Friday, May 12, 2006

Why the World Needs the Big Three

In a perfect world, progress continues without the presence of competition. Innovation comes naturally. Prices remain modest and products are affordable. Old and stagnant ideas are replaced by new and exciting developments. But we do not live in a pefect world and so such struggles do not always occur so easily.

But there is still hope for the video game world. With a market that rakes in over $30 billion a year, there's plenty of the pie to go around. And with this latest E3 showing, we can clearly see the three major game companies are here to stay for at least this generation, and hopefully the next. But why do we need three different console manufactures with three partially-overlapping game libraries?

The answer is simple.

Diversity. Innovation. Competitive pricing. All these qualities come from the saturated video games market. Imagine if there was only Nintendo. Sure, there would still be plenty of innovation. But the push for next-gen graphics would take an extreme backseat. Mature content would limited, which would severely limit the overall user base and key video game demographic (males age 18-25). GTA and Metal Gear Solid would be replaced by cute and cuddly. Trust me, even the most loyal of Nintendo fanboys do get tired of the endless stream of Mario-inspired games that include his cast of merry friends and enemies.

What if Sony was actually did drive all its competitors out of the business with its all encompasing Playstation system? We would still have lots of third-party software developers, but we'd also probably have very few exciting and new game mechanics. We'd probably also have the same game hardware for several years longer. And you can expect we'd also be still waiting for an online answer to what pc gaming has had for years.

Now, take Microsoft's XBox system. Yes, it has a terrific online component in XBox Live. Yes, it definetely appeals to an older age group than Sony and Nintendo. But it also has that distinctive PC feeling to it. The original XBox was in fact, a plastic box with off-the-shelf PC components inside. It may just be too prematrue to draw conclusions from Microsoft's comparably short game console history, but XBox's software hits have for the most part been few and far between. 90% of XBox owners might have bought the fabled Halo 2, but then again, they didn't call it the Halo-Box for nothing.

All three complement each other nicely. They keep each other in check as well. Almost like some weird, capitalist "Separation of Powers". Each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Far from stagnant, the game industry is swiftly moving ahead into the HD era. It's a world of 1080p resolution, built-in wi-fi, harddrive storage, motion sensitive controllers, and of course, yearly EA game sequels.

Truely, there's something for everyone. So hold off on that mutual fund a bit longer. Let your World of Warcraft characters rest a bit. This is the year of the Big Three. So, aren't you glad you can take your pick?

1 comment:

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