Seriously, Console Wars Are Pointless

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medv4380:

Treblaine:
If someone buys this supposed Multi-Console to play a Sony game... then all Microsoft have to do to win them over to buying their games... is just advertise "Hey, download the Xbox Live app". Before, if someone had bought a PS3 it was a tough sell convincing them to get buy Microsoft games as they'd have to fork out for a console, but now that barrier would be down. They could smuggle their games onto what would have been the equivalent of them buying a PS3. And vice versa, the exact same applies to Sony seeing people who bought a console to play a Microsoft game like Halo

It's brilliant, it COULD work, I can see the capitalist liking this and going for it and liking it so much they'll never want to go back.

The question is, how will we get there and how long will it take?!?

Wouldn't work, and whoever tries it would kill their company.

Lets exclude Nintendo from this part because it doesn't apply to them, and hasn't for them since they entered into the console market.

The hurdle to this Multi Console is cost. Sony and MS "technically" have to jump it, but they have an alternative. They choose to use the Razor and Blade marketing model in order to Sell the Systems at a huge loss. If they didn't the PS3 would have cost upwards of 800$ at launch. So your choice is do you buy a single PS3 20GB for 800 or for 500?

Sony wanted to sell units so they opted for the 300$ loss and planed on selling games to make up for that loss. The "Multi Console" doesn't have the option so they'd have to have that full 800 price at launch. Then to tack on the cross compatibility you're going to have an increase. Some parts are shared but some are not. The Processor is the killer piece. They are "almost" the same, but one has bonded units to create cores and one missing core for backwards compatibility with the XBox. This means ether two very expensive processors or a custom processor. Custom means it wouldn't take advantage of the PS3 or 360 price drops and would have to drop at its own pace. You're looking at a single system that's over 1000$ just to break even. If you want even a modest profit you're going to have to sell them for 1200 or 1500. This is not practical, and is why it's not done. If you included the Wii on this the architecture is radically different and would increase the price to the point where just getting a Wii CPU instead of a custom build would be better.

So lets go by their current costs. Do you buy the single Super Console for 500$ or each of the others for 200 - 250? If you're rich you go for the Super Console if you're getting both anyways. If you're reasonable and understand your budget you buy the one that is best for you for your money. Sometimes that's a PS3, and others it's an 360. You might want both economically but most of us can't afford every system whenever we want.

The only way your Super Console would even be possible is if MS and Sony worked together and sold it at a HUGE loss to make it, and agreed to SHARE profits on the games for their respective system. That's never going to happen.

So, in summary:

1. Sony, Microsoft and hopefully Nintendo all meet and agree on a set design of fundamental components of the motherboard. These are all the vital essential parts for the software, the hardware will always function the same. They write up standards for what components must be used with it, so it must be a blu-ray drive of at-least this speed, must have certain specification of power supply, must fit CPU cooling to certain standards.

2. consortium sells the motherboard licence to companies like Foxconn, with the promise they are already developing games and software for this hardware, Sony and Microsoft are already making Halo 11: Electric Boogaloo and Uncharted 7: the legend of Curly's gold for this chipset, and guarantee companies will buy chipsets to assemble into consumer components.

3. Foxconn sells the industrially manufactured boards to smaller companies that figure out how to assembled them. Whether a big chunky machine with cheap but effective Optical drive, or a sleek thin console, or integrated into a TV. Some may be without a DVD drive at all, focusing entirely on downloadable games. And price varying accordingly. This is left to the "artistes", it's not an industrial process like the motherboard, it's an open design process adapting to the form factor the consumer's choice.

4. Finished products are sold in stores all bearing the branding that they are a "Uni-System" (or whatever the branding) that means any Uni-branded game WILL work on this system, guaranteed. Just like the "DVD" symbol means putting a DVD movie in there it will just work.

5. Consortium immediately begin research on refining the design of the base board to be smaller, cheaper, less power hungry, as well as draw up designs for a next generation of an approximate order of magnitude more powerful. The smaller better boards function identically, software developers don't have to change a damn thing.

Ultimately the risk is spread around this way and is much more like how all other consumer electronics are made. And it IS a bullshit model selling your hardware at a loss then the consumer has to shill out an extra $15 per game for every new game they ever buy.

I think Sony and Microsft would much rather focus on the software side than agonise over hardware, just come up with a single good chipset that works with their software plans.

Consortium licences dynamically with more convenient board sizes, big industrial manufacturers like Foxconn use economy of scale to drive down costs, the end buyers tailor the form factor to the user's needs.

There are no economic incentives to create the world Yahtzee wants.

Console makers subsidize their hardware development and initial deployment with the portion they get from being the single channel through which software can be made available.

Having a single architecture shared by a broad platform with competing OEMs destroys that completely. It commoditizes the hardware and leads to a race to the bottom, which is where the PC space has gone. It's why the best and most cost-effective gaming rigs are custom builds, because getting hardware into the market at competitive price points means discrete graphics; and while this console generation is long in the tooth and the best gaming PCs always overpower them shortly after launch if not earlier, they're still more powerful than the least expensive laptops, tablets, and smaller, cheaper desktops.

What Valve is doing, for instance, is not creating an open architecture platform. They're not bringing PC gaming to the living room. They're bringing Steam to the living room. They're bringing their PC-based catalog to a new console, one that they will control and curate just as MS and Sony and Nintendo do their respective platforms.

Others have wished for it before, but there's simply no profit at all to be made in engaging in the industry as Yahtzee wishes it to be. One company or companies would bear the brunt of the costs for developing the platform, only to be undercut in the marketplace by cheap clones who pay less in licensing fees than the platform took to create. Raise the fees, and you'll have no OEMs, so the openness of your platform is for nought. Lower them, and your partners will kill you. Unable to act as a gatekeeper for access to technical specs or development kits, unable to control access to distribution channels, the platform leads will soon have no source of revenue. People will buy the cheapest version of the hardware they can find, developers will put their games out through distribution channels of least resistance, and piracy will be rampant, just as it is on the PC. To most established developers, this new platform will be less attractive than either the existing PC or console spaces.

I challenge anyone to develop a reasonable description for how a market could function under this model. I'd like to see one, but Yahtzee isn't the first one to suggest that they'd like to see the market work this way without explaining how it can, or why anyone other than gamers would want it to. Publishers, developers, and manufacturers certainly don't want it to.

Yahtzee is right. Why do I need three different boxes, each one costing $200 to $300, just to play Xenoblade, inFamous 2 and Forza 4?

Narcogen:
Sniped because my post is too long...

Okay, let's go through a few basics with you:

Consoles seem more powerful than lesser rigs, true, but because they're made to be specialized. Meaning that they can ONLY do the small amount of tasks a console is designed to do, generating less software overhead and letting the processor run more efficiently. The invisible hand of money didn't make it that way, it was just the design of the hardware.

Console makers subsidize their hardware development and initial deployment with the portion they get from being the single channel through which software can be made available.

You say that like it's supposed to make sense. That's insane. Acer isn't losing mad cash by selling personal computers so why is Microsoft losing mad cash by selling proprietary computers? This is one of those "God works in mysterious ways" statements. You aren't really thinking about it, you just accept that companies HAVE TO use exclusive software because hardware is too expensive for them.

Case-in-point: PC users didn't put up with that nonsense from Microsoft in the 90s.

Raise the fees, and you'll have no OEMs, so the openness of your platform is for nought. Lower them, and your partners will kill you.

Well gee, Batman, why doesn't every company ever just form a small monopoly then? I'm pretty sure if we made a road system that only let American cars drive on it, GM wouldn't have needed a bail-out. Let's just forget the fact that GM needed that bail-out because it's competition was better in the eyes of the market.

