Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Microsoft

From Midway to Xbox, The story of Seamus Blackley 185

Matey-O writes: "Red Herring has an interesting look at Seamus Blackley, the Man behind the Xbox, and what it took to bring the console to market." I like that this article points out the risks that Microsoft took by trying to enter a field with very established competition (and with mixed results, so far).
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

From Midway to Xbox, The story of Seamus Blackley

Comments Filter:
  • the demo froze" - glad to see M$ up to their old tricks again. ;o)
  • by svara ( 467664 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @09:51AM (#3334522)
    That's not true... The XBox runs a stripped down version of Window 2000, as you can read at the Xbox-Linux [xbox-linux.org] site. These guys managed to get Apache running on that minimal W2k.
    • I wonder about this quote then:

      Many of the Xbox team's original ideas were tossed aside, including the team's proposal that the Xbox run Microsoft's Windows operating system. Upon hearing this, Mr. Gates blew his top. But he eventually saw that Windows would only get in the way of developers creating great games.

      • I wonder about this quote then:

        Gate wanted it to run Windows, as in, the real thing. He wanted everyone to see the familiar Windows GUI, he wanted multitasking (he wanted MSN Messenger running while the game was running). The Xbox guys shot all these down and he caved in.

        It's true the Xbox runs a stripped down Win2K kernel (500KB of RAM used or something like that), it runs all code at ring0, it runs 1 process but supports multiple threads, and has built in drivers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 13, 2002 @10:00AM (#3334541)
    I am not a gamer.

    I was at Circuit City yesterday, shopping for some stereo equipment. I decided to check out the video game section just to see what the fuss was about. This was the first time i'd seen a gamecube,xbox,and playstation2 in person.

    Frankly, i'm not sure Xbox in its current incarnation is going to do too well, at least among casual users like me.

    1. Compared to the Ninendo system and the playstation 2, the Xbox was _huge_, and ugly. I guess it really is just a PC stuffed into a black box. I was surprised at its size; bigger even than my old colecovision. This is progress?

    2. The game controllers were uncomfortably large for my (adult, male) hands.

    3. the graphics were good, and the games they were demoing were good, but not so much better than the other systems. And there weren't that many games available for it.

    4. Compared to the playstation2, which game in an elegantly small package, had a ridiculously huge selection of games, and controllers that fit my hand, i could see no compelling benefits for buying the xbox. The nintendo system also looked interesting, because of the totally far-out games they were demoing (i'm not sure what is in the water at nintendo HQ... those people have fantastic imaginations.)

    So, from a "clueless" gamer's perspective, the Xbox didn't seem like a great deal. I am not "1337" when it comes to consoles though, so I don't know of the technical advantages of the Xbox. Nor do I really care.
    • 2. The game controllers were uncomfortably large for my (adult, male) hands.

      This is slightly OT, but am I the only person in the world who actually likes the controllers on the Xbox? They fit my hands well (better than any other console, Playstations are small and uncomfortable, and the Gamecube's are incredibly awkward) and the buttons are arranged correctly... People complain about the diamond shape of the buttons, but actually, using the angle of your thumb, it lines up straight, like a cross. (You hold the controller, you thumb points along a line through the middle two buttons which lines it up much better than a "normal" configuration.) Also the dual joystick type things help make actually playing games so much better... It allows a FPS to be fun and playable, while other types of games don't lose any control. So what's people's deal with the controllers. I'm honestly curious.
      • Nope, I like the xbox gamepad too. I find the PS2 gamepad far too small for my hands and hey get sore after half an hour or playing. However, I notice that after a few hours of playing Halo my arms get a bit tired. Probably a good thing as it forces me to put down the gamepad and take a break for a while :)

        My pet peeve is everyone's obsession about the size of the xbox. Who cares? My xbox fits comfortably on a shelf next to the TV so does it matter that it is half again as big as the PS2? Not really. I even brought the xbox with me on a recent skiing trip and I found that it wasn't all that bulky to bring along and it made for great entertainment relaxing and watching DVDs after skiing all day. I'm sure many of you geeks have heard this before so get used to it, "size doesn't matter".
      • by Osty ( 16825 )

        This is slightly OT, but am I the only person in the world who actually likes the controllers on the Xbox?

        Certainly not. There are many people that like the XBox controllers (after all, Microsoft did do usability testing on them). It's been my experience that the only people who complain about the controllers are those who have only plaid the demo units in stores. In otherwords, the controller was in a fixed position, probably too low to be comfortable, and at completely the wrong angle. To properly enjoy the XBox controller, you need to be sitting on a couch 7 or 8 feet away from the XBox, able to just relax and adjust your grip to the controller. Once you do that, you'll realize that the XBox controller is the most ergonomic and comfortable controller available for any console to date.


        As for the PS2, the controller is too small and, compared to the XBox, has too many corners and other "pointy" areas. Those controllers cramp my hands. The GameCube controller is pretty much a PS2 controller, except maybe a little larger (not enough -- it's still too small and crampy).

