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Taking Gaming To the Next Billion Players 116

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 tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @01:50PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 26, 2009 @02:21PM (#27722445)
    The name Zeeboo means "his penis" in arabic.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 26, 2009 @03:20PM (#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.
  • Re:$200? (Score:2, Informative)

    by gnarfel ( 1135055 ) <> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @03:31PM (#27722959) Homepage
    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 enjoyable, not necessarily the latest in 3D hardware] games), we should be working on re-purposing already existing hardware. I've turned quite a few friends on to XBMC, which really shines when I mention that ANY original xbox game is still playable on the machine.
  • by grapeape ( 137008 ) <mpope7 AT kc DOT rr DOT com> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @08:35PM (#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 NEOGEOman ( 155470 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @07:02AM (#27728061)

    I covered a lot of the Zeebo issues on my own site [] 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.

Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs. -- Kernighan