[quote]I think that attempting to sell a console for $50 is probably a complete waste of time. Anyone actually looking for a value console will be looking at a secondhand PS or PS2. The market is thoroughly saturated.
That’s why I’m not targetting the console market. It’s a toy, Cas. It will sit on the shelf at Wal-mart next to these and these. You’ll find the little smart cards nearby, or in the checkout racks. Parents and children will see these things and say “I can afford that” or “That looks like fun!” And the form factor means that they can trade video game cards with their friends.
If these things end up anywhere near the electronics section, then it has already lost the market.
[quote]Who will buy a $150 console? Well, anyone who is interested in $10 games delivered digitally.
It sounds like a great idea, but you need a LOT more resources to make it happen. i.e.:
You’re breaking even on the manufacturing cost (and actually losing money due to operational costs).
You have to run servers and pay for staff to run those servers.
You need to figure out how the average person will connect this to the internet. (Is a computer required? Does it have an Ethernet and modem?)
The complexity of online connectivity means that there will be support costs for the device.
You need to have deals with major gaming providers for world-class games. (How else do you expect to convince a teenager to buy a $150 console over a $80-$100 XBox or PS2?)
The independent developer will again be unable to compete
[quote]Or anyone who would like to develop console games without having to pay for a dev kit and licensing. Nerds and hobbyists - the people who founded the home computer revolution in the 80s still exist, they’re just younger than us and they don’t have much simple stuff to play with.
Ah, but the console I’m proposing already IS accessable. Card readers and writers are quite cheap, as are smart cards. Complete dev kits (e.g. a modified console with debugger) could easily be sold for a hundred dollars or so. Because it’s in Java, development could happen on the desktop before the hardware.
Yet one difference between a $150 console and a $50 one, is that the $50 one allows the hobbist to become a commerical game developer.
[quote]On the other hand, who will sell a $50 console, subsidised by game revenue? Any ISP that wants to make a $10 cut on every game sold. And they could be talking hundreds of thousands of games. A nice little earner.
Now you’re getting a bit fanciful. No company is going to eat a $100 loss expecting to be subsidized by $10 games. Even if we assume that the ISP gets a huge chunk of the pie (say 20%), he’s only going to make ~$2 off of every sale! He’d need to sell 50 games per customer, just to break even! That’s about what a customer can be expected to purchase over the life of the console! (I don’t have the exact reseach on hand; it costs about $2,500. But these numbers should help paint a picture for you.)
Basically, such a business model is doable, but it’s not for a guy in his basement to make happen. And as to your console cost, there’s one more part you need to consider. If the games are to be delivered over the internet, the console will require a large hard drive. A 40gig hard drive retails for about $80. Pulling a guesstimate out of thin air, that would result in a part cost of ~$40. That’s 1/4 the price of the machine! Plus you’ll have to develop hard drive management tools, game initialization and execution tools, installer standards, etc.
Kevglass had it right when he said that such a path is “too expensive”.
Now second generation hardware…
Consider that this “toy” is retracing the steps on Nintendo and Sony. Once the console and 2D games are on the market, the company that produces the console will have clout with manufacturers. Anyone who sells 100,000 units or more is going to be someone that manufacturers will want to work with. That means that cheaper licensing arrangements can be made, and custom hardware can be demanded.
e.g. If I was in that position, I would send a request for bids to Sharp, Samsung, Sony, Kodak, SanDisk, and other electronic storage manufacturers for a scalable memory device with a maximum of 512MBits of capacity, small form factor, inexpensive labelling ability, and a low unit price. They would then compete to produce the winning device. That would solve my storage problems.
One thing I would also do, however, is contact the major game publishers, and invite them to work on the machine. That may seem counterproductive, as the independent guy will get creamed with such competition. The reality is, however, that a competitive 3D game is outside the reach of your average coder. He can usually produce the basics of the game, but all the details and art required by the 3D game rend to be beyond his capacity to produce. That’s why most developers take their partially completed game to a publisher for final release.