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PS2 Vs. X-Box: Winner Emerging? 949

Posted by Hemos
from the battle-of-the-titans dept.
gripdamage writes "This article on MSNBC says XBox's sales are slowing and are not expected to meet Microsoft's expectations. MSNBC previously reported that sales have been weak in Japan. The strongest and most interesting assertion in the article is that "In its regular global video game survey last week, Goldman Sachs said U.S. retailers showed a 'surprisingly clear' preference for Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 2 over the Xbox."" X-Box isn't dead yet - not by a long shot.
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PS2 Vs. X-Box: Winner Emerging?

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  • by bsdparasite (569618) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:26AM (#3316136)
    PS2 will out do Xbox. Consumer electronics is not software. Sony knows this VERY well. Build a sturdy box, with nice controls. Fancy new ways of downloading games is not what gamers want if there aren't much games to begin with.

  • Not dead yet (Score:1, Insightful)

    by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:28AM (#3316152) Homepage

    Of course it isn't dead yet.

    We have to wait for XBox 3.0 for it to be functional, and then XBox 3.1 will be popular, and XBox 4.0 will actually be as good as the contemporary Sony unit.
  • Umm? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spankophile (78098) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:30AM (#3316167) Homepage
    Don't knock it cuz it's MS. People knocked the PS1 because it was Sony ("what does Sony know about video game?")
    Don't knock it cuz it has less games right now. (PS1's launch was ass, as was PS2's).

    The PS2 is looking older and older all the time. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of fun games on the PS2, but they can't get by on near-flat-shaded cartoonish games forever.

    Halo has sold a million copies.
    That's all I need to know.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:34AM (#3316213)
    Why would anyone who already has a PC buy an XBox? So that he can play PC games that were translated to the XBox?

    And the worse, since you can assume PC hardware performance doubles every 18 months, either M$ will have to come up with a newer, more powerfull version pretty soon, making the current one obsolete, or their video games will become downgraded PC games.

    My 2 cents, of course.
  • by ergo98 (9391) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:35AM (#3316222) Homepage Journal
    The thing I don't get about this article: What the heck does the RETAILERS opinions of the boxes have to do with things? Retailers have likes/dislikes absolutely and completely different than the general public: They like high margins and lots of co-merchanidizing efforts. They like oily salesmen soliciting regions with cardboard cutouts and salesperson promos. I really don't CARE which box the retailers themselves like because I'm not a retailer, so the like/dislike criteria are totally different. Having said that, personally I have been incredibly unwhelmed by the games that I have seen on the XBox (As a home user of a GF3 video card, let me say that what I see gaming at home is vastly superior to most of the games that I've seen on the xbox, yet on paper the xbox is technically superior, at least from a graphics perspective). I am curious about why most graphics in the current crop of games are so incredibly poor or simply uninspiring given the apparent promise of the xbox : Is this just because of the race to get games out quickly, so they didn't have time to capitalize on the hardware? If anyone would, I'd expect Carmack to be the man to actually capitalize on the potentially that supposedly the xbox has, and Doom 3, if released for the xbox [consolewire.com], might be what puts it over the top as a killer application. If I were Microsoft I'd be a lap dog at his door everyday helping him along and encouraging support of the xbox platform.
  • by yaddayaddayadda (571054) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:35AM (#3316230) Homepage
    1. The XBox doesn't look as "high tech" as the PS2. - Hillbillies don't care what's on the inside, c'mon this is America. 2. I have an XBox and the controllers are fscking huge. - Games are for kids. 3. Alright, I really doubt a majority of parents want their 10 yr old playing Halo. Where is microsoft's "Sonic the Hedgehog" or "Mario Bros."?
  • by Smudgy (144144) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:36AM (#3316233)
    As previous slashdot articles have mentioned, the selection of "cutting edge" games on PS2 is far superior to those on the X-box. Think about it. GT3, GTA3, MGS, etc., etc., etc. on PS2 (plus all the great PS1 games as another poster has mentioned). The only thing that makes me even want to consider an X-Box is Halo, and as it was originally going to be a PC/MAC title, my hope is that it will eventually be released for home computer.

    (The sad fact is that I haven't the funds for either unit, so this is really the opinion of a totally outside observer. Take with requisite salt allowance.)
  • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:37AM (#3316248) Homepage
    I recv'd my PS2 during the downturn. I also heard on TV that consumer electronics was one of the few areas that was not hard hit by the downturn. That included the PS2 and XBox.

