|A piece of the action
- August 28, 2000 - Chris Jones
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed
within this column are those of the participants and the
moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the
is coarse language and potentially offensive material afoot. But Tonto he was
smarter, and one day said "Kemosabe, kiss my ass, I bought a boat, I'm goin'
out to sea."
Don't say we
didn't warn you.
Wow. I always said I wanted to buy a piece of Square, and now here's
my chance. The only problem is that it's Square USA, and I'm not sure exactly
what the value of owning a piece of the them would be. Think about it: Square
Japan produces the games and SquareEA publishes the games, so where
does that leave Square USA? What do they do, besides some FMV work here
and there? Are they going to start making games again, like FFMQ or Secret of
Evermore? The very idea is enough to keep me far, far away from their stock.
Sorry Square, as much as I want to see the FF Movie do well, I'm staying away
from this one.
|First off, some unfinished
|I think you're half right on this one, KZ. A larger screen
on the GBA might
cause a slight size increase, but not double the size of the machine, any
more than laptop sizes have increased significantly as screens moved from
9-inch passive matrices to 14-inch active matrices. Cost is a factor, but
the original Game Boy ran on 4 double As, and I don't know how much that
I'm not sure where you get your logic on dimensions. Laptops have moved
from 9 to 14 inches because the top folding panel has more or less held a
constant size. The keyboard (and to a lesser extent, the controlling
hardware) needs that space, so it uses it.
On the gameboy advance however, the screen is the biggest part of the
If you increase the screen size (and remember, they fringe area around the
screen counts too, since it holds some of the LCD components) then you have
to increase the size proportionally to handle it. The bigger screen *is*
going to cost at least 2x - current manufacturing yields for LCD displays is
25% or less these days. And then, you have to figure in adding more
batteries, which increases assembly cost and brings in some peculiar weight
balancing issues - in a horizontal unit, having everything at the center
(whereas your hands are on the ends) is not a terribly good idea.
But yes, it is all moot anyways, because Gameboy's biggest market is 8-16
year olds, and unless you have an impulse buy priceline (under 100 dollars)
its probably not going to sell much. Just saying "Gameboy did it before"
only worries investors - they did it before, more than a decade ago!
Richard "KZ" Knight
Look again: laptops have been getting somewhat bigger as the screen
size increases. Keyboards from yesteryear were significantly smaller than
current models - you've got to look to see it, but as a longtime user, I can
definitely feel the difference.
The bigger screen will cost more, maybe twice as much, maybe
more. I'm not disputing that. What I am disputing is that this would cause a
proportional increase in the unit size. Look at the GBA as it currently stands.
The screen is a big part of the model, no question, but there's a lot of empty
space that could be replaced with a bigger screen. The fringe area should be
really minimal: take a look at how much edge a 14" Dell laptop has around the
screen. And there's always the third dimension: if you have to, move the screen
out and have the controls slightly recessed back, which will give you
more room to play with while not increasing size much.
Look, this is a dead issue. I know it, you know it, but I keep bringing it
up because I think portable gaming could be really something if we had the
right system. The GBA's good, but it's not as great as it could be, and that
frustrates me. That's all.
|Franchise timing is
|The circle is now complete.
nintendo dominates the market after struggeling against all odds
a few years later
Sega does the same by wrenching the strangle hold on all of our minds off
with their "master system"
the 16 bit console wars begin and sega seems to be winning
sega starts slipping.
THEN, in one of the most bone-headed moves sence Napolean screwed
Waterloo, nintendo drops the "Nintendo Playstation" project
Sony and sega enter "next generation" console wars with the "revolutionary"
new CD based systems
(I am omiting the Jaguire, 3do, and neo geo)
Sega looses just as Nintendo tries to make a desperate come back, and
to have a fighting chance
Nintendo starts to fall off of their throne again as the "Black
Belt/Dural/Dreamcast" is announced.
Dreamcast, for awhile, is winning
Sony almost has their second system out in America
Nintendo and Microsoft have started building their new admissions for the
"tertiary next-gen console wars"
The next few years should be interisting
DCB, who wants Chris to print this so bad that he can have my copy of
cross (when I'm done with it)
PS. "Time always flows on, but history is destined to repeat itself" I
wonder where I heard that
Keep your copy of CC, kid. I've got one of my own, I just need my freakin'
TV so I can play it.
I appreciate that you're searching for a pattern in history, but as more
than a few real historians have found out after staring at the data for years, it
just ain't gonna happen. There are myriad differences between this upcoming
war and the ones from the past, and you've paved over a few of them in your
quest for a Grand Unification Theory. (For example, the SNES ultimately did
quite well in the 16-bit wars, and Nintendo didn't really start to die off until the
lack off good N64 software became apparent. Of course, you could argue that
was implicit in their rejection of the original Play Station concept...)
