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The Changing Face of the Console Wars 223

Posted by Soulskill
from the keeping-up-with-the-wiises dept.
An article at Gamasutra explores the decisions by Microsoft and Sony to launch significant hardware additions — their respective, upcoming motion-control schemes — in the middle of a console cycle, rather than waiting until the next generations of their systems are ready. It's indicative of a change to the established pattern of console wars; nowadays, it's more about adding features and gadgets to improve existing products than developing entirely new ones. Quoting: "... for Sony and Microsoft, motion controllers are their next-gen consoles. And it's a damn sight easier than launching Xbox 720 or PS4. They can debut these peripherals without needing to engineer completely new boxes for consumers, potentially bundle them over time, and they have a much better chance at getting exclusive games, thanks to the specificity of the hardware (something that's happened a lot for the Wii). Thus, both hardware manufacturers and publishers like EA see these controllers sparking new interest in Xbox 360 and PS3, which will delay the next dreaded console transition for another few years."
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The Changing Face of the Console Wars

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  • What? No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stonecypher (118140) <> on Saturday October 17, 2009 @11:36AM (#29778217) Homepage Journal

    The extension of consoles is the defacto behavior for consoles, and always has been. In modern times it's been things like Wii Fit, the Eye Toy and so on, but nobody here has forgotten the Power Glove or the Power Mat, the Sega CD and the Sega 32x, and indeed that pattern goes back into the 70s, with the Intellivision overlay system and the Commodore 64 Extender.

    Indeed, it's only the last generation or two which have skipped it. Anyone who believes this is new has only been gaming through one generation of consoles, and that should be their first red flag that they're not ready to talk about the history of gaming.

    Could not be less correct.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 17, 2009 @11:44AM (#29778265)

    They see an inferior tech selling nicely and figure motion control will make new customers consider their superior tech.

    The Wii proved that it isn't all about the graphics, but I don't think there is anything earth shattering about the input tech that others can't copy.

    I'd like to have to fun of motion control without having to limit myself in the graphics dept like Wii.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @11:45AM (#29778275) Homepage

    Perhaps it's merely my own lack of vision and creativity, but I can't imagine much further growth in the capabilities of consoles. Display technologies have been maxed out. Memory and processing systems are well balanced between power and cost even if the consoles are still a bit too costly in my opinion. Until the next great other technology comes out, I can't imagine getting much better than it already is... a little better perhaps, as the costs of more impressive technologies decrease, but nothing significant. In fact, I would go so far as to say the advancement between XBox and XBox360 is barely noticeable. PS2 and PS3 is largely the same thing.

    What they will do, in the next gen, however, is figure out new ways to kill the second hand and other post-first-sale business activities. If the PSP Go is any indication of what is to come, we are going to see a decrease in the popularity of new consoles.

  • Re:New? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuantumLeaper (607189) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @11:49AM (#29778299) Journal
    Very true, they always launch some sort of add-on, and no really buys them and very few games will use it. When they do use the new controller, they still support the old one because that where all the sales will be. I can't even think of one new controller/add-on in mid-cycle that even sold had more than 50% of the players adopting.
  • by TheKidWho (705796) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @11:52AM (#29778323)

    The current generation of consoles are TERRIBLE compared to PCs. A new PC with a Radeon 5870 has nearly 6-8 times the graphical processing power.

    Most consoles games run at sup 720P resolutions and are upscaled to fit a 1080p screen, view distance in console games is terrible, textures are blurry messes, and frame rates suck.

    The fact that you can't see a difference between the xbox to xbox360 is laughable.

    Just because you have low standards doesn't mean the tech can not advance much further than it already is.

    Either way, eventually the hardware will get powerful enough to run real time ray tracing in HD, or at least a mix or real time ray tracing and rasterization, this is when consoles will most likely achieve very long life cycles.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 17, 2009 @12:05PM (#29778409)

    There, fixed that for ya.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 17, 2009 @12:31PM (#29778577)

    OMG I'm a computer nerd. I thought this article was about terminal emulators!

  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @12:49PM (#29778697) Homepage

    "Nintendo has completely dominated a market we didn't even no existed by adding basically nothing more than instructions telling people to move while playing video-games. If we make something which not only does that, but which also actually captures motion, perhaps we can claim the market they found for ourselves!"

    Haven't tried WiiMotion+ because, for fuck's sake, should I need to spend £80 to try out something which the system claimed to already come with? I've got no evidence that it's actually any better, and I haven't heard if using WiiMotion+ improves the recognition on older titles, but my instinct is "of course it doesn't"

  • by icebraining (1313345) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @12:49PM (#29778699) Homepage

    You now, he was responding to the GGP post, who said

    "Display technologies have been maxed out. "

    And clearly they haven't. That doesn't mean the PC is a better gaming machine, it's just technologically more advanced. The reason for the lack of single-system multiplayer games is not technical, it has to do with different target markets.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 17, 2009 @01:01PM (#29778783) [] has proved, to the tune of $2 billion in sales, that you *CAN* "requir[e] people to buy some new fangled, overpriced gadget in order to play your game".

