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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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RE: nah
By akugami on 11/10/2006 12:58:23 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the reports I'm seeing all say the initial games look very very nice, which isn't too hard considering the graphical prowess of the PS3. The problem is that I'm seeing everyone say the games for it while graphically nice seems like yesterday's games with updated graphics. Not so nice. I actually do expect games with better gameplay to be out after the initial wave of games though. Basically the jury is still out.

I'm going to have to go with the Gameboy as a series to refute the argument against the Wii being able to take the #1 spot. The Gameboy series has never, with the possible exception of the original Gameboy been the most powerful handheld system and yet it is continually the winner in the portable console wars. The PS2 was never the most powerful of the consoles in it's generation and yet it was the winner. Nintendo must play it's cards right and along with a little luck, it is very possible to take over the next generation of consoles.

There is a certain momentum to these kinds of things and the PS3 has been falling falling falling. Nintendo has been rising and if they build on it properly it can propel itself into a close second or even first. Momentum is hard to slow down or reverse unless something major happens. I don't know of anything Sony has planned that will keep it's downward spiral from changing. I do agree that the "cool" product can quickly have cool off in a hurry as we've seen many seasonal products that just lose it's appeal. The problem is the Xbox 360 isn't doing too shabby and the Wii has the most positive buzz going in. The PS3 on the other hand has a lot of negative buzz.

You're predicting the Wii to be a fad. The Wiimote is also highly modifiable since specific games can have different hardware shells to interface with the base Wiimote. Let's face it, games like Dance Dance Revolution had a very long period of popularity and most recently Guitar Heroes. I think the market is much more accepting of different input methods for gaming now than it ever was. And just because you and I don't see any gaming concept currently that will keep the Wiimote controller fresh doesn't mean there won't be any new gaming concept using the Wiimote that will. After all, who new games like Resident Evil, Tetris, Street Fighter, Metroid and Zelda would be so darned fun. They were new and unique gaming concepts at the time but because they were great games or had a unique atmosphere (in the case of Resident Evil) that was just different from anything out there at the time and thus made it's mark.

And don't think this is not possible. Nintendo's patented cross controller gave way to new gameplay on the NES. The SNES controllers shoulder button allowed more gaming precision due to more buttons that were easily accessible. The analogue stick from the N64 (which Sony copied and actually released before Nintendo) was what truly allowed 3D gaming to work on the consoles and feel more real. While I say the touch screen on the DS has been more fad than true game changer, though some games do make good use of it, the Wiimote has the potential to be the next analogue stick or cross controller. An input method that changes the face of gaming. But only if developers make proper use of it.

And please do not compare geeks that frequent tech web sites and buy $400-500 video cards to the average gamer. We might pay those kinds of money for our toys but the average consumer will not.

A lot of people between 20 and 35 may be making decent money but a lot of them also have other priorities like paying off student loans and buying a car and house to secure a future for themselves and family. Yes, they still like games but there are other things that will take up their time. I know for a fact that while I still love games, between work and my girlfriend, it leaves me with very little time to play games.

While HDTV sales are growing, SDTV sales are still at least half of all new TV sales. It's not like HDTV's are the only sets being sold, SDTV's still sell very well. Keep in mind even at $500 for a 32" HDTV, it's out of the price range of many consumers. Obviously as HDTV's get cheaper and cheaper this trend will change but I don't think HDTV's will make up more than roughly 50% of TV sales until after next year.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
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