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Computer Games - Consoles Convergence

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					     New Media Technologies


                Case Study:
       Video Games Consoles


The aim of this case study is to provide you with
information which you will be able to refer to in the
exam. You should retain this document and use it
for revision before the examination.



The four key areas which you must refer to in the
exam are:

   Interactivity

   Miniaturisation

   Why institutions like new media technologies

   Convergence
Video Games
Consoles
Definition
     Console games are more commonly referred to as „videogames‟. These
      games are played on a device called a videogame console and are
      designed especially for electronic game play. Console machines need to be
      connected to a television set much the same as a video player, as image
      and sound is delivered to the gamer via the television. Due to this these
      machines are commonly found in the living rooms connected to the
      entertainment system. The player interacts with the game with a
      specialized controller, a hand held device with buttons and triggers used
      for actions and joysticks or game pads for movement. Due to the fact that
      these controllers are specifically designed for game play, their layout and
      functionality create a vivid playing experience.




     The plug and play function that is part of the console game design is
      another draw card for many gamers. This means once the game is
      purchased there is no need for installation, this opens the gaming market
      to people who may not be competent with computer installation
      procedures, and makes the console machine easier to use for beginner
      gamers or children. 1972 marked the beginning of the console market with
      the introduction of the Magnavox Odyssey. Although the potential of the
      market did not become recognized until 1985 with the release of the
      Nintendo entertainment system (NES), selling 6 million units worldwide.
      Nowadays videogames are the fastest growing segment of the
      entertainment business.




     The videogame console is host to a large range of varied game play
      including genres such as racing, simulators, adventure, fighting and action
      to name a few. As apposed to a computer games, videogames can only be
      played only on specific console systems, and this has create a competitive
      market where industry leaders want the best games to only become
                                              available on their console
                                              systems.
Features of Videogame Consoles
     One of the most common feature found on most
      videogame consoles, including early systems
      such as the Nintendo entertainment system
      (NES), is the ability for multiplayer game play
     LAN (Local Area Network) and on-line are other
      forms of multiplayer gaming which many of the
      modern consoles support. Online gaming for
      console systems is a recent feature, which has
      only been introduced with the recent generation
      of consoles. (Xbox, Playstation 2)
     There are many features which are now
      incorporated into modern day videogame consoles which make them a
      much more valuable accessory to any household. The current genration of
      game consoles (Xbox, Playstation 2) come complete with CD and DVD
      playback, creating much more versatile entertainment machines. The Xbox
      also includes a hard drive to store game progress and music. This can then
      be accessed by some games and played back as the soundtrack of the
      videogame.

Videogame Industry
     The market is currently dominated by media
      giants Sony (PlayStation) and Microsoft (XBox),
      with Sony being the undisputed market leader.
      Both companies are late entrants in the
      videogame market, yet they still managed to
      corner the industry in less than a decade.
     PlayStation made its debut in 1994 and managed to dominate the market
      in four short years, taking the industry by surprise. Sony was able to
      achieve this by developing better gaming technology and delivering
      superior graphics and sound quality with its console. By the time the
      PlayStation 2 was introduced in 2000, Sony had already established itself
      firmly in the market.
     Microsoft launched the Xbox in 2001. It was touted as a Trojan horse, as
      part of a grand ambition by Microsoft to sneak a computer into the living
      room disguised as a toy. Microsoft‟s strong financial background and
      existing expertise in the computer industry gives it an edge in developing
      a console that can compete with the PlayStation, on both the technological
      and marketing.
     The other significant competitor is Nintendo. It was the incumbent market
      leader before Sony entered the market. It made a series of bad business
      decisions over the past two console generations and ultimately lost huge
      market share to Sony. Nintendo positions itself on delivering a new
      gaming dynamic instead of competing on developing superior gaming
      technology like Sony and Microsoft.
     In the current videogame market, it is conceding the high-end to Sony and
      Microsoft and focus instead on making less expensive games and devices.
     Competition in the $28 billion worldwide videogame industry looks set to
      get more intense with the launch of the next-generation gaming consoles.
          1. Why do you think that only three market leaders have
             emerged in such a large entertainment business? What
             prevents other console manufacturers from competing?




          2. What advantages can you think of that video games
             consoles have over other technologies such as interactive TV
             or the internet?




          3. Provide reasons as to why the video game industry is rapidly
             growing. Consider how the industry has embraced and
             exploited advances in technologies such as on-line gaming
             and global gaming networks.




Future of Videogame Consoles
In May 2005, Microsoft unveiled its next-
generation console, the Xbox 360, in a much-
hyped marketing campaign on MTV. Sony followed
just days later in announcing details of its
PlayStation 3 (PS3) at the annual Electronic
Entertainment Expo (E3) videogames trade show in
Los Angles and was released in March 2007.
Nintendo have also entered this new generation
with the Wii.

