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The Winning Next-Gen Console Is The Most Diverse? 59

simoniker writes "Gamasutra's latest 'Analyze This' column has game industry analysts commenting on the rise of casual games, asking whether simpler games that take less time to play may be vital to game industry growth. David Cole of DFC Intelligence disagrees that any one genre or game type is vital, suggesting: 'A key for the industry is being able to diversify.... For the N64 and GameCube, Nintendo focused primarily on its big franchises and didn't have the same level of diversity. The platform that did was the Sony PS2. Which platform could work as a karaoke machine, allowed you to put yourself in the game, had all kinds of trivia products? The reason the PSOne and PS2 sold [so well] was diversity.' Is this the key to working out who wins in next-gen?"
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The Winning Next-Gen Console Is The Most Diverse?

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  • by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @12:47PM (#15840621) Homepage
    duh? Isn't it common knowledge that machines with many choices that appeal to a broader audience will come out on top?
    • duh? Isn't it common knowledge that machines with many choices that appeal to a broader audience will come out on top?

      I'm not sure when it became common knowledge that the PS2 won the last-gen battle because it offered karaoke.

      In fact, I'm pretty sure that's still not common knowledge. Or really any other kind of knowledge, except in this article.

      Generally speaking, products that usually win in any industry are products that do one thing and one thing well. That's as true of games as anything else. The P
      • I think they were talking about games like Karaoke Revolution. You'll notice in that sentence states, "Which platform could work as a karaoke machine, allowed you to put yourself in the game, had all kinds of trivia products?" They're talking about the wide variety of games on PS2, particularly the maybe less "traditional" ones. Respectively they're referring to karaoke VIDEO GAMES, EyeToy, and I don't know the name of any "trivia" games on PS2, but I've seen them at stores.

        And they're absolutely right,
    • Sure- that's why the N-gage won the hand-held gaming market. It was gaming and a PHONE rolled into one.

      And that Motorola Rokr- that's also a winner.

  • by ZakuSage ( 874456 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @12:49PM (#15840636)
    Because they had the best third-party support. End. Of. Story.
    • But what about that Emotion Engine? That HAD to have had something to do with it! And the DualShock controllers, OMG they are like the best controllers EVAR. And the DVD playback is just the BEST. When I watch DVDs I ONLY use the PS2.
      • I think my PS2 was what I used for DVD watching. I don't have enough to bother spending money on a stand-alone DVD player.

        And the controller was one of the best, IMHO. The N64 had this weird thing that looked more like a spaceship than a controller, the Dreamcast had those huge, chunky, closed-off things that my long-fingered hands never really fit around (especially since I'm a girl, and have fingernails). The XBox had a Dreamcast-duplicate controller (and no exclusives I wanted enough to overcome the 'Ew,
        • I'm a girl

          Well, there's your problem right there. /sexism

          All kidding aside, I find the GC controller very easy to use, though a bit small for the hands. Strange that you find the DualShock a suitable size since I find it even smaller than the GC controller. The XBox controller is too damn big and has too many buttons. I agree the N64 controller is weird, but once you get used to it, it's not so bad. And let's be honest. The DualShock is NOT the best controller design out there.

          As for the DVD playback

          • I'm not a little girl; I'm tall and long and thin, with hands to match. The DualShock has a lot of area for the fingers that're only being used to grip it to rest; the Gamecube controller felt tiny to me because it had such short 'horns', IIRC.

            My all-time favorite game controller is probably the big ol' Wico bat-handle sticks I had on my VCS and C64. But you need more buttons than that nowadays...

            I only ever had a half-dozen or so DVDs. Not enough to bother investing in a device whose sole purpose is to pla
    • Because they had the best third-party support. End. Of. Story.

      If all those third party developers had been focusing on only one genre or two however, it wouldn't matter how many there were.

      Which comes back to the true key being diversity of games on a platform, even if the diversity comes from one maker.
  • Mostly backwards. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JMZero ( 449047 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @12:51PM (#15840660) Homepage
    The consoles that are most successful GET the most diverse offerings - because if you're going to develop a gimmick/niche product and can't afford to launch it for all platforms then you release it for the one that's got the widest base.

    Do you think the GBA was successful because of all the add-on thingees? Or do you think there's 4000 screen protectors because there's 40 million GBAs?

