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Businesses Entertainment Games

Taking Gaming To the Next Billion Players 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-console-per-child dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "June marks the launch across Brazil of Zeebo, a console that aims to tap an enormous new market for videogaming for the billion-strong, emerging middle classes of such countries as Brazil, India, Mexico, Russia and China. Zeebo uses the same Qualcomm chipsets contained in high-end smartphones, together with 1GB of flash memory, three USB slots and a proprietary dual analogue gamepad. It plugs into a TV and outputs at a 640 x 480 pixel resolution. 'The key thing is we're using off-the-shelf components,' says Mike Yuen, director of the gaming group at Qualcomm. This approach means that, while Zeebo can be priced appropriately for its markets — it will launch at US $199 in Brazil compared to around US $250 (plus another US $50 for a mod chip to play pirated games) for a PlayStation 2 in the region — and next year the company plans to drop the price of the console to $149. But the most important part of the Zeebo ecosystem is its wireless digital distribution that gets around the low penetration of wired broadband in many of these countries, negates the cost of dealing with packaged retail goods, and removes the risk of piracy, with the games priced at about $10 locked to the consoles they're downloaded to. Zeebo is not meant to directly compete with powerful devices like Sony's PlayStation 3, Microsoft's Xbox 360, or the Wii. 'In Latin America, where there's a strong gaming culture, that's what we'll be, but in India and China we can be more educational or lifestyle-oriented,' says Yuen. One Indian gaming blog predicts Zeebo will struggle, in part due to the cultural reluctance toward digital distribution and also the lack of piratable games."
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Taking Gaming To the Next Billion Players

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  • by Jurily (900488) <jurily&gmail,com> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:32PM (#27722043)

    Maybe the "pirating" is just a symptom of a failing business model, don't you think?

    • by hjf (703092) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @01:04PM (#27722289) Homepage

      yes. the business model of only feeding the "important" market, such as the US/Canada, Europe and Japan.

      For example, here in my country (Argentina) the Wii and the PS2/PS3 are the only consoles "officially" sold by Nintendo and Sony (the only ones you can get from a Big Retailer), the rest is just bootlegs/imports. Available original games are usually just the one that came with the console. But why? because they have to be bootlegged.

      OTOH, PC games are available legally. There are thousands of titles at a decent price (ranging from $50 to $110, that's argentine pesos), while PS2/3 and Wii games are well over $250.

      So how much is that? Well, monthly salaries are $900 to $1500 for middle class. You don't really expect middle class to pay $250 for a game, do you?

      There is the fact that the Wii retails for $2400 or about USD 650. Take the US retail price of $250, then add a 50% customs tax, thats USD 375. Still far from the USD 650 retail price. Why? Why is it cheaper in countries with a higher purchase power? Why don't they sell it at the same price, or just a little higher, and also sell the software at an affordable price for us?

      This isn't just whining. The PC game industry does. Coca cola does. McDonald's does it too, Pepsi, and thousands of other multinational companies that have adjusted to the local market's prices and tastes.

      Give us "poor people" a chance, will ya? We might surprise you. For example, I own a comic book shop and I have lots and lots of comic books, manga, etc. Things you can get for free off the internet... and I still sell a lot.

      • It could be that they expect to make most of the money off of the sales of games in their US market, so they sell the unit cheaper as make the majority of the profit from games. That might not be possible in other markets, so that put the profit they expected to get off of the average games sold into the original price of the unit in foreign markets.

        Just an idea.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by hjf (703092)

          but they don't sell original games at an affordable price anyway. Also, games are usually in English, while games for Spain are in Spanish, for Finland they are in Finnish, etc, all that PAL vs NTSC issue. Apparently, NTSC systems don't allow for Spanish translations, it's a technical limitation of the system. (do I have to clarify that the last part was a joke?)

          Movies, for example have a different dub for Latin America and another for Spain. Disney movies even have regional dubs for the biggest markets. B

          • by KDR_11k (778916)

            Well, games are absurdly expensive in the western countries already* and you can be pretty damn sure they'll import given the option to get legal games for less than 10 USD if they were offered price-adjusted in other markets. I think you are in a different region code for DVDs so they can't be shipped to the US and Europe easily but videogames are currently coded as America, Japan and PAL so your market would be in the same region as at least one of the richer markets which would not hesitate importing fro

            • There is the language barrier. While I do know some Spanish, I'm not going to import a Spanish game to save a few dollars. Similarly with Japanese games. Yes, I do own a few Japanese games, but these are games you can only get in Japan because the game's publisher decided not to sell it in the USA. I would much rather have the game in a language that I understand, but when the only way to get it is in a different language, well, you just do what you can. But seriously, no one (save for the minority that spe
            • *=If someone's going to pull another stupid hours/$ comparison I'll point at books.