    I believe it mentioned something about people looking for a way to half-escape reality.

    I honestly believe that it was the fact of few games, horrid controller, and did I say horrid controller?

    The PS2 had the niche already. MS is going to have a really tough time breaking in IMHO.
  • by jcoleman (139158) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:38AM (#3316253)
    ...is a lack of high-quality games. I can count on one hand the number of X-box games that are worth the price. We always go back to Halo...the other games just can't measure up. When I buy a game system, I expect to have a decent game selection. X-box, when compared to PS2, just doesn't have that.
  • by FurryFeet (562847) <joudanx@y a h o o . c om> on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:42AM (#3316295)
    You know, it's funny you should mention that.
    The reason for MS dominance is that, even if their 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 products are crap, they'll be extensively used because they're easy to pirate for free. So, by the time thet get to 4.0, they have a lock.
    But with Xbox, they actually have to get people to bay the crappy versions (can't pirate hardware). So, my prediction is, after two years and a lot of money Xbox will finally exit the market. MS won't acknowledge a failure, but will morph it into some other product (multimedia center?) which also won't work. Rinse and repeat until out of cash/clueful.
  • ports + gamecube (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:45AM (#3316325)
    Considering about 80-90% of the games are PS2 ports anyway, why would someone get either a X-Box or GameCube. There is no 'killer' game for either, Halo being the closest on the X-Box but we all know FPS suck on consoles anyway...and you can only ride a launch title for so long.

    We've also gotten to the point where all 3 systems share a large percentage of games. Look at the X-Box library and the PS2 library and chances are you'll find the best games on both systems. With the PS2 crowd a year ahead, most of the games are made for the PS2 and then ported to the other system, and with the largest player base to be on the PS2 it'll probably stay this way for a while. Also with peoples' friends having bought a PS2 already, they are probably more likely to buy a PS2 to trade/share games.

    Nintendo on the other hand isn't trying to directly compete with eithers market, although we all know indirectly they are. With Mario, Zelda, Star Fox, Metroid, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, etc. all due by the end of the year for the Cube, I think it'll get real tough fot the X-Box, there's reason to choose a GameCube over PS2 and PS2 over GameCube but no real reason to choose X-Box over PS2.

  • by zCyl (14362) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:45AM (#3316328)
    ..is a lack of high-quality games.

    Precisely. I contemplated which games I really wanted to play, saw that they were all on PS2, and then went out and bought a PS2. That's all it really comes down to for a game system.
  • by MeepMeep (111932) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:48AM (#3316352)
    Looks like X-box is a one-trick pony (Halo). Is it a surprise that consumers are reluctant to drop $300 to play ONE good game when other consoles offer many more?

  • by xonker (29382) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:52AM (#3316382) Homepage Journal
    What the heck does the RETAILERS opinions of the boxes have to do with things?

    A retailer's relationship with a manufacturer/product can make a lot of difference between a product that sells well and one that doesn't. A good example of this is in grocery stores where the store brand gets preferential treatment -- better placement, more advertising, slightly lower cost -- over the name brand. I've even seen grocers put name-brand products in odd locations (for example, name-brand crackers in a completely different aisle from the rest) or just not carrying popular brands at all. If you shop at King Sooper's or Safeway (I forget which) in Denver, you can buy three generic brands of fig cookies, but you can't find Fig Newtons in the store at all.

    If you are a retailer you decide things like how many units to carry, store placement, promotions and so forth. If a product is in high demand, there's not much a retailer can do to dissuade people -- but if a product (like the XBox) is trying to make inroads into an existing market with a popular front-runner (like the PS2) how retailers treat the product can make a lot of difference. Since Microsoft isn't selling the XBox direct to the public, they have to depend on retailers. (Having a direct outlet is a double-edged sword -- retailers tend to dislike companies selling their products directly, because they have an incentive to take sales away from the retailer (more profits) and can afford to sell the product cheaper than the retailers.)

    If a product doesn't have decent margins or you don't have a good relationship with the vendor (or both) you can certainly understock the product and hope that people will go to the competition's product and kill the products you don't like. I'm not saying that's happening with the XBox, but if several large retailers like Best Buy decided to promote the PS2 more heavily it could certainly have a negative impact on XBox sales. (I doubt this is the case...their margins on the XBox can't be much lower than on the PS2, which has virtually no margin. Game titles are where they make their money, and I imagine the margins are about the same for XBox and PS2.)

