Console manufacturers don't want much, just the impossible.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | May 27, 2013 - 03:08 AM |
Tagged: xbox one, ps4, consolitis, consoles

So, as Wired editorial states it: hardcore console gamers don't want much, just the impossible. They want a "super-powered box" tethered to their TV; they want the blockbuster epics and innovative indie titles; they want it to "just work" for what they do. The author, Chris Kohler, wrote his column to demonstrate how this is, and has for quite some time been, highly unprofitable.

I think the bigger problem is that the console manufacturers want the impossible.

Console manufacturers have one goal: get their platform in your house and require their hand be in the pocket of everything you do with it. They need to make an attractive device for that to be true, so they give it enough power to legitimately impress the potential buyer and price it low enough to catch the purchasing impulse. Chances are this involves selling the box under cost at launch and for quite some time after.

But, if all of this juicy control locks the user into overspending in the long run, then it is worth it...

... right?

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But Microsoft should be thankful that I cost them money to be acquired as a customer.

Well, looking at the Wired article, not only are console gamers ultimately overspending: it is still not enough! Consoles truly benefit no-one! The console manufacturers are not doing any more than maybe breaking even, at some point, eventually, down the line, they hope. Microsoft and Sony throw obnoxious amounts of money against one another in research, development, and marketing. Redundant technologies are formed to pit against their counterparts with billions spent in marketing to try to prove why either choice is better.

All of this money is spent to corral users into a more expensive experience where they can pocket the excess.

Going back to the editorial's claims: with all of this money bleeding out, Microsoft wants to appeal more broadly and compensate the loss with more cash flowing in. Sure, Microsoft has wanted a foothold in the living room for decades at this point, but the Xbox Division bounces between profitability and huge losses; thus, they want to be an entertainment hub if just for the cash alone.

But think back to the start, these troubles are not because it is impossible to satisfy hardcore gamers. These troubles are because Microsoft and Sony cannot generate revenue from their acquired control quicker than they can bleed capital away trying to acquire that control, or at least generate it more than just barely fast enough.

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The other solution, which I have felt for quite some time is the real answer (hence why I am a PC gamer), has a large group of companies create an industry body who governs an open standard. Each company can make a substantial profit by focusing on a single chunk of the platform -- selling graphics processors, maintaining a marketplace, or what-have-you -- by leveraging the success of every other chunk.

This model does work, and it is the basis for one of humanity's most successful technology products: the internet.

As a side note: this is also why PC gaming was so successful... Microsoft, developers, Steam/GoG/other marketplaces, and hardware vendors were another version of this... albeit Microsoft had the ability to override them and go in whatever direction they wanted. They didn't, until Windows RT.

And the internet might even be the solution. The web browser is capable, today, of providing amazing gaming experiences and it does not even require a plugin. It is getting more powerful, even faster than the rate at which underlying hardware has evolved.

You could, in some browsers today, plug a USB flash drive into your computer; browse to some "index.html" file on it; and run an Unreal Engine 3 (and as Epic stated in a recent interview, soon Unreal Engine 4) game that is programmed in Javascript and is stored on that USB device. Never an internet connection required -- although if you wanted online features, web browsers are kind-of good at that, go figure.

To end on an ironic note, that makes a web browser more capable of offline play than our current understanding of the Xbox One (and Sony has said nothing either way, for that matter).

I guess the takeaway message is: love the web browser, it "just works".


Source: Wired

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May 27, 2013 | 08:46 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

At some point in time, the Console manufacturers are just going to have to come to terms with their attempts to force a closed ecosystem on the consumer, and give up on trying! Any technology, that the dedicated gaming consoles use to make their GPUs perform better than the current retail(SKU) equivalents, will soon find its way into that the retail channels for anyone to purchase, as the competition in the retail market for better perfoming CPU/APUs is fierce!
Console makers have, and will always have to offer some form of Killer application, that is only available on their brand of console to get most people to buy into their ecosystem! In the end, console makers are going to have to make their consoles act more like a general purpose PC/HTPC, while not skimping on acceptable gaming performence! Any attempt at forcing a totally closed ecosystem on gamers, will simply not work! In the future there will be an open hardware gaming platform, built around the Linux OS, with Open Source drivers, just as there is beginning to be Open hardware platforms offered for the server market! The independent gaming companys will, using the linux OS, pool their resources and develop an Industry Standard Open hardware/drivers/OS platform, as they can not afford to be at the mercy of Sony, or Microsoft!

