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How Online Services Will Shape the Console War 41

Next Generation has a piece looking at the role online services will play in this round in the console Wars. With Microsoft's Xbox Live already in the field and both Nintendo and Sony working on plans for their own online environments, there would seem to be quite a bit to talk about. Despite that, the article offers up a pessimistic view of the competition. From the article: "The short glib answer is that online games will probably be a more important feature for console systems over the next several years, but once again the traditional retail model is likely to be the dominant driving factor when it comes to how the new game systems build an installed base."
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How Online Services Will Shape the Console War

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  • online games will probably be a more important feature for console systems

    More important than what? Previous online games? Non-online games?

    • by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @12:02PM (#15058651) Homepage Journal
      More important than in the past. Which is pretty obvious, and also not saying much, as the proportion of people caring to go online at all via console is something like 6-10%.

      I've used my PS2 online, but only to download cheat codes... I've played several games which had online capability, but none of the online functionality was interesting to me. They need to fix that problem before they start building grand schemes to charge subscription fees.
      • The low % may be because of the PS2's domination of the marketshare and the loathsome PS2 online experience.

        Xbox's original Live didn't have it perfect, but it was still worlds ahead of the PS2 experience.

        IIRC, the online connectivity of original Xboxes in the US was around 25%.

  • The article talks a bit about what motivates a consumer. I just wanted to comment that XBox live has motivated me. I'm a Microsoft hater, yet here I am an Xbox 360 owner due to my curiosity in Xbox Live. I'm pretty pleased with the service. I wish there was a little more, a news browser or something maybe. Sometimes you get done playing a game and still want to use the XBOx but not want to play a game, or download a game trailer, or whatever. But really it's slick. Being able to download a demo or tr
    • I've heard nintendo is going to make the online play free. They will obviously charge for game downloads, but I hear that everything else is going to be free. I think this is the right model to use. It's hard for people to spend $400 on the system, and then spend $60 for each game, and then spend another $70 a year just to play those games online.
      • My kids have played a modest amount of Mario Kart and Animal Crossing using the DS's online service. It's free, yes. Quick and simple. The Animal Crossing: Wide World friend code system seems to keep things under a little control, from the POV of me the parent. We don't have a bunch of AC: WW campers visiting their town to loot all the fruit and chop down their trees, anyway. Just a handful of their friends.

        Along with the downloadable library of past titles, the DS service sure seems to indicate that Nint

      • Well, Nintendo is going cheaper on everything this time around. They've already said their system is going to be less than $300. Games will be $50 or less. And the online service will be free. Game downloads will be a charge, but Nintendo hasn't confirmed whether it will be a charge per title, or a subscription deal, but they've considered both methods.

        Also, Nintendo has only said online play will be free for first party titles. 3rd party publishers/developers can still charge for their online play.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      and how it keeps track for each player is pretty innovative.

      You must be one of those new internet users.
      • Well, considering he wasn't talking about basic stat tracking, but the achievements feature that is fairly innovative. When's the last time somebody kept track of every PC game you play and what milestones you've hit in each game. It's a new feature and incredibly well done (for the most part).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is a plea to all the developers out there. I understand that online play is the next big thing. I understand that more and more (if not all) games will incorporate it.

    But please don't underestimate the value single player games offer. I can't imagine how games like Resident Evil 4, Zelda: Ocarina of Time or King's Quest could be made better by offering an online component. These games often set a mood, and adding some uncontrolled element (such as a 13 year old kid yelling "I 0wnz j00 petite Biatch
    • [joke]
      what having 300 Links in the killing fields of Hyrule grinding for heart pieces and rupees doesn't appeal to you? or trading for the small subset of items zelda games had ( or ever really needed )
      [/joke]

      I agree.. Multiplayer is something that must be done for a purpose, and I'd like to think that Game Devs know better. This is coming from a person who spends much of his free time learning and developing a multiplayer backend for a single player game :P

      Though... playing Morrowind as an MMO would be pr
      • Hold on there! While I can't imagine how to make an MMO in Hyrule work, I think Resident Evil 4 multiplayer would kick ass! It'd make for some awesome deathmatch fun.
    • Thank you - I'm glad to see someone else shares my opinion of the overall importance of online play. The types of games I really enjoy - Resident Evil 4 is a great example, or more recently Shaddow of the Colussus - moving any portion of the game online would really take away from it. Online gaming will never be the main draw of gaming - it's just an entertaining sideshow.
  • While there are games where the online play is the whole reason to buy the game (Halo 2), for the vast majority of games sold, it's just a "cool feature", as in:

    "Wow, lookit this! GweenZow 5 has split-screen support!"
    "Yeah, and online multiplayer co-op!"
    "And I can use my driving wheel and pedals with it!"

    It might sell a few more copies of the game, and in some genres it's simply expected to be there, but I'd argue it doesn't make a huge difference to your average gamer with your average game.

    I think conso
  • by MeanMF ( 631837 )
    Microsoft is shooting themselves in the foot with the Marketplace "microtransaction" model. It's making it too easy for companies to hold back features from their games, then sell them to you through Xbox Live. They just released an add-on for Oblivion, a game that has been out no more than 2 weeks. It puts armor on your horse, and they want $2.50 for it. If marketplace wasn't there, how much do you want to bet that it would have been included on the ($60) game disc? Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter ha
    • I also think that is unfair. However, remember that the market for the horse armor download, is a bunch of people who just paid $400 dollars for the console, and $60 dollars for the game and I don't know how much money for Xbox Live.