    • All of these combined with the high price of the x-box, at least right after it came out (I can't really comment on it lately) really makes for a bad looking situation for Microsoft and their system. Granted, some of the games for it have quite a bit better graphics than what I've seen out of the Nintendo and Playstation camps, but nothing really extraordinary. Maybe if their packages were the same price as the Nintendo or Playstation ones the system would have taken off a bit better, but who knows.
      • All of these combined with the high price of the x-box, at least right after it came out (I can't really comment on it lately) really makes for a bad looking situation for Microsoft and their system. Granted, some of the games for it have quite a bit better graphics than what I've seen out of the Nintendo and Playstation camps, but nothing really extraordinary. Maybe if their packages were the same price as the Nintendo or Playstation ones the system would have taken off a bit better, but who knows.

        Let me give this disclaimer right up front -- I'm only referring to the US market. I happen to be from the US. I am not from Japan or Europe, so I really don't know much of what happens over there.


        That said, the XBox is the same price as the Playstation 2. $299USD. Yes, the GameCube is cheaper by $100, but it's not just cheaper than the XBox. It's also cheaper than the PS2.

        • In america maybe, but in the other two thirds of the video game market, the X-Box is more expensive than the competition.

          It's not going to get much better either. That hard-drive is going to make it tricky to match the upcoming price cuts without MS taking a serious financial hit.
    • One of Xbox's in-store problems is that they're demo'ing the wrong games. Halo is a great, deep game, but it looks very similar to PC shooters, and has a learning curve that can't be overcome in 30 seconds of play in a store.

      I've also seen DOA3, Bloodwake, and Munch's Oddysee in stores. DOA3 is gorgeous, but doesn't have anything that separates it from Soul Caliber on those in-store monitors. Bloodwake just doesn't have the gameplay to sell the console. Munch comes closest to a good demo game, but I haven't seen the whole game in stores, only a short demo with no other characters on-screen.

      Microsoft's marketing crew needs to bite the big one and feature non-MS published games in stores and ads. JSRF and NFL2k2, for starters. And they still have RalliSport challenge to include on those new demo discs.
    • I think I agree with what you said. I went into a store that featured the X-box, and I concluded that yes, the graphics are better but not that better, the box is big'n'bulky and at least here in Europe, too expensive.

      The fact that I can't watch DVDs without dashing out more dough for the remote, and the news of scratched DVDs in Japan didn't make it look any better.

      As for games, remember, I am NOT a gamer, but the few games I think I would enjoy playing are Spyro, Eco (or was it Ico? You know, the dolphin thingy) Final fantasy and Mario Kart. None of these runs on the X-box. But from what I have seen, I can find similar games on the Playstation 2, to the ones that exist on the X-box.

      In the end, I didn't and won't buy any console. Well, perhaps when the Playstation 2 becomes cheaper I'll go for it, I really like that Spyro dragon.
      • The fact that I can't watch DVDs without dashing out more dough for the remote, and the news of scratched DVDs in Japan didn't make it look any better.

        It was a tradeoff. The DVD Consortium charges something like $20 on all DVD playback devices. MS didn't have to pay that if they made the DVD playback optional, as an addon, which is why the Playback kit is $25.

        It's still a better deal than the PS2. For the PS2 you need memory cards to play. Usually multiple memory cards too. 8MB, something like $20 each. Ripoff.

        If you want to use any more than 2 controllers with the PS2, you must spend even more money (I think it's $30) on multi-tap to get 4 controller jacks.

        If you want a HD and ethernet, you gotta wait a bit then pay $150 for the addon (which makes the box bigger and bulkier than the Xbox).

        Sony knows how to milk people for money. And the sad thing is it still works, simply because they convinced everyone the PS2 was the best thing since sliced bread on its launch and it now has a huge install base. Sony's smart like that, which is why they'll be around for a while.
        • Actually the PS2 hard drive slides into a bay, and the ethernet / modem adapter only adds half an inch of depth at the back.

          ...and why do you need a hard drive anyway? Is there an x-box killer app that makes the hard drive essential?
    • These are the main reasons why Xbox doesn't have a very large market share. That and the fact that its games crash... I know a friend of mine who couldn't play a full game of NHL2k2 because of the crashes...
    • by Glonk ( 103787 )
      1. Compared to the Ninendo system and the playstation 2, the Xbox was _huge_, and ugly. I guess it really is just a PC stuffed into a black box. I was surprised at its size; bigger even than my old colecovision. This is progress?

      Indeed. The Xbox has built in hard drive and ethernet. The PS2 is larger when you add on the ($150) ethernet/HD addon, and it doesn't sit nearly as nice in a home theatre cabinet.

      2. The game controllers were uncomfortably large for my (adult, male) hands.
      Did you see the small controllers there? They're called Xbox Controller S, and they're the Japanese controllers, made for people who prefer smaller controllers (I love the default one, myself, though.)

      3. the graphics were good, and the games they were demoing were good, but not so much better than the other systems. And there weren't that many games available for it.
      Check this out:
      They probably didn't look too much better because of the setup. On an HDTV, with DD5.1 surround, there's a huge presentation difference.

