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XBox (Games) Entertainment Games

Microsoft's Rush To Xbox 2 A Danger? 676

Posted by simoniker
from the will-robinson dept.
Game Boy writes "Brit games business site Gamesindustry.biz has posted a fascinating editorial asking whether Microsoft is about to shoot itself in the foot over Xbox 2 by rushing to launch the console years ahead of its rivals' next-generation platforms. It's a pretty good analysis of how Microsoft is thinking about this marketplace, and why they could be pretty drastically wrong - I work at a major games publisher, and a lot of people here are worried about exactly the same things, but it's rare to see anyone actually discussing them openly. Xbox has done pretty well so far, but Microsoft could be heading for a disaster that even Bill's billions won't dig them out of..."
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Microsoft's Rush To Xbox 2 A Danger?

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  • by edrugtrader (442064) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:22PM (#9465890) Homepage
    i'll be playing NES games on my modded xbox for the rest of my life.
  • No, no, no (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mz6 (741941) * on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:23PM (#9465913) Journal
    "Xbox has done pretty well so far, but Microsoft could be heading for a disaster that even Bill's billions won't dig them out of..."

    You do realize that you are talking about a company that has almost $60 Billion (with a B) just in reserves alone. They are sitting on this money! Add into what they make in revenue and the profit off that.

    I know this is an editorial and all and very light on research findings but this paragraph right here struck me as odd:

    "The belief within Microsoft's top Xbox executives, according to company insiders, is that the main reason that Xbox has failed to seriously challenge the PlayStation 2 is because Sony had first mover advantage - a gap of a year in which to build up its installed base and convince consumers and industry alike that it was the key platform of the next generation. Hence the urgency around launching Xbox 2 well ahead of its competitors; if, as seems increasingly likely, PlayStation 3 doesn't arrive until late 2006 or even early 2007, Microsoft believes that it will have won a huge competitive advantage by being to market as much as two years earlier. This, the conventional wisdom says, is how Microsoft will crush Sony."

    Just because you release a platform before a competitor doesn't automatically make it better. The movie industry is notorious for this. Think back in 1999, The release of Armageddon was very hyped at this time, Hell, McDonalds had a friggin contest for it. However, before that release came this little movie called Deep Impact. It was an OK movie, but lacked some parts. It was rushed, designed to make it out before Armageddon and take a cut into it's sales. The movies had the same premise and theme, but Armageddon destroyed Deep Impact in both the box office and dvd/vhs sales. In this case, Microsfot doesn;t know when Sony will release the PS3. The PS3 is so highly anticipated right now, that developers are already writing games for it, studios have already put aside funds. The same cannot be said for a next generation Xbox.

    I am not totally sure on this, but has the Xbox managed to outsell the PS2 in any month except for when the Xbox was first released? When will companies learn that to make a market share, you have to be different. Playstation become popular back in the day because they were disc-based. They were able to hold more space, add better graphics, play music, play full-motion video. But most of all they had the game developers behind them.

    I would be very interested to see what Microsfot has to offer that will be different from the rest. It definitly wasn't a 40 GB hard drive. I think this will be great for Sony to see what they can enhance upon for their game system, considering the PS3 has been in development for what? 3-4 years now.. perhaps longer? I think they might have a slight advantage and a better product.

    Just my $0.02.

    • Re:No, no, no (Score:5, Informative)

      by 7Ghent (115876) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:28PM (#9465971) Homepage
      Gaming platforms != movies

      A gaming platform is an investment that you'll spend several hundred on, games, controllers, etc.. A movie is just a movie. Because I see a movie this weekend doesnt mean I won't see one next weekend, even if it's similar. However, if I buy a console this weekend, I'm definitely not buying one next weekend.

      Your analogy sucks.
      • Re:No, no, no (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Mz6 (741941) *
        I'm not sure you understood me here... I'm applying the PREMISE of releasing movies in Hollywood to the PREMISE of this editorial and releasing game consoles. My comments were that it seems Microsoft is rushing to beat these guys out to take away a market share from others... A kind of gimmick to say "here, try me first". However, if you KNOW a big one if coming down the line, why not wait to see the one that will be the better of the 2? Why even waste your money on the first?
    • Re:No, no, no (Score:2, Interesting)

      I'd guess that the average game console life is probably around three years. Whether that comes from the obsolete technology, the natural decline of sales, or the short attention spans of the public (especially those that play video games?), I don't know. Xbox 2 might capitalize on the lull between PS2 and PS3. But you bring up a really good point about the movies - timing isn't everything. Quality means a hell of a lot more.
      • Re:No, no, no (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by king-manic (409855)
        Quality means a hell of a lot more.
        Deep impact vs Armegeddon:


        Deep impact:
        Thoughtful almost plausible and mostly logically correct if scientifically flawed movies with good actors and a decent script.

        Armegeddon:
        Schlok. And lots of it. Scientifically garbabge, Acting is not very good. Plot is silly.

        One vastly out sell the other.

        VHS vs BETA

        VHS: looks like garbage but is long

        Beta: Look great, but is short originally

        VHS wins.

        IT's not so much about "Quality" as it is about marketing / reputation / Availa
      • Console Life (Score:5, Informative)

        by vasqzr (619165) <vasqzr@netscaDEGASpe.net minus painter> on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:15PM (#9466581)

        I'd guess that the average game console life is probably around three years.