              What about books? I pay $8-10 for 3-6 hours of reading (1.6 - 2.6/hr). I pay $40-50 for 20-40 hours of gameplay (1.25 - 2/hr). Price per hour works out better for games. So... I guess what I'm saying is that I don't understand your comment about referencing books?

              • I just bought Atlas Shrugged in paperback a few weeks ago. It's one of the longest novels in the english language [wikipedia.org] at over 600 000 words. I paid $10 for it. Your comparison doesn't hold up.

                *waits for anti-Rand drones' inevitable flaming*

                • by wisty (1335733)

                  Atlas Shrugged? Those 600,000 words only count if you finish it. Fountainhead and Anthem were readable, honestly, how many words to you need to say "socialism bad"?

              • by drsquare (530038)

                The thing is though, you can buy an old book for £2 that's as good as, or usually better, than a £20 brand new book. Video games age much worse so you can to keep buying new ones. Also good books are infinitely re-readable.

                And I don't know what books you're reading that you can finish in three hours. Ones with pictures?

      • by Haoie (1277294)

        Taking the comic books example. Sure you can find scans of many manga/comics online [defying copyright laws of course] if you look.

        But there's nothing like owning something real. Same with games.

        • by hjf (703092)

          that's exactly my point. local editions of manga cost around $18 (USD 5), up to $25 (USD 7) for deluxe editions.

          spanish editions (all are in spanish, by spanish edition I mean "printed in spain") cost $30 for a few items in promo to the average of $45 (USD 12-13).

          at my store, local editions outsell imports 20 or 30 to 1. maybe even more. so the price is an important factor after all. I'm pretty sure that if games were cheaper, they will sell.

          also, there are NO game rental shops. there were at some point in

        • by Starayo (989319)

          But there's nothing like owning something real. Same with games.

          Yes, those plastic cases and DVDs make me all fuzzy inside.

          There is nothing like that about buying a video game. The only reason I haven't moved on completely to buying all my games digitally is the fact that Australia has shitty download quotas. The only reason for me to buy a game instead of pirating it is a) multiplayer or b) it's actually a good game.

          The only exception is the seldom produced collector's edition that actually has something worthwhile, like Warhammer Online's.

        • by Dan541 (1032000)

          And DVDs.

          I just spent $100 on dvds, for show that I already have downloaded on my pc or own as VHS.

          You just can't build collection with pirated content.

        • by sznupi (719324)

          By looking at what you get in typical game package...that's not really the case; at least when it comes to the experience of gaming (yes, the fact that it was a copy for which you didn't pay might influence that also...but doesn't have to).

          On top of that...DRM is too often over the top, so the pirate version might be even "better"... Though that doesn't have to be the case - I'm perfectly fine with pure Steam DRM, and I love the convenience Steam gives.

          BTW Steam - that's also lately a case of frustrating pr

      • For example, here in my country (Argentina) I own a comic book shop

        Worst attempt to take the Falklands ever!

    • Maybe once people are used to getting something for free, legitimately or not, you can't get them to pay anything for it. Qualcomm might think $10 is a low price point, but it's still too much if the product represents no value to the customer.

      • by Jurily (900488)

        Maybe once people are used to getting something for free, legitimately or not, you can't get them to pay anything for it.

        Maybe you would be right if said games weren't so fucking expensive compared to the local income. See another reply to my post.

        And given the replayability of most games out there, I wonder if they do represent value to anyone, much less a wide market.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or maybe pirating = "Why should I pay when I can get it for free and not get caught". If shoplifting were easy and virtually impossible to catch, I would bet you lots of people would do it. That doesn't mean "selling stuff at stores" is a failing business model. It might mean that piracy and shoplifting are making businesses fail, however.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jurily (900488)

        If shoplifting were easy and virtually impossible to catch, I would bet you lots of people would do it.

