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"Manufacturing hardware is a mug's game" - Livingstone

Walled gardens will eventually disappear from games business, says Eidos life president

Hardware manufacturers will wise up to the fact that creating dedicated consoles is a futile business strategy for the future of video games, according to Eidos life president Ian Livingstone.

Discussing his personal projections for the future of the interactive entertainment business, the industry veteran suggested that the closed environments created by multiple home and portable devices will eventually disappear allowing intellectual property to spread across any and all gaming formats.

"Hardware manufacturers will finally realise the fact that manufacturing hardware is a mug's game," Livingstone told the Launch Conference in Birmingham, yesterday.

"It's all about intellectual property and I think you'll see IP moving across all platforms and all devices. Walled gardens will one day disappear."

Portable hardware will the dominant gaming devices, said Livingstone, driven by a standard language in HTML5 - something that could become bigger for web-based gaming than social networks like Facebook.

"The dominant platform for me is going to be mobile," he offered. "Android might eat Apple's lunch but a connected device allowing gaming on the move is absolutely, undoubtedly the future."

"HTML 5 is going to create a real opportunity, a single platform with a single interface. That's going to be a bigger platform perhaps than Facebook."

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Latest comments (37)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 10 years ago
Vested interests and entrenched business models work against hardware openness. Mango and Fire are both building new walled gardens.
The problem with the Android model is that they might have over half of the smartphone market but they are still far smaller than the iOS store for developer revenue.
Obviously mobile devices will be dominant both for web access and for gaming. Static devices will wither on the vine. Already half a million new Android devices are registered every day, expect that to increase.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
I agree - I'm very surprised that there's the Wii U coming out of Nintendo, and a new X-Box and PS confirmed. I might be biased, but to me the perfect static gaming device is the PC. Motion sensor hardware-capable, multiple device connections, constantly improving hardware (which, minus motherboard and CPU isn't massively expensive), and, most of all for games publishers, a single scaleable architecture to program for. The only downside is the PC isn't generally something you have sat next to a living room TV.

I'll go out on a limb and say consoles are out-dated, not in their technology, but in what they try to sell to mainstream consumers - a constant cycle of new (sometimes obscenely) expensive hardware which (generally) don't play all the old games you have on the shelf. And, from a publishing perspective, creating multiple versions of the same product for differing formats seems like a waste of resources. Plus, all that money spent on exclusivity deals seems like a relic from another time. If the economic downturn is still with us come the new generation, I can see it being the last.

So, in short - Yes. Now we just need Nintendo to go software only. :D
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 10 years ago
Closed platforms have a distinct advantage on today's markets. They will not go away. A closed platform can charge its developers for the right to develop, turn around and use that money to subsidize hardware and run ad campaigns to dive competitors from the market.

Sure, Eidos would make more money, if they had to pay no licensing fees to Sony and MS. But in the absence of closed platforms, would there be the same amount of open platforms in people's homes? Who will pay for the ads required to achieve the sort of market penetrations the creators of the console had in mind?

The second issue of open platforms is DRM. Closed platforms pitch the idea of security as much as the tech inside the box. Hardware manufacturers can make the argument for security, charge for it and use that money to attack the competition again.

If publishers sat together, they could have their own open platform console by the end of the week, running a mix of Intel and nVidia hardware with either Windows or Linux on top. Neither hardware manufacturers, nor Foxcom, nor customers would be unhappy about a "PC console". As long as publishers are unable to do that, one of them will always go ahead and release an own platform and exert total control over it.
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Show all comments (37)
Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
@ Klaus

Good points, but they raise other issues. For one, subsidising hardware is a questionable business practice - when the PS3 launched in the UK it was, what, £399? Were it to be released in the current economic climate, how many could afford to buy it? All it needs is one hopelessly failed hardware cycle and the company in question will start to wither. Sega did just that (though it can be argued that it needed 2 failed hardware cycles truly get out of the hardware manufactuing game). Nintendo is half-way there, with the only moderate success of the 3DS - and the failure for that is mostly attributed to a lack of games, which if it didn't focus on hardware, wouldn't be such an issue.