May 27, 2013 | 12:44 PM - Posted by dredd (not verified)

Linux is a joke. There is no gaming support for a reason. The OS has very little support from Nvidia and if you have problems with the OS who are you gonna call? At least Microsoft has actual tech support.

May 27, 2013 | 12:54 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

How often do people call Microsoft for tech support except to reauthorize license keys which are wrongly identified as "not-genuine". Most people call the OEMs or, if shortly after purchase, stores for support.

Which, by the way, is the answer to your question. When Linux has a problem you can call the OEMs for support.

... Or friends, small business computer repair shops, family members, community support, and so forth.

May 27, 2013 | 02:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Family member? To explain me something about Linux? They barely know hoy to use Windows! hahhah

May 28, 2013 | 03:25 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How about this?

When shit hits the fan, Microsoft provides product support. Maybe not technical support, but product support like updates.

Microsoft also learns from their mistakes, eg. Vista >>> 7

Money drives development, innovation and fixes. With Windows, all the consumer has to do is cry loud enough and wave some money around and Microsoft is more than happy to oblige with any demands, given the right price of course. In contrast, advanced Linux features are hard to get right, even with the magical touch of a Linux expert, because none of it is supported or loosely supported(eg. gaming on Linux).

May 28, 2013 | 08:06 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

And for Microsoft's price in, Initial and continuing costs, not to mention the added training cost/lost productivity, many large enterprises are finding that Linux and the properly trained Linux professionals on staff, is the more cost effective solution! Why have there been hardware standards PCI/SATA/USB, these are industry standard BUS/disk/external hardware/firmware standards, why not a industry standard OS(Linux), where enterprises can have an Industry Standard GUI/UI, where enterprises are unfettered, buy an unregulated Defacto Public Utility, M$.
The amount of Microsoft market share, is unhealthy for any market, Vista and windows 8, where pushed out stillborn, as far as the enterprise is concerned. As in other posts, Google is now using debian wheezy, the open version of Linux, instead of the previous Google proprietorial version of linux! Google knows that the market is going to be open source Hardware/Software, and google will save Billions, in costs, and training by utilizing an Industry Standard OS/hardware, same for Facebook!

May 28, 2013 | 08:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, Microsoft learns from their mistakes, eg. Windows 8 >>> Windows 7.

Oh, wait...

May 28, 2013 | 09:52 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Windows 8 is better than Windows 7 and if you W8 bashers would take all of half a day to learn the new shortcuts and appreciate the fact that you can navigate the OS/programs faster/with less clicks and that the OS, as a whole, is quite a bit faster than Windows 7 you'd actually grow to appreciate it. I swear, people would rather just sit here and complain rather than learn their OS.

May 28, 2013 | 02:09 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No! it is not learning that is the problem, most people just need an OS to run their computer, and not M$ trying to push an Adware/closed ecosystem/bloatware/app store, in front of users faces, while they are trying to use their PCs/laptops! Windows 7 works just fine, then on to Linux!
It's the TIFKAM that must go, and all of its underlying framework! No need to reinvent the wheel, M$, desktop applications are just fine, I do not want a cellphone/tablet simulator stapled to the front end of my OS, My OS's job is to run my computer, and not run me!

May 27, 2013 | 04:06 PM - Posted by deowll (not verified)

I have never, ever, under any circumstances what so ever gotten any support from MS from a human.

Android is a flavor of Linux and it is big. Of course support of it is just as automated and perverse as support of MS products.

May 27, 2013 | 11:03 AM - Posted by ET3D (not verified)

So on one hand you have a model in which console companies might make a small amount of money. On the other hand you're suggesting a model in which console companies are guaranteed to not make any money, and, in the case of Microsoft, most likely bleed money from the Windows side too.

I do think that consoles will die. I think they will be replaced by mobile devices connected to TV and controllers (wirelessly). But for now the console companies still hope that their consoles will make money, and to do that they try to add more functionality to their consoles, because that doesn't require a lot of per-console cost.

May 27, 2013 | 11:42 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It is going to be Sony and M$ versus the Independent Gaming Industry (steam et all)! This contest will be the final conflect between, the companys that think the closed ecosystem is the solution, and the Independent Gaming Industry, which will pool its resources to develop an independent Industry Standard OPEN Hardware/OS/dirver based gaming solution, without the Extra layers of Middle Men(Sony,M$,etc) taking all of the independents profits! The open hardware movement, along with Linux, will be the next wave, with gaming hardware and OSs being more like the current Linux, PCIe, OpenGL, Opencl based standards! In fact, in the new open ecosystem, hardware/OSs/drivers will be developed and funded, in a manner similar to the interstate highway system/Internet or other necessary technologys with a public/private investment in a common technology that benifits everyone in computer based gaming or other computing markets! The closed OEM PC computing platforms are on their way out, as the cost of maintaining closed driver software/OSs/hardware as opposed to the open hardware/driver software/OSs makes the OEMs, who continue to push a closed Hardware/software ecosystem, unable to compete in the new open market!