Finally, Valve is a publisher who is dealing mainly in digital distribution. Nothing about that automatically forms the same monopoly as Microsoft's Xbox, Sony's PS3 and Nintendo's Pile O' Poo. They just happen to be the most successful broad-range digital distributor and shouldn't be compared to what consoles are doing.
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But since you asked, okay, I'll give you a system:

In a world, in which all consoles could play all games. Each company would have to hire an analyst. That analyst runs several tests of their particular target consumers (every year) and comes back with a sliding scale of features-to-cost... with the mean of the scale being what their patrons would most likely be willing to pay for. (We'll guess as to what each company would be doing)

Nintendo would make the cheap pieces of crap. Barely functioning, but cheapest. You can technically play new games, but the frame-rate kinda sucks, load times are a bitch, and there's practically no online community beyond a store.

Xbox would be in the middle. The games play alright, but still chug a bit during big scenes. Since this is the in the "middle console" range, it's more likely to have a large, more dynamic, online community and therefore have the best online features.

Sony would be the high-end producers. They'd have to streamline their OS, removing a lot of the whiz-bangs and doodads you'd see on the Xbox... but you'd rarely have issues playing a game smoothly. AND, you'd get the best graphical experience.

Then there would be the pretentious open-source console, Ouya. Look at that name, even that's pretentious. That'd be the linux of consoles made for the niche crowd of people who like to root their system every damn time they want to run something. What a load. (I'm kidding, I like open-source stuff. Especially Linux).

Now, since exclusivity is a lie in this world, each company would do the same thing: Make a child company to publish games. Technically they could just publish games themselves... but why buy a Sony console to play a Microsoft game when you could buy a Sony console to play a "Realwin" game?

Each company would have it's own market, not through exclusivity, but through what that market's consumers wanted from the console. There would still be new controllers and even motion control, but it would be up to game developers to provide working facsimiles. And they would be able to, because the encoding for each console would have to be the same. There would be those gimmicky games, but efficiency would drive true innovation.
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There, a system that works. Sure it doesn't produce the most amount of profit, but I think we're worshiping money a bit too much as it is. We don't need the MOST profit... just profit. Oh yeah, and consoles wouldn't be under-priced. Remember when I brought up that console producers are losing money on every console? It's because consoles cost more than what they're selling them for. Ask yourself why they're doing that. This post is long enough as it is, so I won't get into it here. But I'm hoping you can come up with the reason yourself.

Treblaine:
Ultimately the risk is spread around this way and is much more like how all other consumer electronics are made. And it IS a bullshit model selling your hardware at a loss then the consumer has to shill out an extra $15 per game for every new game they ever buy.

I think Sony and Microsft would much rather focus on the software side than agonise over hardware, just come up with a single good chipset that works with their software plans.

Consortium licences dynamically with more convenient board sizes, big industrial manufacturers like Foxconn use economy of scale to drive down costs, the end buyers tailor the form factor to the user's needs.

The risk is spread equally around? So you think this Super System would be able to be sold at a loss so that consumers could afford it, and that they would be willing to spread that loss equally? Nintendo would easily be in position to demand that the other pay a higher share since they make, and sell more games than Sony or MS. Sony and MS are dependent on 3rd parties to make the bulk of their AAA games.

It's not BS to sell the hardware at a loss, and you don't get an extra 15$ Sony or MS tax for it ether. AAA PC Titles cost 60$ at launch, and your PC isn't subsidized by selling at a loss. Most of the lack of Price cuts on the Console market comes from the Publishers and Game Stop figuring out how to properly meet demand. They don't over print their games by 50% anymore resulting in an early grave in the bargan bin. What does happen is that the developer get access to an Install base that wouldn't have been able to afford the equivilant hardware profile for a PC. Which means more sales, and that extra 15$ goes to the developer of the Hardware for making that possible. It means more sales to more people that you wouldn't have been able to sell to otherwise.

If your system wasn't sold at a loss then some Nobody can come in and steal a significant portion of the market. Just like how Sony and MS tried. Nintendo is the only developer that tries to sell at a Profit from the start, or with a modest loss easily covered by 1 or 2 games. That's why they always end up looking "slower", but end up with the more stable hardware. Sony went with the "Great Leap Forward" approach with a massive 300$ loss and a 500$ price point. Problem was MS did the exact same thing, but went with Cheaper RAM causing the RROD. Heck MS even stole the R&D Sony paid for from IBM by going to IBM and saying "We want the same processor you're making for Sony but a Year Earlier with XBox backwards compatibility". This is what makes it a WAR and not a friendly competition. But that's what is meant by Competition in Capitalism.

Anyone can enter into the Console market and try to become the next best thing, but if all you are is some generic nothing then someone else can come in with your exact hardware, and beat you by doing the simple things. Better Developer support, marketing, some novelty motion control, an exclusive must have game, or any little shinny bobble that gets Developers or Gamers.

There was, and probably still is, a very good reason people believed that the gaming market only could support 2 consoles. The Conservative model that Nintendo follows requiring good 1st party support, and the Razor and Blade model Sega and others have followed to the grave. They both work and they both move the market forward in their own way. The 3rd system was always supposed to be the PC for those too rich who could afford a new 1500$ system every 5 years or less. Great for testing new concepts. Bad for reaching a mass audience. The lines have blurred over the years, but the concepts is still there.

Your method sounds like it would more likely follow the model the lead to the Crash of 83. Dozens of nearly identical console with no reason to buy one over the other. Heck, you've even removed the profit motive to even make the hardware so it would be hard to see any reputable company following you on the death march.

ex275w:

EDIT: Well technically the PC can allow you to 99% of all games ever made but it's kind of illegal to do so. Also the Phone market is kind of heading that way what with the Android, the only problem there is Apple as always.

Wait, what, illegal? To my knowledge, it's perfectly legal to play your games on PC, it's just cumbersome to achieve legality with some titles. You may have to buy/build your own hardware to dump your own system's BIOS and game ROMs, and then "lose" the original copy so that the backup clause with regards to copying digital media kicks in, and you're legally allowed to play with a dumped ROM. In the end there's always a way.

OT: while there's still money to be made in keeping things separate, I don't see any grand standardization of gaming happening anytime soon. Personally, I'd like to see things move more towards PC gaming with the big companies just selling custom rigs and services, but even that's not a solution. If you really wanted to standardize console hardware, I see a few

For one, you have the problem stemming from beefy OS's like Windows hogging resources. Maybe an OS can be developed specifically as a platform to run gaming machines on. That way, we can have a standard environment for developers to make games on. Of course, that would continue the separation of consoles and PCs as the PC gaming market is too entrenched in the Windows OS, so we miss out on the holy grail that is full game format compatibility.

Another problem is that by design, standardizing the hardware of game systems will remove one of consoles most powerful advantages: the freezing of hardware between generations. If consoles were standardized, there would be no enforceable way to freeze hardware. The vendors would all agree to use a certain set of specifications, and then they would try to one-up each other by producing more powerful hardware within the specifications of the old hardware. The quirks between each implementation would mean that no developer can write code for one configuration and expect it to work flawlessly on another.

You can prevent/mitigate this by either giving a single vendor license to produce certain components, or you can just live with all consoles having slightly different hardware. The first option would give a single company a monopoly on console hardware production. That is similar to the situation we're in now. The second option would mean a software layer would need to be built to handle these quirks, and we lose the speed gains of freezing hardware. That is more or less the situation the PC is in now.

This isn't to say that standardizing console hardware can't be done, but if we want to do it, we need to be smart about how to future-proof things so that the inexorable march of progress doesn't stamp all over our plans. This can be accomplished by a well-defined set of rules on how and when hardware will be changed, and in what way. Frankly, I don't see how anybody capable of producing the hardware will want to agree to such a set of rules (there would be money to be made in breaking these rules), so I'm at a loss.

medv4380:
So you think this Super System would be able to be sold at a loss so that consumers could afford it, and that they would be willing to spread that loss equally?
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The 3rd system was always supposed to be the PC for those too rich who could afford a new 1500$ system every 5 years or less. Great for testing new concepts. Bad for reaching a mass audience. The lines have blurred over the years, but the concepts is still there.

