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Creator of Pong and the man behind Chuck E. Cheese gives thumbs up to Wii and Xbox 360, but thumbs down for PlayStation 3

Nolan Bushnell, founder of all things at one point joyous to children, is featured in an interview with Red Herring where he is asked for his opinion on the state of the video game industry today.

Bushnell, who started Atari, is one of the grandfathers of the video game industry. When asked about about which areas he still follows of his former industry, he said, "I’m very curious and interested in the Nintendo Wii. I think it may expand the market beyond the hardcore [18- to 24-year old]." 

He also expressed fondness for Microsoft's online strategy, saying, "Xbox Live is interesting because it potentially becomes the platform for the living room."

But the tuned changed to a less positive note when it came to PlayStation 3. 

"I think Sony shot themselves in the foot… there is a high probability [they] will fail. The price point is probably unsustainable. For years and years Sony has been a very difficult company to deal with from a developer standpoint. They could get away with their arrogance and capriciousness because they had an installed base," Bushnell said.

Bushnell explained that ease of software development could be a deciding factor: "They have also historically had horrible software tools. You compare that to the Xbox 360 with really great authoring tools [and] additional revenue streams from Xbox live… a first party developer would be an idiot to develop for Sony first and not the 360. People don’t buy hardware, they buy software."

The interviewer then gave a counterpoint, stating that Sony must have been doing something right in order to sell over 100 million units of each PlayStation generation.

"It wasn’t anything brilliant that they did. With the PS and PS2 it was timing. They had the right pricing at the right time [and were] almost the accidental winner," answered Bushnell. "It would not surprise me if a year from now they’ll be struggling to sell 1 million units. [Factoring in the PS3’s price], I think in the U.S. the number of early adopters you have is actually around 300,000."

Sony is targeting to ship 400,000 PlayStation 3 consoles to the U.S. for its launch window, and a considerable portion of the allotment already sold out via pre-orders.

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By Quiksel on 11/9/2006 9:43:41 AM , Rating: 5
Not trying to get modded down, but tell my why Bushnell's opinion is relevant in today's day and age of gaming. Sure, he did found Atari, and was rather successful while the video game industry first took off (it was hard for anyone not to do well before the crash). But this guy was not the king of how to do it right, either.

Just because the "grandfather" of the industry says PS3 is bad doesn't mean he has a clue. Ask me what my grandfather thinks of my shiny new sports car that's fast as hell, and he'll tell you "when I was your age, we were happy with an old beat up Chevy" or, "50hp was more than enough to get around". Sure, he was there, but is he relevant for today? To me, not really.

I have a lot of respect for the guy, but not when he's shooting off about what's wrong with today's industry.

By Exodus220 on 11/9/06, Rating: 0
By halibut on 11/9/2006 10:16:02 AM , Rating: 4
Atari still makes games and publishes a lot of stuff. One thing that he is saying from experience and viewing what is going on in the console market. He is seeing what made his console the Jaguar a flop. He says indirectly that the reason his console was a flop, is what is going to be the downfall of the mighty Sony PS3. You look at some of the examples of consoles that failed:
-Neo Geo - Price
-Atari Jaguar, & 7800 - timing
-Sega DreamCast - timing and limited game support
-NEC TurboGraphx16 (This one I owned) - limited game support and rental support (their HUCards were not rental friendly in comparison of the gigantic cartridges from other vendors.))
-I can't think of any others right now...

They were all effected by timing, game publisher support, and cost, and are the main purchasing factors in the industry.

XBOX360 was great on timing, WII is great on price and where do you place the PS3?

By NoSoftwarePatents on 11/9/2006 11:14:44 AM , Rating: 2
Actually the NeoGeo was not a failure-SNK's upper management was a failure at that time, since the company itself went bankrupt in the early part of this decade, then partially reformed, and was then later evolved into SNK Playmore.

