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Time for a single format?

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Robson

Guest
Ok, who else thinks it's time we had a single hardware format?

By all accounts hardware manufacturers (i.e. nintendo, microsoft, and sony) all lose money on their consoles. Which they then have to recoup on software sales (meaning games are more expensive for us to buy!).

Imagine the nightmare situation of having to own three different DVD players to watch say Lord of the Rings, Star wars and back to the future!. For one, DVD would never have became mainstream and two, a single winner would eventually emerge.

So isn't it about time the games market matured a little and said enough is enough and adopted a single format. With the potential market and mass produced by most major companies we could have a machine more powerful than we've got now for the same money.

Let's face it, it's going to happen eventually. After all when graphics become photorealistic and can't be improved upon, where else can they go? Your PS4 or XBOX3 will have graphics as good as the Lord of the Rings the film. The sound is almost the same already so what more could you want?

And finally we might then see an end to the tedious mine is better than yours fanboy nonesense!. We can but dream...
 
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Deleted member 13294

Guest
Originally posted by Robson
So isn't it about time the games market matured a little and said enough is enough and adopted a single format. With the potential market and mass produced by most major companies we could have a machine more powerful than we've got now for the same money.
Get a PC. :rolleyes:
 

Sinzer

Well-known Member
I believe that Nintendo actually make a profit on their consoles, but by and large they do usually take a large hit on development costs etc.

A common language is what is really needed, we can see this being developed on the PC, with Direct X. PC Games programmers have access to all the same libraries and API's so they do not have to concentrate on developing custom engines they have a basic building set. How that fares on your PC depends on the hardware you have bought for it.

The major difference between the console and the PC market, is that the PC market has historically been hardware sellers and software sellers are seperate (this is pretty much true for the DVD market). The problem with the console market is that, historically the hardware sellers were also the software sellers.

This may change, but the problem is compatibility, like the hardware markets for PCs, HiFi etc. You run into all sorts of compatibility issues because lots of models boast different features, for simple tasks like video or music playback this is not much of an issue, but for complex tasks like programming games, a slight difference can cause a whole lot of problems (hence why many people hate PC gaming :) ).

Plus people will never be happy with owning the same thing, everyone likes to be a little individual so they would want something a little faster or aesthetically pleasing.

A standard platform would be helpful, but would it necessarily create the competition needed?
 
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Robson

Guest
I've got a PC, but it'll never take pride of place under the TV like a PS2 or XBOX will.
 
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Robson

Guest
Originally posted by Sinzer

Plus people will never be happy with owning the same thing, everyone likes to be a little individual so they would want something a little faster or aesthetically pleasing.

A standard platform would be helpful, but would it necessarily create the competition needed?
People could still be have the choice even with a single format. There's no reason why the important components couldn't stay the same to ensure software compatibility but things like cases/ hard-drive sizes, type of outputs etc could all be different just like buying a DVD player, some have component out for those that want it, others have few features but cost very little for those on a budget. But they all play DVD's nevertheless.

Competition is only needed if the product is inferior?
 

Sinzer

Well-known Member
Competition is needed for improvement.

Take sports, a sportsperson racing against themselves will never push themselves as hard as possible if they do not have someone to race against. When I bike on my own, I try to go fast, but I do no way go as fast as when my buddies are out with me.

The same for economics (as it relies on psychology), hardware development needs competition, would Intel have produced their faster chips as quickly if AMD was not there? I doubt it. We don't even need half the computing power we have got currently, but we have it because companies compete and people like that.

I agree with the idea in principle, but would still argue the emphasis is on a common standard programming language, rather than a single common console. Then again, will a common language help or simply make it stagnate?
 
R

Robson

Guest
I could reply to most of your original text, as you raise a lot of valid and excellent points. But, as you say lets concentrate on the common language situation

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know what goes on behind the closed doors of most major games studios. But I can imagine that when developing any new game they start from scratch. Which immediately creates a lot of work. which as you rightly say takes time away from other aspects of the game such as gameplay.

I think what we're getting at here, is a term called "middle-ware". Graphics engines, physics engines, and all kinds of other stuff that I can't even think of now ;-) should be available as an off-the-shelf module.

