My post had a single idea, built from few and short sentences, and you just took them seperately as several independent ideas (which was not the message I was passing) and gave them extensive replies. Your comments have juice and are well constructed, I'm not criticizing them, I'm just saying that's not what I asked and the issue I've raised became a bit lost in that ocean of text you've wrote.
My god, am I turning into a type of inverse John Lucas?! It’s fine that you had one single idea but the fashion of the response made my arguments and points seem like something they weren’t, I would never take it upon myself to summarize in this fashion, wording my interpreted observation and posting it as the actual meaning of someone else. This is something John Lucas is more prone to doing and should be avoided, even though you and I agree on some things, I feel that it is important to draw the line on where we see things differently, there are obviously quite a few such lines to be drawn.
However, there are some parts I would like to comment on:
Apple is as bad as Nintendo. Microsoft is definitely better, although they become dangerous as monopolists. Sony is even better than Microsoft. Valve is even better than Sony.
Microsoft becoming dangerous as monopolists shows us one thing though; a dormant willingness to be unethical and that, to me, signifies an overall tendency to perceive business ethics as something of secondary importance. They have been involved in several cases and some of them are of the exact same nature, and they have even been fined for failure to comply with agreed upon terms of practice imposed by court decision.
Apple has been unkind to the developers and consumers but have never treated retailers as badly as Nintendo did back in their golden mafia days, but they haven’t been altogether pleasant either. Overall; Apple had and still has a horrible attitude towards 3rd party programming and apps and they’re still screwing their customers on pricing. Retailer studies show that Apple products yield by far the least profit per sale and dollar in stores, indicating that Apple is adjusting and imposing a much higher profit margin and bigger cuts on their goods, stores accept the policy simply due to Apple products being popular and leading to actual business. A lot of sales with a small profit margin is, more often than not, better than few sales with a big profit margin.
Nintendo were much the same, only on a higher level; their products were so popular that they could demand almost anything from retailers, from forcing them to not take in competing products from Atari and Sega to dumping their returns arrangements completely (faulty goods? Too bad, you were stuck with them) and refusing outlets to cut the price of the base unit and cartridges for a very long time. They also purposefully under shipped stock to retailers to maintain demand and assert a much higher degree of pricing control, as well as other nasty tactics.
Sony “better” in the gaming industry overall; yes, as far as ethics go anyway. Valve better than all of them overall; undeniably.
Apple and Nintendo present a shameful behaviour even when they aren't the leaders. It's very easy to fill an extensive infamous list about their practices.
That’s actually a pretty good point, they do moderate themselves but they also both still show clear signs of a desire for near absolute market control, which is bad for developers and consumers, as well as competition of course. Nintendo insist on region locking, artificially choke stock for retailers, arbitrarily delay release between regions and lower the price of their software and peripherals for a very long time even when they aren’t on top (N64 games were insanely expensive in Scandinavia and other places as a result of this). Apple still has their unfair weighting system, artificial prices and profit ceiling per unit and still charge ridiculous royalty fees from 3rd party programs/apps/games despite having lost a good chunk of influence and power.
Not to mention the relatively poor quality of some of their hardware and refusal to adopt and support standards in the industry and rather push their own (not unlike Nintendo on the latter part).
Microsoft is far more difficult not only because they behave better than Apple/Nintendo but also because they never got the monopoly of the videogaming business.
I’m not sure I follow the meaning of the first part of the sentence, but as for them never getting a monopoly in the video game business; it is first off very likely that they desire a monopoly, given their aforementioned willingness to be unethical and suppressing markets through monopolistic policies and business, which is the prime example of poor business ethics. Secondly; they have had a monopoly on the OS market for decades and have proven unfit to carry a market fairly and in an ethically sound way, regardless of whether or not you choose to care about their ventures outside gaming; these are the ones that mark and define the company and the trend is clear; they are not ones to shy away from questionable practice when the opportunity is laid before them.
The DRM policies and the online checks they were about to implement on XOne show us already what we could expect from such disaster but that's far from being as bad as what Apple/Nintendo have done in past and are still doing.
Microsoft seems to want a closed system, at the very least, it makes sense since it not only adds appeal through exclusivity deals but also allows more leverage and control as opposed to the more overall market driven and competitive scene we have today. It’s not good for consumers though, it isn’t so much about caring about the exclusive content offered to customers or the quality of it as it is a means of more precisely controlling and directing and price managing said offers to your consumers, in order to maximize profits (much like Nintendo in the 80’s). Control is the name of the (literal) game.
Sony had the monopoly in the 5th and 6th generations and we can barely say bad things about such golden times. I think the Sony's infamous list of bad practices is very short and I have no fear about them dominating again.
That’s actually somewhat correct the way I see it, and they took some fairly big risks at that, which benefitted the entire industry and continues to do so. I think that Sony showed a great deal of responsibility and ethical integrity even in a historically unprecedented sales situation, profit success and level of software support. However, it was getting to their heads in a pretty big way in the end and they got very cocky, the development and release of the PS3 should show as much, and they could have easily displayed a lot more consumer hostile practices in time if they had actually “won” with the PS3.
They got a much needed humbling in the 7th gen and seem to have reverted to a similar mindset as the PS1 days, which is terrific news overall but no guarantee of PS1-like sales in the end.
Sony have done some pretty shady stuff, especially the mobile and camera division but in gaming they have behaved fairly well overall.
I think part of the explanation is that they are so used to cooperating, while Nintendo and Microsoft are more used to fending for themselves, and most of the biggest and most successful Sony ventures have been joint efforts.
Valve is just the immaculate example. They have no such infamous list and the way they've approached so far the market, the industry and even the work relations is brilliant like you said.
There are some who accuse Valve of becoming a monopolist, the big difference here though is that they haven’t resorted to malicious business practice or questionable ethical moves to get into and maintain a very favorable position in the market. There are criticisms, some revolving around the security of the Steam service and some around their Greenlight service, which has failed to do as much as they hoped to do. Then, of course, there is the very legitimate criticism of their now legendary development time. Overall though, these are petty concerns compared to the big dawgs of unseemly business ethics in the industry.
Having that said, why would it be a bad thing if Nintendo went away from the console market? Is the Sony vs Microsoft vs Valve a bad/poor scenario?
Less variety and less competition, plain and simple. Nintendo would never succeed in the same way and to the same degree as a 3rd party and the overall quality of their software would dwindle in my opinion, as well as lose relevance. See this for more specifics:
Would you like a videogaming industry in which the exclusive games were splitted into 10 different consoles?
God no, and I never stated such a thing, that would be a recipe for disaster. This seems like a very polarizing argument on your end, if I’m honest.
That's what I understand from that last sentence of yours. I even think that a Sony vs Valve would be enough to avoid major greedy moves.
It would be the advent of an era with less variation though; the fewer players, the less incentive for creative effort. Cunning vs. creativity, with only two major platforms there is ample opportunity to sell your software regardless, just look at the amount of shovel ware on clear market leaders. This is also shown in the NES moving quite a few units of a lot of rather bad games.
Sameness how? Sony has created and developed new IPs and concepts on every generation they were in (being leaders or not) and this time around seems to be no exception. Microsoft is also attempting to bring many new games although I understand they're rather a Sony copy-cat in most of cases and that brilliant series like Project Gotham were ended and not replaced at all by similar concepts.
The overall Sony platform and Microsoft platform is very similar, especially in hardware. Software is also taking aim at more or less the same demographics and market segments. Forza – Gran Turismo, Titanfall – Destiny, Halo – Killzone, to name a few, they set up games with very similar frame and mechanics and appeal to directly counter the competition rather than shift focus and attempt to compete outside these arbitrary set parameters. Not to mention that nearly all 3rd party titles are available on both platforms. The new IP’s are often built on existing concepts and mechanics and almost invariably sport clichés and lack of depth, the ones do actually stand out are rather the exception than the rule here.
You seem to forget about software. That's the real field for improvements and innovation. The hardware doesn't need mandatory gimmicks that otherwise wouldn't be bought by the majority. The hardware needs to be simple and powerful, the rest is software's onus. Sony is playing it right with the PS4.
That’s what I’m saying though; how much innovation was there in the 7th gen? Almost all the top sellers on PS3 and 360 were shaped in the image of a few massive titles and the same mechanics, gameplay elements and visual tools were applied to a staggering amount games. Look at how many games featured bullet time, the same cover system, regeneration health, racers with a “boost” mechanic, games with the same “choice and impact” mechanic. Looking at the amount of dead similar military shooters alone is sad, there was a study conducted in a university in Norway by some media students where they asked a bunch of students who loved gaming to tell Call of Duty, Battlefield, Operation Flashpoint, Medal of Honor and Spec Ops apart when they removed the HUD and directed the camera view towards an area that was fairly nondescript. The results were hardly surprising; the majority of the subjects were unable to tell the games apart and most of them seemed to think that they were all simply Call of Duty. Many of these games went so far as to have almost exactly the same mandatory scripted sequences, vehicle/plane/RC segments and QTE’s.
Look at the cop-out on immersion by adding the ridiculous Quick Time Event to the mix, an incredible number of games did this, even franchises that previously relied more on true interaction. Look at the removal or severe reduction of depth in so many genres and franchises, developers focused more jazz on visual glaze before any attempt at actually applying the tech towards evolving or even birthing new mechanics.
