Perhaps finding comfort in the larger name-brands is ill-conceived, but the larger the company, the more options the consumer has for accessories, repair, and lower price. Conglomerates have the power to enter the mass market with low-end models that attract bargain hunters with their prices but not their quality. While these models may not have a long life, they’re effective in shoving products from smaller companies off the shelf. It’s very rare that a company like Vizio moves into a crowded market and emerges victorious.
Sega Dreamcast anyone?
With gaming consoles, a plethora of issues arise. Beyond the difficulty in finding the product in the first place, compatibility issues are foremost in the consumers’ mind. Just how many games can one play on what is essentially perceived, by nature of not being one of the big 3, as a knock-off? And the inability to find games at the retailers effectively cuts into the brand-awareness of the console itself. It’s a bilateral symbiosis with software companies and console makers essentially promoting each other with their products, even to the point of what can be termed collusion when features and even titles are unique to a console.
Again: Sega Dreamcast anyone?
While the gaming industry is strong, there’ve been notable disappointments. Both the Wii U and PS Vita have failed to ignite as hoped for, and the Nintendo 3DS hasn’t raked in huge sales recently.
But that hasn’t stopped startups from entering the fray. Ouya has the value factor going for it, priced at $99. It’s slated to be released in June 2013, right around the time of E3, the mega electronic entertainment show in Los Angeles. Its release also comes on the heels of the Sony Playstation 4 and Microsoft 720 announcements. While a success on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, Ouya has already been met with negative criticism including one reviewer labeling it a scam.
Another Kickstarter sensation, Oculus Rift is a virtual reality head mounted display unit. A prototype was shown at CES 2013, and a developer kit is being shipped out in March 2013 for game developers. The consumer version does not have a projected release date.
While the Oculus Rift raised over 2 million, the Gamestick met its goal of 100K in crowdfunding. In fact, it beat that goal, procuring nearly $650,000. A pocket sized console, the portable Gamestick carries the games on the stick. The stick is then inserted into any TV’s HDMI slot, and the game’s on.
On the pricier side, Razer, known for its gaming accessories, has begun taking pre-orders for its Razer Edge and Razer Edge Pro Gaming tablets. Starting at $999, the tablets will compete with Microsoft’s Surface Pro which has been plagued with low retail inventory.
(Picture # 4 Razer Edge Pro Gaming Tablet)
nVidia announced its Shield at CES 2013 and is slated to be released Q2 of 2013, most likely near E3. Like Razer’s tablets, the hand-held Shield is PC game compatible.
(Picture # 5 nVidia’s Shield)
Despite the influx of new options for gamers, most experts agree that a significant dent in the marketshare is unlikely. While portability is desired, sales for hand-helds are not reflective of the demand. These upstarts seek to capitalize on missed opportunities of the Big 3, but if there’s a failure to gauge consumers taste, it signals a death knell for their products. And a discontinuation of a product, effectively ceasing technical support, future titles and accessories, and compatibility, can ignite a backlash against the company.
A plethora of options is not always best for an industry. Better options are.