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Is Console Gaming Dying? 496

mr_sifter writes "PC gamers love to obsess over whether PC gaming is dying, but bit-tech thinks it's time to look at the other side and examine if console gaming is really as secure as publishers would have us believe. All three console manufacturers suffered from the recession — this year, Sony announced its first net loss in 14 years; a stunning ¥989.9bn, which includes record losses of ¥58.5bn in its gaming sector. Microsoft also announced its first loss since it went public in 1986 in the second quarter of this financial year, with a $31 million US loss coming straight from the Entertainment and Devices division, which is responsible for the Xbox 360. Not even Nintendo has escaped the financial plague either, with sales of the Wii dropping by 67 percent in the US, 60 percent in Japan and 47 percent in the rest of the world. In addition to reduced profitability, casual games and the rise of the iPhone further suggest the current model is not invulnerable."
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Is Console Gaming Dying?

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  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples.gmail@com> on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:39PM (#30435834) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    Instead, with fattening broadband connections, mainstream gaming is probably going to go towards the way of OnLive, where one big bank of hardware can churn out the power needed for broadband-connected gaming machines, without needing to fill a loss-making box with proprietary hardware. In fact, limited bandwidth is the only obstacle to this technology taking off worldwide.

    Bandwidth isn't the only problem; latency is another biggie. Players are used to being able to press a button and see something happen within 30 milliseconds. The latency for sending your keypresses to the game server, rendering and compressing a frame, and sending it back is likely to be much larger than that, even if only for speed-of-light reasons.

  • by yayotters ( 833158 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:39PM (#30435836)
    I'm sure Valve's pricing experiments can attest to this.
  • Re:I doubt it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:51PM (#30435996) Homepage Journal

    I think you hit it on the head. Hard core gaming is dying not console gaming.
    I have been playing video games since I got a new 2600 way back when. Just like war games and flight sims you have reached the level of just to hard to be fun. When I pick up a game for the XBox I can not just start to play it and be any good at all.
    There will always be hardcore users that want hard core games. But the number of casual users will always be many times greater.

  • by Jimmy King ( 828214 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:54PM (#30436064) Homepage Journal

    I like consoles because I know that even in 5 years, if a game is released for my xbox 360 (or wii, or whatever), then it'll work on that console. I can build a PC this year and I've still got to check every game to be sure it'll work. For the next 1-2 years, it'll probably work, after that, all bets are off. Maybe it'll work as long as I turn down some of the graphical options or maybe it'll be completely unplayable. This is especially true if I'm building a PC that has a cost in the same range as a game console.

    Then you've got various hardware and software compatibility issues to worry about. I have to assume that stuff isn't as big of a deal as back when I did play a lot of PC games in the DOS/Win 3.2/early win95 days, but judging by posts on forums the problem still exists.

    Some people are ok with that to have the "better" (which is really opinion anyway and varies between games) controls, the usually better graphics on the PC version of a game if a console is more than a year or so old, the mods from the game community, etc. I can certainly understand that and there are times where I think about getting back into PC gaming because of those reasons, particularly the community mods. In the end, though, for me and for most console gamers I personally know, the known ability to just buy the game, stick it in the console, and get playing wins out.

    It also seems like there are more games released for console that do not make it to PC than the other way around. I may be wrong on that due to not following PC only games, though.

  • Re:it's not dying (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @06:00PM (#30436142) Homepage

    non smart ass answer = Steam. Whenever they have a sale, I buy games. Lots of games. I'm not going to pay $60 for a game, but $20-$30 = impulse buy. And you don't even have to leave your house to get the games. You don't have to juggle discs. Just click and play. Since everybody has a computer anyway, a $100 graphics card will get you better graphics than a console at a lower price than a console. Gaming with Steam is just a better experience at a better price.

    smart ass answer = Unless you're playing a 2D scroller, joysticks are for losers.

  • Re:it's not dying (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @06:36PM (#30436630)
    Sony's loss is hardly the fault of the PS3 - gaming consoles are only a tiny fraction of the Sony empire.

    Citing a 60% drop in Wii sales is also highly suspect - the Wii is over 3 years old. In fact, I can't think of any other console that sold so well in it's *fourth* Christmas season.
  • Re:No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Omestes ( 471991 ) <omestes@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday December 14, 2009 @07:58PM (#30437638) Homepage Journal

    Just to be clear: you are saying that I should be able to shell out $300 and get a decent gaming computer that will "easily last several years" ??

