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Console Price Cuts And The Holiday Season 57

Posted by simoniker
from the negative-money-for-console-love dept.
Thanks to CNN Money for their article discussing the state of the console market heading into the Xmas season. The author discusses the lack of major price-cuts for the PS2 and Xbox, suggesting: "Sony feels it can make more money this holiday season from its existing customer base", and speculating: "It's more and more likely that the reason we haven't seen price cuts from Sony and Microsoft is their next generation machines won't hit stores until 2006." If this is the case, it's suggested that "...the life cycle of this [hardware] generation will be the longest of any in the industry's short history", perhaps surprising considering rapidly advancing technology.
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Console Price Cuts And The Holiday Season

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  • by lightspawn (155347) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @11:55PM (#7100747) Homepage
    "...the life cycle of this [hardware] generation will be the longest of any in the industry's short history", perhaps surprising considering rapidly advancing technology.

    What will a PS3 or Ybox or GameCylinder be able to do that current consoles can't? Higher resolution video? Better audio? More/better networking?

    There's little need for the next generation - games already look about as good as can be expected for a normal TV display. Why rush the next generation of consoles when the returns (for extra power) are diminishing to a point it's not trivial (for the average person, not for you) to tell the difference between the Dreamcast and Xbox versions of the same game?
    • I've been wondering the same thing...

      The Xbox is capable of resolutions greater than standard television, up to HDTV.

      It's got a hard-drive, it's got networking.

      What will be next?

      I usually look forward to 'what is next' but now I think I finally reached the stage of 'just make more games for this version'.
      • Bigger hard-drive, Wireless networking? More ram? It's got 64megs which is a bit lacking. Easier for development? Better lighting/AI/effects/etc require better hardware. Even on the Xbox a couple games can get a bit of a slowdown with the awesome effects. Quieter, more features like VCD/SVCD player, etc? Better security to stop modding?
        • Hmm..some good ideas.

          Yes- the memory is probably the number one change they need to make. Bigger 'worlds' could be loaded, with fewer breaks.

          Wireless networking built in would be nice, but I just added an adapter, which does the same thing. But, it was another $80, and it hangs off the back.

          Hopefully they'll be able to add enough new features to really make a difference. But I am probably just being naieve (spelling) about the whole thing.

          I forgot about the whole 'convergence' thing. DVR, make it th
      • The next generation X-box? How about small and cheap to manufacture?
    • I am not a game designer, but I know that PS2 and X-Box really pushed the limits on capabilities this time around, and may have sacrificed some ease-of-programming as a result. The Gamecube, however, was developed in a way so as to ease development, so its almost premature retirement seems somewhat surprising. Perhaps Gamecube is gently beginning to broaden their audience and dumping their current design scheme?

      Still, an upgrade to a new console will most likely not have anything to do with polygon count

      • From what I understand Xbox is the easiest to develop for. And the Gamecube could be easy, but it is the most expensive to develop for.
      • I am not a game designer, but I know that PS2 and X-Box really pushed the limits on capabilities this time around, and may have sacrificed some ease-of-programming as a result. The Gamecube, however, was developed in a way so as to ease development, so its almost premature retirement seems somewhat surprising. Perhaps Gamecube is gently beginning to broaden their audience and dumping their current design scheme?

        The XBox should be easy to program for, at least for anyone that's developed a PC game before.
    • Actually, I'd argue that Sony, for one, might feel a push from its own consumer electronics division to push out a new device, most likely with high definition video.

      Consumers need an incentive to upgrade to HDTV. Sony, I use as an example because of its wide spectrum of products. However, Microsoft, or Nintendo could also feel a push from other display manufacturers to update the hardware.

      As it stands, most people won't willingly upgrade their sets (Geeks and Home Theater buffs aside) to watch the latest
      • Consumers need an incentive to upgrade to HDTV. Sony, I use as an example because of its wide spectrum of products. However, Microsoft, or Nintendo could also feel a push from other display manufacturers to update the hardware.

        Microsoft's and Nintendo's consoles already support HDTV, though Nintendo might (unlikely) feel a push to support the higher resolution that Microsoft supports. Sony has fairly minimal support for HDTV (at the same resolution as Nintendo), on a much smaller percentage of it's titles
    • by grahamwest (30174) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @12:38AM (#7100958) Homepage
      1080i and/or 720p HDTV at 60Hz will be the standard for all games on the next generation of consoles. You can do HDTV on Xbox now but going beyond 480p mostly precludes anti-aliasing and limits scene complexity because you only have about 1.2GTexel/sec of raw fillrate. Right now this isn't too big a deal because HDTV has limited market penetration but HDTV is definitely the future.

      Global illumination will be a big differentiator too - Doom 3 is the first glimpse of this, but with more powerful hardware lighting will get really compelling. Games like Resident Evil or Fatal Frame will be able to crank up the tension a few more notches.