      4. Compared to the playstation2, which game in an elegantly small package, had a ridiculously huge selection of games, and controllers that fit my hand, i could see no compelling benefits for buying the xbox. The nintendo system also looked interesting, because of the totally far-out games they were demoing (i'm not sure what is in the water at nintendo HQ... those people have fantastic imaginations.)
      Unfortunately that's too common a view. It's like people saying they don't understand why people buy a BMW over a Ford. Both get you where you need to go, one is nicer and comes with more stuff. :)

      The Xbox has built in ethernet. Historically, video game peripherals don't sell, save memory cards and controllers. Which means even though the PS2 is getting a HD/ethernet addon pack, it'll have a low adoption rate (not to mention the high price). Which means you won't get many true multiplayer games on it. Sony's online plan revolves around a GameSpy Arcade-type approach, where software will simply connect you p2p with another console, or the game developer makes their own dedicated server. MS' is more like the MSN Gaming Zone: They're spending TONS of money, and are employing more people than it took to develop the Xbox, to make Xbox Online a reality. There will be voice headsets that come and you hook into the back of the controller, complete with voice morphing, plus high-speed dedicated servers for online games, rather than p2p gaming (although you can do p2p gaming right now with GameSpy arcade on Xbox).

      Xbox is also far more appropriate for a home theatre set up. It supports HDTV resolutions, it supports in-game Dolby Digital 5.1 encoding on the fly, it's got longer controller cables (9.5 feet vs 6 feet), and it sits far nicer in a home theatre cabinet than PS2 or Gamecube.

      As for game selection: Just wait till E3. Not that the current game selection is bad, it's just that the PS2 had a 1.5 year head start. Look at the PS2's first year vs. the Xbox's. Xbox is off to a much better start...

      And with companies like Acclaim announcing they're developing more Xbox games next year than PS2 or Gamecube, expect even more soon.
  • the X box has had a poor showing... this was a gaming land grab by microsoft. All they would have to do is stop supporting Direct X on the desktop and they would own the entire PC gaming industry.. software AND hardware...

    That's potentially another 8 billion dollars in their pockets annually, and growing all the time. Let us hope X Box 2 meets the same fate. Think, the only decent Open GL programmer is Carmack, and he is launching rockets. That leaves the entire world of game developers in Direct X land...in microsoft's pocket. If they owned the hardware too, welcome to 100 dollar games and Apple priced X boxes as the only viable gaming platform. Crippled of course so you still need a real PC, also in Microsoft's pocket.
    • All they would have to do is stop supporting Direct X on the desktop and they would own the entire PC gaming industry.. software AND hardware...

      There are other gaming libraries available. If DirectX went away, it wouldn't matter one nit.

  • "I like that this article points out the risks that Microsoft took"

    Taking pleasure in the possible misfortune of someone/something else - I believe it's near sadism (?).
    Wow - never knew you had it in you.
    • Taking pleasure in the possible misfortune of someone/something else - I believe it's near sadism (?).
      Reasonably near. Schadenfreude is only a couple of pages away from sadism, depending on the dictionary.
  • by paradesign ( 561561 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @10:14AM (#3334581) Homepage
    THERES NO ARCADE UNIT!

    Sony has a machine, Sega has several machines, Nintendo is working on one but needs one less so than M$ does.

    Japanese gamers live in the arcade, thas why the strange (to us) puzzle games go over so well over there, because there in the arcade. Who is going to buy a 300 dollar console without ever playing it before? I didnt buy my dreamcast until i played several hits in the arcade. (dc is still better than anyhting)

    M$ needs to realize that theyre not marketing to PCGAMER anymore. Halo is not a killer app, not by a long shot!
    • Sega is making an arcade system based on XBox. The first game to be running on it is OutRun 2. They have said that it will be their primary arcade hardware.
    • Ermm...I guess you didn't hear about Sega bringing the Xbox hardware to the arcades [idg.net].

      IGN also has a writeup: http://xbox.ign.com/articles/099/099035p1.html
  • actually 2 systems (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GutBomb ( 541585 )
    MS may be taking the risk on losing hardware because they know the software sales will be high. XBox games are basically just directx based games. Windows has directX also. someday soon I expect to find a way to trick an xbox game into thinking it is on an xbox, when it is really on a PC. of course the pc would probably have to have an nvidi video card but many already do. And i don't think MS would mind one bit about this, because the games are still selling, and they are not taking a loss on game sales.
  • by Knunov ( 158076 ) <eat@my.ass> on Saturday April 13, 2002 @10:29AM (#3334622) Homepage
    "As they were leaving, they all piled into one elevator. Mr. Blackley was the last to come diving in. The elevator was already sinking...Once Mr. Blackley was inside, the elevator promptly fell four floors to the ground."

    The article fails to mention that there were only 5 people in the elevator.

    Drop the donuts and pick up some dumbells, fellas.

    Knunov
    • Another elevator story that Seamus probably doesn't want you to hear:

      At GDC (Games Developers Conference) in San Jose a few weeks back, a few Sony Europe and Sony Japan guys were in an elevator. Seamus is standing quietly at the back, out of sight. One of the Sony Europe guys introduces himself to each of the Sony Japan guys in stilted Japanese. Seamus, who can speak Japanese pretty well, smugly leans over and proceeds to do the same, in even _more_ authentic Japanese. He goes round each person, and even introduces himself in Japanese to the Sony Europe guys (pretty much shaming out the Sony Europe guy who was only a beginner in Japanese)

      He finally gets around to the last Sony Europe guy, and the guy, not knowing how to speak Japanese at all, replies with the only Japanese phrase he knows.

