Consoles and Handhelds Everywhere
by, 8th January 2013 at 12:20 AM (385 Views)
With the failure of the PS Vita to have any strong impact on the public and still lacking a killer app with mainstream appeal after one year of being on the market, sales have slowed. The 3DS similarly had a slow start but was able to bolster it's userbase with it's rich list of individual properties such as Mario and Animal Crossing, Sony has no such luck on that. The gadget world is very cutthroat, if your technology shows weakness at all, another will take your place.
Sony attempted to do this with the original PSP by touting it as a hardcore machine compared to Nintendo's Gameboy. However, what they weren't expecting was the DS to be unveiled. Before the DS, the most touted feature was always the improved graphics in a new games console. Sony most likely predicted the specs on what a successor to the GBA would be like and specced it's PSP to be better. The PSP objectively did have the better graphics capability, but the DS was so different to anything before it that it catapulted it to success. Sony made a faster horse while Nintendo invented the car, basically.
The Consumer Electronic Show(CES) held in January is a tech head's wet dream where up to the minute gadgets are unveiled. Recently Nvidia had unveiled a handheld running on android which has among other things the latest mobile graphics card, touchscreen, console quality controller, high def video output, streaming games from computer as well as playing games. If this is priced appropriately then the PS Vita is doomed as these two audiences are very close together. However, I doubt the Nvidia handheld will be priced very reasonably at all as it's features are bloated and it's a new piece of tech which will make it priced even higher. They also don't have the traditional way of making money back on selling the handheld at a loss by selling it's accessories and curating it's game library like Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony can.
The Ouya, a kickstarter funded console also running on the android platform also has a unique business model of all games having demos or free to play with in-game purchases. However, this logical conclusion to the free-to-play game model seen in online games is undermined by the fact that the Ouya runs on Android which is an open system. This is not bad in and of itself but for a games console you are basically giving away your revenue when you make it this easy to circumvent paying for things. Which is the same for the Nvidia handheld, I suppose.
The Ouya and Nvidia handheld will undermine traditional gaming in a way that not even mobile gaming has achieved. They are the start of weird hybrids of media convergence that if you look at in the long term will force traditional gaming to evolve into something that you or I may not necessarily like, but will have to live with. Always on internet for verification on your handheld or console? Costly in-game DLC knowing that you probably pirated the game and have to spend money to access over two thirds of content in the game? Being able to use your handheld as a phone? Compromising quality for the bottom line? All digital games library? The uses of technology can be exciting but also daunting.
On another note, I hear some leeway into hacking the 3DS is underway. This is a very bad thing. The reason Final Fantasy Type 0 and the Miles Edgeworth sequel didn't come out in English countries was due to the PSP and DS being hacked open like an open book. It didn't give them incentive to localise such niche titles in English whereas in Japan you have die hard otaku willing to support their franchises. I know that after the flash carts for DS came out suddenly all my friends and family had a DS with a flash cart. I sure felt like a sucker for buying all those pokemon games like an honest Orson, but I digress. It also discourages publishers from investing in your device in the first place. I guarantee that the DS would still have had at least another year of games if it was not hacked.
People use the excuse, "Oh it's for all the homebrew!". Tell me what homebrew in the last nine or so years the DS has been out that's worthwhile. I can say at least Colours was one success story which now has a sequel up on the 3DS eSHop (kind of ironic if it were to get hacked), but is one success story worth it? People are using it to play retail games and if you say you aren't you're either a dirty liar or an outlier.
The previously mentioned is why I don't want the 3DS to be hacked. Less third party support, shorter life cycle, less revenue, less niche games, a poorer experience. If you can get something for free rather than paying for it, wouldn't you want to do it?
Perhaps I'm being a little hypocritical, my first experience playing pokemon for instance was in one of those 99-in-1 cards on a Gameboy Colour. It helped me with my reading comprehension, even! If I had never touched it I might not be the person I am today. Games can show you culture and improve you as a person, you can learn things you never would have otherwise, but somethings gotta pay the tab or the meals will stop.
EDIT: Also forgot to mention that steam are releasing a linux based console as well. They were probably forced to put it on linux as that's an open source operating system and they don't want to pay Apple or Microsoft for royalties, if they'd even let Valve use their os in the first place.
Also I'm rather cynical about kickstarter startups that reach millions of dollars because you could be an investor or already have the money beforehand and pump it through kickstarter to make some buzz and free publicity. Even though Kickstarter get 10% or so of the money made it's probably still worth it.
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