      Procedural geometry and animation through shaders will also add to gameplay. A lush, dense forest with waving branches that have collision with the player and can be broken off or set on fire could provide a bunch of interesting gameplay in a game like Counterstrike.

      More memory and more horsepower will allow game worlds to be more interactive. Games like Red Faction and Otogi are a good start but there's a lot more that can be done especially when you add in a good physics engine. You could make a pretty cool demolition derby motocross game where bomb-cratering the track changes the racing line and sets you up to make jumps to new areas of the course, not to mention spattering nearby cars with mud to reduce their visibility.

      Gamers want compelling and intensely involving experiences. Presentation is part of how you achieve that involvement. If you're willing to make your game world's representation more abstract you can cut back on the amount of computing power needed to express it, but that isn't what gamers pay for.
      • Just a quick FYI to tag in here, but the Cube supports 480p as well... No higher resolutions, but it does manage progressive scan, and I at least find it a rather noticeable improvement.

        And, I'm not certain about the Xbox, but I know on the Cube side of things the 480p support varies by game(whether its present or not), I believe the XBox has a similar situation, though I'm not certain.
        • by grahamwest (30174)
          Yes, I should've mentioned that GameCube also does 480p. You are also correct that support for this varies a lot from game to game on GameCube. This is for multiple reasons, some technical and some process/testing related. On Xbox you get 480p support basically for free since there's no extra game UI, you're already spending the memory and fillrate for full-height framebuffers and the video circuit setup automatically engages 480p (as long as it's valid and enabled in the dashboard) unless your code specifi
    • by Kris_J (10111)
      Better physics, no objects passing-through other objects, better AI. There's heaps of room to move, just not in the eye-candy area.
      • I hate Objects Passing Through Other Objects in games. Football games are notorious for this. ESPN Football is the football game I've ever played but I encounter this problem frequently. Balls going through a defender's hands, arms, torso!?!, etc., etc. I think I noticed an instance of O.P.T.O.O. in HalfLife2 demo movie, could be mistaken though.
      • GOOD.

        I've never understood why all developers spend god knows how much to add 5 more polygons to a charactor's body instead of improving on collision detecting methods that were laid out 10 years ago.

    • This comment reminds me of the infamous (yet misquoted) "Nobody will need more than 640k of RAM." Technology grows, and games grow with it. When Doom was released, who could have envisioned Quake?

      Besides, I think your three points are somewhat invalid (high res video, better audio, better networking). What we'll be seeing is more *complex* graphics, which will require a higher processor/vid card to render.

  • As long as I can play my ps1/ps2 games on my ps3 I will be happy. If only Nintendo would add a port for NES carts... I could finally mothball my old system.
    • As long as I can play my ps1/ps2 games on my ps3 I will be happy. If only Nintendo would add a port for NES carts... I could finally mothball my old system.

      If it helps, SEGA added a port for NES carts to the Dreamcast [dcemulation.com], as it were.
    • If only Nintendo would add a port for NES carts...

      Nintendo doesn't have to add a port. You can already play NES games on the GameCube. Investigate the following combo:
    • "As long as I can play my ps1/ps2 games on my ps3 I will be happy. If only Nintendo would add a port for NES carts... I could finally mothball my old system. "

      Am I in the minority who thinks that backwards compatibility isn't all that exciting? Now, I'm willing to grant you that it's hard to find a working NES system today. Those things broke down quick. But except for the NES, why isn't your old system around to play on?

      I just never really considered that a big selling point. It's kind of neat in a
      • One big advantage that backward compatibility can have is the ability to improve the look of older games. The PS2 will smooth out textures on PS1 games, for example, and make them load much faster.

        I also never owned a PS1, so being able to play games for it on my PS2 means I don't need to buy another Sony console for them.
      • The big part to me is the trade-in value, or I'll sell off the old system with the games I no longer want for a good chunk of cash that goes towards the new system.

        Other than that, if the older system dies (like, say the PS2 seems to do for quite a lot of people, in many cases due to a plastic gear being turned (and eventually worn) by a metal gear), it's nice to be able to still buy hardware that runs the games (though right now PSOne hardware is still around, how about a year after the PS3 comes out?). I
      • It's great for the first few months.

        That way your shiny new PS2 doesn't sit there gathering dust, because you have no games...while your PS1 gets played with.

        Santa Claus would feel stupid about that.
  • "...the life cycle of this [hardware] generation will be the longest of any in the industry's short history"

    That's a pretty interesting quote, when you consider that Sony's Kunitake Ando claimed that the emergence of the XBox would shorten the video game lifecycle. Here's a good quote from the ZDNet Article [zdnet.co.uk]

    The biggest threat to the PlayStation2 is that the Xbox changes the industry's life cycle

    To be honest, I think that this might have been true, but the sour economy in the USA has probably had a

    • To be honest, I think that this might have been true, but the sour economy in the USA has probably had as big an effect on the console lifecycle than anything.