May 27, 2013 | 12:41 PM - Posted by dredd (not verified)

Linux wont build any momentum. Every major game is based on DirectX and NOT OpenGL. OpenGL has done absolutely NOTHING to sway developers over to their side. Then you think the so called "independent game industry" will suddenly decide to rebel against Sony? Sony is inviting them with open arms to self publish their games on the PS4. I think you live in a fantasy land or something. Microsoft is ruining the industry by showhorning Windows 8 into their console and stressing TV over gaming. That is NOT what Nintendo is doing and based on Sony's PS4 reveal, not what they think the future is.

All these open source OSes and such never took off because you need a little thing called suport.

May 27, 2013 | 01:16 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have 2 laptops, that will never get their graphics drivers updated, beacuse Intel let the OEM's customizie the Intel Hd graphics drivers and the Laptop's OEMs will never update these customizied graphics drivers! Do you call that support! Intel can not/will not update and maintain OEM customizied Intel HD graphics drivers! Do you think the makers of proprietary OEM graphics/hardware drivers are going to continue to take advantage of their hardware buyers, much longer! How long do you think it will be before the EU or China, which are investing heavily in Linux and open hardware solutions, are going to allow Intel and its OEM partners to prematurely make their hardware obsolete, by not updating graphcs drivers, so gamers are forced to buy new hardware to get graphics driver updates! Do you think the owners of HPC computing and cloud computing servers, are not moving towards open Industry Standard Hardware! Look at google, Linux debian wheezy, on their cloud servers!

May 27, 2013 | 01:36 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

I believe you are able to edit your comments if you register a user, but I am not entirely sure... employee account and all.

May 27, 2013 | 01:57 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You are going to see Whole gaming platforms with dozens of ARM CPUs married with AMD GPUs on a single unified Memory address space (UMA) based APU in gaming solutions that are derived from technology borrowed from AMD's experience with HPC (Supercomputers) and gaming consoles! Nvidia will be in on this with their ARM/GPU products too! AMD will continue to offer x86 based options, but even the supercomputer(HPC) folks will find it cheeper to go with zillions of Arm chips, instead of the more expensave x86 chips from Intel and to a lesser extent AMD ! ARM chips are so cheep that if an ARM CPU burns out on a server chip(with many ARM CPUs), there will be an on chip spare to take over, try doing that with a few high priced Intel x86 chips, and even the deep pockets of large companys would be bled dry! ARM chips are cheeper than chiclets, and beacuse ARM only licenses the ARM design or the ARM instruction set(For a little higher fee), any company can produce an ARM chip optimized for gaming/open hardware/software standards computing!

It is going to be Open season on closed hardware/software from now on!

May 27, 2013 | 12:07 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

People keep falling into the trap by assuming "an open ecosystem" means "no-one makes money".

Fortunately, that is not true. The obvious example is Redhat, which makes well over a billion dollars by developing a flavour of Linux.

Sony, for example, could make a lot of money selling VAIO media center PCs. Microsoft could make a lot of money selling development tools and cloud infrastructure for games in which it makes sense to do that.

You do not need to own a whole pie to make money from it.

May 28, 2013 | 03:29 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The problem is that the technology the consumer wants in a console is expensive but they don't want to pay up front. This creates an environment where the console manufacturer has no choice but to make money off the back end by charging high prices for features and games.

May 28, 2013 | 03:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Forgot to mention, this same logic goes for smartphones like Galaxy S3/4 and iPhones.

Most customers can't stomach a $750 purchase up front, but $200 down and $1000 over 2-3 years they can take.

The problem here is with the consumer, not the company itself. Consumers dictate how a company will act, not the other way around.

May 27, 2013 | 12:44 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Nintendo would say otherwise with the wii since they made money on every console sold. But it was far inferior to the current gen consoles.

MS and Sony say that with this new gen of consoles they won't be losing as much and will recover the cost of producing consoles much faster than last gen due to them using over the counter parts unlike this past gen. This will make it much easier to recover from their deficits this time around.