    Oh, and speaking as someone who used to work in retail -- I don't care for "oily salesmen" any more than you do. The things I looked for were decent margins, stock when I needed it, a good return policy for unsold inventory and decent terms (net 30 or better).
  • Re:Umm? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mickeyreznor (320351) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @10:53AM (#3316386) Homepage Journal
    but they can't get by on near-flat-shaded cartoonish games forever.

    If they are damn good games, they sure as hell can.
  • by decipher_saint (72686) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:01AM (#3316475) Homepage
    I think the primary reason that the X-Box is not doing well in Japan is because of the lack of good quality RPGs, how many PSXs did Sony sell when Final Fantasy VII came out?
  • by Dark Paladin (116525) <jhummel@jo[ ]ummel.net ['hnh' in gap]> on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:13AM (#3316589) Homepage
    Sorry, but this argument is getting to me.

    Good Xbox games: Halo

    Good PS2 games: Devil May Cry, Metal Gear Solid 2, Grand Theft Auto 3, the list goes on.

    MS needs more than just Halo. They do have Morrowind coming, which will help - but the fact that Morrowind is a PC title as well (just like Halo was suppose to be/still is suppose to be) doesn't cut the mustard.

    They need more good games - not 1 good one. Halo sold 1 million copies. Final Fantasy X, I believe has sold 6. And that's just comparing two games.
  • by shinnyo (551702) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:16AM (#3316609)
    1. Graphic quality between PS2, X-Box, and Gamecube are the SAME (only loading times are better on the latter consoles, and gamers have gotten so accustomed to high loading times that they seem to not care)
    2. Overall game quality on the PS2 is much higher.
    3. More games are available for the PS2.
    4. More PS2 consoles are available for purchase.
    5. The X-Box has a terribly-designed controller.
    6. Most games released for the Gamecube are geared towards children.
    7. A lot of people really hate Microsoft.
  • by BJH (11355) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:27AM (#3316698)
    No, the reason Xbox is not doing well in Japan is because Microsoft SCREWED UP.

    When the 'dosc grinder' problem came to light, MS's manner of handling it sucked. They:

    1) Denied that there was any problem with the Xbox.
    2) Then said that the grinder problem was a 'natural effect' of friction in the Xbox.
    3) Then said that only a very few users had experienced any problems.
    4) Then said that they would not accept requests for repair.
    5) Then said that they would accept requests for repair.
    6) Then they admitted they still did not know what the problem was.
    7) Then said they would assess whether or not any particular Xbox qualified for repair only after they received it.
    8) Then said that they would not announce any way to determine whether or not your Xbox had the problem, as this would lead to people 'damaging their Xbox deliberately and sending it in for repair in order to inconvenience Microsoft'.

    Comsidering that MS said before the launch that they knew the Japanese market was very sensitive to quality problems, their handling of the situation has been shockingly bad. No wonder it's not selling.
  • by MediaBoy77 (469933) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:38AM (#3316795)
    Don't forget, the PS2 had a pretty meager launch itself. Massive unit shortages, which was probably fine, because there weren't any great games to go with it.

    Of this list of launch titles [sonyweb.com], how many are you still playing?

    In comparison, Halo is a much stronger game than any of those, and will have a much longer shelf life.

    More Xbox games are in the pipe, and they will get better. (If you haven't checked out JSRF and RalliSport Challenge, go do it now. Both blew my mind away, not to mention blowing away anything I've seen on the PS2.)
  • by laserjet (170008) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:43AM (#3316833) Homepage
    This is true, and I'm sure is has some effect on sales, but really it doesn't matter.


    How many of Microsoft's first products have been losers?

    Quite a few. Remember the first time you tried IE? Remember the first time you tried Windows? Remember the first NT server you had to admin? You always thought there had to be a better way.

    Microsoft is notorious, IMHO, for releasing losers that don't do well initially. It is their endurance that keeps them up there. They have the resources and can keep throwing money at something till it becomes a decent project, while other companies would have said, "Well, we tried to get into this market, but it didn't work. Let's not waste even more of our money..."

    Instead, Microsoft is determined to be a player, regardless of what it costs - for they know in the long run they will have a good product that will increase market share and make money. Once they get to that point, they want to control the market.