There are more than 100 games for the NeoGeo from 1990 to 2003. The NeoGeo was always a niche market, which is why the price NEVER dropped on new units for the life of the device. Also, the real income the powered SNK was from their Multi-Video System arcade version of NeoGeo. Porting the MVS to the home version was easy, since the ROM images were the same.

By Trisped on 11/9/2006 12:15:46 PM , Rating: 2
No, NeoGeo was a flop because it never caught on. Yes, I know 1 person that bought it and was happy with it, but everyone else thought it was stupid. I also remember all the news posts about how the company thought it would be great and pull them out of troubled times, which evolved into the company going under and the handhelds rebirth as a niche market product.

But back to the point, He is saying that the PS3 is not going to do well because it is too expensive for the power, late to market, and more HTPC then actual consol. Right now their only benefit is there zealous fan base, but if they don't turn that into PS3 owners real quick then they won't get the support base to warrant the investment of game designers.

Sony took a very big gamble with the PS3, and we will just have to wait and see if it pays off.

By NoSoftwarePatents on 11/9/2006 1:14:31 PM , Rating: 2
"...everyone else thought it was stupid..." is subjective, so you aren't adding anything as you opine. Now compared to other hardware for arcade platforms, it was technically inferior, as Capcom's CPS-2 had a powerful architecture as was Sega's System32 platform for starters.

The NeoGeo was NOT TARGETED at the same market segment that the Sega Genesis, NEC TurboGrafx-16 and Super Nintendo was as it was released in 1990. It was found in magazines such as The Sharper Image, Playboy, and it could be purchased at places like the now-bankrupt Incredible Universe and other not-so-common stores.

It was an enthusiast platform, targeted exclusively at people who were willing to pay $150 or more per game with a super expensive console, plain and simple. Thirteen years is a LONG time-what other platform has been supported that long in recent times? Some "flop" indeed.

If you really believe SNK was going after the same customers that were willing to pay $100-150 for a dedicated game machine coupled with $30-50 games, you are just plain wrong. If you have any websites that cite the fact that SNK was somehow banking that the NeoGeo was going to exclusively "save them", I'd love to see that.

SNK has made some bad management decisions, like all companies do, but the NeoGeo and MVS were NOT the main reason why they went bankrupt.

By akugami on 11/9/2006 3:54:58 PM , Rating: 1
Neo Geo was awesome. Nothing beats hacking genuine arcade controllers to the Neo Geo controller and playing some of the (at the time) awesome arcade games available on the Neo Geo. Some of my favorite gaming moments was late nights with friends playing Samurai Shodown 2 (arguably the best in the series). And it wasn't some arcade to home translation, it was the real deal.

By Rollomite on 11/9/06, Rating: -1
By othercents on 11/9/2006 4:28:06 PM , Rating: 3
Right now their only benefit is there zealous fan base

So how big is this fan base? I would have to say that almost everyone that owns a PS2 is looking at purchasing a PS3 over an Xbox360, if they are planning to upgrade. Thats a large fan base. If Sony sells PS3s to have their current PS2 owner base then they will be more successful than Microsoft.

Also you have to look at the international market to see where Microsoft is struggling. One of the key markets (Japan) is not doing well for Microsoft, but might be a very good market for Sony. This is a wait and see type event because hell the PS3 could just plain suck as a console.


By Locutus465 on 11/10/2006 8:46:38 AM , Rating: 2
One of the key markets (Japan) is not doing well for Microsoft

Traditionally yes, but MS has finally found a killer app for Japan, if they keep it going Sony isn't the clear victor any more.

By RandomFool on 11/10/2006 9:26:11 AM , Rating: 1
I know for a fact every PS2 owner is not looking at buying a PS3 because I own a PS2 and have no interest in the PS3.

$500 bucks is a lot of money for a kid. I know I wouldn't ever get a new system unless it was for Christmas and only after the price dropped. I couldn't fathom spending 300 on the PS2 never mind $500.

By Zandros on 11/9/2006 12:07:26 PM , Rating: 5
Atari of old does not make or publish games. Infogrames bought the Atari name, and changed branding from Infogrames to Atari.

By AlexWade on 11/9/2006 1:05:41 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't call the TurboGraphix16 a failure. I still own mine, and in fact was playing Military Madness recently. The TG16 changed the console market with their CD. I wish mine wasn't broken, because there are some TG16 CD games that I want to play right now. Specifically, the game Ys I&II.

By nunya on 11/12/2006 12:46:38 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe they'll pop up on the WII

By Kevil on 11/9/2006 1:36:58 PM , Rating: 4
Being first to the market does not make great timing and saying Atari still makes games is inaccurate, Infogrames release under the Atari name. The Atari of old no longer exists. The clash of the next gen is far from over we're only starting to see the 360 maturing and giving us great titles. We'll need to see how both the PS3 and Wii mature before we can actually call any of them flops.

By One43637 on 11/9/2006 7:40:44 PM , Rating: 2

By Kevil on 11/9/2006 1:36:58 PM , Rating: 3
Being first to the market does not make great timing and saying Atari still makes games is inaccurate, Infogrames release under the Atari name. The Atari of old no longer exists. The clash of the next gen is far from over we're only starting to see the 360 maturing and giving us great titles. We'll need to see how both the PS3 and Wii mature before we can actually call any of them flops.

my sentiments exactly.

By akugami on 11/9/2006 3:58:22 PM , Rating: 2
The Atari of today is not the same as the Atari of yesteryear. Same name, different company. It's dead Jim. And if you want clarification on why Atari now is not the same company as Atari then, look it up in the wikipedia.

By timmiser on 11/9/2006 1:40:22 PM , Rating: 5
Actually, Nolan Bushnell was out of Atari by the time Atari ran into to it's major troubles. The Atari of today really has no connection to the original Atari. The name has been sold a couple times because of its name recognition and no employees ever transfered along with the name. For many years it was absorbed in the Warner Bros. conglomerate.

Nolan Bushnell is a visionary inventor and has a keen awareness of where things will be in the future so I would pay good attention to what he has to say.

By highlandsun on 11/10/2006 3:20:04 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah right. Such a keen awareness that he turned away Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak when they pitched their idea of a personal computer, and forced them to go off on their own and start Apple.

Nolan Bushnell had one good idea and one stroke of luck. After he left Atari none of his other companies ever went anywhere.

He had nothing to do with the Atari Jaguar, 7800 or any other of Atari's last products, those were all done under the Tramiels. By the time Bushnell realized his mistake about computers Atari was already out of the race, an also-ran.

By ViperROhb34 on 11/9/2006 3:25:12 PM , Rating: 3
This statement makes sense.

This is not the first developer, software company, big company or even financial forecaster to say Sony's Price Point is bad for the Average Consumer.

Sure they could still sell millions of PS3's. Lets say they sell 30 million of 3 years. They need to sell STAGGERING numbers of PS3's to make a profit. Here's why. They are losing more money then ever per single console unit. Only a large installed base of units will allow for the tremendous software sales they need to recover from the loses. The recovery could takes years even if they sell moderately well.

Im single male who makes approxiamtely 32K a year.. around 16 dollars an hour. I could afford a PS3, but I don't like living in dept so I don't use credit cards much. I live for the moment without being in debt.

There are alot of families who live in debt.. mainly because there are alot of families of 3 to 4 people in this world living off the same income as I or allittle more.

I've owned all the Nintendo's ( thank my parents for the 1st couple ) .. I bought a PS2 ( I never owned the 1st ) .. and I I still have my PS2 ( bought a seocnd one, the 1st wore/broke ) and now have a 360.. I just got Gears Of War.

I know a few who bought 360's and barely afforded it.
It's not features we're comparing, or who's better.
It's the PRICE OF ENTRY I could argue all day long that by the time I bought my 16 thousand dollar car and upgraded I should've bought the 24K Mustang V-8, but life doesn't work that way. We buy what we can afford when we can afford it.

