Gaming Business

The Gaming market is set for very interesting times. All three consoles on the market (from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft) are now priced at USD 199, after PlayStation 2 and Xbox prices were slashed by USD 100 last week. Hardware (the console) is now becoming a commodity. Which means software makers are going to get increasingly important and the differentiators. Unlike the computer industry, software is not yet interoperable. So, for the game makers, the consoles are the razors (they are willing to lose money selling them) while the software sales (their own or royalties from others) are the blades. Expect a lot of innovation in this “emerging market”.

Some recent stories:

  • News.com on the price cuts
  • Microsoft’s USD 1 billion bet on building out an online games network (NY Times)
  • WSJ on Philip Rosedale of Linden Labs, who is creating an open-ended alternative to online games: “Mr. Rosedale envisions a virtual space and society that evolve every day through the creativity of their users. People are expected to roam through a three-dimensional landscape in cartoon-style bodies, design homes and artwork, chat with other users and customize their clothes and appearances. Above all, they are expected to invent the games, social relationships and mock financial enterprises that will shape what is tentatively called Linden World.”

    What interests me about the Gaming business is its similarity to what we want to with the Thin Client-Thick Server concept. Need to get enough of the TC-TS combos out there to ensure there is a lot of developer interest to build applications for SMEs.

    Gaming is also the one market where Microsoft is the underdog: Sony leads it by 10:1 in the console installed base. Would be very interesting to see how Microsoft builds out its strategies — there is a lot to learn from them. Writes the NYT on what they are trying:

    On Monday, Microsoft will announce Mr. Allard’s next big gamble: an ambitious billion-dollar-plus investment in an online game service to be called Xbox Live. Microsoft hopes to create what it describes as the equivalent of an online Disneyland, globally accessible over the Internet, where gamers who subscribe can find partners for dozens of different adventure, racing and sports games.

  • Amazon and eBay

    The weekend sees stories on both companies: on Amazon in the NYTimes and on eBay in the San Jose Mercury News. Amazon began as a merchandiser and eBay as a marketplace…they now seem to be slowly edging into each other’s markets in search of growth.

    I think there is a definite opportunity for an SME Marketplace — more on the lines of eBay, where small businesses and buy and sell among each other.

    TECH TALK: India’s Anguish

    My uncle was reminiscing about life in India in the 1940s and 1950s recently. He did his schooling in a Rajasthan village. After that, he had to fight hard to come to Bombay to go to college and study medicine. It was difficult to convince the elders that further education was needed. After all, at the end of the day, he had to come and join the others in the family business. My uncle scripted a very different story for the rest of his life to become a leading radiologist in Bombay. Many of his childhood friends didnt or couldnt alter their lives. Not that they did not have dreams some wanted to go abroad, some wanted to become lawyers, some wanted to get into the Arts. For many, circumstances overtook their lives and they settled into comfort zones. Most were quite well off financially, so money was not a problem. But their potential was never fully realised.

    As he talked about life then, I couldnt but think about India today. For years, Indians have tried to move forward, but India holds them back. The potential has remained just that, and the world has surged forward, relegating a once-rich and prosperous nation to the ranks of a (perennially) emerging market. This is so evident in the past few months. The burning embers of Gujarat, the drums of war sounding on the Pakistan border and our annual financial scam (this year it is HomeTrade) have ensured that we as a nation will not make much progress this year once again. We move to remain in place.

    As an Indian, it makes me angry. This deadly mix of Pakistan, scheming politicians and intelligent scamsters is seemingly the story (or tragedy) of India. Whats worse is that the same set of mistakes gets repeated every year. The characters change, but the dialogues and end result doesnt. And we fall further behind in the ongoing race to integrate India into the world, and become part of the global economic village. The irony is that I am sure that the overwhelming majorities of India and Pakistan, and the Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat want a better life for themselves and their children. We all have dreams for a very different and more glorious tomorrow. But, like it was for many of my uncles friends, the past chains the future.

    Tomorrow: Why Is It So?