        You guessed wrong.

        1985 - NES released in the USA
        1991 - SNES released in the USA
        1996 - N64 released in the USA
        2001 - GCN released in the USA

        6, 5, and 5 years

        1994 - PSX released in the USA
        2000 - PS2 released in the USA

        6 years
    • no need for movie references..

      you can just cite CONSOLES on this that being first on the market with decent hw doesn't necessarely mean you're a winner.

      however, if you need a scapegoat then it's a pretty good reason.

      xbox isn't all bad, had I a decently sized home theater it would be almost a must buy(as a mediaplayer and the occasional game). irony being though that if ms would have had their way(by having their drm uncompromised) nobody of the people I know who've bought the xbox would have bought it..
    • Re:No, no, no (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:30PM (#9466002)
      The XBox outsold the PS2 in April of this year due to the $150 pricing, that was rapidly reversed in May with the matching PS2 price cut.
    • Re:No, no, no (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Chiasmus_ (171285) <{ayatollah_hyperbole} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:31PM (#9466012) Journal
      The belief within Microsoft's top Xbox executives, according to company insiders, is that the main reason that Xbox has failed to seriously challenge the PlayStation 2 is because Sony had first mover advantage

      Isn't this obvious to everyone??! What the hell is wrong with these Xbox executives?

      The reason that the Xbox hasn't challenged the PlayStation 2 is that when you walk into a GameStop, there's an entire wall of PS2 games - plenty of good titles, at that - and three little rows of stuff that's either terrible (Outlaw Golf, anyone?) or available on PS2.

      The reason XBox hasn't challenged PlayStation 2 is the same reason the Sega Master System couldn't challenge the NES: Despite the fact that the former are superior pieces of hardware, the latter has the best, and most, contracts with game designers.

      I think the XBox is a fantastic machine. I've played GTA3 on both XBox and PS2, and it's simply more enjoyable for XBox.

      But, as an XBox owner, every time I think "You know, I'd like to play a strategy game.. or maybe an RPG..." all I can do is lament the fact that all the good titles are on the other wall.
      • Re:No, no, no (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rick the Red (307103)
        One point repeated in the editorial is the idea that the game publishers will have to invest too much to develop games for the Xbox 2. So what if Microsoft gave away development hardware and software to all those existing PS2 publishers? Remember, they have the money to do this; whether they have the brains to do it is another question.
        • their efforts to make this whole enterprise actually profitable. They do want that. Essentially subsidizing XBox2 developement would be a huge expense. Top that with the hardware discounts they'll continue and it starts costing real money. And while it won't seriously dent their cash reserves, it will look bad on spreadsheets and to investors and make the whole process more vulnerable to pressures to quit.
        • Re:No, no, no (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Chiasmus_ (171285) <{ayatollah_hyperbole} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:07PM (#9466476) Journal
          One point repeated in the editorial is the idea that the game publishers will have to invest too much to develop games for the Xbox 2. So what if Microsoft gave away development hardware and software to all those existing PS2 publishers?

          Certainly that could help. But, honestly, I think one of Microsoft's major problems is simply cultural. The status quo looks like this:

          1. The majority of titles worth playing are made in Japan.

          2. Japan's business climate is still exclusionary and very difficult for foreigners to navigate.

          You'll notice that the XBox has no trouble snatching up titles from companies like Rockstar Games, a subsidiary of Take 2 games, which is HQ'ed in New York.

          But, you know, I'm a big fan of Koei games, like Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Nobunaga's Ambition. As far as I know, Koei games have been on every single Nintendo, Sega and Sony platform. Suddenly, RTK9 comes out, and as an XBox owner, I'm out of luck.

          I do not think that breaking Sony's hold on many Japanese game developers is going to be an easy task for Microsoft. Companies that look like eight-hundred-pound gorillas in America often simply can't leverage their massive finances to their advantage overseas - e.g., read up on Coke and Pepsi's frustration in trying to take the middle eastern markets.
          • Re:No, no, no (Score:5, Insightful)

            by blincoln (592401) on Friday June 18, 2004 @04:21PM (#9467360) Homepage Journal
            The majority of titles worth playing are made in Japan.

            Maybe the majority of titles worth playing for people with Japanese game fetishes =P.

            Here's what I've played in the last year:

            - Legacy of Kain: Defiance
            - Beyond Good and Evil
            - Morrowind
            - P.N. 03
            - Homeworld 2
            - Ico
            - F-Zero GX

            Here's what I have lined up for the next few months:

            - Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
            - Dungeon Siege + Expansion

            I could three games out of that lot that were made in Japan. The Japanese certainly can make an awesome game, but there are plenty of excellent titles coming out of the West too.
          • Re:No, no, no (Score:3, Insightful)

            by The Lynxpro (657990)
            "You'll notice that the XBox has no trouble snatching up titles from companies like Rockstar Games, a subsidiary of Take 2 games, which is HQ'ed in New York."

            That's a poor example. GTA Vice City took well over a year to hit the Xbox after the initial PS2 release. Sony has GTA San Andreas locked up on the PS2 next. That's not a success. I won't even go into details about Manhunt, yet another title from American company Rockstar that debuted on the PS2 first (before the Xbox). If Microsoft wants to beat
            • Re:No, no, no (Score:3, Insightful)

              by jonwil (467024)
              if they actually had a snowballs chance in hell of pulling it off, I would suggest that Microsoft buys Electronic Arts.