Your method sounds like it would more likely follow the model the lead to the Crash of 83. Dozens of nearly identical console with no reason to buy one over the other. Heck, you've even removed the profit motive to even make the hardware so it would be hard to see any reputable company following you on the death march.

I'm going to have to disagree with you on a few points:

"Sold at a loss so consumers can afford it" is a misrepresentation. It's a one-line brush off a big problem. There is only one reason to sell something for less than it's worth: So that you can then sell something else for more than it's worth. Microsoft and Sony aren't altruistic companies with the goal of "People NEED our product so we must take a loss to provide it to them". They're getting something out of it, that's why they do it. If they didn't get the profit they wanted, they'd stop undercutting themselves.

The PC has a high initial cost, but even back in the 80s, hardware was designed to be swappable. Even processors could be changed out for a fraction of the original costs. So no, any intelligent person wouldn't be spending $1500 every five years.

The crash of 83 wasn't because there were so many choices. It's because there were nothing but BAD choices. All of the game providers got lazy and sloppy and showed a real lack of quality so most of the consumers got their entertainment elsewhere. It stands to reason that if even a tenth of the console games showed themselves to be good, consumers would've purchased a console... which we saw when the NES was released.

Well despite the fact different companies make different USB storage devices, there is the SD card slot so the USB isn't the only method.

I think there should be different consoles for the simple reason of "I want a Choice" for instance if I want to play online with a new game, but don't feel like reactivating my Xbox gold subscription, I can always pick up the PS 3 version instead or if the PS 3 version is shit I can opt for the PC or Xbox version.

Having no exclusives and 1 base system would create more problems than it would solve, there would be nothing you could do from getting screwed. One of the most powerful tools of the consumer is to say (screw you I'm going with the other guy) Take that away and watch publishers take even more advantage of us.

I don't buy PC games with annoying DRM, I don't like paying for Xbox live and I don't like the PS3 version of Skyrim. I want these companies to fight for my business, because the minute they don't have to is when we'll all get DRM, monthly subscriptions, Newly released hardware that's outdated (yes I'm looking at you Nintendo) and broken games with even bigger patches day 1. And if we don't like it we'll get told to suck it because where else are we going to go?

Okay I'll go back to 1977 and tell them to standardise gaming consoles so we can play on Atari 2600 gen technology for ever.

DanDeFool:
Yahtzee brought up the idea of emulation, and it brings to mind a question that's been nagging me ever since I first saw a copy of bleem (look it up) at Best Buy.

Why don't console manufacturers ever make their own emulators?

How easy would it be for Sony to write an authorized PS2 emulator and release it on PC? If a bunch of bedroom programmers can make this shit work in their free time, it seems like it'd be easy for Sony to do an official (and superior) version and sell it.

Maybe there are piracy issues or something.

It would cannibalize their console sales. It's the same thing as selling a game console for the price of a software program. On the other hand, people always say that consoles (PS3 for example) are sold at a loss, and that they recoup the losses in games sales. But I'm skeptical...

Scow2:
Some people like the standardization of format - but that standardization also comes with losses in innovation, as everything's forced to conform to the same system with its own inherent strengths and weaknesses. But, gamers have become completely divorced from and ignorant of the underlying electronic architecture (Hardware and firmware) that operates the software they take for granted.

Only in a closed, rigidly made format though. In an ideal world, a standardised game system would be both well-made (i.e. highly funtional) as well as extensible. Look at USB. 2.0 was designed at the start of the millenium and it's still more than capable of most jobs. What minor issues it has barely matter compared to the ease it's given developers. And when the boring tedious bits of your job are made easy you get that much more room to make something interesting. Likewise with Havok. Programming physics mechanics is anything from boring to nightmarish based on seemingly tiny things, like slight changes in decimal precision following a port that make your characters fall through the floor. Havok pretty much nailed it, and even then it's still extensible enough to allow for unexpected mechanics like the Portal gun.

So yeah, stagnation absolutely COULD happen if said standard format was badly made. But at the end of the day, most engines have a pretty similar entity-renderer sort of design going on and as long as that foundation is stable and extensible most of the creative work is relatively easy. If you think about it, it's ridiculous that we have so many different 3D model formats being used right now when they all achieve the same thing: they draw and they animate. Everyone studio's doing the same thing differently, which is a pretty good summary of the whole situation. But if you look at something like the UDK, you get a vision of what a standard engine/format would give us. Sure, Unreal sucks in a lot of ways (jesus Epic, do any of you own a gaming mouse?) the amount of awesome, low-budget games that have come out of it as a launching platform more than makes up for it.

If you ask me, the big roadblock right now is that what we've got is standard TOOLS rather than FORMATS. To make a Source map you have to use Hammer editor, and to make a game on Engine X you have to use X's tools because no one can make them 3rd party. It'd be like having to use mspaint if you wanted to create a .gif because none of the other tools are allowed to touch it. But obviously that's a complexity thing: images are simple so they nailed the formats (and made them freely available) a while ago, videos are little more complicated so h264 had a long development road before it started giving us all the youtube videos in the world, and video games combine all of that with sound, music and dynamic interaction making them just about the most difficult creative act in the world. We have a way to go before people stop reinventing the JPEG every time they make a shooter, basically.

If you could play Nintendo exclusives on anything other than a Nintendo console, the company would go out of business.

As I've said earlier, the only reason Nintendo consoles are still relevant in today's age is because they are boxes which allow you to play their exclusives...nothing more. Before anyone brings up "good" third-party games on the Wii (or Wii U), 95% of them handle better on an MS/Sony console.

Aaron Sylvester:
If you could play Nintendo exclusives on anything other than a Nintendo console, the company would go out of business.

As I've said earlier, the only reason Nintendo consoles are still relevant in today's age is because they are boxes which allow you to play their exclusives...nothing more. Before anyone brings up "good" third-party games on the Wii (or Wii U), 95% of them handle better on an MS/Sony console.

I Nintendo stopped making consoles and focused only on making games for other platforms, it would probably be making more money than it does now as hard as that is to imagine.

If I could buy Nintendo games on my PC I'd have bought about half the games they've ever made by next Tuesday.

I agree with everything Yahtzee is saying. One thing I'd like to note is that it's embarrassing how little the average gamer understands about computers and technology standards. I have to wonder how they survive in the modern world if they think one machine can't run almost every single videogame ever made with little effort.

I don't like sounding like a PC elitist but yeah, [Insert elitist comment about PC superiority here].

Pebkio:

Narcogen:
Sniped because my post is too long...

Okay, let's go through a few basics with you:

Consoles seem more powerful than lesser rigs, true, but because they're made to be specialized. Meaning that they can ONLY do the small amount of tasks a console is designed to do, generating less software overhead and letting the processor run more efficiently. The invisible hand of money didn't make it that way, it was just the design of the hardware.

No, that's wrong. Consoles seem more powerful than comparable priced rigs *at launch* because they are subsidized. Before economies of scale kick in, before the refined designs and processes make the manufacturing cheaper, before later in the cycle, consoles cost the manufacturers more to make than they sell them for. That, combined with being single purpose devices lacking many of the parts and features that general purpose computers have, is what allows for hitting the $300 and below price points that enable both mass adoption and repeated upgrades for users who are not PC gamers. It is unlikely that one or the other alone would achieve it. The revenue is eventually made up because the platform holder gets revenues from developers in various ways, without which, those developers cannot access the market.

Console makers subsidize their hardware development and initial deployment with the portion they get from being the single channel through which software can be made available.

Pebkio:

You say that like it's supposed to make sense. That's insane. Acer isn't losing mad cash by selling personal computers so why is Microsoft losing mad cash by selling proprietary computers? This is one of those "God works in mysterious ways" statements. You aren't really thinking about it, you just accept that companies HAVE TO use exclusive software because hardware is too expensive for them.

Case-in-point: PC users didn't put up with that nonsense from Microsoft in the 90s.

