The Console War of 2001 [2]

Many people seem to think that there is going to be a big 'war' between the new consoles that have come out (or are going to come out). PSXII vs. DC, Dolphin vs. X-box, Game-boy Color vs. Godzilla, etc.

Well, if it's really going to be a war, they're going to fight it with titles, since issuing newer and more powerfull hardware isn't much of an option for a console. This leaves us with a few possible scenarios. Scenario one, in an attempt to bring over the most gamers, the company that owns the console will push and pay as many developers into making games for its console as quickly as it can, so that they can advertise the largest number of games (see if you can figure out which company is doing this; it's not too hard). Scenario two is that the console company spends a lot of time on development, and encourages quality over quantity, so will produce fewer, but higher quality games.

What is most likely to happen is that all 4 of the major contenders will try and find a comfotable medium between these two scenarios. The game companies want money, obviously. The best way to keep making money is to sell games for your console. The best way to sell games is to make good games. Of course, no-one is going to want to pay for a piece-of-trash game that's beaten in just 2-4 hours (luckily, I don't yet know of any RPG like this).

Which brings me to the next point, with the console 'war' imminent, we can expect a deluge of low quality games, and a moderate offering of good or better quality games. Each of the 4 major systems has something to offer.

Sony has Square, so all of the loyal Square following that has already invested in the PSX will probably also get a PSX II. Sony also has other game developers working for them: Enix, Atlus, and Working Designs, to name a few. To be fair however, not ALL of the developrs making games for Sony are working exclusivley for Sony. The DVD format, while it won't do a lot to abate loading times, will also be a big boost for FMV's, since space will not be the issue it's been in the past. 8MB memory cards are another plus, since they will allow saves to contain more information (hopefully faster than PSX memory cards).

Sega has relatively fewer developers, but they do have the advantage of already having been around for almost a year by the time the PSXII comes out in the US. Add that to the fact that they've already got some innovative games (ShenMue), and one or two other titles (Evolution, E.G.G.). When the release of the PSXII happens, expect a drop in the price of the DC. And then consider, $250 (minimum) for the new PSXII, or $150 (or less) for the DC? Did I mention ShenMue? Low price, and high quality games. The DC would be a clear winner, if it weren't for the shortage of developers... that flaw may end up giving the PSXII (and the other competitors) a clear edge. The DC still has some tricks up its sleeve though, aside from ShenMue, and we can expect other games, such as the next Phantasy Star game.

The Dolphin will supposedly be using DVD disks as well (huzzah, escape from cartridges at last!), and feature some very powerful hardware, but by the time it comes out, both the PSXII AND the DC will have established a greater foothold. Nintendo's failure in the RPG department with the N64 has probably lost them a good number of potential customers, but they also have a few aces up their sleeves, as I don't see Zelda coming to the PSXII or DC any time soon. Aside from that, Nintendo is planning on making their system the most powerful console on the market, something to attract developers. My only worry in the console war is that Nintendo will drop out of the RPG race entirely, and focus on what they're able to sell more of. Sports and fighting games.

The X-box... the box is a whole new can of worms. While it DOES boast some impressive hardware, there's one primary concern for me. The x-box (like all of the other machines mentioned so far) is also going to be an internet appliance. It's also supposed to come with a 6-8 gig hard-drive. The good in this is, (if you can imagine) some form of RPG maker for the x-box, where you can trade games with your friends over the internet. The bad, a game company could put out a game that's full of bugs, secure in the knowledge that you can just download the patch once it's availible. On the other hand, Micro$oft's X-box does essentially have a developer base that's much wider, and practically no time will be lost porting games over to the X-box...

I look forward to counter-points, but not flames. Happy gaming, all.

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