Monday, January 14, 2008

Video Game Companies Don't 'Get it'

Or maybe they are trying to ease people in to it? What the heck is the "it" I'm talking about? It's simple really...changing the world.

Doc Searls got me thinking in his latest EOF column in The Linux Journal. Well, he references some other sources in the article that got me to thinking, too, but I digress. The point here is that TV is fifty some odd years old. The keyboard is around a hundred. In a way, the computer is little more than a TV with a keyboard. What made it special was that one little wire connecting it to all the other computers around the world.

Now we've taken that wire and used it to put vast amounts of information at people's fingertips. Social networking is predicted as the next "big thing" (since in theory we've tapped our ability to advertise to people simply searching for information) to make companies money on the internet. Facebook, for example, has an incredibly high market cap. Why? They plan to find some way to advertise to people while they network with each other. Hmmmkay.

But look at the Xbox, PS3, Wii, etc. There are games now that let people "network" socially, too. There are entire economic systems in some of these games, in fact. Add in the fact that not only do these systems not have (or really need, though you can add) keyboards, but in the case of the Wii you have serious technical innovation in how you send your commands to the game system. The feedback side still needs a bit of work (it's still just a TV, sound, and your controller can "buzz" in your hand), but anyone who has played any games with a Wiimote can see there's something a bit on the special side there. More innovation like that combined with deeper games that mimic more in the way of reality TV contests and complete virtual economic systems could lead to an online experience we've not even really dreamed possible yet.

The possibilities for making money off something like this abound...subscriptions, hardware, product placement, advertising breaks, and even product tie-ins (buy product XYZ and in the box you get a code that unlocks a cool feature in your game, etc). The TV folks had better get their sports contracts signed very exclusively, because it won't be too terribly much longer before TV and all your internet content will be able to come through your internet wire, instead of your internet coming over your TV wire.

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