        Ah, the good old fallacy. Tell me, if I "steal" a game I would never, ever buy, how much money did they lose? How much does it cost them to make another copy? I just did it for free.

        Does it hurt you to know I'm playing an otherwise expensive game while eating the cheapest can of beans I could find while looking for work and avoiding my landlord? Maybe some people have priorities more important than "only have government approved software on my laptop".

        • that i wasnt ever, ever, ever planning on paying, how much money did she lose?

          I've downloaded plenty of music over the years, but if I find that its good, I actually buy the cd, yes, often I buy someone elses secondhand copy from Trademe (like eBay) to save money, but I do buy a legit copy.

          Once or twice I've downloaded movies that are unavailable elsewhere, such as the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, it was not being made in my region at the time.

          I dont think people have the right to steal music et

          • by Jurily (900488)

            If I rape a prostitute that i wasnt ever, ever, ever planning on paying, how much money did she lose?

            If you think rape is a crime because the lack of financial transaction, do the world a favor and don't go near women, ever.

            God you people are fucked up.

            • by dafing (753481)
              Thanks for your helpful comments.

              Im sorry you didnt like my analogy. I've had a few female friends who have had that happen to them, I know how upsetting it is.

              I didnt mention anything about money making it right or wrong, dont twist what I said. Some things are just morally not right, like stealing, no matter who its from. You dont need to download 20GB of music, without paying,each day to live. I used that example, because its fairly common to do with piracy, its like, I'm vegan, and its common fo

          • by fractoid (1076465)
            For your leading analogy (and I say this as someone who supports game authors getting paid, hell I worked in the games industry) I'd have to say that a more accurate one is "if you see a street walker, and later beat off while fantasizing about her, do you owe her anything"? Imagine if you will that you have some kind of neural implant that can generate a plausible recreation of her from stored photos.
    • by darpo (5213)
      Yep. It is crazy. A friend of mine has been traveling. He bought a new gaming laptop in Malaysia, but despite being in a massive electronics store at the time, there were *no* computer games available. It's bizarre logic: there's lots of piracy in the region, so we refuse to sell games. Same thing in other countries he's been in: Egypt, Jordan, etc., basically large parts of the world you cannot buy legitimate software *even if you want to*. Completely strange. I'm looking into how to gift Steam games to h
  • They could just all get netbooks and play web games, like Game! [wittyrpg.com]

    • You beat me to the netbook comment...

      So I'll start with "what you said", and add:
      The really big push for games, networking, and general-purpose computing isn't going to be a dedicated gaming machine. Why do they think that the console markets are practically non-existent in these markets? It's mainly because you can get a general-purpose computer that *also* plays games for usually no more than ~30% the cost of a console.

      And you don't have to pirate games in order "to game" -- there are plenty of great game

      • Plus a computer will always offer a better, broader "social element" than any console.

        How? If you want to play PC games when you have friends over, you have to have as many computers as people because most PC games' multiplayer modes are designed exclusively for network play. There are a few games designed for multiple USB gamepads and a large monitor, such as Serious Sam, the Lego $movie games, and EA Sports, but not much else.

        • by fractoid (1076465)
          Played a console game recently? With the exception of Nintendo titles, console games these days seem to be designed for online play. I know that none of the games that my friend had last weekend on his PS3 (mostly war sims and driving games) had a split-screen mode, so we ended up playing hot-seat.
          • by tepples (727027)

            Played a console game recently? With the exception of Nintendo titles, console games these days seem to be designed for online play.

            I have a Wii, and I play games like Smash Bros. I'm just bummed that there aren't any games with both single-screen multiplayer and the capability for total-conversion mods.

            • by fractoid (1076465)
              Single-screen multiplayer is (IMO) the best fun you can have gaming as a group (well, crowded around a single computer playing a drinking game based on Penguin Swing notwithstanding...) Games like Smash Bros. and Bomberman on a big screen with a bunch of friends are awesome, and Nintendo is doing a great job keeping the style alive while other companies ditch the same-sofa multiplayer for "but you can bring your own XBox/PS3 and we can both play on XBox Live".
  • $200? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:37PM (#27722083)

    Let's see - an XBox Arcade costs $200 and has pretty much everything the Zeebo has, minus built-in wireless. I fail to see what market they're going for...

