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Microsoft to Introduce GBA-competitor? 289

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the xbox-in-the-palm-of-your-hand dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It seems that Nintendo will have a competition in the handheld market soon. ZDnet has an article that says Microsoft's plan to introduce a 'Media Pad' which includes among other things 'serve as a portable game player in conjunction with Microsoft's Xbox video game console.' So I guess the news I heard regarding their interest in the portable industry will soon come true, the question is, can they take the crown from Nintendo?"
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Microsoft to Introduce GBA-competitor?

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  • They get Mario Kart Advance. Damn, that game is just too good.
    • Or Tony Hawk 2. That game really impressed me, and was just about the only reason I bought the system (I swore to myself I'd give up Nintendo systems after the N64).

      I wouldn't mind an XBox handheld, but they've got to do what they're doing with the XBox (sort of): get some high-powered developers to port some great titles, and try to keep costs relatively even (around Nintendo's $100).

  • What if.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Uttles (324447)
    This is just a brainstorm-produced idea, not based in reality, but imagine if Microsoft found some way to interface their portable not only with the Xbox, but also with PS2 and GCN? I think the best thing about the GBA is that if you go to a friend's house who has a GCN, you can just plug in as another controller with your portable. Imagine if MS's new device could plug into them all... it's not like the consoles don't already have 3rd party controllers...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, like, and imagine... if like your computer could transform into a giant, like, robot penguin... and, like, beat up those kids that stole your lunch money. That would be SOOO cool.

    • by plover (150551) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:53PM (#2798772) Homepage Journal
      Three Game Cubes for the kids with quick eyes,
      Seven PlayStation 2s for the teens who are stoned.
      Nine XBoxes for mortal men, doomed to play Project Gotham Racing until 4:00 AM,
      One gamepad for the pocket and home.

      One gamepad to play them all,
      One gamepad to find them,
      One gamepad to play Tony Hawk
      And in the darkness grind 'em.
      In the land of Microsoft
      Where the shadows lie.
    • NeoGeo Pocket could hook up with Sega Dreamcast.
      4 or five games were released that could be played across the two systems.

      I don't see any problems with this idea, just as long as the protocols are standardized among the hardward developers or if the game developer has deep enough pockets to spring for the technology development.
  • by Transient0 (175617) on Monday January 07, 2002 @11:58AM (#2798446) Homepage
    Based on the information in the article, i doubt that this will be actual competition for the GBA. The device seems to be more of a next-generation PDA than a portable game system. It is likely that it will be far more expensive than the GBA and will cater to an entirely different market.

    Still, it is encouraging to see renewed interest in the handheld gaming industry, which has been so long dormant.
    • Not only that, they're saying it'll have much less beefy power then most equipment on the market - it sounds like they're not even pushing for graphical processing gear in there. Probably the games for this device would be solitare, nibbles, and tetris, not Doom and Kart games.
    • The GBA has a beautiful (if dim) display, fantastic graphic capabilities for its size, runs on 2 AA batteries, and cost me $90. This vaporware device from MS isn't even close, and I don't think it's intended to be.

      I have to agree that it looks like an attempt to get into the PDA market. Honestly, I'm surprised it's taken MS this long to make a push for it. A device like this would be convenient, popular, and completely proprietary. One has to wonder if they're a bit late getting into the market, though. Most people who want a PDA already have one--except me. :-( And profit margins can't be too great with Visor units nearing the $100 mark. Then again, we know MS isn't always interested in short term profitability--not that they should be. If taking a loss for a couple years rewards them with 75% market share 3 or 4 years down the line, it's worth it. Witness IE--they provided it for free simply to blow the (admittedly poor) competition into oblivion. They've been >80% successful in this endeavor.

      Wait and see, wait and see, I s'pose...

  • StrongARM is Intel (Score:4, Interesting)

    by johnjones (14274) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:00PM (#2798455) Homepage Journal
    Intel got exclusive rights to StrongARM

    since GBA is just a ARM7 + custom sound off the APB then it would not be hard to do the same sort of thing

    differant enough that nitendo cant sue and developers have to recompile

    but easy enought that you could have a compiler switch do all the work (except the sound and that could be redone easy enough)

    really its just a way for intel to push StrongARM and StronARM2 aka Xscale

    regards

    john jones
    • Intel got exclusive rights to StrongARM

      Nintendo got exclusive rights to Atlantis

      since GBA is just a ARM7 + custom sound off the APB

      Wrong. The GBA programming model includes a 16.78 MHz ARM7TDMI, plus custom chips that do DMA (that is, hardware-accelerated memcpy()), legacy tone generation, sound FIFOing, pulse-width modulation, and background and sprite scrolling, scaling, and rotation. (Read More... [gbadev.org])

      different enough that nitendo cant sue and developers have to recompile but easy enought that you could have a compiler switch do all the work

      Sorry, it's not as easy as a recompile of a program that uses the Allegro library [sourceforge.net]. The graphics subsystems may be too different. AFAIK, Windows CE devices use only a dumb frame buffer; GBA has six modes, three character graphics modes (some include affine mapping) with up to 128 sprites on top, and three framebuffer modes with up to 128 sprites on top.

      (except the sound and that could be redone easy enough)

      Heck, Nintendo even calls the GBA's FIFO-based sound system "Direct Sound," no relation to Microsoft's DirectSound.