But with the way the current economy is, time will tell. Although I do see MS dominating due to their shift in which consumers they are after. Which really sucks because with their console it looks like I won't own my games at all.

May 27, 2013 | 12:49 PM - Posted by dredd (not verified)

Microsoft will not do well with this. People already have Cable boxes with dvrs, already have TVs with streaming video, already can do stuff on their PC for free. The backlash is pretty huge from the gaming community. Gamers, NOT people watching TV are the ones who have been the early adopters, the ones who can and are willing to stomach the initial cost of a gaming console. The XBOX brand is big because of gamers. My sister would never buy an xbox one not even for the features it has because it is still an xbox and that s a gaming system. She doesn't play Games. Microsoft must have missed the part where gamers, not people watching tv, made them $224,000,000 in 24 hours by buying Halo 4. Yeah the Wii sold but the software sales were the worst of all consoles. You can say Zelda sold so much, or Mario Galaxy sold so much, or smash bros. The thing is the people who bought those games that actually made a ton ofmoney were gamers!!

May 27, 2013 | 01:58 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Dude the gaming community is a bunch of hypocrits. Look at Call of Duty and all those petitions against it yet it's still the number 1 selling PC game in history.

The fact of the matter is that hardcore gaming community only makes up a small portion. The majority of the gamers like everyone I know only buys sports game, call of duty, or a halo and that is their gaming. out of 9 of my friends that have consoles, I'm the only one who buys an uncharted, tomb raider etc..

Sure the initial adoption will be all hardcore gamers/fanboys of the company, but I can guarantee you that of the 70 million user base, maybe 20 million are like me, the other 50 are your people who maybe buy 1 or 2 games a year.

Once the Xbox ONE hits a sweetspot price point it's gonna sell like hot cakes. And with the amount of money MS can throw at it, it's no question it will sell well.

May 27, 2013 | 05:11 PM - Posted by Joe (not verified)

This is the year Linux takes over ! LOL

May 27, 2013 | 08:31 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Linux is not taking over in a single year, it already owns the smartphone/tablet market: Android Linux kernel based OS, HPC computers, Linux kernel based custom distros! Google: Linux debian wheezy! Steambox Linux ubuntu on steam, Dell linux

for gaming!

Linux will not take over the desktop market in a single year, but as more big name OEMs start developing for Linux, more smaller OEM's will be able to break out from under the M$ thumb, as open linux drivers from all hardware component makers become available! It is like a snowball effect, the ball is rolling and it will grow bigger!

May 28, 2013 | 10:53 AM - Posted by Vince Alex (not verified)

I find the ps3 more versatile and reliable than the crappy roku 2 or any dvd/blu ray device. And I would rather have a ps4 or xbox one in the living room than a whole bunch of devices cluttering the place. Pc is awesome and more powerful but it's still awkward in the living room when you need to rely on the keyboard and mouse.

Both of the xbox one and ps4 share almost the same hardware except for some minor apu tweaks(ms directx, sony opengl based) and type of ram used, MS ddr3 vs sony gddr5. I guess exclusive games will be the highlight point of these 2 systems.

As for linux, yes it's embedded all over the place but bsd and windows 7/8 kernel can also be embedded. There are too many linux distros, too many packaging systems, too many crappy DE's that belong in the 1990's(except for kde and unity), too many dependencies, too reliant on the internet to install software, too fragmented compared to windows and too many bugs, crashes, freezes that says I'm still stuck in the windows 98 1990's type theme. You can run linux for web browsing, email, music, movies, some steam games etc... just like windows but be ready for the unreliability, not intuitive, ugliness, lack of professional applications, of almost every linux distro you encounter.

May 28, 2013 | 04:51 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Sony PS4, OS BSD( Berkeley Software Distribution) derived based on Unix, as was Linux, and Opengl! No M$ here! Same AMD Based APU, but the PS4 has a better GPU and 8 gigs of DDR5, + no M$! BSD and Linux, same Unix goodness, and did I say, no M$! No M$, or Intel Inside, and no M$ reagon locks, or always connected to the M$ cloud, to make up for the Xbox's lack of designed power, skimping are we M$, and scaming with that extra cloud power, that is really a de facto, always online, if the user wants better game play!
PS4 with opengl and BSD(unix based), M$ more windoze BSD(blue screen of Death)! Mo Xbox for me, thank you, MonkeyBoy Ballmer is up to his old monkey shines again!

May 28, 2013 | 04:55 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

edit [Mo] to NO, a very definite NO! sloppy typing!

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