      As part of the strategy by both technology giants to dominate the living
       room, the new consoles are no longer just gaming machines; they are
       designed to be high-definition centerpieces for home-entertainment
       systems.
      These consoles have state-of-the-art hardware technology and are slated
       to deliver cinematic quality graphics.
      Digital convergence is the key feature of the new consoles.
      They offer features such as wireless remote, wireless controllers and built-
       in DVD player.
      Their online and networking capabilities allows for communication with
       other digital devices such as cameras and music players.
      They are designed for high-definition displays and can also function as a
       set-top box for Internet Protocol Television (IPTV).
Look at the powerpoint presentation on how video games consoles have
developed over the decades then answer then discuss the following
points:

      What has remained a common feature throughout their
       development?




      In what ways has miniaturisation affected their development?
       Provide reasons for this (consider consumer demands/needs).




      The aim of the games console is ultimately ‘home entertainment’.
       How true is this when we look at the new generation of games
       consoles?




Convergence and the Video Games
Console:
Technological convergence is already a common phenomenon in today‟s ICT
devices. Computers are able to function as video and audio players, even having
editing capabilities which is traditionally the area of professional broadcasting.
The integration of internet connectivity, mobile telephony, computing power,
media storage, digital camera, mobile gaming and digital audio player are already
apparent in many of today‟s devices such as mobile phones and personal digital
assistants (PDAs).

      Where do Video Games Consoles fit into this idea of „technological
       convergence‟?

Computer games

Computer games play a major role in digital convergence. According to Mark
Cavazza, author of “Computer Games and Digital Convergence”, computer
gaming is at the crossroads of several major trends in the Information Society:
interactivity, digital media content, on-line or virtual communities, and mobile
computing. Thus, it is able to achieve a unique integration of creative content and
technology. Online gaming is an example where entertainment, social interaction,
computer and internet technologies meet. Convergence makes new experiences
possible in terms of interaction, realism, aesthetics and game play.
Convergence is also present in videogame devices. The Sony Playstation 2
functions both as a game console and DVD player, while Microsoft currently
supports an online gaming community of two million subscribers on its Xbox Live.

The 'International Data Corporation' IDC has found that more than 25 million
game consoles were sold in 2003 with many containing either modems or
broadband connections. The evolution of gaming consoles into more interactive
and dynamic devices is a significant milestone for gamers, manufacturers and the
industry as a whole.

The new generation of videogame consoles is set to bring digital convergence to
the next level. The Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 are designed to be high-
definition centerpieces for home-entertainment systems.

The consoles offer features such as wireless remote, wireless controllers and
built-in DVD player. They possess online and networking capabilities, and can be
used with other devices such as digital cameras, video cameras and digital music
players. For example, the Xbox 360 can connect wirelessly to Windows XP and
Vista-based home PCs. This would allow the digital music, photos, and movies
stores on the PC to be streamed to the television through the Xbox.

The consoles are also able to perform online gaming, live chatting and even video
conferencing. They are designed for high-definition (HD) displays and can also be
used as a set-top box for Internet Protocol Television (IPTV).

Convergence can also be in the form of industry practice. Eventually, Microsoft
envisions part of the Xbox Live marketplace being run by the gaming community
itself, where players can design, upload and sell contents to other users. This
type of practice is currently common amongst the PC-based online gaming
community, but not console based online gaming arena. Thus, the practices of
two different gaming platforms are likely to converge into one in the future.

Technological convergence will make it possible for the manufacturers to widen
the appeal of videogame consoles and target their audience beyond the
traditional gamers. With the value-added features, these new consoles can be the
centerpiece of home-entertainment systems linking to other audio-visual devices
such as televisions and stereos. This is believed to be part of the strategy by both
Microsoft and Sony to gain expand the market and gain dominance in the living
room.
Future
As to the future of digital convergence of computer and videogames, it is possible
to imagine more dramatic evolutions for digital media, in which films, television,
computer games and virtual reality would converge.

   1. What are the major trends of the ‘information society’?




   2. What new experiences in video games are possible through
      convergence?




   3. How have gaming devices evolved?




   4. List the capabilities of the new generation of games consoles
      (XBox 360, Playstation 3).




   5. What are the implications of technical convergence for console
      manufacturers?
Computer Games - Consoles:
Implications for Consumers,
Manufacturers & Developers
Next-generation Consoles
Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo released their
next-generation videogame consoles.. As these
new consoles, namely the PlayStation 3(PS3),
Xbox 360, and Wii, are evolving into digital
entertainment hubs, it will have implications for
consumers, game manufacturers, game
developers and the ICT industry at large.

Consumers and the Industry
      The manufacturers plan to expand their target audience of next-
       generation consoles to beyond the traditional gamers. Sony and Microsoft
       are using technological convergence as the key to expanding the market.




      Their new consoles are designed to be feature-packed and powerful
       entertainment platforms for the entire family. The consoles are able to
       network with other devices such as digital cameras and MP3 players. They
       can also function as DVD player and set-top box for Internet Protocol
       Television (IPTV).