              Just look at all the EA games and series that are currently on PS2 (some of which are also in some cases xbox/gc/PC) and think about how bad it would be for SONY if those were xbox only.

              The other advantage is that hopefully EA would start making better games (say what you like about MS, they make/publish some fun games, zoo tycoon for example) instead of "yet another WW2 first person game
    • Microsoft is thinking from a marketer's viewpoint. They want that extra time to advertise their product and push it. What they fail to realize is that, if their console sucks because they pushed it out too soon, all the marketing in the world won't save them. Just look at N-Gage.
    • Re:No, no, no (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Octagon Most (522688) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:33PM (#9466050)
      One serious danger in consoles is that if the product doesn't match up well against rivals then the manufacturer is stuck with it until the next generation. This isn't the case in the software world where Microsoft lives. Software is often rushed to market and then patched and upgraded "in place" while the consumer is using it. The early adopters suffer but that hasn't cooled the purchase of fresh new products, thus the practice continues. Microsoft could emulate this approach in the game console space by building a system that can be upgraded via software. If an Xbox 2 can be converted to an Xbox 2.1 with a CD that flash-upgrades the OS, then we have a new paradigm in game consoles. They become more like software and a much more familiar competitive environment for Microsoft.
      • Re:No, no, no (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:00PM (#9466391) Homepage Journal
        Patching the software doesn't expand hardware capabilities though, unless hardware sits unused until it is later enabled through a patch.
      • by WebCowboy (196209) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:15PM (#9466588)
        If an Xbox 2 can be converted to an Xbox 2.1 with a CD that flash-upgrades the OS, then we have a new paradigm in game consoles.

        Such an "innovation" introduced to the console is a double edged sword. I'd advise against going that route myself as it would enable all that is bad and wrong about the proprietary software world (led by Microsoft) to infect the console market.

        I haven't owned a console in my adult life (although I was quite a fan of the Colecovision), so maybe my perspecive is skewed. However, don't most people buy consoles because they want to play games with a high entertainment value and great sound and graphics without the troubles and complexity involved with PCs? I'd say most people with consoles also own PCs, and if it was just a matter of wanting to play games then the market for consoles wouldn't be nearly as large as it is today--most people would play on the PC, perhaps electing to equip their PCs with TV-out for big-screel livingroom experience.

        I figure if you have to worry about buying a flash upgrade CD every few weeks or months or having to use your x-box live subscription to run "x-box update" regularly because the product was slapped together and rushed to market to beat the competition then you might as well stick with your PC. The last thing a kid needs to worry about is having his x-box turned into a spamming zombie because he forgot to load in the upgrade CD before connecting to his buddy for network play.
        • by Gudlyf (544445)
          "However, don't most people buy consoles because they want to play games with a high entertainment value and great sound and graphics without the troubles and complexity involved with PCs?"

          That's definitely accurate for many people, but additionally one huge aspect of the console that I've liked is the even playing field.

          With a PC, framerates can make all the difference in an FPS game. If you don't have the latest and greatest video card, you're BFG fodder. With the current implementation of console s

      • Re:No, no, no (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gamgee5273 (410326) * on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:42PM (#9466866) Homepage Journal
        Remember: NEC tried this sort of thing with the TurboGrafx (add the CD drive to the TurboGrafx CD), Sega tried it with the SegaCD and the things bombed. Are upgrades for an upgradable console something people go after (think the PS2 HDD and the Network Adaptor)? Is it better business just to create a new console?

        If a console has no compelling exclusive games, people will not buy it. In terms of the TurboGrafx, it wasn't just compelling software, but also a question of mascots... and Bonk (the caveman) vs. Mario, Link, etc. (on the Nintendo side) vs. Sonic (on the Sega side of things) meant bad things for NEC.

        MS is in the same boat as NEC was. No, they don't need a mascot for the console - the PlayStation and PlayStation2 proved that wrong. Nowadays you need compelling franchises, and the Xbox only can build off of Halo and KOTOR right now... and both of those are available in other ways. Whereas you'll have to completely undress to count on your fingers, toes and nether regions to add up all of the compelling franchises the PS2 has on its platform.

        SO, using that as the argument's basis: an upgradable platform is nice, it's cool, all of us at /, would humbly approach it and fawn over it and its capability. But if it doesn't have the games that people buy, only the guys interesting in modding it are going to buy it.

      • Re:No, no, no (Score:4, Informative)

        by Schmucky The Cat (687075) on Friday June 18, 2004 @05:12PM (#9467902) Homepage
        If an Xbox 2 can be converted to an Xbox 2.1 with a CD that flash-upgrades the OS

        Already true. The majority of the OS is on the game disc. Any updated - or replaced - library that the game developer needs or wants they simply put on their disc. That gives console developers what they want - complete, unchanging and exact control over the environment their game runs in. It gaurantees that the experience of running their game is the same on every single platform. If the XBOX SDK upgrades some library, they take what they want for their disc. Console gamers don't know, and don't care, and don't care to know, about DLL version tracking.

        This means Microsoft can continue to churn their code. Xbox game developers snapshot their environment at any specific point, and their game always runs in that version.

    • I am not totally sure on this, but has the Xbox managed to outsell the PS2 in any month except for when the Xbox was first released?