    • You're sort of blowing off the ARM7. The GBA has a pretty kickin' processor, the ARM7TDMI which is being used in a variety of PDAs now or coming soon. (Though the GBA is running slowly - 16MHz - to save battery life.) I've been trying to figure out how much of an effort it would be to port Linux for ARM [linux.org.uk] to the GBA.

      If you could get Linux running on the GBA, you could sell a 256 meg cartridge with the system and lots of empty space to play with. This would allow a whole bunch of capabilities:

      • MP3 Player
      • Internet access via modem attached to phone or mobile via the GBA Link cable.
      • Web browser
      • Multi-player games over the net
      • Downloading additional game ROMs and MP3s
      • Java for easy development
      • etc.
      This would kick ass and be A LOT cheaper than any solution the Microsoft could come up with (or maybe even Palm). If someone is really tricky, they could include a GSM SIM-card in the cartidge for wireless access right out of the box. The platform is a LOT more expandable than I think Nintendo is letting on right now.

      -Russ

  • Sony? Sega? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FortKnox (169099) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:00PM (#2798457) Homepage Journal
    So I guess the news I heard regarding their interest in the portable industry will soon come true, the question is can they take the crown from Nintendo.

    Nintendo fought off both Sega and Sony, two big companies. Sony forced Sega to go software only, but we still see nintendoes everywhere. The GB audience is little kids. They know "Game Boy" better than anything MS puts out.

    This article is just a slashdot crack at MS, though. "Lets point out the monopoly" article! The way the slashdot community fights with Microsoft is funny, and has quite a pattern. 'Do whatever it takes' is generally the big picture. It isn't about crappy software lately, because the government saw some monopoly qualities, that's what slashdot looks into heavily. The truth is, most people that use linux exclusively hasn't even tried Win2K, which has yet to crash or bluescreen on me. Netscape on linux, and mozilla on linux crashes more than anything on win2k for me. But I'm talking to closed minds here.

    Its going to be funny when the monopoly talks die down and people start attacking MS's quality to find its stronger than the last time they used it, so their arguements are moot. Sure, XP has bugs (all new OS's do. Try and tell me that Linux 1.0 didn't crash or have bugs.), and X-Box has its share, but it is the first console released under MS's name. But by the time the monopoly craze goes away, I think you'll be surprised at where MS will be.
    • "The GB audience is little kids. They know "Game Boy" better than anything MS puts out."

      I disagree about that.

      I'm getting to the point of being annoyed with people immediately saying "Nintendo == Kids".

      There are plenty of games that are just plain fun. Who cares what your friends think if you play a nintendo game if it's fun?

      I own a Gamecube, and a Gameboy Advance (That I bought because of the linking feature with the gamecube) and I don't regret it.

      I'm a 23 year old computer game enthusiast. I own Super Mario Kart advance, Super Mario advance, Doom, and even Monster Rancher advance.

      In short, if it's fun play it. If your worried about what your friends think, don't. But don't call it "kiddie" which really doesn't mean anything.
      • I'm getting to the point of being annoyed with people immediately saying "Nintendo == Kids".

        I never said that Nintendo==Kids. I said that the audience that nintendo strives for for the gameboy is kids. I had an N64, and I think Nintendo has the best games ever (every game is fun, regardless of the title).
    • win XP != win 1.0 so your comparisons to linux 1.0 is quite lame. if you are telling me that winXP is infact a new windows alltogether, what does that say about forking? unlike linux 1.0, windowsXP is, say, windows 6.0 (NT4.0, win2000 (5.0), XP(6.0)). compare that to a more recent kernel and the comparison makes more sense.

      Second, win2000 does crash. My wife crashed it last night with just a single instance of realplayer running. Granted it didn't 'blue screen' but accepting no input and just plain freezing is not quite the advancement in stability you talk about. I will concede that MS has done better with 2000 and I assume with XP as well. But guess what? So has linux. Linux bashers used it 1-2 years ago and they still cry 'no-user-friendly-apps'. Guess what? Linux has evolved faster than anything out there including windows. You talked about Netscape and Mozilla... Ever tried Galeon? Konqueror (in it's new incarnation) ? Just as windows has evolved to be more 'stable' (as you say), Linux has just gotten better. Try evolution..., galeon..., staroffice...

      And yes I dual boot to win2000. Actually, I have it on my laptop. The last time I used it was quite a while ago. Why? well, I can't get a lot of features in IE that i get in galeon. Tabbed-view. Bookmark-management..

      You are right, Linux proponents can't always use "it's more stable" arguement to the same affect as before. But Linux is still a lot more stable. Windows is just catching up. And on the flip side, Windows-proponents can't use the "It's non use-friendly" arguement anymore. In fact, everytime i boot to windows, i feel boxed-in with the lack of tools and options that i boot right back to linux. you should give a recent distribution a try. you'll be surprized.

    • Do you want Linux on every desktop?
      Isn't that a monopoly?
      Think about what you wish for...

      No, that isn't what *I* wish for. Neither do I want M$ on every desktop. I simply want a software market free of underhanded manipulation. I want to buy a PC with either (or neither) OS without wondering what signed-in-blood contracts MS may have or had with the OEM's

      I want a market where the competition truly is on quality, not who can throw the largest bribes around.

      I've said before in many posts I happen to like Microsoft's products. Just not their practices.

