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32BitsOnline: Microsoft's Next Biggest Battle: Sony

Jul 27, 2000, 02:02 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Christopher Robato Yao)

"When I wrote my first article on the X-Box, I began to see glimpses into a coming era in gaming, in the Internet, and finally, what now looms to be a major battle in the future between Sony and Microsoft. Microsoft has been held as the prototype of the New Business, fast-moving, aggressive, with strong strategic positioning. Sony has been held as the prototype of the electronics industry."

"Microsoft practices the philosophy of paranoia, and they are paranoid about the console industry. Rightly so. In the early nineties, PC games dominated in terms of revenue and unit sales. When the 32-bit era of consoles started with the Playstation and Nintendo 64 and their ilk, this began to change. Console game sales went up every year, and by 1997 easily surpassed PC game sales. No PC game, not even the holiest of its titles like Quake, could sell in the millions, the way Final Fantasy did. Console games like Final Fantasy probably made SquareSoft the richest and most lucrative game software company on the planet, with Street Fighter's Capcom second in line. Most Playstation versions of PC games, for instance Tomb Raider, easily outsold their PC versions. The rate of introductions for new titles for console games easily outpaced PC games, despite the technological superiority and resources PC games can afford. You only need to go to the newsstand and look at electronic gaming magazines to see what is happening. For the developers, console games don't have much technological budgets for high polygons and textures, but their platforms are standardized, so they are much easier to develop for and support. As you know, development and support time is money."

"...in the history of computing, we have seen one major pattern emerge: the meek shall inherit the Earth. In most collisions between large and small platforms, the small ones win, and every improving technology favors the small platform over the big one. If this pattern continues, consoles can and will inevitably win. For the last few years, experts have predicted the Post-PC era. They have cited visionary platforms like the Network PC, the Web Device, or the Web Appliance. ... But consoles are different. They are cheap. They have numbers. They have a large base of platform exclusive software that justifies their presence. They have consumer presence, distribution, and identification. They are everywhere, from K-Mart to Target and back."

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