I say that like it's supposed to make sense because it has, and does, and likely for the foreseeable future will make sense. In this case, "makes sense" means that it functions in the marketplace, not that you personally like it.

I've worked in mobile communications for several years, working with manufacturers of mobile devices. That market also heavily subsidizes devices. The majority of users for both of these services will not pay the manufacturer's full price (cost plus margin) for these devices. A third party-- in one case, the console platform holder, in the other, the mobile operator) needs to make that up with a subsidy. That party needs to make up the difference somehow, which is what leads to distribution channel monopolies and consoles that have a single manufacturer rather than an open design and many OEM partners.

I am really thinking about it. I've thought about it and dealt with these pricing issues every day for years. The razor and blade model is still around after all this time because it works. It hasn't gone away because no matter how many pundits have put forth this "universal machine" idea, it hasn't gone away. That's because the universal machine was always here: it's the PC. The parties that have been trying to add the console's advantages to the PC market (ease of use, curated distribution channels, stable hardware targets) end up making that platform more like a console. First, Valve introduced Steam, which is a curated channel, and now they're working on hardware. It's possible that Valve's warchest may allow them to take that step without making Steam the only distribution channel for the platform may be true, but it doesn't mean anyone could do it; it may also just be a vote of confidence that they believe Steam is the only digital distribution channel on the PC that matters anymore, and therefore is a de facto monopoly anyway. Given that the Piston doesn't have an optical drive, that may be restriction enough. We'll see.

Acer isn't losing mad cash? Are you sure about that?

http://www.engadget.com/2012/04/26/acer-2012-q1-financials/

In the first quarter of last year, Acer made a mere $11.2M in profit while being a top 5 computer manufacturer. They are absolutely one of the best examples of a victim of the race to the bottom, along with Dell and HP. Other preeminent makers, like IBM, got out of the business already.

Q3 got even worse, as net profit dropped to a mere $2.3M:

http://www.engadget.com/2012/10/22/acer-q3-2012-financials/

Given that Acer lost $212M in 2011, those kinds of results are a move in a positive direction, but it may be too little, too late. Q4 results are not out yet.

Raise the fees, and you'll have no OEMs, so the openness of your platform is for nought. Lower them, and your partners will kill you.

Pebkio:
Well gee, Batman, why doesn't every company ever just form a small monopoly then? I'm pretty sure if we made a road system that only let American cars drive on it, GM wouldn't have needed a bail-out. Let's just forget the fact that GM needed that bail-out because it's competition was better in the eyes of the market.

Why don't they? Because not every company can. There's no need to invent an imaginary and impossible-to-build "GM-only" road system when you can have import tariffs on foreign automobiles-- which we do. Of course, US citizens who want to purchase foreign cars, or be in the business of importing foreign cars, don't want those tariffs to be too high, so it's not a monopoly, just a barrier to entry.

Even if such a road could exist, GM would have to spend money to "upgrade" enough of the roads to this new system for the monopoly to exist. They'd have to pay for it themselves, or find revenue for it. That brings us back to subsidy. If there's no incentive for end-users to pay the "GM road toll" to drive their GM automobiles on, then they won't. If not, then you need someone else to subsidize you, and in this case, that's the US government, because they have an interest in not seeing GM become insolvent and put all of its workers out on the street (just the ones it wants to, when it wants to, when it's profitable for GM to do so).

Creating a walled garden ecosystem on the internet, by contrast, is not technically difficult. Convincing users to invest in it is difficult, and convincing developers to create apps or games for it without users is impossible.

Again, if what you doubt is that a subsidy is necessary, look at the discussion at NeoGAF. Valve and xI3 I think have miscalculated a bit given that they've announced no final specs or pricing, which means that journalists have filled in the gaps by looking at current offerings. PC and console gamers alike are scoffing at the specs and pricing of those offers-- console users because the prices are too high ($500 and $1000) and PC users because the specs are too low. Without a subsidy, there is no market for this product at those price points. xI3 either needs to lower their margins and eat the difference, and without volume guarantees there's no reason for them to do so, or Valve needs to subsidize them. Perhaps that's what their investment is, a form of subsidy. Obviously they don't know how much of a subsidy is involved here, or they'd have announced pricing-- or perhaps they didn't anticipate current reaction; but they should have.

Pebkio:

Finally, Valve is a publisher who is dealing mainly in digital distribution. Nothing about that automatically forms the same monopoly as Microsoft's Xbox, Sony's PS3 and Nintendo's Pile O' Poo. They just happen to be the most successful broad-range digital distributor and shouldn't be compared to what consoles are doing.

Not automatically, no. Although without an optical drive, there's a slight (very slight) barrier to entry for your traditional PC gaming brick and mortar distribution. Of course, there are plenty of other digital distribution channels as well.

The real question is just whether or not Valve makes enough from its existing streams of revenue to pay a subsidy on Steambox hardware, and whether that will grow Steam enough to make it worthwhile or not. It may be that they're willing to make less in order to steal marketshare. It's interesting to note, though, that so far the big 3 console manufacturers have not. Sony and MS both use the razor and blades model, while Nintendo makes its hardware specs low enough that subsidies are not necessary to hit the low price points (and consequently are far more dependent on first party development and close partners than either MS or Sony are).

As I wrote above, Valve may consider Steam to be so dominant in digital distribution that it doesn't need a technical exclusive to function; a de facto one may be good enough. That's a clever strategy, in that it allows them to tick the "we're an open architecture" checkbox that's politically important in certain segments of the market (PC gamers) and save the cost of actually maintaining any technical barriers to entry. Of course, they're still spending on just about all the other things that those platform holders have to do, except API development. MS is still doing that, and perhaps if Steambox owners end up shelling out for a Windows license, they'll be happy with that take.

It's still an open question whether the Steambox will really grow the market for Steam, or just cannibalize existing PC gamers. We'll see.

---

Pebkio:

But since you asked, okay, I'll give you a system:

In a world, in which all consoles could play all games. Each company would have to hire an analyst. That analyst runs several tests of their particular target consumers (every year) and comes back with a sliding scale of features-to-cost... with the mean of the scale being what their patrons would most likely be willing to pay for. (We'll guess as to what each company would be doing)

Nintendo would make the cheap pieces of crap. [snip]

Xbox would be in the middle. [snip]

Sony would be the high-end producers. [snip]

Then there would be the pretentious open-source console, Ouya. [snip]

Now, since exclusivity is a lie in this world, each company would do the same thing: Make a child company to publish games.

Each company would have it's own market, not through exclusivity, but through what that market's consumers wanted from the console. There would still be new controllers and even motion control, but it would be up to game developers to provide working facsimiles. And they would be able to, because the encoding for each console would have to be the same. There would be those gimmicky games, but efficiency would drive true innovation.
---

There, a system that works. Sure it doesn't produce the most amount of profit, but I think we're worshiping money a bit too much as it is. We don't need the MOST profit... just profit. Oh yeah, and consoles wouldn't be under-priced. Remember when I brought up that console producers are losing money on every console? It's because consoles cost more than what they're selling them for. Ask yourself why they're doing that. This post is long enough as it is, so I won't get into it here. But I'm hoping you can come up with the reason yourself.

Just like Yahtzee, you've described the surface appearance of how a system works-- who makes what, and who sells what to whom and how much for.

If I'm Microsoft, why do I like the above model better than the one I have? What would possibly make me switch to it? What about Sony?

That's what I mean by a model that works. It has to be a model that is demonstrably better than the current one, not just for the end-user but for the manufacturers and developers as well. Since you've admitted above that this model doesn't maximize profit, those guys are out and this whole idea is a pipe dream. Even if the companies above entered into a anti-competitive cabal to divide the marketplace-- which is exactly what you've described above-- unless they could keep everybody else out, you'd have a new entry in to use the old razor blade model and undercut them on price right away, and nothing would have changed.

