OT: Game economics (was Re: The good old days of tape players)

From: Chris Kennedy <chris_at_mainecoon.com>
Date: Wed Dec 1 10:20:29 1999

Glenatacme_at_aol.com wrote:


> Their reasoning is: if I never bought a ZX81, but I use a ZX81 emulator on my
> PC to run ZX81 programs, then what is to stop me from using a Sony
> Playstation emulator on my PC to avoid buying a Playstation?
> My opinion is: the major game producers are afraid that if the public finds
> out that for well under US$100 anyone with a PC and a modem can pick up an
> "obsolete" computer and get 10,000 games, free, the new hot-rod game machines
> might lose a few sales.

Wellll, it turns out I have some insight into this. Until about 18 months ago
I was director of special projects for TAEC, a division of Toshiba. One of
the things which fell into my lap was developing the methodology for and
directing the actual verification effort for what was then called the TX5900;
the 5900 is the superscalar 128-bit core for CPU2, which in turn is the
processor for the Playstation II. As a consequence of this position I have some
insight into the thinking at SCE...

One of the first things I learned was that "normal" assumptions regarding
economics associated with game consoles don't work. SCE more or less gave
the PS1 away and will do the same with the PS2; at some points in the lifetime
of the product the wholesale price is less than the manufacturing cost. The
money is made on the titles, not on the individual consoles, and hence SCE
has a motivation to see that as many copies of titles are shipped without
copies being bootlegged. In a somewhat misguided attempt to control that
SCE indulged in a bit of idiocy with the PS1 in the hopes of preventing
people from making copies of the code.

The economics changed somewhat as the PS1 reached end-of-life and the
production cost of the PS1 had fallen somewhat (such that some
miniscule amount of money was being netted out on console sales), but
SCE's objections to PS1 emulators were rooted not in the potential loss
of such revenue, but rather in the need to duplicate SCE code contained
in the PS1 console ROM.

As for PC's eating into PS2 sales, don't hold your breath. When you can
buy a PC with a 128-bit reconfigurable integer CPU with 10 floating point
units organized into two vector processors, synchronous rambus, a dedicated
rendering engine, ethernet, 56K modem, DVD drive and sound for $300
(they also throw a PS1 chipset into the box, since the PS2 chipset
cannot run PS1 code) then SCE will find themselves in the same position
they were in 12 months ago. But then I'd expect the PS3 to be in the
works by then ;-)
Chris Kennedy
PGP fingerprint: 4E99 10B6 7253 B048 6685  6CBC 55E1 20A3 108D AB97
Received on Wed Dec 01 1999 - 10:20:29 GMT

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