I bet, every company who ever made a driving game had to employ an artist to draw and model all the cars in it. Why? Surely there must be an opportunity for a design company to create computer models of cars/buildings/people that can be scaleable to fit the desired platforms requirements.

Physics are the worst, how many times have you played a driving game with terrible handling. Why? Again if somebody produces a good driving model then they could make a killing selling it.

As to the question of things becoming stagnant. Who knows, some might say we're there already, with tired clones and sequels in abundance. Maybe removing the constraints and worries of developing the game engine will allow companies to concentrate on gameplay and making the game fun which is the main aim!!!

Well, I've written too much and only covered one topic! oh well :)
 
C

cleggy

Guest
Originally posted by Robson
Let's face it, it's going to happen eventually.
Not sure about this, MS and Sony (and probably Nintendo as well) have enough financial clout to keep separate formats going for as long as they want to. If they can pay for the software exclusives, and people want those games they will buy the hardware.

If a single format did emerge it would have to be more restrictive than the current single formats mentioned in this thread (PCs and DVD players). The amount of variations you can get of PCs must be a nightmare for developers and although a common API can help development I'm not going to touch a game on my my PII 450 that someone with a PIV 2.4 can just about get a decent framrate out of.

All DVD players may play DVDs but most of them play them better than mine, clearer pictures, quieter operation, etc.

If a single format is to emerge it mustn't allow for any differences in hardware (small or major) so every game developed for the platform plays exactly the same on everyone's hardware, otherwise we'll have some of the same problems we have now in terms of performance differences, pre-pubescent comparisons of different platforms, and those keeping up to date getting faster, better kit.
 
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Robson

Guest
Originally posted by cleggy
Not sure about this, MS and Sony (and probably Nintendo as well) have enough financial clout to keep separate formats going for as long as they want to. If they can pay for the software exclusives, and people want those games they will buy the hardware.
I think Nintendo must be seriously thinking about doing a Sega, mustn't they? Based on current sales figures the Nintendo Gamecube is merely a niche product with a few nice exclusives but I don't think it's ever going to be in every home. But I do think that a MS or Sony product could be in everyhome, or at least with the same market penetration as VHS. I think we all know the bigger picture with Sony and MS, it's not just the games anymore it's the complete package, DVD, content delivery,online etc.

You're probably right though, I bought an XBOX for Halo, A playstation for GT3,GTA3 and a Gamecube for Resi Evil/SMS (don't even get me started on how disappointed I was with these 2 titles ;-)

But when you sit back and look at it, it's a far from ideal situation. But what can you do, Fairplay isn't going to work, buying all 3 machines isn't going to work so I guess we'll just have to see what happens ;-)
 

t-force

Well-known Member
Nintendo have already announced that the "Gamecube 2", or whatever it will be called, will be forthcoming, and R+D are already working on it. In a press conference, I think the head of NOA said that they had no intention of "doing a Sega".

Also, bear in mind that the Cube is still whipping the XBOX's butt in Japan.
 
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mikeq

Guest
Originally posted by Robson

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know what goes on behind the closed doors of most major games studios. But I can imagine that when developing any new game they start from scratch. Which immediately creates a lot of work. which as you rightly say takes time away from other aspects of the game such as gameplay.

I think what we're getting at here, is a term called "middle-ware". Graphics engines, physics engines, and all kinds of other stuff that I can't even think of now ;-) should be available as an off-the-shelf module.
'Splinter Cell' uses the 'Unreal' game engine and adds value to it. I think you would be surprised at the amount of re-use that goes on. It is more cost effective for a company to pay money to use something already developed and get it to the market quicker than develop from scratch.
 

lechacal

Novice Member
I think the head of NOA said that they had no intention of "doing a Sega"
Well, of course they're going to say that. The fact is though that Nintendo are going to have to face up to the same realities that Sega did. They're fantastic in the creative department, and absolutely useless in the marketing department. THe GC just isn't selling enough.
You may say 'Fine. They lose money on the console and make money on the games', but if there isn't a big enough installed base (which there isn't) then even the games can't be profitable. Especially not when development costs are so high now.
To me it is a staggeringly obvious truth that Nintendo would be making much more money if it were producing games for the PS2 rather than restricting it's audience to the relatively tiny numbers who own a GC.
MS is still convinced that through sheer financial muscle it can make the Xbox brand a commercial success (if not now, then with the Xbox2). Maybe, maybe not, but the GC is Nintendo's second commercial dud in a row, and it only took two (OK, with the MegaCD and 32X thrown in) to bring Sega down as a hardware producer.
 

James45

Standard Member
I don't think the Gamecube (or the N64 for that matter) could be considered a dud. Think of the sales in Japan and remember the GBA is their major bread winner.

as for Resi Evil being disappointing?!?!:eek: :eek: what more could they have given you it was fantastic... although I'll admit SMS was a disappointment a HUGE missed opportunity for Nin.
 
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Deleted member 13294

Guest
The PC is becoming more and more front-room friendly with a burgeoning market for silent/quiet components, sound proofing and more attention on asthetics.

There is also a major drive towards convergance and the 'digital hub'. IMHO this along with wireless networking will see the PC will evolve into a entertainment device that is used in front rooms as well as bedrooms/studies.

Speaking of single platforms, does anyone remember the MSX? It was a Japanese driven standard for compatible home computers from a range of manufacturers. Although a reasonable success in their home market, they bombed in Europe and the US. Other than the PC, I don't see how any new single standard could become established well enough without a single company/consortium making monopoly profits. Who is going to fund the development and marketing needed to make it a success?
 
R

Robson

Guest
Originally posted by James45

as for Resi Evil being disappointing?!?!:eek: :eek: what more could they have given you it was fantastic... although I'll admit SMS was a disappointment a HUGE missed opportunity for Nin.
Maybe I missed something in the options, but the controls are the same as the original PS1 version I.e. Digital!! which was only like that because the Dual shock analogue controller didn't exist. I just think things have moved on since the "rotate right" "move forward" "fire" mechanics thats all. Maybe I'll buy it again second hand and give it another chance :)
 

lechacal

Novice Member
I don't think the Gamecube (or the N64 for that matter) could be considered a dud. Think of the sales in Japan
Compare weekly sales figures of GC to the PS2, even in Japan, and it's a flop. Compare sales of N64 to PS1 and it was a very poor second. Nintendo can't be anything but disappointed with the GCs sales so far.

Purely commercial question: What is the point in developing hardware (expensive) and selling it at a loss per-unit when you're never going to recoup those development costs through software sales, because the hardware isn't selling enough? If software is where the money is at, and you are a strong (maybe the strongest) company creatively then surely it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the future is developing software for a platform with a much bigger installed base? Apart from bigger software sales you haven't even got the crippling loss-leader of the hardware development to worry about.

Sega obviously decided that there was no point and have gone down this route. Nintendo now look to be in a very similar set of circumstances.

You're right that the GBA is a different story. The GBA/GB and Pokemon are the only things keeping Nintendo going at the moment, because Sony is kicking their sorry behinds in the living-room console market. Sony have had their marketing sussed from day one and that has been the difference.
 
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Robson

Guest
Originally posted by Squiffy
Other than the PC, I don't see how any new single standard could become established well enough without a single company/consortium making monopoly profits. Who is going to fund the development and marketing needed to make it a success?
Maybe, in the same way that DVD was developed and marketed by many companies together (can't remember the full details) but I think it was Sony,Panasonic,JVC etc. If a single format was developed jointly in the same way then there's no reason it couldn't be a success?
 
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Robson

Guest
Originally posted by lechacal

You're right that the GBA is a different story. The GBA/GB and Pokemon are the only things keeping Nintendo going at the moment.
It'll be interesting to see the effect that the convergence between games and mobile phones have on the GBA. Just about everybody seems to own a mobile now and the games are getting better all the time. I think the next 12-18 months will be very interesting times for Nintendo!
 

James45

Standard Member
Originally posted by lechacal
Sony have had their marketing sussed from day one and that has been the difference.
apart from all the really crap PS2 TV adverts obviously!:D Nintendo's marketing is frustratingly poor though, you get the odd bus shelter poster and now they've started doing these combo TV ads featuring various GC games both available and forthcoming (which does look very desperate when you think about it and the clips of Zelda really aren't going to shift any copies either). The thing that bugs me is that they haven't put out nearly as many demo consoles in games shops as sony or ms.
The Gamecube is a great achievement for Nintendo and fantastic console it would be a great pity to see it lose out because of poor marketing.
 