As for DRM, whilst technically you're right that consoles have security on their side, the amount of 360 0-Day piracy is staggering, especially when you consider it against the PC on certain titles. Skyrim, as an example, was Pre'd on the 360 on the 1st of November - a full 10 days before the release date, and a full 10 days before the PC version was cracked (due to Steam DRM).
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 10 years ago
The main function that consoles and other walled gardens serve is as anti piracy dongles.
The "open" platform of the PC suffers 95+% piracy on stand alone boxed games.

When a console fails in this function, as happened at the end of the PS1 generation, the publishing industry takes a significant haircut.

If people can steal with no chance of getting caught then mostly they will, that is a fact of life. Just look at the recorded music industry to see what an open standard does to publishing.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
Ohhh...Bruce... Bruce Bruce Bruce.

Do you have a source for "the PC suffers 95+% piracy on stand alone boxed games." Because I can give you a Scene tracker that's my source for the 0-Day cracked Skyrim, as well as the Razor1911 copy of the same game. Throwing firgures around willy-nilly without a verifiable source does no-one any good. And, having followed the Scene and piracy forums for a few years now, I can tell you that the figures are no-where near that high for PC.

If you want to see people who steal with no chance of getting caught, then look at 360 piracy, and ask yourself why the publsihing industry hasn't taken a haircut. :)
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 10 years ago
@ Morville

It is too long to post here: http://www.bruceongames.com/2008/04/23/g...
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
@ Bruce

I did have a sparkling, witty, urbane reply here, but I think this discussion has veered a little too far off-topic. Apologies to the site mods. :)
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game10 years ago
The average consumer doesn't really care if a piece of hardware is open, as long as they can buy games for it. Yes, plenty of games won't be available on those closed platforms, but then the average person will never be aware of those games, as they arn't reading about them in magazines or websites. Advertising budgets are much more influencial to most people than freedom to put what you want on there. I'm not saying that there isn't a big group of people wanting open platforms, just that a bigger group, bringing more money, don't care either way.
The alway connected DRM that is more prevalent on the open PC, is more likely to turn off the average consumer than the fact that weird 2 man outfit from Luxemburg can't self publish their awesome point and click adventure/block puzzler fusion game about the futileness of existance of a depressed donkey on PS3.
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Thomas Luecking10 years ago
Having a closed platform is the only way to recoup expenditures from R&D, Distribution, Content Management, Customer Service etc when you still want to provide an integrated and cohesive experience for the customer. It is also the only way to differentiate your hardware (your standard) from competition by having exclusive content and full control over your platform. Additionally, there would never be a consensus about common hardware configurations... the opposite would be the case: more and more incremental and heterogeneous hardware iterations would inevitably flood the market... oh wait I am talking PC market right now ;)

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Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments10 years ago
Not sure having a single generic platform is desirable at all - for example, the closest we have to that is the PC, which is hardly renowned for innovative new approaches - just improvement on the same formula.
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Luke McCarthy Indie Game Developer 10 years ago
The console market is not the PC market (and smartphones are just mobile PCs), but then I would expect this misunderstanding from someone running a PC gaming company. The end of consoles has been declared many times before, but it has yet to happen.
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Louis Sugiyama Account Manager, Publicis Modem10 years ago
Agree, BUT Livingstone will still need a few mugs to make platforms to build on... :-)
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Look, the console biz isnt going away and at the end of the day, i want to switch a machine on and play. No loading issues, no bugs, no freezes. Just push and play.
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James Ingrams Writer 10 years ago
No wonder the gaming industry has never become mainstream. They find a 5 million user PC market and dump it, because they find a 7 million console market, now they will dump the 7 million console market for the 10 million mobile market! Any other business would try and grow their PC market share AND there console market share while they moved into the mobile market!
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Andrzej Wroblewski Localization Generalist, Albion Localisations10 years ago
For us -- "advanced users" -- PC and scalable systems will always be the first choice, but the "silent majority" will always go for "plug and play" devices like PS3 or Wii. It's exactly the same as with game localizations -- the loud minority will always rant about details, whilst the silent majority will always just buy whatever seems more "user friendly" = fully localized games.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
Well, those in agreement with Ian Livingstone (such as myself) seem to be out-numbered, and I know a losing battle when I see it... Though I can't resist debating a couple of the points raised here. :p

@ Thomas. I don't see why there would have to be a "consensus about common hardware configurations". The only real need would be to have a solid base-line for minimum system requirements for each game which is published, which would greatly benefit the consumer in the end. Publisher's who stipulate that "X CPU, Graphics card and RAM" would be needed to run the game at 30fps would have to ensure that their game was fully optimised at the lower scale for it to actually be the case. I think that would be marvellous.

