Last week saw the announcement of the Google Stadia, a console which I covered in this paper a few months back when it was leaked under the code name ‘Project Stream’. Stadia is without a doubt an ambitious project and stands at a level of innovation that the industry is crying out for in its current state. In spite of all this, the games industry has a chequered past with revolutionary technology and this article will look at some of those ups and downs!
The Neo Geo was meant to be the first big home console. It was the first console that brought arcade level graphics and gameplay home. The console was released in 1990 for $649.99 (not adjusted for inflation). That works out at over $1250 in today’s money, which can buy you 12 Neo Geo Minis, a miniature version of the console which was released last year!
In 2001, Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, realised that Nintendo could no longer compete with Sony and Microsoft on the console front. Nintendo had fallen behind graphically, and their Nintendo Gamecube lacked power in comparison to the other consoles which dominated the market. Miyamoto decided to focus on creating new markets and setting Nintendo apart from its competition. He is quoted as saying; “… power isn’t everything for a console. Too many powerful consoles can’t coexist. It’s like having only ferocious dinosaurs. They might fight and hasten their own extinction.”.
By all reason, the console should have failed… its ridiculous design, poor functionality and the criticism of the name would no doubt have failed in 2019’s culture where everyone is a critic, but Nintendo stood by their console. Today, the Nintendo Wii stands proudly as the 3rd best-selling home-console of all-time, with 101 million units sold, the most of any since 2001.
So long Nintendo’s rival, Sega had such success in the 80s and 90s with consoles such as the Sega Master System, Sega Genesis (aka Sega Mega Drive), but the Dreamcast called an end to the Sega’s respect in the market. Sega had lost a lot of credibility in the market having received criticism for their previous consoles, the Sega Saturn and the 32X. Despite coming off the back of a 75% drop in profits, Sega believed in their console. Initially, sales figures broke records, but the lack of games being released led to a gap in the market emerging for a new rival to Nintendo.
The Kinect was meant to usher in a new age of gaming. The infrared laser projector detected body movement and as such allowed for accurate full body representation in-game. Despite the positive initial reviews, the $200 price-point proved too much for customers, especially given the limited games which released for the add-on. The Xbox 360’s edition of the Kinect sold over 750,000 units due to it quickly being bundled with consoles for a huge reduction.
The Xbox One released with the Kinect being an integral part of the system. Despite improved performance, privacy issues, interference of background noises led to criticism. The fact that the Kinect was bundled as a mandatory part of the console meant a huge increase in price and many consumers were far from happy with it. In October 2017 Microsoft announced that the Kinect had been discontinued, leaving 35 million Kinects rendered useless.