      Yes, it has [gamespot.com].
    • Re:No, no, no (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fjord (99230) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:48PM (#9466248) Homepage Journal
      Think back in 1999, The release of Armageddon was very hyped at this time, Hell, McDonalds had a friggin contest for it.

      Why not use a more parallel example of Dreamcast and PS2. Dreamcast had PS2 beat in time, but the PS2 whomped it.

      I am not totally sure on this, but has the Xbox managed to outsell the PS2 in any month except for when the Xbox was first released

      Yes, just recently [slashdot.org] when Xbox dropped its price to 149. The PS2 retook the lead [slashdot.org] following its own price cut.

    • Re:No, no, no (Score:5, Informative)

      by vitaflo (20507) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:49PM (#9466261) Homepage
      The PS3 is so highly anticipated right now, that developers are already writing games for it, studios have already put aside funds. The same cannot be said for a next generation Xbox.

      There are no dev kits yet for PS3, nobody is writing anything for it, unless you mean writing design docs.

      MS has already given XNA to devs, and they very much are already developing games for Xbox2/Xenon.

      I am not totally sure on this, but has the Xbox managed to outsell the PS2 in any month except for when the Xbox was first released?

      Xbox outsold PS2 by over 100,000 units in April when it dropped its price to $150.

      I think this will be great for Sony to see what they can enhance upon for their game system, considering the PS3 has been in development for what? 3-4 years now.. perhaps longer? I think they might have a slight advantage and a better product.

      Xbox2/Xenon has been in devlopement for just as long, so has Nintendo's next console (Revolution). Who has the "better" product remains to be seen.
    • Re:No, no, no (Score:5, Informative)

      by Crispin Cowan (20238) <`crispin' `at' `crispincowan.com'> on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:59PM (#9466378) Homepage
      You compare Deep Impact to Armagedon, and claim that Armagedon "destroyed" Deep Impact in box office and rentals. Some data:
      • Deep Impact business [imdb.com]
        • Box office: $140M
        • Rentals: $67M
        • Total revenue: $207M
        • Budget: $75M
        • Profit margin: (140+67)/75 = 176%
      • Armagedon business [imdb.com]
        • Box office: $201M
        • Rentals: $104M
        • Budget: $140M
        • Total revenue: $305M
        • Profit margin: (201+104)/140 = 118%
      Deep Impact did 2/3 of the business, which is hardly "destroyed". It did it on 1/2 the money, which is arguably a better investment.

      And IMHO, Deep Impact was a much better movie; the plot was much more believable. IMDB somewhat concurs, in that the viewer rating for Deep Impact is 5.9 and Armagedon is 5.7. I cannot confirm or refute the claim of which film was rushed to market, but the Deep Impact people clearly did a better job.

      Back to video games: anyone have data on how much Sony spent developing PS/2 vs. what MS spent developing XBox?

      Crispin

      • Re:No, no, no (Score:3, Insightful)

        by The Lynxpro (657990)
        "Deep Impact did 2/3 of the business, which is hardly "destroyed". It did it on 1/2 the money, which is arguably a better investment."

        Your stats are flawed. You didn't count pay-per-view (PPV) revenues nor broadcast network and cable deals. How many times do you see "Deep Impact" on broadcast or cable compared to Amageddon? You don't. You listed rentals, but not actual DVD/VHS sales. And with DVD sales, you'd have to include Buena Vista stats as well as Criterian Collection Edition stats too. There i
        • Re:No, no, no (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Crispin Cowan (20238)
          I don't dispute your claims, but you did not provide any sources. I quoted all the data IMDB had. If you think I'm wrong, then do better.

          Crispin

  • I'm confused... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by intuit (729653) <<ten.enilnotpo> <ta> <teppupkcos>> on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:24PM (#9465921) Homepage
    Microsoft is bad for rushing to release XBOX 2. Microsoft is bad for pushing back the deadline for Longhorn so they can make it better. Nice logic, everyone.
  • by 2057 (600541) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:24PM (#9465922) Homepage Journal
    Well I actually like the Microsoft plan to release it before their rivals, because to be honest, there are people who would buy this. If they release in between ps2 an ps3 they maybe able to pick up on the ps2 heads who are looking for the latest system. And if they are the only ones releasing during these years that will increase their profits, because there will be no competition, people will always buy whats new even if they already have something similar.
  • Poor sales/titles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SIGALRM (784769) * on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:24PM (#9465923) Journal
    Poor sales and weak titles [about.com] may be one reason for the change.

    On a side note, I couldn't believe my eyes the other day when I saw a brand new X-Box on sale for $99.
    • Xbox had its share of good system exclusives (Halo, Crimson Skies, Mechwarrior etc). And its ports generally had a technical edge.

      I think PS2's success results from early mover combined with backwards compatability with the massively popular PS1. It also has some good exclusives: Gran Turismo, the FF stuff, and GTA for a while.

      I have all 3 systems, and GC is definately my favorite, but PS2 is a distant 3rd. The Eye Toy is kind of neat though...seems like something Nintendo shoulda done.

