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Businesses Entertainment Games

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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  • $200? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @01:37PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 26, 2009 @01:38PM (#27722101)

    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.

  • by hjf ( 703092 ) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @02:04PM (#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.

  • by hjf ( 703092 ) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @03:06PM (#27722795) Homepage

    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. BTW, movie tickets where I live range from AR $5 to $7. That's about USD 1,50 to USD 2.

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford