Dvorak: The Xbox Quagmire

PLAYSTATION 2 OWNERS SUPPORT TERRORISM!!1!

It takes two to tango. The Japanese publishers didn’t want to sell and still don’t want to sell. Become part of Microsoft and the development talent reaps rewards while management ends up “redundant”. There’s also the whole US/Japan thing and many Japanese publishers are far too proud to be bought by an American conglomerate. If Sega wouldn’t sell, one of the few companies with lots of American ties, then I don’t think you’ll ever see any of the others sell either.

Rockstar is part of Take 2. Microsoft would have to buy all of Take 2 which includes games distribution and other PC games developers, etc. It also wouldn’t have been cheap.

I think they’re also afraid of landing in court again. If they start buying everything under the sun, end up on top of the industry in a monopolistic position, the Government will be right back on them.

–Dave

It takes two to tango. The Japanese publishers didn’t want to sell and still don’t want to sell. Become part of Microsoft and the development talent reaps rewards while management ends up “redundant”. There’s also the whole US/Japan thing and many Japanese publishers are far too proud to be bought by an American conglomerate. If Sega wouldn’t sell, one of the few companies with lots of American ties, then I don’t think you’ll ever see any of the others sell either.

True but every man has a price.

Rockstar is part of Take 2. Microsoft would have to buy all of Take 2 which includes games distribution and other PC games developers, etc. It also wouldn’t have been cheap.

Indeed it wouldn’t have been. And that’s the whole point…

But I’ll give you a much cheaper alternative - the minute and I mean the minute it was clear that GTA3 was a mega-hit cultural phenom, the XBox GTA-killer should have been in the works. I mean shit, just listen to what the game’s fans want, weed out the chaff, and just make it. What the hell is so tough about that? Egos I suspect.

The only problem with that approach is the diversity of talent level within Microsoft’s gaming unit.

I think they’re also afraid of landing in court again. If they start buying everything under the sun, end up on top of the industry in a monopolistic position, the Government will be right back on them.

Point taken, but I think it’s not a problem unless Sony goes poof. That won’t happen.

It seems MS is suffering from a lapse in instutional memory. MS was founded on the idea that people need software, regardless of the hardware platform. They didn’t really care whether Dell or Compaq or Gateway won the PC market, so long as they put an MS operating system on the box.

MS violated this core principle by attempting to enter the hardware market with the Xbox. Certainly it can become a conduit for livingroom content, OS, applications, whatnot, but I’m sure they went into this mess knowing full well that they would have to sell a certain number of software units with the hardware in order to break even (much less turn a profit). They were touting some statistic about most titles sold per Xbox (albeit mostly due to pack-ins). They knew full well what to look at, but have still failed to come up with enough compelling content. Sure, we still have monthly Halo parties, but other titles seem not to have the same lasting appeal.

You needn’t look far to see the pattern; just look at SEGA. Heck, just look at MS’s own WebTV fiasco. Maybe MS will surprise us all, but from where I stand, it looks like they have an uphill battle.

  • Alan

[quote=“Oppressor”]

It takes two to tango. The Japanese publishers didn’t want to sell and still don’t want to sell. Become part of Microsoft and the development talent reaps rewards while management ends up “redundant”. There’s also the whole US/Japan thing and many Japanese publishers are far too proud to be bought by an American conglomerate. If Sega wouldn’t sell, one of the few companies with lots of American ties, then I don’t think you’ll ever see any of the others sell either.

True but every man has a price.

Untrue. And it would be more correct “but every set of men have their price.”

Of course, I’m not at the top of any of the Japanese companies, but I sincerely doubt its a question of pride US/Japan stuff. No one in Japan cares if US companies do well or if they partner with or even become part of (or vice versa) US companies. The issue at stake is whether they get to keep things appropriately “Japanese” and that of “brand.” If they’re bought, will they have to become Microsoft East? Will they have to drop the Square brand?

More importantly, will the new company be able to even run? If the US company starts running the Japanese company like its a US corporation, everything will most likely fall apart because it just won’t fit into Japanese society. See Toyota and Disney for two companies that have mixtures of Japanese and US cooperating in the two countries to the benefit of both with very little friction. As US-centric as Disney, it has a very “Japanese-y” arm that’s different from what you see in the US and resonants fantastically well with most Japanese. So it has nothing to do with xenophobia or jingoism or any of those stupid stereotypes that are always far more exaggerated than the truth.

Second, except for one thing I can imagine, there’s little Microsoft can offer Japanese companies that they can’t get by buddying up with other gaming companies – and every time they do, and its a Japanese company, its one more link in a chain that a buyer or merger offer has to pass before it becomes set. Capcom, Konami, Nintendo, Square, Enix, SNK, Namco, Sony, Hudson, Konami, NEC and more have almost spiderweb like connections with each other. They all separate companies who compete, but who come together to help prop up the over all market when it needs it. Its terribly common, everyone does it in every market. If you want to get one of them, then you need pass the considerations that all of them have decided are good for everybody, like joining a guild or a club. If you’ve read the articles about what Microsoft has tried to do, especially their Japanese arm, you can see how they realize that they started to realize this. So that’s why “men” not man.