    Clearly people *ARE* willing to fork out double the cost on an accessory and a game, instead of just buying two regular games, for the same price *IF* you create a game that makes it sufficiently more enjoyable to play with the accessory. The announcement of Guitar Hero for the PSP demonstrates that the game does not require the accessory controller, but who honestly believes it would have been as successful on the major consoles if it had used just the standard controllers?

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @01:06PM (#29778811)

    For me the way to ease the purchase of a new gen console is with strong backward compatibility. When I bought an XBox 360, it was partially because I never had the original XBox, and the XBox games (Halo 1/2, Fable 1, Jade Empire, etc.) I wanted to play were on the compatibility list. I really feel Sony dropped the ball when they dropped PS2 compatibility.

    I've gone back and rented a number of Gamecube games (Tales Of Symphonia, Eternal Darkness, etc.) for my Wii. If Nintendo wanted to have achieved true awesomeness in my eyes, they would have put a slot for Gameboy Advance games in the thing. I played some GBA games on the attachment for the Gamecube, and playing them on a big TV is great. Advance Wars with big, glorious maps made the game much more epic.

    I also recall the Sega 32X and the CD for the N64. both of which I have. Nifty idea, but the developers just don't develop in droves for something not in the core system specs.

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @01:25PM (#29778923)

    Game graphics advances will be stunted

    And some of us gamers cry "Thank effing baby Jebus" for that. Have you missed all the complaints about how gaming is too dominated by graphic card wank fests over who has the best lighting effects or water reflections? Or how the hardware has advanced too much along the polygon count side, actually making it difficult to do anything else other than service shiny graphics, enemy AI or any other intellectual concerns be damned?

    I guess the bright side is I won't be blowing $300 every 2 years on graphics cards.

    Yeah, bingo. People are getting tired of that. A friend showed me a newer PC FPS a couple weeks ago. Pretty as all hell, but just another goddamned shooter with dumbass enemies and puzzles for the short bus crowd. Whee!

  • by nlawalker (804108) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @02:27PM (#29779315)

    The sooner that everyone has implemented and is using motion controls, the better. We need developers to get shitty, gimmicky uses of it out of their systems, and we need better hardware and software for reduced lag and more precise control.

    Am I really personally that interested in games that are 100% built around motion control? As the Wii taught me, no, I'm not. I think a lot of game enthusiasts feel the same way. What I *am* excited about, and what I think game enthusiasts should be excited about, is when developers come up with more subtle uses that really add control and flexibility. One thing I really want is the ability to change the direction of the first-person camera in racing games by tilting my head, so I don't need to take my hands off of the controls (note - I'm not talking about "head tracking" where position data is used to provide a realistic viewport, I'm just talking about mapping head tilt to an analog camera control). My understanding is that GT5 + PS Eye will provide this feature. Leaning in first person shooters is another good example. Is it a "realistic" 1 to 1 mapping of a real world motion to a game action? No, but it adds to a player's ability to control the game seamlessly. It only adds to the experience - it doesn't take anything away and you don't have to use it, and the game is still perfectly playable even if you don't have the right hardware.

    We need to get to the point where developers are no longer asking "how can we establish a good player experience by using motion control" and instead focus on gameplay and implementation with standard controllers, later asking "where could motion control help this experience we've established?"

  • by Toonol (1057698) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @03:18PM (#29779617)
    The problem with the Wii is that it's a fad. It's doomed to fail pretty quickly - the console sales are dropping, slowly but surely.

    A fad that dominates this console generation. It's been out for two and a half years, and still sells far more per week than either of it's competitors. Sony's price cut and new slim model gave it a few weeks of increased sales, but it's already dropped back down. Even assuming the best case scenario for either MS or Sony, it will be at least 18-24 months before they could catch up with the Wii's market. Realistically, they're only fighting for second.

    There's no reason to consider the Wii a fad; it doesn't fit the definition. That's like considering the iPod a fad.
  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @03:21PM (#29779637)

    Yawn, alright that's an old debate but since you've been modded up...

    1. Big deal, crack the games (even if you bought them) and see if that's such a big deal. Now trying pirating games on consoles (if you're opposed to pirating then it's a moot point for you though).

    2. You already have a PC, so that's a dishonest point to make. Everybody has a PC, no matter whether or not they want to play video games. And even if you have a 3 year old PC with an integrated Intel graphics chip it won't take you more than $300 to have a machine that overpowers the Xbox 360. And PC games are priced cheaper than console games. Also, I can play PS2 and Wii games with my PC. Can your Xbox do that?