    That doesn't mean a first party can't help console sales by creating add-ons (like the eye-toy or some goofy game), but the causation is generally the other way around.
    • Or it could be cyclic.
      1) Develop interesting and/or hyped console
      2) Get lots of initial sales
      3) Third party devs jump on the bandwagon
      4) More people buy console to get third party games
      5) Due to more sales, more third party devs jump on.
      6) Repeat steps 4-6
    • Re:Mostly backwards. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by marshallbanana6 ( 992780 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @01:08PM (#15840807)

      Yes, backwards. But that doesn't mean it's out of the hardware manufacturer's hands.

      Companies like Nintendo might have been overconfident when they just decided to do their own thing with the N64 and decided that when everyone else saw how cool it was, they'd all build lots of content for it. It's these kinda decisions that don't take into consideration the feelings of major game developers (Squaresoft, EA to a lesser degree) that slowly encourage less support for a console. If Nintendo had said "we need lots of third party support, including a wide base of casual games, and we can't do this all on our own" and had therefore listened to what developers wanted, they might have been able to build more support for their console. They forgot that this wide library of games they enjoyed on SNES doesn't just happen on its own.

      If companies like Squaresoft and Namco had released titles like FF7 and Tekken 3 for the N64, it would have been a much different picture. But Nintendo just decided they'd be fine without them.

      It seems like everyone has learned this lesson now, and is doing all the necessary kissing up to developers. A lot of the success of this generation could simply depend on launch responses, which is where Nintendo could really gain an edge (if people don't decide Wii sucks) with their lower price. Once an edge is gained, by whoever gains it, it is quite likely things will just take off from that point and they could have the "#1" spot for a whole 5 years. Who knows though, gamers are fickle.

  • Exclusive Games (Score:2, Insightful)

    by the_crowing ( 992960 )
    If you look at the games that are creating the most buzz for the Nintendo Wii right now, they are all games that make creative use of the new innovative controller (the Wiimote and Nunchuku combination). All or at least most of these games are going to be exclusive to the Nintendo Wii due to the unique control scheme and, from what I've heard, this time around Nintendo has a lot more third party support than with the GC. So it sounds like the Nintendo Wii is going to have a ton of exclusive, innovative t
    • Microsoft told people to buy a Wii (and an Xbox 360).
      Sony told people to buy a Wii (and a PS3).
      Nintendo said to buy a Wii.
      The experts agree: Dude, you're getting a Wii!
    • What 3rd party games can be more exclusive than all of Nintendo's games, which has always been exclusive to only Nintendo games, or Final Fantasy 7, the game people usually attribute as the turning point of the PS1 era console war? There is strenght in numbers, but you're looking at some combination of exclusive games that will have to exceed Nintendo's own exclusive games, and by a very significant margin since history has shown that Nintendo's own games aren't close to enough to generate what's needed to
  • At least these guys don't make the typical arrogant mistake of "analysts" and try and set something in stone before 2 of the 3 competitors are even released, but I think they also need to realize unanswered questions only work when they are rhetorical.

    An article laying out the past in an industry where the past has had precious little to do with the next generation, then asking a bunch of questions is about as useful as extended opinion posts from fanboys on forums.
  • by spyrochaete ( 707033 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @01:03PM (#15840756) Homepage Journal
    I was just about to post "Nobody will buy a console to play Bejewelled" but then I remembered Tetris and the Game Boy. But will this work for TV consoles?
    • You could also have remembered the DS and Zookeeper, since that game is an utter rip-off. Only it has a multiplayer mode, maybe the most fun out of the damn game I ever had.

      TV consoles will sell if or when they manage to get the next Dance Dance Revolution. That game appealed heavily to girls or workout nuts in addition to gamers (not to mention it really works, I lost weight thanks to videogames, whohoo!)

      Ever wonder why sony released a buzzer with some quiz game? Yeah, it's kitshy, but it's the kind of bla
      • A gameshow buzzer sounds like an awesome peripheral to help bring in a new gamer demographic! I imagine the Wiimote could do this with the greatest of ease. But still, is this enough to get an otherwise non-gamer to buy a $250, $399, or $599 system?
  • I think Nintendo is on the right track with its versatile new controller. But it is only one of several possible features that could make consoles more attractive.

    Extra video outs is another. How hard can it be to support that, obviously at some cost of detail or refresh rate? Give me up to three screens, racing and shooter games that use them, and let me salivate at the idea of attaching three projectors.

    No-treshold wireless networking is another thing. I want to be able to place four consoles in a room
    • "Finally, I want voice input. So simple, so useful, yet never done."