While that's going on, you'd probably have at least MS and Sony trying to figure out how to cannibalize each other; MS would come out with a high end unit to try and steal some of Sony's margin, and Sony would come out with a budget unit to take some of Microsoft's volume. Current exclusivities are what allow both companies to play around with similar price points without diversifiying their product lines too much, but if everybody's on the same software platform, that goes right out the window.

Your model also completely fails to account for platform development costs and online services. Since there are no Xboxes or Playstations anymore, what do these new machines run? Who develops it? How do they get paid, and by whom? Who develops platform-wide online services for these games? This is essentially having Sony and MS divest themselves of their OS and online services division and spinning them off into an integrated unit. How will they be compensated for that? Wouldn't each seek to exert undue influence over the actions of this newly independent third party that has such sway over this new supposedly open platform?

The stratification of hardware capabilities above will lead to user dissatisfaction; think of the flamewars we see now regarding the varying performance of cross-platform titles, and now factor in the idea that these differences are intentionally created by the hardware manufacturers in order to hit price points). It also adds additional complexity for developers who no longer have static targets to work on. Again, we have this magic universal platform already-- it's called Windows (for better or worse). The model you suggest above isn't better than either of the existing console or PC gaming system. It combines the best and worst of both in a way that maximizes user convenience, minimizes user cost, and shifts those burdens onto the manufacturers and developers, without compensation.

Unless forced at gunpoint I think the industry would evaporate first-- there's simply no reason to do it. None at all.

Narcogen:
the big snip

That implys that there is no piracy on consoles. Not even a little bit true. If anything it seems worse than the PC, since PC games are way more available digitally.

In a truly competitive market I would be allowed to play Uncharted with a 360 controller, because my preference is for something better suited to my big hands and without those squidgy PS3 triggers I hate.

Yes. Yes. YES. GOD YES. The 360 controller is the best controller I've ever used (for size of hands and preferences).

JSW:
One thing that gives me hope is the recent trend of Android-powered gaming devices like the Archos Gamepad

Someone else knows about that! SWEET!

Not mu cup of tea, but still.

Archos is also offering up TV Connect, which is sorta kinda somewhat similar to Ouya.

DVS BSTrD:
But as long as there are different console options, they ARE going to be competing with one another. That's what drives them to create better hardware. Without competition, quality stagnates.

And thanks my spell check sucks.

They're not really competing to put out better hardware, though. Nintendo's off in its own little world, and has just barely come up with an answer to the 360/Ps3. Microsoft and Sony have both opted to extend this generation for as long as they can. Microsoft seems to be shying away from actual exclusives save for Halo and Gears, because those two franchises are enough to move dated hardware. Sony's better off in terms of putting out first/second party titles, but they've still got a lineup of must-haves that would keep people buying the PS3 for another 10 years. And hell, Microsoft's entry into the "lifespan extending" motion hardware? They radically scaled it back instead of actually trying to create a superior product.

I'm not trying to spark a PC vs console debate, but the platform that doesn't have exclusive variants is getting all the best new hardware. This is, in part, because it's not a closed box style console, but it also is because the competition isn't artificially locking it off. And I'm a console gamer, primarily. I buy some games on PC because of Steam/Amazon/GoG sales or their lack of presence on consoles, but most of my library is for the 360. That doesn't change the fact that the most open system is the one with the most competitive hardware.

Quality has stagnated. It's kind of weird to discuss what would happen if they didn't compete in hardware in terms of what already happens.

Sony/Microsoft are an effective duopoly. Again, I'm not counting Nintendo because their current line of products is focused elsewhere (except maybe WiiU, but I lack experience sufficient to talk about it). That's the exact sort of thing that truly stagnates business. It's why American internet sucks, too. Primarily, your choice is Comcast or TWC. There's not much in the way of competitive dealings going on there. And yeah, maybe Google breaks that up eventually, or maybe it makes it worse, but currently, we have a market share that's roughly 70% run by two companies.

For the "core" market, MS and Sony own even more than that.

THIS ARTICLE A MILLION TIMES.

Sadly enough, PCs were on the path to becoming generic game boxes back when consoles had the pot-16 bit era slump. But then Microsoft and Sony happened, which is all Nintendo's fault actually (They screwed up Sony regarding the CD extension to their new console, which lead to Sony rebranding the thing as the Playstation).

Consoles are, after all, specialized gaming PCs, although it doesn't surprise me people don't realize this, seeing how many still believe that Macs are technologically different from other PCs (hint: they aren't, same hardware, just an overpriced casing).

To further enhance Yatzhee's comment on this being a 1984-style deadlock between monolithic entities, a key factor of the "console wars" (and PC-Console rivalry, or Mac-Common Sense rivalry) is a cultural one: People build their identity around the technology they use, and defense of said tech becomes personal.

Really? Of all the sad things to build a sense of society that are out there... Consumer electronics?

Oskuro:
THIS ARTICLE A MILLION TIMES.

Sadly enough, PCs were on the path to becoming generic game boxes back when consoles had the pot-16 bit era slump. But then Microsoft and Sony happened, which is all Nintendo's fault actually (They screwed up Sony regarding the CD extension to their new console, which lead to Sony rebranding the thing as the Playstation).

Consoles are, after all, specialized gaming PCs, although it doesn't surprise me people don't realize this, seeing how many still believe that Macs are technologically different from other PCs (hint: they aren't, same hardware, just an overpriced casing).

To further enhance Yatzhee's comment on this being a 1984-style deadlock between monolithic entities, a key factor of the "console wars" (and PC-Console rivalry, or Mac-Common Sense rivalry) is a cultural one: People build their identity around the technology they use, and defense of said tech becomes personal.

Really? Of all the sad things to build a sense of society that are out there... Consumer electronics?

People understand nothing about computers and think consoles are magical artifacts with special powers that you couldn't just replicate with a PC and an emulator. I guess Turing Complete means nothing to these people. This argument is ridiculous. It's like saying the medium of cinema was held back by consumers embracing VHS over Betamax. So much ignorance on this thread.

Narcogen:
Oh wow, it was a bigger post than mine!

I've worked in mobile communications for several years, working with manufacturers of mobile devices. That market also heavily subsidizes devices.

So have I, just on the CS side but enough to know that most of the money for the subsidies are coming from the service providers. Not all, but most, and for the specific reason of getting as many people as possible onto their subscription service.

Given that Acer lost $212M in 2011, those kinds of results are a move in a positive direction, but it may be too little, too late. Q4 results are not out yet.

Right, okay, did not know that Acer lost so much, bad example. However, given that they seem to mostly post profits... I'm going to out on a limb and suggest that something freakish happened. Even profits for 3 months at 2.3 mil? Sure, it's not the 15 billion that Exxon put up one quarter, but I've already said that we worship money way too much. It's 2.3 million dollars for 3 months... on mostly hardware... it can be done.

...which brings me to my next point:

Again, if what you doubt is that a subsidy is necessary, look at the discussion at NeoGAF. Valve and xI3 I think have miscalculated a bit given that they've announced no final specs or pricing, which means that journalists have filled in the gaps by looking at current offerings. PC and console gamers alike are scoffing at the specs and pricing of those offers-- console users because the prices are too high ($500 and $1000) and PC users because the specs are too low.

There's the crux of your arguments: software sales paying for hardware losses is absolutely needed because people don't want to pay the real price for the hardware. Under that assumption, you'd never be able to just sell hardware for a profit, much less to pay for development. You go on to imply that the gaming industry would implode because we, as consumers, would stop paying for stuff if it got more expensive. I have to disagree, because Acer posted profits last quarter. And the Quarter before that. And before 2011...

Companies can turn a profit on hardware without subsidizing costs with software sales. Just not as MUCH PROFIT! ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD! WE MUST HAVE MORE COWBELL! MONEY! 20% GROWTH YEARLY OR WE GO BANKRUPT!

