBS called Quality Time. Seems like an interesting enough idea, and because I am at the point where I would follow Broken Lizard anywhere, I will give it a go. I enjoyed season one of Ground Floor, so TBS is capable of making some decent shows. It will be interesting to see if the show is marketed as "the guys from Super Troopers since that movie is now 13 years old, but I suppose anyone who is 25–40 now would have been 12–25 then, so maybe it’s still relevant enough.

  1. On my comedy Mt. Rushmore you would also find Groundhog Day and The Hangover for sure []

Paul Rudd’s Career

Amos Barshad of Grantland tackles Paul Rudd’s career arc:

There is an alternate universe in which Paul Rudd becomes our next-wave Tom Hanks. He had the tools: the puppy dog charm; the unthreatening good looks; a deep well of finely cultivated, but ultimately unbitter, cynical smarts. If he’d wanted to, surely, he could have knocked out the rom-coms like a pre-McConaissance, naked bongo-smashing Matthew McConaughey. Maybe Rudd got lucky in that he never had one break out big for him to trap him in that look. More likely, though, from what we would come to understand about our man Paul is that he was always a little too off to hold aw-shucks for too long.

The amazing part is that about three years ago, BerserkHippo.com touched on this very subject:

What is Paul Rudd’s peak now, and what would it have been if he had broken out sooner? He still look’s young, so he has a lot of years ahead of him. But at the same time he could have potentially been this generation’s Tom Hanks. Goofy guy, very likable, eventually on to more dramatic things. Hanks did some silly movies in the ’80s, Turner and Hooch, Dragnet, Big, Bachelor Party and Money Pit to name a few. It really wasn’t until Philadelphia that he got serious. He then followed that with Forrest Gump, Apollo 13 and Saving Private Ryan. It’s really too bad IMDb doesn’t have a “most similar to” like Baseball Reference does because I wonder who Rudd would be most similar to?

Since that post in 2011, Rudd has released a bunch of movies, most of which I haven’t seen. But films like Wanderlust and This is 40 feel more like that early Tom Hanks, than later. Rudd is solid in This is 40, and he is good in parts like that. I never saw the independent film Prince Avalanche that Rudd starred in, but any hopes of that being a breakout dramatic type role were likely squashed by the fact that most people didn’t see it. Plus movies like the soon to be released They Came Together don’t make it seem like he is getting serious anytime soon.

Still Rudd is such a loveable guy. I compared him to Steve Martin three years ago, but Martin generally plays a snobby guy that, at least for moments in his movies, is someone the audiences are mad at. Rudd’s career still seems closely similar to the pre-dramatic turn of Tom Hanks, who seemed to be loveable in every roll in the late ’80s. It seems that Rudd is happy to just churn out mediocre rom-coms for a while, but that probably isn’t a bad thing.

Amusing List of NFL Backup QBs

Danny Kelly of SB Nation “ranked” the backup NFL QBs before training camp started. This is a super interesting list for two reasons. First, it’s amazing how many guys have moved around inconspicuously. Second, it’s amazing to see that certain guys are still in the league.

Philadelphia Eagles:

Starter: QB Nick Foles Backups: QB Mark Sanchez, QB Matt Barkley, QB GJ Kinne

Chip Kelly is accumulating PAC 12 QBs, and seems to be focusing on USC at that. Most teams won’t keep three QBs, so Matt Barkley, who at one point was a possible 1st overall pick, could be looking for a new team soon.

Green Bay Packers:

Starter: Aaron Rodgers Backups: QB Matt Flynn, QB Scott Tolzien

Hats off to Matt Flynn. He parlayed one fluke game in 2011 into a massive payday. Then he went to Seattle and was beat out by rookie Russell Wilson. Then he couldn’t even manage to stay on with the Raiders or Bills in 2013, two teams with pretty bad QB situations. Now he is right back where he started: on a good team, behind one of the 3 best QBs in the league. But he is a lot richer.

Seattle Seahawks:

Starter: Russell Wilson Backups: QB Tarvaris Jackson, QB Terrelle Pryor, QB BJ Daniels

Has to be the first team in history to have four African American QBs on the team at the same time. It’s interesting that Pryor is an afterthought already since he wasn’t terrible in Oakland. These are four athletic guys. I guess it makes sense to backup Wilson with these guys over Josh McCown.

Dallas Cowboys:

Starter: Tony Romo: Backups: QB Kyle Orton, QB Brandon Weeden, QB Caleb Hanie

Two former Bears, including one-time savior Caleb Hanie. Remember when Bears fans were so angry he wasn’t playing over Todd Collins? Now Hanie probably won’t even be on a roster this year. And Brandon Weeden, another first round QB who quickly vanished from existence.