      One word, Seaman [].
    • DS for the win! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tepples ( 727027 )

      Extra video outs is another. How hard can it be to support that, obviously at some cost of detail or refresh rate?

      DS. But people buy consoles because they have one large TV, not three small monitors.

      No-treshold wireless networking is another thing. I want to be able to place four consoles in a room and have them instantly build a network.

      DS. And so will Wii.

      Finally, I want voice input.

      DS. But if Brain Age can't recognize "blue" for all speakers, what makes you think the consoles will?

      • Couldn't have said it better myself.

        Lots of other consoles have had Voice support too. The Dreamast had Seaman, and Alient Front Online. The Gamecube had Mario Party, Odama, and Karioke Revolution, The Xbox and PS2 had Rainbow Six 3, NASCAR 06, Karioke Revolution, etc.... Not to mention that there are instances of voice control in console before those and of course on the PC.
    • Voice input isn't simple... And it has been done. Nintendogs has it and does it decently. Brain Age has it, but has a "bug" for the word "blue" (I never experienced this issue but many people I've had play the game have had that problem). The PS2 game LifeLine (by Konami) had it and failed miserably--it was basically a text adventure where you talk to it but they didn't give it a large enough vocabulary and the speech recognition was subpar. The previous two games worked because the words/phrases you use ar
    • But knowing anything about graphics will tell you that just doesn't work. You will need 3+ times the power, NOT slightly more. A video card for each video out. There is still one way, make it a third as good (3rd the size/texture filtrating/etc)... but in the end, it's a big cost for little use, since the whole video process would need redefined to allow it in any case. One pipe in - one pipe out is quite diferent then 1 pipe in - 3 pipes out.
  • by Astarica ( 986098 )
    And every console war has been decided by the 3rd party games. If you assume that every Nintendo game bought translates to a system sold, and assuming tastes in Nintendo games are pretty similar (e.g. Mario and Zelda captures essentially the same group, so that 1 Mario and 1 Zelda game translates to 1 Nintendo system sold, not 2), then you get the number of Nintendo systems sold due to Nintendo games isn't anywhere close to the number of PS1 or PS2s. For that matter, it also isn't close to the number of N
    • Exactly. You need diversity. You had FF7 for a certain crowd, but then you also had Tekken 3 for a completely different crowd. You have to have games for everyone if you want everyone to buy games. (It sounds so obvious, but it's not easy.)
  • Effect Meet Cause (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObligatoryUserName ( 126027 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @01:17PM (#15840877) Journal
    Game diversity tends to be a side effect of a large install base rather than the cause of it.

    The Dreamcast had a good set of quality games in a large number of genres, including games that were experimental at the time like Seaman and Samba De Amigo. (Presaging games like Nintendogs and Guitar Hero.) We all remember how the Dreamcast died, in a cloud of PS2 hype.

    The PS2 now has the largest diversity of games for the simple reason that there is a large market for them. Of the last gen it's supposed to be the most difficult to program for and it's the least powerful, but those considerations are minor when you have such a huge install base.

    I think the game industry is tripping over itself trying to understand casual games. The state of the industry has been relativly stagnant for so long that we struggle to put names to games that don't fit within our genre headings. Because they don't appeal to a self described "Hardcore" audience we've reflexivly named them "Casual".

    It's similar to the rise of Alternative music in the 90's. It didn't sound like 80's rock or metal so we had to come up with a new name for it. Then we slowly realized that musical culture was changing and this wasn't just a new genre - the publics notion of the sound of rock was changing. The idea of Alternative became less and less useful as everything was given that label. I think the same thing is happening in games, and the implications make me optimistic about the future.
  • The next-gen wars really won't start until the end of this year. Right now, there is no "next-gen" war because the 360 is the only "next-gen" console on the market, so we have to wait for the PS3 or Wii (whichever comes first) before we can actually have a war.

    In any case, this next round is going to be quite interesting. Whereas the previous generations of hardware have been mainly about graphics and game size, this next one is focusing more on gameplay or graphics, depending on which console you're rootin
    • You have Microsoft with what amounts to the XBox 2.0. It does everything the XBox does and better, but doesn't add much else on top of it.