      Seamus: [Looking puzzled] "What does that mean?"

      The Japanese guys in the elevator are pissing themselves laughing.

      Sony Europe guy: "Do you want to fight, monkeystyle?"

      Seamus's smug face drops a mile, and he retreats into the back of the lift.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    :rolleyes

    1. I hate the x-box, it's sooo big! - Erm, I spend my time playing the games, not lovingly looking at the console

    2. I hate the x-box, it's got these frigging huge controllers. A - I think the controllers are GREAT. Well, you know what they say about the size of your hands. B- you guys aren't trying very hard, there are SEVERAL controllers out there that are ergonmically different that the one the ships with the box.

    3. The games suck. Well lessee, I've got 6 games (Rally Sport'll be the seventh.) and of those five (Halo, DOA3, Munch, SSX tricky, PGR and wreckless) only Wreckless sucks sack. Hmm, that's $350 worth of non sucking games. That's all the money I'd care to devote to THIS hobby.

    Personally, The xbox has been a GREAT excuse to not upgrade my system any more. Quake III may only be $50 or so, but Quake+ Motherboard+CPU+Geforce 3 MX Turbo makes for a REAL expensive habit. Especially since NOTHING ELSE I DO on the PC takes the system reasources that gaming does.
    • I own an X box. that said...

      1) Ok, external appearance does matter, but I really don't see a problem with it. I wouldn't call it ugly, but admittedy they could have done more. Personally, I think part of the design was so that it would have to go on top of all your components (nothing will balance on top of the XBox). Kinda like the move to associate it's games with your DVD movie library. Notice the similarities? It's heavy. So? To me this isn't a real factor or a point against it. It's bascally basically a PC for cryin out loud. It has the AC adaptor inside as well. Of course it's heavier, but unless it's your grandmother or small child lifting it, what's the prob here?

      2) The controller. It could have been better. I would have liked bigger buttons personally. But it works, and unless you have no coordination whatsoever, I wouldn't consider it enough not to buy the system. But then, that's my opinion.

      3) "The games suck" First, you hear that about every console. You know why? Most of the time (unless you're a 3DO or Jaguar) it's because the system's new!!!. In the humble opinion of somebody who's played a good number of the titles, it's launch is nearly the same as everybody elses platform. It has it's good games, it has it's bad games and it has the "wow, that's pretty" games. I agree, games are limited. No F%@$@#$ duh.

      I was so close to buying a PS2 just because of the sheer number of games it already has for it (backwards compatible!). It's a good product. I won't/can't diss it. But I think the XBox has has a far brighter future and that's what I was willing to invest in.

      And if your saying "but it's microsoft!" in a high, whiney little voice, grow up. I know I'm surrounded by a bunch of Linux-gnomes and Microsoft isn't my favorite company either, but this is the console market. I don't think it's in any fear of MS domination unless your willing to admit it really is that good or does have that much potential. Heck, you should have been worried about Nintendo doing that.
  • Was it really that big of a risk for Microsoft? When reading anything about MS, I try to keep in mind that we are *not* talking about your average run of the mill business here. This is a monopoly, right? So the usual rules don't apply.

    Even if it was a complete failure (unlikely) MS would be out what, a few billion? (that's over a few years too, so I'm sure the world's highest paid accountants could lessen the blow). Not quite a drop in the bucket, but still easy enough for MS to shrug off.

    Also I enjoyed the bit about what a "success" it was since Xbox didn't freeze in demonstration. For any other company, that would be a bare minumum, for MS, it's a success...
    • Even if it was a complete failure (unlikely)

      What would hurt them much more than the billions bucks lost would be that people would no longer assume a failure of a MS-product unlikely.

      Microsoft would actually have to produce more than vapourware to convince people.

      Just look at all the .NET-hype.

    • Was it really that big of a risk for Microsoft? When reading anything about MS, I try to keep in mind that we are *not* talking about your average run of the mill business here. This is a monopoly, right? So the usual rules don't apply.

      Yes, they've been convicted for using their monopoly power to crush competition in the web-browser market, but I can't really see how this applies here, since the console market is wastly different and they don't really have any applicable powers other than money to use to wipe out the competition, as if wiping out Sony of the console market would be possible anyway...

      • Being a monopoly in one market gives you the freedom to dabble in other markets. Other companies don't enjoy this luxury--when they go out on a limb to try to diversify, they don't have the cash cow of a monopoly to fall back on if the experiment goes all to hell.

        It's like trust fund kid playing the ponies with his spare cash. He's facing relatively the same odds as everybody else, but his *risk* is considerably less.
  • I have been struggling on whether or not to buy the xBox. For the price, ~400 bucks with the games I want, I could just upgrade my current PC and then have access to play every kick ass game the market has to offer as well as a faster computer overall for doing other stuff like web browsing, etc. Computer hardware is so cheap these days, it might be a waste of money paying ~400 bucks for a console system dedicated to just playing video games.

