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 Jun 18, 2004 - 03:08 PM - by Michael
* Could MS be rushing too fast with Xbox 2?

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Xbox/Xbox Games has a new editorial up - apparently, Rob Fahey thinks that Microsoft could be screwing up by bringing the Xbox to market too quickly.
More important, though, is the company's desperation to enter the next-generation race with "first mover advantage" - establishing a strong beach head before its competitors can launch their own fifth generation (counting from the NES) machines. Despite its claims to be delighted with the performance of the Xbox, the fact is that many within Microsoft have been bitterly disappointed with the console's market share. Prior to launch, there was a genuine belief that they would deliver a system which would be neck and neck with Sony in the global marketplace; managing to come neck and neck with Nintendo instead, while both companies are being trounced by Sony's PS2, is an achievement in its own right but not what Microsoft had hoped for by any means.
He's got it partially right.#1, Microsoft and Nintendo aren't both being "trounced" by the PS2. The PS2 has a higher adoption rate, but that's a product of where it was in the market when it came out. See, the PS2 had the interesting position of being viewed by 99% of the market as an upgrade, rather than a new system. People didn't buy a PS2 - they upgraded from their old Playstation to the PS2, keeping their library of PSX games. Thus, Sony had a ready-built audience of gamers ready to adopt and stick with the Sony brand. Plus, the PS2 had a whole year before either the 'Cube or the Xbox to become entrenched. And consoles, except for a precious few people, aren't an "own two" choice or even an "own all three" choice (I'm lucky enough to review things, and so getting them was almost a necessity for me - but how many people are me?). #2 - He makes this statement:
To be entirely fair, Microsoft sees this problem, and that's why XNA exists - but no game programming framework is ever going to get around the fundamental problem, which is that creating games for next-generation systems is going to require tools, technologies and resources which simply don't exist yet, and which will be hugely expensive and time-consuming when they do arrive. Studios which focus on cross-platform titles, as many of the largest publishers in the world do, face a gigantic problem - while developing a title on PS2, Xbox and GameCube is an easy prospect as code, art and audio can be effectively reused on all three platforms, adding a next-generation platform to the mix will require complete re-development.
What he fails to miss is that this problem has already been seen once and been addressed - by the PS2, and by its predecessor the Playstation. Look carefully, please, at the first generation of games on each console. What do you see? That's right. What he's missing is that on any console, the first generation of titles look exactly like the last generation. 3D games, on the Playstation, didn't really take hold until the second and third shipment of the console's life. Likewise with the PS2 - anyone played any of those first games lately? Titles like Summoner, for instance, were basically higher-resolution versions of what an old Playstation could do. Bottom line: It's relatively easy to get developers to switch over, to take games developed for a previous console and get them ported. And that's what any proper development house will be doing for the first generation of Xbox2 titles, just like happened with the PS2. I'm not too worried about it.

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