      GTRacer
      - Think you're in shape? Try DDR on Catastrophic...

    • ok wise ass... my windows xp just rebooted itself for no reason because I selected the desktop properties... and continues to do so everytime I try to select the desktop properties.
  • Unhappy developers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by damieng (230610) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:01PM (#2798464) Homepage Journal
    While Nintendo currently have the hand-held crown it stopped accepting developers for the GBA a long time ago claiming that 400 was enough. From the handful of decent titles I'd guess it isn't.

    Microsoft will at least get those developers wanting to do handheld games but blocked-out by Nintendo.

    Like the GBA it would almost certainly use an ARM chip as that's the only supported processor for Windows 'CE' 2002.
    • and squaresoft is not one of the 400 developers.

      the gba has competition in japan in the form of the wonderswan. the only reason is because thats what squaresoft releases games for.
    • While Nintendo currently have the hand-held crown it stopped accepting developers for the GBA a long time ago claiming that 400 was enough. From the handful of decent titles I'd guess it isn't.

      Just because you can't sign up for Wario World [warioworld.com] (Nintendo's official developer support program) doesn't mean you can't develop GBA games and get published with one of the Tier-B publishers. If you want to get into GBA development [gbadev.org], get yourself VisualBoyAdvance [emuhq.com] and GCC targeted for ARM7TDMI [io.com] and start hacking. Then you can try your games on hardware with an MBV2 cable or Flash Advance Linker from Lik-Sang [qksrv.net]

      Like the GBA it would almost certainly use an ARM chip as that's the only supported processor for Windows 'CE' 2002.

      ARM or MIPS or PowerPC or x86 makes little difference compared to the graphics chip. Nintendo's GBA supports up to 128 sprites on top of four layers of scrolling, two layers of scrolling and one layer of rotation, two layers of rotation, or a bitmap. IIRC, Windows CE devices have only a bitmap and no hardware sprites, not even one for a mouse pointer because most of them are pen-based.

  • by SomethingOrOther (521702) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:01PM (#2798469) Homepage

    I recokon this will have less and less of an impact here in Europe.
    Handheld "consoles" are going out of fassion in favour of mobile phones that are incresingly having better games built in. Some already offer basic multi-player 'online' games. Unless M$ gets into the movile phone market, I won't predict too much.

  • Microsoft entering Gameboy's territory. This seems so crazy to me. Sure the XBox can get the older gamers, but I don't see a lot of them playing with GBAs. I saw three little kids in carts this weekend playing their GBAs and I think that shows that the GBA is really for younger kids. The XBox is really geared to an older audience, wherease the GBA and the Gamecube have offerings for a younger audience.
    I haven't seen a viable comepetitor to the Gameboy in long time. Last I saw was the Sega Game thingy and maybe that Playstation portable some guy hacked together. Now Gameboy has a huge library of established hits to really provide a barrier to new entries. Any new entrants to the portable game console market are in for a rough time.
    I guess this is what you do with a $36 Billion dollar war chest. They're gonna need it.
    • I still don't get why people think the GBA is a kid's device. I've said it before, and I'll say it again:
      The GBA is the last bastion of hope for 2d gamers. Side-scrollers, shoot 'em ups, platformers, top-overs, 'classical' RPGs... There all there baby

      Goddess bless Enix
    • by garcia (6573) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:28PM (#2798645) Homepage
      yep, I coach little kids during the summers and they play that fucking game Pokemon all the fucking time. Their lives consist of three things during the summers... Harry fucking Potter, Pokemon, and aggrivating adults.

      Try to get a little kid to do anything other than play Pokemon and you might as well be tearing his fingers off (disabling him from playing Pokemon or turning the pages in Potter).

      Now, as far as MS making it in this market.. I like being able to play games and shit from my favorte console but I am not in like dire need of Madden 2002 when I am at work (or whereever). Unless MS starts gearing its games to a younger audience (which it doesn't seem to be doing currently) I can't see it working all that well.

      Unless he is trying to get into wireless Internet to interface w/the XBox and him coming over the TV every morning giving his daily address to his nation (and expanding that to his required handhelds) then I don't see him taking over Nintendo.

      Harry Potter vs. Pokemon Platinum -- available only on XBox-mini.
  • To me it looks more like a Universal Remote / Terminal / Control Every God Damn Thing In The House than a dedicated game machine. Somehow I doubt Nintindo has much to worry about. It sounds like the form factor is going to be more tablet like, and that's not the most ergonomic thing to play portable games on (not to mention its going to be huge compared to GBA... Etch-a-sketch huge). And its not like you're going to be able to drop $100 for one for each of the kids. Plus, how happy are you going to be when you lose some functionality of your MS TV Thingy when the nipper's taken its remote control to school to play a little Halo during his lunch hour?
  • The DC memory cartridges that you can stick in the controller to hold save games can also hold mini-games downloaded from the DC console (which some DC games had right on the disc). Then you can play these little games on a little monochrome screen with a Gameboy like unit (direction + button A + button B). Really, it was kind of pathetic, but cool in a weird way.

    I hope this isn't what they have in mind. ;)
    • They were called VMUs. The best feature was in NFL 2k, where you could select your plays on the VMU's LCD screen so that the people you were playing with couldn't spy on your play selection and call their defenses accordingly.