    So, look beyond the X-Box and think about the future... The X-box may not be it, but you can guaran-damn-tee that it does not stop here for Microsoft.

  • by wass (72082) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:49AM (#3316879)
    Obviously not many of you have been in Japan. The people in there don't like the US much and they'd prefer buying something made in Japan rather than in the US.

    I disagree ENTIRELY. Where were you in Japan? I spent several weeks there a few years ago, and was shown incredible hospitality by almost everyone I ran into. I stayed with a host family who was great, met many Japanese friends at the university I was studying at, and even met many friendly folks I ran into on the streets.

    The American group I was with also visited a junior high school, and the kids were all over us, many wanting autographs of their new American friends. Sometimes a few of us Americans would be standing on a street corner, and a bus of Japense schoolkids would drive by, and they'd all wave at us, almost like we were rockstars or something.

    It was a somewhat strange, but really cool experience, and I learned ALOT by watching the hospitality the Japense (both our hosts and strangers) showed us. So, anyway, my experience with Japan has been entirely contrary to yours, and I didn't see much anti-American sentiment at all.

    FYI, I was in Kitakyushu (the northernmost part of Kyushu, the southernmost island). When we went to Tokyo at the end of the trip, the hospitality seemed somewhat less warm, but it was definitely not anti-American.

  • by barawn (25691) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:49AM (#3316885) Homepage
    Halo's out for PC (or at least, will be? Not sure).

    Don't need to spend $350 for Halo + XBox.

    Most people who would want to play Halo already have a computer easily powerful enough to play it (you could probably spend $500 and make one!). MS needs to get rid of the everpresent thought of gamers that since Microsoft makes XBox, and Windows, games that come out for XBox come out for Windows. I think in the back of most people's minds, they already think this, and so "exclusives" don't feel like exclusives. MS needs to make REAL exclusives.

    Exclusive games come out nowhere else. Look at the Final Fantasy series: FF7, 8 came out on PC, but it's highly unlikely any others will. So no one considers that the FF series will show up on PC (FFXI excluded because of the online stigma it carries). If you want to play FFX, buy a PS2. That's why people buy consoles. That's why I bought my Super Nintendo back in the day. That's why I bought my N64. That's why I bought my PS1.

    MS NEEDS to get rid of the idea that the exclusive games will show up ANYWHERE else. And unfortunately, their track record just isn't good at doing that.

    The Dreamcast failed because 3rd party developers didn't trust that Sega would stick with the Dreamcast - they were right. Sega has a history of constantly jumping console ship, so the developers were worried about that. If you take a look at Microsoft, again, I'd imagine that most developers would opt to develop for the PS2 first, and then port it to the X-Box. And a system with tons of ports doesn't survive.

    It's a bad, recurring nightmare for MS. The low barrier to entry doesn't matter if your games have no shot in hell of succeeding and doing well. So MS needs to get more consoles out there, and more "this game will show up nowhere else" idea. If they don't, give up.

    And people who say "XBox 2 and 3 will rule!" - I once again repeat - developers do NOT develop for a system that the producer doesn't seem to be interested in supporting. That's what killed Sega. It'll kill MS too, if they don't wake up.
  • X-Box thoughts... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LunchingFriar (572512) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @12:09PM (#3317045)
    Well, here's the thing...

    The X-Box hasn't been around very long. The games just aren't there for it (yet). I haven't bought one primarily for that reason. The PS2, on the other hand, has been out over a year. It does have several games out (although none have compelled me to purchase one as of yet; I'm not a big fan of Japanese-style console games). The main reasons the PS2 sold so many units were brand recognition and compatibility with the PS1. If you'll recall, when the PS2 first came out (and probably the first six months or so afterwards), there were hardly and PS2-native games that people wanted--people mostly played PS1 titles on their new PS2s. The X-Box doesn't have the luxury of being compatible with an older console system, and the games aren't there yet.

    I *want* to buy an X-Box, but I'm not going to part with $300+ if there aren't any games available for it that I can't live without. I think the X-Box hardware is vastly superior to any of the other consoles currently available, and I think that it has the potential to bring a new level of depth and complexity to console games that previously existed only on PC games. (Whether it will ever fulfill that potential is another matter.)

    Bottom line: people buy consoles for the games. When the games are there for the X-Box, people will buy the consoles.