Ahem, sorry, I was slipping into the corporate mindset. Seriously, money shouldn't be everything as long as you're making enough. I guess we're just going to have to agree to disagree on the whole subsidizing hardware sales thing.

...

Oh, except this:

No, that's wrong. Consoles seem more powerful than comparable priced rigs *at launch* because they are subsidized.

I don't view things compared to straight price costs. I live by that cost-to-function ratio I mentioned earlier. At the very least, I compare average consoles to average computers that were for sale during console release. Of course you aren't going to have a very functional (gaming-wise) computer for $200, because they're not subsidized. It's not appropriate to compare something after subsidizing, ie, the information gained from such comparison is erroneous.

There are entire online communities devoted to running old hardware and making sure that older games can still be run in their original form. The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) has a dedicated games section and recently had the "Games Masters" exhibition that ran older hardware.

Some of the games hardware can be surprisingly fragile. The Dreamcast had a well known hardware issue where the console would stop working due to some of the contacts inside of it needing to be pushed back and WD40'ed after a certain period. If you are opening consoles and looking at circuit diagrams of previous technology, then it is a whole other level.

SEGA is also a good case of a hardware manufacturer that supposedly "lost" the console war, but is not making games for all the different consoles instead.

The main problem with relying in re-issues and remakes is that only the most popular games tend to get re-issued and a lot of good content will fall by the wayside. Perhaps the model that some of the entertainment companies are doing know with releasing DVD-R's of particular movies instead of doing a wide release could be used.

The lifespan of consoles seems to be getting shorter each generation. I remember playing my Atari 2600 for almost 10 years before I got a Megadrive and then another 10 before I bought a Dreamcast. Not sure how long I will have my Xbox 360 for as I do not really play it enough.

There are emulators that can play older software, but some of these have problems and cannot really match up to playing the original in a lot of cases.

I'm almost 100% behind Yahtzee on this one (no homo). It makes almost perfect sense. However:

1) The DVD player analogy would break down if DVDs came in different technical specifications that required progressively better hardware to run - like games do. The reason DVD players are standardised is because DVD technology isn't getting better any time soon (well, it kind of did with BluRay). Games consoles are still progressing in power and capability - for the time being, although I can see a point where the extra man-hours required to add a seventeenth layer of bump-mapping to Master Chief's instep cease to be profitable, and at this point hopefully devs could just concentrate on making good games.

BUT, while consoles are still improving in power, making a standardised system would create an artificial technical plateau. I can't see how this is a good thing.

2) Yahtzee has often mentioned that a lot of Nintendo's hardware strategy is a solution looking for a problem. Dual screens, then Wiimotes, then 3D screens and now the Wii U tablet. Yes, it's a very "forced" kind of innovation, yes, it completely turns off most 3rd party publishers. But hasn't some good come of it? Both Kinect and Playstation Move took off after the success of the Wiimote, and although the technology still isn't perfect (and it sure as hell shouldn't be shoehorned into games that don't benefit from it), it's an avenue that I think should be explored. Motion controls are our next-gen lightguns and dance-mats, and when voice recognition finally gets half-decent I think we'll see one of the next true revolutions in how we interact with games. Isn't it for the best that we have our eccentrics and innovators alongside the mainstream?

medv4380:

Treblaine:
Ultimately the risk is spread around this way and is much more like how all other consumer electronics are made. And it IS a bullshit model selling your hardware at a loss then the consumer has to shill out an extra $15 per game for every new game they ever buy.

I think Sony and Microsft would much rather focus on the software side than agonise over hardware, just come up with a single good chipset that works with their software plans.

Consortium licences dynamically with more convenient board sizes, big industrial manufacturers like Foxconn use economy of scale to drive down costs, the end buyers tailor the form factor to the user's needs.

The risk is spread equally around? So you think this Super System would be able to be sold at a loss so that consumers could afford it, and that they would be willing to spread that loss equally? Nintendo would easily be in position to demand that the other pay a higher share since they make, and sell more games than Sony or MS. Sony and MS are dependent on 3rd parties to make the bulk of their AAA games.

It's not BS to sell the hardware at a loss, and you don't get an extra 15$ Sony or MS tax for it ether. AAA PC Titles cost 60$ at launch, and your PC isn't subsidized by selling at a loss. Most of the lack of Price cuts on the Console market comes from the Publishers and Game Stop figuring out how to properly meet demand. They don't over print their games by 50% anymore resulting in an early grave in the bargan bin. What does happen is that the developer get access to an Install base that wouldn't have been able to afford the equivilant hardware profile for a PC. Which means more sales, and that extra 15$ goes to the developer of the Hardware for making that possible. It means more sales to more people that you wouldn't have been able to sell to otherwise.

If your system wasn't sold at a loss then some Nobody can come in and steal a significant portion of the market. Just like how Sony and MS tried. Nintendo is the only developer that tries to sell at a Profit from the start, or with a modest loss easily covered by 1 or 2 games. That's why they always end up looking "slower", but end up with the more stable hardware. Sony went with the "Great Leap Forward" approach with a massive 300$ loss and a 500$ price point. Problem was MS did the exact same thing, but went with Cheaper RAM causing the RROD. Heck MS even stole the R&D Sony paid for from IBM by going to IBM and saying "We want the same processor you're making for Sony but a Year Earlier with XBox backwards compatibility". This is what makes it a WAR and not a friendly competition. But that's what is meant by Competition in Capitalism.

Anyone can enter into the Console market and try to become the next best thing, but if all you are is some generic nothing then someone else can come in with your exact hardware, and beat you by doing the simple things. Better Developer support, marketing, some novelty motion control, an exclusive must have game, or any little shinny bobble that gets Developers or Gamers.

There was, and probably still is, a very good reason people believed that the gaming market only could support 2 consoles. The Conservative model that Nintendo follows requiring good 1st party support, and the Razor and Blade model Sega and others have followed to the grave. They both work and they both move the market forward in their own way. The 3rd system was always supposed to be the PC for those too rich who could afford a new 1500$ system every 5 years or less. Great for testing new concepts. Bad for reaching a mass audience. The lines have blurred over the years, but the concepts is still there.

Your method sounds like it would more likely follow the model the lead to the Crash of 83. Dozens of nearly identical console with no reason to buy one over the other. Heck, you've even removed the profit motive to even make the hardware so it would be hard to see any reputable company following you on the death march.

"The risk is spread equally around? So you think this Super System would be able to be sold at a loss"

It doesn't bode well when the VERY FIRST LINE of your post TOTALLY MISREPRESENTS MY ARGUMENT!

Look, home computers aren't sold for a loss, HDTVs are not sold for a loss, speakers are not sold for a loss, mobile phones are not sold for a loss... EQUALLY THIS UNIVERSAL-CONSOLE WOULD NOT BE SOLD FOR A LOSS EITHER!!

PS3 is currently not sold for a loss currently, Xbox 360 has been breaking even for even longer before that.

"AAA PC Titles cost 60$ at launch"

Very few. A lot of PC games are free to play. Steam have higher stock prices than most and yet here is a typical lineup:

Deus Ex: human Revolution = $49.99
Bioshock 2 = $29.99
Assassin's Creed 2 = $39.99

Black ops 2 is not a "AAA PC title" it's a shitty port that is overpriced and ridiculed.

A "triple A" PC game would be something like Team Fortress 2, which is free.

A universal-console means developers only have to develop ONE console version and it sells to everyone who has that version. The current situation of so many games being made identically on PS3 and 360 while arbitrarily separated is just a waste.

"If your system wasn't sold at a loss then some Nobody can come in and steal a significant portion of the market."

Yeah, it's called capitalist competition. You got a problem with that?

The ENTIRE ARGUMENT for capitalism is that if someone comes in doing a better job and/or for a better price then they should be allowed to succeed.

What you are talking about is not capitalism, but what Mussolini defined as Corporatism, where established companies have absolutely protected monopolies that avoid any sort of competition, just domination and forced conformity.