@ Neil. Well, there's nothing to say that Sony/MS/Nintendo can't use their hardware R&D to create PC hardware and accessories - given the homebrew creation of Bluetooth-Wii controller, there's certainly room for innovation in that area.

The question in the end is surely, would a standardised development platform and OS be more beneficial to the industry than the fractured multi-platform set-up that exists now? Objectively speaking, I'm not entirely sure the PC is the best option, but, given the economic times, I'm not entirely sure the current console-led model can survive either.
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James Berg Games User Researcher 10 years ago
@Morville:
"and, most of all for games publishers, a single scaleable architecture to program for. The only downside is the PC isn't generally something you have sat next to a living room TV. "

This is very backwards. Publishing AAA games on the PC is far more difficult specifically because of the architecture. When you develop a game for a closed system, you know exactly what hardware you're dealing with. If one user is going to have a problem, odds are almost all users are going to have the same problem.

Like others have said, another big deal is that you can focus marketing with a small number of closed systems. Big games get big marketing budgets for very good reasons.
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Charles Beaupré CEO PlayNtrade, DimensionGames.com10 years ago
Well... Walled gardens IS working very well for Apple. Microsoft IS Trying to do do the Same.
The point is to do better and so far the Walled gardens are better and control much of the market. I vote for the cost effective solution for every part of the industry. Developer to the Customer.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 10 years ago
Ok, so lets build an open platform. Those are your questions. If nobody answers them, you will have the PC as a result, i.e. a lot of electric Legos.

(1) Who gets to decide what goes into the platform?
(2) Who makes sure all the manufacturing takes place?
(3) Who makes sure all the stores carry it?
(4) Who will pay for advertisement?
(5) Who is responsible for providing an operating system?
(6) Who will do driver updates etc.?
(7) How does my product get into distribution, both offline and online?
(8) How do I apply anti-piracy and anti-used-sale mechanisms?
(9) What type of programs am I allowed to release?

Sony, Microsoft, Apple and Nintendo each provide a full set of answers for all of these questions. If you are a publisher, you can go to any of those companies and realize these companies have their platform nailed down, you need not to worry. But in doing so, they racked up a lot of costs. Why would they now allow your freeloading ass to swoop in and sell millions of games for free? Which brings us to the final question:

Will existing platform holders continue to allow me publishing games on their platform once I operate my own platform?

Answer to that is no, Microsoft would not allow Nintendo to release Xbox games, period. If EA, Activision, Ubisoft all got together to create a platform, the wrath of Sony and Microsoft would come crashing on them really bad. This alliance of third parties would be faced between betting on their own platform, or sticking with Sony/MS/Nin/Apple. The only software company with a library strong enough to do carry the weight of an entire console is Electronic Arts. Suffice to say they are in no shape to spend a few billion Dollars on creating a hardware with attached operating system. Nor are they that bonkers for high risk moves. If EA move into the hardware business, Sony and Microsoft simply chop down their software business with one swipe and that will be the end of that.


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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
@ James

Fair fair - I defer to one more in-the-know than I. :) Though surely, given the bugs that escape into console games and the ease which Day 0 patches for PC games can be rolled out as compared to 360/PS3 patches, it's not as black-and-white as a lot of pro-console people make out?
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
@ Klaus

So. Yes. The PC. Lots of electric Legos. But also the answers to questions 6, 7 (partially) and 8 are Steam (EA can also answer 7 fully, with both a digital store and physical distribution network). (Obviously, drivers are created by the hardware manufacturer, but Steam can update ATI drivers, which is what I meant). Answer 9 is "Whatever you want". Answer 5 is Windows. And the answers to 1, 2, 3 and 4 are the same: "they already exist, or are unnecessary questions".

