Microsoft Corners Another Market?

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What a year ago looked like a looming battle pitting AOL and Sony against the Microsoft juggernaut for the right entertain America via game consoles now has all the earmarks of MS beating rivals to the punch—again.

Redmond is busy signing up broadband providers for its XBox gaming network while Sony dawdles. AOL remains in the Sony camp, but corporate brother Time Warner Cable has already hooked up with XBox Live in a non-exclusive deal.

If, in a couple of years, some Congressperson or attorney general-type thunders about Microsoft's "online gaming monopoly," recall it wasn't always so.

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  1. As a loyal PS2 owner, I have been reluctant to switch to X-Box, if only b/c all my tech friends make fun of me for not switching. Something to argue about over Beers type thing.

    But, after seeing them plug in and play with X-Box, at different locations throughout town, it is getting harder to resist.

  2. The XBox is for tech geeks. Microsoft spent so much time making a game console with a lot gadgets and online access, they forgot to make good games. I like Microsoft, but the jury is still out on whether they’ll be successful in gaming. It also remains to be seen whether their ‘XBox Live’ will do well.

  3. I suspect X-Box Live will be a stunning success. Online PC games already do boffo business, and their players seem to have cash to burn, if the insane prices they pay for virtual game items (like a really cool sword for your Ranger character) on eBay is any indication. I’ve heard of guys who make a living doing nothing buy creating and building up game characters and then selling the characters online.

  4. Sony’s online strategy is absolutely horrible. The specs for the PS2 were finalized in 1998, and in the subsequent four years they have done next to jack squat vis-a-vis online gaming. A modem and an ethernet card cost three dolllars each wholesale, and yet they saw fit not to pack one into the system, which would have ensured everyone would have the capability to go online. Then, 3 years late, they make a _few_ modem/ethernet cards available for sale at 40 dollars a piece. Brilliant. On top of that, few PS2 developers want to add online code for their games if few players have the hardware, so a “deadly cycle” of no support/no adoption is in effect here.

    X-Box Live has its own very serious problem, namely it is broadband only, and as we have seen, broadband adoption has been much, much slower than was previously thought in the late 90’s.

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