Getting into the video game console market is incredibly hard. Ask the Ouya if you have any doubts about that. Heavy hitters like Microsoft and Sony have been around for so long people tend to forget that all of them had to start somewhere. The original console to massively sell was the Atari. That soon evolved with a wealth of new companies trying to jump into the market with the likes of Super Nintendo, Dreamcast, Sega Genesis and many more like them. Other companies have tried to enter the console market in recent years; none have been able to break through at the rate of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, however. We have a new contender on the horizon from none other than search engine giant Google. Google is no stranger to making mini-games; their Android software updates have secret mini-games inside their code and certain searches on Google will spawn a game to play. But for one of the largest companies in the world to try and enter the gaming industry, they would need a lot of money, resources, and most importantly, developers.
The allure of consoles is their exclusives. Sony has been in firm control over the last 10 years with their suite of first-party developer studios pumping out classics left and right. Those include Uncharted, The Last of Us, God of War, Infamous and Horizon: Zero Dawn to name a few. Microsoft has Halo, Crackdown, Fable, and Forza as their claim to fame and Nintendo has Mario, Metroid, Star Fox, Donkey Kong and the newly added Splatoon. PC has an extremely large library of exclusives built for the platform. These exclusives are what cause “console wars” and drive competition between picking up one company’s product over the other. Although recently there has been a rise in cross-play (not including Sony), exclusives are a very large part of console sales. With Google reportedly trying to enter the gaming scene, they must be able to pull the right developers into their fold to be able to even stand a chance at running with the big three. But Google apparently has something up their sleeves.
Google might have cracked the code into cloud-gaming. If you are unfamiliar with this I have made previous posts about this on the blog. This means that they can not only have the games streamed directly to their console, but also have the game rendered without the system streaming do most of the work. This can be a huge change in the gaming industry. Yet, I see two problems with this right now. My first problem is that if these reports are true and Google can in fact stream and render their games to a low-tech system, it can wreck the entire industry’s balance. I also can foresee that certain companies will begin to fade out, as the tech companies begin to bring a cheaper and more accessible alternative to the market. Sony and Nintendo are not going to be able to compete with Google’s cloud system unless they go to third-party companies. Sony has made preemptive steps towards this by acquiring OnLive’s cloud-based computing firm several years ago. Nintendo has not made such move to my knowledge as of writing this. I am afraid that Nintendo will be in dire straits when this new console comes to the market. Microsoft has a been researching this in-house so they can compete directly with Google from the jump.
To keep the balance of the gaming industry is to keep the console prices low enough for consumers to purchase new ones in the future. For example, in 2005, Sony announced they were creating the PlayStation 3 console. The graphical capabilities and processing power were put into place to keep ahead of Microsoft’s new Xbox 360. Unfortunately, the console was to release at “599 U.S Dollars”. Understandably, consumers were more inclined to buy the cheaper Xbox 360, which resulted in Sony going into the red as their new console struggle to keep up. It wasn’t until the end of the life-cycle of the PS3 that it even came close to catching up to the Xbox. This means that Google’s new system will either be cheap or expensive; I believe it will be the former. Sony and Microsoft are already discussing their new consoles behind closed doors with developers and it has become very public that both companies believe that digital sales will be more important than physical sales in the very near future. We could be seeing entirely new ways of playing games as well as a more streamlined approach to buying them. But I fear that the only way to be able to weather the storm of what’s coming in to get educated about this topic. Understand how big of a player Google can be in the industry as well as the implications of what they can influence. Will it cause a new rise in the streaming game service that Sony has implemented already with PS Now? Or will it crash and burn like the Ouya did. Regardless, I want to hear from you about this.
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