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Deleted member 13294

Guest
Originally posted by Robson
Maybe, in the same way that DVD was developed and marketed by many companies together (can't remember the full details) but I think it was Sony,Panasonic,JVC etc. If a single format was developed jointly in the same way then there's no reason it couldn't be a success?
Sorry - it is in no way the same.

The companies you mention make a profit from the DVD players. None of the console manufacturers make money on the hardware - they recoup it from the software.

If a company cannot guarantee getting their money back somehow (i.e. from software), why would they fund the development and marketing of loss-making hardware?

The only way would be to make money from the hardware and its components, and that gives us the industry model that is the PC.
 
R

Robson

Guest
Originally posted by Squiffy
Sorry - it is in no way the same.

The companies you mention make a profit from the DVD players. None of the console manufacturers make money on the hardware - they recoup it from the software.

If a company cannot guarantee getting their money back somehow (i.e. from software), why would they fund the development and marketing of loss-making hardware?

Thats because DVD players are sold at a profit. You have to remember that originally DVD players were quite expensive when they first came out.

The current situation with console manufacturers is that an individual company such as Sony will take on the burden of development costs, R&D, manufacturing costs, advertising etc. This then creates a problem. To make money from the hardware side it would have to be quite expensive (remember the original PS1 was £400) and would have to sell a certain amount of units to achieve profit. Or the other way is to sell the hardware cheap and make money from the software by way of a license fee which leads to expensive games (which is the situation we're at now.)

Now, we know that console hardware at the moment doesn't sell at anything above £200. The XBOX proved this. But that's only because of the competitive nature of the business.

There must be about 100 million people into console gaming, thats quite a large target audience. If all of those bought the new single format machine, not only could the hardware be cheaper but the games too.

I think we'd all pay £200/£300 for a console if the software was a lot cheaper?
 
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Deleted member 13294

Guest
That still won't work.

Even with a purchasing userbase that big, it's unlikely costs could be so low. The PC market is around 130m units annually, and costs (for a decent PC games rig) are much more than the £200 to £300 you quote.

The only way to get the cost down low enough would be to subsidise the hardware, and you can't do that without controlling and getting a cut of the software licenses.

Any commodity single platform is going to have to be built on commodity kit - and that basically means a PC. It might run a different OS (i.e. Linux), it might come in a trendy front-room friendly box, but basically it will be a PC.
 
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Azrikam

Guest
Originally posted by James45
apart from all the really crap PS2 TV adverts obviously!:D
:D Gotta love the new ones that seem to imply that you need 4 thumbs to be able to use a PS2 controller correctly. (Hmm, there might be something to that)
 

Sinzer

Well-known Member
Nintendo recently released that it costs them $20 to produce a GC (sourced from Gamespy).

Considering they have sold millions worldwide, that makes it opposite to a flop, in fact the only console that has proved a dud is the X-Box, which is currently costing MS billions! (Sourced from theregister incl. the cost of X-Box Live, production of X-Box and MS news releases stating they are having to plow in 2 billion to reverse the current situation).

Magicbox recent hardware sales show that GC is 2,000 behind PS2 in weekly sales, X-Box is still 30,000 behind.

Slightly off topic, but at least back up arguments with sources, rather than speculation.

GC is doing poorly in Europe, but that is due to many of the big releases (Resi Evil Zero, Metroid Prime, Zelda) not coming out over here till next year. Also, European gamers do not warm to such games as Pikmin, Super Monkey Ball or Animal Crossing, the market is not large enough nor mature enough.

There is enough competition to perpetuate the console market competition, and yes if a common language did develop then you would likely see console prices rise to PC cost levels.
 
R

Robson

Guest
Not off topic at all, It just goes to show that things don't cost as much to make as we think.

I still think that to sell 100million units at say £200 is enough for any company to make money on a single format. That's a revenue of £20,000,000,000 which if my maths is correct is £20billion?

As you say MS are plowing another £2billion into the XBOX, but if it sold 100 million units they would make approx £15 billion revenue. Split 3 ways between manufacturer/distributor/retailer. Thats still £3billion profit for MS alone?

Or am I missing something?
 

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