I readily concede the PC might be a bitch to develop for, but it's your open platform, right here, right now. With working distribution models for digital, (almost) constant connection to the internet, an easy to use delivery system for patches, and an evolving hardware spec which means games that are out now will still work on the same system (roughly) 10 years down the line.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 10 years ago
The PC is not a gaming platform! Windows is the gaming platform and it will cost money to install it on your "open" system. A PC without Windows is not something you want to buy for playing games. Even Linux only achieves some level of gaming success by having learned how to run Windows code.

If you then really pull off the trick to retool Windows into an Xbox competitor, Microsoft will shut you down in a very nasty, very personal way. MS does not take the PC serious, which is why Valve gets away for now, but if they overtake the Xbox, MS will slaughter them. Windows also adds $100 to your system's costs. That is way too much, if you want to compete with other $300 platforms. Think more in the direction of heavily modified XBMC on a Linux kernel with nVidia driver support. That costs way less, but needs more third party support, because Windows will have DirectX and XNA for convenient game creation, your system won't. Either way, you cannot compete with MS that easily. Next thing you know, this $100 billion juggernaut will release the Xbox720 now all improved with the Windows 8 experience dashboard and five billion Apps, then what? Checkmate.

Steam does nothing to get your product into real physical shelves. Which is still where sales happen, like it or not. Steam does nothing to magically make copy protections work. Retailers, such as GameStop or Metro Group, will not line up to buy your game, because it is on Steam, you actively have to make them carry your products. It will cost you. 1-4 are not unnecessary questions. If they were, we would see companies such as Razer, or Acer, or Fujitsu trying to release console style computers with all-PC interior. Alienware does it, but at their own price. They simply cannot put out a gaming PC at the price of a console. The hardware alone without much profit margin will cost $600.


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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
I see where you're coming from in a way. But! :)

Every PC has a copy of Windows. It may or may not be legit, but that isn't something to factor in the cost of a gaming platform. If a household has a PC, it'll have Windows. (Unless you're hardcore Free Software, in which case, you're a special case, even if you do number in the hundreds of thousands). And why would you want to retool Windows into an X-Box competitor? I mean... Why? I just don't understand that. It's a games machine as it stands - it's just not a very user friendly one. But then, that's changing with Steam and Origin.

I also don't understand your reasoning behind MS crushing Valve. Yes, it may be that MS doesn't take the PC market seriously, but look at G4WL - they have no comprehension of how the digital PC market works. And just like EA won't crush Valve with Origin, MS won't either. Steam has too much of a head start with its installed userbase. And so what if the new X-Box is released? The PC has an installed user-base of... every First World home, nearly. And everytime a PC dies, it's replaced. How many consoles die, and the family just can't afford/doesn't want to replace it? Again, *every home which has a pc has Windows*.

No, Steam doesn't get physical products into stores, but digital has equalled physical sales, and a lot of that is Steam. You don't *need* physical stores to sell a game (ask the Super Meat Boy team). Steam does not magically make copy protections work? No? Then how can you argue that consoles do? I refer you to Skyrim that was cracked 10 days before release on 360. And on release on PC, because of Steam encryption. Steam works a damn site better than the 360 DRM, if only because JTAG'ing a PC is... not possible.
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Josh Jonsson Studying Bcomm/CompSc, University of Calgary10 years ago
I think that consoles have a future. Though it may be that they evolve into a hybrid of gaming exclusive computers, this is, in fact, what they have always been. It is unnecessary to argue the merit of a computer over a static console as they are myriad. The console however functions in such a way as to assure constant quality and a baseline with which all games can be produced according to. PC specs differ immensely and the edge is constantly being pushed. This, especially in these economic times, is taxing on consumers. The security that a console system provides is that games released for it will work perfectly and constantly. Additionally, and this is something I think is often overshadowed, oligopoly, or the system of several large market shareholders, proves to be the most stable and beneficial model for consumers to live within. Having multiple systems to choose from allows an individual a sense of choice that additionally provides identity. Each is differentiated not only in specifications and design but more ethereally by a persona. As the market for games increases the probability for an even larger base of dedicated consoles seems very plausible. As for mobile gaming, it definitely has its place, but as an individual, I cannot foresee or even really imagine a set of conditions in which it becomes the dominant method. I suppose due to the environment within which it exists (short game play length, small file size, attention span, market production speed etc) it might have the greatest variety of titles (which in my experience in no way equates to a greater diversity of game types) but the fact remains that the experience of a home theater system for any media has a greater sensory impact and thus is seemingly more desirable. I own a laptop and specifically purchased an HDMI equipped TV in order to broadcast onto the larger screen. Games, movies, even audio, is a greater delight to experience in this set up. Though mobile gaming will only grow as our culture is one in which it fits quite well the idea that it will dominate solely on a sudden increase in corporate growth and investment over the dictates of the consumer base seems far fetched.
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James Berg Games User Researcher 10 years ago
@Morville:
"I readily concede the PC might be a bitch to develop for, but it's your open platform, right here, right now."