There’s always an in-group and an out-group, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the US companies being in the out-group. It has everything to do with them treating Japanese companies as “the other” or the problem to work around, rather than people to cooperate with. I guarantee you that if Microsoft wanted to get into the group it could, but that I bet you anything, what the companies will want in return will compromise the very reason Microsoft wants to get into the market. Because of course, the company that least wants to cooperate with Microsoft happens to be the strongest one and is competing for the same desire: Sony. Even Nintendo and Sony cooperate to a certain degree.

That’s the reason. If Microsoft wanted that support they should have simply swallowed their pride and do it that way, joined the group. The only thing I see them doing is going after people who are less connected or aren’t in the group (Tecmo and Sega). But Tecmo and Sega are in another group that Microsoft isn’t part of either, so there’s still relatively on the “out.”

So I think the smartest to thing to do would have been to search for small guys and give them a chance to be big by either buying them or giving them a game, they reached Level 5 way too late, but think of someone like Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei is something that would appeal both to PC RPGers, thus bringing more PC gamers to the Xbox and to console RPG players, and has the “cool” and “wow” factor of its art style and story to sell massively well, not just in Japan. Its free for the taking, Atlus is not connected but a loose tie to Namco. Spike and From are building brands slowly and have excellent ideas that need massive amounts of money to make them into franchises or brands. Gust, Nippon Ichi and whole host of other small guys could have benefited from the “buy them, rear them, make them successful” thing Sony did with Sugar & Rockets, Nana-on-Sha or Polyphony. Sure Chun Soft and Gamearts would be off limits, but they’re the exception. But you only see them doing that type of thing with US or European companies. Maybe those will/have been enough for success, who knows? But what I was addressing is what I know. And it’s not because Japanese companies have some xenophobic objection to doing so – that’s ridiculous, spend any amount of time in Japan with a truly open mind and that idea will fly right out the window.

All signs point to the fact that Microsoft has chosen simply to battle Sony at their own game and then demand and go after the pickings once/if they’ve won. They certainly haven’t been given Microsoft Japan the tools they need to gain any foothold over here, I’ll tell you that.

That, and of course, it makes every gamer and company feel real nice with the type of condescension Microsoft has come across with. Their attitude could have used a little mending. I know I’m a little sore to ever buying an Xbox, not just because it would be damn hard to get the games I want on it (none of them have been released here except Otogi, which was made here) but because of the whole “Project Midway” thing. I mean, how am I supposed to feel about that?

I’m really very tired of hearing the whole “Japan’s a lost cause, they don’t like American companies” thing. Please realized its much more complicated than something distasteful like that.

-Kitsune

I’d also say that there is a certain amount of “the other” attitude in Japanese companies as well.

Obviously, I’m sure the reverse can be said – of Japanese companies that fall on their face because they condescend to other country’s practices and fail to realize or cooperate with the differences and simply follow a stubborn logic of their own.

The point is, rather bluntly, there’s no problem with foreign companies, at least not so large as the idiotic myth suggests. Nationalism isn’t what’s stopping Microsoft over here. There’s no conspiracy against American companies.

-Kitsune

You guys make it sound so easy. Counting off the top of my head they’ve already bought or tried buying Bungie, Sega, Rare, Bioware (rumor), Nintendo, FASA, and who knows what else behind closed doors . I’m sure they’ve gone into bidding wars for games from Rockstar, Ubi Soft, Konami, Capcom, Lucasarts and many more.

It would be a damn shame if MS starts going on a 3rd party buying spree. I think Microsoft is doing OK at this stage of the game. They are already giving Nintendo a good kick in the ass and that’s not bad for a first try.

Microsoft’s problem is that it has never been a marketing company.

Er, yeah, that’s nonsensical. Particularly since I keep seeing WINDOWS SERVER 2003 ads on television. That isn’t a consumer OS in any way, shape or form. When was the last time you saw an ad for LUNIX on TV?

"Sure things are “better on X-Box”, but is that message getting out to the consumers? "

I don’t think its that much of a diffrence to matter to the average consumer. The “graphics wars” are on messages boards. There not going on in the local Gamestop store. At least I’ve never seen it. People talk about the new RPG and how tough or easy boss monster at the end was. I’ve never herd someone say “Naw I didn’t like it that much cause the graphics wern’t good…it would have been better on the Xbox”.

Maybe new games like Halo 2, and ports od DOOM III and HL 2 will show more of a difference but then again this round is long since anyways.

Few days ago. IBM runs them.

FWIW, I haven’t seen a Windows Server commercial yet.

