Subject: Mail bag article
email is in response to something that
I read in the mailbag regarding "Will
Consoles Blow Away PCs?"
sit in a very cool/odd segment in the
gaming sector. They are, in essence,
specialized computers. They have processors
that are specially designed to accelerate
precisely those types of operations
that are required to support the types
of games that the console developer
is hoping to foster ISVs to develop
for their system. So what you end up
seeing, in the current "next generation"
of console specs, are extremely high
FLOP performance and extremely high
bandwidth for the graphics subsystem.
Since the graphics subsystem doesn't
have to support context switching (i.e..
Windows based platform), the real estate
can be better allocated to supporting
more advanced graphics algorithms which
supply better pixel quality.
that with the business model that the
console industry gets to enjoy. Since
the platform is single source (i.e.,
Sony owns the rights to Playstation,
Nintendo owns the rights to the N64,
Sega owns the rights to Dreamcast, etc.),
they can actually charge ISVs for the
"right" to develop titles
on their platform. What does this mean?
It means that, for example, Sony can
afford to make the Playstation2 with
a projected street price of $1000 and
fit more gaming power in there than
a PC can do for $1000, but still sell
the system for $200. Why? Because Sony
can expect to make the difference up
in licensing fees from ISVs developing
software for the machine.
model doesn't exist on the PC market
because there is no single platform
source. The closest thing you have to
the console industry on the PC is Microsoft
due to their dominance in the OS market.
And while there are no royalty costs,
there are other "costs" to
that relationship. In any event, the
PC market requires support for more
than just games on the machines. Windowing
environments must be supported by the
graphics subsystem, which requires a
substantial amount of silicon to support.
Also, the processors must be more generalized
to support a wider range of potential
applications. And the icing on the cake
is that everybody in that market must
make money to stay in business. So a
$200 PC is a $200 PC, whereas a $200
console could be a $1000 machine in
has the PC always been in the lead?
Because until recently, mass storage
and memory were too costly to trickle
down into the console systems. Not to
mention that the technology of graphics
really has made a shift from figuring
out how to accelerate windowed graphic
requirements to accelerating 3D graphics.
The latter of which helps out the console
developers while the former does nothing
technology of the PC, since it is modular,
can be upgraded. This means that the
PC can make fairly radical technology
leaps every 6 months or so. The console
is stuck in a 4 to 5 year cycle, presently.
thing to note is that while the PC can
make radical technology leaps, it can't
lose backwards compatibility. This adds
a lot of cost to the systems, but it
does make more rapid technological advances
possible. If Sony were to come out with
the PSX2 a year after the PSX, and not
have backwards compatibility, the PSX2
would compete with the PSX for sales,
and the software titles would suffer.
They would get no real net revenue increase
while incurring greater development
The interesting development in the console
market space is compatibility. The PSX2
will be backwards compatible with the
PSX. This means that Sony can capitalize
on revenues from popular PSX titles,
while at the same time getting revenues
from the newer PSX2 titles. Also, there
will be less of a hesitation to buy
the newer technology as there will already
be titles available for it. If this
trend continues, Sony could release
a PSX3 six months to a year later which
was backwards compatible and take away
the PCs only advantage, while at the
same time taking a loss on the
Umm, I have a hand cramp. Time to go..
I really shouldn't comment on this,
I play everything on every platform
imaginable (I'm actually not kidding
ability of PCs to constantly evolve
is both an advantage and a massive pain
in the tuchus. The nice thing about
a console is that (for the most part)
once you buy a console, you're set with
that hardware until it becomes obsolete
(which in the case of the GameBoy is
ten years and counting!).
don't think PCs have anything to worry
about from the PSX2, since PCs will
always be needed for non-gaming purposes
(and as long as people buy PCs for any
reason, they're going to want games)
but make no doubt about it: the PSX2
will be huge. Freaky-huge. If nothing
else, it's a cheap DVD player (and a
good one, at that!). It will be very
interesting to see what happens.