      By those standards, the only consoles that ever tried anything new were the Sega CD, the DS and the Virtua Boy. The changes in the 360 weren't in the hardware, they were in the software.
      • You're ignoring the changes in controllers--the SNES controller is radically different from the NES controller which in turn is radically different from the Atari 2600 controller. The N64 controller was radically different from the SNES controller (the GCN controller was admittedly kind of a hybrid between the Dual Shock and N64 controller though). Also, the PS2 was the first to add DVD playback and the PS1 was the first to use DUAL analog joysticks. The Dreamcast was the first console that used the memory
    • by DeeDob ( 966086 )
      "You have Microsoft with what amounts to the XBox 2.0. It does everything the XBox does and better, but doesn't add much else on top of it."

      This is a somewhat uninformed comment.

      The software improved by a lot:
      - MarketPlace
      - Achievements
      - Live Arcade
      - USB storage device connectivity
      - Picture and movie playback
      - iPod connectivity
      - Games auto-updates (i.e. patches. I much prefer a corrected game to a bugged one that can't be fixed)

      The marketplace and Live Arcade are among the biggest financial success of the g
      • Live Arcade is on the original XBox as well, it just wasn't as successful for the original XBox (perhaps because it didn't roll out until much later in the console's life). MarketPlace still needs to prove itself a bit more than items you would be able to get for free on the PC version using mods. The achievements are similar to the rankings in games like Halo 2, although it is nice to have a more integrated apporach to it. I wasn't aware of the USB storage device connectivity, but that's a nice to have fea
        • Live Arcade is on the original XBox as well, it just wasn't as successful for the original XBox

          - Can't be compared because a necessary disc purchase was necessary. It didn't come "in-the-box" like the 360.

          MarketPlace still needs to prove itself a bit more than items you would be able to get for free on the PC version using mods.

          - You only have Oblivion and their official mods in mind. Trailers, demos, themes, gamer pics, free mods exist too (cars for Ridge Racer, expansion maps for Ghost Recon, coop online
          • ^^^ sorry, the quote you missed wasn't "ONE of the..." but "among the...", which is basically the same meaning (i.e. not THE biggest, but AMONG the biggests :)
    • Although fans have been referring to the remote controller as the revmote/wiimote since it was announced, Nintendo has consistantly refused to use that terminology. On their website [] they use the term "controller" and call the Wii's the "Wii Remote". In interviews that I have read, the Nintendo people always use that term and not "wiimote".
      • The great thing is that the name "Wiimote" is not being used to denegrate the system, it's been given as sort of an endeering nickname. Nintendo's really going for the "endeering" qualities this time around, giving the system a cute name, pushing casual games that involve more social interaction. I think they might as well go all-out and name the remote, the Wiimote. I think calling the last controller (at least the wireless version, which became the dominant kind) the "Wavebird" was a great move, it gave t
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @01:33PM (#15841036) Homepage Journal
    Am I the only one that predicts that the PS2 may very well come out the winner again? PS3 will fail because well, it's way too friggin' expensive considering the fact that it offers what Microsoft and Nintendo do(Xbox live and the motion sensors respectively), only they don't do it as well, and they add in a blue-ray player that nobody wants. Microsoft is doing some interesting things, but I see nothing to suggest they will be as dominant as Sony once was, but I don't see them crashing either. The Wii could very well take the cake, but only time will tell(Nintendo is the #5 holding in my Fidelity Pacific Basin mutual fund, so I do have a vested interest in it but..).
    However, the PS2 already has a large install base, and provided Sony keeps on manufacturing them, are only getting cheaper. Plus, save for the hardest of the hardcore, the PS2 is more than capable, and I don't really forsee any of the next-gen consoles knocking it off it's throne as king console till at least the end of '07, but that is just me talking.
    • You are right that games are going to be developed for the PS2 for some time still.

      But eventually, sales of PS3's will overcome PS2 sales - you'll be able to play games that come out later for the PS3.

      Also by saying no-one wants the Blu-Ray player you are seriosuly underestimating potential demand for HD video. I don't like subscriptions so I don't get HD cable, but I would like to buy movies and various TV series in HD. A standalone HD-DVD player is too much, but since I'd like a new game console anyway
  • Nintendo offers the widest range of game play types. Square-Enix pretty much does RPGs. Digital Polyphony sticks with racing games. Harmonix makes games with a clear focus on sound and music. iD makes and refines first person shooters, as does Free Radical. In constrast, Nintendo has had a direct hand in making racing, platformer, sports, RPG, strategy, adventure, puzzle and space shooter games. They've also gone to lengths to fill percieved holes. For example, metroid was And this ignores their long histo

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!