    Now if that console would be $50, maybe $75, they'd have a shot at getting into the middle-class market in emerging economies. And considering the hardware involved, I don't see how it would be that hard to get there.

    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:50PM (#27722191) Homepage Journal

      Let's see - an XBox Arcade costs $200

      Plus $300 sales tax. Seriously, Brazil has a roughly 150 percent tax on imported consumer electronics from the combined effect of the import duty, the value added tax, and the interstate commerce tax.

      • Because a PS2 retails for about 90 euro over here, so I was wondering where they got 250 from. And I thought dutch sales tax of 19% was high.

      • Well, that would make the Zeebo $80 pretax. That's actually a much better deal than I initially thought, and much more inline with what I thought it would have to cost.

      • by KDR_11k (778916)

        Maybe the country shouldn't levy absurdly high taxes on goods that are already too expensive for the populace then.

        • Thank you, Captain Obvious. OF COURSE this should happen. Now go tell that to the politicians! Left-wing populist shit, I tell you... really... you know those people that say Obama is a communist? Well, in comparison to the shit that infects all of Latin America, Obama is almost a Milton Friedman clone.
          • by indi0144 (1264518)
            Lol someone had to say it.. Obrigado! :) But you should not be sad, after all leftist tend to love Linux anyway. Weren&#226;&#8364;(TM)t Brazil government systems moving to Fedora IIRC? Being left or right you still know that, as in the US, corporations rule here it's all just a parody.
          • by wisty (1335733)

            Latin America is not really socialist, except the obvious places like Cuba. You are definitely right to call it popularist - the government puts huge invisible taxes in place (i.e. import taxes), then spends big on bread and circuses. That's partly the political climate (feudal lords looking after their subjects), and partly expediency (fair taxes are difficult with a thriving black market). But it's not really socialism.

          • by Acer500 (846698)

            in comparison to the shit that infects all of Latin America, Obama is almost a Milton Friedman clone.

            LOL so true

            I'm taxed to death for daring to earn close to U$D 2000 (more than 50% of my income goes to taxes) so you can guess I'm not happy about the current state of affairs here in Uruguay.

            And import taxes over here are ridiculous, and are what makes the U$ 200 Playstation 2 possible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MoonBuggy (611105)

      I have to agree with you - too much money and not enough capability.

      I'd be surprised to hear that a PS2 actually costs $250 in Brazil. You can pick them up used here in the UK for the equivalent of $100 or so, and the GamingIndians article linked in the summary places them at $125 (presumably new); the Zeebo isn't undercutting them at all, it's half the price again!

      Add to that the fact that Zeebo's DRM prevents illegal copying (thus cutting off a prime source of cheap games in those markets) and places rest

      • by timeOday (582209)
        There's no telling quite what they meant. Maybe they meant Reais instead of US dollars, maybe it's due to the aforementioned taxes, or maybe they are doing some more oblique conversion based on amount of disposable income the average consumer has. One way or another, they're undercutting the PS2 by 20%, and I assume current-gen consoles cost proportionally more.
      • I have to agree with you - too much money and not enough capability.

        I'd be surprised to hear that a PS2 actually costs $250 in Brazil. You can pick them up used here in the UK for the equivalent of $100 or so, and the GamingIndians article linked in the summary places them at $125 (presumably new); the Zeebo isn't undercutting them at all, it's half the price again!

        Add to that the fact that Zeebo's DRM prevents illegal copying (thus cutting off a prime source of cheap games in those markets) and places restrictions on the use of legally purchased content (no lending, for example) and I can see no reason that anyone would buy one if it actually were cheaper, let alone pay the premium for one.

        yeah i just bought a ps2 for 6490 inr. that comes out to be about 105usd. and i got two games free too.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by gnarfel (1135055)
          Here in the US, these past-generation consoles are incredibly cheap. Also, the original xbox is a great modder's platform. I got my xbox for USD 40, plus 2 games. Add 5$ for a pawn-shop copy for MechAssault (for soft-modding), 10$ for brand new component cables, and I have a completely customizable powerful gaming platform that can play any content I throw at it. Instead of pushing for these weak 'general purpose' TV appliances (that might or might not play any decent [read decent as playable and enjoya
          • by tepples (727027)

            I got my xbox for USD 40, plus 2 games. Add 5$ for a pawn-shop copy for MechAssault (for soft-modding)

            How can I make sure that I don't buy an Xbox whose dashboard has been upgraded to a version resistant to soft-modding through MechAssault?