      If the Xbox2 isn'
    • That article is about 2 years old, the Xbox and Gamecube both have much larger audiences now than in 2002, so software sales are likely higher. I can't help but think linking to 2002 annual figures was just a sleight of hand on your part, because the PS2 had already been on the market a year or two and the Xbox and Gamecube were newer with a fraction of the install base.
  • By releasing their console years ahead of Sony and Nintendo's next boxes, Microsoft will lose on game selection, unless they plan on writing all the games themselves/and or hiring games companies to write exclusively for the XBOX. Seems like most really popular games come out for multiple consoles simultaneously... (a certain non-swimming action franchise notwithstanding). Where will the developers be at when XBOX2 comes out?
  • by nebaz (453974) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:27PM (#9465955)
    Three points
    1) The article does point out (correctly) that Microsoft's idea of first to market being key to the next generation is not supported by what happened to the Dreamcast console, which was first to market.
    2) Even if Microsoft does come out with the Xbox 2 sooner it would have to be light years ahead of the PS2 to get an audience, because both the XBox and the Gamecube are better machines in terms of graphics capacity now, and that is not enough to overcome Sony's dominance
    3) I find the generation counting (5th generation -- since NES) offensive. What happened to Atari 2600/Intellivision/Coleco Vision?
    • What about the Odyssey? Came out before the 2600. The Odyssey 2 was a 2600 contemporary. You could kill someone with the controllers for that thing.
  • by schild (713993) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:27PM (#9465960) Homepage Journal
    Sega tried this. Remember the dreamcast erhmmm the 32x and THEN the dreamcast?

    Remember the CD-i?
    Remember the 3D0?
    Remember the Atari Jaguar?

    These weren't experimental systems. They were meant to beat the big guys to the punch, whether it was Nintendo or Sega back then.

    The Dreamcast (still my favorite recent gen system) got trashed by the ps1 and the n64. It keeps me up at night thinking about how much better games for the Dreamcast would have been.

    However, if I remember correctly, the PS2 was launched a year before the GC and the Xbox....Hmmmm, no one was naysaying when Sony was planning on doing that, and look at them now - on top by a large margin.

    XBox shooting themselves in the foot? Not if they have Ninja Gaiden, a Halo spinoff and other stuff coming out. Oh and backwards compatibility, they NEED backwards compatibility, no matter HOW HARD it is. I'd put some cash, money, hoes on that being the reason the PS2 succeeded as quickly as it did.
    • by mapmaker (140036) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:41PM (#9466155)
      It was the Sega Saturn that got trounced by the PS1 and N64. The Dreamcast got trounced by the PS2 and Xbox.

      But your point is right on. Sega proved it not once but twice!

    • by shut_up_man (450725) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:20PM (#9466642) Homepage
      I agree... the Xbox is just getting up some speed! They have a solid lineup now (Halo, Knights of the Old Republic, Crimson Skies 2, Prince of Persia, Splinter Cell, Ninja Gaiden), with some good new games just coming out (Full Spectrum Warrior, Chronicles of Riddick) and some big ones coming in at the end of the year (Halo 2, Prince of Persia 2, Doom 3, Jade Empire, KOTOR 2). Xbox Live is kicking ass too, bringing the competition and teamplay seen in PC games to the console arena.

      The idea that they want to rush in a new system that throws all this hard-fought good stuff out the window... it's mind-buggeringly stupid. This is exactly the same concept as written about in the recent How Microsoft Lost the API War article. Not having compatibility is suicidal.
      • by analog_line (465182) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:41AM (#9471819)
        Halo - PC version available
        KotOR - PC Version available
        Prince of Persia - PC, PS2, and GameCube versions available
        Splinter Cell - PC, PS2, and GameCube version available
        Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow - PC, PS2, and GameCube versions available
        Full Spectrum Warrior - Coming out for PC
        Halo 2 - Will have a PC version eventually
        Prince of Persia 2 - coming out for PC, PS2 and GameCube as well
        Doom 3 - If you're playing this on the Xbox...I feel sorry for you.
        KotOR 2 - Scheduled to be released on the PC

        So that's a grand total of 3 of the 13 games you listed as the "solic" Xbox lineup all scheduled to have or already having a release for a different platform.

        Doesn't sound like a super duper reason I need to go get an Xbox, if I can already play 76% of the good Xbox games without needing to buy an Xbox.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:27PM (#9465962)
    The Dreamcast bombed because sega screwed all their customers beforehand with their last 3 systems. Customers had no confidence in the Sega the company, and showed them that by not buying the dreamcast which was actually a pretty good system.

    Microsoft hasn't displayed the same hubris ( kind of a shock ) and it's probably a 50/50 chance of success. It would be made better with backwards compatibility, but i don't know if thats a feature of the xbox 2
    • Exactly. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bozdune (68800) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:22PM (#9466660)
      Parent highlights the real point here.

      Sega screwed everyone first, then was tagged as a weak company, and everyone knew it. They could have come out with a console 50 times better than anyone else's, and they still would have failed, because nobody believed they would be around next month.

      If you knew Mercedes was going broke, would you buy a Mercedes? Of course not, you'd buy a Lexus or a Beamer or something else equally silly and ostentatious.

      Everyone knows Microsoft is going to be around, and they've already shown extreme patience in this market. So there is no risk buying their new console.

      Which is why the whole Sega analogy is dumb, as the AC points out.
  • This is what I'm picturing... stay with me here...

    A white background... a blur of blue goes by the center of your screen. The word "SEGA" appears, and resounding voices sing the name "SAY-GAH"

    The dreamcast, although ahead of it's time, came out year(s?) before the ps/2. Now look at Sega.

