7.21.2010

Console Gamers Get Killed against PC Gamers


Microsoft Killed a Killer Project

I never thought I would be more disappointed in the industry then when Microsoft killed Ensemble Studios. ..however nothing surprises me anymore :)

Rumor has it that there was a project many many months ago at Microsoft that was under wraps. The goal was to bridge XBOX gamers with PC Gamers so they could play against one another in games like Unreal, or Gears of War. This was all part of their Live strategy, and had Microsoft just stuck to their guns and made it work PC Gaming might be in a much better position than it is today.

Not to say that PC Gaming is in a bad position, but it's not like it used to be. The PC is shifting, as I've said many times over the last couple of years. The need for multiple high performance graphics cards is all but dead. You can play any PC Game on an HP Envy at high resolution with high detail, for example. PCs are becoming more mobile, form factors are shifting, touch is being embraced as well as other technologies. The word "PC" is dead, but the concept of personal computing isn't. ..but this isn't the point.

There was a project that got killed at Microsoft. This project was designed to allow console gamers and PC gamers to interact and battle over a connected environment. Personally I wish it would have stayed the course. I've heard from reliable sources that during the development they brought together the best console gamers to play mediocre PC gamers at the same game... and guess what happened? They pitted console gamers with their "console" controller, against PC gamers with their keyboard and mouse.

The console players got destroyed every time. So much so that it would be embarrassing to the XBOX team in general had Microsoft launched this initiative. Is this why the project was killed Who knows, but I'd love to hear from anyone involved --- what happened?

Those of us who have been in the gaming business for over a decade know the real deal. You simply don't get the same level of detail or control as you do with a PC over a console. It's a real shame that Microsoft killed this -- because had they kept it alive it might have actually increased the desire of game developers and gamers alike to continue developing and playing rich experiences on the PC which would trickle down to the console as it has in the past.

Instead they wanted to keep an old business model alive, and as a result they are (all) getting attacked by the most unlikely competitor.. Apple.

..had they allowed something like this to take place then perhaps the desire to have the best platform would still be there. Perhaps the scale of the PC would have allowed Microsoft to get away from the hardware business and focus on their core, software. Perhaps we could have finally integrated the XBOX into the PC...

Perhaps not, all of this is over now, there is no looking back.

The Future of Game Development

Game developers follow the money. This isn't a labor of love.

Yes, this industry has changed. While not all the big publishers are struggling to keep up with their growth, most are. The "app machine" allows little companies develop great content from their basements and remain incredibly profitable. Remember GOD Games (Gathering of Developers)? Seems like the concept was way ahead of its time.

While gaming seems to be shifting away from large rich productions to independent app developers and less immersive titles, the audience is growing. More people are playing games. The sad thing is these people don't know what they're missing.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. If developers can start taking advantage of *all* the hardware on our devices and build compelling titles that get the user excited - they will be featured - and you will likely become very rich very quickly.

Hardware is becoming smaller, lighter, portable, and more feature rich. The content is become less detailed, but the experience involves multiple senses. The audience for games has never been larger. ...but only the great titles will stand out in a soon to be highly competitive environment.

So I'm calling out to all game developers. It's time you followed the money and looked to the future. Opportunity is in scale. webOS will have tremendous scale and reach.

You might even think about developing titles exclusively for webOS in the future, but for now perhaps you should look at taking some of your best titles - and don't think port - think about taking full advantage of our hardware, cameras, sensors, etc. The possibilities are endless - and while it may take time for new devices to start showing up, you can rest assured that the wait will be worth it.

I guess what I'm saying is rather than trying to stand out in a store with millions of apps in front of you, it's probably a good time to get in while the getting is good on the ground floor. Feel free to contact me personally, and I will make sure to hook it up internally.