By Chris Sorensen - Sunday, December 16, 2012 - 0 Comments
Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are struggling to reinvent video games as touchscreens and tablets take over the living room
Nintendo’s 2006 launch of the Wii console marked a new era for video games. With its innovative motion-sensing controllers, used to mimic the swing of a tennis racquet or golf club, the $250 Wii immediately struck a chord with gamers and non-gamers alike. Amazon sold out of its initial stock of sleek, white Wii consoles in just seven minutes.
The Wii’s unexpected success catapulted third-ranked Nintendo to the top of the video game industry, ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3—both of which are more powerful (and more expensive) machines. More importantly, it suggested a much wider potential market for game consoles beyond basement-dwelling teenagers.
But the renaissance has proved short-lived. Console sales have declined dramatically in recent years as existing systems grow long in the tooth. Nintendo posted a loss of $530 million this year, its first since 1981. And competition from tablets and smartphones, with their cheap, downloadable games, threatens to steal away millions of casual gamers. “Tablets and smartphones are the black hole of the consumer electronics industry right now, sucking the growth out of everything else,” says Kaan Yigit, the president of Toronto’s Solutions Research Group, a consumer research firm. “The growth rates we saw after Wii first came out are but a distant memory.”
By Peter Nowak - Monday, July 16, 2012 at 11:55 AM - 0 Comments
If there’s one fact that crystallized a little more last week, it’s that the video game industry is set for some major disruption. Ouya, an Android-running set-top box that is looking for investment via crowd-sourced funding site Kickstarter, made a big splash on Tuesday. The attention came partly because Kickstarter projects are all the rage these days, but also because there is a definite appetite for just the sort of disruption Ouya is promising. The fact that the effort hit its $1million funding goal in no time indicates just how badly the gaming public wants something new.
The frustration was most effectively articulated by Destructoid reviews editor Jim Sterling in his latest video rant, which he posted a day before Ouya hit Kickstarter. To summarize, Sterling thinks video game consoles – primarily the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 – have become “crap PCs” that ultimately defeat their entire purpose. Virtually every console game now requires multiple log-ins, upfront installation, frequent downloadable updates and complicated – and annoying – digital rights management that limits how the game and its assorted content can be used. Whereas once upon a time a person could pop a disc (or cartridge) into the machine and be off to the races in seconds, now there’s a whole slew of hoops to jump through before the action starts.
By Jason Kirby - Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 10 Comments
To counter the Wii system, Sony launched a rival called Move
It’s rarely a good sign when analysts and bloggers attach the suffix “-like” to your competitor’s product to describe your latest, cutting-edge innovation. But for Sony, which has finally unveiled a motion-sensor controller for its PlayStation 3 video game console—four years and 65 million units after Nintendo’s Wii first hit store shelves—“Wii-like” will have to do.
At a gaming event in San Francisco, Sony officially debuted the Move. Like the Wii, users hold the Sony controller in their hands and as they move, the game responds to their actions. But what sets Move apart is the PlayStation Eye camera, which tracks a glowing ball atop the controller and lets games better track your 3-D movements in space. The controller is due out later this year and will sell for around $100. Early reviews of the Move controller have been mixed. Some bloggers dismissed it as too little, too late, while others found it more refined than the Wii.
Still, for all the time Sony has had to come up with its response, many analysts seemed underwhelmed. Of course, the small matter of the Great Recession might explain why Sony has held off releasing its own motion controller until now—sales of video game consoles and games have been badly battered by the economic downturn.
But Sony has a good reason to get a move on Move. Later this year, Microsoft will begin selling its own much anticipated motion control system, known as Project Natal. It involves no controllers whatsoever. Instead it relies on advanced infrared and motion-sensor technology so that players’ whole bodies become the controller. Microsoft even tapped director Steven Spielberg to unveil the device, prompting much speculation about hybrid movie-video games that star players in their own feature films.
Both the Move and Natal are still several months from launch, but already Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter has predicted Microsoft will outsell Sony five to one. Ultimately, Move may end up going nowhere.