As a result of being born in 1979, I've had the pleasure of seeing many of the ups and downs of video games over the last 30 years. I was in Jr. High School during the early 90s and was always thinking about how I'd get rich. Spending less of my lunch money and saving just wasn't going to cut it. I remember having a subscription to Nintendo Power and receiving the special Nintendo Power Strategy Guides as part of the subscription. These guides sold in retail stores for $10-$15 if I remember correctly. As a result, I remember reading them and then showing them off at school and selling them. It was like free money to me and I could usually get around the same price as retail for them.
I knew how to market this stuff to the kids at school and would even have kids in bidding wars on occasion. My money was in their pockets and I just had to figure out how to get it. Was I popular? Not at all. I often think that if Facebook, Twitter and MySpace had existed when I was in grades K-12, things may have been different, but I had enough close friends that being the most popular kid in school never really concerned me. When I wasn't rollerblading or playing football or basketball with my friends, my free time growing up was spent in front of a computer monitor. I started a BBS in Jr. High and I learned quickly that I was great at talking my way around the net in the days of IRC.
The tools have evolved now and the computer is no longer just something geeks use. Now companies are just using these new tools as ways to reach their audience and make more sales. The process is still the same. Resale and consignment is still a huge business and companies like Amazon and eBay have proven that they can deliver. It seems that making buying easier for the consumer is a key business strategy as well. Amazon and Apple have devices on the market that connect you right to their stores so you can purchase items on the go. The eBay Apple iPhone app allows you to be in a bidding war while you're relaxing at the beach.
Making it convenient for people to buy your product is the key thing that 7-11 and other convenience stores learned long ago. It's what online companies have learned and it's what I learned in Jr. High. A good balance of being in the right place at the right time, having a product with good margins and as little inventory as possible is what makes the perfect resale company. Being a middle man of sales like eBay is also a good solution. Everyone has something to sell and eBay helps facilitate that connection to a wide audience. How will your company combine the power of resale and convenience?
If you know me or have been following me on Twitter for any amount of time, you have most likely noticed that I'm passionate about a few industries and video games is one of those. I grew up gaming on an Atari 800, Atari ST, 286, 386 DX/40mhz, ran a BBS, coded my own games in Pascal and was a huge fan of the early Sierra adventure games. When my friends and I started playing Warcraft, Unreal Tournament and Team Fortress, I always wanted to have one of the fastest computers among us. This meant building new PCs constantly from parts gathered at the best bargains I could find from all around town and spending a lot of money.
While I did get an NES and SNES as a kid, I always felt that my hardcore gamer side wouldn't be thoroughly satisfied by a console hooked up to a TV. I've watched as game consoles have come and gone and was a late adopter of the PS2, but when the PS3 came out and promised Full HD movies and games, I was ready to be an early adopter of the console.
Finally, I could buy a 1920x1080 progressive scan HDTV for my living room that would be almost as high resolution as I'd get from a computer monitor and I'd have movies on blu-ray in Full HD via the PS3. Well, the $600 PS3 was almost a mandatory peripheral to my new HDTV based on this criteria and it'd just have to follow the HDTV purchase. In fact, it followed the TV right to the register the same day. I felt a little insane and a bit like a baller (even though I really didn't have a ton of money and in retrospect probably could have stood to spend a little less money), but it felt completely worth it at the time. Now, I got home and was impressed by the HDTV and the lovely 1080P goodness of blu-ray and the PS3, but I was instantly upset that most games were in 720P.
So, you're probably wondering why this is titled "PlayStation Home Beta for everyone". Well, the PlayStation Home Beta is out and everyone can use it now. I was lucky enough to have a slightly early go at it, but really I had expected it so much earlier that I really expected it to be complete by now and not still in Beta. Of course, I expected more quality games to be out for the platform as well. But, all in all I still believe that the PlayStation 3 has a much more future looking vision with the platform and while I've read so many blogs and people talking on forums about their disappointment of Home, I've got to say I think it's going to be great.
The Nintendo Wii's success and continued success was largely a surprise to most of the industry and although everyone knew casual gaming was big and knew it's always been a powerhouse for Nintendo, the pieces never really became clear until the sales figures of the Wii showed up. I see PlayStation Home as a great outlet for the casual gamer that's in the hardcore gamer of all of us. It's something we can hop into late at night, stroll up to an arcade machine and pretend to deposit quarters or explore worlds that sponsors of the environment are likely to put together. I've already caught myself getting sucked in on a game in the arcade and I can only imagine how more arcade games and more islands could be created just for sponsors with fun events and get to know other players sessions. I think there's a huge growth opportunity for Home and I know PlayStation is working on it, but it's really unfortunate that it's just now starting to show.
So what's really disappointed me with Home and several other games in this generation has been the lack of 1080P support despite all the press releases saying how it'd be running in 1080P. This is true for the 360 and the PS3, but I'm more surprised that Home wasn't in 1080P. Sony pushed the platform for HD and the biggest community part of the platform that they've been pushing for the longest time runs in 720P instead of 1080P? That doesn't make any sense to me. I know it's processor intensive, etc., etc., but that's really the only thing about the whole thing that's got me down... I bought a 1080P display for 1080P visuals. Please oh please stop with the 720P madness. I suppose it doesn't really matter too much, but it still bugs me a little. Hopefully we'll see more 1080P content in 2009 and less 720P.