But regardless, this contest will be interesting precisely because all
the players have a more or less level playing field. Sega, though weak in
comparison to the others, has had a year's headstart. Sony's box has a ton of
hype, some great developers, and lots of goodwill because of the PSX's
success. Nintendo seems to have contemplated long and hard over what their
mistakes were with the N64, and seems hellbent on making the best pure
gaming system they possibly can. Lastly, Microsoft has only themselves to fall
back on, but that's all they may need. As you say, we are indeed in for
interesting times... although it's worth pointing out that the Chinese have
traditionally seen that as more curse than blessing.
|well, evrybody seems to have a problem with the xbox...
because its microsoft offcourse... and possibly fearing they'll take over the
whole home console market so that we are all stuck with microsoft
but, if you ask me its not gonna make much of a difference to the home
the thing is basicly an PC right ?
it has an harddrive.. and all of them have the same hardware so it lets it tweak
and because its almost an PC... its sure to attract some PC-gamers
because its an home console, the games will never get low framerates
and will last longer then a gaming PC for sure, and all that for the price of half
(kind of cheap) PC
and because it has guaranteed framerates.... woudlnt it be great for online
never worrying that it might drop an few FPS, just when you have the flag in TFC
or even worse, an system CRASH when you have the flag in TFC ?
offcourse.. even my trusty snes has crashed once in a while.... but with 2
times a year i can forgive him that
not that FF8PC crashes 6 times in the same place (right after gerogero boss
(after train mission in timber))
because you were running it in fullscreen in stead of quarter screen (square pc
team, i hate you !)
but what i just wanted to say with this... the x-box is also going to get an
huge share of hardcore PC online gamers
just because its an PC/console hybrid (for harry's sake, microsoft bought
bungie so HALO is sure to be on it(and halo wont run on my old amdk6-2-300
for sure)) and the normal consolers are gonna stick with the PS2 and GC
well, thats my opinion on it all
(sorry my english is really bad, its because i come from holland)
I don't have a lot to add to this, since most of your points are pretty much
dead on. The X-Box, if it properly leverages its PC background, could indeed
make PC games go much more smoothly and give them a more polished feel:
consolize them, in other words. That and Halo makes things interesting
enough for me to keep a half-open mind about Mr. Bill's next venture.
|Americans sure are dumb. They're predicting X-box to do
badly simply because it's made by Billy Gates. Shouldn't the fact that the X-Box
is an American system and the fact that the Japanese are the ones that make
and buy the games come in to play on this subject? Do you really think the
Japanese will want to import a system from America when they already have
the capabilities to make one that equals the X-Box themselves? And what
Japanese game developers would want to sign over games for an American
system when they could work and make games under their own people?
X-Box isn't going to lose because it's a bad system. It will lose because it
was made by Americans.
Maybe I'm imagining things, but there seems to be an ugly chauvinistic
edge to this letter I don't much care for. Not that you're entirely incorrect in your
assumptions, but maybe not in the way you think. For example, many American
companies have made huge inroads in the Japanese computer market, in both
the hardware and software domains. I could simply be misinformed about this,
but a hell of a lot of Austin tech companies I knew sold a ton of stuff in Japan,
and didn't really have much in the way of native competition. And unless I'm
completely loopy, the same applies to Microsoft, which means that MS will
simply have the same problems over there that they have over here: convincing
people that a software giant can make a good gaming console.
But that's where things get interesting. To do that, to beat out
Nintendo and Sony and Sega, Microsoft's gotta come out with great games.
And if their acquisition of Bungie is any indication, those games are gonna be
somewhat PC oriented. This isn't a bad thing, but at the risk of overgeneralizing
here, I think the relative straightforwardness of PC games are more attractive to
most Americans, while Japanese console games have their own
idiosyncrasies that make them more attractive to the Japanese. In other words,
it may not be the messenger or the medium that sinks the X-Box in Japan, but
|AK stands tall, once
|I know this may be enormously anal, but you were right.
The correct word
IS trinary. Tertiary comes after primary and secondary. And naturally
quaternary comes after that. But trinary is the three digit numbering
system. Stand up for your nerdy knowledge!
Too much math.
Good to know. Onward.
| I'm a little confused, everyone keeps saying that the
Game Cube is
more powerful than the PS2. I was under the impression that although the
GC was more powerful in some areas the PS2 was better in others (such as
raw polygon pushing power). I was under the impression that the GC could
do 20 million polys (peak) no f/x and that the PS2 could do 70 million
(peak). The GC however does take the performance hits that the PS2 does
when implementing anti-aliasing ect. Maybe I'm just talking out of my
ass here I don't know.