    I do like the console idea because it keeps me out of the computer room and down in the living room with the rest of the living ;-)

    Maybe I'll just have work upgrade my T20 thinkpad to an A series with the builtin Geforce4 chip.. *drool* [which wouldn't cost me a dime ;-]

    • Yes, but you can't have a bunch of friends over and play multiple player games sitting on the couch in front of the TV drinking beer and eating pizza with a new pc. You can't pick it up and take it to your friend's house with the big screen tv and hook it up to it so easily either.

      4 people sharing a keyboard and mouse and monitor just doesn't work =]
  • Very interesting... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nougatmachine ( 445974 ) <johndagen AT netscape DOT net> on Saturday April 13, 2002 @10:55AM (#3334719) Homepage
    This was a very well-written article, and I loved the way it portrayed all the insane work, struggle, and worry that goes into the creation of a game console. But at the same time, it reminded me why I've always been a Nintendo man.

    Pay careful attention to the part of the article where it describes the Xbox team versus the WebTV team vying for the support of Bill Gates, and notice the tactic which was used to convince Gates that Xbox was a worthwhile venture: "Bill, if we don't go forward with this, Sony will wipe out any hopes of a consumer presence," is the basic gist of it.

    Ah, Microsoft. Once again they demonstrate their ability to thrust themselves into a market based on paranoia. Xbox fans, take note: if not for Sony, there would be no Xbox. Hopefully my geekiness isn't getting too extravagant because I have a sense of smugness over having bought a Gamecube. I feel that way because Nintendo doesn't see the Gamecube as a trojan horse to take over my living room's connectivity.

    • I feel that way because Nintendo doesn't see the Gamecube as a trojan horse to take over my living room's connectivity.

      That's because Nintendo thinks you are 11 years old. ;-)
  • by waspleg ( 316038 )
    if that's the kind of shit it takes to be rich, beraking up w/ your g/f.. being underhanded and disgusting and getting married as a corporate publicity stunt (having already sold your soul to the redmond hive) then fuck that, i'll work at mcdonalds and keep my dignity ;P

    ** this is not a fucking troll

  • Hmmn, lots of talk about buying Square, Sega etc. But no mention of MS purchasing the company that developed the "alien shooter with the compelling story".

    Typical puff-piece. Lots of breathless "insider" moments, but short on substance.
  • Aha... the article sheds a little light.

    As much as I dislike MS in general, I had hope for the Xbox. The pieces seemed to be in place for the Mac of Consoles; Seamus' renegade tactics, the corporate culture necessary for a trancendental product like this.

    What bugs me is, if I may use a tired phrase, lack of vision.

    It's all fine and good for Mr. Blackley to run around spouting how video games should be 'art'. I agree. He doesn't back it up. And Microsoft is not conducive to art; it is conducive, custom-engineered, for commerce. Case in point: In a meeting with the Xbox team a few weeks after the May 5 pitch, Mr. Ballmer started out bowling them over with one of his infamous monologues. He boomed, "The Xbox is the greatest fucking thing in the world! It's going to make billions! It's the greatest thing ever!"

    Mr. Ballmer then hammered the team on its naÔve business model, but he offered a lot of encouragement in his own fashion. Once, when they were standing in line at the company cafeteria, Mr. Ballmer sneaked up behind them and bellowed, "It's the Xbox guys!"

    "I almost peed in my pants," Mr. Blackley says. He looked over at Mr. Bachus, whose face went white, like someone who had just been caught in a crime. Mr. Blackley adds, "But at the same time, it was so motivating that he was showing everyone else there exactly who we were." As Mr. Ballmer moved closer, he joked more quietly, "Are you making any money yet?"

    Why is it the greatest fucking thing ever? Because it might be the greatest money-maker ever? There's no talk of what makes it great, other than the cushy developer tools. Which are fine, until your programmers do an end-run around your nicely doc'd methods to squeeze an extra frame or two/second out.

    Sony understands this. The PS2 is difficult. The PS2 is flexible. It does not have MS-USB ports; it knows how to make a controller.

    I read an interview during all the fracas over Halo & Bungie from a guy at Access Software (remember them? Links golf?)... they were also bought by MS. He described a situation where the best and brightest were basically picked apart from the inside, after being acquired. The Red Herring article also points out that there are no original team members left outside of Seamus.

    No, you won't get 'art' from these guys. Art doesn't make as much money as entertainment.

    • You're being overly analytical with regards to Ballmer's comments. Ballmer is far from a walled up shy businessperson, and he would have no reservations about trying some light humor. The fact that his monologues are 'infamous' backs that up; he was probably kidding around with the comment about Xbox's greatness, perhaps playing on the constant hype Seamus and Co. tried to throw around.
    • Mr. Ballmer ... boomed "The Xbox is the greatest fucking thing in the world! It's going to make billions! It's the greatest thing ever!"

      Yet more evidence of the deep business intuition and remarkable insight into the human condition that has made Steve Ballmer the CEO of Microsoft.

      Repeat after me: Developers, developers, develepors, developers....
    • The PS2 does have USB ports. Two of them, on the front panel, right next to the firewire port.