    I say this is a good thing and microsoft should release XBox-2 as quickly as possible to get the jump on Sony and Nintendo...but of course I am not one who appricates Microsoft...
  • In other words, studios are being asked to invest in next-generation R&D two years before it's required for PS3, and to spend more money developing an Xbox 2 version of a cross platform title - for an audience of a few million people - than they'll spend developing all three current-generation versions of the game - for an audience of well over a hundred million...

    ...Herein lies the arrogance; Microsoft isn't used to making decisions as an industry small-fry, and it's trying to act like an industry le
    • Microsoft is so proud, that they're becoming blind to the fact that their brand name is become a joke in pop culture.

      Is that really true? I would imagine the brand name of Microsoft is extremely strong in popular culture. It strikes me that Microsoft's brand may have a very poor image here at Slashdot, but Slashdot doesn't exactly equate to popular culture.
  • by metamatic (202216) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:31PM (#9466007) Homepage Journal
    Xbox has done pretty well so far,

    Sure, if failing to make a single penny in profit is "pretty well"...

    ...if having only 1 game in any of the annual top ten sales charts, and that being "Halo" from back in 2001, is "pretty well"...

    ...if having sold even fewer units than Nintendo's GameCube is "pretty well"...

    ...if being outsold by the PSOne in Japan is "pretty well"...

    ...then yes, Xbox has done pretty well. And to think people accuse Slashdot of being anti-Microsoft!

    • Re:Pretty well? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by W2k (540424)
      For a company with next to no prior experience in the console business, no reputation for quality in the console market (or anywhere else according to some people), and with so many people associating their name with Windows 95 crashing in yet another BSOD... Yes, they (Microsoft) have done very well. The fact that the Xbox even made it to the "big three" (PS2 and Gamecube being the other two members) is a testament to its success. Microsoft may have big pockets, but no amount of money can make people buy s
  • by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot@[ ]kelectric.com ['mon' in gap]> on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:31PM (#9466011)
    Isn't this just what Nvidia did? The XBOX is already the most capable console out there, it makes the ps2 look primitive, and it is signifigantly more powerful than the GC but I wouldn't say dramatically so. For years when Nvidia was the only real manufacturer of GPU's, instead of resting on their laurels they pushed ahead and released new products month after month after month. A lot of companies were prevented from competing with Nvidia had raised the bar dramatically. I submit this is exactly what MS is trying to do, raise the bar for Sony, make it more expensive for them, to screw up their PS3 plans, and prevent competition in the general sense.
  • ...If PS3 is backwards-compatible. Follow me here - Sure, Xbox 2 (or Ybox, or why bother?) will have prettier graphics and a lot of "new-tech" cachet. But the fracture in the game-space of having two incompatible Xboxen might be the opening PS3 needs to keep Sony on top.

    Since PS2 dev won't have to stop for PS3, all the investment and tricks learned will still be valuable. Sure, some developers and publishers will stop PS2 coding, but look at how many PS1 games are still out there!

    Microsoft won't have that, and they're also asking gamers to keep two systems. Sony is effectively saying "Upgrade to the $350 PS3 by trading in the PS2 for $100, and keep all your games!".

    Much less risk to go Sony.

    I still want an X2, but I know who's getting my money first!

    GTRacer
    - Read the FA for once!

  • by Dark Paladin (116525) * <jhummel@NospaM.johnhummel.net> on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:32PM (#9466023) Homepage
    *IF* the Xbox2 will be backwards compatible (and considering the architecture of a proposed PPC chip and all, that will be very surprising), then this will be a good move. New games that the article talks about that are multi-platform will still work with the Xbox 2, and new games will look "neato!" on the Xbox2's new hardware.

    BUT!

    If the Xbox2 is *not* backwards compatible, then yes, this could be a problem. If I have a choice between Xbox 1 with a library of games, or the Xbox2 with a few new games, or the PS2 with a ton of new and old games (with the promise that the upcoming PS3 will play all of my current games), then it's going to be a no-brainer for the majority of people out there. And all it will do is change the Xbox divivion from losing over $500 million to one losing more.

    Even Microsoft's investors can't stand a division losing money forever, no matter how much Windows and Office brings in.

    Of course, this is just my opinion. I could be wrong.
    • *IF* the Xbox2 will be backwards compatible (and considering the architecture of a proposed PPC chip and all, that will be very surprising)

      I'm having trouble finding articles suggesting what will happen one way or another. I can't see how they would freeze out current Xbox owners, and expect to sell new expensive consoles. People would go nuts. But, as you say, Intel vs. PPC. Any links on this issue?
  • Wasn't X-Box the last console to market? Like, 18 months after the PS2, if I remember correctly. So, while the X-Box may not have had it's full life, but it's not going to be that early for the next-gen consoles?

    Also, isn't the PS2 meant to be coming out in late 2005, early 2006? In which case, it's not going to be all that early, really, is it?
  • Given that it's only been a couple years, MS hasn't yet made a profit on it's XBOX venture. But it's got about $60B to wait around for that to happen. As soon as XBOX came out, then Sony knew what PS3 was going to have to look like. PS2 didn't have the integrated hard drive or networking or graphic/computing capabilities. It was made to compete with Dreamcast and N64. So, all those PS2 fans took solace in the game library, which is formidable, but on every other front, XBOX makes PS2 look like a hairy
  • What is to stop Microsoft from releasing this at the end of the year and then relasing the NEXT version a few months after the PS3? They would get all the folks who picked up a Xbox 2 looking to get the 3. This would greatly expand their user base. They have a lot of $$$ to throw at this.
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:36PM (#9466088) Homepage
    The Xbox is in a catch 22 situation. Because it loses so much money on every console, the more it sells, the more Microsoft loses.

