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Thread: Why has the video game market always been so fragmented compared to film and music?

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    Strawberry (Level 2)
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    Default Why has the video game market always been so fragmented compared to film and music?

    Examples: There are 3 main boxes you can buy games for and none of the games are cross compatible with eachother. But there are hundreds of models of VHS players and all VHS tapes were cross compatible with the different models. Same concept for audio CDs. There was never "I wanna buy a Walkman so I can hear NSYNC"

    Things are getting fragmented somewhat now with the advent of streaming. Theres a lot of exclusive content between Amazon, Hulu and Netflix.

    I never understood why there was 1 main format for home video for 30 years (VHS) and meanwhile there were dozens of game formats that could only be played one specific device

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    Peach (Level 3) Natty Bumppo's Avatar
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    There have always been competing systems for things such as videotapes, videodiscs, etc.

    Changes in technology and consumer demand generally washes most of them out.

    In regards to video tapes there were initially two main home formats - BETA and VHS (there were other mostly industrial formats such as Umatic and open reel). Beta was actually a bit better format initially in some ways but Sony decided to charge fairly steep royalties to build Beta machines. JVC (who owned the rights to VHS) decide to charge relatively low royalties and make money by having other companies make more units.
    This gave VHS the marketing edge and it eventually forced out BETA. (It also had the added plus of pushing prerecorded tapes down in price - originally both BETA and VHS prerecorded tapes were very expensive.

    Initially there were two mass marked video discs - RCA's CED and Phillips' laserdiscs (after various name changes). CEDs at first were more popular since both the machines and the discs were cheaper than laserdiscs. But the quality just wasn't there (in truth they were only marginally better than videotapes) and there was not much room for technological improvements. Laserdiscs quickly gained the upper hand and stayed there until DVDs came into the picture.

    With video game stuff there has never been much incentive to make things universal - even within a company (hence the general lack of backwards compatibility - when it does occur it is usually in a haphazard manner). The technology is always pretty well understood and each company would like to have contol of their platforms and software to maximize profit in the short run rather than harvest possible long term profits.
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    Apple (Level 5) ScourDX's Avatar
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    Videogame at one point did have games can be played on rival console. It wasn't until Nintendo came on to the scene where we only play Nintendo game on nintendo console. Since then it has been a tradition. Now it is 3rd party publish titles on multiple platform that gives gamers choice to play the game.

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    ServBot (Level 11) jb143's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScourDX View Post
    Videogame at one point did have games can be played on rival console. It wasn't until Nintendo came on to the scene where we only play Nintendo game on nintendo console. Since then it has been a tradition. Now it is 3rd party publish titles on multiple platform that gives gamers choice to play the game.
    That was mostly other consoles having a module letting them playing Atari 2600 games, which consisted of a clone of 2600 hardware. And Atari wasn't too happy about it. Games are software programmed to run on different hardware while movies are movies, the storage medium and hardware they are played on may be different but the content is the same. Not so for games. A movie is made for the theater and transferred to the home format. A game is made for each system.


    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    I never understood why there was 1 main format for home video for 30 years (VHS) and meanwhile there were dozens of game formats that could only be played one specific device
    I think this might actually be the key. A movie on VHS, Beta-max, Laserdisc, DVD, Blueray, etc... is still the same movie. The difference is in quality. Could you imagine if we were stuck with the Atari 2600 for 30 years before the NES came out? And even then, you couldn't just transfer the old game to the new system(outside of emulation I suppose).
    "Game programmers are generally lazy individuals. That's right. It's true. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Since the dawn of computer games, game programmers have looked for shortcuts to coolness." Kurt Arnlund - Game programmer for Activision, Accolade...

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    Strawberry (Level 2) Koa Zo's Avatar
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    I can't research and refresh my memory right now, however I do have recollections from Film History class that the cinema market was quite fragmented for the first few decades as well. Different film studios utilized different camera technology and different projector and sound technology. Studios had joint or partial ownership of the theaters where movies were played, or studios would send out projectionists on tour to show their proprietary films formats.
    Perhaps in another 50 years the VR or direct-to-brain-stimulus game systems will be an agreed upon universal platform for developers and publishers.


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