      ...and the xbox isn't the mac of consoles, it's the muscle car in a rice-rocket race.
    • "The Xbox is the greatest fucking thing in the world! It's going to make billions! It's the greatest thing ever!"

      It's insanely great!

      -
  • Was the it was a generally good idea.

    Fundamentally just to sell a cut down PC for the lounge room. This is what I thought it was going to be, but then I saw it in the store, and found that it was just another console, just more expensive, with fewer games, and a really bad controller. It seems that M$ simply ignored their punters (the kind of people who buy PC's) and went ahead doing what everyone else was doing in the marketplace, all I or anyone who were likly to buy a XBOX wanted was a simple lounge room PC. If M$ had taken this root then they would be in a much better position today, IMHO.

    For a start, M$ would not have had to sell the thing at a lost, and since they own the OS, they could have maintained a reasonable price point. Also they would not have had to spend time buying up developers like bungie since all the games which work on PC would have worked on the XBOX, and lastly they would not have had to have spent millions (more like billions) hyping the thing up just to sell a few units. The only problem would be that they would have pissed off makers like dell or gateway, but seriously where are they going to go (if you say linux I'll shoot you).

    I honestly think that if the Xbox had been your standard windows box then the thing would be a success now, the mistake was just trying to create a Playstation with computer hardware. Seriously, This is marketing 101, If you go into a market with an established player, you don't create a "exact" copy of what that guy is doing, you create something different, unless expect to compete on price, which the XBOX never could

    Ofcourse, this idea of a lounge room pc, is probally what the XBOX2 (the homestation) will become but by then sony may already have a foot hold in that market and, if that happens, it will have been too late. This must be a good thing, knowing how M$ would act if they had a monopoly on the lounge room, However Sony are not that much better - but at least they got there by making kewl stuff.

    Ofcourse, if the idea of buying a "proper" console appeals to you, and not some bloated mess designed to plug you into M$/Sony TV then, do what I did, and just get a gamecube (rocks by the way).

  • Lets all face the facts here. Microsoft doesn't take risks. Yeah, they make stupid desisions sometimes (some would say all the time),but really.

    The only reson I even considered buying an X-Box is because of Microsoft itself. Not only do they have gobs and gobs of money to buy 3rd parties hardware, etc., but they also have this unnerving habit of either buying out or crushing the competition. Even if the console sucked balls at first, I'm willing to bet that MS would do anything it takes to keep that foothold in the living room. Anything. Fact is, whether you like them or not, they make stuff work... Forcibly if nessisary. Given the capital they had to work with and the mentality they had with their past projects, I can hardly see any notable risk involved on their part. I'm sure Blackley was under pressure to make it work, but I'm also sure they researched the gaming market, profit and loss potentials and competition before getting involved. Risk? No a lot of it when you know most of the variables and have wads of cash to throw at them (again, cash = good talent, advertising, hardware contrary to popular gamer belief)

    I'm a gamer. Microsoft isn't my favorite company in the whole wide world. But when I considered whether to buy a PS2 or and XBox, I had to figure in MS's track record. It may suck now (in your opinion; I happen to like Halo, Gotham, Rally and JSRF) but like the artical said- This is a battle over your livingroom and I think they will do whatever it takes to secure that holy grail. And that is good for gamers everywhere.
    • I don't mean any disrespect against you, but it's hard to determine whether you're serious.

      I'm a gamer too. I have nothing but loathing for MS's business practices, and few of their products ever appeal to me (although my list of exceptions is reasonably sane). However, my bet is on Sony to win the race, with Nintendo pulling the most profits from a respectable second place. From what I can tell your argument boils down to this: MS will counter the incredible software and hardware developers, creative minds, and popular franchises of Nintendo and the excellent software lineup of Sony's PS1/PS2 by throwing $LARGE at the xbox, because they want to control the view from your sofa and have enough money to do it.

      Let's extrapolate this reasoning and apply it to other markets where MS competes:

      - Throw away your Macs and Suns, and delete your Linux partitions, because MS has enough money to make Windows exactly what you need. (proof negative: the devolution of W2K into the bloated/resource-intensive WXP)

      - Junk your Pilots, Visors, and Clies away, because MS has the resources to make Pocket PCs the perfect alternative to anything made by lesser PDA producers.

      - Recycle your IBM keyboards, Logitech mouses, and Gravis gamepads, MS hardware is funded by the most successful software company in history.

      - Uninstall WordPerfect and StarOffice, MS Office has been designed to take advantage of Windows to the fullest by the world's #1 software developers, makers of the Windows OS itself.

      Sorry, I know that list is tedious, but the sarcasm is meant only in jest. But it's important to notice that MS's strongarming tactics really only involve use of their size and financial savvy as leverage against quality and innovation. In the conolse industry, such a strategy involves forcing gamers to ignore the games themselves, of which there the numbers and quality fall heavily in Sony's favor, with Nintendo's games guaranteed to rock the boat the way only Nintendo can (Two words: Ocarina, 1998).

      < tofuhead >

  • Look at Sony when they came with the first Playstation. At the time, a lot of people was unsure if they could get into that market. The graphics were at the time excellent and before 3D pc cards was something that was expected in every new PC. I even got myself one and enjoyed playing it. But after a while games started supporting the 3Dfx cards etc. I slowly stopped playing on the Playstation although Gran Turismo did breathe some extra life in to it. But I ended up selling it after some time. Today, fancy graphics is not enough to cut it. We need features that can compete with the PC's. It a different maket than on the PC, but still I can see that people would want a proper internet connection and the joys of playing online should not be underestimated. I think that they should really focus on getting the box on the internet and getting some multiplayer games up and running. The ethernet port is a very good thing but it should not be limited to that. A serial/usb connection to a external that would allow you to connect using a modem/ISDN using PPP would be great. Get it on the net for real and their advantage would raise a great deal.
  • I like that this article points out the risks that Microsoft took...

    That is precisely why I disregarded the article. Microsoft could give every person in America two XBoxes and still have enough money left in the bank to buy out most of its competitors in the operating systems market. It's not a risk whatsoever - it's an attempt to murder Nintendo and Sony.

    • A risk? Of course it is. This is the business world genius. They want a piece of the gaming market too. Same reason why Fox Studios tried to break into the animation movie industry with Titan A.E. That was a risk and it didn't pan out. That division of Fox Studios no longer exists.

      Companies constantly do this all the time. That is why companies grow and competition starts / exists.

      Just because Microsoft has enough money to give everyone in america two XBoxes and blah blah blah means nothing. You bash microsoft but forget about sony? Sony has their fingers in everything. EVERYTHING! games, tvs, cd players, cd roms, monitors, ... the list goes on quite far. Microsoft on the other hand traditionally has a limited market that they are just now branching out of. Don't forget sony has cash comming out of their ears too!

      Just because MS is rich and make a "crappy OS" as so many /.'ers have said doesn't mean its a crappy company. By business standards Microsoft is a perfect example of the American Dream.

      So to get back to what my point was. Any time a corp. tries to branch out into a new area it most definatly IS a risk no matter how much money you have. The money they threw at this is quite an investment and contrary to what you believe, will make a difference on their quarterly reports ... and that is something shareholds care about.

      So is it a risk? You bet it is.

      I'll probably get flamed for saying this, but its the truth. You /.'ers need to realise that corps don't make products to give people warm fuzzy feelings inside. They do it to maximize sharholder wealth, and that means making as much money as possible.
  • Wow! A story about a game magazine editor reborn as a game developer failure re-reborn to break into the gaming console market with a budget of a mere $5-6b. Result: mixed success --- yowza.

    It's hard for me to be inspired by a venture which is basically insanely well funded, still has deep pockets, and takes advantage of monopoly power and positioning (MS) to make the venture a success, and then meets with mixed success.

    Truth be told, they may well have done a good job under some extremely competitive conditions (Sony, Nintendo, etc.), but the Red Herring story just seems so misguided and manipulative. It's a personal piece trying to make this guy out as risk-taker (with $5-6b and MS backing) and who learned from his failed game experience. The marriage proposal at ToysRUs just makes the whole artificially romanticized story that much more saccharine sweet and distasteful.

    I sincerely wish Seamus all the best on his marriage and ventures, but the story strikes me as forced, sleazy journalism.

    Gross me out.

    (So much for Seamus's 15 minutes.)
  • by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @01:27PM (#3335228) Homepage Journal
    Ok, it's getting so I can't stand this anymore. I can only hear people whining about their phobea of Microsoft dominating the console market AND how the XBox sucks in the same sentance for so long.

    For said domination to occur, your competition either needs to be non-existant, disorganized, doesn't have capital, fields an inferior product, or you're plain smarter. Microsoft was more than just lucky taking the PC market because at least one or more of these came into play.

    So which one of these are you willing to admit to for the console industry? Sony and Nintendo exist as established competition, they are organized, have capital, field good products and have experience in the market. Which one of these are you saying MS is so much better at?

    None of them!? That can't be...! You must be paranoid for some reason! I realize this is flame bate, espicailly here on Slashdot, but come on, it's getting pathetic. Either admit one of these or quit whining about MS and console domination. Fact is that Sony and Nintendo would love to do the exact same thing, and complete domination by any one party isn't a good thing, regardless of how much you hate MS.

  • the Xbox team wanted to deliver a machine for the most enthusiastic gamers who don't really care how much they have to pay.

    That attitude is what gets you into the position that Apple is in now, and it forgets the lessons of VHS vs. Beta, and Microsoft vs. Apple: good enough wins marketshare, while producing quality dooms you to a niche market.

    Quality might prove successful in the production of some things, eg cars, but where one's success depends on the production of third parties, and those third parties are rewarded by the popularity of the underlying platform, ubiquity is better than quality. If Mercedes required a non-standard gas to operate, would people buy them, regardless of their quality? Look to the acceptance of alternative fuel vehicles for your answer.

    Since PCs depended on software developers, ubiquity in the marketplace, and the subsequent larger rewards for developers, is largely responsible for Windows 95% marketshare. And the availability of PS2 games is the reason people buy Playstations rather than the X-Box--the quality is irrelevant if you don't have anything to run on it.
    • I'll agree that the PS2 has a big edge on them, simply because of their massively library. I almost bought one for the same reason. They have tons of good games and decent hardware. Even this X-Box owner will admit that.

