Missing The Point

There’s a bunch of disputes going on in cyberworld about whether or not the graphics on these new consoles are a bit better or worse than that of a GeForce 7800. You can see some comments here and here about it.

To me, that rather misses the point.

To many, the point is likely to be “What do I want to buy to get that level of performance? A $500 system or a close to $500 video card?”

Naked video cards aren’t much fun.

Some may say, “You can’t upgrade the graphics on a PS3; you can on a PC.” This is true. You are deprived of the opportunity of spending another $400-500 for a video card a few years down the road.

Just how much of a deprivation is this likely to be?

If you haven’t read this yet, you really ought to read this. It has a head honcho from nVidia saying that advances in graphics will be bottlenecked by the lack of faster CPUs until/whenever parallel programming (and programmers) get a whole better.

Nor is this a “this can be fixed by Christmas” kind of issue. We’re talking about years to fix.

Slicing Off A Big Chunk Of The Market

The situation isn’t quite as extreme as those two items may indicate. Neither the PS3 nor XBox 360 is coming out tomorrow, and by the time it does come out, GF 7800 performance won’t be so stunning (or expensive).

Future games, at least as measured over a one-two year period, ought to start getting more parallel. Properly programming the PS3 will take a lot of parallel programming (and Sony is being extraordinarily stupid in expecting tens of thousands of dollars for developer kits.

Nonetheless, in an era where we see people shifting to the low end in PC purchases, the prospects of a yet cheaper alternative look bright.

People have always bought game consoles in large numbers. What may be different this time around is that PC users getting priced out of the high-end gamer market will say “Enough” and go console. I think that could be a considerable chunk of today’s PC gamer market; I think the current lower-end of that market will go console if current trends continue.

Add to that the distinct possibility of long-term high-priced oil and resultant global recession, and that gamer goose PC vendors are counting on to lay those golden eggs might get a severe case of constipation.

Even gamers need gas.


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