      They have money to burn.
    • Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (GRAW) did ship with a relatively small number of maps. But the game is HUGE, I think they really delivered a LOT for what I paid.

      The single player campaign was pretty good. Looked great, played well, no complaints at all.

      The multiplayer game is humongous. There are 50 zillion was to set up a game. Different modes, co-op, team, single. There are on-line co-op missions, objective games, etc. etc.

      The maps they included look fantastic, and some of them are big...no...EXTRA
  • by Frag-A-Muffin ( 5490 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @12:29PM (#15058927) Homepage
    ... and both Nintendo and Sony working on plans for their own online environments, ...


    (Emphasis mine.)

    I think we're getting a very good glimpse of what Nintendo's going to be offering. I play on the DS wifi network every day. It's amazingly simple, fast to connect, and no lag to speak of. I think it's a pretty darn good preview.
  • Nintendo isn't exactly new in this field either. Their extremely popular DS and DS Lite has passed one million unique gamers. Though the DS / DS Lite handhelds aren't stationary consoles, the principles are the same. Handheld consoles has more or less the same problems and the same gaming possibilities, and it does appear to be a huge success.
  • The X-box had live. Didn't help it. The PS2 didn't. It is the clear winner of the previous generation.

    So now the new x-box has live and all of a sudden it is gonna make a huge difference? Why?

    Frankly it is only in the intrest of the console makers and game makers that a single console wins.

    For the consumers if one company would really win it would mean the end of choice. Do we really want Sony OR MS OR Nintendo to achieve the same kind of absolute control over console gaming that MS has over PC gaming?

    • So what if the PS2 sold more and was the "clear winner" of the previous generation. The fact is, regardless of the sales amount of XBox vs. PS2, I bet Microsoft made a financial killing in their Live service. In this regards, doesn't matter who sold more, it's who made the $$ with strong services (because neither Sony or MS really made much of a profit with their consoles). MS provided a strong gaming online-service, people bought into it in troves (who had an XBox, that is). PS2 had... what? ... FFXII
    • You're wrong, of course.

      If history has taught us anything, it's that when a void opens in an industry, someone rushes in to fill it. Should, somehow, one console reign supreme, and the other two companies cease producing consoles, someone will see the chance to make big bucks, much the way Nintendo did in the 80's, and Sony (to a lesser extent) did in the 90's.

      Nature abhors a vacuum.

  • Sure, I can play split-screen against my wife.... But.... Can we both go online split-screen? Nooooooooooo.

    So I never play online because I never play alone. Apparantly this really IS for people with no friends. But my wife plays video games with me, and damnit, it would be nice if we could both go online.

    I also didn't like having to purchase three copies of Quake3, so that us-and-a-guest could go online and play. We're one family, one set of income(s), having to pay thrice did not sit well with me.

    However, at least it is possible for us to join a Q3 server on both of our computers. What are we supposed to do for the consoles, however? Buy another Xbox? Buy another PS2s? (Both of mine are modded so the 2nd ones would need to be too, probably... Even more money, but I do enjoy playing Atari 2600 games on my Xbox! But I digress...)

    • I'm not sure what you mean, but I don't own an xbox but a couple of my friends do and we routinely go on Live with up to 4 people on the same xbox. Depends on the game to support it though, e.g. Halo 2 you can have 4 people but PGR can only have 2. All with one live account and 1 xbox.
      • Unfortunately Microsoft has a policy of nuking your machine, if you connect a modded machine to Xbox Live. Even if you're playing a purchased game. So, I guess, truly, my comment, FOR ME, was PS2-specific, but for OTHER COUPLES was not specific.

        I guess the answer is: Halo on an X-box. :)

        That still doesn't let us play online in DDR, Amplitude, or a slew of other games, however.

        • Ah I see the point about modded xboxes, and to be completly honest all my friends have ps2's as well but none of them take that online :p In general though, the xbox live thing seems to have set some standards as far as online gameplay with regards to the xbox in particular, e.g. every xbox game we've taken on live (even stuff like DOA) has let us play with the same number of people we could normally play in multiplayer but against other people online. Unfortunately for us though, most people on live appa
          • The grass is always greener on the other side I guess!

            Still, it would be nice if I could just do what I want, when I want. Anyone know of a small country I could take over?

  • For most of the people who read this site, yeh, the online component is going to be important. But for myself (I'm very much a gamer, but...), and for a lot of moderate to casual gamers, online stuff isn't all that important. Personally, I see myself maybe buying a few SNES games for the Revolution online, maybe playing some Smash bros or Mario Kart, but only occasionally. I can't think of ANY PS2 games I would care greatly to play online. Maybe have arcade shooters (think Ikaruga) post high scores onli
    • ...I hope! While I do look forward to play online games on my (soon to come to Europe) DS Lite and Revolution, I would most certainly also enjoy Brain Age, Zelda, Super Mario etc.

      I hope that Nintendo will succeed in their quest to reinvent console gaming, and not fall into the pit where Sony and Microsoft are fighting: Competing to be the best non PC PC multimedia entertainment home media center.

      As I see it, online is just another game enabling tool, like the new controller, the touch screen, 3D accellerati
  • what a great idea: If a game has a flaw, the producer could make an online patch, that everyone could download FOR FREE. Just like Office Tools and PC operating systems! (This of course also means, that games needs not to be finished, before they are sent to market... Just like...)

    Nah - probably not a good idea. I'll just stick with Zelda and Mario on one of the last off-line consoles on the market! ;-)

    Well, jokes aside: Dear game producers. Please keep up the good work on the consoles, and make some games

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