    I hate this fallacy. Lets reverse this, to try to illustrate the absuridity: "So I can just shell out $300 for a console that supports 5x the resolution as my TV, is capable of running any software I can throw at it, has an input device with more than 6 buttons, and that can support a near infinite range of 3rd party add-ons? A console is a one time investment that has only one purpose (sometime with other functionality tacked on in a half-assed manner), a PC is an investment that does much much more than just playing video games. You already have a PC, right? How much did that PC cost you? For $300 tacked onto the price of the PC you already bought, you could have a rig that would put your current consoles running on outdated tech to shame.

  • by dudeX ( 78272 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @08:43PM (#30438230)

    I have an acquaintance who works in the console gaming industry, and based on his look at his market data, he has mentioned these points:
    - Microsoft laid off huge swaths of internal game studios/developers, so they're limiting their output to only surefire titles for the Xbox 360
    - Many major publishers prefer to sell games on consoles, pirating on the PC and the difficulty and expense of supporting PC users makes it less desirable
    - The Wii is not a good console to publish for due to low sales. The only games that sell well are made by Nintendo, and Nintendo offers little help to third parties; and they have unusual rules as well. Most third party games tend to be shovelware.
    - Major publishers have announced many exclusive games to come out for console only. PCs are considered too expensive to support.
    - Though nvidia and AMD make their video cards faster and better, only a few independent development houses are interested in taking advantage of faster cards, like Crytek. He feels Valve software still uses old technology for a lot of its games, so faster video cards are not worth the money. Developers hate Unreal Engine 3.0 so Epic games won't get too far trying to get new licenses with major publishers.
    - There will probably be many exclusive games for the PS3 since there are no pirated games for it (yet) and support from Sony is a little better than Microsoft. Though Microsoft has better development tools.
    I don't agree with this guy on points but when I think about my own habits, I have bought more games for my console than my PC. The games I have bought for my PC have been mostly small games from indie publishers, the only excpetion being Fallout 3.
    On the Wii and PS3 I have bought some of the downloadble games.
    When I look at potential games for the PC to get, I look for RPGs or something unique that can't be done on console. But I don't see too many compelling games. And those that do look good often come to console first. PC games that are based on console games tend to be poorly programmed so I avoid those.

  • Re:Larger problem (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:35PM (#30439958)

    You'd be surprised.

    Beta, for instance, ran for nearly two decades. Not in the home VHS market (which was their original target) but in the home camera market (where the smaller size made for easier handheld video cameras) and the television broadcast market (where they don't care so much about having to switch tapes after a certain time limit, but DO care very much about getting higher, more reliable video quality). Those two sectors were still using Beta tapes for a very long time, in fact some more rural TV broadcasting stations were still using them right up until the limit of HDTV broadcast conversion.

    DAT was exceedingly popular in Europe and Asia, just not in the US - and Sony took their money there quite happily. It took longer to get DAT into the US because the RIAA, and their pet senators like Al Gore Senior, pushed the predecessor to the DMCA, the Digital Audio Recorder Copycode Act of 1987, with the intent of making DAT carry a "copyright flag." Sound anywhere similar to MafiAA tactics today?

    Memory Stick Duo hasn't gone away. It's not used on many non-Sony devices, but Sony sells enough cameras and PSPs that they can keep it on the shelves and make a fair bit of money back from third-party manufacturers like Sandisk who license it.

    I could go on, but the point is, not all of their "failures" failed spectacularly, and they have had plenty enough successes to fund everything else they have wanted to do. Had they actually been smart and come up with a "flash once" Memory Stick Duo standard rather than trying to push UMD on the PSP for their games (or alternatively, had the PSP had RCA/Composite video and audio outputs in its original incarnation so that it could simply be plugged into a TV for playing those UMD movies), it's quite possible they could have had yet another proprietary standard that did "well enough."

  • Re:Not for me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by feepness ( 543479 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @11:54PM (#30440098) Homepage

    the Wii is awesome because the games are *fun*.

    The Wii had the lowest rated games of all platforms [metacritic.com] in 2009.

    Wii: 362 games... 1 considered great.

    Xbox 360/PC: 7 considered great. PS3: 10 considered great.

  • Re:No (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rve ( 4436 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @11:44AM (#30444774)

    It's not about what's easily fixed, it's about what is. The market for PC software is huge, but the market for 3D graphics heavy PC games is not as huge as you might expect. The current generation of consoles really are more powerful than most PC's when it comes to running modern games.

    Not sure all the mods understand what a 'troll' is. Hint: it's not a synonym for 'i disagree with this'

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer