11 Nov 2006
I'm certainly no expert in videogaming. But since I read around the topic a bit in the last weeks, I  am following the events as a bystander. The video game market has a lot of money to offer - and a lot of money is spent there. The big players are Sony (Playstation), Microsoft(XBox) and Nintendo(Wii).

Many discuss what the future properties of gaming will be: Games might surpass movies in the number one blockbuster entertainment category. Or: Games will be used for education.

Today, the new Playstation 3 was released in Japan. In a few days, Nintendo will release its next generation console, the Wii.
The interesting thing for me is: Will they be successful? Some people (eloquently) suggest that those big players have been building up a bubble which will crash soon. They are investing a lot of money, but the novelties in the last year haven't been extraordinary.
  • There are advances in graphic capabilities, but they have gotten slower. It's not the same Aha-moment we had 6 years ago. Why pay hundreds of dollars?
  • The advances in technical capabilities mostly include added functionalities that have nothing to do with gaming: Playing music, a web browser and so on. I don't think that those capabilities are really able to impress a lot of people that have real computers at home. In addition, those features will all be pretty proprietary. I see a lot of frustration on the horizon.
  • The most important point: There is no innovation in ideas for games. In the end, almost all of them are mere finger training. They don't capture your imagination. Microsoft hired Peter Jackson to bring stories to games, but one attempt might not be enough. Maybe the  industry needs a crash, so that bottom-up innovation can make its path (And of course this is where I see interesting opportunities for developers to get heard).
So I'll be watching the scene with interest. Sales are one thing - there will always be thousands of people that drool for the newest technical gadget (especially making the headlines by waiting in line at the stores the first day after launch).
But what is about overall sales in the long run? Compare the sales figures to the actual investments made (many say that Microsoft is already losing lots of dollars). Will players actually be frustrated?
I do hope so, because that's when it gets interesting :-)

Update Nov 13:
It seems that with the PS3, Sony will lose several billion dollars, too. I would say that it's ok to lose some money with a ground-breaking product, so you can earn it later with the market share the product brought you. But 5 billion dollars (or whatever it really will be) is not "some", not even for Sony, and as I said above, I don't see this product leading anywhere that spells "innovation of user experience". It's just a bunch of high-tech features thrown against the wall, hoping that some of them will stick with the user.
This market is indeed showing classical signs of a bubble. The critical measure will be the willingness of people to pay for these "innovations".
# lastedited 13 Nov 2006
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