XBox is a lame duck. Dvorak has hit the mark 100%.

Playstation 2 has the market sown up where it really counts - in the sub-20yo market. The only people I know of firsthand who buy the XBox are 30-50 year old guys trying to relive their youth.

I’ll say it again - the XBox is a joke and the sooner it dies the better.

The Xbox getting creamed is more a demonstration that Microsoft’s marketing, which was enough to let its mediocre technology dominate on the PC, is not ready for prime time yet.

Yet Nintendo is getting creamed even more badly, and it has some of the most well-known game franchises in the industry. So “it’s the software, dummy” doesn’t add up.

Consoles are about market penetration, pure and simple. Either you can drive adoption with low prices, or you can drive adoption with killer blockbuster games.

And to be honest with you, without GTA3, I’m not sure the PS2 would be as dominant as it is now. Outside of sports games-- which historically make up 25% of all console game sales-- that’s the only true mega blockbuster on the system and arguably of this entire generation of consoles. GTA3 has even transcended gaming itself and become a pop culture reference. There are only a handful of games which have managed that feat.

If gamers really felt that software was all that mattered, I think we’d see better sales figures for the Xbox and GC. As it is, the current sales data (or lack thereof) indicates that Joe Sixpack console thinks whatever they can get for the PS2 is “good enough”; no need to go buy another console for its exclusives, they’ve got plenty of similar games to play on the PS2.

…for America! No, stand down, soldier. I was quoting Dvorak, and spinning it to an X-treme conclusion. In a movie-caliber twist, I think that in fact it’s John C. who is trolling all of us. Either that, or this is all a dream.

On a different note, it should be pointed out that it’s easier for Sony to lock down exclusives because Sony is asking developers to forgo the 16 million potential customers on the Xbox and GC. To lock a developer into an Xbox exclusive is to make them give up 38 million potential customers. So during any money discussions, MS may have the bankroll advantage, but how much of that is offset by Sony’s install base advantage?

[size=1]That math was based on the 8,8,30 million sales figure I heard ages ago for the three consoles. Exact figures aside, the point stands. [/size]

The Xbox is a lame duck? Does anyone really believe that?

olaf

Do you consider the Gamecube to be a “lame duck” as well? I have said it before and I’ll say it again, if you think this fight is all about the Xbox you are very short sighted and naive. This is a long term battle for your entertainment dollars. I’d like to see you justify your statement a bit more or is this just trolling?

$1 billion a year? At $100 lost per XBox, that means selling 10 million XBoxes with no software, accessories, etc. added on. Uh, no.

I am not trolling. The Xbox was a lame attempt by Microsoft to bully their way into a market they know absolutely nothing about.

What is even more ridiculous is the amount of money they wasted in this fruitless exercise. Of course they have a bottomless money pit so the Xbox/Xbox 2 will probably languish on shelves for another couple of years or so.

The simple fact is the Xbox is failing dismally in the market it needs most - under 20yo’s. The Xbox has failed in the Australian market and failed in the Japanese market. I don’t see this pattern changing anytime soon.

As for the GameCube - that doesn’t even rate a mention. I see them on shelves every now and then gathering dust.

Oh no!! Microsoft failed in the highly coveted Australian market!!! The 'roos can’t fit the huge Xbox in their pouches?!?! Koalas are bored silly by the lackluster game lineup. Good lord, the aborigines find the design too gauche for their tastes.

That’s it. That settles it. MS should just quit. Put out a press release explaining that without Australia they can’t win. Especially since Fiji and Guam look like they’re going to reject the MS console as well.

Microsoft is dead. Long live Nintendo.

Where is Dave Long to give me an amen on this one?

I am not trolling. The Xbox was a lame attempt by Microsoft to bully their way into a market they know absolutely nothing about.

What is even more ridiculous is the amount of money they wasted in this fruitless exercise. Of course they have a bottomless money pit so the Xbox/Xbox 2 will probably languish on shelves for another couple of years or so.

The simple fact is the Xbox is failing dismally in the market it needs most - under 20yo’s. The Xbox has failed in the Australian market and failed in the Japanese market. I don’t see this pattern changing anytime soon.

As for the GameCube - that doesn’t even rate a mention. I see them on shelves every now and then gathering dust.[/quote]

That’s not justification, that’s just your opinion and anecdotal evidence. I see the North American market as the primary goal for the Xbox and in that market they aren’t doing all that bad sales wise. As for the 20’s I see just as many of them these days at the Xbox rack as the PS2. Then again, that’s just my anecdotal evidence. In the end the sales numbers speak for themselves and the PS2 is on top right now. To think that it will always be that way is once again short sighted. For the Xbox to be at number 2 for the first time into the market is pretty good.

P.S.- If bullying means giving me a good games machine with titles I like and extra functionality then bring it on.

P.P.S. - Last time I check Dvorak wasn’t a games industry expert by any stretch.