Power vs Price: The console gamer

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written by owen on 2013-Feb-28.

Video game consoles have always had to balance Power vs Price. If a console is too expensive very few people will buy it - either for themselves or thier kids. And since kids don't make money your console needs to be as cheap as possible. On the power front your console needs to have enough power to run the latest games available or at least keep up with the games that at out on other platforms. The Wii with it lackluster power kept up because of it novety controller and cheap price.

And then there is the problem that the more power in console has the longer it has to stay on the market before it gets replaced by a new version. You see this is how consoles remain fresh - they change every 5 or so years. This is why console people do no like PCs. PCs are shackled by their platform.

Being short sighted seems to be the problem with allot of PC gamers. They want the best settings all around and problably only finish 2 or 3 of the 50 games theey download on steal. You will NEVER have enough power. There is always a constraint. Working within a constraint not only shows skill but the ability to innovate (developers). More power now and you will be playing the same shit fps shooters for the next 7 years until killzone 10. Yeah you will get a gem here and there but it won't be big enough to climb out of the crud.

My point is in the console world there is a balance between power and price which allows the platform to be stable but change at regular/predictable intervals. Some people don't want to be buying expensive video cards every six months. And surely developers want a platform which they can build tools for and optimize around.

A console that is very powerful will cost 600 or worst 1000 dollars and no one will buy it but the most hardcore of gamers. It will get minimum support to the point where it has to drop its price and remove features just to keep up with the market. To get the most power possible you have to go all custom which futher costs money in R&D and increases development costs for developers to figure it out. You end up with a console that is hard to program, requires high resolution art assets so it takes longer and longer to make the games. And the games that are made are basically all the same because its too tedious to update the engines or develop new types of games.

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