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The State of the Game Console Wars 439

Posted by michael
from the no-holds-barred dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Two years after the next-gen game consoles hit the market, the verdict is in. What does the future hold for each of the Big Three? Here is a thoughtful but crude summary of the X-Box vs. GC vs. PS2 ordeal."
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The State of the Game Console Wars

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:27AM (#6720393)
    ..about the current state of gaming. Something like,

    I like to play games on:

    My PS2
    My XBox
    My GameCube
    My N64
    My Computer
    2+ of Above Choices
    CowboyNeal's couch

    Seriously, excluding the obCowboyNealReference, I'm really interested in a breakdown. I used to be terribly addicted to console games, starting with an Atari 2600, then moving to the NES and the SuperNES. Once I discovered computers, console gaming lost all its magic to me and although I've played on friends' PS, PS2, and even a 3DO, I never really got into consoles again.

    Would be cool to see a survey of how many people still use console games nowadays, vs those who game only on their computer, vs those who don't care about games at all (except in the toxic waste dump that is CowboyNeal's couch ;)

    --
    Rate Naked People [fuckmeter.com] at Fuck Meter! (not work-safe)
  • by PipianJ (574459) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:38AM (#6720445)

    It is true that Nintendo is third place in the US... And for that they are suffering a bit. Don't get me wrong, I am a Nintendo fanboy (and to a lesser extent Square, and by extension, Sony) who hates Xbox with a passion, but Nintendo isn't going anywhere in the States, and it's got a tough time ahead of it. Best wait for the secret announcement later.

    Elsewhere, Nintendo takes the cake, even worldwide it takes second-place with 9.55 million units (as of March) sold to 9.4 million Xboxes (as of July) (consider the fact that Xbox sales are biased towards the US, and you get a more interesting picture of the world sales. For links on the info, look at the link at the bottom of this post.). So Nintendo is hardly down and out.

    And that brings me to my anecdote. Earlier this month, I had the privilege to sit in a two-hour open forum featuring four highly respected people in the gaming industry. One of these was Ms. Laura Fryer, Director of the Xbox Advanced Technology Group.

    Naturally, as a Slashdotter, I decided to ask Ms. Fryer the two hard hitting questions:

    • Why does Microsoft refuse to give Linux a legitimate license for use? (Yes, the ultimate "MS Answer" was obvious, but I wanted to irk her...)
    • What does Microsoft plan to do about the fact that they are in third place worldwide?

    The initial response? "Them's fighting words!"

    She went on to address my second question first, dismissing it as untrue. Of course, I found evidence to the contrary later on, but the fact is that she lied about it.

    Then of course, there was the Linux part of the question, which she dodged, mentioning something about "security" before going on about "intellectual property" issues (nVidia and Intel have problems with Linux on the Xbox? This is the way she tried to paint it...)

    In any case, though the public opinion coming out of it was quite likely biased for her ("She's in the industry! She knows what she's talking about!") The fact of the matter is she blatently lied and danced around my question. Needless to say, it's quite ego-boosting to realize that a 17-year-old kid had to make a member of MS management lie and dance around the answer...

    As for more information on the incident, you can see my blog entry [pipian.com] on the subject.

  • by wwhsgrad2002 (698991) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:42AM (#6720464)
    The PS2 and the Xbox are the two hottest selling consoles on the market right now. These two consoles in some ways redefined gaming by including a way to connect the console to other players around the world via the internet. The next generation of game consoles will obviously be better. They will be faster. They will have bigger hard drives. The will have better graphics. In short they will almost be as powerful as a desktop computer. Can Sony, Microsft, and Nintendo sell these next generation consoles for less than $300 conoles and still make a profit. The console that wins the pricing war will likely win the "console war."
  • Kwality Kontrol. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by August_zero (654282) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:49AM (#6720496)
    Um, maybe I'm a little out of things considering that I took the MCAT yesterday and have been more or less drunk since it concluded, but why was that article posted? Are the admins off this weekend?

    Don't get me wrong, the subject matter could have been an interesting read, but My cat has buried things in his sand box that had more journalistic merit than that "article" did.

  • Re:PC vs Console.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AntiOrganic (650691) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:59AM (#6720528) Homepage
    I'd like to see a source for this market-share figure, because I'm not entirely buying it. My skepticism is attributed to the sales of games like Halo, Grand Theft Auto 3/Vice City and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Yes, I am aware that two of the three games mentioned do/will have PC ports.

    And to address your second point, that's simply not the case: I'd hardly refer to someone without extensive computer experience as an "idiot." Many people I've spoken to have no idea what's in their computer. I work in technical support and have a good deal of experience speaking with these people. They don't know, and certainly don't care, what "DirectX" is. What's a "32 Emm Bee video card"? What the hell is AGP? These kind of things do realistically put people off somewhat. And though many modern computers are more gaming-oriented as costs of hardware is being driven down, and people are becoming more comfortable with this sort of thing, "casual" gamers are probably not going to play PC games. Besides, a PS2 costs a bit less than a new mid-end video card (retail, these people don't scope Pricewatch), and it takes no technical expertise to install; just hook it up to your television.

    I will make one concession to you: The PC's chances in this market are getting better and better, as many of the young'uns become more experienced with computers and the terminology relating to them, as well as many computer-related skills. However, some people would argue that PCs are becoming more of a commodity product as many features are being transferred to other devices (cell phones that can check email and send instant messages, and the like). I prefer to centralize, everything's done on my PC, but others may differ greatly in their ways of getting things done. What do you think the desktop PC will look like in 10 years? I'm curious to hear what other people think.
  • by PipianJ (574459) on Monday August 18, 2003 @01:31AM (#6720646)

    Until there's a consistent third-party reporting on all three companies the various sales figures, while perhaps having some value taken on their own, become meaningless when compared to one another.

    This is quite true, and I won't dispute it. But it's hard to get worldwide figures other than from the companies themselves. They're all going to inflate their own figures and deflate the others... (Why do you think she claimed Xbox was in second place worldwide? Certainly not because she trusted Nintendo's sales figures.)

    The idea that Microsoft should be supportive of Linux on their machine is at best naive. Why should they offer more legitimacy [than they have to] to a competitor? Further, why should they support such a feature that would inevitably cause increased sales of a product that isn't a revenue generator while probably minimizing the attach rate of the software, on which they DO make money?

    A very good point that I won't dispute. After all, this is Microsoft, and they really have no interest in Linux anyways (aside from killing it). It's just rather interesting that she evaded the whole question rather than giving it more straightly to a person who clearly knew more about what was going on than other questioners.

    Ultimately Linux on the Xbox will be thanks to the people trying to get it on, with no help from MS (not even from those hackers who tried to "bargain" with MS to not release the font exploit on the 4th of July). Not through bargains or anything else. I knew that the question was loaded, and I understood the majority of the true reasons behind not letting it on when I asked the question.

  • by mnmn (145599) on Monday August 18, 2003 @01:44AM (#6720673) Homepage
    And that is market momentum. Nintendo is still on the mind of the ones among us who are in their early 20s. We remember lusting after those Donkey Kong handhelds and NEOGEO games that seemed to define video games after Atari. Even after GameCube, I'm still open to give Nintendo a chance but I'll be wary. Younger ones will not remember the glory days of nintendo and have already associated the image of nintendo with crap.

    Enter Playstationa and both 1 and 2 were huge successes. They have whipped up a market momentum ( PS2 would not be such a success without the success of the PS1) that will benefit them much. Seriously which console are we all looking forward to most? Playstation3 of course.

    And we all know the XBOX is really a celeron computer with a TV output and a different BIOS. That does much harm to its image as a sleek game box, as much as its sales performance so far. Microsoft has also garnered up a bad image just like AOL for internet connection, with its BSOD and Outlook worms conquering the world.

    Given all three consoles come out at the same time with the same pricetag, everyone will buy the PS3 first without checking reviews and specs whether or not it is the winner.
  • by steve_bryan (2671) on Monday August 18, 2003 @04:12AM (#6721035)
    Is this supposed to be humorous or are you so entirely clueless that you think copyright applies to anything you designate? If XGameStation takes an article word for word from Gamespot and publish it without permission or attribution (which may not be enough depending on issues of fair use) then you are discussing an issue of possible copyright infringement. But web site layout is not subject to copyright laws (not are recipes and many other things).
  • I like money (Score:3, Interesting)

    by M3wThr33 (310489) on Monday August 18, 2003 @05:33AM (#6721182) Homepage
    Really!

    Sony's profits are down 98% [google.com].

    Microsoft's game division is down 42 percent [microsoft-watch.com].

    Nintendo posts a 11.5 billion yen profit for the quarter [heraldsun.com]. That's about $1 MILLION A DAY or $12 a second.

    Who's the loser here? Console sales aren't instant profit. Games are what matters, and with Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire selling 9.5 Million worldwide(Who said it was dead?), Nintendo can afford to make the games they want without having to copy anyone else to make a quick buck.
  • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday August 18, 2003 @06:49AM (#6721338) Journal
    Personally I'm not that sure that image and momentum play that much of a role.

    Except for

    1. a handful of nerds who are still stuck at the "Nintendo rules because of Donkey Kong on NES" point in time, and

    2. the few die-hard nerds debating MHz and megabytes and "Microsoft sucks"

    ... the rest of us just look at the available games, and make a choice based on that. It's all about the available games. It's that simple.

    Hype and past successes can only help that much. It didn't help the N64 compete with the PSX, did it? Yes, a lot of people wanted a N64 based on Nintendo's past success, but in the end they went and bought a Playstation instead. Go figure.

    It makes a nice elitist story that people are just sheep which buy based on hype alone, but in practice it's just not so. In practice, most people actually think twice before throwing 179$ on a console. They read a few reviews. They look at the available titles. And even more importantly: they talk to each other, too.

    And in the end what does matter are the games. And _that's_ what Sony did right all along. And that's where Nintendo and MS screwed up big time.

  • by fr0dicus (641320) on Monday August 18, 2003 @07:16AM (#6721384) Journal
    I've gone back to consoles as most PC games that come out these days are just a fps that is 1% prettier or an add-on pack for 'The Sims'.

    I got tired of shelling out for upgrades to get them to run, when the upgrades cost more than the consoles that started tempting me.

    I don't think I'll look back for a while now, half-life 2 and doom 3 seem to be the highlights on the horizon; more fps, more power needed to play them. Nothing even remotely diverse. Half of the release list are 6 month late conversions of console games anyway.

  • by fupeg (653970) on Monday August 18, 2003 @10:24AM (#6722248)
    I've had a PS2 for awhile (3/01) and my wife bought me a GC shortly after they came out (11/01.) I don't have an XBox because I have this thing called a concious that prevents from buying things from Microsoft. So for cross-platform games, I generally go with the GC over the PS2. My GC lib:
    • Monkey Ball 1 & 2 -- the most fun game on the GC.
    • Zelda
    • Metroid Prime -- I was NOT disappointed by this game, but maybe that's because I had no problems with the controls
    • Star Wars Rogue Leader
    • 007 Nightfire
    • Madden 2004 -- just bought it, also have 2003
    • NCAA Football 2003
    The only game I've bought for my PS2 this year was GTA: Vice City. Now on my PC I've bought about ten games in the last year, including Jedi Knight 2, Morrowind, Medal of Honor, Unreal Tournament 2003, The Sims, Warcraft III, and Splinter Cell. This pretty much corresponded with my wife buying me a GeForce4 Ti for my birthday last year...
  • by Tony (765) on Monday August 18, 2003 @01:21PM (#6723816) Journal
    So what if the XBox is sold as a loss-leader? That's Microsoft's fault for building an overly-expensive PC to compete against a Game Console. And Microsoft will not have any IP problems by providing a signature for Linux; they won't sell Linux themselves. I would imagine they don't vet the games sold for the XBox for IP infringement; why should they require that for Linux?

    No, the reason they don't provide a signature for Linux is because that would give Linux some validity from Microsoft. Like a child that is worried another kid is getting more attention on the playground, they don't wanna be friends.

    You had an opportunity to ask someone who produces cool advanced technologies about what they thought was coming in 5 to 10 years,...

    The XBox is hardly "cool advanced technology." It's a restrictive PC with some software thrown in for media and game apps. See, this is what I don't get: MS had a chance to design a game console, but their "PC in every living room" mentality caused them to build, well, a PC, and produce it at a price point 30%+ more expensive than the PS2.

    MS blew it. Their lack of vision caused them to throw a PC at the problem, because (surprise, surprise) that's all they know. It's this same lack of innovation that I believe will doom them to second- or third- place in the game console world for quite a few years, if not forever.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2003 @11:05PM (#6729364)
    Personally, I don't think Nintendo really cares if they beat the PS2 or the XBOX outside of Japan. Despite being a big Nintendo fan (since the SNES), I've always had the impression that the West (ok, everywhere _except_ Japan) are like second-rate citizens to Nintendo. Nintendo market their product at the Japanese, everyone else is just an afterthought. The problem is, Nintendo's 'pride' and 'tradition' (in typical Japanese style) has blinded them to what the rest of the world wants.

    It's a sad thought that one of the greatest game companies of all time could miss the boat and dwindle over the next few years. Miyamoto, as brilliant as he is, needs to acknowledge the grown up world. That is, if Nintendo want to be successful in the western sense.

    The most memorable games on my GameCube don't come from Nintendo, but from third-parties. Eternal Darkness and Super Monkey-Ball are the games me & my friends will remember most when the GameCube has long retired. Mario Sunshine had nothing on Mario 64 (at least Mario 64 kept me interested with different settings, Sunshine is all beaches and sand.... YAWN). The exception is Zelda: Wind Waker, which was awesome. These games could have easily been released on other, more technically capable consoles (I'm thinking of XBox here).

    As for the 'XBox is just a PC' argument, who cares? By that logic, the GameCube is a somewhat glorified PowerPC Mac, while the PlayStation and PS2 are just MIPS workstations with inferior graphics hardware....

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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