Which is getting beat by consoles, and more recently, mobile devices (iOS, for the most part). This isn't a new paradigm, and our debate isn't either :)

"With working distribution models for digital"

Again, you're missing a few key pieces of that puzzle. Having a distribution model doesn't matter if you can't market it. Who is going to try to take on Steam with some new open-platform model? If that's the target market you're trying to hit (which is NOT the same as the console market, and is not the same as the mobile market), then you're going to be spending a *lot* of money on advertising.

Why would people switch away from Steam to your open-platform device/model? I know how Steam works, I trust it to work, and I've already got more games on there than I actually have time to play (like.. seriously, ever).

"and an evolving hardware spec which means games that are out now will still work on the same system (roughly) 10 years down the line."

Again, this is backwards. This is a NEGATIVE of the PC market for publishers and developers. When you develop a game on the PC, you try very hard to make it work on current setups. When DirectX 13 is released, either your game works or it doesn't, and you have zero say in that. If you want to keep supporting your game in the future, you're spending more money for less return the longer that drags out. This is a big part of why walled garden consoles are *liked* by publishers/developers - they put a game out, and it works, and then it keeps working.

When the next big console comes out, the developer/publisher can put out a sequel, or frequently just the exact same game ported over, and sell it again.

Publishers (and especially developers) don't want a return on that investment spread over 10 years. They want a return spread over 2 years, and most of that is going to come in the first few months (on consoles/PC). The companies who can afford to eat an amortization of their profit are the ones who are the least likely to do so, because they can afford the up-front marketing to make sure their game sells well at launch.

"Yes, it may be that MS doesn't take the PC market seriously, but look at G4WL - they have no comprehension of how the digital PC market works"

This is silly. Of course they comprehend it - they just don't care much, because games software on the PC is not their big market. A dollar they spend promoting or improving GFWL is a dollar they probably should have spent promoting XBox 360 or Xbox 720.

"I also don't understand your reasoning behind MS crushing Valve"

Install base. If MS ever decides to compete directly with Steam, they throw in their game delivery service as something that comes with Windows, and is added via autoupdating. Kablammo, like you said yourself, almost everyone in their target market now has their service available. They then flip that over to their already-gargantuan marketing machine.

"No, Steam doesn't get physical products into stores, but digital has equalled physical sales, and a lot of that is Steam."

Source? That seems unlikely, but not entirely unreasonable. I'm also guessing you're just talking about the North American market, because Steam is a non-entity for Asia (which is where a lot of business is going to be coming from).

**

@Josh:
"As for mobile gaming, it 8definitely has its place, but as an individual, I cannot foresee or even really imagine a set of conditions in which it becomes the dominant method."

It's already starting to happen. Mobile game sales are growing massively, and cloud gaming is the "next big thing". My phone is already the 3rd most powerful computer I've ever owned, and I'm a PC gamer.

For your setup, replace your laptop with your phone. You get home, drop your phone onto a receiver, and it's now a cloud-capable gaming PC, outputting to your HD TV.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
@ James

Your words on how publishers regard PC development are interesting, not least because I approach everything from a consumer point-of-view, which is the total opposite of the publisher. As a consumer, I like the fact that my Baldur's Gate 2 discs work on my Windows 7 PC - I didn't need to buy the GOG release, but I thought why not. As a consumer, I hate the fact that a lot of PS2 games didn't work on my fat PS3, and that Sony have phased out all backwards compatibility. Why? Because, whilst the publishers may think they can bilk me out of repeated versions of the same game on different formats, I know that my monthly spend on games is finite, just like every other gamer out there.