      Nifty.
  • Doubtful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheTomcat (53158) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:02PM (#2798474) Homepage
    the question is can they take the crown from Nintendo

    I seriously doubt it. Nintendo is particularly GOOD at what they do, especially when it comes to handhelds. Just look at the staying power of the original gameboy. Even to this day, they're still selling, pretty much the original gameboy (with much improved battery life, size, screen, etc)..

    Competition is always good, but MS' product will need to completely blow away the GBA (and then some) to compete -- let's not forget that the original 4 colour gameboy sompletely outsold Sega's technologically superior (at the time)Gamegear.
    • Re:Doubtful (Score:3, Informative)

      by psxndc (105904)
      NeoGeo Pocket Color: RIP

      Wonderswan: not coming to this side of the ocean even though it has Square and Final Fantasy behind it.

      While I don't doubt M$'s money and ability to release this thing (and it looks like gaming is a side feature), compete with Gameboy it won't. Gameboy is an unstoppable monster. Every kid has one, they're backward compatible so there is a library of a zillion games, and companies are releasing GBA versions of the SNES games a bunch of us adults loved. M$'s doohicky may exist, but will never compete.

      psxndc

    • Re:Doubtful (Score:2, Interesting)

      The gamegear was not technically superior. It was merely the sega master system (competitor of the NES) retrofited to a handheld with a backlit color screen.

      Yes it had light, good color, and a faster CPU with more memory (the master system was a better system than the NES in almost every way), but it made a terrible portable device because it ate up about 8 AA's less than 2 hours.

      You could barely finish a game.
      • Atari's v2 of the Lynx included a toggle-able backlight.

        So, you had the choice of extending your battery life or actually seeing the screen. :)

        Of course, by that point they were nearly broke and had no money left to market that or the Jaguar... shame, the Lynx was a nifty little machine (I currently own 3, and about 40 games, and I'm always looking for the rest of the games -- with about 65-70 released a complete set isn't too far away.)
  • What *I* want... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Monte (48723)
    ...handheld emulation. I've got some of that on my Jornada 720, but not much.

    I'd love to see Nintendo/Sony/Microsquish/Whatever come out with a hand-held unit that runs a version of Mame, and the company goes out and buys licenses to all those old arcade games I love. Package'em half-a-dozen to a cartridge (yeah, you'll get one popular one [Pac-Man], a couple of so-so, then three scrubs, but it'll get the cash revenue going). Think: zero development costs, small license/media costs, and profits all around.

    That would be sweet. Now throw in GB/GBA/NES/SNES emulation as well - hoody hoo! (Ok, why should Nintendo license their old games to MS? Because they aren't selling many of the old ones nowadays, are they?)

    Anyone think this has a chance?
    • I dropped my $30 or so for Super Mario Advanced, which is a graphically improved Mario Brothers (yeah, the OLD arcade game that got rereleased on the NES later), and a slightly tweaked Super Mario Brothers 2.

      Super Mario Advanced is the same Mario Brothers game for multiplayer, with Super Mario World as the mario game.

      Mario Kart Advanced is a rerelease of the SNES Super Mario Kart.

      I bought Dragon Warrior I & II for the Game Boy Color (to play on my GBA), rereleases of the old NES games.

      The NES/SNES games are being rereleased for the GBC/GBA. Some GB (pre-color) are still on the market. I almost grabbed my first generation ones when visiting my folks, but figured I'd rather not sour their memory by replaying them. (Some NES/SNES games have had their memory ruinned for me by emulation)...

      Unlike other companys, Nintendo doesn't truly abandon software... they rerelease it for handhelds later on. I'm sure that the Game Boy Super Advanced will be 3D and have N64 ports, and the Game Boy Super Duper Advanced will have some Game Cube ports.

      Regardless, as another post set, the GBA is a great handheld for older gamers. It has 2D side-scrollers, RPGs, etc. All the games (and STYLE of games) that you loved on a NES/SNES are being released here, while the gaming market has moved on.

      My parents loved the Atari, and would play my NES while I was asleep and found it frustrating. They couldn't handle the finger twitching of the NES.

      I find that my Gamecube pushes my reflexes, and I doubt that I'll be able to keep up for much longer. When my kids are playing their systems 2 generations from now, I'm going to feel over the hill, while I did really well on my NES/SNES/SMS/S-Genny... N64 I was average, and now I'm over the hill.

      Oh well,
      Alex

      P.S. If you live in a city and commute on a subway... GBA is great.
  • It was only a matter of time before they started doing this. There are no more general-user niches to fill in software anymore that Microsoft doesn't already have. Moreover, you can't really pirate hardware like you can software.

    Plus, if Linux is going to do anything it's push down the OS cost and also the cost of general server aps, potentially to the point of them being so close to free that MS can't make much money off them at the point of sale.

    The move to hardware is a bit of a no-brainer. I'm surprised it took them this long to realize it. What'll be scary is if they succeed in using this to enforce new software protocols. THAT would be scary.
  • Hmmm...

    on a second read-through i noticed a somewhat sinister mentioning of .NET in the article. It occurs to me that this device could well be made to provide Office Suite functions in a proprietary way only through the use of .NET. I just can't help but think of Microsoft's recent forays into hardware as a grand scheme to enforce use of their software...

    buyers beware.
  • All Microsoft has to do is put a decent screen on theirs and it's a lock. I tried out a friend's GBA and gave up. How useful is a system that's only useable in direct sunlight?