  • by barawn (25691) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @12:10PM (#3317046) Homepage
    Sigh. It's amazing how the gamer community segments in two, the "RPG lovers" and "RPG ignorers" - don't forget FFX. (Not being insulting, just amused :) )

    But, anyway, that wasn't really what I wanted to mention - what I really wanted to say was that what's really important is how MS handles the loss. Do they ditch the XBox and suck the loss? (i.e., do they rush the XBox 2 to market?) Ooh, then I'll tell you, the XBox 2 will fall like a dead monkey. "It's all about the games, stupid" - right? Well, the problem is that developers don't like consoles whose producers ditch them. That's why Sega bought it - developers already didn't trust the Saturn, after the Genesis/32X/CD-ROM fiasco - when they ditched the Saturn so early, they REALLY didn't trust the Dreamcast. The fact that the Dreamcast is still doing... not so bad in the aftermarket is a sign that Sega really screwed up.

    In the console market, I think sometimes you really need to lose to win. Got a dud of a system? Stick with it. People will remain loyal, people will stick, you'll build a user base, and then developers will come knocking to your door. Sony didn't ditch the PS One - my God, they took a chapter from Nintendo's book and redesigned and rereleased it, to great profit. Nintendo has NEVER abandoned a console (besides the Virtual Boy, which they supported for far longer than they should have) until the developers did.

    There's the key, Microsoft. The XBox might suck. But it's your XBox. Love it, cuddle it, and support it, and then developers might trust the XBox 2.
  • by damiangerous (218679) <1ndt7174ekq80001@sneakemail.com> on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @12:15PM (#3317088)
    Even established companies screw this up. The DC controllers blew, not necessarily size, but shape.
    I find the DC controllers to be the most comfortable I've ever used. I absolutely despise the PS controller, it kills my left thumb after a little while.
  • by barawn (25691) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @12:17PM (#3317108) Homepage
    But you CAN'T do that with consoles. If you make a loser, you can't ditch it and go on. If you do that, developers don't trust you, even if you are Microsoft - at least, probably. They didn't trust Sega, and for God's sake, Sega is a massive player in the arcade market, and is pretty financially solvent.

    That's the key. Microsoft has to stand there with a smile on its face and say 'Xbox is doing great!' and work feverishly behind the scenes to fix the problems in Xbox2 (unique games, better controller design - minimal, but still there). Abandon the Xbox, and ooh, then they'll be really confused when their list of developers (ACTIVE developers, not people who've signed up to be developers) dwindling uncontrollably. And from that, you really can't recover.
  • by autopr0n (534291) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @12:34PM (#3317241) Homepage Journal
    Personaly, I like to think of it like buying a $400 dedicated jet-set radio future machine :). I really didn't want an Xbox, and I still don't. The thing is just ugly (and they were not kidding about the controller).

    If you ask me, I think microsoft totaly missed their target market. Rather then going after adults, they targeted 14 year old boys who want to think that they are adults. Everything about the system is gaudy. From the adds to the controler (wtf is up with the giant X logo on the controler?)

    Anyway I have a test to study for.
  • by Guitarzan (57028) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @12:48PM (#3317377)
    Actually Goldeneye (N64) was easily the first console FPS that didn't suck.
  • by Ezrem (559493) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @12:52PM (#3317415) Homepage
    You can't compare Halo sales to FFX sales, and you really shouldn't compare PS2 sales to XBox sales. I keep thinking this should be common sense but here are just a few reasons:

    First, to refute your example, the Final Fantasy games are a best selling series that have been around for 15+ years. Halo is a single game with nowhere near that amount of history behind it. Lots of hype, and quite a few more TV spots than I've seen for any Final Fantasy game, but that doesn't go anywhere near as far, IMO.

    Second, to be honest it's pointless from either perspective to compare current PS2 and XBox sales. If they'd had anywhere near the same launch date it would be an entirely different story, but the fact is they didn't. The PS2 has been on the market for well over a year longer than the XBox. How many XBoxes have been produced and purchased by consumers versus PS2's? When you probably have at least 5-6 times as many consoles in use as the competition, wouldn't it stand to reason that you'd sell about that many more copies of a (popular, well-hyped) new game?

    I definitely don't disagree with your argument that the XBox needs more than just Halo. (Rallisport Challenge ROCKS but that's beside the point.) Yes, there are a lot more "Must-have" titles for the PS2 right now. But how many of them were available within 5 months of launch? The absolute first I can remember for the PS2 was Gran Turismo 3, and that was nearly a year after launch.

