Disruption is as common in Silicon Valley as screenplays are in L.A. You can’t walk into a coffee house without hearing how some new thing will change the landscape of some old thing. In downtown Mountain View, there are hideously ugly bikes waiting to be rented with your credit card because apparently walking and driving and riding your own bike all need to be disrupted. Disruptors are disrupting the disruptors. Everyone’s doing it. So it’s surprising that no one in the Valley has disrupted the most ridiculously flawed industry of all: the video game console biz.
New gen is well underway. Anticipated new titles are released or lined up. And the debate continues: PS4 or Xbox One…. Both Sony and Microsoft have thrown millions into developing the consoles. Both lose money on consoles only to profit from game sales. It’s an old outdated model.
And here’s the reality: gamers do not want to buy a console. Gamers want to play games. Gamers do now want a fancy entertainment system that streams movies and recognizes their faces when they walk into a room. Gamers want to play games.
And gamers want to play good games. It doesn’t matter if it’s Xbox or PS4 exclusive. Gamers just want to play the best game out there without some conglomerate forcing them to make a choice. And yet, consoles keep getting more expensive and snazzier but they continue to be restrictive.
At the end of the day, Americans only care about two things: freedom and money. The console system takes away both. So the question is, why haven’t someone disrupted the system yet?
Sony’s Betamax was a better quality tape, but VHS won the battle because of price and availability. JVC licensed the VHS technology to any manufacturer that wanted it, and so the competition drove the prices down. Sony also placed an artificial cap on recording time, which handed VHS another edge. Lower prices, licensing and less restrictions led to wider acceptance. You can say VHS won because it was more American – cost efficient and less restrictive. And if anything will truly disrupt the console system, it has to be that.
So what are the leading candidates for disruption?
Ouya’s got the heart, but it’s still a console with exclusive titles.
Samsung’s Smart TV gaming is an interesting idea, but you need to buy the Smart TV.
And then there’s Amazon. The best part about the Amazon controller “leak” was what wasn’t revealed. No console. Will there be a console? I really hope not. Will it be some cloud-based streaming device like Chromecast? That might be a step in the right direction.
Consoles are sick. The printer-toner model does not work for gaming anymore. It’s a lucrative market and technology is too big for these boxes that try to contain. I do not need to buy a fancy expensive DVD player that can only play a certain number of exclusive titles. I want a cheap device from a manufacturer of my choice that can play all the titles I want.
All Gamers – hardcore and casual – want to play games. That’s it. Simple. Someone, please disrupt!