      Nintendo, meanwhile, uses innovative controllers and simpler games to
       reach out to non-gamers, like elderly people who want to sharpen their
       mental faculties.




      The consoles‟ high-end graphic output and advance networking capabilities
       implicate the consumers and the ICT industry in another manner. In order
       to enjoy the full potential of these new consoles, consumers will need the
       peripheral support such as broadband internet connection and high-
       definition television (HDTVs). The success of these new consoles could
       boost the take-up rate of broadband and HDTV, or alternatively, be
       hindered by their popularity.

Manufacturers
The competition in the videogame market has implications for console
manufacturers beyond that of the key industry players. The success of the PS3 is
vital not only to the future of Sony‟s videogame business but also to the company
as a whole. Videogames are a major source of profit for Sony, accounting for
about a third of its operating income.

Sony is also counting on the PS3 to jumpstart key technologies it has spend years
and billions of dollars developing, namely a new chip call “Cell”, the Blu-ray DVD
technology and the Super Audio CD (SACD). Sony developed Cell together with
IBM and Toshiba Corp. If the PS3 does well, it could be the first of a series of
Cell-based audio-visual devices that would stream movies, music and other kinds
of digital entertainment throughout the home.

On the other hand, Sony‟s proprietary Blu-ray disc technology for the PS3 is up
against Toshiba‟s High Definition DVD (HD-DVD) to be the next-generation movie
format leader. With the vested interest in Blu-ray, Sony is likely to swallow high
drive costs to keep prices down.

Game Developers

The next-generation consoles will also have an impact on the game developers.
The smaller developers might not have the capability to handle the cost and
complexity of making games for the new consoles. The average development cost
for a blockbuster videogame these days is already in the millions of dollars, and
the costs will rise with the arrival of PS3 and Xbox 360. Many of the small,
independent game companies today may be forced to consolidate or be acquired
in order to compete in this new gaming environment. Alternatively, Sony
suggests that they can specialize in developing lower-end titles for the
PlayStation Portable (PSP).

On the other hand, Nintendo‟s Wii will have modest hardware and graphic
capabilities compared to Sony and Microsoft. This could also provide a niche
market for small developers that cannot afford the huge budget required for PS3
and Xbox 360 development.


New for 2008 - The Nintendo Wii
What is Wii?

“To truly understand how Wii revolutionizes gaming, you have to try it for
yourself. Quite simply, Wii is for everyone. The ease of use and interactivity of
the Wii Remote and Nunchuk allows for a unique social gaming experience for
the whole family. You don't just play Wii, you experience it.” Nintendo

Why do I need Wii?

“Wii is not just a gaming console, it's a reason to get together with your
friends and family and play today's hottest games. Wii offers legendary
Nintendo franchises like Mario, Zelda and Metroid, as well as all new classics
like Wii Sports and Wii Play. Create your own Mii character to star in Wii
games. Play friends online over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection or use the Internet
Channel to surf the net from your sofa. You can even download classic
Nintendo games using the Wii Shop Channel. Take a look around and see why
your TV is not complete without Wii.” Nintendo

WiiConnect24




WiiConnect24 enables Wii to stay online 24/7 and download updates - even
on standby.

Wii Tech




Experience the joys of gaming or surfing the net with a wireless Wii Remote
and tuck in the compact Wii console near your TV to fit your lifestyle. Easy to
set-up and easy to use, Wii is ready for you (or anyone) to play.
Wii Chic - The compact white style makes Wii a natural addition to any television
setup. Lie Wii down flat or show Wii off with the console stand.

Wii Harmony - Wii packs 4 controller ports and 2 Nintendo GameCube™ Memory
Card slots to make it fully backwards compatible with all Nintendo GameCube™
titles.

Wii Size - Wii is just 8.5” long, 6” wide and less than 2” thick. Try stacking 3 DVD
cases together and you’ll see how cute Wii is.

Wii Talk - Up to 4 Wii Remotes can communicate with Wii. And Wii links to your TV
with an AV Multi-output port featuring component, composite or S-video.

Wireless - Wii communicates wirelessly with the Internet via your router or a Wii
LAN adapter. Wii also connects wirelessly with Nintendo DS.

Wii Brains - Wii is driven by 2 cutting-edge processors from the best in the business
- a PowerPC CPU developed with IBM and a custom GPU from ATI.

Wii SD - The SD memory card slot means you can enjoy slideshows of your favorite
photos on TV. Drag an MP3 onto the card, and you can have a soundtrack as well!

You've got Wii Email - Watch the disc slot emit a cool blue glow whenever you
have email, Wii friend messages or an update from WiiConnect24.

Wii Sensor Bar - The slender Sensor Bar works silently with your Wii Remotes to
turn those arm waving moves into game-winning moves.

				
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