by Ken Gagne
After the unexpected failure of the Dreamcast, Sega last year abandoned their hardware division. The company responsible for the Sega Genesis, Game Gear, and many other memorable consoles became a third-party publisher, competing with the likes of Capcom and Electronic Arts for consumers' dollars across all platforms.
Heartened by the success Sega's fiscal records recently revealed this new business strategy to bring, other hardware manufacturers are now following suit.
"The Nintendo 64, while an artistic success, was financially troubled by the then-newcomer Sony PlayStation," said Peter MacDougall, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Nintendo of America. "We've learned from our mistakes. By discontinuing support for the GameCube, we expect 'the Nintendo difference' to reach an even wider audience."
In a surprising move, Sony is yet another Johnny-come-lately to this marketing model. "We see no reason to be threatened by Microsoft," said Kaz Hirai of Sony, referring to the Windows publisher's Xbox video game console. "Our software publishing arm is ready and able to tackle this newcomer head-on — or from the inside-out."
Following the announcement that the much-rumored PlayStation 3, 4, and 5 consoles were headed for the scrap heap, Microsoft was quick to counter with their own plans to cease manufacture of the Xbox hardware.
"Since our launch in November 2001, we've attracted a strong corps of software publishers," said Bill Gates himself, representing Microsoft. "We're confident these companies will follow us and enjoy similar success on other hardware platforms."
What "other hardware platforms" Gates refers to remains to be seen. The aftermath of this new economy is prepared to flood the market with quality software from all development houses — yet a lack of coordination among hardware manufacturers has left no viable consoles to receive new games.
"What do you mean, 'no more Xbox'?" Hirai claimed to his board of directors early Wednesday morning, shortly after Microsoft's official announcement.
Gates was similarly shocked.
"You mean to tell me that cute little purple cube with the handle won't be running Windows?" Gates asked. "That's unacceptable."
Shigeru Miyamoto simply wept.
All ends of the industry are feeling the results of a lucrative business decision gone horribly wrong. Retailers, who previously struggled to represent each competing system with limited shelf space, suddenly find themselves with gaps to fill. Many have been left to relabel their software inventory as coasters, or "microwave special effect generators."
A long-term solution is currently being sought by the Interactive Digital Software Association.
"Won't anyone answer the call to produce an underpowered, unsupported, expensive, and highly-criticized game console?" lamented Doug Lowenstein, president of the IDSA.
In related news, the organizers of the annual Vintage Computer Fest have announced an intended merger with the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Los Angeles' annual mecca of video game publishers and exhibitors.
"We used to gather to celebrate the breathing of life into old systems, making them new again," commented show coordinator Ted Deppner. "Now we welcome several new systems into the folds of antiquity."
This article is copyright (c) 2002, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Tech News, 01-Apr-02