      I think another big factor is the increased complexity of game development between generations. It now takes a longer period of time and a larger stack of cash to develop a compelling game than it has in the past (naturally), and so to some extent the console manufacturers have to let the developers dictate the pace of the change unless they can pr

      • I bought a Gamecube Monday night (it was black thank goodness). I was going to go over to Best Buy but was informed they did not have any black consoles left over. Instead had to drive over to Toys'r'us. Of course the main reason I'm buying a gamecube is to play mario kart!!! :)
    • I seriously doubt Nintendo will be raising the price of the 'cube to $149.
    • My hunch: There will be a spike, and Xbox and Gamecube will be $149 by mid november.

      At my local Target, Gamecubes are now SOLD OUT. At Gamestop, they are selling more then they were. and the Wal-Mart used to have a HUGE stack of gamecubes and they too are sold out.

      I think $99.99 is the golden price. It sounds SO affordable. Double-digits for the latest generation console. (Yes, it's $100, but $99.99 has the double-digit psychological edge)
      • The local game stores that I visit all tell me that the GameCube is "flying out the door" -- Toys-R-Us in midtown NY had huge stacks of GC's, and the whole time I was there you could see people walk over, see the price, and pick up units -- probably sold ten in the hour I was there.

        There is the exception of one GameStop where the manager appears to be an X-Box fan, and has so effectively hidden the GameCube displays (literally hidden in the back of the store, behind all of the used software and books, with
    • Xbox and Gamecube will be $149 by mid november.

      I hate it when I do that.

      "Gamecube" should be PS2. Argh.
  • by n0wak (631202)
    That seems speculative. I'd be surprised if at least *one* next gen console doesn't come out for the 2005 Holiday season (with, of course, the PSP coming out for the 2004 season), but I'd bet on more. Of course, we won't know for sure until E3 next year -- which will likely have tons of announcements.
  • Longest What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TiredGamer (564844) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @02:44AM (#7101386)
    Let's get a quick-n-dirty rundown...

    Atari 2600: 1977 to ~1984 (~7 yrs)

    Nintendo Famicom: 1983 to 1990 (7 yrs)
    Sega SG-x000 (later Sega Master System): 1983 to ~1988 (5 yrs)

    Sega MegaDrive/Genesis: 1988 to 1994 (6 yrs)
    Nintendo Super Famicom: 1990 to 1996 (6 yrs)

    Sony Playstation: 1994 to (1999, but now rereleased as PSOne today)
    Sega Saturn 1994 to 1998 (4 yrs)
    Nintendo 64: 1996 to 2001 (5 yrs)

    Sega Dreamcast 1998 to 2003 (5 yrs)
    Sony Playstation 2: 1999 to ?
    Nintendo GameCube: 2001 to ?
    Microsoft Xbox: 2001 to ?

    The video game industry is well over 30 years old, with the Magnavox Odyssey released in January 1972 [pong-story.com]. It is just plain wrong to say the video game industry is young.

    As for this being the longer generation, that's a hard claim to pin down. You can't really say "X generation lasted Y years" because consoles are not released all at once. The 8-bit generation either lasted until the introduction of the Sega Genesis in 1988, or it ended when Nintendo began selling the Super Famicom in 1990? (Or you could even say it never really ended, since Nintendo was still producing Famicoms long after 1990.)

    I suppose you could say the Sega Dreamcast marks the start of this generation in 1998, and then if the first next-generation console comes out in 2006 it would make this the longest run without new blood. But wait, couldn't you say the Microsoft Xbox is "next-generation" along with the GameCube, having almost double the power of the Dreamcast and PS2?

    Or you could ignore all of this, realize that we're all just waiting for "the next big thing" and start saving your pennies now. ; )

    This site [retrofaction.com] and Google are your friends.

  • still missing and due to the relative low resolution of the TV Sets that hurts quite much.
    • That's a playstation issue. I'm not sure why Sony didn't do hardware antialiasing with the PS2-- even the Dreamcast had fullscreen AA. The gamecube has it, too-- but I don't have an XBox to verify on and i'm too lazy to look it up. I suspect it does, though, but it might get disabled at 720p.

  • by snowtigger (204757) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @03:10AM (#7101508) Homepage
    I am rather surprised of how nobody seems to "know" when the next generation consoles will be out.

    When I spoke to some Xbox developers, they told us that they received a test machine (standard PC) about two years before the official launch. Then some other test hardware dropped in from time to time.

    Considering that developing a game takes around two years, we should be getting indications in advance. The developer scene for Xbox is growing bigger (google for xbox development), so I expect them to have a difficult time keeping this one secret.