Just a realty check. PS2 was 299.00 when i got my 1st.. ( its been 5yrs for it to drop to 129.00 ) .. It continues to sell well, especially to poorer families who want a good system that has a large library. It's one reason Wii looks appealing.. combine its lower price with a upgraded, more powerful GameCube internals, add better controls and you have developers who have room to make better games off of a platform they already understand.

Xbox 360 looks to be off to a good start and they are improving well for the 1st year they've been out.

By chaos386 on 11/9/2006 9:52:57 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. I wouldn't trust the founder of Atari to know whether or not a system is going to fail.

Does no one else see the irony?

By TomZ on 11/9/2006 10:32:20 AM , Rating: 4
No, I don't see any irony. After all, Atari had a very successful run at the time, and continues to be successful even today. Just because Atari isn't doing consoles today doesn't mean that Atari's founder doesn't know a thing or two about the gaming market.

By kidsafe on 11/9/2006 12:10:37 PM , Rating: 2
You're leaving out a small detail. Atari today is GT Interactive renamed, a division of Infogrames. It's a hollowed out brand and doesn't even bring with it any of the original IP.

By TomZ on 11/9/2006 12:14:16 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, but my point is that Bushnell did lead Atari to a good deal of success, and that the brand lives on today, even if it is a different company.

By AzureKevin on 11/9/2006 10:34:55 AM , Rating: 5
It's not ironic. He has better reasons than anybody for why he thinks the PS3 will fail. He's been through that kind of failure before and has the experience to back up his reasoning and claim.

Here's an example of a scenario that would be ironic: the PS3 is in the same position Atari's console before it failed, but Bushnell praises the PS3 anyway and claims it will be the leading console. That would be ironic.

With all this being said, you still have to take predictions for what they are: predictions! Quit bashing the man just because you hope the PS3 will do well. He is simply giving his opinion on the matter, and there is nothing wrong with that. Only time will tell if he is right or wrong.

Personally, I don't want to see the PS3 fail. Competition is good for the consumers, and with the PS3 at such a high price, Nintendo and Microsoft have all the more reason to keep their consoles at a lower price.

By MrSmurf on 11/9/2006 11:36:39 AM , Rating: 1
Exactly. He's been there before, lol

By raisinbrainMMM on 11/9/2006 9:54:13 AM , Rating: 5
I'd listen to him before I listed to anyone of Sony's/Microsoft PR team.

He's a third person and has a pretty obvious argument. I can't see the PS3 doing any better than the PS2. Its hard to see that because the competition from other consoles is so strong right now. At the same time the price point is horribly high and the only reason you see this huge demand for the PS3 is because most people that are itching to get their hands on one are thinking of being able to sell the machine for a profit in case they aren't happy with it.

I'm sure that if the Ebay factor did not exist, the demand would be much lower. Most people would be much more weary before investing 600 dollars on a machine if they knew they would be stuck with it if it sucks. RIght now they can turn around and sell it for more than they bought it for to a bunch of hungry rich, early adopters.

By plonk420 on 11/12/2006 6:09:53 PM , Rating: 2
i see two target audiences being a bigger draw: Home Theater Crowd (for flashy console system) and, to a lesser degree, the gaming crowd, at least at launch.

i'm not sure i see (some) people doing the math to see that 360 being the same price as PS3 if you're wanting a next gen HD movie format...

By edge929 on 11/15/2006 11:05:57 AM , Rating: 2

Good price + FUN games = Successful console

end of story

By ChugokuOtaku on 11/9/2006 10:00:07 AM , Rating: 2
he's not judging this by the standard of his glory days. Instead, he's observing the trend. No where does he mention about anyone settling for a 50Mhz processor does he?

By VIAN on 11/9/06, Rating: 0
By RandomFool on 11/9/2006 10:21:28 AM , Rating: 3
I'm sure 30 years from now you won't be able to form a decent opinion about video games either. I mean they'll probably be very different from today and why would you want to stay informed about something you're interested in.