I won’t give Nintendo a free pass either; they’re still relying on the same old franchises and mascots to sell their systems and their particular brand of innovation in core franchises is bound by some pretty heavy and restrictive parameters, removing some of the point. Look at them now, the Wii U is tanking and what’s the response? Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong. Wii Sports, Wii Fit and Wii Party are also appearing again and there is contemplation around bringing some other old franchises back to life, they seem deathly afraid of attempting anything outside of the box without resorting to making overly simple games that doesn’t really showcase their core talent.
Well, at the very least, Nintendo are publishing some simple games without the pretense of depth, unlike most of the catalog on the other two.
The 7th gen has made all of gaming less intelligent and holistic. In case you didn’t already understand and know; I was not very fond of the 7th gen.
Hardware needs to be simple; agreed, the Cell was a ridiculous decision. Powerful: to a certain extent but not above reasonable cost. Again, though, I feel that Sony has well and truly gotten their money’s worth in the PS4, certainly a lot more than the others. They are playing it right but they won’t move gaming forward as a whole, they’ll be continuing tradition on a better chipset. It’s not a creative and/or artistic leap, just like the 7th gen wasn’t, and that’s the bit that annoys me the most. Nintendo are guilty of the same thing, as are Microsoft.
"Placid" doesn't need to be the norm. If a gimmick is really appealing it will be successful even if it's sold separately from the console. If it doesn't sell well is because it wasn't that appealing. Sony has been collecting the gamer's feedback on a daily basis (since they failed hard with Blu-ray and Cell) and they understood the camera shouldn't be included in the PS4's package. For now, the only thing consumers massively want with the console seems to be the conventional controller.
The controller is simple and to the point, and judging by reports; really, really good. Camera is redundant on a console, with PC’s, smartphones and tablets creeping around in every house, there’s just no need for this today. So, yeah, I’m with you all the way here. I still think that the PS4 is placid though, for the above mentioned reasons.
I don't care about what they do outside of the videogaming business. That's not my focus.
Seeing things outside of the gaming bit is vital to understanding the company/companies as a whole though. It’s entirely okay to not be interested but it is a great advantage.
With all honesty, I can even say that I would be glad to see them profiting from the other industries as much as possible in order to spend it all in videogaming. I know I'm being selfish but that's my view.
Wanting a company one likes to prosper is not selfish, in my opinion. I take issue with people who want their favorites to succeed at the expense of others though, which a lot of people, if not most, in here and otherwise, actually want.
Don't I want fairness in all businesses of the world? Sure, but then my focus would be on the oil companies, banks and major retailers that fill most of the fortune 500 with no real merit. Compared to them, even Apple and Nintendo are trully saints.
I agree that there are bigger problems in the world but I don’t subscribe to the tired adage that one should focus solely on the biggest problems and ignore the smaller ones. Besides; the video game industry has social impact beyond the profit curves of the manufacturers and developers; the Foxconn incident is one example, the gross exploitation of nations such as TDR Congo to get a hold of precious metals and resources to build the base units, are another. It really is affecting the world in a multitude of ways and for every console owner that smiles at his gaming system, there’s one or more people sweating profusely and essentially slaving to piece the next one together from scratch, or simply working towards and in the global economical system that allows you and me to be rich enough to purchase a console in the first place.
Companies in the video game industry are almost without exception better than oil companies, banks and major retailers though, yes. Most of all in social and societal and political impact, not to mention the environment. God, I’m starting to sound like a leftist!!! :P
So, again, my question remains: are the "infamous lists" of Sony/Microsoft game divisions as large and devastating as Nintendo's?
I already posted a link in my short response. Microsoft’s list is quite long but not as “bad” as Nintendo’s in my opinion, especially the 80’s Nintendo (that John Lucas has “dismissed” on the grounds of: because he said so) were more or less terrible in their ways and were as detrimental to ethical business practices as they were important to the gaming industry’s vitality. The latter is often cause for forgiveness for the former though and I feel that this is unfair, that is also why I get annoyed when people yell about what Nintendo “deserve” and how they have shown through their conduct that they are the best choice for market leadership and guidance while maintaining that everyone else are detestable and cynical and not much more.
As a developmental philosopher; Nintendo are simply mind-bendingly brilliant, if somewhat timid, but as an overall business, ethics and marketing idol to emulate, they are not suited to the task any more than the others, perhaps even less so.
PS: I tried to keep it somewhat short, sorry if I digress.
End of 2016 hardware sales:
Wii U: 15 million. PS4: 54 million. One: 30 million. 3DS: 64.8 million. PSVita: 15.2 million.