Steal the market?!?!?!? THE MARKET WAS NEVER PRIVATE PROPERTY OF CORPORATIONS!

"Problem was MS did the exact same thing, but went with Cheaper RAM causing the RROD."

So it is confirmed you don't know what you are talking about

Heck MS even stole the R&D Sony paid for from IBM by going to IBM and saying "We want the same processor you're making for Sony but a Year Earlier with XBox backwards compatibility". This is what makes it a WAR and not a friendly competition But that's what is meant by Competition in Capitalism.

but if all you are is some generic nothing then someone else can come in with your exact hardware

The hardware would be protected by intellectual property and licensed out.

And precisely WHO'S hardware would it be?

The Design of the microprocessors and integrated circuits would be by companies like Intel, AMD, ARM, IGM, Nvidia and so on.
The integrated circuits would actually be made by companies like Siemens in Germany
The bare dies would then be assembled into complete chipsets by companies like Foxconn in China
The hard drives would be made in places like Thailand (where flooding there alone caused HDD prices to double from interrupted supply)
They may all be assembled together by another contractor in a plastic case.

All Microsoft or Sony does today is pick and choose the components they want and get someone else to build it to their specifications.

And the only component set that REALLY MATTERS is the main motherboard chipset, which is where any change there will mean software will perform differently. A different hard drive or optical drive will only change loading-speed, the presence of a wi-fi or Ethernet port has no effect on game development. Power supply just has to be in the specified range, any can be used.

"Better Developer support"

Best developer support is by having ONE piece of hardware to work with. What they don't need is multiple different and redundant console designs of near identical performance with a sticking plaster solution of "I'll make a lame attempt at helping guide you through the labyrinthine differences".

The consortium would have it in their very best interest to help every developer who is seriously making games to work on their hardware as that makes their hardware more desirable so it will sell more. And the consortium would not just be Microsoft and Sony, it would also be the chipset designers who may be ARM or IBM or Intel on what software works best with the hardware.

Console game development the operating system is quite irrelevant, games are coded "right down to the metal" but to get officially licensed their games must be responsibly coded, so they can't overclock the CPU to a level that destroys it to get the performance they want.

"There was, and probably still is, a very good reason people believed that the gaming market only could support 2 consoles."

That's because it is a PROBLEM having multiple different consoles of different exclusivity.

Just as 2 platforms is better than 3, a single universal platform is better than 2.

We don't have two different DVD standards. We don't have HD-DVD competing with Blu-ray.

"PC for those too rich who could afford a new 1500$ system every 5 years or less."

Okay, you are free to ignore this guy, he's talking about stuff he knows NOTHING about. It's like getting advice on your love life from a celibate priest.

"likely follow the model the lead to the Crash of 83. Dozens of nearly identical console with no reason to buy one over the other."

That's not true, that was not the cause of the crash of what was a small, immature market. And if it IS a problem to have different platforms of identical performance but contrasting exclusivity, then that SUPPORTS the idea of a single universal platform.

"Heck, you've even removed the profit motive to even make the hardware"

No. They make a profit on the hardware the exact same way they make profits on this long exhaustive list of consumer electronics that are sold without being loss-leaders:
-Smartphones
-Tablets
-MP3 players
-Desktop PCs
-Laptops
-Giant HDTVs
-DVD and blu-ray players
-TV record boxes

Almost EVERY CONSUMER ELECTRONIC DEVICE is NOT sold as a loss leader but for a profit and people buy them at that price, and takes components of standardised compatibility.

Video game consoles are the one exception.

Casual Shinji:

SkarKrow:

Casual Shinji:
You could suck them into sharp points, and turn your palms into murder weapons!

Yeah but what if you need to entertain yourself for a while man? think of the logistics!

Well, candy canes have the ability to be twisted into circular shapes... If you know what I mean. ;D

I'm surprised by my onw dirty thoughts. Really, I am.

I think I do know what you mean, but wouldn't the minty freshness of them cause a touch of painful burning sensation in such a place?

Don't worry about it, I used to surprise myself too...

for all the reasons mentioned here, I am cautiously optimistic about Valve's SteamBox project. Shield and Ouya -- not so much. time will tell -- on paper it all sounds very promising.

yesterday's Gabe Newell interview that cleared up some of the motivating factors for me, at least a little bit:

http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/8/3852144/gabe-newell-interview-steam-box-future-of-gaming

This entire article is funny to me, because the whole time I was going "I can play 14 year old games without any extra effort compared to something released last week". And with emulation programs (that, supposedly, aren't particularly complicated to use either), I could probably go back all the way to the eighties.

Yeah, that's what you get when you buy a locked down, [insert a million other negatives], system like the consoles. And I'm sorry, standardization of this kind is a pipe dream through and through. Start using an open(er) platform if you want to get what you want. Or keep drinking the Kool-aid.

I don't even know what I'm doing here, I can't remember the last Yahtzee article that wasn't blatantly wrong or short-sighted on some level or another.

Master Race chiming in: "haha"

Yahtzee makes a good point, and I am sick and tired of exclusive titles and bonuses. I got off the end of the Nintendo wagon when they started this crazy controller stuff. Mario and Link are well and good but they aren't in my 'must have' tier of games. Back when the original Xbox came out and I was a PS2 fanboy I recall one of our big zingers being 'it's just a computer in an oversized box'. Irony aside, this is more and more true as the generations rev up. People didn't care that the Gamecube was a cool little lunch-box you could easily bring to a friend's, they wanted to know its processing power, as if that mattered to the stable of games it played. There are numerous side by side image comparisons to see which version of the game you should buy.

I believe the economic word you are looking for is duopoly (and yes, duopolies can effectively run with three, the game theory board is just widened a bit).
Look it up, it is what I have been saying for quite a while.

Treblaine:
No. They make a profit on the hardware the exact same way they make profits on this long exhaustive list of consumer electronics that are sold without being loss-leaders:
-Smartphones
-Tablets
-MP3 players
-Desktop PCs
-Laptops
-Giant HDTVs
-DVD and blu-ray players
-TV record boxes

Almost EVERY CONSUMER ELECTRONIC DEVICE is NOT sold as a loss leader but for a profit and people buy them at that price, and takes components of standardised compatibility.

Video game consoles are the one exception.

You have no idea what you're even talking about. Smartphones are mostly sold at a loss. The reason you can pickup the latest IPhone for less than 200 is because the company selling it is subsidizing the cost with your network contract.

DVRs ALL sold at a loss with a few minor exceptions. TiVos are subsidized with your monthly subscription, and that 99$ to free ones you get with Cable and Sat are subsidized with your TV subscriptions because they know that DVR owners are less likely to leave. Even just hucking up a customer to Direct TV with basic service gives them a Minimum 150$ loss. It takes a year and a half before they see any profit from that customer.

Heck even things like DSL are subsidized with your Phone service. Which is why they have to jack up the price if you get Stand Alone DSL.

AMD CPUs are frequently sold at a loss. There has only been a few years they've been able to sell at at profit because their power usage was better than intel, and that's what people wanted in their servers.

A significant portion of Consumer Electronics are sold at a loss.

You sell at a loss to establish your market share.
You're ether going to take advantage of Economies of Scale in hopes that Future production costs drop enough to make it profitable in the long term, you can bundle it so that the sum of all the products is greater than the loss, or you can go with the Razor and Blade Model and bank on selling enough Blades to make up for practically giving away the Razors.

No one wants to Spend 500$ on something like smart phone, DVR, or even a Game System.
No One wants to write software for something with no market share ether.

Your logic for your Utopia is completely devoid of Economic Reality.