    Bottom line, if the world were perfect and people wanted to compare PS2 to XBox, they'd need to compare PS2's library and sales figures from last year to XBox's from this year. Unfortunately the economy and consumer preferences (along with everything else on this planet) are in a constant state of flux.

    So let's make love, not war, and let Sony sell PS2's and Microsoft sell XBoxes. :-)
  • by ink (4325) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @01:21PM (#3317648) Homepage
    But you CAN'T do that with consoles. If you make a loser, you can't ditch it and go on. If you do that, developers don't trust you, even if you are Microsoft - at least, probably. They didn't trust Sega, and for God's sake, Sega is a massive player in the arcade market, and is pretty financially solvent.

    Look at Windows CE: The first version was atrocious, the second version wasn't much better. Neither of them sold any copies of any significance, but with unlimited resources, competition didn't work and so a third version was made along the lines of dead third-party developers. This version isn't spectacular, but is starting to sell a bit more mostly because of Microsoft's first-party software like Office, Outlook and IE.

    Now, take a look at what Microsoft's been doing with games; they've been ramping up first-party titles for quite a while now. Their lineup is getting impressive -- stuff like Halo, which used to be slated for a PC version now appears to be X-Box only. Look at the number of software houses out there, and look again at the unlimited resources Microsoft has. They can own this market if they want to; even if they have to buy EA and Square to get it. You can't compete against Microsoft if they are determined to crush you.

    Sony can play dirty tricks like this as well, so this should at least be entertaining to watch as two mega-corps go at it. Somehow, though, I think we'll all be left with something that sucks as the end result (witness Windows). Nintendo is going to die off first, as a console maker anyway; they'll still make games for other consoles like Sega does, and their handheld line will continue until Microsoft puts out the X-Palm or whatever.

  • by Sid Meier's username (569387) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @01:27PM (#3317723)
    Exactly. And Perfect Dark was the second (and still the best).
  • by barawn (25691) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @01:46PM (#3317897) Homepage
    "Publishers" means that the company in question was interested in making or had already made the game, and were looking for someone to put forth the cost of making and promoting the game. The danger to Microsoft is that the developers won't want to develop for an "Xbox-2" because they know that Microsoft will ditch it and move on without a second thought.

    Could they just up and buy any well known game maker? Eh. Not really. The major players in the console field are un-buyable, even for Microsoft. They could buy the smaller ones, but smaller development houses typically make breakout games that no one suspects. To have a console seller, you need a game that everyone KNOWS will rule, and DOES rule. SSBM for GameCube, (insert huge game here for PS2), Halo for XBox. Except they're still saying Halo will come out for PC. You CAN'T say that. That's anathema to console purchasers.
  • by Traa (158207) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @01:58PM (#3317996) Homepage Journal
    I mostly agree with your view of Halo. Interesting that you are the first I see to compare Halo to Tribes2 (very good comparison too).

    Here are some of the things I thought of Halo after completing the game:
    - The 3D graphics ARE actually a notch up from anything out there. This said, you have to be a bit of an expert in the field of real time 3D computer graphics to notice some of the details. Besides it's original textures most surfaces are bumpmapped, glossmapped and have detail-textures. There are a lot of environment mapped surfaces. Most or all of the texturing is Trilinear (not sure, maybee even anisotropic filtered). The graphical models are very detailed, curved surfaces (quite a lot) are actually curved enought to not notice the individual polygons. The level of detail models are done really well, I could not see any popping (landscape popping is the one thing that still annoys me in Tribes2).
    None of this is new, but Halo is the first game that truely implements all these techniques to create a visually very pleasing environment.
    - The physics engine is pretty sweet, check out the movie "Warthog Jump" [xboxs.com]
    - Biggest frustration with the game: the controler. Not the size of it, I actually like it quite a bit. It's just that, as an avid PC-FPS player I neeeed a mouse. About 3/4 into halo I finaly felt fully comfortable with the controler. NOTE: If you have to play with a controler (and you do) then the X-Box controler and the way it was set up is probably the best you can do.
    - Minor frustration with the game: I suspect that the level designers where pushed to finish the game and had to revert to cut-and-paste to get some of the levels done. Like so many other gamers I would have probably preferred the game being shorter over the repetetiveness of a few areas (not that many really).

    So what is the big deal about Halo? Simple, it is a great FPS with very good graphics and very reasonable game play...on a console! Thats a first.

    My conclusion: FPS and console don't mix to well...but since I couldn't get Halo for the PC yet I was happy to play it on my X-Box.

    Traa-[CE]
  • by MassD (571162) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @02:05PM (#3318057)
    The PS2 will come out on top. The reasons are quite simple and straightforward really. 1)For one thing, Sony had a massive install base. While the initial launch of titles was weak, a PS2 still could play PSOne games... People wouldn't worry about their PS2 gathering dust while they wait for more native titles (like the N64). 2) Name recognition. The Playstation was the king of consoles. Every platform gamer pretty much had one. Most all the developers already had partnerships with Sony for the PSOne, partnerships that made a ton of cash for both sides. Even Nintendo has an advantage over Microsoft. And another thing rarely mentioned... Sony's reputation in the market is not of some predatory evil juggernaut out to kill all competition. I don't remember all the contempt and distrust thrown at the PS2 when it was announced. The main knock against Sony is that their stuff costs too much, but the products are still really good. How much anti-Sony feelings are kicking around? Compare that to the "MS is EVIL!" crowd. This makes more of an impact that most people think. 3) They got to market before Microsoft. Self-explanitory. This actually surprised me. The X-Box is basically a bunch of existing, outsourced PC hardware thrown together. The only thing Microsoft did was design a cheesy case and stank controller (I actually like the DualShock2), and stuff it with a M$ OS. The PS2 seems like it required far more time in R&D. Yet, for some reason, M$ didn't get what is essentially a stripped down PC out to the consumer closer to the PS2. My guess is that they would have released a console with NO GAMES. Overall, I don't see the X-Box putting a real dent into the PS2's sales. Sure, the X-Box is a superior hardware platform... but they have no games. Sony has been doing the console thing for a long time, they didn't just jump into the industry because they wanted to make a quick buck like MS has.
  • by Leto-II (1509) <slashdot.4.tobye ... t.com minus poet> on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @02:12PM (#3318121)
    You missed the point entirely. It's not that they don't like US citizens, but that they don't like US companies if there is a Japanese company in the same market. Hell, my Japanese friends didn't even like Japanese companies who had too many of their products manufactured outside of Japan.

    The Japanese in general think much more highly of Japanese companies than foreign companies. If you didn't see this during your time in Japan you must be quite oblivious to your surroundings...
  • by barawn (25691) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @02:42PM (#3318349) Homepage
    Wow, the defeatist "Microsoft will win, they are amazing!" attitude is really rampant around here for a while.

    OK, first off, the numbers don't support what you're saying - they support what I'm saying. Even in the US, the GameCube is selling better than the XBox (just barely 32K/week as opposed to 28K/week). In Japan, where the GC brought Nintendo back with a vengeance, the PS2 is selling 85K/week to GC's 34K/week (and keep in mind that the GC has been out LONGER, with a weak library of games), and the XBox is churning a measly 5K/week, only barely outselling the WonderSwan Color and the ORIGINAL Game Boy, and losing to the PS1 (7K/week). Hype for the Xbox is losing ground dramatically, and Microsoft doesn't seem to be turning it around. I mean, honestly - the article was about how the X-Box is dying! The GameCube doesn't have articles like that out for it (because, um, Nintendo's doing fine?)!

    Second off, Microsoft's first party titles aren't that strong. They're okay. But they still have the stigma of "they'll go to PC". Even if Halo never goes to PC, they probably cost themselves several hundred thousand sales in both Halo and XBoxen just by suggesting it might. This is dangerous. Really dangerous.

    And if you think they can buy EA and Square, not likely. They're rich, but not THAT rich. I dunno, I could be wrong - a better financial analyst could step in here - but EA and Square (which have a joint venture, recall) are pretty hefty companies, especially Square in Japan. I don't think they'd be that easy to buy.

    Nintendo doesn't have anything to worry about at all. They're making really huge amounts of money, the GameCube is doing extremely well in Japan, in the US, and is generating a lot of hype in Europe (spaced releases are a good thing - they maintain Internet hype). The GBA is a phenomenal success, and Nintendo is even more of a behemoth in the handheld market than Microsoft is in the OS market.

    Sony doesn't have anything to worry about as well. The mindshare is still theirs - XBox can't win with a few unique titles and ports - they need almost ALL unique titles (No PC! PCs are a competitor here!), and the ports need to be far and away better than the competition, which won't happen unless Microsoft does the ports themselves (companies try to do the least amount they can to port a game).

    Nintendo's fine because their first party publishers are a helluva lot more prolific and successful than Microsoft, which is hit and miss (ooh, they've produced some crap). Nintendo also has a fair library of second party publishers, which Microsoft needs badly. Third party publishers only push a console from "secondary" to "primary" status. They just do good things for the industry in general, not consoles in general.

    Huge megacorporations can't just intrude on other industries this easily. It takes time, and it's highly unlikely they will dominate the industry - after all, they'd need to do something far and away BETTER than the competition, which they AREN'T doing. They're doing things arguably worse, arguably equal. And in that sort of a situation, the incumbents (Sony & Nintendo) win.
  • by barawn (25691) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @02:46PM (#3318377) Homepage
    I think this is only true of 'true' console games, as people figure out exactly how the hardware works. The X-Box is a lot more developer friendly, but I don't think it has the headroom that the PS2 and the GC have.

    Keep in mind that the PS2 is a wacky wacky platform with a tremendous amount of vector processing capability, and the GC has amazing amounts of sustained bandwidth that the X-Box doesn't have. Game developers need time to figure out how to use those two things. But the X-Box is just, well, a P3 and a GeForce 3. Nothing special. I think the reason that Halo was so good was because they already KNEW how to program for a PC - the game was supposed to GO to a PC.

    We'll see. My instinct tells me X-Box games aren't going to improve a heck of a lot, and you'll see dramatic improvements from the PS2 and even more incredible improvements from the GC.
  • Cost, games, focus (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nelson (1275) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @03:01PM (#3318482)
    Cost is huge. All joe consumer sees is higher price tag and wants to know what he get's for it. Technical details aside, the answer is "not much."


    Games have always been huge, Nintendo is in business still because they get games made that people end up buying the box for. The Zeldas and the Marios and what have you. PS2 has some killer games, GTA3, VF4, SOE, MGS2, Ico, GT3, Jak and Daxter, FFX, and more. MS is operating with a deficit in this department. One or two good games just doesn't do it at this point for them.


    Focus is also key. Nintendo and Sony are focused on games. MS sees the Xbox as their gateway to your living room. They see IE on you TV, PVR on Xbox. They've been meeting with satellite and cable vendors to get integrated with them. They want windows and office on your tv. The games are secondary.


    We've known from the start that they'd take a hit on it, it's just a matter of how big of one they are willing to tolerate before they can it. What's it worth to them? $1billion? $1.5billion? We might find out. Even they can't take a loss forever and they won't. I've long thought that they would have to hit a home run to really matter because unless they clearly hit it out of the park they've got everything working against them, Sony and Nintendo beat them on cost, catalog, they've got history and reputation, they're Japanese and can expect to sell a few copies in Japan based on that alone. MS has made a good product but it's clearly not an unstopable killer. Sony still has the FUD card to play, just now when they can seriously cost reduce the Ps2 (they have a single chip solution..) they can also start talking about the PS3 that will be out in 18 months..

  • by barawn (25691) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @05:22PM (#3319442) Homepage
    I definitely agree with you that Nintendo would growl very loudly and chop Microsoft into small bits if they tried some sort of a takeover (one would also note that dozens of little kids would storm Redmond screaming 'leave my gameboy alone!')

    EA is doing pretty well, actually. They've bought several smaller companies and have strategic alliances (subsidiary companies) all over the place. I don't think buying them out would work - you might get the company, but the company's strength is in its alliances, and those might not carry over. Wouldn't patent holders have a right to revoke a patent license agreement if a company's bought out, too?

    Square is an odd horse. They're hurting for money pretty bad, but I don't think that they can be bought out all that easily - their main value is talent, and you can't buy talent with just money. If Microsoft tried to buy Square, and half of the talent jumped ship, they would've wasted quite a bit of money indeed. :)

    That being said, many people do leave Square quite often - I dunno. It might not be the most wonderful place to work.

    Buying companies isn't the best way to gain market share - it backfires quite often.
  • by barawn (25691) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @05:27PM (#3319487) Homepage
    Wow. That second to last paragraph was totally unreadable, because of one word. Let me fix it myself...

    It should've been "Third party publishers only push a console from "secondary" to "primary" status. They just do good things for the industry in general, not consoles in specific."

    Grr.

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