    3. Bullshit. Consoles are basically cheap PCs (what's the Xbox 360 but a glorified PC with a special OS?) and even share the same hardware. And for all you care, your average PC will kick the arse of any console currently out there. You might say that theoretically things would work better on consoles since the hardware configurations are unified but these days that's a bullshit point to make. And if you disagree well you can keep your Red Ring of Death Xbox and I'll keep playing games flawlessly on my PC.

  • Re:New? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by A12m0v (1315511) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @04:14PM (#29779943) Journal

    Gimicks are gimicks. They are not the future of video games. In modern games, I need to control movement of a character in 3D environment, while maintaining camera control and awareness, and while maintaining quick acess to broad array of functionality and abilities, all while making room for meta and system controls. How do I do this by waving my arms or shaking the controller? How would you perform all the functions needed in say, Super Mario World with a motion control system, while retaining the same level of responsiveness and control. You can't. The standard controller is a proven method of such control and this has not happened by accident but rather by design, and it would be the height of folly to disregard that

    I guess someone here didn't play Super Mario Galaxy

  • by binarylarry (1338699) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @05:30PM (#29780449)

    It's also completely fucking pwned the PS3 and the Xbox 360 for the entirety of those ~3 years.

    And the Xbox 360 had like a full year head start.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @05:50PM (#29780577)

    1. Big deal, crack the games

    You ignored the whole breakage due to OS updates.

    2. You already have a PC, so that's a dishonest point to make. Everybody has a PC, no matter whether or not they want to play video games.

    Almost 10% of new computers buyers have macs actually.

    Of the ones that have PC's, large numbers of them today just have laptops. Just how are they going to put in that new video card? What about netbook buyers? Are they going to have a fantastic gaming experience too even though they technically have a "PC".

    Consoles are great because it frees you from the ball and chain of HAVING to buy powerful systems and Windows.

    3. Bullshit. Consoles are basically cheap PCs

    Bullshit back at you. If the consoles were "basically PC's" the PS3 would not be harder to code for. Microsoft has made the 360 more like a PC to be sure, especially library wise - but it's all still very proprietary and custom stuff housed inside, only from the library side does the console look that much like a PC.

    Your tired old canards about PC gaming belong to somewhere around five years ago, consoles are quite obviously the present and future of gaming. It's best you get used to this now so you can save yourself a ton of money and aggravation. I am so glad I got off the gaming PC upgrade train a few years ago...

  • by billcopc (196330) <> on Saturday October 17, 2009 @08:36PM (#29781353) Homepage

    As someone who lusted after the elusive Wii for months before finding one, I can tell you first-hand it is a fad product. It was fun, we bring it to boring family parties and everyone tries the bowling, but it is dead to me.

    It's fun to play, once in a while, but having every single goddamned game require you to either point at the screen or flail your arms, means I will never play it when I just want to "veg". There is no way to play Wii in a relaxed position, you can't just lay back in the sofa (or stretch out) and casually mash buttons. Call me lazy, but I'm not always in the mood to burn calories when I'm bored.

    In contrast, I'm perfectly capable of playing Street Fighter, Resident Evil, many driving games, puzzle, RTS any many others with a cordless controller (or lap-style kb/trackball). Don't tell my guild, but sometimes I even play World of Warcraft while stretched out on the couch.

    That fact alone makes the Wii far more tiring to play, thus discouraging extended play periods. I couldn't stand the new Zelda, and that right there should be a big hint. The only games I am willing to play are party-style, play for a minute then pass it to your buddy (and/or have another drink).

    If Sony/MS add the gyro/motion controllers and a few party games to their existing library, it will make their platforms appealing to the casuals, without shutting it out from more traditional gamers like myself. Just don't make Halo 4 require a stupid gun controller I have to aim at the flood, or I will shove that controller AND the console up some designer's ass.

  • by Atiniir (1344623) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:49AM (#29782597)
    This is pretty much the exact reason why I traded my Wii to some dude on craigslist for a 360. It's been over a year now, I have had no issues whatsoever with the 360, and within the first month of owning it, I put in more quality gaming time on it than I did in over a year of owning a Wii. The Wii is an underpowered, shit system with annoying mini games that mostly just focus on how "nifty" the Wii-mote is. I'm looking forward to the idea of add on motion control mostly because I like to believe that they'll use it to make RTS games way more fun to me than they ever have been. I imagine that gesturing at masses of troops and such that I want to control will be far more rewarding than using a cursor or what have you. Or it will just be a positive way to browse through my streaming netflix queue. I play games because I want to relax and have fun and flailing around wildly in my living room is pretty much the opposite of fun or relaxing to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 18, 2009 @09:11AM (#29783977)
    You honestly thought Halo had a good story? You must not play many games.

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