            • by gnarfel (1135055)
              The pawn shop I bought it from allowed me to boot it up (just to 'make sure it worked') using one of their TVs. I explained to the owner that I needed a certain version for a game that was unsupported by a certain 'older version' of the xbox, so he let me see the K and D versions in the menu. Buying the game, you can also check the serial printed on the very inside of the disc, since most pawn or mom and pop shops let you inspect the disc.
              • by Mr2001 (90979)

                Doesn't the hot-swap trick work with all versions? That's how I softmodded my and my friend's Xboxen. I suspect it's no harder than using a hacked save file with a game - don't you need some extra hardware to get custom save files on there anyway?

          • by hjf (703092)

            I love XBMC. too bad the Xbox is not powerful enough to do 720p video.

      • I'd be surprised to hear that a PS2 actually costs $250 in Brazil.

        Just checked. A new PS2 costs 569 R$ in a popular online store (www.submarino.com.br), the equivalent to 259 US$. A original PS2 game costs usually around 100 US$ (the same store above) and goes only as low as 50 US$ in a few stores (and when I say few, I mean it).

        Also, brazilian average income is way lower than US citizen income. While US people usual annual income is between 25k - 50k US$ our is usually between 5k - 20k US$.

      • by Acer500 (846698)

        I'd be surprised to hear that a PS2 actually costs $250 in Brazil.

        I'm in Uruguay (next door country to Brazil), and I can confirm that it indeed does cost close to U$D 250 (more like U$ 200 here).

        Stuff over here is taxed to death, especially imports, so much so that it's getting to the point it would be cheaper to get a plane ticket to the United States and buy it there (of course the fact that the United States doesn't want us to go there means most of us can't, but that's an entirely different can of worms).

    • It has the additional functionality of a fetching red ring [today.com] and many E74 errors.

    • by indi0144 (1264518)
      A $75 console would be fine, everyone has the right to play games anyway, I consider myself middle class (or at least I like to live that way) but the cheap PS3 it's around $350 and Xbox 360 in $200 ... bang for the buck! I'd buy a PS3 it's just that I have not find any interesting games yet, it's that my fault by living on the third world or the SONY's fault for not helping developer to make more titles for the PS3? This whole trend for crippled software and hardware for the third world it's just funny, th
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Zeebo may not be meant to directly compete with the 360, the PS2 or the Wii, but I'm sure their potential customers may think otherwise, as soon as they know they can get a hacked 360 for the same price or a PS2 with swap magic for a lot less.

    • I think it depends on what the other platforms cost in a given market. Market conditions vary by country. It seems like Brazil should be a sizeable enough of a market to justify low costs, but there may be taxes and import tarriffs involved.

      I got a kick out of the article copy saying that it's not going to compete with the "more powerful" platforms, including the Wii. The Wii is a fine platform, but it's not really powerful, it's designed to be very low power to boot.

    • their potential customers may think otherwise, as soon as they know they can get a hacked 360 for the same price or a PS2 with swap magic for a lot less.

      Please read my reply to another post [slashdot.org] to see why imported products are more expensive than made-in-Brazil products.

  • One Indian gaming blog predicts Zeebo will struggle, in part due to the cultural reluctance toward digital distribution and also the lack of piratable games."

    I've heard it speculated before that piracy in some circumstances encourages overall profit, is this a concrete example of said theory?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Cabriel (803429)

      One Indian gaming blog predicts Zeebo will struggle, in part due to the cultural reluctance toward digital distribution and also the lack of piratable games."

      I've heard it speculated before that piracy in some circumstances encourages overall profit, is this a concrete example of said theory?

      given that it's speculation, I'd say it's not a concrete example of anything.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        But it's written on a blog! It's not like just anybody can get a blog on the internet.

    • No, obviously, it might raise the profits of the hardware manufacturer assuming they don't subsidise the hardware cost with game sales, but it reduces the profits of the game developers. Not sure what's so hard to see about this?

    • For a long time, original games were very rare on Brazil. People got used to buying pirated games because there was no option, since the stores that selled original games were so few and had such limited (and expensive) selection.

      This is more of a cultural problem, like TFA said.