    I remember ten years ago working at a Babbages, playing California Games on an Atari Lynx. Backlit, 4096 colors, and a hell of alot of fun.

    I'd be willing to pump more batteries in the damn thing if it meant I could see the screen.

    • by Lacutis (100342)
      Good news then.

      Just wait a little bit longer and the guy over at:
      http://www.portablemonopoly.com/

      Will be selling kits that enable you to add back lighting to your gameboy advance for somewhere in the neighborhood of $30-$50.

      It's even toggleable to save battery life.
  • The GBA is completely unusable (including with the aftermarket add on front lights) in anything but very bright conditions, which is something that I think they should be a little more truthful about (i.e. in the commercial where the guy is playing in a church: Fat chance).

    • Honestly I think people have blown this problem completely out of proportion. From my experiance, the screen is a little bit dark and somewhat difficult to use in dark (or rapidly strobing, like in a car driving through a forest) light conditions, but it's certainly not the 1000W required pitch black monstrosoty that everybody makes it out to be.
  • Before you Slashbots out there start droning away the thoughts of The Hive, just a word of caution: Don't scoff at the stuff Microsoft does(except maybe Bob ;) ). That'll only make them more likely to succeed. Take it ultimately as a serious threat to your freedom and respond to it as such.
  • In my humble opinion, I was expecting a very "big" announcement from Apple (Steve Jobs) today -- it looks like MS has, once again, taken over.
  • by f00zbll (526151) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:09PM (#2798526)
    This may be risking the stamp of stupidity, but having read the article, it mentions the device would store everything on the internet on .NET servers.

    I don't know about other people's connectivity, but my cable modem connection is a bit flaky at times. Reguardless of how valuable or useful it may be, is Microsoft going to solve the problem bad ISP's? How is the average consumer going to know the cause is the ISP and not the device?

    The idea of a mobile computing device that acts as a game, computer and universal remote is pretty cool. High end audio, video, entertainment systems are similar though very expensive.

    Are people willing to reboot their DSL/Cable modem to get their universal remote to work, or will they pick up the other remote?

  • I don't think that MS would have any serious trouble taking Nintendo's portable crown here. The GBA is, IMHO, several years behind the times. Remember the Sega portable? Now that was ahead of it's time. The color was great, and you could even get a TV adapter for it. If MS wanted to make a serious run at the GBA, I can all but guarantee victory. At least, it'll be a lot easier than the console market.
    • GBA has a TV adapter with rumors of another company also making one.

      There is a review here:
      http://pocket.ign.com/news/40498.html

      And the homepage is here:
      http://www.gbatv.com/
    • By the Sega Portable, I assume you are referring to the "Game Gear."

      It wasn't ahead of its time in the least, seeing that it was almost the exact same thing as the Sega Master System, only smaller.

      The handheld system, IMO, that was ahead of its time was the Atari Lynx, as it was a 16-Bit handheld in the era of 16-Bit home consoles.
      Game Gear and Game Boy were both 8-Bit systems.

      Really, both the Game Gear and Lynx were superior
      to the original Game Boy in just about everything
      but battery life, but I'd say that only the Lynx
      was "ahead of its time."

      There was also a portable version of the Turbo
      Grafx 16, IMO... but I don't know much about it.
      I don't remember if it did have a backlit screen.

      Sega later did release the "Nomad," which was essentially the same as the Genesis and also the "Genesis CD-X" which was a console that combined
      the Genesis and Sega CD into one unit that was
      about the size of a portable music CD player for the day, only about twice as thick.
    • You mention the Game Gear as an example of something that was more advanced than the Gameboy, and it very much failed, as did the Atari Lynx, Nomad, NeoGeo Pocket, and many other handheld systems, against the horrendously outdated Gameboy and Gameboy Color. Nintendo's tech may be behind the times, but in terms of games/battery life, they know what they are doing, and can easily push the units even if the units themselves are mostly pieces of crap. Judging by the X-Box standards of production, I doubt any handheld produced by MS will be efficient in terms of size nor power consumption. Though any offering they make may be mostly tecnologically superior, in all the ways that matter it will probably fall short.

  • Nintendo owns the handheld market. The Game Boy has more games than any other system currently out (PS2 included), and has all of Nintendo's mascots. The GBA is cheap and has great games. (Nintendo made the most money of any video game publisher in 2000, too, even with the release of the PS2 and Dreamcast, all because of the Game Boy Color).
    I think the XBOX has a shot at taking the older gamers, but the handhend will remain Nintendo's for a long time.
  • Everywhere you look MSFT decide to make something for that arena, from handhelds to of course desktops.

    Only exception is Linux...

    Matt
  • Size? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by b1t r0t (216468) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:18PM (#2798585)
    Given the size of the X-Box controller, will this be another controller that only works for people with hands the size of Andre the Giant's hands?
    • Most of the people who bitch about the controllers:

      a) haven't used them, or

      b) have an issue with the white or black button.