    The loss estimates so far are in the billions:

    Here read this:

    http://www.itworld.com/App/4201/030203xboxlosses /

    this is about their losses in 2002 doubling!!

    in this more recent piece the Biz magazine says Msft has lost BILLIONS so far.

    http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?se ct ion_name=pub&aid=3489

    Here's an article on its big loses in 2003

    http://www.1up.com/article2/0,4364,1519194,00.as p

    here's an article talking about how they are losing money despite sales increases:

    http://seattle.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/2 00 3/06/02/story7.html
  • From the article, MS thinks that they can corner the next gen market by jumping in early, much like the PS2 did by coming out first (well, except for the Dreamcast). While they may get an early lead, Sony's next system will have better tech (like the XBox has now, and a reason some people claimed to get a XBox.), probably pulling customers back.

    Sounds like a high risk move, which could backfire like Fahey thinks, or it could set them up to win large chunks of marketshare. Probably will come down to devel
  • PS2 has a year+ lead on the Xbox and that's a good thing. Xbox2 has a lead on the PS3 and suddently it's a BAD thing.

    These microsoft guys just can't do ANYTHING right by you guys.
  • Look at BetaMax. It was a superior in quality to VHS, however, the VHS standard won out because it was marketed better.

    For the record, I'm not a big fan of the Xbox.

    • by payndz (589033)
      VHS beat Beta because more films were available on VHS. PS2 beats Xbox (a technically superior system in every way) because it has more games. Simple as that.

      The games don't even have to be good, they just have to be *there*. Nintendo still doesn't seem to have learned this after the debacle of the N64, reasoning that 'a couple of really good games is better than 50 okay-ish ones', not taking into account that most people don't play games to the death, trying to uncover every last secret. Most people play

  • by cmacb (547347) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:40PM (#9466148) Homepage Journal
    I thought I read AT LEAST two years ago that Sony had all the parts needed to make a Playstation 3 but was holding back due to the fact that there was no competition they needed to whomp at the time. Had XBox done better the PS3 would probably be out there now. I'd love to see the PS3 come out though, since as it was described it might not only be an XBox killer but a PC killer as well.

    I hardly see how this move is a "risk" for Microsoft though. The bigger risk to Microsoft is that they just sit on their 50 Billion $ nest egg and wait for the Windows/Office monopoly to dry up. Having shot blanks with just about everything else they have tried, even Bill must be doubting his own genius by now.

    If you had Sony to go up against in consumer electronics, IBM in IT consulting and hardware, Google, Yahoo and AOL in Internet space, and Open Software gradually picking up steam against your existing monopoly, wouldn't you be a bit worried? I bet the stock holders are.

    Besides, who says the end of 2005 is a rush? In MS time that means 2007 at least.
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:41PM (#9466160) Homepage
    As Iposted earlier, the current Xbox loses a LOT of money, possibly billions of dollars. And the better it sells, the more Microsoft loses.

    So, if the Xbox2 is cheaper to produce, and does not bleed money with every console sold, then it would certainly be in Microsoft's advantage to change over as quickly as possible.

    However, if it's still a money pit, then there is absolutely NO reason to switch!

  • ...third time will be the charm.

    If I had to guess, I'd say the XBox 2 will suffer from second-system effect. (Although to be fair, everybody seems to be suffering from that on the next generation, except maybe Nintendo.) Which means it may actually be a cool device over all, but will probably not do well.

    Look out for their third try.

    (Hopefully it will get a more "fair" trial, as by then some of Sony's IMHO undeserved lustre will have worn off. Sony does not suck, but they do not rock as hard as everybody
    • by SuiteSisterMary (123932) <slebrun@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:09PM (#9466500) Journal

      You know, I've never seen an Xbox game that looks like crap. I've seen Xbox games that obviously weren't taking advantage of the hardware, like Dead to Rights, Buffy, and so on, but none of them looked like *crap.*

      Then, I finally got around to getting a Playstation 2, for the .hack series, the Final Fantasy X series, and so on. And I loaded FF X in, and HOLY SHIT.

      The opening animation alone gave me a terrible headache. Hell, the damn models were swimming, like the vertexes were getting rounded to one value this frame, and a different value another frame. Horrible examples of polygons not meshing properly. Argh.

      And my personal greatest pet peeve of the moment; clothes as textures. Maybe I've been spoiled by the Dead Or Alive series. But you know what? If somebody's wearing a necklace, model the damn necklace.

      And, aye, the DC is still head and shoulders above the PS2.

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:43PM (#9466189)
    It seems to me that Microsoft would do better to concentrate on pressing their advantage in the online console gaming market with their XBOX Live service. This is an area where Microsoft is definitely ahead of Sony, which has left online gaming largely up to the individual publishers whereas Microsoft has concentrated on a single branded and managed service. The XBOX Live network can include a greater variety of content and better integration of online gaming services with the centralized service model. Also, smaller publishers, who would balk at the cost of maintaining their own online console gaming infrastructure, would definitely take advantage of the Microsoft branded service and the marketing support that comes with it.

