Rants and raves about all the latest in video games and other forms of mindless entertainment.

July 24, 2005

A little bird once asked...

I was recently asked a few questions by someone who chose to remain anonymous, and considering the weight of such issues, I've decided to answer with formal reply. Should make for some interesting conversation...

1. Who will finish in 2nd place worldwide, next-gen, behind Sony?

I think first and foremost is will Sony actually finish first? I think in the long-term, the answer is most definitely yes. But that's looking ten years down the road, and I'd like to focus on who will be where in say, 5 years. I think if by chance the Xbox 360 hits off in North America with unprecedented success, we could easily see a tie between Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Given that Xbox 360 will have the seasonal lead, 360 will be the industry leader temporarily...by default. It'd be like claiming captain of team of one. Nothing to be proud of.

Playstation 3 will also have the slight against them by launching in the down season of gaming sales for both software and hardware. Relying on hype to sell consoles isn't commonly unsuccessful, but it isn't a solid foot to stand on. I think it's also a given that Playstation 3 will launch at a higher price than Xbox 360, so right there are a few reasons why the Playstation 3 will get off to a slow start. Theoretically, Microsoft could easily announce a price drop on P-day, but I doubt that would happen. Industry trends point to a price drop happening a year or more after a consoles release, taking into consideration the massive losses most companies endure. Minimization is key. Sure enough though, come the holidays, Xbox 360 could see a price drop and the Playstation 3 may still be at it's inflated price. This didn't stop the Playstation 2 from out maneuvering the Dreamcast, so now we're entering dodgey territory. Overall, Playstation 3 still has significant brand association over Xbox. Let's not forget, nothing will change the fact that the Playstation brand has the most software titles available, and most of the Xbox 360's hot item software will be multiplatform, so I can definitely see people spending the extra cash on the Playstation 3, to get the same game in higher definition with slightly better visuals. The enourmous array of the Playstation 3's features will only sweeten the deal.

I have no doubts that the Playstation 3 will be industry leader again, and Xbox 360 will definitely follow behind in second. It will be a close race initially, but Ps3 will undoubtedly pass 360 in due time, and it will take a significant lead. What about Revolution? Well, it will launch much later, with a less impressive spec sheet, and will mostly feature Nintendo's key mascot titles. Nintendo will carry through with most of it's current fanbase, and it will not grow. That is almost certain at this point. So why did I not consider Rev into my equations? Revolution is a non-issue at this point. Avid gamers will buy it as a secondary console to the flagship machine, either Playstation 3 or Xbox 360.

2. Where will Nintendo be in the industry in 5 years?

Nintendo will still be Nintendo. They will continue to produce games that feature Mario, Donkey Kong, Samus, and the like, and will stay strong with a user base so faithful, that even the Pope is envious of Iwata-san. I don't think Nintendo's fanbase will ever deplete to the point of uselessness, but in the coming years, technology prices will rise to a point where an audience of 9 or 10 million over 5 years won't be enough to sustain a profitable company. In 5 years Nintendo will still have Revolution, and more than likely a successor to that, but unless Nintendo starts competing with Sony and Microsoft on the same level with the same sized pockets, the inevitable will happen, but not for a long while down the road.

To be slightly snarky, yet entirely honest, in 5 years Nintendo will still operate under the guise of "innovation" despite only a small percentage of their games actually being innovative. Nintendo will still pretend that profits earned from GameBoy and Nintendo DS count as "success" on the console front, and Reggie will always believe their console is the strongest because they have sold "2 BILLION! !", despite the fact that at that point Sony will have surassed them on the pieces of software sold. Their audience will shrink to a niche of a niche, and they couldn't be happier. They'll be last, but they'll be fine with it. This is of course as long as they continue on their current path, things can still change and it isn't too late for Nintendo to pull a 180 with Revolution..."OMG! PUN!".

3. Where will Microsoft be in the industry in 5 years?

Second place believing they'll eventually acheive first. I think the fact that Microsoft expects to be first in Japan and worldwide next generation is stigma enough to cement their silver medal. Consider it fate's way of rubbing it in for lying about theirs and other companies hardware, while making idiotic claims like "Most powerful console ever", and "E3-scale event", despite the over zealous hyperbole. Microsoft's deep pockets will continue to fuel their arrogance, but Sony will continue to beat them.

I've actually been thinking that Revolution may have a chance to over throw Xbox 360, but it's not a scenario likely to happen yet entirely possible. Xbox 360 could launch too early and see dismal holiday sales (and by dismal I mean in comparison to other holiday launches). Xbox 360 will be competing with Playstation 2 and Gamecube this winter. Ken Kutaragi was entirely accurate in that somewhat obscure reference: Xbox 360 is launching at a time when Playstation 2 and Gamecube are going to see some of their highest profile games yet. We're talking games that have been written in chalk, erased, and rewrittn in ink for the past 3 years, high profile. It's almost certain that both Ps2 and GC will see a price drop before the holiday season. Possibly a 79.99 dollar tag for the GC, and potentially a 129.99 or even 99.99 for the Playstation 2. Being realistic, Playstation 2 and Gamecube will rippen fully this holiday season and I think it's possible that most people will find gaming pleasure from their still useful toys than new ones on the market. With this, MS comes out with no significant numbers on the Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 is poised to continue it's reign come launch time. Then, when Revolution launches, we have a reoccurrance of what happened earlier: MS VS Nintendo for second place. While Nintendo will still be at the disadvantage, remember that Nintendo has Japan and Japan will always support Nintendo over Microsoft. Also consider that Gamecube launched some time after the Xbox, and Gamecube was once in second place this generation with Xbox pulling up the tail end. As they say, it's not over until it's over...

And now for a few answers with a little more brevity...

4. What are your thoughts of the Hot Coffee Rockstar GTA scandal?

Rockstar is getting what they deserve. They were careless, and the AO rating slapped on GTA is their punishment. Kudos to them for fixing their error, but why all the lies? First it was l33t modders, then it was l33t haxxors, and now it's l33t programmers who think their too l33t, that no one else can be as l33t as them, thus making any l33t programmer's l33tn3ss not nearly as l33t as Rockstar's, thusly making it impossible to find Hot Coffee. What the fuck? I say walk with your head in shame Rockstar, everyone is watching from here on...

5.What would the industry be like if Sony was the only hardware maker? Would it be better or worse?

We'd be back where we started with Nintendo being the only viable platform, and software prices being held dishonestly high for profit. Creativity would still flourish, but perhaps more on the third party side than anything.

This actually raises a strong issue I have with the industry: why not have one universal platform for gaming to take place on? Do you go out and buy a Paramount DVD player to watch Top Gun, or a Warner Brother's DVD player to watch the Matrix trilogy? No, we all own a DVD player, that plays DVDs. Why can't we ever just get a "game machine" that plays games? If Sony were the only entity on the market right now, under the current conditions, I'd say we were in bad shape. Competition sprouts creativity. But under newer conditions perhaps akin to the way the DVD format has evolved, Sony being the only hardware manufacturer might not be a bad thing. Other companies who also own shares in the format of Playstation 6/7/8, could release platofrms of their own, and voila, we have the most efficient way to run the gaming industry. You pick the machine, but you also pick the games. One or all, it wouldn't matter. Multiplatform games are gone, and the world can now enjoy games without having to mark allegiances with one comany or another. I don't think that will happen, but I'd be happy to see it if it ever did.

My apologies for not including links to relevant stories or information. I may or may not update later...don't hold your breath. Hope you find these answers to your liking Sir Anonymous, and whoever else happens to graze through the walls of text.


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