      I absolutely love the controllers-- the triggers are so cool!-- and my hands are average size. What I hate about them, and everyone who's used them (or even developed for them) seems to agree, is that the white and black buttons are useless. Games aren't using them. Halo relegated the flashlight to one of them because it's not too important, and ignored the other one. Yes, those buttons suck. Other than that, though, the controllers are quite nice. I know plenty of people who prefer them over DualShock, not an easy feat.
  • by Odinson (4523) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:30PM (#2798653) Homepage Journal
    I believe Nintendo is about to recieve an ass wooping. Goodbye Mario, it was fun. Assuming that the there is only room for two consoles, Xbox will get the slot. Xbox has two things that Game cube dosn't. DVD playback capability, and an easy, low effort revenue stream for successful Win PC game makers. So how can Nintendo win? By making it a draw. Nintendo has a superior brand name recognition in this relm, which always wins in a draw.

    What could Microsofts weakness be? What do SONY and Microsoft have in common that Nintendo does not?

    Their first priority is to DRM and content control. Microsoft is betting on BIG deals with the RIAA and MPAA member companies. Put simply they can't piss them off.

    So what should Nintendo do? Simple. Modify the gamecube to play DVDs from any region. Make sure the DVD decoding is totally controled by one EASILY removable chip that is accessable by simply lifting a simple panel.

    Won't the MPAA sue? You bet they will and it will be great for Nintendo. When the MPAA sues Nintendo they should convert to region based chips to signify cooperation.

    This is a quadrupal win for Nintendo.

    • They get free advertising as the "hackers" console
    • They have an easily upgradable (to region free) chip
    • They have a referance chip to reverse engineer. If Nintendo does it right there will be a half dozen aftermarket upgrades in a month.
    • They have plausable deniability.
    Now the DVD argument is moot. And the vaster game base from Xbox is countered by a hassle free, region free, dvd player built into Game Cube. Kick in the name recognition and Nintendo can relax and watch Microsoft DRM itself out of existance.

    I'd buy a GameCube DVD, wouldn't you?

    • I bought a Cube the day they came out and love it. I didn't buy an XBox because I didn't think they'd do well. Well, my wife got me one for Christmas and I LOVE IT. It just seems to be a better overall system than the Cube. I love Nintendo, remember many days playing my NES. I collect consoles and have almost every one ever made....

      But, the XBox is good. It does DVD. Almost every game supports widescreen. It has Dolby Digital sound. Why oh why does the Cube not do Dolby Digital? You haven't lived until you've played Halo with DD5.1. It uses it better than almost any movie....
    • Of course the collarilary to their "wins" would be that they would never be allowed to sell such a device (could never get the DVD licenses for a device with easily removable regioning), they would defeat their copy-protections measures which depends partly on only having those little disks, and people would contiunally break the panel and the easily removable chips pushing or fry the whole system with untrusted third party mod-chips which would push their support costs sky high. Yea great move. Nintendo has better things to do then completely tank the Gamecube. Besides who says the market cannot support three similar systems. None of the companies are bad finically like Sega was and all are determined to stay in the market. It may not of worked in the past but past performance of the market is no indication of future results. Or so says the SEC.
    • Nintendo has already sold several million gamecubes both in the USA and Asia, the launch sales alone have ensures that Nintendo will do well from the cube.

      Why on earth would nintendo redo the cube from the start to include DVD playback (everything from a new box up), bringing with it the rampant piracy problems the ps1 did suffer from the and ps2 is starting to have.

      Nintendo need only one thing to carry on doing well for years to come - games, and they make great ones at nice profit margins for them.

      Microsoft are spending $500Million at marketing the X-Box? Sony are still out-selling them today with the 18month old PS2 selling at the same pricepoint as X-box, and the Gamecube is outselling it worldwide too im sure since Nintendo successfully carried out a launch in both Asia and the USA when Microsoft obviously hasn't heard of other continents yet.

      People forget the largest computer games market in the world is Japan, and there the X-box hasn't made a scratch yet. It will be 2 years or more before anyone knows the real winners in this round of the console wars, but right now the winner is Sony - profitable with PS2, everything from this point onwards is just extra cash for them. Whether Microsoft managed to scrape back the initial outlay they have done is probable, but not a certainty.
    • "Xbox has two things that Game cube dosn't. DVD playback capability,"

      Customers that want DVD playback capability as well as GameCube games can get the Panasonic Q. And like the PS2 (and UNLIKE the XBox), it will play DVDs out of the box.

      "and an easy, low effort revenue stream for successful Win PC game makers."

      As has been repeated ad nauseum, there is no such thing as an easy way to transition from PC to console game writing. No patches, no add-ons, no expansion packs, not even a real operating system. Making a dent in the console world requires a different philosophy than in the PC world. Once a game is released, it had better be self-contained and done.

      Besides, how many PC gamers do you know of that, if given the chance, would buy an Xbox and however many games instead of a shiny new PC?
      • No patches, no add-ons, no expansion packs, not even a real operating system. Making a dent in the console world requires a different philosophy than in the PC world. Once a game is released, it had better be self-contained and done.

        And why did MS include a harddrive with the system. Probably just for these things that the PC developers would want to do. I really think that the harddrive is the end of the nice,easy and rarely crashing consoles.
    • I'd buy a plain old GameCube too, and already have. A surprising number of people don't give a rat's ass about DVD on a game console. Nintendo is still doing what it has always done, build a solid gaming console. Nintendo knows their market and caters to them.
    • The XBox is already a region free DVD player. Good idea, though.
  • Ding (Score:2, Funny)

    by wbav (223901)
    How will microsoft ever top the famous ding of the gameboy starting up? I mean, I've heard it so many times, it's music to my ears.

