Around the time that India got independence in 1947, world’s first video game patent was being filed for a cathode ray amusement device. Video games never received mainstream popularity till late 70s to early 80s when arcade games took the general public by storm and eventually became a rage among the adult and children alike. Pac man and Ms. Pac man were the iconic ones that went down to being the legendary arcade machines. Then the consoles invaded the market. First, the Japanese made one-game machines but later realized the limitations to the popularity of such machines so they started thinking about cartridge based consoles and hence the Nintendo NES was born (the successor of a lot of early cartridge based gaming consoles).
Atari, Mitashi, Nintendo and countless others were household names. Super Mario Bros and Islander were a rage in the nineties in the Indian gaming scenario but it was still untouched by the mainstream cutting edge technology. India, being a new entrant into the globalization scenario sort of always lagged behind when it came to gaming.
PC games were introduced to the general public somewhere around 1985. Dangerous Dave and Doom were again the market bestsellers. The games that time used to be DOS based with minimal capacity for processing and negligible demand for video memory. Hence, the computer game market picked up. First the floppies, then the CDs and now the Blue ray discs. Through time, video games required two basic inputs for functioning properly – memory and video memory. Both are available on board, in case of consoles and as a peripheral device in case of computers. Nvidia and ATI are the market leaders in video memory and graphic chip design.
People started taking gaming seriously in India when the Sony PlayStation gained popularity. The PlayStation featured some amazing titles that carried on and have a legacy of their own. Tekken 3, Mario kart and many others that now have even films and Anime designed and based around them. Microsoft also got into the gaming industry with Xbox and the market expert and long time player Nintendo launched Wii and GameCube. Thus began the classic struggle of claiming the market share and gaining popularity in the masses.
The Sony PlayStation managed to be the winner in the US and India but Japan remained the undisputed dominion of Nintendo at first but slowly, with the release of PS2 and PS3, Sony captured the market by and large and established clear market prowess. Xbox 360 received accolades for being a fierce competitor but Wii remained the choice of dedicated Nintendo fan base. The reason was processing capabilities and video memory. PS3 featured a physics processing unit that solely took care of the dynamics of the surroundings like flowing water and furling flag.
Some new developments have taken place since multiplayer gaming gained popularity with Counter Strike and Age of Empires. LAN gaming made computer based games more popular and a lot more people started getting involved and getting interested. By no means were the consoles defeated but almost all the titles were released on PC after being released on the consoles. Sony and Microsoft are rethinking the market strategies and the need for a new and better console and they both have come up with some insane ideas. Sony is planning to launch PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox 720 while Nintendo is revamping its image of being the underdog with WII U.
It is rumored that Wii is going to be much more powerful than its earlier versions. Both PS4 and Xbox are based on AMD technology. An eight core CPU will drive the cores of the consoles and Xbox Durango will have an 8 GB RAM DDR3 while Sony PS4 orbis will have 4 GB but of the GDDR5 category which is superfast. WII on the other hand has a three core processor running at 1.24 GHz – this might sound bad at first but the CPU structure is a complex one and Wii might have some tricks up its sleeve. We have no reason to suspect that it would be any less than Xbox in processing power.
While the consoles fight, one other player is emerging in the market and progress of which is making speculators believe that it might be the end of the console era. This new player is Valve’s Steam Box. It integrates with your TV and delivers the PC gaming experience in your living room through the big picture support. Steam is a digital distribution, digital rights management, multiplayer and communications platform developed by Valve Corporation. It is used to distribute games and related media online, from small independent developers to larger software houses. The USP of steam is that it runs on Linux (tentatively) and the software side of the console is made open so that contributors can make it better. The console is rumored to have controllers that support gaze tracking and biometrics with touch pad integrated interface.
Technology is reaching new heights. Apart from consoles, there is another platform that is garnering attention and that is the tablet platform. The limitations are obvious when it comes to comparing a tablet’s gaming capabilities to say that of Xbox or PS vita, but it is a good option for hobbyists but pros would want to stay away. iPad and Galaxy support many games that once used to run on PS2 and Nintendo Wii
The market is soon to shift but whichever company or technology benefits, there is going to be applause from the customers. The technology and precision that goes into making a video game post 90’s is tremendous. Companies are feeding off the reputation that their games once created e.g. FIFA and Need for Speed and they will continue to do so as long as they please the customers with quality. Marketing gimmicks can only take them so far, the pros care for hardcore performance.