May 20, 2004
The Borg Turns to Gaming

Slashdot linked up this Eurogamer article that analyzes a recent interview with a Microsoft executive concerning their new XNA initiative:

Far from being the suspected re-marketing and re-branding of the DirectX set of middleware tools for PC, Mobile and Xbox ... It wants to own the entire standard of gaming across every platform.

However, one of the rabble posted this insightful counterpoint:

The whole point of XNA is provide a solid common library, which focuses on common game development tasks. This allows different platforms to very easily interoperate, but does not make it significantly easier to port games to other platforms.

Sony seems to be tap dancing quite fast enough to stay ahead of Microsoft. For now. They're also far more diversified, so an eventual (inevitable?) defeat will absolutely not sink the company. However, I have a strong feeling this will all be very, very bad for Nintendo. I can already see the signs. "Available for PS2 and Xbox" accompanies most games, while "Available for Game Cube" appears to be getting rarer and rarer.

True, Nintendo produces its own line of unique, quirky games, and what is available for it tends to be available nowhere else. But a console company only thrives when outside developers embrace it. Microsoft wants developers, and is extremely good at attracting them*. Nintendo, to this day, seems to expect developers, and that is not a good strategy when the Borg is knocking on your door.

* The most unremarked aspect of the success of Windows, hell all of Microsoft's business, is Microsoft's superb, first-in-class development tools. The power of MS's "one ring" lies not in shady business deals or back-room connivance, it lies in Visual Studio and the thousands of programmers that enjoy using it.

Sony's path to success was, as I understand it, tread on the same ground. But nobody's better at this than Microsoft. It's going to be a very interesting time for console fans in the coming years.

Posted by scott at May 20, 2004 09:24 AM

eMail this entry!

Apologies in advance for a slightly-off topic comment.

I've been soaking myself in E3 coverage this year, out of curiosity, and this is my conclusion about Nintendo: they are betting the farm on brand loyalty, namely the franchises of Zelda, Mario and Metroid. The occasional hits outside of that area are usually quickly ported to the other consoles, losing the "Game Cube only" advantage.

People are getting excited about the new portable from Nintendo, but it actually competes with their own successful GBA, which doesn't make sense to me. The handheld game market is really the main strength the company has.

Sony's PSP appears a more limited device, but game developer support has already been announced, and the crucial EA sports games will be available on it.

Posted by: Jon on May 20, 2004 12:28 PM
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