    Ding... Ahh.. I've had my fix for the day.
  • I see no evidence that Nintendo is interested in anything other than TV and handheld game machines. They are not interested in DVD's, MP3's, the web or other multimedia/general computing unlike Microsoft. Granted, Microsoft has dipped it's feet in the game industry with the X-Box, but everyone who's reviewed it has something negative to say and with good reason.
    Microsoft focused on the fastest processor, most amount of memory, lots of storage (for caching and game saves) which is important in the computer market but not necessarily in the game market. Console Game players are interested in the playability/funness factor of a game over the graphics/specs of the game. Take Halo (Xbox) for example, it's nice looking and could be lots of fun, but it just screams for a mouse and keyboard. It needs lots of buttons (all the time) and it needs a FPS movement that only a mouse in "mouselook" mode can really deliver on. Where as if you look at Luigi's Mansion (GameCube) you use very few controls (all the time) and it's movement is very natural for a "gamepad" controller, it would not be natural for a keyboard and mouse. Microsoft's mistake is taking what they know about computers and trying to apply that to a console, whereas Nintendo has been in business since 1951 and started selling video games in 1971, in that tine they have learned a thing or two about making a fun, playable game. This is one market Microsoft will NOT dominate in.
  • Think about who plays the GBA right now. I see them mostly in the hands of kids between 7 and 12 years old. These kids are not going to care enough about the extra features Microsoft wants to have in this device. If Microsoft sells them at huge losses to compete with the $90 price of a GBA, they can do that. But even then, they will have to recover the cost somehow, which means game costs will be higher than the $20-40 for GBA games. Sure, some spoiled brats can afford that or whine enough to get their parents to buy it. But most parents are going to put their foot down. Older kids might steel some market share from Nintendo, but as it stands right now, Microsoft isn't likely to steal the portable audience from Nintendo.
  • I think the big problem with this idea is that anyone who thinks of portable gaming will immediately think "Gameboy", even the old folks, because that's been the standard since 1985 and it's still going today. Market recognition is a huge factor in this.

    As a little anecdote, I walked into a Future Shop yesterday with a buddy to buy his PS2. This guy doesn't follow the news much, but still he loves games and rents stuff all the time. Well this 'buddy' thought the XBox was compatible with both PS2 and GCN software.. why ? because that's what he heard from his idiot coworkers and friends, and there was little or no media coverage to bring light on the new console.

    We see PS2 ads all over the place : TV, movie theatres, and they have large displays in most stores. The Gamecube might not need that much publicity, since Nintendo is an established household name wherever kids are to be found, going hand-in-hand with Pokemon. But Microsoft ? We know M$, but does my mother-in-law know M$ ? Hell no, she probably thinks Windows _IS_ the computer, and that it's made by Dell or Compaq. Why does she not understand this ? Because you don't see many Microsoft products at Mallwart, Costco or any other non-PC store. Gates' company may very well be a cornerstone of modern computing, but outside that realm they are the new kid on the block for every other market segment.

    That's why they have no chance of dethroning Nintendo, not today.. perhaps in ten or fifteen years.
  • by macpeep (36699)
    This doesn't sound like the XBOY, of which there have been some rumors circulating for about a year now. This sounds bigger.. But the way the Slashdot article puts it "GBA competitor".. I don't know. The original ZDNet article makes it sound more like a super powered remote control or PDA - not a handheld game console..
  • by Alien54 (180860) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:46PM (#2798734) Journal
    I am ever so reminded of the "Robber Barons" of the late 1800s. They were not brought under control until the Anti-trust legislation introduced during the 1910 - 1920 period.

    At this rate, we'll need another dozen years or so before appropriate legislation is forthcoming. Bill Gates as the Rockerfeller of the Desktop is not a pleasant a picture as some would like. And yet there are many who are sentimental and nostalgic for those times, which were not bad if you were upperclass.

  • by Cloud K (125581)
    the question is can they take the crown from Nintendo

    If they give it a backlit screen.... yes :p
  • What does BSOD look like on a 2" LCD?
  • Would someone please explain to me why Palm didn't include left/right buttons along with the up/down ones? Or even just a direction pad?

    I am not saying that a Palm could be competion to a GBA, but they could have easily given a nod to the gaming market and it wouldn't have hurt it in any way that I can see.

    Yes I know that you can use the other buttons, but that is really a sloppy solution to a simple problem.

  • by mikethegeek (257172) <blair.NOwcmifm@comSPAM> on Monday January 07, 2002 @01:35PM (#2798995) Homepage
    Though this device appears to be more of a PDA than a game machine, it makes sense from MS's pov to come out with sich a thing.

    I'm betting a version of this, configured more as a game handheld will follow.

    Microsoft's domination of the software industry depends on their being able to cut off the "air supply" of compeditors. Leaving the handheld market to Nintendo gives them revenue that they can use to fund their competition (game cube) to the MS X Box.

    It's just an application of MS's playbook in the PC industry. This is why MS makes Mac apps, since people DO use Macs, they MUST have them using MS Office, not another app that might end up ported to `Doze and compete.