  • by NeMon'ess (160583) * <flinxmidNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:44PM (#27722139) Homepage Journal

    Why do PS2 games cost up to $100 there? Zeebo doesn't need to have this kind of margin to operate in if PS2s cost $125 and the games were $30-60.

    • Why do PS2 games cost up to $100 there?

      Because PS2 consoles aren't manufactured in Brazil, and PS2 games aren't developed and replicated in Brazil.

      • Why do PS2 games cost up to $100 there?

        Because PS2 consoles aren't manufactured in Brazil, and PS2 games aren't developed and replicated in Brazil.

        and ps2s are not made in india either. but we get the consoles for 100usd and games fo 10usd each. however, the game discs are made here.
        still i can't understand why brazillians have to shell out 250usd per console.

        • by tepples (727027)

          still i can't understand why brazillians have to shell out 250usd per console.

          If you ask why the tariff continues, it continues because it hasn't angered enough Brazilians to make them vote in a legislature that would repeal the tariff. Or are you asking why it was instituted in the first place?

          • i can't understand why is ps2 100usd in india but 250usd in brazil. i mean we never had to "vote in a legislature that would repeal the tariff", sony just sold it at 100 usd without any action from buyers. maybe it is the shipping charges from china?
          • If you ask why the tariff continues, it continues because it hasn't angered enough Brazilians to make them vote in a legislature that would repeal the tariff. Or are you asking why it was instituted in the first place?

            In Brazil, corruption runs wild. It would be necessary a massive commotion to move our politicians.

            Our taxes raise steadily through history, taking a greater and greater percentual of our income. Every good brazilian wants it to change, but do they care? No. They like our money better.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:46PM (#27722155)

    If you look at the console market, you can see a distinct connection between console sales and the appearance of modchips (or softmods, where possible). It may sound odd, but the ability to copy a game actually increases your chances to sell a game.

    How do you decide which console to get? Well, ok, not you. Take Jonny Averageplayer. He is in school and he wants a console. Which one will he want? Most likely the one his friends have. Why? Well, first of all of course to be part of the crowd and not the odd guy out with the "wrong" hardware, but also to be able to swap games with them. So being able to trade games around and to copy them is a key feature for this demographic. Now, which console will his friends have? More often than not, the one where copying is possible or at least easy.

    Then there's the hardcore gamer crowd that want that latest sequel for their favorite game series. But usually, they come out in Japan and you're not, and with vendor lock in and distribution protection, you have to wait for months or sometimes even years. Will you wait? Nope. You will want a console where you can crowbar that location protection lock out.

    This all leads to one ultimate problem of selling game copies: To make someone buy a copy of your game, he first of all has to have the matching console. You can have the best console in the world and the games can look a hundred times better on your hardware, and you can have the best copy protection (which is, as detailed above, actually keeping people from buying the console in the first place), if nobody has the hardware you should've made games for the inferior console instead if you wanted to sell.

    So, in conclusion, the project won't take off. Nobody will want the console. 200 bucks can easily buy a used PS2 with mod chip and a load of other crap. And the ability to play copies.

    • by denzacar (181829)

      How do you decide which console to get?

      I wait until at least two conditions are met:

      1. I must be able to play pirated games as easy or easier than the "originals".
      2. Console must cost less than 200 Euros. Less than 75 Euros for portable consoles which also must play videos and music from SD cards.

      ONCE, and only ONCE these two conditions are met - there has to be a particular game that would make me want to buy the console.
      For PS2 that was Berserk - which is still not out in US or Europe.

      • Did my post above offend someone's highly developed sense of legality so it got modded down?
        Aaaaw... how cute. Like a little baby.
        With one of those pink little cocktail parasols in its little dead hand.

      • I wait until at least two conditions are met:

        1. I must be able to play pirated games as easy or easier than the "originals".
        2. Console must cost less than 200 Euros.

        Have you bought your Nintendo Entertainment System and PowerPak [retrousb.com] yet?

        Less than 75 Euros for portable consoles which also must play videos and music from SD cards.

        The PowerPak can play NSF music from CF cards. There are several programs for composing NSF music, including MCK, NerdTracker II, and FamiTracker.

        ONCE, and only ONCE these two conditions are met - there has to be a particular game that would make me want to buy the console.
        For PS2 that was Berserk - which is still not out in US or Europe.

