Fighting games are not dead, or even remotely dying. DOA3 and VF4 are kicking alot of people's asses, and when Soul Caliber 2 comes out, it will as well. And even you mention Smash Bros. The fighting game craze has simply gone 3D.
Well, I never said fighting games were dead, but the Street Fighter to Tekken craze ended a few years ago, by 1998 at least (and DDR has eroded their dominance in arcade games). There's nothing revolutionary about the newest crop of games except incremental improvements in gameplay, controls, and graphics. Compare that to FPS which are migrating into the MMORPG model (although very little in the way of FPS mechanics has improved since Half-Life and Deus Ex), and will offer many new dimensions of gameplay, character development and teamplay, online leagues, etc. Consoles, with their control pad input devices and minimalist hardware, aren't well-equipped to compete in that arena yet.
This is what I don't understand. People have been saying this kind of thing for a decade and a half. That we're going to have a wired "set top box" that everything will happen through. But what does that actually do for the consumer? All that I can see is that it gives them a crappy PC in the living room that's hooked up to the net.
No, those products have always been aimed at people that do not know how or do not want to bother with setting up and installing a PC (i.e., 'lusers'). Those people outnumber knowledgeable and discriminating users many times over. The XBox could easily function as a decent PC, although that certainly is not MS's intention (why let it cut into its protected OS market), because it is much more powerful than the PS2, or any other erstwhile competitor. Again, XBox will not replace or supplant PC use, although one of its successors may. The PC market and the gaming market combined are dwarfed by the size of a (hypothetical) converged digital appliance market (which would have entertainment, productivity, and telecommunications capabilities all included). That market will not materialize in 2002 certainly, maybe it will take 5+ years from now, but how can you not see that it is coming in the near future?
Sure, MS would love to have an X-Box hooked up to MSN in my living room -- but it's not going to happen unless it actually does something useful for me. And running half-assed PC applications isn't going to cut it.
Chances are that you are a very advanced computer user compared to the average consumer, and your first priority in technology purchases is not always 'ease of use' at the expense of 'configurability', and that you already know how to download multimedia content and make phone calls over ethernet (for example). To most non-technical people I know, computers are a complete mystery but Napster certainly sounds interesting. Those people are the target market for digital convergence, not you and me.
Remember DivX. Remember 3D0. Remember the Phillips CD-I. You can't sell an idea like this just becuase you want to.
All of those products competed directly with existing technology (DivX against PPV, DVD, and VHS), in a single market segment, at a higher price, with questionable benefits, and were abandoned rather quickly by their parent companies when profits did not materialize. MS is perfectly willing to lose out on the XBox, if necessary, just to make sure that successive generations have market share.
Perhaps, just perhaps, MS is just trying to sell a game console here -- i.e. get a piece of the very large gaming industry pie.
That's their present objective, sure. MS never sets out to lose money. But the gaming industry, all tolled, is but a small subset of the overall entertainment industry, some part of which MS will try to deliver in the near future by a combination of XBox 2/3/X, .NET, MSN, and whatever industrial partners it can bring onboard. The big difference between MS and other companies and their attempts at cracking this market is that MS already controls several of the required logistical channels to make it happen. Why do you think MS is looking into fabless chip design? Why is MS making partnerships with Clear Channel and Comcast? Whether or not MS loses the battle over gaming consoles is, again, merely a skirmish. From what I understand Sony has had similar ambitions for some time but it lacks many components necessary to proceed in the US (in Japan that is another story).
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