The more mainstream gaming goes, the more people out there think like me, and the more chance there is that they won't buy the next generation of hardware when they have to shell out for all-new games. Or, to get to my point, the more (possibly) might turn to PC, where, excluding weird errors, their old games will still work 10 years hence. And not every game requires constant support from the publisher for this to happen. I totally see why the publishers don't like the PC, but from a consumer point-of-view, it's not a great model.

As for Valve vs MS. I just don't buy it. Yes, I can see MS being able to crush Steam if they have a better product. But that requires a better product. And I doubt that they'd be able to throw in a G4WL service with Windows, simply due to anti-trust issues (at least, in Europe, since that's what happened with Internet Explorer). Which means it'll be like IE, and IE isn't a better product than Chrome or FireFox.

There was a more recent source for the physical vs digital sales figures (from this year) but a google hasn't turned it up. Here's one which shows near parity

[link url=http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/retail-and-digital-pc-sales-almost-equal
]http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/retail...[/link]

dated 2010. Possibly I have had one too many gin-and-oranges to use my Google-Fu. :)

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 10 years ago
The mainstream consumer culture is a throw away consumer culture. There is not a lot you keep, at least not in the price range games are being sold. Just look at clothes and music, the most disposable mainstream products possible.

Valve is mortally dependent on the good will of Microsoft. Microsoft owns Windows, they own DirectX, without them Valve has nothing to conduct its business on. If Microsoft choose to close the platform in the same way Apple does, consumers would applaud them for a unified App shopping experience, while Valve is back to making Half-Life games.

Then Microsoft gets to hand pick which apps are nice and which are naughty. Without their signature no exe will run (give it a anti-malware spin), competing shops will be forbidden, or taxed. Freely programmable versions of Windows will be restricted to Pro versions for corporate environments. Home versions sold at retail will only get the closed system version.

You want your driver to work on Windows, you already have to pay Microsoft. They could do the same for exe files the way Apple does.

In the end, Microsoft is in total control and is not developing its Windows platform into an Xbox replacement. Instead, they will rather develop the Xbox into a home-PC replacement, by adding App features. You do not need a $600 PC for a bit of surfing and an Office package. Apple has shown how you make profits off non-gamers with computers used at home. Microsoft will add this strategy to its closed Xbox system with subsidized hardware. Next thing you know, the gaming console is also what you use in your study to write Emails and surf the web.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 10 years ago
As I keep saying, consoles will live on for ONE key reason. Not EVERYONE has the ability do get online ALL the damn time, period. Take away the ability for a user to pop in and PLAY a game WHEN THEY WANT TO and you end up with a system that's not going to see to the millions without reliable connections.

Also, the Call of Duty Elite server issue has shown, unless you properly work out a system that can take that many people wanting to get on at the same time and play ONE game, how the hell can you get a be-all end all platform up and working perfectly (as it SHOULD on day one) with DOZENS of games of all different types.

This nonsense of "well, the mobile market can do it, so we should too" is going to kill the industry faster than anything. That and trying to copy any business model that relies on accepting ridiculous amounts of theft as "normal."
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game10 years ago
@Morville.
You mentioned Steam.
So your solution to an open platform gaming environment is to stick a closed platform client on top of it, and you don't see a flaw with that argument?
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Stephen McCarthy Studying Games Technology, Kingston University10 years ago
Pc's are harder to work with then consoles as there lots of types of pc's set up's but only 1 or maybe 2 types per console to work with. I do think console like computers (i know it is a computer but you get the idea) will take the place of most pc's in the home some day.

maybe sooner if pc advancement slows down (pc are getting close to the max point on how fast they can get right now)
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 10 years ago
@Morville O'Driscoll

Further proof of PC piracy levels: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/20...
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
@ Andrew

Steam is closed, yes. But, a) they take less of a cut than standard retail from distributing titles, and b) whilst getting games approved for Steam is tough, it's also very open in the games that it supports. Casual games, puzzle games, FPS, etc. In short, if you can get past the initial vetting, they *appear* to be one of the best distribution channels for games. Again, look at Super Meat Boy's sales (and how Team Meat found Steam's developer support vs. MS's).

And it should be noted that I'm using Steam as an example. You want proof that PC distribution is open?

[link url=http://www.stealthbastard.com/
]http://www.stealthbastard.com/
[/link]

You want proof that games can be sold on the PC without Steam?