        A spiritual sequel to Berzerk [wikipedia.org], called Smash TV [wikipedia.org], was ported to the NES.

    • 200 bucks can easily buy a used PS2 with mod chip and a load of other crap.

      Uh, no, not in Brazil it won't. That's the point, this isn't targeted at the US/Europe market. Read the summary, please.

      • You cannot buy a modded, used PS2 in Brazil for less than 200 bucks? I smell a market opportunity!

  • The real question should be -- is it hackable in some way or form. Given that they are using off the shelf stuff, should mean that it *might* be more open to modifications. I would be interested in seeing a "take-apart" page to see the internals.
    • The real question should be -- is it hackable in some way or form.

      It's based on Qualcomm BREW [wikipedia.org], the platform where you have to pay $4 every time you recompile your program. From the article: "Since March 2006, the least expensive digital signature for testing costs 400 USD and is limited to 100 application submissions [according to VeriSign]. This steep cost of entry excludes hobbyists from developing for phones that use BREW." So it's more closed than the iPod Touch.

      • by Varsik (805424)
        Ahh, not true. You can grab the SDK now and compile with your heart's content for no cost. You can even use gnuarm to compile to device for no cost as well.
        The test sig is the anti-piracy vehicle. It's not per compile, it's per device as each device as a unique id. One sig will last you about 6mo for all the applications you can build.
        • by tepples (727027)

          You can grab the SDK now and compile with your heart's content for no cost. You can even use gnuarm to compile to device for no cost as well.

          If I compile for the device, is an emulator available at no cost? And are the emulators accurate enough, like Nestopia and Nintendulator, to give me some level of assurance that if the program runs correctly on the emulator, it will run correctly on the device?

          The test sig is the anti-piracy vehicle. It's not per compile

          Even if this is true, the BREW model still looks prohibitively expensive for hobbyists or for microISVs looking to develop and publish their first title.

          • by dreemernj (859414)
            The SDK comes with an emulator called the BREW Simulator. It's not an accurate representation of running on hardware. You need to test on an actual device to really debug it.

            I believe you have to get a BREW compatible phone and have Qualcomm unlock it for developer testing to be able to load apps onto it for testing.
  • I might consider getting one of these things if someone can get a linux distribution running on it. It would be kinda neat. Hook up an external hardrive through one of the usb ports and use it as a dvr or something. You'd need to hook up some sort of video in for dvr use though.

  • Somehow, I can't help not associating it with bankruptcy. [pbfcomics.com]

    • and where do they get these names from? man i hate names like xulu, hulu, boxee, foxy, and now zeebo. in the good old times we had names in english: international business machines, apple, microsoft, general electric. good times....
      • The "good" names have run slim, and I think the odd names are a confluence of at least two different things. One, is a catchy and memorable name, goofy naming seems to be the style, even baby names are spelled differently than before just to be different.

        Another, is that it's easier to get and defend a trademark if it's not using words that was commonly used before.

  • That sounds like a challenge to me, I give it 3 days from release before it's hacked wide open.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The name Zeeboo means "his penis" in arabic.
  • It's easy to see an emerging new business model, but I see also something that is a "Good Thing". Mexico is not a BRIC [wikipedia.org] nation, its revenues are the result of the NAFTA [wikipedia.org] Treaty. As a parent of a child going off to college some 2000 miles away, I see parallels in parenting, and international trade by a Donor Sovereign State. There is a pervasive belief that if a person has something to lose, they will not be so willing to make an ultimate sacrifice. Maybe when BRIC, and NAFTA reciepients can claim second,

  • You can buy a $200 console with the power of a mobile phone and the opportunity to buy games shonky games at $10 each.
    Or for a 50% greater initial investment you can have a console that is more powerful and has armfuls of triple-A titles available on it for the price of a blank DVD.
    Does anybody actually believe this is going to work in any way at all?
    Surely the 'correct' way to address the problem would be to just bring out a PSTwo console for $99 and release region specific titles out of the back catalo
  • I don't see how this could compete with the OneStation, which is basically a NES with 100+ pirated games built in for under $40. The onestation is a handheld, there are also other pirated NES clones which are not handhelds, and would thus be cheaper.