      But everything about consoles, no matter who makes them, is non-standard. It's VHS vs. Betamax all day long when it comes to competing platforms. So much so it's not an issue. It's not even about quality. And what's this about "the Xbox team wanted to deliver a machine for the most enthusiastic gamers who don't really care how much they have to pay"... Oh, you mean like the Nintendo which is similarly priced? Or the PS2 when it first came out? Again, these aren't issues. Did I mention wads of cash MS has that can buy quality games/3rd parties?

      Fail? No. Even if you disagree with all of the above, you can't disagree with the fact that MS wants your living room and will stop at nothing to have a piece of it. They didn't jump blindly into the market, ignoring gamer statistics or what sells and doesn't. They know they won't be profiting off the box until a later date. If you think they didn't do the research, then you're a fool. They know exactly what they are getting into. MS didn't become a multi-billion dollar company for being careless or ignoring the facts. Plainly put, the Xbox is MS's foot in the door and it will do anything to keep it there. If they can't make it better, they'll hire the expertise that will so people will buy it. Money does a lot of things like that.
      • Ok, I'm tired of being the X-box martyer ;) Somebody else can convince the ignorant and unwashed masses that MS knows what it's doing ^__^
  • The article mentions Trespasser [gamasutra.com], the Jurassic Park game. Blackley was in charge of that project, which was a heavily-funded 3-year effort at Dreamworks Interactive, the game division of Steven Speilberg's studio.

    It was a disaster. The physics (which Blackley tried to write personally) didn't work, the inverse kinematics was flakey, the gameplay was terrible, and the AI was a dud. And that's according to one of the developers. [gamasutra.com] Reviews were harsh. ("Trespasser is a frustrating game, filled with boring gameplay and annoying bugs.") [gamespot.com] Sales were poor.

    After that debacle, it's not surprising that the XBox contains nothing at all technically risky. The XBox is an Pentium 3 PC with 64MB, an NVidia GeForce 2, a stripped-down Windows 2000, and manufactured by Flextronics. No risk there.

  • First of all, People complain the Xbox is just rehashed versions of games you already have on your PS2. Well, i don't have a PS2, so it isn't a rehashed game and secondly, 99% of your PS2 games are rewrites of PSX games. Not much is new for PS2.

    My xbox has tons of hours of play from Halo to Project Gotham and several different people running through oddword begining to end.

    I don't have many games, but come on, it isn't about the amount of games you own, but the quality of games you own.

    The Xbox is here to stay, and selling really well. I already have like almost a 100 titles to choose from and the sucker hasn't even been out a year. The Games have been INCREDIBLE for FIRST generation and *NOTHING* is standing in the way of the xbox.

    Incase you didn't know the average Xbox owner is 25 to 36 years old. This croud is a technology oriented and often wealthy crowed. The Xbox has enjoyed a NEVER before seen selling of 3.2 games per console and well, nothing has repeated that yet. The PS2 is for the 18 to 22 year old croud and the nintendo cube thing is any age really.

    Sure the PS2 sells alot, but there isn't a single game i havn't already played on another console that i liked on the PS2. For all those people saying "Halo will be on the PC" but so is Tony Hawk, so is your highly rated GTA3.

    I bet it will be another story come this october when the xbox has been around for a year, sold 5 million units and launches the online gaming network. From racing to Unreal Championshop the PS2 nor Gamecube have anything BUILT IN to compete. The "peripheral" network has never taken off for *ANY* console so i don't see the PS2's ability to use external devices as any means to compete against the Xbox's built in broadband support.

    Yes, the PS2 has a lerge library of decent games and has some great titles you can't get anywhere else, but so does the xbox.

    And i'm sorry, if your pushing graphics, gameplay, connectivity and peripheral support the xbox winds hands down.

    Remember todays games are only pushing today's tvs. The xbox will be able to push graphics beyond what anyone can imagine when it comes to 1080 and 760 hdtv.
    • Preach it brotha!
    • This crowed is apparently not a spelling-oriented croud, though (although points for trying every possible incorrect spelling :). Which is sad, considering that they're supposed to be old enough to be out of high school and even college at the ripe old age of 25-36. Oh wait, I forgot - "technology oriented" is code for "can't spell worth a damn". CmdrTaco, for instance, is "technology oriented". Articles about gaming seem to bring out the "technology oriented".

      - ethereal, likes games as well as the next guy, but has just decided that he doesn't want to be known as "technology oriented".

  • About a year ago I was at a restaurant with a group of friends, and one of them had an XBox jacket. The waiter who served us started pontificating about how the XBox was going to be a failure...

    The main difference between the XBox developers and the people dissing it is that at least the XBox devs are fucking trying: trying to build a great product, trying to enter a highly competitive market where previous wins are irrelevant (Windows, Office). The same goes for the Pocket PC, MSN, SQL Server -- and Linux, RedHat, Lindows, KDE, MySQL, Java, etc.

    I have enormous respect for those people and companies who get off their asses and actually try to produce something. Usually they will fail; the majority of projects (and small businesses) inevitably do. But to have tried is the main thing. It's so much easier to be an armchair cynic, but the cynic is the real loser.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.

Working...