Why a one console future isn’t as stupid as it seems
July 6, 2008 § 1 Comment
It’s a sad fact that many gamers have not played some of the best games to ever come out simply due to console exclusivity. Shadow of the Colossus, Ninja Gaiden, Super Mario, Metal Gear Solid, all of these games console exclusives, and whilst that may be of huge benefit to the console manufacturers, gamers on the other side of the fence get left out in the cold.
Even games going multiplatform doesn’t entirely solve the problem. Aside from the fact that often one version is better than the other(s) (Orange Box I’m looking at you) multiplatform development is an expensive decision, two teams need to work on one game, and techniques that may work on one system to render the graphics may not go down so well on the other. As was the (rumoured) case with Grand Theft Auto 4, the PS3 version lagged behind and was the reason the release date was pushed back into this year.
“But Hailogon you gangster what IS the perfect solution?” I hear you ask, and unfortunately my idea requires some sort of sacrifice on the console manufacturers side for you see, my solution is a one console future. First let me explain to you what I initially thought a one console future was, that one of the current console manufacturers would hold a monopoly over the console industry. However I cannot stress enough that this is not the case. Instead what a one console future refers to is a model similar to that of the PC platform in that anyone can produce the hardware, however unlike the PC it must meet certain performance standards. Such an arrangement would have huge benefits for both consumers and developers, and may be essential for the continued economic growth of the video game industry.
Essentially what this means is that there’s a huge variation of the hardware for running games, but any consumer will know that if they buy a game it will definitely run on their system regardless of the manufacturer.
There are several reasons why such a system could work. Firstly it removes any confusion that exists surrounding consoles for people that may now know their 360 from their Wii. Grandparents will no longer face the look of utter disappointment as their grandchild opens their Christmas present only to realise their much sought after game has been bought for the wrong system.
A one console future also reaps huge benefits for console manufacturers who currently make huge losses on every system they sell. Famously the Wii is the only current generation console that is sold at a profit to Nintendo – both the PS3 and Xbox 360 are sold at a loss. Removing this profit drain from these companies, which are also admittedly huge publishers, means that they now have more funds to pour into actual game development, rather than hardware manufacture.
Admittedly we’re a long way away from such a future. The three big console manufacturers won’t relinquish their grip on control of their platform any time soon, and the administrative task of setting up a committee to oversee the creation of the console standards is enough to make anyone fall to the ground and weep. Peripherals may also suffer under this new system with developers unwilling to create games to run with a certain accessory because not enough people own it, because not enough games support it. Can anyone truly claim that the Wiimote would come about within such a system?
At any rate, if a one console future came about it would do so out of necessity rather than a conscious desire, due mainly to the rapidly increasing costs associated with game development nowadays making it uneconomical to develop for only one part of the market (ie the owners of one console). I’m not saying that this will come about, only that it may be one possible solution to an impending crisis which may inadvertently reap huge rewards for the gaming community as a whole.