From what I can tell, no one really supports the idea that basically what I got sitting in my room is 3 computers that all do basically the exact same thing, except only one ever gets used and it is the one I'm on now. Why is that? Well, simple, because why should I boot up my 360 to play a game that doesn't get me anything better or worse off then something I was already able to play, and chances are for free, on my PC? I paid 2K for my PC, and I don't care. I paid $600 for my PS3, and it currently is only good for random games of rockband and Netflix. My Xbox 360 now is basically only used for Borderlands 2 as I preorded it back before I started playing PC more. But even then, I don't really use it. So why should I bother keeping such a thing where the disks I have for it don't work with what I am using? Especially when the exact same company makes both Operating Systems. If people want to keep the "competition" alive, bring me a new console that can run PS3, 360, Wii, and PC games. It also should be able to use all peripherals, as well as even work with a mouse and keyboard. The last requirement for this magic system is for it to actually exist.

Let me tell you why it wont exist. Sony wants to make money, so does Nintendo and MS. MS is probably making the most with two systems. In order for this magic box to be made, the first thing that would have to happen is for one of them to step forward and say "hey, why not work together this time around?" This will never happen with the current mindset. Why not? For one simple fact. They would have to share. That is right, a 3 way split for the profits. Even if said magic box sold for 2K, it still wouldn't be enough for them to share. Chances are someone out there already owns a magic box, although not a legal one. And chances are, it is way better then anything they will ever release.

I agree with Yahtzee (for once), I didn't buy a PS3 for the first time last year after being an Xbox 360 player exclusively for 6 years becuase I really wanted the hardware, I bought it because I was missing out on some really great-looking games that I wanted to play and experience but were only available on Sonies system. If consoles were standardised and this whole 'exclusivity' crap shelved, this would most certainly only widen the accessibility of the 'art form' that is video games which is only a good thing in my books.

Batou667:
The DVD player analogy would break down if DVDs came in different technical specifications that required progressively better hardware to run - like games do.

Xbox 360 is as powerful today in 2013 as it was when it launched in 2005.

The only changes to Xbox 360 have been to make it cheaper to manufacture, lower power consumption and peripheral changes like adding internal Wifi and a new Hard-drive and a fancy new looking box. It still runs software in the EXACT SAME WAY. The vital technical specifications are UNCHANGED!

Console technology moves forwards in big leaps like the leap from DVD to Blu-ray. But console has the equivalent of blu-ray and HD-DVD selling in the same market yet you can play HD-DVD on blu-ray players, nor Blu-ray on HD-DVD players and you can't jsut choose one as so many movies are exclusive to either Blu-ray or HD-DVD.

Look at how much Xbox 360 has kept up to spite using tech that wasn't even top-of-the-line in 2005.

medv4380:

Treblaine:
No. They make a profit on the hardware the exact same way they make profits on this long exhaustive list of consumer electronics that are sold without being loss-leaders:
-Smartphones
-Tablets
-MP3 players
-Desktop PCs
-Laptops
-Giant HDTVs
-DVD and blu-ray players
-TV record boxes

Almost EVERY CONSUMER ELECTRONIC DEVICE is NOT sold as a loss leader but for a profit and people buy them at that price, and takes components of standardised compatibility.

Video game consoles are the one exception.

You have no idea what you're even talking about. Smartphones are mostly sold at a loss. The reason you can pickup the latest IPhone for less than 200 is because the company selling it is subsidizing the cost with your network contract.

DVRs ALL sold at a loss with a few minor exceptions. TiVos are subsidized with your monthly subscription, and that 99$ to free ones you get with Cable and Sat are subsidized with your TV subscriptions because they know that DVR owners are less likely to leave. Even just hucking up a customer to Direct TV with basic service gives them a Minimum 150$ loss. It takes a year and a half before they see any profit from that customer.

Heck even things like DSL are subsidized with your Phone service. Which is why they have to jack up the price if you get Stand Alone DSL.

AMD CPUs are frequently sold at a loss. There has only been a few years they've been able to sell at at profit because their power usage was better than intel, and that's what people wanted in their servers.

A significant portion of Consumer Electronics are sold at a loss.

You sell at a loss to establish your market share.
You're ether going to take advantage of Economies of Scale in hopes that Future production costs drop enough to make it profitable in the long term, you can bundle it so that the sum of all the products is greater than the loss, or you can go with the Razor and Blade Model and bank on selling enough Blades to make up for practically giving away the Razors.

No one wants to Spend 500$ on something like smart phone, DVR, or even a Game System.
No One wants to write software for something with no market share ether.

Your logic for your Utopia is completely devoid of Economic Reality.

I'm sorry, but that is NOT sold for a loss.

You are going nothing but paying in instalment, You CANNOT cancel the contract and keep the phone. You must keep paying. The cancellation fees are as high as if you kept paying the monthly costs.

Again, the games and apps are not used to subsidise the cost of the phone.

Again, TiVo subscription was a mandatory, it was no different from buying an SUV and paying instalments for months. Every single thing you bought for the TiVo didn't cost 25-30% more (which is how much console licencing increases the cost of console games) with that money going to TiVo.

Most Digital-recorders for TV as they have no subscription model at all, they sell for a net gain and just record TV when you want them to.

You sell at a loss to establish your market share.

That's a different matter entirely and doesn't mandate games each having a $15 licencing fee that must go to the hardware manufacturer. It's no greater hurdle to leap for a Universal Console than the current contrasting platform exclusivity agreement.

I agree, platform licencing is important. But different platforms with contrasting exclusivity is not the solution. And loss-leading model CANNOT be tolerated if it adds $15 onto a game that would be $45.

Pay in instalments if necessary... at least the payments eventually end. But the games will always be much more expensive than they should be.

"No one wants to Spend 500$ in an iPhone"

But they do. Their non-reversible network contract, the price difference between that same contract sim-only and what they actually have to pay per month after the initial money down cost... that IS WAY MORE THAN $500 just paid via instalments over 24 months. Are you so dense you don't realsie $500 disappearing out of you bank account because only a bit of it was taken each month??!?!?

No One wants to write software for something with no market share ether.

If that were true then we'd never have gotten any console after the NES. Because no new console would come out as it had no games, and no new generation of games would come out as there was no new console.

Don't give me that chicken or the egg bullshit, Publishers and hardware developers can cooperate to have hardware and software come onto the market at the same time as with most console launches there is a launch line-up and very often bundled games.

"Your logic for your Utopia is completely devoid of Economic Reality."

Coming from the guy who doesn't realise that they are simply paying for their smartphone by instalments is somehow a loss-leader that requires high licencing fees that's only possible with competing platforms having petty exclusivity.

Yahtzee is absolutely right about the console wars. Movies, TV and music have already developed to the point where anyone can pick up a recording device and share their art on any medium, whereas gaming is still behind in the sense that my independent game can't be universally played on a major console. It's the reason iOS games are starting to look like the more innovative ones in the gaming world. Anyone can design an app and market it on the App Store, and many of these games are daring in the way they experiment with new ways to use the iPad's functionality, either in arcade games, puzzlers or more detailed action/adventure games. It's getting to the point where there are only a handful of exclusive console games anyway, and a person who is selecting a new console is deciding based on whether they feel they want a cheap, family friendly device like the Wii, a sophisticated piece of hardware like the PS3 or something well rounded like the 360. The games themselves aren't the issue. If gaming wants to be perceived as an art form, it has to be somewhat democratized and open sourced. We're no longer living in a world where there are only 5 big movie studios, 3 TV stations or record labels, and we should stop acting as if there can only be three options for gaming.

cookyt:

ex275w:

EDIT: Well technically the PC can allow you to 99% of all games ever made but it's kind of illegal to do so. Also the Phone market is kind of heading that way what with the Android, the only problem there is Apple as always.

Wait, what, illegal? To my knowledge, it's perfectly legal to play your games on PC, it's just cumbersome to achieve legality with some titles. You may have to buy/build your own hardware to dump your own system's BIOS and game ROMs, and then "lose" the original copy so that the backup clause with regards to copying digital media kicks in, and you're legally allowed to play with a dumped ROM. In the end there's always a way.

Let's just say that most people who make use of ROMs don't own or even know how to dump the BIOS, and most of the ones who create ROMs also don't lose the original game copy.

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