    To show off a new console would be hard without cool games. Simply porting existing games would be too easy, since you wouldn't use all the potential in the console and miss the cool-factor. The least thing to do would be to create new graphics to make up for the advances in the graphics chip.

    The same thing goes for the GameCube and the PS2
    ---
    If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up space in the middle
    • Not to mention that the Nintendo and Sony consoles usually get introduced into the Japanese market quite some time before the US market. If Nintendo's looking at a 2005 release for their next console, the announcements will probably hit next year as far as the Japanese and US releases go, and developers should start seeing development kits by the end of this year or early next year (at least the top developers and 2nd party developers).
    • The motives are different now than they were then. Before Xbox was a reality, Microsoft wanted to seed units to developers as soon as possible to get them working on Xbox titles, and excited about the platform. Now, Microsoft will be trying to strike a careful balance between having tatles for their next generation console, and keeping developers interested in the current generation. Expect Microsoft to wait until the last possible second to send ont development units to a wide number of developers.
  • by NanoGator (522640) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @03:11AM (#7101520) Homepage Journal
    "perhaps surprising considering rapidly advancing technology. "

    No, not surprising at all. Consoles are so powerful today that the visual difference from game to game is limited mainly by the artists. There's enough you can do in real time that a doubling or quadrupling in processor speed isn't going to make $300 worth of difference to the consumer.

    The next big upgrade people will be excited about is the ability to do CG in real-time comparable to the stuff we've seen come out of Pixar. Perfectly smooth, anti-aliased, nice shadows, bright color, etc. Unfortunately, consoles are still a ways away from that. What's worse is that when they do reach that point, then what?

    I'm not the least bit surprised that niether Sony nor Microsoft are backburnering their next consoles. Unless they can deliver a 'holy shit!' product, they're going to find themselves nicely saturated. They need to be careful, though, they're leaving the door wide open for Nintendo. And those dudes sure like to innovate. Who here wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Nintendo's successor to the GameCube was portable? THat may not sound so exciting in light of Sony's PSP, but then again it would have Nintendo's support fully behind it as well as third parties dedicated to it.

    • he next big upgrade people will be excited about is the ability to do CG in real-time comparable to the stuff we've seen come out of Pixar. Perfectly smooth, anti-aliased, nice shadows, bright color, etc. Unfortunately, consoles are still a ways away from that. What's worse is that when they do reach that point, then what?
      Heh, you know, I'm surprised how few "perfect spheres" (and no I'm not talking the boobies in DOA volleyball) games have...you can usually see the angles quite obviously. I mean you think
  • The Intellivision got an upgrade to add VOICE!
    The NES had many MBC upgrades, one of which quadrupled the resolution!

    You got the SNES/Genesis because the sprites looked so much better, the controller had more buttons and the music was tons better.

    With the PSX/Saturn came CDs and 3D. Wow!

    With the DC/PS2/Etc. came... BETTER 3D and uh... DVD? MS added a harddrive. . .

    Aside from polishing off little things with consoles, there's no real limits they can't reach if they just don't use too many polygons.

    But wh
  • It half officially has been dropped to $150. BUT you can't buy it at $150. In fact if you go to your local store, you'll find it hard to find the blue box anymore (which is still labeled at $179 if you can still find it - Old stock).

    But the new stock comes in a black box, bundled with a crap game (Why can't they throw in a good game?!?), and a network adapter, for $200.

    I love this marketing ploy, lower the price, but remove the product, so its cheaper, but the customer has to pay more (for more stuff
  • Since this thread has quickly turned into this anyway, here's what I think the industry should be aiming for in its next releases.

    • Native HDTV resolutions up to 720p/1080i
    • 3D audio processed in dedicated hardware (It'd be nice if the programmer only needed to specify the x/y/z-coordinates and volume of a sound, for example.)
    • Optical and coaxial audio output for at least 5.1 output to a receiver (available to games!)
    • Speaker-wire output for at least a 4-speaker output (I really wanted this one before I got a receiver, but I imagine there are power issues with this.
    • Hard Disk (Not an XBox fan, but I gotta admit; I'm sure it's handy.)
    • Built-in ethernet/modem adapters
    • At least 4 controller ports
    • Optional keyboard/mouse which together only use one port
    • Cheap (With the above? Yeah, right!)
  • The next generation of consoles (or gen after) will, likely, have movie quality graphics. IE, Gollum rendered in real-time on your home console as you make him throw rocks at frodo to get that damn precioussss back.

    This is an amazing accomplishment, but it introduces an unparalleled level of complexity. The industry is simply not going to have time to make as many games... unless...

    They develop actors and sets. Dont be suprised if, say, Mitsurugi from Soul Calibur becomes the next "Standard" action hero f

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