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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:55 am 
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The other day I sat down and was thinking about consoles, the companies behind them and home console business models. So here are my thoughts.


I think home consoles are interesting. I think that my very first video game that I ever played was on a home console, but lets think about why home consoles even exist in the first place.

In the very early days of video games, the games where only available to a very small percentage of the population. You would see a game running on a large computer at a major university for example. Then this was eventually turned into arcade machines and since people loved playing video games so much someone thought it would be a good idea to make a video game playing machine for home televisions. This is where the video game console was born.

Lets say that the time period is the early 80's and I own a company and want to make a video game console to sell games. I then make some first party games then try and get as many third party developers on board as I can. Try and market and sell as many systems and games as I can and then after so many years I start plans on making a newer console.

The newer more advanced console gets designed and then pushed out to market and the cycle repeats itself. Because of the new technology, the older console fades away and is eventually abandoned all while the current console is spotlighted. After the current console is on the market for several years plans are made to make even a newer and more advanced console yet again.

From a business perspective if a company has old consoles that exist yet are not generating any more revenue then there might be an incentive to "kill those consoles off" so to speak. If someone is playing an old console with old games then they are not buying the current console with the current games.

My question really is... why is this the business model for home consoles?

Create a console. Support it for a few years. Abandon it and repeat. I guess it's just the result of our ever increasing technology.

Is there a push to create new a console every so many years? As if it were just a way for a company to earn more and more money as time progresses. Is this just the result of capitalism? Is it our need as humans and consumers that we constantly need something bigger and better than the year before?

Or maybe by making a new console every so many years this is some type of anti piracy mechanism. When a console comes out, it is a new piece of technology and nobody really knows the vulnerabilities and exploits yet, but after a few years people figure out the loop holes and pirate stuff. There are some game companies that if they were to release a new game for an older system, literally by the next day after release the rom would have already been ripped and put on the internet for download.

Which leads me to talk a little more about piracy in video games. While many things can be pirated. It seems as if video game companies really don't care about their older games being pirated. As if they understand somehow that this is the natural order of things. It is almost as if at the end of every games life cycle the game inevitably ends up as a download link. Here is the life cycle of a game.

Game gets created
Game sells and earns money
Game get pirated on internet

It seems to me that being a game company is all about creating as much content that you can to only abandon it to make way for more content. The thing that kind of bothers me is, what is going to happen to all of the old abandoned video games and hardware? Video games are actually relatively young so what is going to happen several hundreds of years into the future? There will be so many consoles and games that you could play abandonware for an entire lifetime without ever getting anything new and current. It seems as if sometimes we live in a throwaway society. We have this out with the old and in with the new mentality.

So after thinking about this for a while I think I might have an answer. We as consumers buy things typically at stores. Stores typically only sell current technology merchandise. A music store for example once sold vinyl records and 8 tracks to then be replaced with cassette tapes to then be replaced with CD's. So it is not just a video game phenomenon. This happens to many things as technology progresses. Things become outdated and replaced. Kind of like how Buzz Lightyear replaces Woody in Toy Story.

Anyway, let me know your thoughts.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:25 am 
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Erockbrox wrote:
Lets say that the time period is the early 80's and I own a company and want to make a video game console to sell games. I then make some first party games then try and get as many third party developers on board as I can.

It's telling that you mentioned "the early 80's" in connection with "as many third party developers on board as I can." In 1983-1984, the industry learned the hard way that the market needs curation in order to weed out two exploits: production of games without lasting interest, and distributors that offer a money-back guarantee to retailers but go out of business. See "Video game crash of 1983" on Wikipedia. Nintendo's answer to this was tighter curation of software produced for the platform, which is why 10NES, the firmware in the CIC, is proprietary software.

Erockbrox wrote:
From a business perspective if a company has old consoles that exist yet are not generating any more revenue then there might be an incentive to "kill those consoles off" so to speak. If someone is playing an old console with old games then they are not buying the current console with the current games.

That and an old console with new games becomes increasingly untenable as new video game genres arise out of the loosening of a technical constraint on the old platform. The NES can't do the fighting games that were popular in 1992-1993 because even two big sprites will lead to flicker. An unassisted Super NES can render a very basic real-time 3D view, as demonstrated in every mode 7 racing game, the first-person shooters Faceball 2000 and Wolfenstein 3D and the first-person segments of Toy Story and Jurassic Park. But because of the limits of the NES architecture, you aren't going to get (say) a racing game with a textured track or a first-person shooter without putting most of a new console's processing power in the cartridge slot. Sega tried this with add-ons, such as the Sega CD and 32X. Nintendo used coprocessors, such as the Super FX GSU and the SA1, but the engineering to make (say) a Super FX fill CHR RAM the way the limited-release Wide Boy accessory does would have been expensive, and the 2bpp output would have severely limited the achievable art style anyway.

Erockbrox wrote:
Is there a push to create new a console every so many years?

Yes. It's a push in part by other console makers, who have released or announced a new console.

Erockbrox wrote:
Or maybe by making a new console every so many years this is some type of anti piracy mechanism. When a console comes out, it is a new piece of technology and nobody really knows the vulnerabilities and exploits yet, but after a few years people figure out the loop holes and pirate stuff.

I'm under the impression that Nintendo ending Wii U production before the release of Nintendo Switch, leaving Nintendo 3DS as the only supported platform from December 2016 through February 2017, was partly for this reason.

Erockbrox wrote:
It seems as if video game companies really don't care about their older games being pirated.

Of course they care, as they want to keep their exclusive right to sell the game on new platforms and to sell sequels. That's why you still see ROM sites getting taken down.

Erockbrox wrote:
It seems to me that being a game company is all about creating as much content that you can to only abandon it to make way for more content. The thing that kind of bothers me is, what is going to happen to all of the old abandoned video games and hardware?

I'll skip launching into a rant about Wii and WEEE because your next sentence makes it clear that e-waste is not what you're on about.

Erockbrox wrote:
Video games are actually relatively young so what is going to happen several hundreds of years into the future?

There's a substantial difference between decades in the future and centuries in the future. After a century, the copyright will have expired.


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