Game Consoles Going Digital

Posted on March 28, 2006

Next generation game consoles like the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Revolution are all adding or planning digital distribution and social networking capabilities. VNU's Inside Video Games blogs described the new services from Sony and Nintendo that will take on Xbox Live earlier this week. They said Sony even referenced MySpace as an example of what a service like Sony's PlayStation Network Platform (PNP) could do for the PS3.

Harrison alluded to the future of videogames and digital distribution when he said that Sony currently makes games on discs inside boxes in stores, but in the future Sony will be creating and servicing a network of gaming communities. Sony expects to make revenue not just from game sales in traditional packaged media, but through other communities like mobile gaming, in-game transactions, episodic game content, game subscriptions, and game object auctions (something that's huge with MMO games today on PCs). Sony is also launching an international e-distribution network that will provide content that's only available online.

Harrison even referenced as an example of how PNP could bring social-network functionality to PS3 for gamers. Gaming is a community experience, as Sony's online games like "SOCOM" and SOE's games like "EverQuest" have shown. The PC has already built communities around games, but PC gamers constitute small numbers compared to what console gamers can generate.

Inside Video Games blog also describes Nintendo's digital communication plans for the Revolution.
Now Nintendo is adding fuel to the digital distribution fire. Nintendo President Saturo Iwata said at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, CA this week that in addition to offering Nintendo classics from the NES, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 and GameCube library, Revolution's virtual console will allow gamers to download 1,000 classic Sega Genesis games and an undiclosed number of Hudson TurboGrafx 16 games. Back in the day, Nintendo battled aggressivley with Sega. This fall, the two former rivals will work together to bring digitally distributed content to gamers.

Nintendo also confirmed that game developers would be able to create smaller, innovative games that can be downloaded to Revolution through the virtual console. It's likely that Nintendo will have a system in place similar to Microsoft's Xbox Live Marketplace and Sony's PlayStation Network Platform that allows developers an avenue to sell smaller games directly to consumers.

Clearly the trend in video games is personalization, communication and the ability for developers to create and sell independent games. Maybe Fox has a way to enter the video game world using its popular MySpace site?

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