Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A New Console

A new console contender? If you live in India...
There's a new console being planned, by a startup called Zeebo, but its focus is not on games, it's on education.. They've been around since 2007, and initially their aim was to get consoles into developing countries like Brazil and Mexico, where they introduced the Zeebo in 2009. The unit plugs right into a TV set, and accessed the Internet wirelessly via 3G (which is also how software titles were distributed). Apparently Zeebo didn't go over well enough in those countries, for they are refocusing their efforts on India as well as other emerging markets. Current Zeebo operations in Brazil and Mexico are shutting down as of the end of September, and the devices will no longer be able to connect to the Internet.

Zeebo is planning on a new version to be introduced in 2012, and reducing the emphasis on gaming. It's an interesting vision, trying to bring Internet connectivity, software sales, education and gaming to a wide audience in the emerging world. I'm not sure how successful this will be, since they've already tried in Brazil and Mexico without sufficient success to continue. Much will depend on the pricing, and on the sort of content they can get onto their system.

I'm dubious that they can reach a sufficient scale to be a big success, though. I think their vision of inexpensive Internet access will be realized by the spread of smartphones to emerging markets. The size and amazing growth of the smartphone market can drive hardware prices low enough to be possibly affordable in emerging markets, especially since the devices are small and don't use much power. Solar charging becomes quite possible. Tablets will follow along as screen prices continue to drop. Distribution will take place digitally, thereby avoiding all the problems of retail stores and getting physical goods shipped in a country with a poor road system.

The result will be a huge market emerging for games that never existed before, if you can make your games accessible in a variety of languages. Many games need very few words to be playable, and these will be the ones that make their way quickly to new markets. There are many implications in the spread of this technology, and astute marketers should begin to think about how to bring their games to emerging markets.

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