Experience is wicked important. My grandfather was a mechanic and if he was still alive; I wouldn't dream of buying a new car without taking to him. Bushnell's been in the industry for awhile so I'm guessing he has a pretty good idea of how it works especially since the Atari did die despite it's popularity. just because things change doesn't mean people lose touch with reality.

By TomZ on 11/9/2006 10:26:39 AM , Rating: 4
One thing to remember is that this guy didn't just make a prediction, but he put forward a few concrete reasons why he thinks Sony will fail. Who cares about whether he is qualified or not to judge the industry - the real question is, are his observations correct. If you don't agree that Sony will fail, then do you also disagree with his reasons why he believes what he does? Do you have counterpoints?

By Quiksel on 11/9/2006 10:36:12 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not all that "qualified" to make a judgment on whether his observations are "correct". But I do think that there is a small (and getting larger) amount of sensationalism being stirred up simply because Nolan Bushnell, the grandfather of the video game industry, says PS3 is a dud.

I don't really have to agree or disagree with what he says, but it sure makes a good news article, now doesn't it? Why even take sides on whether he's right or wrong, it's not the point!

I'm no PS3 fanboy, but news like this is starkly poor taste. Hell, even Sony's newsbytes are even worse poor taste, with all the MS bashing and non-sensical spins on how their product is still better somehow. But I'm not blown away by the fact that Bushnell is saying something about PS3, mostly because he's just not all that relevant in today's gaming industry.


By Quiksel on 11/9/2006 11:00:20 AM , Rating: 2
And to sort of summarize what I'm saying, it's kinda like this:

TomZ Forecasts PlayStation 3 Failure

Sure, TomZ is an avid poster, and makes good posts. He even has good points. But does that make it a great news story? Simply put, No.

By Aikouka on 11/9/2006 11:16:57 AM , Rating: 2
Show me where TomZ helped to shape the gaming industry as we know it and maybe I'll turn an ear.

The reason this is news is because he isn't just some Joe Schmoe with an opinion... he's been in the business and has seen the good, the bad and the ugly (and so has every Clint Eastwood fan :P). Am I saying that just because he's the Atari founder that makes him automatically correct? No, not in the least bit. Do I think that his claims have merit with his experience in the field? Yes, I do.

DailyTech provides articles about current technology and tries to give you the nitty gritty. If it focused on purely "newsworthy news" you may not see interesting little tidbits like this. It's like a mix between Digg and CNN with a bit of tech (and that damn Oooops! error) mixed in ;).

By TomZ on 11/9/2006 11:49:33 AM , Rating: 2
The fact that it is "news" is due to the guy's reputation and experience. But any Joe-off-the-street can make valid, accurate observations and maybe predict Sony's success just as well as a seasoned pro. My point was only that if someone doesn't agree with the conclusions, it would make a more valid argument to address his reasons, rather than his character.

By ted61 on 11/9/2006 12:13:20 PM , Rating: 2
I don't care about all the hype. From looking at the consoles, games and prices, ted61 is buying ted97 a wii.

By lemonadesoda on 11/9/2006 7:42:00 PM , Rating: 4
Warren Buffet is the granddaddy of financial investments. I still take his opinion seriously. I really can't understand how you can correlate the validity of Bushnell's opinion/observations with your old fuddie-duddy grandpa.

It's pretty naiive to pooh-pooh the observations and comments of industry veterans.

By Clauzii on 11/9/2006 9:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, and this new (Nov. 7th) PS3 MotorStorm Intro shows that both SONY and the developers are on the right track, and even, I think, making the $499,-/$599,- pricetag looking pretty ok!

MotorStorm is going to be THE racing game for PS3 in 2007. And by the looks I'm truely glad I can wait till it gets going in DK.

Even at $599,- or Kr. 3995,-, which is basically cheaper in current danish kroner compared to the PS2 which, years back when it came, also was at Kr. 3995,-, but with less bying power than today.

By Clauzii on 11/9/2006 9:26:14 PM , Rating: 1
sorry, buying - not bying..

By Clauzii on 11/11/2006 10:59:10 AM , Rating: 2
Instead of rating it down, tell me.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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