Jacksonville Jaguars:

Starter: QB Chad Henne Backups: QB Blake Bortles, QB Ricki Stanzi, QB Stephen Morris

When everyone thinks of Big Ten QBs in the NFL they always think of Tom Brady and Drew Brees. No one ever mentions Chad Henne and Ricky Stanzi.

Software Is Really Vulnerable

Quinn Norton on Medium writing about how everything is broken:

Look at it this way — every time you get a security update (seems almost daily on my Linux box), whatever is getting updated has been broken, lying there vulnerable, for who-knows-how-long. Sometimes days, sometimes years. Nobody really advertises that part of updates. People say “You should apply this, it’s a critical patch!” and leave off the “…because the developers [screwed] up so badly your children’s identities are probably being sold to the Estonian Mafia by smack addicted script kiddies right now.”

This article is long, and will come off a bit as a “tin foil hat” kind of piece, but it’s really a good look at how vulnerable computers are without getting too technical. The reality is that most people don’t understand how messed up most computer systems really are. From their personal computers, to their work networks to their banks systems, it’s one big mess. A lot of it has to do with money, and a lack of understanding.

Many companies, especially those with tight margins, which is probably most companies, don’t want to invest money on things that will not directly increase revenue. Spending the million of dollars to update antiquated computer security doesn’t rank high on the list of most CEOs or stockholders. Even software companies themselves suffer from the same ailment. If it doesn’t increase revenue, it’s a hard sell to decision makers. And the result is disasters like Target suffered in 2013.

And it can almost all be chocked up to naiveté. Companies increase physical security all the time. They get better cameras and most secure entry systems. How many companies use regular old keys anymore? Keys can be easily duplicated, and when they are lost they can’t be remotely disabled. A new lock has to be installed and everyone needs a new key. Why is it that people understand modern physical security but completely ignore the virtual equivalent?

Unfortunately this will almost surely get worse before it gets better. The Target incident was a nice wake-up call, but it’s probably going to take something much more impacting to really get everyone to change.

EA Access Is A Great Idea

Earnest Cavalli of Joystiq on the new EA Access program:

Those who spend $5 per month (or $30 per year) on an EA Access subscription will be granted free, all-you-can-play access to the publisher’s biggest Xbox One games, including Battlefield 4, Peggle 2, FIFA 14 and Madden NFL 25. EA plans to add to this selection of games over time, and according to a Game Informer tweet, the publisher has “no plans” to remove content in the future. In addition to the gratis games, EA Access members receive 10 percent discounts on all of EA’s digital Xbox One content and are granted access to big EA releases up to five days prior to their official debut.

Very interesting concept, and something that will no doubt be very popular.

Who is it for?

The biggest audience for this will be people who aren’t concerned with playing the latest and greatest. Battlefield 4 is still a massively popular game that retails for around$30 right now, which means that game alone get’s a person their money back. Throw in other titles, and the addition of more over time and it’s no doubt a great deal.

For me personally, the World Cup piqued my interest in soccer just enough that I wouldn’t mind playing FIFA 14, but don’t want to spend the $40 it is currently running. I could pick up this service for $10 less, and get a chance to play a little Battlefield 4, plus whatever else get’s added in the next year. Seems like a great deal.

Why is It Good for EA?

For years people have been wondering how publishers would find a way to combat used game sales. Microsoft had a bunch of things in the original Xbox One announcement to combat the resale of games, but outrage forced them to pull most of those features. Now EA has found a way to trump that $30 a year for a large collection of older EA games is genius. It’s hard to imagine that “last year’s” sports game won’t be added every single year as the current year’s game approaches, and even though a game like Titanfall isn’t available now, it’s entirely possible it will be by the end of year, meaning that someone could get a lot of gameplay for $30, which is likely what they would pay for one (two at most) used games from the last year or so.

Why is It Good for Microsoft?

There are two reasons it’s good for Microsoft. The direct reason is that it suddenly made a subset of games cheaper, and therefore much more appealing. The Xbox One is a great media center, and the voice commands with Kinect are super convenient when watching Netflix or Amazon or a DVD. Add in $30 a year to play some games when the mood strikes and while it’s not a system seller, it certainly sweetens the deal.

The indirect advantage lies with the fact that Sony declined to participate in the program (for now) claiming that it didn’t think it was a good deal for users. The reality is more likely that they don’t want to canabalize their PSN Plus subscriptions, or huge people who want to resell games. I am sure Microsoft isn’t complaining.