    Pirated NESs are what will bring gaming to the next billion players, and they've already been doing so in China.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 26, 2009 @02:20PM (#27722885)
    Here in Brazil we don't have official PlayStations (PS2, PS3 or PSP), or official XBox 306 or Wii. And this is why the black market is so strong, since is the only market.

    The taxes to import an original PS, or any video game, are too high, some times more than 100% of taxes. And this is why Sony, Nintendo or MS won't create an official distribution of video games here, unless they assemble the consoles here, what will reduce taxes, but won't be cheap as it is in China.

    So, the numbers for Zeebo actually are:
    - A PS2 in black market is R$ 400,00 (US$ 180,00), and it will play any illegal copy of any PS2 game.
    - A PS2 game is much more rich, even PSP has more quality than Zeebo.
    - You can download a PS2 game from internet and burn a CD and play it on a cracked PS2.
    - A illegal copy of a game in the black market is R$ 10,00 (US$ 4,54).

    Note that the black market here is called "camelo", and is not something hidden in the "undeground" of the city. The "camelo" market is a normal place, sometimes looks like a shopping mall, and any one buys there, from a poor kid to a rich man, since is where we find this stuffs, and is not illegal to buy there, what is illegal is to sell imported stuffs without pay the taxes, what some stores at "camelo" does.

    On the white market a basic PS2 is R$ 449,00 (US$ 204,00), and PS2 is a product better than Zeebo. But it won't play illegal copies, and a legal copy of a PS2 game is from R$ 100,00 to R$300,00 (US$ 45,00 to US$ 136,00).

    You can buy a PSP in US starting from US$ 120,00, and it will be much better than Zeebo, and is portable.

    The question is, a kid in Brazil will want to buy a Zeebo or a PS2? Well, starting at US$ 199,00 no one will want a Zeebo, and a PS2 will be less expensive in any point (console or games).

    And just to do a checkmate, we can't forget the PS1, since Zeebo is almost a PS1 in quality, and the price is half of a PS2, a price that Zeebo will never have.
  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7 AT kc DOT rr DOT com> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @07:35PM (#27725121) Homepage

    Anyone look at the specs of this thing? They mention its not ment to compete with the PS3 and 360 but in reality it can barely compete with the original playstation. Its basically a vastly overpriced cell phone game player for your tv...I sense an epic failure in the making.

    • by Renraku (518261)

      Its not a horrible idea.

      I think its a pretty good one.

      The only point that will absolutely KILL it is their high asking price. I can understand why the price is so high, but as a consumer I don't CARE why your price is so high if I can get 10x better for only a little more money.

      This needs to be dirt cheap. Like $50 or less.

  • Are these guys completely clueless? The reality is that the PS1 is *still* an enormously popular console and has hundreds (if not thousands) of available titles.

    These titles are also available on the black market in most developing countries, so the cost proposition for a kid in an emerging market country is really just the price of the console. But even if you want to go the legit route and buy the games, there are hundreds of titles available for under $10.

    Furthermore, a brand new PSone goes for $140, b

  • Seriously, I don't see anyone here in Russia buying this device. Here you invest 200 bucks for xbox360 or closer to a thousand for a decent gaming rig and then pirate the games. But maybe Junis down in Afghanistan could use one.
  • by NEOGEOman (155470) on Monday April 27, 2009 @06:02AM (#27728061)

    I covered a lot of the Zeebo issues on my own site [nfgworld.com] a while ago. From my site:

    "They further claim that hundreds of millions of games have been downloaded wirelessly without one ever being pirated. At first I thought they were joking, as a search on any warez site will turn up hundreds of mobile phone downloads cracked and ready to play, but then I read between the lines: Out of all the wireless games out there, one of them still hasn't been pirated! I wonder which one it is... "

    "But hey, at least it has VGA graphics, right? 640x480 video, and since it's VGA we know it'll be non-interlaced (ie: progressive). Too bad it only has composite-video outputs, which can't actually support VGA resolutions."

    ""Additional enhancements may include [...] new services." Phew, I was worried about the future. But no, the future's awesome: "By 2012, the worldwide video game market is projected to become a $68 billion industry." Yup, from $9.5b in 2007 to $70b in 2012. Only Zeebo allows you to capture a market that will increase in value seven-fold in five years. "

    There are so many things wrong with their plan that I can't believe it's anything but a scam run by liars or idiots.

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