    This is why MS is fighting Linux tooth and nail. They can't afford it getting too large, so that it's a big enough market to fund non-MS app software development.
  • by skroz (7870)
    I wonder if the device will sport a version of the Microsoft eBook reader. The REB-1100 is nice for portability, but the .rb format is not common. It would be nice to have a portable device that could read eBooks in a more common (though microsoft) format.
  • How do you go from:

    serve as a portable game player in conjunction with Microsoft's Xbox video game console.

    to:

    Nintendo will have a competition in the handheld market soon.

    Even when you read the article, it is pretty clear that this device is more a tablet PC than a portable gaming system. Comparing the media pad to the GBA is like comparing my desktop PC to my PS2, it just doesn't make sense. And they don't compete with each other either.

    The media pad will have to be coupled with the Xbox in order to function as a gaming system, and even that won't be its intended target. They plan to use it to provide some PDA functions and add functionality to interactive TV apps and other weird things.

  • Microsoft will demonstrate on Monday a tablet-shaped device that will serve as a bridge between the TV, the PC and the company's .Net services, according to sources familiar with the plans. These sources also say that no one will care, as everyone is watching theMacworld Keynote after Sunday's press leak of the new iMac.

    --Dan
  • the console crown. I really really hope the MS comes out on top in this war. Since the nintendo 8 bit gamers have been forced to watch in envy as japan is ALLWAYS first to get the NEWEST GAMES and systems. How many times did you read a gamepro, EGM or other similiar magazine, seen a game that looked totally awesome but it was going to be released japan first? It really pisses me off to the point WHERE I GOT TO TYPE IN CAPS.

    I miss the good ol days when an american company was king of the console hill (i.e. atari) and i'm not very paticular who is trying to become the next american console king, even if it is LUCIFER in the eyes of the slash crew.
    • I thought half the reason that these games were released in Japan first was because they were designed in Japan, by the Japanese.

      The thing I love about some of the japanese games - Mario, Pimkin, Kuru Kuru Kurunin, etc - is that they are so off the wall that I can't imagine an american game company supporting them. I can just imagine the marketing department: "Gee, a game based on a midget plumber eating mushrooms. That will sell!".

      Careful what you wish for. You might get the good games in America first, but if the good games are just Doom 5, NHL 2003 and Grand Turismo 15, then you'll be begging to have Miyamoto back.

      But I'm Australian so I'm not particularly sympathetic to this post anyway.

  • This article was completely misrepresented by the slasdot summary. After reading the device, it sounds nothing like a GBA, or a GBA competitor. Maybe slashdot users don't know what Terminal Services is.

    The device is based on Terminal Services. For all you linux users out there, it means its just a DISPLAY for processes running on another device. Think of it as a dumb X-Windows display.

    Sure, it might show incredible graphics that are rendered on the XBOX 6 feet away from you, because its just painting the pixels, it doesn't need the fancy 3D hardware, etc. But my point is, the XBOX will have to be 6 feet away! This isn't a device you would take to school, take on a plane, take everywhere that you take a gameboy.

    From the article:
    "Microsoft's Terminal Server software shifts many computing functions off the device and onto other computers--owned either by the individual or by a service provider. Consumers can't really use a Mira device without a persistent connection to a more powerful computer."

    The only way it could come close to competing with the portability of the GBA (which is the whole reason you use a GBA), is if it uses a constant connection to a nationwide wireless network. Then you are talking monthly fees.

    Not a competitor in my book.
  • Will Never Happen (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ritalin (4861)
    Many reasons which include but are not limited to:

    1) GBA is $90
    Microsoft can't produce anything decent at the price.

    2) GBA batteries last a _long_ time.
    MS's will most likely be backlit and that will eat the batteries.

    3) What does MS know about portable gaming? Nintendo's got the track record.

    4) Who doesn't know what a game boy is?
    Its got name recognition equal to nintendo. Both are sysnonimous with gaming.

    5) Nintendo's got way to far a head start, as there will be a sequel to GBA and it will also be revolutionary.

    Care to disagree/agree?
  • The question is, can MSFT deliver the functionality of the Game Boy Advance?

    They can crank out a box that specs out as a GBA competitor. But it won't BE a GBA competitor, because they don't grok kids gaming.

    This is why Nintendo does well. They do grok kids gaming. You may hate Pokemon, you may not like Pimkin, but kids love them. The buttons are where they need to be - you don't get tired - the carts work easily.

    The people who brought you xBox are giving you a PC solution for Game playing. And that's why it's a distant third in the game title sales. And why it will stay that way. They don't grok gamers. They never have.

    And they lose money each box they sell. Nintendo makes money on every box they sell, which means they can sell games cheap. Cause the games are where the bucks are - so kids can buy more games. You may think it's nuts to buy the Pikachu Yellow version of Pokemon, the Red, the Blue, the Crystal, the Silver, the Gold - but it means they make money on each sale at Nintendo.

    Microsoft thinks they'll get it all in one (flawed) release. And fix the bugs later. Nintendo thinks they'll make sure it works first, and save the extra things for future releases.

    So, in short, MSFT will fail at this one too.

    Of course, what do I know, I hold stock in both MSFT and Nintendo, among other companies. MSFT makes money due to dominance, holdings, and cash flow - the game business is not profitable, except with pro forma (fake) accounting methods. Nintendo makes money with this.

    -

"The Street finds its own uses for technology." -- William Gibson

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