[link url=http://www.indieroyale.com/
]http://www.indieroyale.com/
[/link]

@ Bruce

Yes, that's very nice. /sarcasm/

But seriously, what about the overwhelming amount of 360 piracy that exists? Because it *looks* like you're just picking on the PC. Which is silly. If you're going to be anti-piracy, let's look at all the formats shall we? :)
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game10 years ago
"Steam is closed, yes. But, a) they take less of a cut than standard retail from distributing titles, and b) whilst getting games approved for Steam is tough, it's also very open in the games that it supports. Casual games, puzzle games, FPS, etc. In short, if you can get past the initial vetting, they *appear* to be one of the best distribution channels for games. Again, look at Super Meat Boy's sales (and how Team Meat found Steam's developer support vs. MS's). "

does this not indicate that we don't need an end to walled gardens altogether, we just need nice walls and bigger gates?
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Ryan Burch Web Journalist and Graphics, Metro Group Inc.10 years ago
This is a huge topic with a lot of points to cover. I'll try to break down the points as I understand them. Feel free to correct me.

I am for opening up/tearing down some walls from those gardens. The PC market AS IT IS NOW isn't the answer. An "aligning of the stars" will have to occur in the industry in order for our dreams to come true.

Consoles and PCs need to merge their manufacturing principles. They have to act like Apple's computer model (ignoring the mac air/mac book division for now). PC manufacturers would have to pick one model to support, with slightly different configurations, upgrading at semi-regular intervals. Video game hardware manufacturers have to build their systems into fully functioning PCs. VG Hardware manufacturers are currently making more progress than PC manufacturers in this scenario.

This doesn't prevent the manufacturers from differentiating their hardware from the competition. They'll compete in different ways. Maximum specs, their services (ex. PSN, Xbox Live, Steam), and their physical design will do this.

The services also have to be cross-platform as well. I don't see how it's a problem for companies to let their services run on competitors hardware. The only time its an issue is when someone creates that walled garden, because it isn't fair. If you could subscribe to Xbox Live on PS3 and PSN on Xbox 360, both companies would benefit. Cross-Service online play would have to be allowed also. There is no reason to segregate the user base because of their manufacturer preference.

Then, the games would have to come under one format so they can be played across the multiple devices. It's a waste of everyone's money to be publishing separate editions of the same game for different hardware. All developers benefit from money earned from the sale of their game, regardless which machine its for.

These are some of the things that would have to happen to make the dream a reality. I don't know how they'd get done or how likely it is to happen. Just the "What and Why" or the proposed concept.

As for mobile, it would have to become the focus for the industry's lowest common denominator for the gaming to be completely accessible. People would enjoy being able to take the same game they play at home with them wherever they go. Cloud gaming could alleviate that problem once the world world is covered in high-speed internet and we get a better top-speed.

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 10 years ago
Steam is ok, if you want to make back your money on a $200.000 garage game. Even then you have to factor in advertisement. For every prominent Super Meat Boy on the starting page of Steam, there are five indy games you never heard of. They have a far tougher time making their money back. Super Meat Boy is also available at retail. If the distributor thought there was no market, they would not have offered the deal to team meat.

But that is the low-budget end of the industry. Sure, Steam can work there. But what about your $40.000.000 action extravaganza? Will you be able to cover your costs releasing such an expensive game exclusively on Steam? No, never, nada. You have to bring that game to as much venues as humanly possible. You won't even find the financing for a 40 million Dollar game, if want to make it a Steam Online distribution exclusive.

These highly expensive PC games are either made with impeccable copy protection mechanisms (i.e. MMOs partially running on a server), or get multi-platform releases.
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Ryan Burch Web Journalist and Graphics, Metro Group Inc.10 years ago
@Andrew I.

I'm talking about an entire restructuring of the business models in the industry. I hope you didn't miss the part where I said PC and console manufacturing principles would have to merge. But yes, I am talking about PC, because dedicated consoles are a concept that I don't think will last another 10 years.

Either consoles will die out and we'll see Nintendo PCs (for example), or the feature set of consoles will continue to expand to the point they are indistinguishable from PCs except by branded software. Personally, that second possibility may be most likely, but that seems more complicated for users and keeps the markets of games separated.
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