I'm not real clear on the poly count myself, although it is clear from what
Nintendo's been saying that raw power and benchmarks weren't their primary
goal with the Cube. What the Cube has that makes it more attractive to
developers is ease of use and a somewhat smarter design, meaning no
repeats of the anti-aliasing problems the PS2 had (apparently the AA mode is
much easier to access on the Cube) and no cache limits like the PS2 (which
has a set 640k cache - the Cube implements some sort of virtual caching
which means texture caches can easily be up in the megabyte range).
When all is said and done, I think the Cube may be effectively the
better system from a technical standpoint. Now all they need to do is market the
Okay, I've been reading the debate about how the release date of the Game
Cube will effect the new console race. Yesterday, you said that the fact that
Game Cube is coming out over a year later means that people won't have to
choose, and Nintendo might make the PSX look obsolete, thereby selling more
There are two problems with that theory. The first is that most gamers are
impatient. The Gamecube could be 10 times the machine the PS2 is, but give
gamers over a year to wait, and they're going to start getting anxious.
Especially when their buddies start playing MGS2. Gamers might wait six or
eight months for a sharper, faster system, but over a year? With another Final
Fantasy on the shelves? I don't think so.
This leads to problem two. These days, game consoles are getting more
and more costly. If people are persuaded into buying a PS2 by games like
Final Fantasy, MGS2, and others, I doubt many of them will have the money to
shell out for another system a year later. They'll stick with the system they
Which means that Nintendo's only remaining market will be made up of
those few gamers patient enough to wait a year and a half for the -possibility- of
Metroid, and those few gamers with the money to throw away on -two- next
generation systems. Not a lot of people, I'm guessing.
And on top of that, the continuing stream of great games for the PS (FF9,
Crono Cross, etc.) helped gamers to resist the urge to buy a Dreamcast, but
considering the weakness of the N64, Nintendo doesn't have anything to
prevent players from going with the PS2.
I'm not Nintendo basher or anything, but from where I'm sitting, things don't
look that rosy for the big N.
Jere, Lord of Pendragon
I think you're working from a couple of flawed assumptions here. The
year's wait is a legit consideration, and Nintendo's gonna have a heck of a time
playing catch up to the PS2, especially if it launches right when the first great
PS2 games (MGS2, anyone?) are coming out. However, game system prices
are staying pretty constant. The Dreamcast cost $199, same as the SNES I
bought in '91. The PSX and PS2 launched high, but I didn't and won't pick one
up until the price comes down some. And I'd be surprised if the Cube launched
for over $200, if not much lower. Beyond that I'm hesitant to say, without seeing
how well the PS2 launch goes and what the first real games from Nintendo
|Last of the true
|Hey quit underestimating Sega everyone, it's not over yet.
FAR from over.
Think PS2 is vastly superior, and that once it's out nobody will even LOOK
at Dreamcast? Think again, look at Shen Mue! Everyone always forgets about
Shen Mue even though it scored big from every critic and has graphics that
match anything the PS2 will have for at least a year.
Sega has been doing a great job with Dreamcast advertising. Sales are
lacking, but millions of people know what the Dreamcast is... they know it
exists and is available for purchase, they just don't know if they want one
yet. Still, mission accomplished! When they do decide to look into
purchasing a console, Dreamcast will at least be in the back of their mind.
In reality, when was the last console generation where every gamer in the
world went out and bought their console of choice at launch and abandoned
their current machine? It's never happened, so why is this generation going
to be different? The PSX did not start to take off until a year and a half
after its launch.
When casual gamers are ready to buy a console, Dreamcast will be there.
an extremely low price. And games like Skies of Arcadia, Ecco the Dolphin,
Shen Mue, Soul Calibur, and Grandia II. Maybe they do not own the market
right now, but so what? The race has yet to begin and Dreamcast has enough
power to have good graphics all the way to the end. Don't believe me, look
at Shen Mue... Dreamcast is running at 60% power. Maybe they won't win but
they will succeed.
This letter just hit me in a soft spot. I think my Dreamcast is really great,
and I'd love to see the system do well. Grandia 2, Ecco the Dolphin, a huge
lineup of sports games and Shen Mue should guarantee the system's stability,
but I just can't personally get behind that argument. Too much of a cynic, I
Which makes true believers like this one all the more important. I
can't get behind you on this one, but I'm with you in spirit. Rock on, brother.
Interesting how console wars can bring out such intense responses. I'd
try and shut the topic down now, but I have a feeling you've all got more to say
and I wanna see you get it all out of your systems before we move on. So let's
hear it, whatever else you want to talk about with the Cube, and how it
measures up against the PS2, Dreamcast, X-Box, etc. One day only, act now!
See you tomorrow.
-Chris Jones, going through severe TV withdrawal