This is something that is either taken for granted as in “Microsoft are bringing out the 720 we will put our games on it” or treated from a fanboy perspective “Microsoft suck”. There is not a great deal of strategic thought about whether what they do is good or bad for the development of the industry overall or where they are taking us.
So who are these people? Well there are the 3 entrenched console manufacturers who once built the industry but now often harm it. I will deal with them individually in later articles because they are very different from each other. To a degree that many people don’t understand. They are coming from completely different places with completely different corporate mindsets which makes them behave in completely different ways. Once this is taken on board it is a lot easier to understand and predict them.
Then there is the “open” platform of the PC which constantly evolves and has been with us forever. This is where we see the most innovation, much of which then trickles over into consoles. We don’t see as much innovation as we could and should however, because most publishers work with a console mindset. They develop mainly for the consoles and convert to PC as an afterthought. However, the lack of a platform holder is a very good thing indeed. The PC has been written off as a gaming platform many times by many pundits, yet they are always wrong and they always will be. This is because the PC has the flexibility to boldly go where consoles aren’t allowed. Often this leads to blind alleys, but sometimes it takes the industry as a whole into new places. With Web 2 the PC has massive advantages, some of which are being realised.
Nokia is often forgotten as a gaming platform. Mainly because they screwed up what should have been the most popular gaming platform of all, nGage. I went and visited them in Helsinki before the n Gage was announced and was fascinated by their ambition and very dubious about their execution of it. They made the platform too cheaply and the games too expensively. For the platform they just took odd parts that were already lying around, mainly from their series 60 range of phones. Then they made some fundemental hardware mistakes, no shoulder buttons, a horrendous screen aspect ratio and you had to take the thing apart to change games. They sent me a pre production prototype and it is just as awful now as it was then. A big pity because a gaming phone has the great advantages that you always have it on you and it is connected. It would be brilliant if Nokia could get round to digging themselves out of their hole, but on past form don’t hold your breath.
Then there is Apple. The video iPod looks like a gaming machine, it has the componentry to be a gaming machine. And yet Apple cannot be bothered with all that money they would make from putting games on it. So far. Within 6 months we have version 6 coming out. It is inevitable that sooner or later they will start to milk the gaming potential. This is actually bigger than you may think because virtually every iPod is connected regularly to a PC. This gives the potential of hybrid games, played partially on the PC when at home and partially on the iPod when on the move. Which brings us to the iPhone. Already the functionally stunted version 1 looks more like a gaming machine than the nGage. But I don’t see where Apple are going. Surely after a few more generations the iPod and iPhone will converge into one device? Many of the components are the same and people don’t want to carry too many toys.
So this is just an introduction really to the forthcoming pieces about the 3 console platform holders. You can still reply and let everyone know what you think. Completely disagree with me if you like, I don’t mind.