Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Durango vs. Orbis vs. Wii U

These concept pics are inevitably way cooler than the actual hardware; too bad.
The ramp up to E3 is starting, because rumors about consoles are getting more common. Now I see stirrings about Microsoft's Durango (the current codename) having a 16-core processor (compared to 3 cores in the 360), though 4 of those cores will be needed to handle the built-in Kinect 2.0 voice and movement recognition (higher resolution than the current one). It'll have AMD Radeon HD7000 series graphics. Oh, and it will have a Blu-Ray drive. Sounds expensive... 

Meanwhile Sony is working on the PS4 Orbis, which may have an AMD 64 bit CPU and a GPU that can output 4096 x 2160 images. Why is that important, when you can't find a TV in that resolution? Well, it means you can have 60 fps 3D images. And higher-res TVs are in the planning stages. This unit also sounds expensive.

Meanwhile, we get word that Nintendo's looking at a Wii U hardware cost of $180, nout counting packaging and software and any other incidentals (like paying for marketing, R&D, and the like). So the Big N is planning to retail the Wii U for at least $300, maybe more. Ouch.

I'm guessing that the Durango and the Orbis will be more in the range of $400 to $500. Double ouch.

Good luck to all of them; I think selling devices seen primarily as game consoles will be very difficult at those price points. Especially if, as I expect, there will be Apple and Android options for far less. Of course, consoles are increasingly being seen as multimedia devices; Microsoft admitted recently that more hours are spent streaming music and video on the Xbox than are spent playing games. Will Sony and Microsoft be pushing their new consoles more as media centers than as gaming devices? That may be one way to justify a high price.

The marketing battles will be interesting this Christmas, as Nintendo tries to establish its new hardware and Sony and Microsoft try to keep selling old hardware as the world becomes increasingly aware of new consoles headed for Christmas 2013. Grab a comfy chair and some popcorn, the show will be fascinating.


  1. I think saying "Microsoft admitted recently that more hours are spent streaming music and video on the Xbox than are spent playing games." misses the tone of their announcement. MS has been trying to get their multi-media claws into people's living rooms for over a decade; they are proud that the XBox 360 has at least partially succeed in this.

  2. Yeah, they are pretty proud of it, but it's kind of funny after a period of "game consoles are game consoles" which was the general tone in the industry. I wonder if core gamers are going to be less happy if games are not the central focus of their boxes in the future.

  3. Sadly the movement towards gaming consoles as media devices seems to be the only way that the consoles can survive. We've begun to reach the limit of what can be achieved graphically, at least until--as you said-- the next generation of tvs has been created, so that means the subsequent consoles have to offer something else to the user instead.

    Not to mention that gaming, as popular as it is, is still a niche market. I'm rather surprised to see the WiiU following up directly on the Wii for that reason. Instead of opening their system up to multiple players and casual gamers as they did with the Wii they are instead offering up a more expensive and powerful console with a single controller at a much higher price point.

    It perplexes me because it really does seem to leave behind a large amount of the market they opened themselves up to in the last five or so years. The Wii was a family console, and while the Wii U is looking to support multiplayer at least online, its high price point and the technical issues inherent in multiple controllers affecting framerate lends it to a solo offline experience. It sounds like it will leave a lot of the people Nintendo won over in the dust.

    Maybe they don't mind, after all game sales to console units never was very impressive, but with such power house franchises as Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros etc, this move has left a dirty taste in the mouths of many gamers.

    On to the Xbox. As much as a Blu-ray player could be seen to aid Sony's bottom line I think not including it could be a risk for the Durango. Blu-ray drives are much more affordable and the extra space afforded by the format would mean less multiple disc games like Lost Odyssey...not to mention more space to support the very impressive (and expensive) processor they plan on implementing into the system. Supporting the Blu-ray format in the next console could also invite more gamers to pick up the system. I know one of the reasons I picked up my PS3 was because it had that feature, and I imagine there are still those out there who may yet be swayed to purchase the Durango over the Orbis provided it has the underlying features they desire.

    In short, the next generation of consoles are going to be expensive, and although I think marketing them as media hub products helps to alleviate such cost. Still, if the Orbis and Durango make similarly unrelated design decisions as the Wii U, that is moving counter to their established market, I can't help but wonder if we are moving away from calling them "gaming systems" at all.