    The next generation console wars will clearly be decided in the online space. If Microsoft concentrates on this then they have a chance.
    • by ThousandStars (556222) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:35PM (#9466801) Homepage
      The next generation console wars will clearly be decided in the online space. If Microsoft concentrates on this then they have a chance.

      Despite the +1 interesting mod, I reject your premise. I think the abysmal showing (in terms of sales in the overall game market) of virtually every MMO with the exception of Everquest demonstrates that most people aren't that interested in on-line only play. When they are interested, they want free, like Battle.net or FPS servers. I know about 20 people who own an X-Box. Zero of those people use the X-Box Live service.

      Online content in the console market faces two important hurdles, in my view: 1) Most American homes lack broadband internet. While broadband continues to grow, the fact remains that modems will continue to dominate in terms of number for the near future. 2) Most console gamers I know prefer to play literally live, against friends in houses, dorm rooms or apartments.

      Then there are other things: parents don't want to pay for or set up online games; service outages; increased costs; etc.

      Granted, I'm arguing primarily with anecdote, but I've seen no data that indicates that Microsoft can win the next generation with online games. I think that other factors will play a much larger role. Another poster wrote about his experience in the electronics section of Wal-Mart, at which he sold hundreds of PS-2s because of the DVD playback feature. Things like DVD playback and backwards compatibility will probably play such a larger role that the online market alone gives MS a chance. Certainly, they may win the next generation, but I think it will be for different reasons than those you state.

  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:51PM (#9466288)
    Don't get me wrong, the discussion on this topic is interesting and all, but...

    Other than dramatic headline writing, how is this a danger?

    Sticking your wang in a pickle slicer? That's a danger. Beating on a hornet's nest with a baseball bat? Also a danger. Releasing your next-generation system early? Arguably (or not) a bad business decision, but I hardly think the word danger is justified.

  • by tstoneman (589372) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:35PM (#9466802)
    Now, all of a sudden people are so concerned about Microsoft's welfare that they're trying to warn them not to shoot themselves in the foot?

    Come on, this is just another case of someone trying to point out how Microsoft is wrong so that this person can show how smart he is.

    The simple fact is this: Someone is going to be the first mover. I didn't hear anyone complain when PS2 went into production. The fact is that they were backwards compatible with PS1 which was considered revolutionary at the time. If PS3 were the first movers, do you think these same people would be complaining that it would be too hard to handle both PS2 and PS3 at the same time? No.

    They are going to be first movers, and yes, people are going to be taking advantage of this. I will probably buy an X-box 2, if it is better. The games will be there, and if the software shop is good enough, Microsoft will PAY them to develop for X-box2, so don't worry about them.

    I haven't heard that X-box 2 won't be compatible, so unless they are really stupid, they won't need to worry about compatibility issues.

    I think what they need to do is:

    1) keep the hard drive. The main reason why I buy games for X-box when multiple versions are available is because the hard drive makes saving and accessing games so much faster, and when you are playing things over and over again, you don't have to wait for the damn memory card to write.
    2) Make the console smaller and lighter. It is a brick, and it's too big and hella ugly. I guess if they want to make it a PVR as well, then it will need to be bigger and heavier, but maybe they should use laptop technology to make it more user friendly.
  • by Thag (8436) on Friday June 18, 2004 @04:31PM (#9467457) Homepage
    And the point is, Microsoft is still losing money on every XBox they sell, and it's not going to get better for them. They are stuck buying PC parts that don't follow the same price curve as console electronics. For instance, hard drives don't get cheaper, they get bigger, and after a couple years, any given model of hard drive is out of production.

    Because of this, Microsoft has to get the XBox 2 out as soon as possible to stem their losses.

    The other console manufacturers, from all indications, are still making money on their consoles, so they are not under the same pressure to put out the next generation.

    As for compatibility, that will most likely be secondary to "not losing money" in the design of the new XBox.

    Jon Acheson
  • MS should do this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jonwil (467024) on Friday June 18, 2004 @10:37PM (#9470342)
    1.Be first to market with a console.
    2.Have it so that it has graphics power and hardware better than the PS2/XBOX/GC
    3.Implement strong copy protection (for example, have all code encrypted with the decryption being done by circutry thats either in the same plastic package as the CPU, that would probobly thwart most people, even better is if its a public key algorithim so that you need the MS only private key to do anything, remember XBOX private signing key has yet to be leaked/cracked/brute-forced/whatever)
    4.Give away the devkits/licences/whatever and simply change the system so that the only thing developers have to pay to MS is a per-unit royalty for every copy that is manufactured

    Because they would be first to market and they would have the most powerfull hardware and a lot less up-front costs for developers wanting to produce a game, it would make xbox2 more attractive to developers.

    An even better idea would be to offer even further incentives for any developer that will sign on to only produce games for the Microsoft platform (XBOX2) and not for SONY or Nintendo platforms (PS3 or Gamecube 2)

    Fact is, if microsoft can get critical mass of developers (particularly if they get exclusitivity), everyone will be forced to buy XBOX if they want the good stuff.

    The same thing happened with the origonal PlayStation way back when (SONY offered a better deal than either SEGA or Nintendo were prepeared to offer and got key companies like EA and Square to sign on as a result)

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